Three-car collision on Tuggeranong Parkway | The Canberra Times


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The crash site has now been cleared after three cars were involved in a collision on the Tuggeranong Parkway which caused major delays during peak hour this afternoon. The collision occurred on northbound lanes near Cotter Road at 4.15pm. Northbound traffic was diverted west on to Cotter Road. Drivers were asked to avoid the area. Southbound lanes were not affected by the crash.

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Residents in Canberra’s south say Tuggeranong has been neglected as parties vie for voters’ affection ahead of the ACT election


Updated

October 10, 2020 09:19:14

Fatima Tabaja wants to teach her three young kids how to ride a bike, but says living in Canberra’s south, it is all but impossible.

Key points:

  • Both ACT party leaders are hoping to secure seats in Tuggeranong at the election on October 17
  • Many Tuggeranong residents claim the area has been neglected by the ACT Government
  • Labor Chief Minister Andrew Barr says residents’ perceptions of the area are due to “demographic change”

“It’s really hard, because I don’t know where to take them,” Ms Tabaja said.

“Three bikes don’t fit in my car to drive them somewhere.

“So I’m trying to figure out, whereabouts can I teach them how to ride a bike?”

Ms Tabaja has lived in the Tuggeranong area most of her life, and said she had watched it slowly decline over many years.

Her complaints are not uncommon — many Tuggeranong residents express a sentiment that the south of Canberra has been somewhat neglected, as government spending on new services and facilities has been directed to the city’s north and west.

Ms Tabaja said she understood why that was the case, but that it felt like it had come at the cost of the south.

“It’s great to see Canberra is expanding, but I almost feel like Tuggeranong has been forgotten,” she said.

ACT Labor’s southern struggles

Since the 2012 election, the Canberra Liberals have consistently dominated polls in the city’s southernmost seat of Brindabella.

In both the 2012 and 2016 ACT elections, the Liberals picked up three seats, to Labor’s two.

But that is not to say the region is dyed-blue.

Labor holds the federal seat of Bean, which covers most of the ACT electorates of Brindabella and Murrumbidgee, by a very comfortable margin.

But locally, Labor does regularly come up against accusations of neglecting the south as it invests in the north and west.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he could appreciate the sentiment, even if he disagreed with it.

“I can understand from the viewpoint of someone in Tuggeranong seeing investment in Gungahlin and the Molonglo Valley as being, ‘well, why is all that investment going there?'” he said.

“My response to that is, well, those areas had nothing.

“They are entitled, as every area of Canberra is, to have public infrastructure. They are entitled to have schools and community facilities.”

While the ACT’s five electorates have more in common than things that separate them, there are a few differences — in Brindabella’s case, people living in the electorate are generally older, less culturally diverse, and more likely to be Christian than in other parts of Canberra.

And expensive light rail commitments that have dominated recent election campaigns mean little to a region that will not be reached by track for another decade.

Labor is making a pitch to the south that they recognise the time has come to invest in Tuggeranong again, as infrastructure starts to age.

Mr Barr points to commitments like a new ice rink, a new hydrotherapy pool and millions of dollars for upgrades to the foreshore around Lake Tuggeranong as evidence of their ambition.

“We’re putting forward our plan for Tuggeranong, that includes a wide variety of investments — new infrastructure, renewing infrastructure, new programs and services,” he said.

“We’re putting that on the table at this point, and asking people to consider the two alternate approaches.”

And he said as demographics changed areas like Kambah will start to take on a new character — even promising a new “renaissance”.

“I understand in a suburb that is losing population and one that is ageing, that the community needs change and there are different requirements in terms of government investment,” he said.

“Kambah will go through a renaissance of demographic change as a new wave of young families move into the area.”

Liberals hope for southern doubt

The Canberra Liberals will be hoping Brindabella stays rock-solid behind them once more after this month’s territory election.

At the 2016 election, it was the only seat to elect three Liberal MLAs.

Canberra Liberals leader Alistair Coe said he was confident voters would stick with the Liberals after his party had been running on a slogan to “end the neglect” in Canberra’s south

“It is only the Canberra Liberals that have been standing up for Tuggeranong these last 19 years,” he said.

“Tuggeranong has been neglected under ACT Labor.

“The Labor party simply doesn’t care about the suburbs.”

