Experience, Commitment, Results

The hurly burly of daily life can often mean we lose sight of longer term goals and what we have already achieved. This is as true in politics as in the rest of life.

So it is worthwhile to look back on what you have actually completed, and what remains to be done. To remind yourself of what is important and why you keep putting the energy into the day to day challenges.

Recently I had cause to do just this. I decided to cast back and look at what has been achieved in my portfolio areas since the most recent ACT election.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the achievements that stood out to me:

Looking at this list reminds me of why this job is important, and that as a minister I can sometimes give ideas the push they need to start moving and to create change in our community.
So many people help me in this job and these achievements are theirs as well. They are important to look back on, if only to remind why the daily hurly burly is worth it.
On this website, I’ll be blogging about various government and community issues that I deal with on a daily basis and I’ll be keen to hear your views on these and any other issues you would like to see me discuss.
Call or email my office, join the conversation on Twitter (@SimonCorbell); or Facebook, and sign up to my blog to make comments on this site.

3 thoughts on “Experience, Commitment, Results

  1. Hello Simon

    Now that you have had an opportunity to seek legal advice on the ACT’s power to object to NCA re-zoning of land for diplomatic purposes are you willing to object to NCA development of Stirling Park?

    Have you considered the biodiversity issues surrounding construction hard ip against endangered woodland habitat which runs down to Lake Burkey Griffin and which includes open space land?

    Voters would like to know where you stand on these issues affecting ACT residents.

    Thank you

  2. Thanks very much for your post and feedback. Management of and decisions on the use of the land at Stirling Ridge are the responsibility of the National Capital Authority. As you indicate any use of the land for development may result in a referral and assessment under the Commonwealth’s EBPC legislation. ACT planning and nature conservation laws do not apply to this land. I recognise that this area of land is widely used by residents in the nearby area and by many other Canberrans. I would be happy to meet with you to discuss your concerns and make sure that I understand your perspectives, recognising that how the land is used in the future is not a decision the ACT Government is empowered to make. Please give my office a call on 62050000 to arrange a suitable time.



  3. Simon, thanks for having a blog and being accessible to and interested in the views of the people of Canberra.

    As you would know, many people are concerned about the NCA’s preference for development of Stirling Park Yarralumla as a diplomatic precinct. The NCA claim to need 40 sites over the next 20 years to meet what they consider to be existing and future demand. Stirling Park would be only a partial solution as it would accommodate only 9 (large) blocks. It is a stopgap measure which is is largely ill-considered.

    According to the NCA, they will hold discussions with relevant government agencies prior to any further investigation of the Stirling Ridge and Old Canberra Brickworks sites for development as diplomatic precincts. Such discussions would, it seems, include you. Whilst you have tweeted that this is an NCA matter and not one for the ACT Government, we strongly disagree. This is a Canberra issue, an ACT election issue, an environmental protection issue, a heritage issue, a planning issue, a water quality issue, a road and pedestrian safety issue and further, this is Ngunnawal people land.

    We would like you to know that Stirling Park is an important amenity for the whole of Canberra. It is green open space running down to the edge of the Lake and is highly valued visually and for recreation. Walking groups, orienteers, school groups and those who enjoy a bush walk virtually in the city will find new roads and buildings will effectively alienate much of the Park. There will be inevitable destruction of parts of the Stirling Park environment which will impact particularly on the bird life, the close to pristine condition of parts of the bush on the ridge, the grassland and threatened species of flora and fauna. Some of the vegetation on the ridge is listed as an endangered ecological community under both Commonwealth and ACT legislation.

