Letters to the Editor

Aged care too dear



Tom Allard reports on the annual survey of aged-care homes by Bentleys Chartered Accountants ("Nursing home profits soar as care level falls", January 2, p5). His report states that between 2014 and 2015 "the average bond – known as a refundable accommodation deposit – also rose by 40 per cent, from $154,116 to $217,839".

It is not clear how these figures have been calculated, but their scale is hardly representative of the amounts new aged-care residents are now being asked to provide as accommodation deposits. The Aged Care Financing Authority's recent report on the funding and financing of the aged-care sector (table 3.7) indicates the national average deposit paid by residents entering care as at June 30, 2015, was $333,000.

The ACT was ahead of all other jurisdictions, with an average of $379,000. Significantly, the national median deposit was $320,000, indicating most new places were available for deposits lower than the national average. In the ACT, however, the median deposit was higher than the local average, at $400,000 – this indicates most new places required a deposit higher than the average.

While some of this variance may be due to the ACT's higher land prices, it is fair to ask if some of it reflects a premium similar to that exacted by fuel companies on ACT residents, and whether available aged-care places are effectively being commandeered by higher-paying clients, to the detriment of older ACT people with a reduced paying capacity.

Paul Feldman, Macquarie

Homes understaffed

Our recent experience highlights the poor ratio of staff employed to care in some nursing homes. Last weekend, our elderly aunt, a resident in a Canberra nursing home, was admitted to hospital suffering from a urinary tract infection and septicaemia.


When the hospital wanted to discharge her, they contacted the nursing home to inquire if she could be sent home, but she would require some extra care and attention due to an antibiotic feed into her arm. The nursing home replied it was unable to accept her like that, as it only had "two staff members for 60 residents". How is this safe for elderly residents in care?

When we read about nursing-home soaring profits, it is hard to reconcile that with falling staff care and the extra burden being placed on our overextended hospital system.

K. Uren, Isaacs

Care to share a ride?

Although Ian Warden confessed to being an old fogey over a decade ago, I suspect he was born one. Hence his affinity for the ancient and slow delights of the tram ("Gong and pong: it's judgment day", Gang-gang, January 1, p8), probably the horse-drawn variety of his bleak youth in the late 1800s.

Good news, Ian: with some far-sighted thinking from our politicians, you may live to see the benefits of a shared fleet of self-driving cars on our streets in 2020. No need to be scared – with our failing eyesight, teeth and plumbing, maybe we'll share one for a lunch at the Arboretum (so far!), then to collect our supplies of mushy dinners and incontinence pads and be dropped back at our respective front doors.

Kent Fitch, Nicholls

Far from being "the gibbering opponents of light rail", has posted all 353 letter writers on the subject last year. Two-thirds of letter writers oppose light rail, while a quarter are supporters, a remarkably stable ratio all year.

Adding to the total are "serial authors" such as A. Smith, Howard Carew, Peter Toscan and the mysterious M. Silex, who have become household names beyond their confines of Farrer, Isaacs, Amaroo and Erindale and contribute at least an uprecedented "letter a day" on this topic.

Many of them make a lot of sense – unlike some of the Gang-gang columns, padded with paragraphs of gratuitous insults, and mangled English (how, unCanberranly). I suggest, therefore, they be invited to share the indulgent Gang-gang column, allowing the present ageing columnist the time to dream of his beloved Norwich City canaries – and leave our native flora and fauna in peace.

David Dickson, Kaleen

Mean-spirited attack

Ian Warden should have been looking in a mirror when he came up with his UnCanberran of the Year for 2015 ("Gong and pong: it's judgment day", Gang-gang, January 1, p8). His mean-spirited attack on the good burghers of Yarralumla was based entirely on his envy of them living in more salubrious surroundings than his self-despised home suburb of Garran. The residents of Yarralumla were subjected to an appalling attack by the Land Development Agency on not just their quality of life and surroundings, but those of Canberra as a whole.

This government-owned property developer has taken the role of land use and planning and has demonstrated that it puts revenue generation above all other considerations. The LDA's proposal for 1800 units on the brickworks site in Yarralumla was a planning catastrophe, worsened by its original determination to leave the heritage structures to further decay.

The Yarralumla residents deserve the gratitude of all Canberrans for working tirelessly to achieve a result that more befits the bush capital and its heritage. Our true UnCanberran of 2015 might see himself in line for a Walkley award in 2016 if he undertakes a forensic analysis of how planning and development in the ACT drifted into the state that has given us such mediocre property development in recent years.

