Page 4035 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 20 September 2017

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Mowing, repairing paths and collecting bins are surely core roles of any local government. The number of logged complaints on the government’s fix my street portal climbed by eight per cent in 2015-16 and has had a massive 250 per cent increase from when the portal was introduced in 2010. The ratepayers Ms Orr talks about have been deputised by this government to act as eyes and ears regarding the state of the territory’s road assets.

Ms Orr is most congratulatory of the government’s approach to managing assets in spite of the growth of Canberra. But, as Canberra has grown, the funding per kilometre of footpath has actually decreased, from $1,970 per kilometre in 2011-12 to $1,150 per kilometre in 2015-16. There is also a backlog of two million square metres in need of repair, which will cost approximately $71 million in 2019-20.

It is timely that this motion comes at the beginning of spring, just as the pace of grass growth picks up and the medians and verges of many parts of Canberra will need particular care, at a time of one of our biggest tourist events, Floriade, and at a time when we boast about how beautiful our blooming capital is. My office, like all offices of the opposition, is being contacted regularly by constituents who are concerned about the poor state of repair of basic amenities, especially in the more established suburbs. Our being in opposition means that we are not in a position to work with the TCCS offices to improve these services. We have to seek the minister’s indulgence to get some results for our constituents.

These are constituents like Isobel of Deakin, who is regularly living in a cloak of darkness because, despite raising on a number of occasions the poor state of maintenance of streetlights, it takes months for them to be fixed and, when they are, it is not done properly. Elizabeth of Kingston, after raising an issue about the safety risk of a faulty footpath near her home and having been reassured that it has been fixed, finds out that what this government classifies as “fixed” is a patch job, resulting in the risk being re-exposed within weeks. Jenny of Forrest, on behalf of whom I wrote to the minister about a cracked footpath outside her home, was told that the issue had already been addressed to render it safe, only to find that what the minister meant by “rendering it safe” was to paint two arrows on the footpath, which remain to this day, five months after it was first raised, with a reassurance that it will be fixed in February 2018, 10 months after what seems to be a straightforward issue of a cracked footpath.

Speaking of footpaths, I suppose worse than having a cracked footpath is having no footpath at all, as is the case for the residents in Campbell that Mr Coe referred to earlier. The lack of responsiveness from this minister and this government to fix broken streetlights and cracked footpaths is not all that Kurrajong residents are frustrated with. The constituents in the inner north contact my office regularly about the lack of street sweeping in suburbs like O’Connor, Dickson and Downer. We all love the leafy suburbs of our bush capital, and the government takes great advantage to sell this image to the rest of Australia and beyond. But, where they are quick to take credit, they are lacking in taking responsibility.

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