Eviction reflects a government out of touch on so many levels
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Eviction reflects a government out of touch on so many levels

The eviction of Judith Kelly ("Judith digs in as eviction D-Day looms", May 5, p8) is symptomatic of an ACT government well out of touch with not only its tenants but what it means to be a Labor government.

Since self-government we have gone from more than 13,000 public housing units to about 10,000 and falling. When the territory took over public housing in the ACT, the arrangement was that before a public housing unit could be sold, a replacement would have to be built.

Judith Kelly sits outside her flat, inside the public housing block on the corner of Condamine Street and Northbourne Avenue.

Judith Kelly sits outside her flat, inside the public housing block on the corner of Condamine Street and Northbourne Avenue.Credit:Karleen Minney

This has not happened. The missing 3000 public housing units roughly equal the amount of people in housing difficulties in the ACT.

What annoys many of us is that the present lot of so called Labor politicians get elected calling themselves Labor. Their correct title should be the land sales and developers co-prosperity party.

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I wish I could say the Liberals would be better. Sadly both parties sing from the same hymn book as far as housing goes.

At the next election I recommend that when you go to a "meet the candidates event" you remember what the politicians seeking your vote did as far as the homeless goes. With that in mind, vote accordingly.

Email submissions to letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au

Email submissions to letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au

Howard Carew, Isaacs

Into disrepair

I love the phrase "fell into disrepair", don't you? "The Northbourne flats were built in the 1950s ... but having fallen into disrepair in recent times" ("Judith digs in as eviction D-Day looms", May 5, p8). They did that all by themselves, did they? Correct me if I'm wrong, but the ACT government owned those buildings, didn't it? Wasn't it its responsibility to maintain them? There are heaps of houses older than that which don't "fall into disrepair" unless the owners neglect to maintain them.

And how convenient the sites have become even more valuable with the tram now running by them, making their demolition so much more potentially profitable? We had friends in the suburb of Redfern before it was "upgraded". They lost their community and ended up in Chester Hill (anyone heard of it?). I have great sympathy for people who have affordable housing in a convenient area who protest at being removed to another location.

Margaret Lee, Hawker

Welfare system failings

On Friday, we heard an interview on ABC radio with a representative of a group that had been working with public housing tenants in a crime-prone area of Reid. This group had focused on combining direct help with social uplift, resulting in greater social and economic engagement for the tenants and a marked reduction in crime in the area.

The day after hearing this success story, we read the story of Judith Kelly ("Judith digs in as eviction D-Day looms", May 5, p8). Judith and her son are longstanding but unofficial tenants of a soon to be demolished Northbourne Avenue public housing block and have spurned a number of offers of alternative housing for various reasons.

These apparently unrelated media reports highlight the failings of our welfare system but also that improvement is possible. On the one hand, we have attempts to tackle long-term welfare dependency and its attendant problems, resulting in better outcomes for the individuals concerned and for the surrounding community.

On the other, we have someone who appears entrenched within the welfare system, and who, through this entrenchment, appears to have developed a certain sense of entitlement that is obstructing attempts to achieve a decent outcome for her.

This situation undoubtedly owes much to longstanding ACT government policies that have consistently elevated rights above responsibilities.

We have long believed that long-term welfare dependence is corrosive of the human spirit. To change that, let us make the Reid example the norm, not the exception.

Michael and Christine O'Loughlin, Griffith

Voodoo statistics

In a career of over 30 years as an economic statistician rarely, if ever, have I seen voodoo statistics as outrageous as those presented by ACT Treasury in Katie Burgess' article "Rates overhaul impact revealed" (April 24, p1 and "Only small number of apartment owners had big rates rises: Treasury" canberratimes.com.au). They haven't been presented to the inquiry into this debacle because surely they would be a contempt of the Legislative Assembly.

Readers might get the impression from the responses of Jack Evans and Gary Petherbridge (Letters, May 2) that this is Landmark Apartments v Government, but I can assure them this is a Canberra-wide issue. I would agree with every point they make, particularly Gary's call for Treasury to release far more meaningful data in the way of proper counts of units grouped by marginal rate.

While we wait for Treasury I can tell you about the 600 units in Holt. Under the old method 596 fell into the lowest marginal rate, under the new method 592 fall into the top marginal rate. Increases in the valuation-based charge average 89 per cent. If repeated across the city, the government has raised $12million through this outrageous tax grab.

