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They’ve taken Oaks Estate? Is NSW eating the ACT? Yes, Minister

By A_Cog - 31 May 2012 38

[This is the text of a letter from the office of Joy Burch MLA, Member for Brindabella, Minister for Housing, to me.]

Dear Mr [name],

Thank you for your email of 19 April 2012 regarding the lack of bus services to and from Oaks Estate, Queanbeyan, NSW.

Minister Burch has asked me to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence and to inform you that the issues you raise fall under the portfolio responsibilities Ms Katy Gallagher MLA, Chief Minister. I have forwarded your correspondence to Ms Gallagher for her attention and consideration.

Thank you again for taking the time to write.

So Oaks Estate is part of NSW.

Someone should tell ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell. Then tell the seven MLAs for Molonglo.

Does Joy Burch really think Oaks Estate is part of Queanbeyan?

More likely is that Minister Burch never even saw my letter which asked for her views on the total lack of ACTION services to Oaks Estate.

The way correspondence is handled, my letter would have been dealt with by her office staff and passed up to an advisor to respond to, as per office protocol for ministerial correspondence.

Why did I write to Joy Burch?

Because as Minister for Housing, she is responsible for the approximately 90 people in a suburb population of 242 who live in the seven blocks of public housing in Oaks Estate. (Refer to table 8, line 122, on the excel spreadsheet for Population Estimates by Statistical Local Area.) When I discovered that there were no ACTION services to Oaks Estate, I thought it was both wrong and unfair. I saw several glaring contradictions between the actual state of affairs in Oaks Estate, and ACT Labor’s 2011-12 policy platform regarding public housing and transport. 

Given that easily accessible public transport would be very helpful to public housing tenants (it costs several thousand dollars a year to own a car), I would have expected the Housing Minister to pursue an ACTION bus service rather than leaving some of the most disadvantaged people in the ACT stranded on the border. It makes sense to have a stack of public housing connected to public transport, so the tenants can commute to jobs and training, right?

No, Minister.

Instead, because my letter had the word ‘bus’ in it, the advisor palmed my letter off to the Minister with portfolio responsibility for ACTION bus services, Katy Gallagher. The advisor ignored all my references to Joy Burch’s portfolio and the public housing in Oaks Estate, and ignored my questions specific to the housing portfolio.

This advisor then would have crafted their response according to rules of standard practice:

  1. Make no promises (in politics, you never give anything away for free – it’s all about leverage – so you wait for an ‘issue’ to become a ‘problem’ and then you ‘solve’ it through two-way deals)
  2. Say as little as possible (so your words won’t come back to haunt you)
  3. The Minister must appear to care (the truth would damage the facade)
  4. Get the response out quickly (there are so many other letters from other constituents whose concerns you have to ignore and palm off)

So we have a member of the ACT’s Legislative Assembly whose advisor is not even clear on the location of an entire ACT suburb where a bunch of people live – people that this advisor’s Minister is supposed to be looking after.

Presumably, this would be one of a small group of advisors to Joy Burch.

So Minister Burch, I’d like to know:

  1. Are all your advisors this rubbish?
  2. Does this advisor repeatedly get key details of other issues completely wrong when they brief you?
  3. Is the standard of this specific advisor general to all the advisors in your office, or in your party?
  4. Are you aware that there is an election this year (or did this advisor tell you that was for NSW too)?

 

Not impressed.

What’s Your opinion?


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38 Responses to
They’ve taken Oaks Estate? Is NSW eating the ACT? Yes, Minister
1
damien haas 4:56 pm
31 May 12
#

Dont feel too bad, the ratepayers of Hall and Tharwa dont have ACTION services either, and they had their schools closed as well.

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2
p1 6:23 pm
31 May 12
#

damien haas said :

Dont feel too bad, the ratepayers of Hall and Tharwa dont have ACTION services either, and they had their schools closed as well.

How many public housing tenents live in Tharwa/Hall? Arguably, those residents choose to live there for lifestyle reasons.

As much as it must suck on the occasions you are in Oaks Estate and *want* to catch a bus to Canberra, I suspect if there was such a service, it would often be pretty empty.

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3
A_Cog 6:45 pm
31 May 12
#

Yes, p1, the service MAY POSSIBLY be empty… but the ACT govt doesn’t even try or care to find out. FYI, the red rapid 200 from Fyshwick DFO is often empty, so the ‘dead running’ argument for a potential oaks estate bus service isn’t good enough because ACTION are already happy to eat the dead running costs of the red rapid 200 service.

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4
cranky 6:54 pm
31 May 12
#

A_Cog,

Thank you for a post I would have been proud to have written.

