Budget 2003-04

Thank you for the letter of 10 December 2002 and the follow up letter received 22 February 2003 inviting the Weston Creek Community Council to contribute to the consultation process for the ACT Government’s 2003-2004 Budget.

Mr. Ted Quinlan MLA

Deputy Chief Minister and Treasurer

ACT Legislative Assembly

London Circuit

CANBERRA ACT 2601

 

ATTENTION:

Fay Prowse

Budget Consultation

Department of Treasury

Financial and Budgetary Management Branch

GPO Box 158

CANBERRA ACT 2601

Dear Deputy Chief Minister

2003-2004 Budget Consultation

Thank you for the letter of 10 December 2002 and the follow up letter received 22 February 2003 inviting the Weston Creek Community Council to contribute to the consultation process for the ACT Government’s 2003-2004 Budget.

The Weston Creek Community Council (WCCC) has contributed to the ACT Government Budget each year since our inception in 1991. We again submit on behalf of the residents of Weston Creek the attached submission for consideration and debate. Weston Creek residents have raised issues included in the submission either at our meetings through 2002 – 2003 or during our TAKING TO THE STREETS initiative which involves visiting local shopping centres.

The WCCC is well aware of the impact of the recent bushfires on our local community through our shopping centre visits and our membership of the Community and Expert Reference Group (CERG) assisting the Bushfire Recovery Taskforce headed by Sandy Hollway. It is in this context that the WCCC has framed this submission which focuses on a balance of long-standing concerns regarding funding, as well as needs in the current situation to address critical issues in the short to medium term for Weston Creek.

We are conscious of the heavy impact that the bushfires will have on the ACT Government Budget and on the Canberra economy in general. We therefore give heightened importance to this year’s annual submission by the WCCC and respectfully suggest that it be read in the context of being another source for Government to use to prioritise a number of critical spending initiatives.

Our submission is arranged by the different services delivered by the ACT Government. If you wish to discuss any of the issues included in our submission I can be contacted on the above numbers.

Yours sincerely

Jeff Carl

Chairperson

Weston Creek Community Council

Weston Creek Community Council

BUDGET SUBMISSION – 2003– 2004

This submission is in a framework of ACT Government deliverables

Education

The WCCC supports initiatives to lower the early childhood class sizes for Primary Schools through efforts to reduce the student to teacher ratio in schools, especially at the younger ages. There is a need for funds to employ teacher’s assistants at the younger grades. Also the accommodation needs of classes need to be considered. A straightforward increase in teacher numbers without increased teaching space will not achieve the desired outcome and overcrowding in schools will still occur.

In respect of capital works, a number of Weston Creek Pre Schools and Primary Schools have had inappropriate timber (pine log) playground equipment removed. There is yet to be undertaken an audit to ascertain which schools need to have older dangerous play equipment removed. The community needs to be updated on the status of the replacement program including what funds are available for replacement playground equipment. Weston Creek Pre and Primary schools need to be involved in this audit.

Accessible and relevant Bushfire counselling in schools in Weston Creek for children and their families is needed. The WCCC is aware of the traumatic impact this catastrophic event is having on families. This is required not only for those children who have lost homes and have depressed parents but for other students who live in and walk through burnt out streets to go to school. Living in a “war zone” is how some children have described the suburbs. In-school counselling is a major priority for the Education portfolio and will need to be financed for at least 12 months.

The WCCC is very concerned in regard to the apparently “abandoned” Weston Campus of The Canberra College in Stirling. The Campus is being run down under the guise of ‘management’ of a twin campus school. When the WCCC met with the then-Education Minister Simon Corbell he categorically stated that the Labor Government had no plans to close any schools. The planned movement of the O’Connell Education Centre from Griffith is impacting on the users of the College.

A number of proposals have surfaced regarding the use of this valuable education facility. One proposal voiced in our community is for the Campus to become a public “Community” education facility for educating adult members of our community. There appears to be a shortage of such education opportunities in Canberra. The suggestion differs from the current and very popular “Brain Gym” program run at the Campus in that most courses would be offered “at cost” to the adult students, but some places in every course would be reserved for members who could not afford the course fees.

It is expected that all of the necessary infrastructure (buildings, equipment, etc) for this “Community” college are already present at the Campus. Administration of the facility could continue with The Canberra College based at Phillip. Classes could be conducted during the day and/or evening, depending on the adult students’ preferences.

The facility would be co-located with the Weston Creek Community Library. WCCC is actively hosting community consultation meetings with the Canberra College School Board and the Dept of Education. The WCCC requests that funding be earmarked to implement the recommendations in respect of the future use of this education facility, be it a library and adult education which would be in agreement with the local community and the School Board.

Sport & Recreation

The WCCC has been involved in discussions with Minister Wood and Minister Corbell in respect to the provision of sport & recreation Capital Works to offset the loss of amenity through the resumption of the ex-Holder High School ovals. To assist in meeting this obligation made by Minister Corbell the WCCC requests the upgrade of the number 1 soccer playing field at Waramanga Playing Fields through improved drainage and other rehabilitation. In addition the provision of seating is required at the oval.

