Canberrans’ lives have been disrupted for more than a month now by various waves of protests and protesters, loosely gathered under the ‘Convoy to Canberra’ banner and culminating in a massive demonstration last weekend.
The protesters were focused on a wide array of causes, including religious freedoms, but were united by their opposition to vaccine mandates.
While ACT Policing has been measured in their response, locals were considerably more frustrated, calling for everything from water cannons to the armed forces to move the protesters on from campsites at the National Library lawns and EPIC. Others say the right to protest matters most, even when it’s inconvenient, and it’s the price of living in the national capital.
The campers are now dispersed, but the argument continues. In an unusually strong response, many readers agreed that the group went too far, disrupting the lives of ordinary Canberrans to an unacceptable degree and for an unacceptably long period.
We asked, Do the “freedom protesters” have a right to disrupt Canberra with their actions?
A total of 4676 people voted. Your choices were No, their actions are unreasonable. Go home and stop harassing us. This received 67 per cent of the total, or 3137 votes. Alternatively, you could choose Yes, these are inherent democratic rights even when they’re inconvenient. This received 33 per cent of the total or 1539 votes.
This week, we’re wondering about plans to relocate public housing tenants from their properties. Housing ACT has begun officially notifying more than 300 public housing tenants that they will have to move as part of the ACT Government’s latest public housing renewal program.
The program has been focusing on its several thousand strong stock of three-bedroom houses across Canberra, asking tenants to move out so the sites can either be sold to generate re-investment funds or redeveloped to build modern homes.
A total of 314 targeted tenants received letters this week advising them they would need to move to another suitable public housing property. A government spokesperson said eviction will be a last resort.
But welfare and community organisations continue to argue that the renewal program will still leave a shortfall of housing in the ACT. Around 4000 people remain on Housing ACT’s waiting list, including 485 on the priority waitlist and construction times have blown out.
James Forge wrote: “If it weren’t a money-making exercise, the people would be moved out while their house was completely gutted and refurbished to modern standards and then moved back in.
“Unfortunately, it has to be a moneymaker, so the older places are getting sold off to the highest bidder or demolished and 2 or 3 dwellings placed where one currently is.”
But according to Theresa Gray, “It’s about time something is getting done. I hope it’s done compassionately and you consider the elderly and ensure they remain close to shops and public transport.
“Do not isolate them. Also, keep the elderly close to one another so they can support each other and not have to tolerate the mental health stress from some of the younger tenants in need.”
Our question this week is: