More pain than gain

The ACT government proves once again that it has no interest in making government cheaper for average territorians (''Splash with stings attached'', June 4, p1). The message is clear: it will cost more to live in Canberra.

The public will pay higher taxes, fees and charges to the ACT government, or higher fees to private suppliers of services the government will steadily abandon.

The tax increases and deficit spending Treasurer Andrew Barr proposes will hurt the ACT economy. Raising taxes won't create private sector jobs or improve productivity. And there's no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficit.

Because the ACT's political constituencies are too entrenched, there is no likelihood of gaining political influence based on a call for less spending and lower property taxes.

Victor Diskordia, McKellar

The ACT government is incrementally loading other taxes onto general rates by stealth. They are reported to be going up by 10 per cent this year.


Katy Gallagher and Andrew Barr still refuse to provide projections for the full implementation of this policy to remove stamp duty by jacking up rates. If the full modelling were published, we could have an intelligent debate on the fairness of this policy and its impact on ratepayers, especially older Canberrans living in inner suburbs.

Many of these people are pensioners and self-funded retirees who will be adversely affected by this policy.

Gallagher yesterday deceptively rejected the ''tripling of rates'' by using the words ''in this term'', while the Liberals, when making this claim, were referring to the policy's full implementation over several terms.

This policy, when fully implemented, will result in many Canberrans paying rates far in excess of those of other major urban centres for similar housing, and it will cement Canberra's reputation as an expensive place to live.

Ted Riesz, O'Connor

Faced with a time of fiscal austerity, ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr has resorted to what seems to have become a typical Labor response: borrow and spend. Borrow as if there were no tomorrow and ignore the fact that all the debt will have to be repaid - with interest.

Barr is racking up a $333 million deficit, which equates to debt of approximately $1000 for every man, woman and child in the territory.

On top of this, we are to be saddled with a bill of at least $614 million to build a tramway that hardly anyone wants, except Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, and which only about 1 per cent of Canberra's population will use. No wonder we are being slugged with a punitive 10 per cent rise in rates. This is economic lunacy on a grand scale.

Peter Trickett, Fraser

Indulgent overkill

It was pleasing to read, in relation to the proposed convention centre (''$1.5 million to drum up interest in convention centre'', June 3, p1), that Andrew Barr has finally admitted, ''if it was in any … city in the country with 400,000 people, you would build a much smaller centre''. I've been saying this for years. However, Barr continued, ''but we are the national capital, hence the need for national involvement''. What nonsense.

Australia is a federation of states. Each state has a capital city: a capital of government, commerce, industry, transport, culture, sport, etc. Canberra is different, it is only the capital of a co-ordinating government, and it has no need for a massive conference centre.

Each of the mainland state capitals has the infrastructure to support a large conference centre. Canberra does not. Building infrastructure to support an unneeded conference centre would be about as ridiculous as building a tramline as a catalyst to build unneeded high-density office corridors.

Robyn Hendry said ''the centre could lead to a tripling of spending in the territory's conference and business events''. And pigs could fly.

The proposal to build a large sports stadium in this small city is similarly ridiculous.

If private industry wants to build a tramline, a conference centre and a stadium, good luck to it. However, taxpayers should not be asked to donate a single cent towards these ridiculous fantasies.

Bob Salmond, Melba

Problem creation

When did the ACT government transform the light rail proposal into the heavy corridor proposal? Why do we have to skew the demography of the city to solve the problem of feeding trams? We don't have a tramline!

This ridiculous white elephant has now rocketed beyond satire.

Canberra's public transport problems relate to our lack of density over a large area and the advantages of point-to-point car travel. What is the sense in accentuating dormitory suburb syndrome by fabricating a Las Vegas-like strip to solve a fantasy tram-demand problem to placate Shane Rattenbury? Who in cabinet is going to pull the pin on this absurdity?

Peter Robinson, Ainslie

City Hill master plan

Any Commonwealth approving officer worth his/her salt considering a grant to the ACT for the Australia Forum (proposed international conference/exhibition centre) on nationally significant City Hill would surely demand a fully workable, detailed master-planned design for the whole precinct, its links to other areas, and its relationship with the Central National Area (''$1.5m to drum up interest in convention centre'', June 3, p1).

However, neither the Commonwealth's very broad Amendment 59 (City Hill) to the National Capital Plan, nor the ACT's City to the Lake Plan qualify as such a master design. Nor does the City Plan. They simply don't work or are deficient/inappropriate when it comes to land use, traffic, urban design, landscaping, symbolism, building height, floor area, pedestrian access, parking, public transport, and other considerations.