We need to record that there is still pressure for a public swimming pool in Weston Creek with residents regularly raising this issue at our meetings and during our shopping centre visits. The population of Weston Creek has an increasing proportion of older persons and we are also experiencing an increase in the numbers of primary school aged children. Both population groups would benefit from the presence of a swimming pool in Weston Creek with the older persons having ready access to hydrotherapy and the children having easier access to learn-to-swim classes. However the WCCC is of the opinion that appropriate swimming facilities cold be provided for minimal cost and, in the light of funding priorities in Weston Creek, this can be considered ‘on-hold’ for 2003-2004.

Community Consultation

Community consultation between the ACT Government and community organisations is managed, from a logistical and financial management perspective, from the Chief Minister’s Department through the Community Liaison Unit. The WCCC receives a baseline funding of $3000pa. In addition the WCCC received $1,000 in the current financial year for providing exceptional service to the community, the Ministers of the Government and in assisting staff in ACT Government and agencies in their community consultation efforts. The WCCC respectfully suggests that, in consideration of the effort we are undertaking in the normal course of our activities, the additional effort required to assist CERG and the need to communicate with the community in these exceptional circumstances we are going through, our grant is increased to $5,000 pa for a triennium through our purchaser – provider agreement with Government.

Presently the ACT community has limited avenues to discuss issues directly with Ministers outside the confines of the ACT Legislative Assembly in London Circuit. The previous Government had a ‘Meet the Minister’ arrangement which has been suspended. The WCCC, as an established and reputable community group, has continually attracted a wide range of senior ACT Government staff and Ministers who use the WCCC regular monthly meetings as a forum to promulgate the Government’s message to the community. The WCCC agrees with the benefits of this interaction. However we are financially limited in the extent of our advertising of the attendance of Ministers. The WCCC requests access to the funds, on a case by case basis, to advertise the attendance of Ministers at meetings.

Finance and Public Administration

The Government is currently withdrawing AUSTOUCH Kiosks from a range of public locations in Canberra. It is requested that the savings be diverted to assist community organizations to maintain a website presence for their local community through an open and competitive grants program (and in doing so maintain links with CANBERRA CONNECT).

Justice and Community Safety

In addition the WCCC requests that additional funding be considered to re-establish Neighborhood Watch in Weston Creek suburbs which do not have such a fundamental service. This service, provided by volunteers, needs seed funding as well as ongoing maintenance funds. These funds should be forthcoming from the Justice and Community Safety budget. Since the cost of public liability insurance was a major factor in the scaling back of Neighbourhood Watch the WCCC suggests that Neighbourhood Watch be indemnified by the ACT Government for public liability.

Planning

The WCCC is well aware of the impact that the upcoming potential release of the North Duffy / North Holder land will have on the portfolios of Mr. Simon Corbell (Planning) and Mr. Bill Wood (Urban Services). There is a need to ensure that appropriate and timely community consultations are undertaken to ensure that the Government and the community can deal with the issues which arise in the debate. The WCCC requests that funds be allocated, and appropriately distributed, in 2003-2004 FY to bona vide community groups to undertake land release consultations.

The recently cleared land at Cotter Road and Streeton Drive intersection, which is the ‘front door’ of Weston Creek, is currently held by ACT Forests. The WCCC is aware of two groups interested in attaining the land for completely different purposes. The WCCC requests that the Government undertake a process of open consultation to gauge the view of the community on acceptable uses of the land. The WCCC specifically requests that the land NOT be sold by direct sale without widespread public consultation, as has been the case with Sukyo Mahakari and the Sikh Association. (see also request for a Traffic Management Plan in Urban Services).

The WCCC is aware of the lack of progress in the re-development of the Ex-Holder Petrol Station site. The WCCC request that PALM re-visit the issues surrounding the lease of petrol stations so that progress can be made to remove this eyesore and improve the public amenity of the Holder Shopping centre environs. Similar comments apply to the former Serbian Club in Liardet Street Weston opposite the intersection with Brierly Street.

Urban Services

It is requested that ActewAGL replace destroyed and damaged street lighting in Weston Creek with yellow sodium lights not white light. Although the Australian National University has indicated on previous occasions that it was reducing visual telescope research at Mount Stromlo (due to the planning moratorium being re-considered in 2003-2004) and that it would use radio telescopes, yellow sodium lighting would assist in the use of the re-built historical optical telescopes.

The WCCC requests that consideration be given to upgrading the footpaths around Waramanga, Fisher and Chapman local shopping centres. Older people and mobility-impaired people use these centres and the uneven footpath surfaces are a significant hazard. The WCCC has recently visited local Weston Creek shopping centres as part of our TAKING IT TO THE STREETS initiative and we have received many comments on the poor state of the footpaths. The removal of trip-points and the upgrade of access ramps for wheelchairs/strollers will increase the amenity of the shops and reduce the Government’s liability.

The WCCC requests a formal traffic management plan for the area of Weston bounded by Cotter Road – Streeton Drive – Unwin Place- Hickey Court. A number of leaseholders have raised the problem of traffic management. There is significant congestion at the Australian Federal Police Complex and the Orana School. The Cotter Road needs an additional left turn slip lane, attention is needed to the Unwin Pl – Streeton Drive turn lane as well as the informal carpark in Hickey Ct. The WCCC will actively participate on this long-standing need which requires urgent attention given the fact that blocks within this section are being offered for development without the need for re-zoning.

