The ACT Budget was handed down recently and included some very welcome initiatives for Tuggeranong in areas such as health, public transport, education, and basic infrastructure. The bad news is that appears that Tuggeranong residents have been slugged with the highest percentage increase in general rates, with an average hike of 6.57%.

This is compared to;

  • South Canberra  – 0.51%
  • North Canberra  – 2.07%
  • Gungahlin – 2.99%
  • Woden Valley – 3.67%
  • Belconnen – 3.76%, and
  • Weston Creek –  3.86%

Residents in Chisholm, Banks, Fadden, Bonython and Gilmore will be hardest hit with increases of between 8.98% and 7.62%.

This was a point I highlighted to members of the Legislative Assembly when I addressed the Estimates Committee on the ACT Budget. I expressed concern that the increases in general rates will have a significant impact on many families and individuals who are already doing it tough with recent rises in their weekly grocery bills and monthly home loan repayments.

I also highlighted the fact that charitable and social welfare organisations in Tuggeranong have reported an increase in demand for their services from families and individuals suffering hardship. St Vincent de Paul assisted a total of 4540 people in 2009 compared to 3669 the previous year and 3065 in 2007. The level of assistance it provides those in need has increased from just over $90,000 in 2008-2009 to $126,000 in 2009/10.

Other charitable and community welfare organisations tell a similar story. For example Communities at Work reports a 20% increase in the last 12 months in the number of individuals and families to whom it has provided Emergency Relief.  The Salvation Army has reported a 25 to 30% increase in the number of people seeking its assistance.  As we head into winter I expect there will be a further demand on their services.

The TCC is participating in the ACT Government’s Strategic Review of Government Wood Smoke Programs. The TCC partnered with the Australian Lung Foundation (ALF) Tuggeranong Lung Support Group in the review. Both organisations are concerned that high levels of neighbourhood winter wood smoke pollution is having a serious impact on public health, particularly the elderly, the very young and those with pre-existing heart and/or lung conditions.
Meanwhile, reliable figures suggest that only a very small number of households are responsible for the vast majority of Canberra’s air pollution. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported in 2008 that less than 4% of Canberra households burn wood for domestic heating. Yet, the Federal Government’s 2007-08 National Pollution Inventory reported that the burning of wood for domestic heating was responsible for more than two thirds or 67% of Canberra’s air pollution.

Still on the environment and green cars will be in the spotlight at the 1 June general meeting of the TCC. Representatives of Betterplace Australia will address the meeting on their plans to establish Australia’s first electric car network in Canberra. It promises to be an interesting presentation. The meeting will commence at 7.30pm on Tuesday 1 June in the upstairs function room of the South Cross Club in Tuggeranong.

Darryl Johnston
President, Tuggeranong Community Council

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