A basic tenet of tax is that it is levied on individuals on criteria such as income earned by the individual, property owned by the individual, or money spent by the individual. The government's new method destroys that principle.

My VBC is now levied half on property owned by me and half on property owned by 56 other people. That is why this new method is so inequitable.

Peter Bradbury, Holt

Roo cull smokescreen

I would like to thank The Canberra Times for its editorial "Government needs to do better job of explaining roo cull" (May 4), and especially for its conclusion that "the voices that oppose the cull have much to teach us, if we could be given the opportunity to hear them more often."

The fact is the government cannot do a better job of explaining its annual mass slaughter of kangaroos because the public would find that explanation unacceptable. The environmental rationale has never been anything but a smokescreen for servicing the vested interests of developers and farmers. The so-called science supporting it, though accepted on no less than three occasions by a scientifically incompetent ACAT, is arrant nonsense to anyone with an actual understanding of ecology. As for the cruelty of the slaughter, this has been witnessed directly by far too many ACT residents for the government to be able to explain or deny it.

Those of us who understand the facts about kangaroos find it astonishing that so many members of the Canberra public have been manipulated into accepting this annual kill-fest. Many Canberrans work for a government and should therefore be intimately familiar with the way governments routinely can and do mislead the public.

Frankie Seymour, Queanbeyan, NSW

Look who's talking

Every morning I try to listen to ABC Radio. It was once the standard by which other broadcasters were measured.

It seems ABC management (Canberra) has decided that trendiness is more important in a broadcaster than competence.

The adenoidal quacking which typifies today's presenters makes for very hard listening. Often, in fact, presenters with shriller voices simply distort into incomprehensibility – even the recurring station ID is delivered as, yes, adenoidal quacking. Your timely news item ("ABC job cuts a dogfight likened to Hunger Games", May 3, p2) gives some idea of the state of mind of current ABC management, where broadcasting competence takes second place to the production of "online content".

Online content is indeed important. But just as important in a broadcaster are the basic broadcasting skills: understanding and knowledge; timing; breath control; voice production; understanding of issues; the ability to project one's personality. These simple demands are not being met, and ABC radio has deteriorated almost beyond redemption.

Nick Goldie, Cooma

An ageist ABC?

I am alarmed to again read of the ABC's "nationwide restructure", which will likely result in two of the ABC Canberra's most experienced and respected employees being made redundant. Following on from the "fresh new look" of ABC Breakfast with the moving on of the ABC's morning breakfast announcer in Genevieve Jacobs (and Red Symons in Melbourne), the obvious question is whether the ABC has become quite ageist in moving on those with experience and respect in their communities. If, as the ABC claims, it is trying to build a more effective team, then look at the ratings for the breakfast slot and move on that individual.

Helen M.Goddard, Turner

This is bad news

The proposed reduction by 25per cent of the ABC news personnel in the ACT should be of great concern to all Canberrans. It gives the lie to earlier pledges by ABC management to give greater focus and resources to its regional outlets. There is no way that resources can be cut without a concomitant reduction in services and their quality. Is the ABC saying that two of its nine ACT news staff were doing nothing, or that the remaining seven have to do more? In an increasingly complex world that demands ever greater focus on accurate, reliable and timely news and current affairs reporting, the ABC seems to have stopped trying. No wonder people have lost faith in government to serve the community's interests.

Doug Foskett, Griffith

Act over ACT

Well, Jack Kershaw, there is a very simple solution to your perceived ACT/NSW border problem (Letters, April 30) — dissolving the ACT back into NSW. The NCA would remain, with its current responsibilities and looking after a "territory" consisting of the Parliamentary Triangle, Lake Burley Griffin and Namadji National Park, which will more than satisfy S125 of the Constitution. The ACT government would disappear, to be replaced by a decent city council for the (new) City of Greater Canberra. As a popular TV advert puts it: "Simple!".

Paul E.Bowler, Chapman

Dutton's dreaming

Peter Dutton's status as Home Affairs Minister seems to have gone to his head.

But the article ("Turnbull government appoints new Department of Home Affairs crime tsar", April 30, canberratimes.com.au) suggesting he is seeking broader surveillance powers for Australia's national cyber security agency show just how dangerous it is to allow ourselves to be ruled by an imaginary "threat"-driven agenda.