The WCCC also asks that capital works funds be provided the installation of an on-road cycle path on Streeton Drive. This cycle path would, ideally, extend from the Darwinia Terrace intersection to the Dixon Drive intersection and meet up with the Weston Creek to City cycle path that is already in place. There would need to be appropriate treatment of the Mulley Street intersection to make this dangerous intersection bicycle friendly and safe.

For many years now the Weston Creek community, which has some 24,000 residents, has been asking for a library service. The WCCC notes that there are several districts in Canberra with populations of 12,000-20,000 residents, which have their own library. With the advent of the Internet and the development of electronic books, this library requirement can be satisfied by a comparatively small investment in a traditional stand-alone facility comprising two or three rooms with Internet/electronic facilities as well as traditional borrowings. Such facilities would provide effectively a “virtual library” and be integrated into the daily delivery service from other Canberra libraries. The facilities could be established at the “recently-abandoned” Weston Campus of The Canberra College located in Stirling. The WCCC requests that funds be provided to establish a library and Internet access at the Weston Campus early in the 2003-2004 FY

The temporary carpark at the rear of Waramanga Pre-School caters for the increased number of teachers working in the school following the amalgamation of the Fisher and Waramanga Primary Schools. This carpark is currently being built for 28 spaces, down from the required 50 spaces. It is understood that the Education portfolio is covering the cost of these spaces. It is requested that Urban Services cover the cost of the additional 22 spaces. This would alleviate the pressure on the Waramanga Playing Fields carpark and relieve on-street and off-street parking congestion for patrons on weekends. The upgraded carpark will also relieve congestion for the nearby Scout Hall and Veterinary Surgery. Due to the carpark’s dual uses, budgeting for this project needs to be drawn partly from Education and partly Urban Services. If this approach is not to be progressed, the WCCC requests a doubling of the size of the Waramanga Playing Fields carpark by Urban Services.

The WCCC noted and has written to Ministers in respect of the improved car parking for the Arawang Netball Courts in Streeton Drive Stirling. This was debated in the Economics Committee on 18 and 22 July 2002 (refer Hansard Transcript). The WCCC requests that the Government adhere to these commitments and doubles the size of the carpark to ensure a reduction of on-street carparking. Such improvement would also assist the car parking for Junior Australian Rules games held adjacent to the netball courts. The WCCC requests doubling of the size of the Arawang Netball Carpark in the 2003-2004 FY.

The WCCC assisted in the community negotiations for the development of 50 houses in Streeton Drive Stirling for the Defence Housing Authority (DHA). During the construction phase significant damage was made to the adjacent public open space, known as the “Casuarina Walkway”. This is an access route, by foot, to a number of major sporting locations in Stirling which is central to Weston Creek. The WCCC negotiated with DHA on 15 December 2001 to have the Walkway rehabilitated by DHA. DHA agreed on condition that the Department of Urban Services (DUS) restricted car access and that this be completed by March 2002 so the rehabilitation could take place. The restriction of vehicle access was not made by DUS in the timeframe and DHA have declined to assist with remedial action. The WCCC has been in negotiations with Roads and Traffic, Canberra Urban Parks and Places (CUPPS), Environment ACT and directly with Minister Corbell. These negotiations with DUS have been protracted and the vehicle access has still not been contained sufficiently to allow grass and tree replanting. It is known that the replanting will not take place until the drought is broken, however the containment of vehicle access should proceed. The WCCC therefore requests that DUS re-visit their previous attempts to contain traffic and correct the situation. The WCCC is available for further on-site visits.

Environment

The WCCC is concerned that current arrangements for the various tree preservation policies of Environment ACT need re-visiting in respect of the bushfires which impacted Weston Creek. Most suburbs of Weston Creek have significant examples of the remnant open woodland habitat that exist throughout the region and residents have expressed their concerns that these remnants are not being adequately protected. However this needs to be balanced by the right of the leaseholder to manage the safety of their lease. The WCCC requests that the Significant Tree Register program and tree preservation policies be reviewed to balance tree preservation and community safety.

ACTION Buses

The WCCC is aware of the decreasing use of public transport by residents of Weston Creek. One of the major impediments is the lack of a through route on Streeton Drive north on the Tuggeranong Parkway to the City and south to the Tuggeranong Interchange. Such routes to office locations could increase patronage. This would also alleviate the need to change buses at Woden interchange – which is a major deterrent for bus use in Weston Creek. The WCCC requests that ACTION be provided with funds to undertake a 12 month trial in 2003-2004 of a contiguous north – south route via Weston Creek from/to City- Tuggeranong.

The recent increase in the out-of-area high school and college enrolments from Weston Creek has brought about the need to re-visit direct school bus services to/from Weston Creek. It is requested that ACTION undertake a review through liaison with appropriate schools (Melrose / Alfred Deakin / Phillip College) to determine enrolments and the logistics for direct bus services which avoid the Woden Interchange.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *