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They’ve taken Oaks Estate? Is NSW eating the ACT? Yes, Minister

By A_Cog 31 May 2012 38

[This is the text of a letter from the office of Joy Burch MLA, Member for Brindabella, Minister for Housing, to me.]

Dear Mr [name],

Thank you for your email of 19 April 2012 regarding the lack of bus services to and from Oaks Estate, Queanbeyan, NSW.

Minister Burch has asked me to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence and to inform you that the issues you raise fall under the portfolio responsibilities Ms Katy Gallagher MLA, Chief Minister. I have forwarded your correspondence to Ms Gallagher for her attention and consideration.

Thank you again for taking the time to write.

So Oaks Estate is part of NSW.

Someone should tell ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell. Then tell the seven MLAs for Molonglo.

Does Joy Burch really think Oaks Estate is part of Queanbeyan?

More likely is that Minister Burch never even saw my letter which asked for her views on the total lack of ACTION services to Oaks Estate.

The way correspondence is handled, my letter would have been dealt with by her office staff and passed up to an advisor to respond to, as per office protocol for ministerial correspondence.

Why did I write to Joy Burch?

Because as Minister for Housing, she is responsible for the approximately 90 people in a suburb population of 242 who live in the seven blocks of public housing in Oaks Estate. (Refer to table 8, line 122, on the excel spreadsheet for Population Estimates by Statistical Local Area.) When I discovered that there were no ACTION services to Oaks Estate, I thought it was both wrong and unfair. I saw several glaring contradictions between the actual state of affairs in Oaks Estate, and ACT Labor’s 2011-12 policy platform regarding public housing and transport. 

Given that easily accessible public transport would be very helpful to public housing tenants (it costs several thousand dollars a year to own a car), I would have expected the Housing Minister to pursue an ACTION bus service rather than leaving some of the most disadvantaged people in the ACT stranded on the border. It makes sense to have a stack of public housing connected to public transport, so the tenants can commute to jobs and training, right?

No, Minister.

Instead, because my letter had the word ‘bus’ in it, the advisor palmed my letter off to the Minister with portfolio responsibility for ACTION bus services, Katy Gallagher. The advisor ignored all my references to Joy Burch’s portfolio and the public housing in Oaks Estate, and ignored my questions specific to the housing portfolio.

This advisor then would have crafted their response according to rules of standard practice:

  1. Make no promises (in politics, you never give anything away for free – it’s all about leverage – so you wait for an ‘issue’ to become a ‘problem’ and then you ‘solve’ it through two-way deals)
  2. Say as little as possible (so your words won’t come back to haunt you)
  3. The Minister must appear to care (the truth would damage the facade)
  4. Get the response out quickly (there are so many other letters from other constituents whose concerns you have to ignore and palm off)

So we have a member of the ACT’s Legislative Assembly whose advisor is not even clear on the location of an entire ACT suburb where a bunch of people live – people that this advisor’s Minister is supposed to be looking after.

Presumably, this would be one of a small group of advisors to Joy Burch.

So Minister Burch, I’d like to know:

  1. Are all your advisors this rubbish?
  2. Does this advisor repeatedly get key details of other issues completely wrong when they brief you?
  3. Is the standard of this specific advisor general to all the advisors in your office, or in your party?
  4. Are you aware that there is an election this year (or did this advisor tell you that was for NSW too)?

 

Not impressed.

What’s Your opinion?


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38 Responses to
They’ve taken Oaks Estate? Is NSW eating the ACT? Yes, Minister
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gazket 3:17 pm 19 Oct 12

since A.C.T. taxpayers subsidies ACTION buses to the tune of $120m or more the bus should be picking you us up and dropping us off at our driveway.

Joy Burch what a joke, couldn’t run a bath

OEPA 2:34 pm 19 Oct 12

sorry been new to riotact though not new to odd asides – when I look at the button ‘I want to’ it gives the option of ‘publishing an article’ – I merely referred to this, as that is what the OP had done? quote]

nolmright wrote…”Hang on… what “Article”? OP is about a letter written to what seems like every Minister ever.

