26 May 2023

Probing the polls: the Calvary takeover stoush and emission free zones in the city

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Mitsubishi electric vehicle

If Suzanne Orr gets her way, only EVs will be welcome in some parts of Canberra. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

It’s the biggest news story in town and Riotact readers have spoken – they aren’t fans of the ACT Government’s plan to take over Calvary Public Hospital.

After months of negotiations with the Little Company of Mary, the government made the shock announcement, breaking a lease with 76 years to run.

Calvary says it was blindsided, while the government says it had few options. In our poll, a majority opposed the takeover.

We asked: Should the ACT Government take over Calvary Public? A total of 1615 readers voted.

Your choices to vote were: No, they don’t own it and it’s not as if ACT Health is working well. This attracted 59 per cent of the vote, or 954 votes.

Alternatively, you could choose Yes, it makes sense for northside healthcare and efficiency. This attracted 41 per cent of the total, or 661 votes.

This week we’re wondering about proposals to turn the city centre into an emissions-free zone by banning petrol and diesel-powered cars driving through a “significant area” of Canberra within the next six years.

The ACT Legislative Assembly passed a motion calling for the ACT Government to join cities around the world in signing up to the ‘C40 Cities Green and Healthy Streets Accelerator’, creating a commitment to “designate a significant area of the city as zero emission by 2030” and “procure only zero-emission buses from 2025”.

There have been plenty of objections. The plan has been called “discriminatory” for people with access issues and Canberrans who can’t afford the upfront cost of upgrading to an electric vehicle (EV).

Labor MLA Suzanne Orr says she wants to ensure any “transition to a cleaner economy … is inclusive”, adding it would look different to the vast areas and entry fees in other cities.

READ ALSO Labor MLA rejects claims petrol and diesel-free zone in Canberra is ‘discriminatory’

The proposal met with a mixed (and strong) response from readers.

Hest Lars asked: “So why does the ACT govt want to do this? Because it’s hip and European cities are making these zones? Or is it because of air quality issues? Which I can understand might be valid in densely built European cities, but in Canberra, the air quality is more polluted with smoke from wood fire heaters than from cars.”

Stuart M said: “I’m an EV driver, and I have to agree with many here in saying that this proposal is premature. Canberra is not the size of London or Paris, and so air quality concerns are not on par. This indeed appears to be trying to get onto the ‘cool’ bandwagon, as the proposal currently stands.

“But to clarify (or correct) some of the comments made by the more extreme posts here: the year proposed is 2030. That’s still seven years away, but it nevertheless makes more sense to align it with 2035 (12 years away), which is when it’s proposed to start restricting NEW fossil fuel car registrations (note: not current vehicles). Most car manufacturers have signalled an intent to cease petrol car production around that point anyway, such as GM.”

Our question this week is:

Do you agree with the proposed zero-emissions ban in the city?

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Barr Government is giving me Soviet vibes after this move. I guess it goes with their rubbish lack of services they offer those not living in Braddon

Karl Marx approves

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