I read in The Canberra Times (February 4) that Jan Spate, the Hall ex-vet (now purveyor of animal goods and products) has again been targeted by the ACT Veterinary Surgeons Board.
First, Jan provided a veterinary practice that was unparalleled in the ACT and surrounding district. Many a sick farm animal or pensioner's cat is alive and well, thanks to her no-frills yet compassionate and appropriate treatment.
Her fame spreads far and wide; I know myself that she is known from Goulburn and Yass to Bega and Bombala as an excellent vet. She is there totally for the animals and the animals and their humans respond to that level of dedication.
Then, for reasons best left to fester in the hearts of those who brought this about, the VRB fell upon her with an astonishing level of persistent vituperation, constant harassment and malice. The result being that she was deregistered. One would be excused for imagining that, having achieved their aims, they would just leave well alone. But no. She is now again being attacked.
If my professional registration body acted in such a vicious and targeted manner towards another member, I would begin asking questions. I would also be unimpressed at their having brought our profession into such widespread disrepute. I imagined that professional bodies were constitutionally bound to maintain the dignity of the profession and its good public profile.
F. P. Ingram, Melba
No abuts about it
I totally agree with Bruce Wright's comment ("Why do we have planning rules?", CT, February 3). Surely the Developers knew and were informed by LDA/ATPLA that there were building height restrictions (as per plans) on the blocks they chose before they handed the money over to our ACT government for the blocks. If this was not the case both the Developers and LDA/ACTPLA are very remiss and did not follow "due practice".
By allowing a variation of the Woden Town Centre Master Plan (not a Draft Master Plan!) the big picture of the buildings and aspects/heights/skyline/overshadowing etc in the town centre, designed and approved by ACT government town planners and architects and endorsed by the community and the Community Council has been completely disregarded and altered. There is no logic whatsoever to change the height restriction (16 storeys) of the developers' block to 26 storeys simply because it abuts a 24-storey height restriction approved block? Where will this stop? Why the developers didn't buy a 26-storey height-restriction block (which they obviously wanted!) in the first place beggars belief, or maybe the "abutting rule", which first surfaced in Gungahlin as a LDA/ACTPLA initiative, is more widespread than we are being told?
P. R. Temple, Macquarie
Tracking the cash
I have recently discovered an amusing pastime. Whenever a new, large project is announced, for example Snowy 2.0, replacement submarines or the Melbourne to Brisbane inland railway, I convert the estimated cost to light rail dollars, each worth $1 billion, the approximate cost of our 12-kilometre light rail.
In this currency, Snowy 2.0 will cost four light rails, each submarine will also be four light rails, and the 1700-kilometre inland railway will cost 10 light rails.
When expressed in light rail dollars, it seems that these huge projects are remarkably cheap, or ... is there another possibility?
Keith Pantlin, Downer
Counting the cost
The ABS no longer produces a cost of living index that shows the full extent of increases in the cost of living.
The CPI excludes price changes attributable to a change in the quality of the latest version of a good or service.
It only measures pure price inflation.
However, when I go to buy a new piece of equipment, such as a mobile phone, that is subject to rapid technological change, I may well be told that I have to upgrade to the latest model, and I have to pay the full price, including that part of the price increase that the ABS has decided to regard as being due to technological improvement.
The ABS does not record the actual prices that we have to pay, only the prices as adjusted for perceived technological improvement, so that we do not have a measure of the actual increase in the cost of living. The ABS should be able to produce such a measure (some other countries, such as the UK, still produce a retail price index that shows the total increase in retail prices without adjustment for technological change).
The ABS also produces the employee living cost index, used in wage negotiations. It appears that some people do not realise that the prices used in that index are also adjusted for technological change.
That has led to low wage growth in recent years, which in turn is leading to low inflation, and overly optimistic estimates of increases in labour productivity. In the past it has been conservatively estimated that the effect of discounting prices to allow for technological change is about 1per cent per annum, but we do not have any current data for Australia.
Annette Barbetti, Kaleen
Heads should hang
"ACT charities prepare for influx as families struggle with back to school costs." Were the children in this photograph and article (February 5) actors from a remote town? Or was this this a photo of three or four children who will spend the first month of school life being ridiculed as the "poor kids", the charity kids".
We know that children can be the cruellest of the cruel and that their targets can go home deeply hurt, and stay hurt for a long time. Ridicule can be a trauma that hangs on.
Schools can try to teach about difference, but there will always be some ridicule among students of every age.
We just don't expect the nation's leading newspaper toset children or families uplike this.
I don't suggest any head should roll, just hang in shame.
Warwick Davis, Isaacs
Get up to speed
Shane Rattenbury believes that "Canberra is a city that speeds", (February 5).
That might be because many other people believe as I do that Canberra road speeds are often too low.
