[First filed: February 16, 2007 @ 14:44]
The ACT Opposition spokesman for more police and the Tharwa bridge, Steve Pratt, has put out not one but three press releases about the small town’s bridge and lack thereof.
In the first, Mr Pratt said the government should ask the defence force to lend them a Bailey bridge to create a temporary crossing, as happened at the Cotter after the fires. Mr Pratt’s had a chat to his mate Brendan Nelson up on the big hill, who’s told him it should be possible for the ACT to borrow such an item.
“I have received an overwhelming response from the Tharwa community in complete support of this option,” Mr Pratt said. It occurs to me that the Tharwa community may well support any option that means they don’t have to travel via the supposedly treacherous Point Hut Crossing road.
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Next he had a whinge about municipal services minster John Hargreaves’s reaction to Mr Pratt’s revelations earlier this week about what may or may not have happened with the bridge’s development application. (The Liberals are apparently so proud of this release they’ve published it twice.)
“Further, on the 13th of February during a Committee hearing on Planning and Environment, Mr Neil Savery, confirmed that due to the shoddy, incomplete information supplied by Mr Hargreaves on the Tharwa Bridge application, clarification was needed before ACTPLA could proceed,” Mr Pratt (or possibly Brendan Smyth) said.
To me that reads as saying that actually Mr Hargreaves did lodge an application, as he said he had, but ACTPLA needs some extra details before moving on to the next stage. I think that’s different from not lodging an application, which is what Mr Smyth previously said had happened.
Finally, Mr Pratt has welcomed (as has Mr Smyth) an ACT Heritage Council report — from last October — which says the old Tharwa bridge should be preserved and continue to have vehicles use it because it’s Canberra’s oldest bridge. The Liberals’ reading of the Council’s report is that the bridge could be restored using modern materials and techniques but retain a wooden facade and thus, the theory goes, its character.
“On balance, the Council considers that the cost of refurbishing the Bridge with modern materials will enable it to carry modern traffic loads safely while minimising on-going maintenance costs,” Mr Pratt (or Smyth) said. I wonder if the Council will pay for this, since it thinks it’s so important to retain the bridge.
UPDATE: Mr. Hargreaves is again channeling the angry voice and accusing Smyth and Pratt of defaming him. Also the Army wanted “$1.6-1.8 million for a crossing that would have a practical life of less than six months” (assuming of course the paperwork is ever satisfactorily completed).