Has anyone seen A_Cog and OEPA in a room at the same time? Just getting a funny feeling…

NoImRight 12:54 pm 19 Oct 12

OEPA said :

Micky_P said :

A_Cog, I’d love to read your actual letter to the Minister. You reference it a lot in each of your attacks but don’t ever explicitly reveal what you put in the letter. Your rant would gain more credibility, just sayin’.

I also feel like this article is more about you getting cheaper bus fares than concern for other tenants.

The article was written to explore the options to provide a bus service to all residents of Oaks Estate – whether children, pensioners, unemployed or full fare paying adults. Importantly one that is of a level of service experienced by the majority of ACT and to an extent Qeanbeyan residents.

The article and some respondents also highlighted the inconsistencies and misconceptions that is oft repeated about Oaks Estate, whether by politicians, bureaucrats or members of our community – which ever side of the border they work or live in.

It has taken close to twenty years of letter writing, calling and meetings to almost, be offered access to a service which is an affordable one. This is not saying we don’t welcome any further improvement whether by ACTION or Deanes as Oaks Estate needs a better, reliable service with fare parity.

However a major and soon to be rectified issue is that children eligible to access the School Student Transport Scheme can. See here for detail http://actbus.net/?.p=612

The irony is the scheme was introduced in 2001 and while to have an affordable school service for eligible children is as it should be, it does underscore the continual frustrations of this community.

We welcome further improvements – red rapid, # 10, or Deanes but it must be reliable, easily accessed and not disadvantage.

Hang on… what “Article”? OP is about a letter written to what seems like every Minister ever.

Has anyone seen A_Cog and OEPA in a room at the same time? Just getting a funny feeling…

NoImRight 11:54 am 19 Oct 12

I tend to agree ACT residents should have access to the same ACT services. If its not economical well neither are lots of services in Canberra itself.

You may get a rep as a crank sending off the same complaint to every agency you can think of though. Why Police for example? I also think it is a Transport issue not Housing so while it was mishandled by Housing scoring cheap points on a forum will not advance your cause. I also imagine if you took this style in your letter they may well have looked at how fast they could palm yet another nut job off to someone else. Just an assumption though.

birder 10:32 am 19 Oct 12

I think your complaint about the incompetent job Joy Burch’s staff have done is valid. I’ve seen her at the Chisholm Coles on Saturday mornings trying to get people to vote for her. Bring your letter and her response, and go talk to her. I think elections are tomorrow, though, right? In that case, make an appointment and go see her. At least I would. This kind of incompetence should not be allowed to go by unnoticed.

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 10:11 am 19 Oct 12

Don’t live in oaks estate…

OEPA 12:58 am 19 Oct 12

Micky_P said :

A_Cog, I’d love to read your actual letter to the Minister. You reference it a lot in each of your attacks but don’t ever explicitly reveal what you put in the letter. Your rant would gain more credibility, just sayin’.

I also feel like this article is more about you getting cheaper bus fares than concern for other tenants.

The article was written to explore the options to provide a bus service to all residents of Oaks Estate – whether children, pensioners, unemployed or full fare paying adults. Importantly one that is of a level of service experienced by the majority of ACT and to an extent Qeanbeyan residents.

The article and some respondents also highlighted the inconsistencies and misconceptions that is oft repeated about Oaks Estate, whether by politicians, bureaucrats or members of our community – which ever side of the border they work or live in.

It has taken close to twenty years of letter writing, calling and meetings to almost, be offered access to a service which is an affordable one. This is not saying we don’t welcome any further improvement whether by ACTION or Deanes as Oaks Estate needs a better, reliable service with fare parity.

However a major and soon to be rectified issue is that children eligible to access the School Student Transport Scheme can. See here for detail http://actbus.net/?.p=612

The irony is the scheme was introduced in 2001 and while to have an affordable school service for eligible children is as it should be, it does underscore the continual frustrations of this community.

We welcome further improvements – red rapid, # 10, or Deanes but it must be reliable, easily accessed and not disadvantage.

Micky_P 4:46 pm 06 Jun 12

A_Cog, I’d love to read your actual letter to the Minister. You reference it a lot in each of your attacks but don’t ever explicitly reveal what you put in the letter. Your rant would gain more credibility, just sayin’.

