There has been a lot happening in the ACT Legislative Assembly. Highlights for me have included chairing the committee investigating Canberra’s high fuel prices and gaining the support of the Assembly to encourage and support a more collaborative and sustainable approach to sexual health. I am also proud to have contributed to the Assembly’s extraordinary report on end of life choices in the ACT.
If you ever need to get in touch with me, please call me on 6205 0100, email [email protected] or chat to me at one of my regular mobile offices.
What’s in the ACT Budget for Belconnen?
The ACT Budget was handed down on 4 June. I’m proud to report that it includes:
- $40 million to fund major upgrades at Calvary Public Hospital including two new operating theatres; expansion of the hospital’s emergency department; more specialist services; and 81 new doctors, nurses, other health professionals and administration staff
- the duplication of William Hovell Drive and intersection upgrades at Belconnen Way and Springvale Drive, and at Starke Street and Southern Cross Drive
- more places for pupils at Hawker Primary School via new transportable buildings and better heating at Hawker College
- detailed planning to cater for future student demand in areas including the Belconnen Town Centre and west Belconnen
- $2 million to fund whole-of-suburb play reviews in five suburbs including Higgins
- upgrades to Belconnen Community Centre, Mount Rogers Community Centre and Spence Children’s Cottage
- new infrastructure at the Dunlop and Fraser shops
Other key Budget items
I’m very pleased that the ACT Government will provide bins and dog waste bag dispensers at popular dog-walking areas as part of a new Canberra dog management model. The provision of bins and bag dispensers has been a priority of mine since before I became a member. The initiative will make it much easier for responsible dog owners to do the right thing.
The budget also includes $33.9 million to establish a new ACT Policing model and recruit 69 new employees – the single-largest investment in the organisation this decade – alongside the recruitment of another 36 firefighters.
Realising a Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan
After more than five years of hard work and collaboration between the ACT Government, community groups and individuals, Territory Plan variation 342 was tabled in the Assembly in February.
This means that recommendations, like certainty of building heights and better street-level amenity, will now be realised.
Thank you to everyone who made submissions and a big thanks to the Belconnen Community Council who have led community engagement over the past five years.
End of life choices in the ACT
The ACT Government’s Inquiry into End of Life Choices in the ACT wrapped up in March. The result? One of the most significant reports the Assembly has ever produced.
All committee members agreed to 24 recommendations, covering palliative care, advanced care and death literacy. I believe these recommendations, if implemented, will make a real difference.
Although the Assembly can’t legislate for voluntary assisted dying at this time, the report provides for the key considerations as to how a scheme should look if the ACT is able, and willing, to legislate in the future.
Investigating ACT fuel prices
It is apparent that the ACT fuel market is not meeting consumer expectations.
As a result, in February the Assembly established a Select Committee on Fuel Pricing.
The committee, which I am chairing, has received a considerable number of submissions from groups and individuals and has discussed a range of issues with various stakeholders during public hearings.
We are now seeking community feedback on a newly-released interim report which includes nine possible measures to address the ACT’s high fuel prices.
You can find the report and more information about how to respond at: https://bit.ly/2QyGQkw
Submissions are due by 30 July.
Let’s talk about sexual health
Did you know STIs are on the rise in the ACT?
In May I moved a motion encouraging the ACT Government to work with sector leaders (like SHFPACT, AIDS Action Council and Hepatitis ACT) to establish a collaborative community-based sexual health outreach model.
I’m also keen to see an ACT Sexual Health Week introduced.
We all have a responsibility to ourselves, and to each other, to be sexually healthy. More awareness and testing can only be a good thing.
Belconnen Bikeway update
The Belconnen Bikeway is a step closer with tenders released in April. Dedicated bike paths will better connect Belconnen and put the old Joynton Smith busway to good use. Construction will begin in the coming months.
Buying free range eggs
The ACT Government has long-supported a maximum stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare.
However, under new federal standards, a carton of eggs can now be labelled as free range if the hens that produced them were stocked to a maximum density of 10,000 hens per hectare.
We don’t think this is good enough.
That’s why we’ve passed legislation to require that the stocking density of free range eggs be displayed on cartons so customers can make more informed decisions. All supermarkets will also need to display signs that convey the ACT’s preferred stocking density of 1500 hens.
Until next time,