With the domestic cricket season finally drawing to a close, we may now regard ourselves as the third-top nation in world Test cricket rankings, behind South Africa and India but ahead of New Zealand and England.
I suspect the Australian team will find South Africa a difficult mountain to climb, but should put up a better showing against India.
The same, however, cannot be said about our efforts in the ODI competition – selectors will need to look at this matter sooner rather than later, particularly with the Cricket World Cup coming up next year.
I would also like to offer the following suggestions: That Cricket Australia consult/liaise with the appropriate health and safety authorities with a view to coming up with acohesive and mandatory policy in respect to games played in extreme weather conditions (preferably before a player succumbs to heat stroke). Also, play the Big Bash and ODI games early in the season and the Test matches afterwards.
Best memory: Steve Smith's masterful handling of his troops in comprehensively besting the English and thus ensuring the Ashes remain in their rightful place (in Australia). Also, the competent and professional way in which he handled the media. Worst memory: Getting beaten by Bangladesh and our efforts in the initial ODIs against England after winning the Ashes. Prediction: Alex Carey to become the greatest wicketkeeper/batsman since Adam Gilchrist.
Andrew Rowe, Florey
Hands off pensioners
In response to Mike Hutchinson's thoughts on the pensioners living in expensive homes (Letters, January20): A majority of pensioners or part-pensioners have not over invested in their residential properties.
Pensioners bought their homes many years ago as a place in which to rear their families and then retire on their superannuation. These homes are not investment properties.
The inflated value of homes, particularly in Sydney, has resulted in many who have worked hard all their working lives now living in homes worth large sums of money. Quite modest homes can be valued at more than $2million.
There is no reason for pensioners to do anything but enjoy their retirement. They will need all the money they can find when the time comes to move into a retirement village or nursing home.
Part pensions are not subsidies but money to supplement superannuation.
Full pensions are for those not lucky enough to be part of the compulsory superannuation introduced in the early 1990s.
Leave pensioners alone. The real subsidies come in the form of negative gearing and capital gains concessions on investment properties.
Robyn Lewis, Raglan, NSW
Mike Hutchinson (Letters, January20) suggests people who bought family homes which subsequently appreciated in value are guilty of "avoiding their obligation to provide, as far as possible, to fund their retirements", and should therefore not be eligible for the age pension.
Mike raises an interesting issue, but I wonder why he only targets home owners. How about smokers – surely that's a gross waste of money that should have gone into pension savings. And then there's those who drink or gamble – unnecessary self-indulgence! What about anyone who's ever taken an overseas holiday – pure wanton waste! Skiing, boating, fishing and other hobbies – all unnecessary profligacy.
I'm sure Mike and I could come up with a list of past discretionary spending decisions which should void an individual's entitlement to the pension and which would not oblige taxpayers to pay those "unwarranted, inequitable subsidies" Mike is so concerned about.
Kym MacMillan, O'Malley
Learn from mistakes
Roger Dace (Letters, January22) typifies the naysayers who say that, because previous attempts at providing a voice for Indigenous Australians didn't work, then why bother trying again. For a start, we can try to learn from our mistakes (and they weren't all on the Indigenous side as Roger implies).
Second, what the Uluru statement called for was a body that would be constituted somewhat differently from earlier bodies – so at least the Indigenous groups appear to have learned something.
Third, despite its problems, ATSIC did make gains for Indigenous Australia – it was the Howard government that decided it was too hard to fix, unfortunately with Labor's support.
And today, we again have a government that is prepared to give up without even trying.
Eric Hunter, Cook
I thoroughly agree with Miles Farwell (Letters, January19) that it would help defuse the Australia Day controversy if May27 (the date of the 1967 referendum) was declared a public holiday, and, I suggest, be named Recognition Day.
There would be an inevitable backlash from employers, who always oppose any increase in the number of public holidays.
To counteract this, I suggest the introduction of the new holiday be offset by the abolition of the current Queen's Birthday holiday.
The celebration of this date is repugnant to most republicans and is irrelevant to the increasing proportion of Australians without British heritage.
Mike Reddy, Curtin
Move date and move on
For those who are entrenched with only one date to celebrate Australia Day, and reverberate that their dads and granddads fought for our Australian flag, and post that "same" flag for 365 days a year, think again.
The Australian flag has had umpteen versions, and the latest flag has absolutely nothing to do with that hoisted during the war. It was redesigned and rehoisted in 1953. Get over dates, birthdates, Christmas, Easter, Halloween or whenever! Move the date, and move on, and give your neighbour a handshake or a hug.
Greg Simmons, Lyons
Free and fair speech
I applaud people with the courage to stand up and publicly present a point of view, but equally I reserve the right to ignore or oppose their position.
On the other hand, so-called cyber bullies who are able to peddle their poison under a cloak of anonymity exhibit about the same level of cowardice as the one-punch merchants and hit-run drivers.