I also feel like this article is more about you getting cheaper bus fares than concern for other tenants.

qbngeek 4:43 pm 06 Jun 12

ToastFliesRED said :

But they do have easy access to public transport, honestly, not those stinky vacant buses though, Oaks Estate is just across the rail lines from historic Queanbeyan Railway Station and I am sure there is at least the occasional random Countrylink service that still runs through there. Given the line us used so irregularly surely some entrepreneur could find a way to run a train from there to the bussling heart of Kingston Railway Station
/sarcasm

Hey, this could work. Extend the line back into the city (with a decent bridge this time, or a tunnel would be even better) and run it via Fyshwick. Put a free park and ride in Quangers, another in Fyshwick with on/off ramps straight to the highway and away we go. 3-4 Trains running during peak hour on 15 minute intervals, you could move the entire population on Quangers and a large part of southern ACT into the city with minimal fuss and much reduced traffic.

I reckon theres money to be made in there somewhere.

PoQ 3:59 pm 06 Jun 12

youami said :

I just did checked Google Maps and you are ~1.7km from Queanbeyan town centre. I live in Inner South Canberra and I have to travel further to get to shops than you! So your problem is? Oh you want to go to Canberra? Well walk 750m to Henderson Rd and get a Deanes bus. You want to go to hospital? Oh walk the 900 mtrs. You want to go to Woolies? Walk the 1.2km. Get over it, you have more facilities and services in your immediate proximity than most other ACT suburbs, just so happens to be these services are in NSW and Deanes isn’t as cheap as ACTION. Sometimes life is unfair. […] … happy for you to refute my logic.

Being relatively young and healthy, I don’t go to hospitals. Being a latte sipping bogan, I shop at Supabarn to undermine Coles’ *and* Woolies’ duopoly (also as I have shares in Metcash). What I do do is work in Civic.

My issue with Deans is that for the $13.60 in Deanes fares there and back, I can drive into Civic, park, and not have the inconvenience of public transport. As the 8.12 from Uriarra Rd goes on a Cook’s tour of the Canberra suburbs, it takes an hour to get to Civic Bus Interchange. I can ride my bike in quicker than that.

So to implement ACT Government policy of getting cars out of the city, you could extend the ACTION buses to Oaks Estate and get (as they were called on a separate thread altogether) “Yellowtails” to walk across the McEwan St bridge and take the bus, or I can make your commute worse by driving my car into your town.

ToastFliesRED 3:22 pm 06 Jun 12

But they do have easy access to public transport, honestly, not those stinky vacant buses though, Oaks Estate is just across the rail lines from historic Queanbeyan Railway Station and I am sure there is at least the occasional random Countrylink service that still runs through there. Given the line us used so irregularly surely some entrepreneur could find a way to run a train from there to the bussling heart of Kingston Railway Station
/sarcasm

poetix 1:40 pm 04 Jun 12

jasmine said :

Oops I repeated myself because I did not think the first one took.

I thought you were deliberately repeating yourself, like Bart Simpson writing lines on a blackboard…(-:

youami 1:36 pm 04 Jun 12

A_Cog said :

So the tone and content of reader comments degenerates to an attack on people who use Centrelink… what a joke.

Part of what they struggle with is their own baggage. Part of what they struggle against is us demonising them. And part of what they struggle with is being stranded in the middle of nowhere, unable to access jobs and vocational training as easily as the rest of us can.

My letters to the 12 MLAs was about providing ACT residents with access to ACT public transport so they can access ACT training and ACT jobs. Queanbeyan ain’t the best for jobs and training, especially since the market for Queanbeyan (population 50,000) is much smaller than Canberra (population 350,000).

So the vicious amongst you smack down these unlucky people for being at the bottom of society, saying they don’t desreve is or suggesting they p!ss off over the border… and when I showed you one effort I had gone to by contacting MLAs and suggesting buses go to Oaks Estate, the heartless amongst you continue to hammer them, implicitly saying they don’t deserve the buses.

