It’s been a difficult year. Canberrans experienced a challenging start to 2020 with bushfires, hazardous smoke and damaging hail. Now, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Canberrans have done an excellent job of following the health advice but it hasn’t been easy. As you may have read or heard, the ACT Government has announced numerous measures to assist households, businesses, industries and community services impacted by COVID-19 (you can read more about this below). As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if there is anything I can help you with. If you 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 been happening in Belconnen?
A lot of work has been progressing in Belconnen:
- The ACT Government has fast-tracked several infrastructure projects as part of its economic response to COVID-19, including the installation of an additional pedestrian crossing on Chandler Street; an upgrade of the Totterdell Street playground; and accessibility upgrades at the Belconnen Community Centre.
- The Belconnen Dog Park is also receiving a facelift including new grass and irrigation, plus a noticeboard for dog-related information.
- A new ticketing vending machine has been installed inside the entry doors at the Westfield Belconnen interchange, allowing passengers to conveniently top up their MyWay card, check their MyWay balance or purchase a single ticket.
- New recycling bins have been rolled out across the region, including 15 in the Belconnen Town Centre.
- Traffic lights have been installed at the intersection of Beissel Street and Emu Bank.
Responding to COVID-19
The ACT Government has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with a range of economic measures to support households, businesses, industries and community services impacted by the public health emergency. The Economic Survival Package aims to support vulnerable Canberrans and protect as many jobs as possible.
The ACT has also released Canberra’s Recovery Plan—a road map for the easing of restrictions in the ACT in line with public health advice and the Australian Government’s Three-Step Framework for a COVIDSafe Australia.
For the latest information on COVID-19 in the ACT, including health advice, Canberra’s Recovery Plan and the Economic Survival Package, visit: covid19.act.gov.au
You can also call the ACT’s COVID-19 Helpline on 6207 7244 between 8am and 8pm daily.
You may have seen the Belco Bikeway taking shape. A lot of progress has been on this much anticipated project – and it’s looking great! Construction is now underway on Emu Bank.
The 4.7-kilometre bikeway will better connect the Belconnen Town Centre with Florey and Bruce and includes shared and separated cycling and pedestrian pathways. The project also includes the planting of about 200 trees and 4000 shrubs and is due to be completed later this year.
Recognising the gift of life
The decision to donate organs and tissue is a significant one. But some families in the ACT – and across Australia – have told me there are few opportunities to formally acknowledge this life-saving gift. In fact, many feel this decision – this gift – can be under-recognised.
In February I introduced my first Bill in the Legislative Assembly – the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration (Tissue Donor Acknowledgment) Amendment Bill 2020. While it’s a mouthful, the premise is simple: allowing families to request to have that their loved one was an organ and tissue donor reflected on their loved one’s death certificate. The opportunity is entirely optional and not time sensitive, giving families agency in deciding if, how and when they wish to have their loved one’s donation recognised.
In May, the Bill was passed with tri-partisan support and I believe this legislation is the first of its kind in Australia. It is also the result of many months of discussions and consultations and wouldn’t have been possible without the support and generosity of so many people, especially donor families and advocates. The legislation will come into effect within 12 months.
The Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic Response was established in April to consider and report to the Legislative Assembly on matters relating to the ACT Government’s health and financial response to the public health emergency. I’m the committee’s deputy chair and we’ve been holding weekly public hearings with a range of witnesses including ministers, directorate officials and a range of organisations and stakeholders. So far, the committee has published three interim reports, which can be found on the ACT Legislative Assembly website.
Bulky waste collection
Free annual bulky waste collections are a step closer with Suez contracted to provide the service. I’ve been a passionate advocate for a bulky waste collection service in Canberra, which will make it easier for residents to dispose of unwanted household goods, while also tackling illegal dumping. Households will be able to make a booking to receive a single collection per year of up to two cubic metres for items including damaged furniture and worn-out household appliances. The initiative will initially create 14 new jobs, employing more people as the service expands across the ACT.
The service will be available for Belconnen residents in 2021-22.
Bigger and better Belconnen Arts Centre
The $15 million Belconnen Arts Centre expansion is now complete! The upgrade has doubled the size of the centre to include an extra 160 square metres of exhibition space and a new, flexible theatre with seating for 400 patrons.
Other changes include a new dance and rehearsal studio, new dressing rooms and a green room, new cafe and bar facilities and improved landscaping.
Caring for the land
In May I was delighted to join the newly-established Emu Creek Landcare Group for a working bee at Emu Ridge. The new Landcare group is the initiative of residents living in and around Renny Place. You can learn more here: https://bit.ly/2Bi5brB
Until next time,