With the notable exception of 40km/h zones around schools, I think that many other 40km/h zones could be 50km/h, many 60km/h zones could be 70km/h or 80km/h, and some 80km/h zones could be 90km/h. Why, for example, Wentworth Ave, which is a dual carriageway, is 60km/h for much of the time is anyone's guess.
Jeff Hart, Kingston
Day in happy harmony
On Sunday, I was a guest at a lunch party hosted at a local restaurant by the owner to introduce his newly born daughter.
Present, to my certain knowledge, were guests who came from at least three different Asian countries, a man of French heritage, Catholics, atheists, a Jewess, many Anglo-Celts, various Europeans and others whose racial origins I couldn't guess at. One guest is the CEO of a major Australian export company who was recently acknowledged in the Australia Day honours. Centre stage, of course, was the most beautiful four-week-old baby girl, an Australian citizen, born to Australian parents, both of whom were born overseas.
Some spoke English like Oxford professors while others had only a limited grasp of the language – and all stages between. I thought that this function showed what this country is – or ought to be like at all times. Not the rancorous dividers who fight and scrap over Australia Day, nor the minister who decries and devalues particular groups with common racial origins.
I wonder what Mr Dutton would have made of the day. I, for one, have seldom felt more pleased to be an Australian and to enjoy the company of friends, old and new, without a hint of the unpleasantness that is promoted by those who seek to divide the harmony of our society.
Frankly, I'm not sorry that he wasn't there.
David Nolan, Holder
Big questions remain
The Archives Act provides for the management of Australian government records through the issue of records authorities.
These are legal instruments determining how long each class of records should be kept and the custody arrangements that should apply. Records identified as having permanent value, for example, should be transferred to the National Archives when the agency's regular business need for them ceases. The act also provides that records are not to be disposed of without the consent of the Archives except in strictly specified circumstances. I am sure that for each record in those locked filing cabinets there would be, in a relevant records authority, a "disposal sentence" stating the custody arrangements to be applied. Needless to say these would not include "place in locked filing cabinet and sell to second-hand shop".
The questions that have not been asked, but should be, are: If legal disposal arrangements were not made for these records, why not? Which agencies did not have a records management regime in place? Why not? Was it because government agencies are starved of funds to ensure that proper archival processes are established and followed? It would be interesting to hear from the National Archives on this matter.
Eileen Boyldew, Queanbeyan
Oh, the irony
It is rather ironic that a man who has been working to remove the Queen from the Australian constitution and who recently became a member of the advisory panel of the Australian Republican Movement, is now mooted to become the Queen's representative in Western Australia.
The Queen is Queen of Western Australia and the job of the governor is to act as her representative in the state.
As such he must give – and abide by – a loyal oath of allegiance to the Queen. One wonders how such a strong republican can do all this in good faith and without appearing to be a total hypocrite.
Philip Benwell, Australian Monarchist League national chairman
Andrew Rowe's complaint about the ABC's carelessness in cutting the end of a Checkout program is justified. My beef with them and SBS is about the closed captions used for the news programs. They are almost useless because they are usually so far behind the visual and quite often the spelling is so inaccurate as to be ludicrous or just plain nonsense, particularly with names of people or places. Sometimes the operator picks up a mistake and then just retypes correctly, making things even less intelligible for the viewer.
Captioning is excellent. People in hospital, for example, need it, and it is very useful also when one person watching is hard of hearing so that others don't need to be annoyed by a blaring soundtrack. Being hard of hearing, I always use captions so that I don't annoy neighbours several blocks away. The TV stations pay some kind of contractor for these services. I cannot understand why on earth the ABC (and SBS) can't employ people to do it; it would surely be cheaper. And I cannot understand why on earth they don't record their news ahead of broadcast time so as to have time to align the captions with the visuals.
Barbara Fisher, Cook
Dial it down
On Monday morning on our local ABC, the current presenter Dan Bourchier had two journalists discussing the first day of parliament. One was from the Daily Telegraph, a News Corp newspaper, the other from one of the commercial television stations. Is this another dumbing down of the ABC, I ask myself, another bias that is creeping into our ABC. Surely, Mr Bourchier, the ABC must have its own journalists to discuss the political landscape. Leave the right-wing bias to the commercial radio stations, they do it so well, and if I wanted to listen I'd dial those on my radio. My local ABC radio is losing its way, it's been happening for some time. Genevieve Jacobs being sacked was almost the last straw, now this morning's political discussion is the last straw. Having listened to "666" for the past 35 years I do believe it's time to turn you off.
Jan Gulliver, Lyneham
Stephanie Dowrick ("The secret men's business", Comment, February 5, p18) noted that theweapons industries lackaccountability, transparency, and moral and social value. My parents told methat if I don't know anything about a subject then keep my mouth closed, so I must follow that dictum.
But it can't be a coincidence – can it? – that with a South Australian election due in seven weeks, and a federal one within 15 months at latest, Christopher Pyne has found some good news – a boom in weapons exports centred on South Australia.
Peter Baskett, Murrumbateman, NSW
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