Poor community consultation, planning problems, child safety and the environmental and health impacts of Summernats burnouts were debated at Wednesday evening’s lively Election Forum, held at Pilgrim House by the North Canberra Community Council. The forum was moderated by ABC Radio’s Louise Maher.
North Canberra Community Council Secretary Richard Larson questioned the appropriateness of the ACT Government advertising the sale of a car park next to the Dickson Tradies Club, before Draft Territory Plan Variation 311 for the Dickson Group Centre has even been considered by the Planning Minister and by the Assembly.
“This appears to be another example of poor consultation between the directorate, the assembly and the community,” he noted.
ACT Greens candidates Shane Rattenbury, Caroline Le Couteur and Alan Kerlin said that the Government should finish the Dickson Precinct Code before advertising public land for sale, because any buyer will be uncertain of what they can actually do with the land. They also said they would commit $800,000 to improving community consultation.
Motorists’ Party candidate David Cumbers asked, “is this another example of a car park going by stealth?”
The Labor Party’s Mark Kulasingham, who stepped in at short notice after Simon Corbell was called away on urgent family business, said he was not aware of the issue, but would refer it to the Government.
Pirate Party candidate Stuart Biggs highlighted a perception that the Government does not listen to the public, and said it should better resource community groups and use them to identify public concerns.
The audience of about thirty erupted into applause when planning advocate Jane Goffman asked how parties would translate the objectives of residential and commercial zones, which talk about character and amenity in only a vague way, into a clear set of rules that are legally binding.
The Greens stated that the Territory Plan needs a complete review, , to make it consistent with the Government’s forty per cent greenhouse reduction target and 50/50 infill, and have allocated $1 million for that purpose. They agreed that it’s important to protect amenity for established residents in North Canberra, and would look at ways of translating the Codes into plain English..
Mr Kulasingham agreed that the planning process was complex, and said that he would take the issue forward.
Mr Cumbers said that current planning processes provide “open slather for developers” and that planning rules need to be monitored and policed.
North Canberra Community Council Chair Leon Arundell asked what the parties would do to make it safer for children to walk and cycle to school. He cited lack of footpaths, health risks due to lack of exercise, and the danger posed by the 60% of drivers who don’t know the give way rules.
“Children are knocked down all the time. It’s a fact of life,” said Mr Cumbers.
“Liz gasped and exclaimed at the callousness of the comment,” says David Teather. Both Teathers had attendedto raise concerns about proposed high rise developments in residential areas of Reid and Braddon.
Mr Cumbers disputed that driving children to school increases their risk of obesity, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, depression and cancer. He attributed these risks instead to other factors such as diet and too much television.
“Perhaps he is not aware of the published research that confirms that the risk factors for all of those conditions include exercise as well as diet.” said Mr Arundell after the meeting.
All candidates agreed on the need for better driver education.
Cleaning up Summernats
There was controversy and division over Summernats, especially over pollution in nearby suburbs resulting from burnouts.
The Pirate Party’s Stuart Biggs proposed to clean up Summernats by installing atmospheric scrubbers that would remove the offending pollution at its source.
Protecting the Bush Capital
Representatives of all parties were at one to protect the green assets of Canberra Nature Park in perpetuity. The Greens were the only party to provide a plan to safeguard the natural environment from urban encroachment and improve the conditions of the nature reserves.
Authorised by Leon Arundell,