Shame of ACT's deadly homes

The front-page map of the distribution of Canberra's deadly houses brought it all home (''Revealed: Mr Fluffy's toxic sprawl'', June 27, p1). There but for the grace of God go we.

Those red dots are neighbours. Families just like ours, whose unsealed built-ins allowed particles of death to cascade onto clothes and linen, breathed in every day.

They wonder if their rumpus-room extension released enough in-wall particles to kill, in the next decade, the kids or the nice tradesmen who did the job.

They are stuck because their house, their unsaleable house, is pretty much all they own. All because one government released the toxic material and others lied about fixing the problem.

My next votes go to those who take care of my dear, frightened friend and her family.

Veronica Giles, Chifley


Thanks for publishing the map of suburbs containing Mr Fluffy homes. Perhaps it will bring attention to the fact that not only the owners of those homes will be affected.

I am an aged pensioner and was hoping to sell my home to downsize to a manageable apartment or retirement home.

As my home contains loose-fill asbestos, I know now that this will be impossible and, on my death, this home will be abandoned. Eventually this will be repeated across all the suburbs indicated - Canberra will face a legacy of derelict, decaying, dangerous ruins.

I have had an asbestos assessment completed on my home - and, unsurprisingly, loose-fill asbestos was found in various areas (and has been present since I moved in back in 1984). Remedial action is being undertaken but, even as a pensioner, I have had no help from the ACT government, although requested - not even a reply to my letter.

Above all is the huge stress that comes with the realisation that my family's (and visitors) health has been compromised.

I am convinced that all Mr Fluffy homes have large amounts of fibres insidiously leaking into living areas - the very nature of the substance defies ''removal'' or ''cleaning''. And what about all those air vents/grilles to the outside areas affecting non-residents?

The only answer is to demolish every loose-fill asbestos house to rid Canberra of this nightmare.

Helen Bessey, Holt

I can recall when the asbestos removal plan was getting under way in the 1980s, I read an article in The Canberra Times written by a building engineer. He stated that the program would be a waste of time and money as it would be impossible to remove 100 per cent of the fibres by the vacuum method proposed due to seepage down the wall cavities.

He proposed that a far better and cheaper solution would be to spray the material with a binding agent to keep it in place. Given the current debacle, it would appear that he may have been correct.

I wonder if his ''binding'' solution to the problem could still be implemented on those affected properties?

Byam Wight, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Flicks frustration

Inaccurate and misleading statements by others in relation to the cinema proposal for Queanbeyan (''Queanbeyan cinema proposal voted down'', canberra, June 18) provide but one of the reasons for the creation of a Facebook page in an effort to provide the community with the facts of the situation. The reported focus has been on the justifications for voting against the proposal.

Dating from 2008, this proposal has involved five years of investigation conducted before many of the current councillors were even considering running for election, followed by nine months of detailed negotiations, three workshops with councillors and senior staff, 20-year financial plans and funding plans worked and reworked, market studies and analysis.

Having had 30 years' experience as a general manager and chief executive of major and

mid-size corporations in both the public and private sectors, I can assure residents that the cinema proposal ticked all the boxes as a low-risk, no-cost-to-ratepayers project. It is a travesty that it has not proceeded to the next stage, which is a memorandum of understanding that would allow things to move along.

Crs Peter Bray, Trudy Taylor and Toni McLennan, all with considerable private and public sector experience, are to be commended for their commitment to the community. If I sound frustrated, I am - so much time and energy to bring another priority of the community's vision to fruition to be wasted in a few moments by game playing by some and being disguised as a lack of due diligence. Over recent weeks we must have heard every possible reason by a few to block the project.

I will continue to work in the interests of the community as I have done for the last 10 years since being elected, and will endeavour to save this project, but I fear the likelihood of the operator now abandoning Queanbeyan as its preferred option for its next regional cinema in favour of other competing opportunities already under investigation.

Cr Tim Overall, mayor of Queanbeyan

Carney in Neverland

When is 28-year-old Todd Carney going to grow up? Is he even capable of growing up and acting responsibly?

You would think that after all his infractions and misdemeanours - and the publicity and notoriety they have entailed - Carney would have learned by now that if he going to do stupid things, he makes sure that a camera is not there to record them. Apparently not.