The Liberals have pledged a $12 million new multipurpose centre for Tuggeranong, and will assess the feasibility of duplicating Isabella Drive between Drumston Street and Ashley Drive.

But Mr Barr said he was unconvinced the Liberals had a lock on the south.

“It is not an absolute given that the Liberal Party will win three seats in this electorate, although they might think it is,” he said.

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Topics:

state-elections,

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canberra-2600,

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First posted

October 10, 2020 08:12:45



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Parton apologises for saying gay Greens candidate ‘too camp for Tuggeranong’ | The Canberra Times


news, act-politics, 2020 act election, mark parton, canberra liberal party, canberra liberals, greens party

Liberal Mark Parton has apologised to a gay Greens candidate after he told him he wouldn’t win a seat at next month’s ACT election because he was “too camp for Tuggeranong”. The Greens’ lead candidate in the southern suburbs seat of Brindabella, Johnathan Davis, said Mr Parton made the comment while the election opponents were campaigning at Kambah shops on Saturday. Mr Davis has stressed he did not think Mr Parton was homophobic, but said it was concerning his opponent believed his sexuality would be a factor in how people voted. “Mark and I have got to know each other quite well over the years and we were having an honest back-and-forth conversation,” Mr Davis said, recounting Saturday’s incident. “He made the comment that while I’m a nice bloke I probably wouldn’t win because I’m too camp for Tuggeranong.” Mr Davis said he initially laughed off the comments, as he said he often did when similar remarks had been made in the past. But Mr Davis said Mr Parton’s comment lingered with him over the course of the weekend, before a homophobic attack on his Facebook page prompted him to speak out. In a highly offensive comment posted on Mr Davis’s page, an account under the name “Max Sterphen” wrote Mr Parton was a much better candidate and Tuggeranong didn’t need “lgbt f****** painting it in rainbow and thinking you’re on top of the world”. The same Facebook account has made homophobic comments to Labor candidate Maddy Northam. The account carried as its profile picture an advertisement for the Canberra Liberals’ pledge to plant 1 million trees if elected on October 17. The Liberals have distanced themselves from the account, which they believed was fake. The Opposition has observed similarities in the language used by “Max Sterphen” and other fake social media accounts which have been attacking or impersonating Liberal MLAs while using party branding. The “Max Sterphen” account appeared to have been deleted when The Canberra Times searched Facebook on Monday morning. Mr Davis wrote a Facebook post on Sunday drawing attention to both Mr Parton’s comments and the “Max Sterphen” post. Mr Davis told The Canberra Times Mr Parton was a “good person” and not homophobic, and his comment outside Kambah shops were not the same as those made by “Max Sterphen”. But Mr Davis said there was a degree of similarity between the two comments. “Both people felt comfortable citing my sexuality as justification for electoral support,” he said. “If we want to break down that stigma, then both have to be called out – even if there are very different.” As well as being offensive, Mr Davis believed Mr Parton’s comments showed a lack of insight as to how tolerant and socially progressive voters in Canberra’s south were. The Canberra Times contacted Mr Parton for comment. In a statement, his spokeswoman said Mr Parton had apologised to Mr Davis. Mr Davis contested Brindabella for the Greens at the 2016 ACT election, winning 1.5 per cent of the vote. He also stood as the party’s candidate in the seat of Bean at the 2019 federal election, where he collected 13 per cent of votes to finish third behind Labor’s Dave Smith and Liberal Ed Cocks.

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Many Canberra public schools are crowded — but not in Tuggeranong. Should underused schools be closed?


Six Canberra public schools, almost all in Tuggeranong, are less than half-full, and now meet the criteria that were used to close dozens of schools last decade.

The current ACT Government says it has no plans to close any schools and is instead focused on building new schools to meet booming demand, especially in the city’s north.

However, former Labor chief minister Jon Stanhope — who decided to close 23 underused preschools and schools in 2006 — says it is time to reassess the city’s stretched education system, including which schools to keep open.

Mr Stanhope spoke to the ABC in response to the release of the long-secret functional review of the ACT public service, which the ABC obtained under archives law.

The 466-page document, written by former top bureaucrat Michael Costello and economist Greg Smith, was the basis of Mr Stanhope’s brutal 2006 budget, which restructured the government and slashed spending — including on schools.

