It’s been a dramatic week of COVID-19 crisis developments as the virus spreads rapidly around Australia. Here in Canberra, ACT Health is insisting that they have been able to trace the source of infection overwhelmingly to overseas travellers and close contacts.
They say there is no evidence of community transmission at this stage, although health minister Rachael Stephen-Smith and chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman both conceded it was inevitable and that the government needed to prepare for that eventuality.
Schools have been a central point of tension as the Commonwealth continues to insist that they are safe while the states urge all schools to close, an argument that’s now extending to the discussion around childcare centres. In the ACT, government schools are currently on pupil-free days until the school holidays.
We asked you Is it a good idea for schools to close in response to COVID-19?
A total of 758 people voted.
Our poll results were clear. You could choose to vote No, the economic fallout will be dire. There must be other options. This option received 20 per cent of the total, or 154 votes. Alternatively, you could vote Yes, there’s no other realistic option to keep our kids and teachers safe. This option received 80 per cent of the total, or 604 votes.
But while the crisis continues, everyday life does, too. The ACT Government and the NCA made a quiet announcement this week that they had agreed to terms that will enable the always controversial West Basin land swap to proceed.
The NCA revealed on its website that the Commonwealth had secured land in Curtin for the expansion of the ACT’s diplomatic community, either to build new embassies or residences over the next 25 years. The area in question is the North Curtin horse paddocks, and the ACT Equestrian Association says they were blindsided by the deal which will carve off 70 per cent of the land.
The other 30 per cent fronts Yarra Glen on the proposed light rail Stage 2 route to Woden and would be prime land for development along a public transport corridor.
The deal also clears the way for the planned redevelopment of the West Basin area on Lake Burley Griffin in the city, where the building of up to 2000 apartments has been flagged.
The City Renewal Authority’s next planned stage includes reclaiming the 2.8 hectares of the lake bed to expand the boardwalk, followed by building another lakeside park, landscaped public spaces and eventually residential development.
The deal won’t happen immediately: the Equestrian Association and users have until 2022.
Colette Raison said: “Don’t agree with infilling. Used to have horses in the Curtin paddocks. Came home from school. Walked up and had a ride. Great community then. Canberra WAS a bush capital. What happened?”
But Chris Cross didn’t agree, saying: “Outrage?? Makes perfect sense! Better utilise the land that is so close to the city and get rates from all the new diplomatic residences that set up there. Do it yesterday!”
What do you think?