Burch is a loser, and it appears her staff are even less competent.

We do not deserve these oxygen thieves.

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5
POK 7:04 pm
31 May 12
#

I don’t know the area very well..is it possible to use whatever services Queanbeyan has? She might not care that its an election year- she might gain more votes by bashing the entitled minority in Oaks’ Estate than by announcing more money for a service that is already quite terrible in suburbs much larger and closer to city centres. That its terrible already wont exactly sway pollies to make it *more* terrible.

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6
spinact 7:06 pm
31 May 12
#

“More likely is that Minister Burch never even saw my letter…” Correct, and the adviser who signed the response probably didn’t read your letter either.

The response is clearly a format acknowledgement letter more than likely prepared by the departmental ministerial correspondence unit/section. I would say the Queanbeyan error can be attributed to some poor low level officer who has to process 100’s of referral letters every day. You probably should be thankful they didn’t refer your letter to the Queanbeyan city council!

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7
PoQ 9:11 pm
31 May 12
#

I’m on Henderson Rd, and if ACTION came to Oaks Estate, I’d be catching that bus every day. Deanes and their $6.80 fares would have kittens, though. I suspect that’s why there’s no commuter service to HMAS Harman either. (and they didn’t have their school shut like Tharwa, because they didn’t have one to start with).

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8
EvanJames 10:41 pm
31 May 12
#

There’s a regular and very empty bus (route 10) that does Civic to Majura Park and Fairbairn many times a day. You could have a few of those go a bit longer and do Oaks Estate at peak times. But Deanes would possibly ram the action bus!

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9
qbngeek 8:55 am
01 Jun 12
#

The way Oaks Estate is shoved in a corner and forgotten is disgraceful. Especially since it was the beginning of the ACT and housed all the workers who went on to build the capital.

Out of interest, do you have anything to do with the signs that keep changing with updates for the last few months? You list a website with no information on it and I have been quite puzzled about what you are planning to do. My curiousity was really given a nudge when the original sign said ‘Shame Overall, Shame’ and I was trying to figure out what the mayor of Queanbeyan had to do with an ACT suburb.

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10
VYBerlinaV8_is_back 9:26 am
01 Jun 12
#

cranky said :

A_Cog,

Thank you for a post I would have been proud to have written.

Burch is a loser, and it appears her staff are even less competent.

We do not deserve these oxygen thieves.

So stop electing them, Canberra.

Report this comment

11
p1 9:42 am
01 Jun 12
#

A_Cog said :

Yes, p1, the service MAY POSSIBLY be empty… but the ACT govt doesn’t even try or care to find out. FYI, the red rapid 200 from Fyshwick DFO is often empty, so the ‘dead running’ argument for a potential oaks estate bus service isn’t good enough because ACTION are already happy to eat the dead running costs of the red rapid 200 service.

I wasn’t saying that it shouldn’t run, just the probable reason it doesn’t. I think ACTION really should service Oaks Estate. A loop via the airport monstrosities Brindabella Business Park, Oaks Estate, Queanbeyan centre, Fyshwick and Civic, running both ways a couple of times in the morning and evening would probably be more profitable then a lot of the other routes.

As has been said though, Deanes would man the barricades.

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12
Womblenet 11:20 am
01 Jun 12
#

It would be fantastic to have a bus service in QBN that doesn’t stop at 5:45pm, if you can fanagle an oaks estate action bus I am sure it would be well populated especially if it went to QBN town centre, and to civic or some such.

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13
poetix 1:21 pm
01 Jun 12
#

‘Fear not, until Oaks Estate. Do come to Queanbeyan’
Macbeth

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14
A_Cog 7:06 pm
01 Jun 12
#

Thanks rioters, some good ideas. FYI, when I wrote to Joy Burch, I also wrote to 11 other MLAs to ask them questions specific to their portfolio/shadow/spokesperson role about this issue. I asked transport, education, police, health and housing. They all stepped sideways except Rattenbury, the only MLA who actually read my letter and pursued this issue. More on that in a later post. But I raised the point that the first four and last four services of the Red Rapid 200 come from the depot, so there is no reason ACTION can’t extend to Oaks Estate. But neither Labor nor Liberal were interested. All Labor/Liberal MLAs palmed it off to their respective talking head for transport, and they said, ‘yeah, we’ll get to that in ’13’. What a joke.

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15
I-filed 8:40 pm
01 Jun 12
#

The only Oaks Estate mullies who need an ACTION service surely are those who have lost their licenses through DUI. I’d love it if the Freakonomics folk could tell us how it is that people on the dole, sorry, invalid pension more likely, somehow always seem to afford to run a car … and tailors … and expensive mixed drinks in a can.

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