Mr Stanhope stood by his decision to close schools which the review deemed “inefficient” and “unremarkable”, saying it was necessary to ensure better educational outcomes.

But can the same logic used then be applied to today’s school system?

Enrolments are booming, except in the far south

(Map excludes preschools and specialist schools.)

The latest school data emphasises the demographic gap between Canberra’s north and south.

Enrolments in ACT public schools increased rapidly over the past decade, rising by 31 per cent and outpacing population growth. Gungahlin schools grew even faster.

But student numbers have been stagnant in Tuggeranong, remaining effectively unchanged.

Three Tuggeranong schools — Richardson and Gilmore primaries, and Wanniassa School — now operate at just over one-third of their capacity, and many parents choose to send their children elsewhere.

Mr Stanhope said his government paid a “steep” political price for closing schools like these 14 years ago, and acknowledged the anger and upset he caused.

“I can understand that. We all have an attachment to our schools — we all think they’re good,” he said.

“I stand by the commission of that report, particularly at a time when the budget was at enormous stress.

“The analysis … was that we were simply not getting any bang for our buck [from] the resources we were putting into schools.”

A man with glasses outdoors, looking at the camera.
Jon Stanhope stands by his decision to close 23 ACT schools last decade.(ABC News: Markus Mannheim)

Mr Stanhope said it would be “very reasonable” to revisit the functional review’s advice today.

“If there are schools operating at less than 50 per cent capacity, then on the basis of the evidence that was presented in the functional review, those children are all being disadvantaged … and so is the broader territory,” he said.

The latest school data shows six schools in Canberra operate at under 50 per cent capacity — and five of them are in Tuggeranong.

If the functional review’s recommendations were applied, these schools would be under threat.

So what did the secret review actually say?

The functional review was highly critical of the ACT’s education system of the time, especially its surplus capacity.

It said Canberra teachers had the country’s highest salaries but spent the least amount of time with students.

“In summary, the ACT public school system overall can be described as suffering declining support and not delivering adequate value for money. Higher expenditures overall seem more likely to be supporting areas of inefficiency than higher educational outcomes.”

The review also said learning outcomes, which seemed good “prima facie”, were “unremarkable once account is taken of socio-economic factors, and do not provide evidence that the high levels of expenditure in the ACT are, overall, generating higher education outcomes” — a criticism the ACT Auditor-General has also made in recent years.

The report recommended closing 38 schools (including 22 preschools), though the Stanhope government eventually whittled that down to 23 (of which 11 were preschools).

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Minister says no planned closures, dismisses ‘outdated’ advice

Education Minister Yvette Berry said the functional review belonged to a different era and was irrelevant to today’s schools.

She said education was funded differently when Mr Stanhope was in politics.

“All government schools are now funded according a needs-based formula that meets the costs of providing high-quality school education,” she said.

The ACT Government had no plans to close any schools, she said — rather, it was ramping up the construction of new facilities, especially in Gunghalin and Molonglo.

Yvette Berry at Throsby school site
Yvette Berry, right, unveils plans for the new Throsby school earlier this month.(ABC News: Markus Mannheim)

The minister also suggested that Tuggeranong — whose residents tend to be older than other Canberrans — was turning a demographic corner, as more young families moved into the area.

She said keeping schools open helped the Education Directorate respond flexibly to population ebbs and flows over time.

For the same reason, the directorate used mobile, demountable classrooms when expanding schools.

Why do Tuggeranong parents take children elsewhere?

Nonetheless, public schools in the city’s south do seem to have a problem — their enrolments have not kept pace with the area’s sluggish population growth.

The ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations has worked with Tuggeranong parents to try to understand why some send their children elsewhere.

Policy officer Veronica Elliot said one reason was transport, which was sometimes easier if their child’s school was en route to work.

Veronica stands in school grounds looking into the camera, wearing a scarf and coat.
Veronica Elliot, from the ACT Council of Parents & Citizens Associations, says Tuggeranong parents value their schools.(ABC News: Tahlia Roy)

But perceptions of the area’s schools also played a part.

Ms Elliott said it would help if the Government worked more closely with local communities “to remedy false reputations or specific challenges”.

“It’s really important that parents have confidence in their local schools,” she said.

“From our work with Tuggeranong school P&Cs, we can see that parents who send their kids to local schools really do have confidence, value and support for those schools.”



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