Thanks to everyone who has come along to see me at Community Council meetings over the last month or so. In my role as Minister for Transport and City Services, I’ve visited each of the Community Councils to talk about our new integrated transport agency, Transport Canberra launched this week.

It’s been very interesting and informative. I’ve shared our vision for public transport across Canberra and listened to questions and debate about the best way to plan for our city’s future. I’m proud to deliver the new agency, bringing together buses, light rail, and active travel in an agency focused on customers, technology and innovation.

And I’ll continue to engage with the community about these exciting plans. If you’d like me to visit and talk with your family, friends or community group, please let me know. 

And one of the great joys of this role for me is attending citizenship ceremonies. I became an Australian citizen in 2002 so speaking at them is particularly special for me. It was a great privilege to speak at Merici College at the end of May at the first citizenship ceremony the school has ever held. It was an enormous pleasure to meet so many new Australians.

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ACT Budget announced

Canberra. The Budget bottom line improved considerably and we are still able to invests in the things that matter to Canberrans; health, education, transport and local services.

Horse Park Drive will be duplicated between the Federal Highway and Mulligans Flat Road after the ACT Labor Government committed $57 million to funding it. I know this will help many Gungahlin motorists and it will sustainably plan for the growth to come in Moncrieff and Taylor.

The playground at Yerrabi Ponds will also get a significant upgrade. This area is a favourite in our family and the playground will share in over $3 million funding for new shade sails, play equipment and park upgrades. Playgrounds are special places and I’ve had a real focus on them since becoming Minister.

Health funding is very important to me and I am pleased the 2016-17 ACT Budget invests record money to provide more doctors, more nurses and better health services for Canberra.

This includes:

 more investments in emergency services at The Canberra Hospital and Calvary Hospital,

 an additional emergency department specialist physician at Calvary.

Construction has also started on the University of Canberra Public Hospital, which will be a huge boost to all Canberrans, particularly those in the northside. All the health details are here.

Gungahlin schools boost

As part of the Budget, I was delighted to see Gungahlin schools will receive $20 million to expand school capacity. Our area’s population is growing significantly and there are more children in our schools. The funding allows for an extra 680 students to come to our public schools and new teaching spaces will be built at Amaroo, Harrison and Neville Bonner. New preschool facilities will be built at Palmerston and Neville Bonner, while Amaroo School will also get an expanded gym and new hardcourts. I’ve been working across all school sectors and with parent groups to understand the pressures, and am really pleased to see this increased funding.

Soapbox – Palliative Care boost

I’ve had the privilege of meeting some special people since being elected, especially the Anthoney and Wills families.

They share their story of losing a much loved child and dedicate enormous effort to raising awareness and funding to beat brain cancer. Sadly, both families lost children to this terrible disease.

They told me about some of the challenges they faced in palliative care and I was able to work behind the scenes to make sure Canberra’s first dedicated paediatric palliative care nurse is funded.

While children needing treatment often go to Sydney, when they return to Canberra, having someone there to help support their family is vital.

The Wills and Anthoney families spoke to me about the need for this service in memory of their children, Benny Wills and Dainere Anthoney, and I’d like to thank them for all their help. You can support their efforts too by visiting these links.

More feet on Hibberson Street

Thanks to all of you who had your say on the future of Hibberson Street last year. As a result of your input, Hibberson Street will become a pedestrian priority zone with altered traffic arrangements, with funding for designing the new zone in the ACT Budget. I’m very excited about this and I’ll be in touch soon with options about how we can improve the heart of the Gungahlin Town Centre.

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Gungahlin Drive roadworks complete

Gungahlin residents should find the morning peak time southwards a bit easier after the Gungahlin Drive upgrades were finished last week. The southbound lanes of a 1.6-kilometre stretch through Mitchell have been widened and improvements were also made to the Well Station Drive intersection.

Upcoming events...

Come and visit my mobile office for a chat about any local issues!

Thursday 14 July at Palmerston Shops from 5pm to 6.30pm

Friday 15 July at Gungahlin Market Place from 9am to 11.30am

Saturday 16 July at Gungahlin Market Place from 9am to 11.30am

And on a personal note, for those of you juggling the school holidays, I hope you have a great time. I’m going to celebrate a significant birthday with my Dad and extended family and try to find time for my favourite school holiday tradition, daytime movies. I can’t decide between Finding Dory and The BFG – we might just have to try both!

Recipe

Keep warm with a hearty but healthy Shepherd’s Pie. Check out the recipe on the Good Habits for Life website!