20 September 2021

Probing the polls: saving the horse paddocks and extending the lockdown

| Genevieve Jacobs
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COVID-19 drive through testing site

COVID-19 drive through testing site at Kambah. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Can we retain Canberra’s iconic horse paddocks in a rapidly growing city? The ACT is dotted with expansive paddocks and the rate of horse ownership here has always been the highest of any Australian city.

But increasingly, these spaces are under threat, whether from the latest proposal for a large aged care facility off the Cotter Rd, or the deal between the ACT Government and the NCA that will turn the North Curtin Horse Paddocks into a diplomatic estate.

This week’s poll asked, Can we save Canberra’s horse paddocks? A total of 1174 people voted.

Your choices were to vote No, people’s needs come before luxuries like horse paddocks. This received 19 per cent of the total, or 220 votes. Alternatively, you could vote Yes, these green lungs are part of our identity. This received 81 per cent of the total, or 1174 votes.

This week, we’re wondering about Canberra’s newly extended lockdown and whether it was the right move. Canberra’s COVID-19 outbreak appears to be relatively well contained, although stubbornly difficult to eradicate.

That trend, coupled with the percentage of people who continue to be in the community during their infectious period, was behind the decision to extend the lockdown to 15 October.

The ACT Government says there’s a challenging balancing act in front of us as we race towards full vaccination across the community by mid-November but keep the Delta strain in check.

But many ACT businesses say they are hard hit, may not recover from the blow and need more support and financial relief. Mr Barr has been under pressure regarding more detail for the path forward, including from parents who urgently want to know whether their children will return to face to face learning during Term Four.

READ ALSO Barr had little choice but to extend lockdown

Ian Bushnell wrote this week that, “Mr Barr and (Chief Health Officer) Dr Coleman are not making decisions for journalists, individual businesses, upset families or people whose travel plans are on hold”.

“They have to consider the safety of the entire ACT population and be accountable for their actions.”

So did the ACT Government have little choice but to extend the lockdown? Or is the government being unnecessarily cautious to the cost of our back pockets and mental health?

Gary Keogh wrote: “I think Barr’s been doing a pretty good job, all things considered. It’s better than the NSW approach of opening up at 70 per cent with the caveat that you must be fully vaccinated. In saying that, the ACT is very different to other states. There’s not much vaccine hesitancy here so there’s little need for vaccine mandates.”

Plenty of others are less convinced.

Allison Roesler-Vannan wrote: “We believed if we did everything right the government wouldn’t let new clusters in through our borders. We believed our children’s education would be prioritised over golf and singles’ picnics.”

And another commenter said “The problem is not the extension, but the extension with a lack of justification and reasoning backed with supporting evidence and a lack of contingency planning. This then leads to lack of transparency”.

Our question this week is:

Did the Government make the right call extending the lockdown?

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The poll needs another answer along the lines of, ‘Extended lock down is justified only with better and more extensive information on a roadmap following the reaching of the 80% target.’

While being resigned to the extension with no more additional activities allowed, (understanding it is a limited field to choose from if we are to squash the outbreak), a bit more insight into the way the government is thinking about life after 80% would be welcome.

As an educated population in the main, I believe we can be trusted with more information, be trusted to understand the complexities of the situation and be able to self-regulate with government advice once we do hit the magic number.

Andrew Barr has done a fantastic job, with a lot of luck thrown in. That we went for so long without cases was more than good management really. It’s now time he started to adapt the tone from paternalistic to have more faith in the people who have been doing the hard yards and working within all the rules for so long.

Largely, I agree, although it’s not those who are educated and trustworthy that are the problem is it?
Lockdowns are to protect us all from those who don’t fit into those categories……

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