Val Jeffery puts it to Hargreaves.

Thumper 10 July 2007 20

Grizzled old fire fighting veteran and Tharwa good guy Val Jeffery has given our beloved and obviously misunderstood minister a right bollocking in the letters section of the Canberra Times.

[Ed – with a bit of hunting around i’ve found the original comments hidden away on the CTs website but copied below for ease of reference]

” I am saddened by the cavalier attitude of Minister Hargreaves to the death and distress caused by the closure of the Tharwa Bridge. The transcript of the minister’s “exchange” with Steve Pratt is distressing reading, to say the least.

Not only Tharwa but the whole of the ACT community has suffered by the failure of Hargreaves’ department to maintain and deal with the Tharwa bridge. Two lives lost, one critical injury, and more deaths and injuries to come; meanwhile Hargreaves rants on instead of ordering his “experts” to get the bridge opened immediately.

Leadership on behalf of his constituents instead of raving under the load of his failed department would be a welcome change. The heat is on Hargreaves and his departmental “experts” to properly address the management of the Tharwa bridge. The Tharwa bridge has in this episode been shut for nine months and not one maintenance blow struck to reopen it.

It is a sad reflection on Hargreaves’ roads and bridges section when you consider that it only took 10 months to build the bridge 112 years ago.

I expect Hargreaves will attack me as he has attacked Pratt because he expects the community to embrace him for giving us a new bridge, already five months behind schedule, at double the cost and at least two years away.

How many more of us must die before Hargreaves and his “experts” grow up?

A public inquiry into the last 10 years of failed maintenance and the closure of this essential icon is urgent and overdue. The Chief Minister should initiate that inquiry now.

Val Jeffery, Tharwa”
Canberra Times online

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20 Responses to Val Jeffery puts it to Hargreaves.
Maelinar Maelinar 1:37 pm 16 Jul 07

I ponder this point:

A faster way to get to the other side of the Murrumbidgee river (Uriarra Xing) from my house would be to head to the water works and cross a bridge there. This is a mere 5/6km journey.

My present situation dictates I travel via coppins crossing, and then onto uriarra, a 20+ km journey.

So, in a situation where I can get to where I want to go, why should the Government build a bridge for my convenience ?

Retrospectively, from the other direction, should the farmer who lives down that way fall ill, he has to travel the same journey in reverse in order to get to hospital. To date I am unaware of him ever complaining that a bridge from the water treatment plant would make that a faster journey, and thus, potentially save his life.

kylearaus kylearaus 11:24 am 16 Jul 07

hear hear to craigfromcurtin.

The consequences of loss of life, both actual and potential cannot be underestimated. This governmet really is the less worst of what is on the menu. As for Minister Hargreaves. The acronym WOMBAT spring to mind. Not the one that leaves, but waste of money breath and time.
Were I to find myself needing some form of motorised attention (ambulance, roadside assistance, police etc) while visiting one of the many noted points of interest south of Tharwa, I would be pretty pissed of to know that help was making its way via Cotter, or had just struck and killed a Tour de France wannabe, a MotoGP wannabe, an off-road hero, or just a member of the public, while traversing Point Hut.
Wake up Hargreaves and your minions. The bridge (and the school) is not just for the residents of Tharwa, but for EVERYBODY.
I heard that you could drive over the bridge one day, and the very next that it was too dangerous for even pedestrians.

caf caf 12:56 pm 11 Jul 07

flyingblind, we currently are under two tiers of government (ACT and Federal), if we became part of NSW *then* we would be under three (council, state and federal).

Mr Evil Mr Evil 12:31 pm 11 Jul 07

Gee, it’s hard not to be cynical and think that the lack of a usable bridge into Tharwa is a Labor payback against Tharwa because Val and others down that way have been so vocal against them on the handling of the 2003 bushfire.

The ACT Govt has had plenty of time to build a new bridge; for God’s sake they’ve know it’s been a problem for quite a few years now.