Perhaps he has to reach absolute rock bottom before he wakes up and gets a grip on himself and his life. Is he there yet? Time only will tell.

Don Sephton, Greenway

I'm not surprised by the latest shenanigans of Todd Carney. Some of you may remember the severe droughts in Goulburn a few years back. At the time, a few locals undertook extreme water-saving measures on the basis of a cruel prank/hoax (started by yours truly).

It would seem that Carney has continued to follow my ''water must not be consumed'' mantra.

Kelii Williams, Macgregor

So Todd Carney is a pisshead, but who has he actually harmed by ''bubbling''?

He may even be a role model in reverse: ''See, son, Todd Carney is an example of what I have been telling you. Being good at what you do is not enough to be respected - you must act like a man, not a child.''

John Hogbin, Hackett

Political 'leaders' are the real threat to Australian society

As one of the large throng who filled Llewellyn Hall on Saturday evening to urge a change in Australia's refugee policy, I was heartened by the enormous show of support for the return to our long lost sense of humanity as a nation towards people fleeing persecution. Successive governments have brought our nation into disrepute because they haven't the wit to cope sensibly and humanely with a miniscule handful of the world's most desperate people.

The Abbott government prides itself on being meaner and faster at slamming the door in the faces of those seeking our help, all the while professing concern for them.

When a minister can deliberately instruct his department to lie by referring to asylum seekers as ''illegal'', and he is not held accountable for this most grave breach of trust, one can only wonder what is happening to our country.

It is time our political ''leaders'' sought to appeal to Australians' best instincts, not our worst. Until then, they are the real threat to a decent and honest Australian society.

Sue Wareham, Cook

Fairies galore

In my high school years I was encouraged to get involved in competitive debating as a means of channelling my tendency to be argumentative and opinionated. I quickly learned that formal debating is not about being right or wrong. It is all about the rhetorical skill of successfully arguing a proposition, regardless of its intrinsic merit or even its absurdity.

I recall one debate where my team successfully argued the proposition ''There are fairies at the bottom of the garden''. In light of my experience, I was far from surprised to learn that Environment Minister Greg Hunt was a champion debater at university.

Every time I hear him mounting an argument to support the Abbott government's risible environmental policies, I think about those fairies.

Tony Judge, Belconnen

Can't wait to celebrate, too

What a coincidence! On the same day The Canberra Times published a photograph of Coalition members congratulating themselves about the carbon tax abolition bill passing through the lower house (''Coalition joy as repeal bills passed'', June 27, p4) a letter from ACTEW AGL informed me gas prices are about to be increased by 14.5 per cent.

I presume there will be plenty of leeway to honourably reduce prices by 10 per cent if the bill gets through the Senate and suppliers are called upon to pass on to the consumer the savings achieved by the abolition of this wicked tax.

Roger Quarterman, Campbell

What is the government's proposed co-payment for GP visits? A price signal. What is the soon-to-be-abolished carbon tax? A price signal. So seeing a GP is bad and emitting greenhouse gases is good. A CPI increase on fuel excise is good. A freeze on CPI increases to local government funding is also good. It's hard to keep up, but I think I get it. Up is down and down is up.

Peter Marshall, Captains Flat, NSW

Time to get serious

What a breathtaking read about Australia's biggest coalminer, overseas-owned Glencore, ripping off this nation (''Glencore set-up defies credibility and taxman'', June 27, p.8). Glencore gets subsidies from us and pays no, not any, tax into the revenue pot.

I think of the increasing numbers of global enterprises taking control of our various industries which could do likewise, or already do, and am aghast in pondering future trends of the reducing tax revenue to run this society which result from such large-scale tax avoidance.

This is a conversation for us to have with our government. We need to be committed to redressing our tax system and subsidy actions, now.

Marguerite Castello, Griffith

Definitions and reality

I am reluctant to rise to the assertion of P.M.Button (Letters, June 27) that the Abbott government has authority to govern by virtue of a dictionary definition of mandate. I said from the outset that Button was starting from a very low base. If the authority to govern is achieved by lying, than that authority is flawed and should not be respected, no matter what nice definition you find to hide the fraud. Look no further than to the court ''authorities'' in Egypt: yes they have the authority but look what they do with it.

