Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Pruning of our wallets
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Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Pruning of our wallets

One has to ask who was responsible for adding a further $10 to our already burgeoning electricity bills under the guise of pruning trees that impact on overhead power lines.

Anyone who has done any competent research will know that in the Gunghalin area there are few if any overhead power lines. Why therefore should those residents be required to pay this added impost?

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For the Barr government to proclaim that costs will be reduced by 2020 is totally insufficient argument to justify this increase.

It smacks of a further attempt by the Barr government to get its hands on more of our monies.

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A cogent and rational explanation is requested.

N.Bailey, Nicholls

Regressive levies

The Barr government has imposed yet another regressive levy, this time on power bills.

This now stands alongside others such as the road rescue fee, the road safety contribution and the lifetime care and support levy.

These charges, along with increased rates and substantial rises in utility charges, are impacting upon discretionary consumer spending at a time when consumer confidence is declining.

What is it about the Barr government that it cannot understand the economics behind discretionary spending and consumer confidence, or the impact on the small business sector and the "frog boiling" of Canberra citizens in respect to their diminishing spending power.

Ric Hingee, Duffy

Paying for the tram

The ACT government has again demonstrated its penchant for doing less while slugging its subjects more by abdicating its responsibility to keep vegetation away from power lines. ("ACTpower bills to jump $10 after tree trim transfer to ActewAGL", canberratimes.com.au, November5).

Consumer Affairs Minister Shane Rattenbury's claim costs would reduce as outages would not be needed after three to five years is a blatant admission the government has again failed ratepayers by an inadequate service.

Still, we have to pay for the tram somehow and the government has found yet another way to effectively charge every household and business another $40 or so each year.

Graham Downie, O'Connor

Animal exploitation

Dick Varley (Letters, November7) has unwittingly hit the nail on the head regarding there being no distinction between racing dogs and racing horses.

Both industries will mercilessly exploit animals; both industries will race those animals beyond their levels of endurance; and both industries will kill those who don't make the grade or who sustain injury. These cold, hard facts, driven by profit and greed, are glossed over with the glamour of the Melbourne Cup or down-to-earth decency of Darryl Kerrigan.

Mr Varley doesn't specify what the "numerous benefits" of greyhound racing are. For sure, there are none for the greyhounds themselves. Just ask a greyhound rescuer tasked with the job of rehabilitating a traumatised dog or finding homes for the hundreds who are unwanted. Supposed "better controls" of the greyhound industry can never overcome the fact that these dogs are not pets, they are a means to a money-making end. Non-profitable dogs, like non-profitable horses, are unlikely to have a long and happy future, and are more likely to have their innocent lives cut short by the people who claim to "love" them.A very selective "fair go", MrVarley.

Jan Darby, Isabella Plains

Foreign allegiance

I have been annoyed; now I am dismayed. Every media report on section 44 recently has only mentioned "citizen", as in "Barnaby Joyce was a dual citizen". No one mentions "subject" or "allegiance".

Dealing with Mr Joyce first, the section begins "(anyone who is) under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power".

I am dismayed because the High Court did not rule on who is doing the "acknowledging", because it certainly wasn't MrJoyce, who may not therefore have been disqualified.

The High Court has not defined what a "foreign power" is. Can any of your readers tell us whether the United Nations, Greenpeace, Amnesty International or the TPP are "foreign powers"?

Similarly, Australian trade unions are affiliated to the International Labour Organisation. Therefore any member of a trade union is at least demonstrating allegiance to a foreign power.

Would Bill Shorten care to comment on when he renounced his allegiance to the ILO?

Martyn Allen, Spence

High Court karma

It really doesn't matter whether know-nothing bush lawyers such as Michael Stevenson (Letters, November6) fulminate over the High Court's recent decision about eligibility to sit in Parliament under section 44 of the constitution, because the seven justices who matter haveunanimously decided otherwise.

This is, of course, karma for the Coalition, which for years has railed against "activist" judges and their decisions, consequently appointing "blackletter" judges to the courtwhen they could.

Surprise! The court supplied a black letter, literal judgment. Phooey to "intent".

And far from being the epitome of Australianness, Barnaby Joyce stands as a hayseed caricature, a man who condones water theft and supports the destruction of prime agricultural land to serve the appetite of the coal industry. If he's what it means to be Australian, then we haven't progressed from the days of convicts and the Rum Corps.

David Jenkins, Casey

We must protest, or Civic pool will go to property developers

After reading ACT government officials' reports comments ("Cloud on City to the Lake pool plans", November 7, p1), I suggest that citizens start protesting – otherwise the current 50-metre pool in Civic looks like being handed over to property developers, and people who enjoy swimming locally being forced to move to the 25-metre pool under construction at the ANU.

This is not surprising given the government's history, but is at odds with its stated "Preventative Health Strategy" (and associated expensive international Forum) that encourages physical activity.

Bruce Paine, Red Hill

Project lost meaning

It is encouraging to read that the City Renewal Authority's board is revisiting plans for the entire City to the Lake project. I am sure the board will recognise the project lost all meaning when it was revealed the $400 million cost of lowering and covering Parkes Way was economically impossible. Without this connection West Basin would become an isolated, traffic noise-addled pocket of housing further isolating the lakefront from the city.

The authority's board should resolve to return $37 million of the budgeted funds to government coffers and spend the remaining $1 million on bringing the boardwalk to land, creating separate pedestrian and bike paths around to the museum, and landscaping the West Basin parkland into something we can be proud of.

Alan Robertson, Campbell

Not 'illegals'

Penny Upward and Michael Attwell (CT November 6) reflect a number of misconceptions regarding asylum seekers conveniently perpetuated by the LNP and Labor.

