Federal Politics


High-rise towers not only option for boosting density

Land Development Agency chief executive David Dawes claims higher-density developments should remain a priority for Canberra's town centres (''Residents meet to discuss towers'', February 20, p1), as if the only options for higher-density living in town centres are massively tall towers like the one Geocon has proposed. The two should not be confused. There are many other ways to increase living density in and around town centres that are far less intrusive and more in tune with the scale of existing buildings.

Apparently the government has lifted all height restrictions on buildings in the Belconnen town centre, a fact almost no one at the Belconnen Community Council's meeting last night knew about.

No master plans for this part of Belconnen town centre have been presented for public scrutiny by the ACT government.

Overdeveloping a small block with a massive tower juxtaposed to small buildings, with vague references to additional massive buildings being built on the same section, are unacceptable.

Allan Lohe, Kaleen

On February 19, Geocon presented to Belconnen Community Council an outrageous proposal to build a 35-storey tower at Belconnen Town Centre.


A positive aspect of the meeting was that four MLAs (Yvette Berry, Mary Porter, Chris Bourke and Alistair Coe) attended.

The most disturbing revelation was that the Territory Plan provides no limits for height, altitude or floor space.

Geocon used this loophole to prepare a proposal which most attendees seemed to consider unacceptable.

Major revision of the Territory Plan is immediately required; no applications for major development approvals should be accepted until the revision is approved. Several Belconnen Community Council attendees expressed concern that individual proposals are being considered without adequate consideration of future adjacent buildings.

The Territory Plan should specify criteria limits for every block in the town centre so that applications can be considered in context.

Another disconcerting aspect was inadequate public consultation. Geocon should have widely publicised its proposal at least six months ago.

To avoid spin, formal community consultation should be the responsibility of a government agency. For major projects, the agency should survey all households in the relevant town or towns.

To ensure developers provide timely notification of intent, no development application should be considered until six months after formal community consultations have begun.

The Legislative Assembly should act on these matters immediately.

R. Salmond, Melba

Hypocrisy at play

Huawei, the Raiders' Chinese sponsor and a target of warnings by security agencies in Australia, the United States and Canada as a real threat to national security, is concerned the Australian Crime Commission is being slow and insufficiently transparent regarding its report on criminality in sport (''Huawei wants ACC answers'', February 21, p24).

Hypocrisy from a massive, opaque Chinese communications company run by an ex-army officer: a company claimed to be ''owned by its employees'' but which is consistently evasive about alleged links to the Chinese government and how its funding/ownership/decision-making structures actually work.

Seen Western equipment suppliers getting big contracts to build communications networks in China (or even sponsoring Chinese footy teams)?

Manson MacGregor, Amaroo

Leaks a concern

Your editorial ''Fracking not yet shown harmless'' (February 20, p16) neglected to mention an area of significant concern, so-called ''fugitive emissions'' or leakage. These emissions can be a worry as they are almost totally comprised of methane, a gas with 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

If only a few per cent leaks, the advantages of gas over coal will be negated. Without a robust monitoring effort to measure leakage and penalise transgressors, these projects should not go ahead.

Antony Barry, Ngunnawal

Idea shot down

Spending $19 million to set up a program so that amateur, recreational hunters can shoot in national parks is not good value for the taxpayers of NSW (''Feral animal hunting in parks to cost NSW $19m'', February 20, p5).

Conservationists and the general public have known from day one that putting amateur hunters into national parks was a reckless and dangerous idea by Premier Barry O'Farrell. The NSW government's leaked risk assessment report validates these concerns. With this report, the NSW premier has now been officially warned there is a high risk of death or injury from letting weekend warriors with guns share our national parks with families, bushwalkers and park employees. We are at a turning point in the control of feral animals in NSW national parks. We can pretend to do something by handing the job to amateur hunters who will help feral animals to expand, while at the same time losing that feeling of safety and peacefulness we cherish when we visit a national park. Or we can focus on science-based programs and use the most effective methods of stopping the spread of feral animals in national parks.

John Perkins, Batemans Bay, NSW

Readers duped

Recent days in these columns have seen several examples of people being duped by Tony Abbott. Firstly we had old faithful H. Ronald (Letters, February 19) reportedly gobsmacked by a Canberra Times editorial expressing a favourable view of the PM's ''misogynist speech''. I seem to recall this speech was acclaimed nationally and internationally as an apt rejoinder to the venom against women coming from the likes of Abbott. (I personally am not entirely convinced that Abbot is a misogynist but, opportunist that he is, he uses a certain approach in order to appeal to the misogynists who are unfortunately prevalent in our society.) Be that as it may, Abbott has behaved abominably and it is not you who has been duped, it is H. Ronald (yet again) - hardly surprising considering his hopelessly biased arch-Tory stance.