Alan Robertson , Canberra City

Impounded dog

The article "Bail refused for ex-Digger accused of assault after dog 'sprung' from shelter (January 1, p1) suggests Shane Van Duren has mental issues in the sense that his behaviour throughout this matter is not consistent with that of a normal person.

Removal of his companion dog interstate when he clearly needs it to deal with his mental health issues seems high-handed – unless he has been mistreating it, but that does not seem to be the case from the story as reported.

I can relate to his concerns, because a few years ago we were keen to adopt a young female German shepherd from the RSPCA shelter — ironically, left behind by a Digger on posting. When we went to the RSPCA for a second visit and interview, we were told she had been euthanised for antisocial behaviour. She was clearly pining for her lost owner, but she was not aggressive with us, so I can fully appreciate Van Buren's concerns.

C. Williams, Forrest

End exclusive TV rights

I was surprised to read that a certain television network had "exclusive broadcast rights" to the News Year's Eve fireworks display in Sydney. It seems ludicrous to me that a public event paid for by the ratepayers of Sydney could be subject to such rights.

Surely it is time to end this farce by letting any channel televise it, if they want to. Then we would have a choice.

Terry Giesecke, Scullin

Share the cricket

There are nearly 170 representative cricket games this summer and as one of eight states and territories, we mightexpect rather more than the four games grudgingly allocated to us by Cricket Australia.

CA has a greater responsibility for the game than just maximising the dollar return by playing games mostly in the Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

The Matador Cup was played out in empty grounds at the start of the season and the Cricket Australia side, with some ACT representatives, could have played their home games at Manuka Oval. Everybody wins.

And please, no more excuses as to why we can't have games here, such as the size of the ground, the standard of the lights, the crowd wasn't big enough, or there is no red carpet for CA bigwigs and VIPs.

Andrew Papworth, Campbell

Injury in the making

Watching the Big Bash cricketers playing through rain recently, I became concerned on two levels: 1. The danger of large bowlers injuring themselves in an "unsafe workplace" and the liabilities that might return to organisers and officials. 2. Having coached/umpired a lot of junior cricket and having called games off in slippery wet conditions to avoid injuries to young players, what should I do now?

John Dinn, Ngunnawal

No need to apologise

No, Penny Wong and Malcolm Turnbull, Peter Dutton is under no obligation to apologise for referring to Samantha Maiden as a "mad f---ing witch". ("Labor bays for blood despite 'witch' apology", January 5, p4). The reference was made in what was essentially a private conversation between Mr Dutton and Jamie Briggs, which, through mishap, came to Ms Maiden's attention, and was a personal opinion, not intended to be known by her.

Had the comment been purposely made to her face, Mr Dutton's manners might be considered sufficiently deplorable to require an apology, but as the situation stands, he need only apologise for bothering her with a wrongly addressed email. In fact, now that Ms Maiden now knows exactly how she is regarded by Mr Dutton and he knows that she knows, the pair's relationship can now be placed on a more honest footing.

I note that, so far at least, Ms Maiden has treated the matter with the sensible and mature equanimity it deserves, unlike the mildly hysterical response of the media, Penny Wong and Malcolm Turnbull, the latter apparently, and disappointingly, responding to what he regards as the vox populii.

Bill Deane, Chapman

Sportsmen are subject to the strictest guides of behaviour and decorum. Our politicians should be held to no less, or ideally higher, standards. The behaviour of Mr Dutton and Mr Briggs is inexcusable for men who are elected representatives for their electorates. How can they represent women when they depict and treat women the way they have over the Christmas break.

If all the talk about treating women appropriately is taken with any seriousness, they should both be disendorsed by the Liberal Party of Australia.

Patrick O'Hara, Isaacs

The latest exposure, at ministerial level, appears to show our politicians live in a world where gutter language is acceptable. The two-party-led system is obviously bringing the wrong people to the job.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in failed attempts to reform behaviour in Parliament itself.

Audrey Guy, Ngunnawal

The evil of alcohol

Ross Fitzgerald is right in his very good analysis of the correlation between alcohol and violence ("Booze-violence link is ignored", Forum, January 2, p6). Perhaps his simile of fish and water should be substituted with fire and petrol. Given the amount of violence directly associated with the consumption of alcohol, even worse when ice comes into the picture, it is a crying disgrace that governments are not prepared to face the liquor industry and demand changes in many facets of that trade.

For a start, the constant barrage of advertising showing beer consumption as a thing all healthy males do, and the drinking of wine or spirits as sophisticated and sexy, should be far more restricted, if not completely banned. We have stopped advertising tobacco because we are aware of the social dislocation caused by its consumption. What's the difference to society between tobacco consumption and alcohol abuse? Ultimately, the latter has always been shown to be far more adverse, to affect far more persons than the consumer and to cause, by a significant degree, greater social upheaval.