The ACT has got to knuckle down and resolve these issues, including producing a detailed functional and accommodation brief for the forum, as well as the ACT's own governmental and appropriate land-revenue needs, all with public input.

Not excluded should be the development (as in Walter Burley Griffin's plan) and heritage-recognising reinstatement of four hectares of hilltop parkland for a significant building (such as Australia Forum).

As for Capital Hill, we need an international design competition for the whole precinct. Architects other than the winning one would not be excluded from designing individual buildings or places.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah

Defence secretary comments detached from the real world

I have a great deal of respect for Secretary of Defence Dennis Richardson, so I find it hard to believe that the comments attributed to him in the article ''Defence may pay for staff's parking'' (June 4, p3) are correct.

For a start, surely no senior public servant would use terminology such as ''he is considering footing the bill'' knowing full well that unless he and the other members of the Defence Executive are taking it out of their own pockets, it is the Australian people that will be paying.

Then to go on and say that because staff in Defence are paid less than some other public servants and therefore should not have to pay for parking, indicates a detachment from the real world. Public servants in general are better paid and enjoy better terms of employment than many in the private sector who are already paying to park around Canberra.

To suggest that potential recruits will have a disincentive to come to Canberra to work at Defence because they have to pay to park is ridiculous. As these recruits would most likely come from one of the major metropolitan centres, they would be getting a much better deal on travel and parking in the ACT than from any of those centres. So I would be disappointed if the comments were not taken out of context or just window-dressing to appease some of the public servants in Defence.

Of course as a taxpayer, I would now expect the responsible ministers to inquire as to why the saving measures, proposed to be implemented to offset the costs of paying the parking fees, should not be realised anyway.

Peter Langhorne, Narrabundah

Women in Defence

Gai Brodtmann's comments that it would be difficult to recruit and retain women in Defence while reducing APS numbers (''Defence may pay for staff's parking'', June 4, p3) are completely unfounded.

In 2011 women represented 39.9 per cent of Defence's APS workforce. Today women make up 40.6 per cent of Defence's APS workforce. The increase in the percentage of women working in Defence over this period occurred despite the previous Labor government cutting 2800 Defence APS jobs.

Arguing that APS reductions under the current government would somehow result in a different outcome for women is absurd. Ms Brodtmann's claims demonstrate a startling ignorance of the facts and a selective memory when it comes to the 14,500 cuts the Labor party inflicted upon the Australian Public Service when last in government.

The Coalition government remains steadfastly committed to supporting women in Defence and to implementing changes in the workplace flowing from the Review of Employment Pathways for APS Women in the Department of Defence.

Stuart Robert, Assistant Minister for Defence

Black is white for Abbott

For Tony Abbott to liken his joke ''Direct Action'' policy to the just announced American regulations on power station emissions is just par for the course for Mr Assertion, who is prepared to say black is white in his continuing stream of mistruths. There is no comparison between the American proposal to limit emissions from power stations and Abbott's joke climate policy. The United States is imposing regulations on power stations. Abbott's policy appears to be completely voluntary. The US emission targets are much stronger than Australia's.

Most importantly American policy will allow power stations to use a cap and trade approach - the very thing Abbott is trying to abolish in the Parliament.

Media comments suggest that if the Obama policy survives appeal and comes into effect, China and other key players will follow. Australia under Abbott will fall further and further behind and will face major adverse economic impacts in the medium to long term and international opprobrium.

Rod Holesgrove, O'Connor

Commonwealth scandal

In sunny Queensland, three or more members of a bikie club having a social beer in a public place are at risk of being found guilty of a criminal offence, punishable by up to three years in jail. Close by but worlds away, at least 38 representatives of Commonwealth Financial Planning can engage in large-scale fraud and dishonest conduct dating back years and involving thousands of customers, without fear of prosecution (''Hearing into ASIC's failure to investigate CBA's Financial Wisdom'',, June 3).

ASIC's failure to meet its statutory obligations in response to this large-scale criminal behaviour is surely just as scandalous as the behaviour of the CBA's most senior management in permitting it to take place and then failing to make every effort to hold harmless its many victims.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

Palmer a splash of colour

Good on ya Clive Palmer, I like the cut of your jib (or should that be mainsail,) you old rapscallion you. Now his entry on the political scene may not have been quite correct, some of his recent comments a trifle insensitive; but you can't say he hasn't been a splash of colour on the political landscape.