At least Button concedes there were lies told by the government but apparently considers that's okay because all the undertakings to the people were overridden by the economic madness to get us back to surplus as soon as possible in the face of a confected crisis. Even if it is on the backs of the working families and the sick. I am sure what I am saying is obvious to most, that this government has no mandate to belt up the pensioners, the unemployed, the sick or the workers of this nation.

By contrast, The Canberra Times' report on Glencore, Australia's largest coalminer, was excellent.

The report indicated the company earned a $15 billion profit, paid no tax and received huge government subsidies. There seems to be just a window of opportunity here to share the wealth, rather than deny those who need support, including our worthy education and health authorities just to name a few.

John Whitty, Hawker

Misplaced belief

ATO commissioner Chris Jordan's belief in self-regulation (''Big business a step closer to choosing auditors over ATO'', June 25, p5) may be sabotaged by facts presented in the article ''Audit firms under fire on standards'' (BusinessDay, June 28, p5), describing 18 per cent to 20 per cent shortcomings in 454 key audit areas of 17 reviewed firms, including the nation's four largest.

Jordan's proposal may not be the best way to safeguard Australia's, continually threatened revenue base from predation by corporations which regard contributing to taxation as optional. Evidence the contortions, more audacious than the any in the Karma Sutra, they employ to minimise profits in Australia.

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan, NSW

Barr's mad rush risks Canberra's heritage

What price does one put on Canberra's architectural heritage? Andrew Barr says, of the Northbourne Avenue public housing precinct, that ''the land is woefully under-utilised'' (''Plans for broom through gateway'', June 28, p1). The story says that 424 public housing units will eventually be replaced with 1100 in the precinct.

As a community, we seem to be going through a lot of heart-ache for 676 extra units which would house only 1352 additional people (at 2 people per unit, which is above the ACT average) on the Northbourne Avenue corridor.

Why the rush to demolish the historic housing precinct? Interested parties, ''including international investors'', as Mr Barr suggests, surely have enough imagination to visualise the site empty of buildings.

If the ACT government is so keen to divest themselves of the precinct, why not sell the land and buildings intact? Why should the ACT taxpayers pay for demolition of buildings when the selected developer can bear the cost? A sale condition could provide development incentives to any proposal which recycles the historic components in its redevelopment. It shouldn't be too difficult to maintain a historic character, as well as creatively incorporate an additional 676 Canberra's unique heritage is at risk in Barr's mad rush to make us look like any other Australian city.

Penleigh Boyd, Reid

Sex abuse responses

Brendan Ryan (Letters, June 27) indicates that the Marist Brothers have been operating a school in Cambodia for 30 years.

I hope that for the Cambodian students' benefit, the Cambodian government takes notice of the final report and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Matthew Ford, Kambah



The leaked video, shown on the ABC Insiders program, of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's message to asylum seekers is quite clear. His mission is not really to stop the boats, but simply that we don't want any refugees here.

And all this from a government whose leader is a ten-pound Pom. Really sad.

Alan Parkinson, Weetangera


Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have announced that the age of entitlement has ended, but when will they announce that the age of extermination has begun?

Ted Tregillgas, Flynn


In response to the sweeping generalisations made on a particular breed of dog (Letters, June 26, p3), I remind your readers that all dogs are individuals. Also, recent studies have shown that breed is not a reliable indicator of aggression in serious dog-attack incidents.

Carol Anderson, Kambah


Great idea, Judy Bamberger (Letters, June 28), but I doubt whether our government, determined as it is to ring in light rail, would change tack and introduce the trial bus system you suggested.

Ken McPhan, Spence


Andy Millar and Colin Glover (Letters, June 30) underline admirably the plight and immediate needs of people affected by the Mr Fluffy asbestos debacle. If any Canberran were in the same shoes, it is just about certain they would agree with the central theme of these letter writers.

The ACT government must act compassionately in a much more substantive way now. It is too slow waiting for Commonwealth assistance.

Murray May, Cook


Unbelievable that Rebekah Brooks got off … ''Wir haben es nicht gewusst!''

M. Pietersen, Kambah


Having observed Giulia Jones during the 2012 ACT election campaign, I would say that she is not our brightest MLA and I would not be surprised if her questions at estimates were not particularly insightful (''Liberal Giulia Jones accuses ministers of sexism'',, June 28).

Sexism is never acceptable, but nor should allegations of sexism be used as a cover for personal insecurity or incompetence.

Patricia Saunders, Chapman

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