The exercise of free speech should be out in the open, with people able to engage in a meaningful exchange of views that each is prepared to defend.
I acknowledge definitional issues with respect to cyber bullying, but surely the authorities and service providers could find a way to protect us, particularly our young people, from unacceptable intrusion into their lives via "social" media.
Charles Smith, Nicholls
Expensive Fluffy tale
I read with interest the article by Daniel Burdon ("$679m Mr Fluffy spend", January 22, p.1) commenting on the lack of former Mr Fluffy owners buying back their blocks.
As former Mr Fluffy owners it would have cost us upwards of $800,000 to buy back the lease on our block and build a house of similar proportions to our Mr Fluffy house, which we had built in 1974.
On top of the cost of buying back the blocks and building a new house former owners would also have to rent a property during the demolition and construction phase of the new house, this could be 12 months, more or less.
We (like many others) were not in a position to be able to afford to buy back the block (now for sale for more than we received for the house and land), rent accommodation and have a new house built.
On inspecting established properties we were disappointed to find that many properties, within our budget, needed renovating – bathrooms, kitchens etc., we had already done this in our home.
This meant that on top of our buying price we would have had to pay for expensive renovations.
As retirees these expenses were beyond our means.
The average buyback price, according to the article, is $716,139, but so many of us did not get anywhere near this amount. In our case we are participating in the land rent scheme, we no longer own the lease on our block but rent the block from the ACT Government.
Barbara and Terry Bennett, Coombs
Apartment rents in Canberra may be second to Sydney but with the massive rates and land tax increases in the latest Barr/Rattenbury Budget the situation will get significantly worse.
This will be particularly so for one and two-bedroom apartments which have the greatest impact on the lowest and most needy end of the market.
The UCV component of rates for one and two-bedroom apartments increased by over 100% for the 2017/18 year and the land tax for these investment properties increased by as much as 175%. For landlords to recover the extra costs of these increases the rents will need to increase $35 to $50 per week which will dwarf the $10 per week reported.
Canberra will then be well ahead of Sydney.
ACT land tax is now currently more than twice that for similar properties in Sydney and almost 10 times some of the other States and Territories.
These investors will have two choices; increase the rents or sell their properties at a capital loss as these increases are destroying this investment market. Investors moving out of the market will put more pressure on renters as less properties will be available.
The Owners Corporation Network is currently attempting to address this travesty with a Petition to the ACT Assemblywhich is currently running on change.org.
Gary Petherbridge, President OCN, Barton
I refer to your editorial of January 10 about road rules for younger drivers.
There has been an interesting debate recently about the differences in regulations for younger drivers that apply across our States and Territories.
Logic says that there should be common rules for these drivers within Australia. Unfortunately, we all know how difficult it is to achieve that outcome. I disagree with one of the suggestions in the editorial that regulations applying to younger drivers in the ACT "be brought into line with NSW".
It would require learner drivers and certain P-plated drivers in the ACT to be limited to 90 km/h. This limitation would have a number of problems.
It does not permit learner drivers to be taught how to handle a vehicle travelling at maximum speeds on our highways before they get their licence. It does not permit learner drivers to learn how to manage driving among other vehicles in fast moving highway traffic before they get their licence.
It does not enable the affected P-plated drivers to drive safely for themselves and for those drivers around them on our highways.
In my experience it is dangerous having situations where a vehicle is mandated to travel at a maximum speed of 90 km/h, when other vehicles travelling in the same direction wish to drive at the higher maximum speed but find themselves caught behind the slower car.
A solution to the current confusion is to implement a set of national regulations that are considered, realistic and effective for younger drivers.
Tim McGhie, Isabella Plains
A month ago Alan Foskett and Luisa Capezio (Letters, December 18) raised concerns about the effect on Campbell in general of the ACT's recent rezoning legislation.
Jacka Crescent in Campbell provides a specific example. This is a relatively narrow suburban side street beautifully treed with a majority of well-vegetated single dwelling blocks.
As a result of rezoning a stretch of about 200 metres of streetscape will be transformed.
At present two of the blocks on this stretch are dual occupancy – a reasonable balance. As a result of applications pending or already approved under the new zoning rules this balance will be completely upset by squeezing another 27 dwellings cheek-by-jowl onto eight blocks thereby reducing the single dwelling blocks from 14 to six.
This contravenes at least three of the twelve Zone Objectives listed in the ACT Government Suburban Core Zone Development Table, especially Objective b) "Provide opportunities for redevelopment by enabling a limited (my italics) extent of change with regard to the original pattern of subdivision and the density of dwellings".
Some densification of the inner suburbs is sensible but this example highlights the unintended consequences of ACT planning decisions which have not been thought through.
Increase the density but spoil the streetscape and also increase the traffic and the potential damage to public safety. It is time for a more sophisticated review of rezoning.
Andrew L Schuller, Campbell
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