Furthermore, how does society rationalise the prohibition of drugs generally, yet allows alcohol to be freely available to anyone who is of age and who is, apparently, not intoxicated.

The older I get, the more I realise just how stupid human beings really are. Good on you, Professor Fitzgerald for reminding us all.

Michael O'Brien, Newtown, NSW

Voluntary euthanasia

Bruce Peterson asks (Letters, December 27) who decides in a case of voluntary euthanasia. There is no doubt about this: it is the patient. That is why it is called voluntary euthanasia.

Mr Peterson equates suicide with voluntary euthanasia, and non-voluntary euthanasia with murder. Neither statement is correct.

Suicide is the act of deliberately killing oneself. Voluntary euthanasia, or voluntary assisted dying, is the act of choosing help to end one's life in either of two ways. The first is by having a doctor administer a lethal drug; the second is by having a doctor prescribe a lethal drug that the patient then self-administers.

Non-voluntary euthanasia is not murder. Murder occurs where someone is killed against their will. Non-voluntary euthanasia happens when a doctor helps a patient to die without an explicit and current request. It does not and cannot happen under a voluntary euthanasia law, since by definition such a law requires a patient explicitly to seek help to die.

Non-voluntary euthanasia is technically illegal, and where there is some public knowledge about it, as in the Netherlands, it has been performed for compassionate reasons and, therefore, there have been no prosecutions.

Richard Mills, former president, Dying with Dignity NSW, Leura, NSW

Analysis egocentric

Joan Milner (Letters, December 31) is bang on the money when she observes that any contribution from Malcolm Mackerras is full of "I" and "my". His articles are irritating to read and any analysis offered is often not about the electoral proposal or outcome – it's about Malcolm. Why The Canberra Times publishes these self-indulgent ramblings is puzzling, particularly from a fellow whose reputation for electoral analysis is surely past its use-by date.

Ian Duckworth, Griffith

Try conversing

The article by Harry Mount ("Student emperors the toll of child-centred schooling", Times2, January 1, p5) seemed a classic example of an angry old white man venting about the younger generation. I wonder how he feels about monuments and tributes to Hitler being left unchallenged, or about the public exposure of celebrities, business and church leaders who have misused their power over others. Surely, it is better to engage in a proper discussion with all age groups about how to respond more creatively to behaviour that was accepted in the past but is no longer tolerated. That way could lead to more civilised conversations and less outrage on all sides.

David Purnell, Florey




How refreshing to see a smart women in public life who can laugh off a dumb mistake with sexist overtones. Peter Dutton, what were you thinking? In this world of trigger warnings and safe mental places that infantilise those involved, well done Samantha Maiden, and take note, Jenna Price.

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Who trains these political apes to believe women are expendable trash?

D.C.Mildern, Lyons

I see that a cabinet reshuffle is required. I hereby nominate Mr Potato Head as the Minister for Communications.

James Gralton, Garran


A word of comfort to those who have lost the plot (Letters, December 31) over Minister Shane Rattenbury's proposal to permit vegie gardens on nature strips. Vegetable growing will be optional, not mandatory. You can continue to water and mow your grassed nature strips to your heart's content.

Patricia Saunders, Chapman

The land on Northbourne Avenue is too valuable for a tramline. It should be subdivided and sold to gardeners to grow vegetables.

John Simsons, Holt

We are informed by Sue McCarthy ("Tough rules for strip gardeners", January 2, p8) that there is a waiting list at community gardens around Canberra. So isn't the answer to Rattenbury's ridiculous and problematic suggestion re planting them on nature strips as simple as increasing the size and number of these gardens?

Val Walker, Yarralumla


As I did not watch Portlandia, which Portland appears at number 3 in the list of the world's most loveable cities (Forum, January 2, p8): Maine or Oregon?

Ken McPhan, Spence


Peter Stubbs (Letters, December 29) did his cause no good when calling for government intervention to improve the standard of bonbon jokes, he included as evidence: "What do you call a blind dinosaur? Do-you-think-he-saw-us." I laughed. Wish I had been sitting at his table.

Chris Harris, Kambah


It seems that not only is Nick Goldie (Letters, January 2) a fan of "appeals to higher authorities", he is also partial to the bandwagon appeal. And yes, plenty of us do think climate change is a plot, given the billions to "big climate".

Bob Zeitlhofer, Monash

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