Hargreaves: stop being a small minded and petty little man – build a bridge and get over it!

flyingblind flyingblind 12:25 pm 11 Jul 07

roccon, you raise a point very close to my heart, lets close ACT Inc down and become part of NSW. Keep the parliamentary triangle under the tender attentions of NCA. and no i don’t work for either of them, I’m just a privately employed tax payer who’s fed up with 3 tiers of Government.

roccon roccon 12:04 pm 11 Jul 07


Tharwa existed way before Canberra did, so did the bridge.

Tharwa residents are entitled to the same respect as everyone else.

If the ACT isn’t interested in looking after Tharwa, maybe they should give that part of the territory back to NSW

caf caf 11:23 am 11 Jul 07

So the thrust of Jeffreys’ comments is that Hargreaves should, through nothing more than the sheer power of bellowing loudly, magic a new bridge out of thin air. Apparently the new one isn’t coming fast enough, so they should just… you know… do it faster. Maybe that irritating know-it-all should tender to build the bridge himself if he knows a quicker way to do it.

Kramer Kramer 10:25 am 11 Jul 07

“Why do Canberrans keep voting for a government that doesn’t listen to the community?”

We just vote for the least worst.

Kramer Kramer 10:23 am 11 Jul 07

I’m sure there should be enough of you here working in governement agencies to realise that captial works have to budgeted for. Sure if there was some spare cash sloshing around, it could (and probably did) go towards initial assesments of the old bridge and then designs for the new bridge. These things take time, last thing we want is another rickety old wooden bridge which only lasts 100 years 😉

emd emd 10:10 am 11 Jul 07

Why do Canberrans keep voting for a government that doesn’t listen to the community? Are we really that stupid? Obviously we are!

Thumper Thumper 9:25 am 11 Jul 07

I think Tharwa residents have a right to whinge, afterall, the bridge is no longer usable and it appears that Hargreaves and his cronies are doing to do their level best not to fix it, or build a new one, simply because it costs money, and there are not many votes in Tharwa.

If they got it right the first time and didn’t penny pinch then none of this would be happening now!

v_man_returns v_man_returns 9:19 am 11 Jul 07

Hey, you can ridicule his stupid comments all you want, but lay off Seinfeld!

Kramer Kramer 7:45 am 11 Jul 07

Tharwa residents are a bunch of whingers. They made a lifestyle choice to live there. Due to unfortunate circumstances their bridge is out of action. They do have other options such as Point Hut crossing and Cotter Bridge. If they don’t like it, they can move to civilised living like the rest of us.

CraigFromCurtin CraigFromCurtin 1:46 am 11 Jul 07

Hear hear.

andym andym 11:54 pm 10 Jul 07

A low level crossing obviously isn’t the answer. They have one at Point Hut, ok not ideal, but ok in the short term, except for the crappy approach roads and the fact the river covers it occasionally. (But given the extended dry can we really complain about that!).
You can’t compare a solid rock based shallow crossing over a barely flowing Cotter River to a deep sand based crossing over the Murrimbidgee River.

Perhaps the money that would be spent on a low level crossing could be better used to bring the old bridge up to spec to allow light traffic?

What they need is a new bridge as promised and funded by cabinet over 8 months ago. Stop dicking around Hargreaves and just do it.

ant ant 11:09 pm 10 Jul 07

Whinging? that sounds like some city people snarling about the farmers “whinging”.
They can’t get anywhere! They are on the other side of the river! their bridge is gone! They pay their rates, their taxes… they get precious little for them, all the city services that Canberra people enjoy, thye don’t see, and mostly don’t want. There’s bridges on every damn country road going nowhere. Why on earth can’t these people have a bridge that links them to their larger community?

CraigFromCurtin CraigFromCurtin 10:43 pm 10 Jul 07

Goodness me Kramer.

1. “It took much longer for the proper replacement bridge to be built”.

Yeah, so what? My point was very clear. Let me repeat it for you: “get a low level interim bridge open”. Who cares how long the permanent bridge takes? Why even mention it? My post was about getting an interim bridge going.