One is the tag "illegals", suggesting these people are committing a crime in seeking asylum, a concept well recognised (and signed up to by Australia) in international law. An "Illegal" is someone who comes on a tourist visa while intending to do business here, but it's an Orwellian New-Speak tag used by the Government and the paramilitary Border Force to describe asylum seekers, i.e. those escaping persecution. Indeed, it was used by Acting Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram in Senate Estimates last week when he said "We get illegal arrivals in Australia at the border all the time and have done for many years, as you know", highlighting the fact that "stopping the boats" hasn't meant stopping "illegals", most of whom come by air.

Putting them in camps also seems to draw ire as they're seen to be getting shelter, showers, food, clean clothes, and medical help. I'd suggest they'd rather be in the community working and paying taxes and paying for their own shelter, showers, food, clean clothes, and medical help. Indeed, the many millions wasted on these punitive offshore camps would be far better spent in Australia on the battlers and the homeless, especially as this money – our taxes – goes to a UK contractor.

Dallas Stow, O'Connor

Merkel's misstep

Graham Macaffee opines that Germany's Angela Merkel let a million refugees into Germany and the sky didn't fall (Letters, November 8). Seriously? Merkel's unilateral decision has created chaos in many parts of Europe including Germany. It has given rise to far-right voices that have not been heard for years and created great divisions between countries who resent her appalling lack of judgment. This decision is still playing out and will adversely affect Europe for many years to come. No one knows how it will end.

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra

Not 'refugees'

Graham Macafee and W.A. Brown (Letters, November 8) mislead the reader by referring to all people arriving in Germany and on Manus Island as "refugees". This is incorrect. They are "asylum seekers" until their claims are formally assessed under the UN Refugee Convention. Those found to be refugees are entitled to be resettled in a safe country.

However, those found not to be refugees can be returned to their home country provided it is safe. The latter group is usually regarded as "economic migrants". Confusing the two belittles the experience of the genuine refugee who has been through hell.

Macafee's claim that Angela Merkel let a million refugees into Germany is incorrect. Yes, she let in a million asylum seekers but has made it clear that those who are not found to be refugees (ie failed asylum seekers) will be returned to their home country. This includes 100,000 Afghans to date. The same applies to the group on Manus Island. There would be those that have been found to be refugees and are awaiting resettlement (including in the US), and those whose claims have been refused under the Convention and have been told to go home. W.A. Brown also claims there are 1000 "stateless" refugees on Manus. This also is not correct. To be considered "stateless", a person has no citizenship to any country. 1000 stateless people on Manus? Hardly! Perhaps some Rohingyas who came from the Rakhine state of Myanmar where that government considers them non-citizens. Get it right, W.A. Brown and apologise to the genuine refugees including Josh Frydenberg's mother.

Maria Pellegrino, Gungahlin

Norfolkers' rights

Jon Stanhope makes the curious statement (Letters, November 7) that the Federal Parliament abolished "the right of the residents of Norfolk Island to any say in any law". They have the same right as anyone else. They have a local council and, federally, they vote in the electorate of Canberra just as the residents of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands vote in Lingiari. They don't have the powers they had until recently which, in some cases, exceeded the powers of the states, eg powers over immigration, posts and telegraph but, as the population of the place barely exceeds that of Braidwood and is less than half that of Bungendore, neither should they.

Stan Marks, Hawker

Cruel Cup

Don't be deceived by the glitz and glamour of the Melbourne Cup. The dark side of this industry is that thousands of magnificent thoroughbreds are mercilessly slaughtered each year simply because they cannot run fast enough. The film title, They shoot horses, don't they? could well have been referring to this industry.

Jenny Moxham, Monbulk, Victoria

TO THE POINT

HOUSE SIZES

We often talk about downsizing either after we retire or when the children leave home. This could be avoided if we did not build huge homes (not always possible) and adopted "age friendly" planning like wheelchair access of doors, bathrooms and toilets. Renovations at a later stage are a financial burden.

Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt

WHICH WITCHES?

So, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull claims that "we have no place in Australia for witch-hunts". Of course, that's not unless you are unfortunate enough to be a welfare recipient, trade unionist or political opponent.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

CHECKS AND BALANCES

It would have been better for the Coalition if they had ordered citizenship checks for all parliamentarians as soon as the issue came to light. But honesty goes against the grain with politicians. Witches are imaginary, but crooked politicians are not.

Mike Dallwitz, Giralang

AND LOCALLY?

The "almost 90 per cent" no-gap surgery rate cited by Professor Robson (Letters, November 8) for Australia is impressive, right up there with the national average GP bulk billing rate of 85 per cent. But how applicable is either figure to our region?

Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra

ROCK OF AGES

Barbara Cook (Letters, November 7) is spot on. Uluru is as sacred to its traditional owners as any church, cathedral or mosque. Climbing it is equivalent to tourists rushing into the local church, leaping over the pews and scrambling across the altar. Imagine the outcry.

Patricia Saunders, Chapman

THE CUNNING KIWI

Michael Stevenson (Letters, November 6) writes that the High Court must have been wrong in finding Barnaby Joyce in breach of section 44 of the constitution because it is hard to imagine anyone more Australian than Barnaby.

But isn't appearing to be excessively Australian exactly what you'd expect of secret Kiwis trying to worm their way into the heart of the Australian government?

Greg Pinder, Charnwood

WRONG CAREER

Steal or rip off your employer and you go to jail. Don't pay your child support and your income is embargoed. Overpaid by Centrelink or receive a benefit you're not entitled to and you receive a debtor invoice. Illegally elected to Parliament and receive thousands of dollars of income, allowance, other benefits and free travel you are scott free of any debt. Seems I selected the wrong career!

Jack Wiles, Gilmore

Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attached file. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).

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