So just how are they supposed to climb out of the hole you hate them for being in? Why should they be lumbered with the additional burden of being cut-off from the transport network? Surely they should be given more access to overcome their disadvantage? What can they do to overcome your prejudice? And what a sad world we live in when half of their struggle is us, saying they don’t deserve anything.

Not sure if you were referring to my posts but just for the record I never said Oaks Estate didn’t deserve public transport (I most certainly support the concept as I think public transport is important no matter where you live). I just said there are alternatives that you can make use of in the absence of a dedicated service. I also accept that not everyone who lives in Oaks Estate are on Centrelink books nor live in public housing. But you also need to consider my logic, you *do* have major community services close by, the fact that it is interstate should be irrelevant, and the fact that you can get to Canberra on public transport (in an indirect way) is still nonetheless fact –yes it is more expensive and slightly less convenient than ACTION but deal with it.

So to actually get back to your OP, I think the MLA response to your complaint was totally poor form and you need to go back to the Minister. I would highlight in your follow-up letter ACT Labor’s public housing and transport policies that you mention and how Oaks Estate doesn’t meet them etc.

jasmine 1:32 pm 04 Jun 12

Oops I repeated myself because I did not think the first one took.

jasmine 1:31 pm 04 Jun 12

poetix
Mmmmm…yes I think I did mean ‘voila’. This baby boomer has always spelt it phonetically. I always thought it was one of those made-up words that became urban norms, that is everyone knew the meaning. Live and learn. 🙂

jasmine 1:26 pm 04 Jun 12

Quote: “Given that ‘wullah’ means I swear (to God or Allah) in Arabic, at least according to the linguists who submit to Urban Dictionary, it’s possible that your aside has attracted some interest too. Did you mean ‘voila’ by any chance.

Mmm… yes perhaps I did mean ‘voila’ but this baby boomer has always said WULLAH – the phonetic translation. 🙂

A_Cog 9:55 am 04 Jun 12

So the tone and content of reader comments degenerates to an attack on people who use Centrelink… what a joke.

Part of what they struggle with is their own baggage. Part of what they struggle against is us demonising them. And part of what they struggle with is being stranded in the middle of nowhere, unable to access jobs and vocational training as easily as the rest of us can.

My letters to the 12 MLAs was about providing ACT residents with access to ACT public transport so they can access ACT training and ACT jobs. Queanbeyan ain’t the best for jobs and training, especially since the market for Queanbeyan (population 50,000) is much smaller than Canberra (population 350,000).

So the vicious amongst you smack down these unlucky people for being at the bottom of society, saying they don’t desreve is or suggesting they p!ss off over the border… and when I showed you one effort I had gone to by contacting MLAs and suggesting buses go to Oaks Estate, the heartless amongst you continue to hammer them, implicitly saying they don’t deserve the buses.

So just how are they supposed to climb out of the hole you hate them for being in? Why should they be lumbered with the additional burden of being cut-off from the transport network? Surely they should be given more access to overcome their disadvantage? What can they do to overcome your prejudice? And what a sad world we live in when half of their struggle is us, saying they don’t deserve anything.

youami 9:20 pm 03 Jun 12

IrishPete said :

You miss the point – Deanes are private and expensive. And do not integrate with Action (e.g. transferrable tickets). Oaks Estate residents must travel to somewhere in the ACT to access ACT Government services, as they are ACT residents. Walking into Queanbeyan doesn’t provide that access.

IP

Granted I probably did miss the point. But I did ask for people to refute my logic. I accept Oaks Estate is in ACT and therefore ACT services apply but most welfare services are provided by the federal government and there is a Centrelink/Human Services office in Queanbeyan so it would only be Oaks Estate specific administrative things I would have thought (ACT Housing etc.) that one would need to actually go to Canberra for. I also accept that Deanes is expensive when compared to ACTION but doesn’t welfare recipients get fare discounts? And if you take a look at concession fares (and Deanes explanation of how they work out their fares) it is inline with NSW Government limits on fare pricing. I would argue that they are not expensive but it is all relative. http://www.deanesbuslines.com.au/queanbeyan/faresandsections.html. Oh and Deanes accept (some) ACT government concession cards –http://www.deanesbuslines.com.au/queanbeyan/concessionfares.html.

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