Then we had Trevor Willis (Letters, February 20) touting the Liberal discussion paper proposing large-scale relocation of public services to the northern parts of the country. Anyone who thinks that this would be an effective use of natural resources has rocks in their head. His attribution of praise for the idea is misplaced as, so far at least, Abbott has failed to express any support for the proposal.

The views Willis expresses regarding foreign aid are unworthy of comment.

T. Marks, Holt

Gilbert spot-on

As usual, R.S. Gilbert has demonstrated his superior left-brain cognition (Letters, February 20). His letters on economics subject always seem to me to be logical but usually critical, particularly on taxation. I suggest The Canberra Times invite him to write a positive article for the opinion page, setting out a total taxation package for the ACT. Not an idealistic one that has no hope of being adopted, but a package that could gain wide acceptance among the voters of the ACT and fund all their reasonable expectations into the foreseeable future.

John F. Simmons, Kambah

Poll hysteria

Four questions about opinion polls. If the Newspoll due out on Monday tilts back towards Labor, compared with the Nielsen poll out last Monday and the last Newspoll, will the hysterical bandwagon of media pollwatchers take off on a different path to the one they have been rushing down this week? Or are the pollwatchers so invested in the prophecies and predictions they have made based on this week's poll that they will rationalise away such a result? Does the sequencing of polls (Newspoll being taken a week after a widely reported Nielsen poll) create its own bandwagon effect among the people being polled? Are we and the trembly Labor caucus therefore being manipulated?

David Stephens, Bruce

Predators at large

Brain Smith (Letters, February 16) was (almost) spot-on about the destruction of smaller bird life around Canberra by marauding packs of currawongs, which were described in a documentary as "wolves of the air".

Currawongs not only kill small birds and fledglings, they also foul up bird baths and steal pet food from dishes left outside.

Brian didn't mention cats, which are the most formidable killers of bird life (but not currawongs, unfortunately) in and around Canberra (especially when their owners blindly let them run loose day and night).

M. McGregor, Curtin

Experience tells us

Zed Seselja seeks to abandon those who voted for him in the ACT elections. His and his backers have the cock-eyed belief that an apprentice could do a better job than Gary Humphries, an experienced professional already on the Coalition front bench.

One can only hope that enough sensible preselectors will see through this blatant bit of personal aggrandisement and confirm Senator Humphries for his well-earned and rightful nomination. If not, then be it on their heads.

Len Goodman, Flynn

What has Zed Seselja got to offer the ACT community? Apart from his own sense of entitlement and desire to be somebody more important than a local MLA, I have yet to discover that he has skills, experience or ideas that would benefit us. Are the Liberal MLAs so pleased to get rid of him that they are supporting his preselection?

Jennifer Bradley, McKellar



The proposal to allow children to shoot feral animals in national parks (''Under-age hunters queue up to shoot feral animals'', February 19, p2), is as ridiculous and dangerous as the recent decision by Eurobodalla Shire Council to permit a ''family friendly'' festival of hunting. Children should be brought up to respect and care for animals, not enjoy killing them.

Susan Cruttenden, Dalmeny, NSW


C. Lathbury (Letters, February 19) suggests a referendum to ascertain if we want to increase the number of members in the Assembly. Given that residents were ignored when they unanimously voted against self government, what would be the point?

P. J. Carthy, McKellar


Memo to Mark Urquhart (Letters, February 20). My Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary defines athlete as ''competitor or skilled performer in physical exercises''. I attended every day of the Australian Women's Open golf tournament at RCGC. The standard was outstanding. Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has no need to feel embarrassed. She and all Canberrans should feel proud.

Brett Yeats, Yarralumla


In 2011, the three big companies that negotiated the mining tax - BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata - made a combined annual profit of $27 billion.

The industry is so rich and powerful its influence is impacting the wellbeing of our society. Community services will be cut by Labor and the Coalition to fund their budget holes. Let's fix the mining tax so it is fair, and our poorest communities don't suffer.

Sue Cory, Edge Hill, Qld

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