I mean, turning up at the house in a classic Roller - priceless. Sharing a nosebag and shaking the Coalition leadership - what a hoot! The bitter and twisted handwringers of the right can't quite make him out, and neither can the card-carrying bolshies like myself, but I can't wait to see what he does next. Go Clivey, luv ya work son!

Rien Wiersma, Holt

Australia's brightest

I remind N. Bailey (Letters, June 4) that the ACT has (on average) the best educated populace in the country? Their perspicacity sees through tissue-thin excuses for public policy, regardless of the source, and their analytical skills quickly determine which claims stack up and which are dross. The fact that this country's brightest citizens vote for centre-left politicians is quite a telling comment on the acumen of conservative politicians, and those who vote for them.

Mark Raymond, Manton NSW

Arcing up over loss of cinematic jewel

I enjoyed Ian Warden's article ''Arc programs' end inevitable'' (Gang-gang, June 2, p10). In it he muses on the small audience on a Saturday night for Roman Polanski's wonderful film Tess, and draws a long bow from it. The Arc showed Tess six times over two weeks. In trying hard to serve the Canberra community, the NFSA split its audience into half a dozen small groups. In contrast, Dendy, Palace, and the Art Gallery of NSW show their classic films once, or at most twice. If the NFSA did the same it too may be commercially viable. I urge Dr Michael Loebenstein to give the Arc Cinema Team another chance to make a go of it.

Stephen Frost, Flynn

I gather I was dead lucky to be in Canberra last week before the Arc cinema program was axed (''Arc programs' end inevitable'', Gang-gang, June 2, p10). I feasted on Haneke's The Castle and Polanski's Tess in one gluttonous day. Marvellous films in a marvellous cinema. And the building - little wonder it's been called Deco Heaven. It was a delight to be there - to see the exquisite, illuminated glazed ceiling in the foyer framing a platypus, also the subject of one of the beautiful brass plaques inside. What a jewel of a place. Who knows about it?

Angela Munro, Carlton North, Vic

Our Time in spotlight

CT readers who also read Time magazine will have noticed Canberra gets a mention in the briefing pages at the front of the magazine, alongside stories about the Pope's visit to Israel, the Ukraine election and the Thai coup. And what did Canberra get a mention for? Was it the horror federal budget, or the Eastman inquiry, or the end-of-the-world-is-nigh introduction of light rail? Nope. It was the kangaroo cull. Isn't it nice to think that in our society the only government-orchestrated violence targets native wildlife. And refugees, of course.

Dallas Stow, O'Connor



I suppose the business community will be overjoyed at the increase in the minimum wage - all that extra money in workers' pockets to spend on goods and services. I guess they'll be popping the champagne corks at their business lunches.

David Hicks, Holt


Not a peep about Clive Palmer's scurrilous slur against the PM and his female chief of staff Peta Credlin. Are all our feminist scribes on leave?

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Why hasn't Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young publicly labelled Clive Palmer ''a creep'' for his insensitive comments towards a woman going through a difficult time?

Peter Waterhouse, Craigieburn, Vic


Regarding the call to give Tony Abbott's girls a fair go (Letters, June 2), surely the girls realised once they put themselves in the public eye by campaigning with their father, they left themselves open to public scrutiny.

You can't go into the public arena and then cry out for privacy when it suits you.

Jenny Madden, Aranda


So, is John Bell (Letters, June 4) advocating trial, or at least appeal, by media?

Graham Hannaford, Ainslie


Contrary to Mr McKerral's latest epistle to The Canberra Times (Letters, June 5) the latest IPCC report offers no blithe assurances on the overall net beneficial impacts of climate change. It provides a nuanced and detailed assessment of a range of risks and impacts of climate change.

Doug Hynd, Stirling


In response to N. Bailey (Letters, June 4), we understand that our votes will not affect the election results in the ACT, but the principle remains the same. Whether or not the financial situation is as dire as N. Bailey states, and how it arose, is not the issue.

What we object to is the fundamental unfairness underlying the government's approach by shifting the burden to the ''have-nots'' and favouring the well-off. It is the ideology with which we take issue.

Bob and Jacqui Gilleland, Gungahlin


If, as has been suggested, we dispense with the 5¢ coin, could we not have two new coins made? A 99¢ coin and a $9.99 coin. I could then use them in the shops where I get robbed of 1¢ each time I make a purchase.

Peter Burrows, Franklin

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