2. ” …the road is only a couple of meters (sic) above the river bed…”

Yeah, already said that the approaches would be the cost. Let me repeat it for you: “I think most of the problem (and the cost) would be the approaches…”. And what sort of “meters”? Electricity meters? Water meters?

3. Yeah recent storms may well have washed the thing away. But who could have predicted them? In this drought? It’s built so quickly and dirt cheap – put another one in!

4. “…whingeing Tharwa residents”.

“Whingeing”? Are you completely mad? Please tell us what suburb you live in Kramer. How would YOU like it if your trip from your home to your place of work, to the shops, and to the schools was broken, and you had to travel another 15km EACH WAY, EACH DAY? Do you think you’d be a whinger Kramer? You bet you would. You’d be screaming blue murder. Why shouldn’t the Tharwa residents complain? They moved there when a bridge was there. They moved there with a reasonable expectation that a bridge would still be there now. That lifeline has been closed, for very dodgy reasons (safe one day, in danger of collapse 12 months later, why not fix it? Stupid reasons about timber having to be found somewhere on the moon or something). They pay rates and taxes just like you Kramer. Why shouldn’t they be able to get from home to town? From home to the shops? From home to school?

5. “…Tharwa residents…”

Didn’t I just say that there are other ACT residents that used the bridge? Did you not read my post? Let me repeat it for you: “…remember that many more people from bigger parts of Canberra head south from time to time, not just to Tharwa, but to Angle Crossing, Booroomba, Booroomba Rocks, the Namadgi National Park (and its fantastic visitors’ centre), Mt Tennant, the old Honeysuckle Creek and Orroral Valley tracking stations, Naas, Cooma, Adaminaby, Yarrangobilly Caves, etc etc etc etc”.

Go back to sleep Kramer. Or go and watch repeats of Seinfeld.

Kramer Kramer 9:57 pm 10 Jul 07

The temporary Cotter River crossing was built very quickly by the army as a workaround for the situation. It took much longer for the proper replacement bridge to be built. Also the road is only a couple of meters above the river bed at the Cotter crossing whereas, Tharwa road is far higher than the level of the river bed. Anyone got 50 Million cubic meters of clean fill? GDE perhaps?? Also the recent storms would have washed away a temporary river crossing, and we would be back with whinging Tharwa residents.

CraigFromCurtin CraigFromCurtin 9:44 pm 10 Jul 07

I concur. After the January 03 bush fires, you would not believe how quickly a low-level crossing was built across Cotter River, next to where the now new Cotter River bridge is (beside the playground). Holey dooley indeed! It was put together in a couple of days! Now why can’t one of these be built beside the current bridge? I think most of the problem (and the cost) would be the approaches to it on either side of the river, but hey – I think this is big enough an issue for access to the south of the ACT. The long suffering residents of Tharwa have had enough, but if they are not enough in number for you, then remember that many more people from bigger parts of Canberra head south from time to time, not just to Tharwa, but to Angle Crossing, Booroomba, Booroomba Rocks, the Namadgi National Park (and its fantastic visitors’ centre), Mt Tennant, the old Honeysuckle Creek and Orroral Valley tracking stations, Naas, Cooma, Adaminaby, Yarrangobilly Caves, etc etc etc etc.

Come on Mr Hargreaves. Old bridges, new bridges, let’s debate whatever. But for goodness sake, get a low level interim bridge open. You could have it done by the weekend if you wanted! Sheesh!

ant ant 8:06 pm 10 Jul 07

I think the very urban government (and the federal department before self government) find these rural issues inconvenient and easily put-offable because of the small numbers of people involved. If it was a bridge connecting Civic with Reid, it would’ve been fixed pronto. These things can be done fast these days. You should see how incredibly fast the Defence HQ JOC is going up, holey dooley. Every day new stuff is evident, big structural stuff growing daily. If the will is there, things can be built very fast.

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