    We encourage you to look closely at the ACTPLA’s Yarralumla Neighbourhood Plan 2004 Reference is made there to a survey of the Yarralumla Community’s values. Most valued were the open space network, particularly Weston Park, Stirling Ridge and the rest of its frontage to the Lake and the recreational opportunities they offer. Also particularly valued were mature trees and panoramic views. A number of Yarralumla streets are renowned for their mature streetscapes such as Schlick Street which is lined with impressive Quercus Palustris or pinoaks. Alarmingly, substantial parts of the 60 year old matching Quercus Palustris plantation (on ACT land) bordering Fitzgerald Street will need to be felled to make way for a loop shaped road into the Park which will be an extension to Clarke Street. This would be an enormous loss. The key strategies for achieving the Yarralumla Neighbourhood Plan included development that is sympathetic to the neighbourhood’s character in terms of scale, form and landscape setting. A further strategy was to not encroach on areas designated as Urban Open Space under the Territory Plan. It appears that development of Stirling Park would so encroach and scale and for of embassies is unlikely to be sympathetic to the neighbourhood’s existing character.

    The ACT Lowland Woodland Conservation Strategy (2005) recommends the protection of Stirling Park for its high conservation value. It is also worth noting that the NCA is bound by the Cwth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to protect sites containing endangered ecological communities and threatened species (or which there are a number on the ridge). The NCA is a signatory to a memo of understanding with the relevant Commonwealth and ACT departments and is also bound by the Nature Conservation Act (ACT). There are clearly significant legal, heritage and conservation issues for the ACT Government.

    Pedestrian safety is a critical issue. The NCA’s plans would extend Clarke Street Yarralumla into the Park. The streets adjoining the Park and some other streets at this northern end of Yarralumla are narrow and have no footpaths. Residents, including school children walk partially on nature strips but mostly on the streets. This is not a problem as traffic is light but this would change and for a number of years there would be heavy construction traffic as roads and diplomatic buildings are built followed by substantial and continuous traffic on completion including security vehicles, maintenance vehicles, National Day parking problems, tourist buses and embassy staff and visitors on general diplomatic business. One only needs to look around the existing embassy belt of Yarralumla to see that many embassy visitors and staff park on the street due to insufficient off street parking. This increased traffic problem would be added to the existing parking problems on Fitzgerald Street stemming from a lack of parking at Abu-Bakr Al Siddiq Mosque at 130 Empire Circuit, particularly on Fridays and during the month of Ramadan. No provision has been made for upgrading feeder roads to the proposed diplomatic precinct or for the volume of traffic to and from the embassies. It is possible that ACT ratepayers will be left to fix the traffic mess left by the Commonwealth. Upgraded roads in the area will also make the suburb a more attractive rat run during peak hours as a quick route to Civic or Barton.

    Development of large residences and embassy commercial buildings in Stirling Park will also provide a source of nutrient for blue-green algae in the Lake. Extensively landscaped blocks of around 3,500 sq.m will worsen the existing blue green algae problem as fertiliser, other chemicals, re-routed runoff and stormwater from the properties and the new or extended streets drain directly into the Lake.

    The bushfire risk for Yarralumla will also be increased with habitation in the Park should a fire take hold in the Ridge itself. Leaving the Park as it is is with a wide buffer is the best protection for nearby properties.

    Given the proposed height of the buildings to be constructed and the slope of the site there is likely to be an end to the beautiful views south from the Ridge to the Brindabellas. Objection is also taken to the likelihood of imposing security gates and high fences, bright security lighting, security personnel, CCTV and photographing of people walking in the area as occurs near other embassies in Yarralumla. Embassies on large blocks of land are places of commerce and are incongruous with the urban landscape of the streets nearest to Stirling Park.

    We encourage you to consider the above summary of some of the issues of concern. This is not just a Commonwealth issue. If Canberra is to remain the “Bush Capital” then its politicians need to protect sites such as Stirling Park. There are many other suitable diplomatic sites in Canberra, such as the Molonglo Valley and, as Planning Minister, we encourage you to work with your Federal colleagues to find a more appropriate location for the 40 anticipated necessary sites.

    We are a group of concerned Canberrans who would like an opportunity to meet with you to the discuss the above issues and what we believe to be errors and omissions in the NCA consultant’s report.

    Thank you


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