ACT Government hospital mismanagement

Woden Valley Community deal with serious issues

Woden Valley Community Council (WVCC) meetings have commenced the year 2020 with priority themes that are much the same as in 2019.

In recent months there have been a positive or two such as the announcement for a new CIT to be located within the Woden Town Centre.

The downside is that this is being done without the planning being in place for the centre and the surrounding areas such as the nearby the Woden Valley Hospital.

This is a theme that Fiona Carrick, the hard working WVCC president, highlights constantly at the Woden meetings.

At last Wednesday’s meeting (February 5) the context was her report on where things are at with the government’s inappropriate placement of the large new hospital complex on a Garran suburban street.

No-one at the meeting could explain the reasons for this decision beyond speculation that it was a desperate and rushed political decision.

To add to the insult, the residents were reminded of that infamous statement by Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith that this proposal is “not negotiable”.

This term has been used across Canberra by various ministers in this government to ensure that residents do not get it into their heads that this Labor/Greens government has a democratic approach to how it deals with important matters.

In the case of the Surgical Procedures, Interventional Radiology and Emergency (SPIRE) centre, no-one at the Woden meeting, even those attending consultation meetings, could offer clarity on why this government has to build SPIRE on this site given that will impact on the nearby residents of Garran and their school. There’s also the evidence that there are better options.

The closest explanation offered was that the government is saying that Garran street location “will be the least disruptive”.

Whereas the meeting agreed with Fiona that any new hospital building should have the outcome of being “the best health outcome – and providing best access to health services”.

What the meeting discussed is that this SPIRE thing is being done without proper master/precinct planning, not only of the whole hospital site, but also without plans being in place to consider the context of nearby sites, such as areas on the other side of Yamba Drive as well as the links to the planning for the whole Woden Town Centre site.

For more on this, visit the WVCC information page – click here.


The other major topic for the night was a presentation by the local ACT Greens Assembly member, Caroline Le Couteur.

She led a discussion about the government’s Draft Planning Variation on the amount of green space and trees required for new or redeveloped residential blocks.

Caroline has worked hard as a local member and attends most Woden and Weston Creek meetings. She is usually very passionate about such topics as trees, but on this occasion, she seemed a bit reserved and not quite on top of all the necessary facts.

Nevertheless, the audience got the message to take the time to respond to the consultations.

Shane Rattenbury was in attendance (not sure why), and offered no comment on the topic (or on anything else) and did not come forward when Caroline hesitated. Not sure what was happening there.

There are several problems with the variation being put forward by this Labor/Greens government. For instance, the new rules do not cover public spaces and streets, and for some developments, the rules dilute the stated 30 per cent target for tree cover as published last year by this same government.

The consultations for Draft Variation 369: Living Infrastructure in Residential Zones, are open until February 28.

Well done again to Woden Valley Community Council for highlighting things that matter.

I recommend that more residents should get along to these very informative meetings – with the next on Wednesday 4th March.


This article was originally published online with City News

Paul Costigan is an independent commentator and consultant on the visual arts, photography, urban design, environmental issues and everyday matters.

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