There can be no justification whatsoever for such powers, especially without any protection for innocent citizens. The Turnbull government has not even explained how alleged cyber attacks by Russia, or influence buying by China, have actually damaged Australian national interests in concrete ways, as distinct from causing disruption or generating public concerns about quite normal Chinese activities.

Trevor Wilson, Chifley

Fusion fissure

When subscribers to the Letters page enter an argument, can they please get their facts right? Greg Jackson (Letters, April 30) has a good letter under the heading "Waiting for fission" but he confuses two forms of energy conversion, those being fission and fusion. For decades we have had electrical energy from fission – meaning the splitting of the uranium nucleus, we are not waiting for it. For the same decades, scientists have been working at ways to harness the energy from nuclear fusion – the combining of nuclei to release energy, and we are still waiting for that method to become reality.

Alan Parkinson, Weetangera

Young, get angry

Wealthy retirees get $80,000 tax-free plus another $18,200 tax-free so a couple can have $196,400 income and pay no tax. In addition, as it isn't taxable income, they pay no Medicare levy or Medicare Surcharge Levy and some of them still get the Seniors Health Card due to Joe Hockey's grandfathering decision. At the same time young people are paying off large HECS debts, trying to pay for a house and paying tax to support wealthy retirees for their cruising lifestyle – is that fair? At the same time as retirees are cruising the world, people on Newstart allowance are struggling to feed themselves. It's about time the young woke up to this reality and started complaining.

David Roberts, Belconnen

Raise your glasses

Anthony Albanese has always appealed to we loyal comrades who march to the left of the flaccid standard of mediocrity.

His successful efforts to reduce the unfair tax on small brewers can only be described as one of the greatest achievements of federal parliament this decade. I also dips me lid to those members of the dark side who saw fit to aid and abet.

Albo's name has oft been whispered in regard to Labour leadership but he's probably too decent a bloke to be involved in that sort of malarkey. It's been many a moon since I raised a glass to a polly, so join me one and all. Here's to you, Albo.

Rien Wiersma, Holt

TO THE POINT

HONOUR GIURGOLA

On the 30th anniversary of Parliament House we should name the third seat after its architect Romaldo Giurgola to honour his contribution to Canberra and celebrate the achievements of ethnically diverse Australians in this country.

Kim Fischer, Florey

BITTERSWEET

I can confidently predict that we will never have a sugar tax now scientists have found that sugar causes memory loss ("Sweet memories going out of my head", May 5, p19).

Steve Thomas, Yarralumla

AD MISSES MARK

The "apparent" lightning strike that knocked out Telstra's cable and rendered the emergency triple-0 function useless will be formally investigated ("Formal inquiry into 000 outage flagged", May 5, p2). However, the wording of the telco's full-page ad placement on page 7, was, to say the least, unfortunate, reading "As reliable as slippers for Mother's Day – join Australia's most reliable mobile network".

Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook

PEDESTRIANS TOO?

Re, "Motorists on notice with cyclists" (May 6, p2). Great news. Let's hope it also measures distance between speeding cyclists and pedestrians.

Patrick and Robyn Cormick, Turner

SUBS OBSCENE RETAINER

Methinks Christopher Pyne is fully focused on submarines, as the longevity of his political life is totally dependent on this digging-holes-to-fill-them-in $50 billion taxpayer-funded folly ("Labor says purchase needs minister's full attention", May 4, p5). Never, in Australian history, has one seat cost the politician-afflicted population such an obscene retainer.

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan

GIVE PRIZE A CHANCE

I have recanted my opposition to Trump's Nobel Peace Prize. As the righties point out, Obama's Peace Prize was a joke; and if there is an overarching objective of the Trump presidency, it is to one-up Obama.

Maybe Julie Bishop is thinking that Trump will torpedo the Korean deal unless he gets all the credit.

So give it to him.

Let it be two prizes welded together, festooned with ribbons and rhinestones, bearing the inscription "The Greatest Nobel Peace Prize Ever".

S W Davey, Torrens

CBA LOSING IT

The CBA has admitted it lost customers' private details in 2016. Well, I can tell you the CBA lost all our home loan documents, pay slips, super details, tax documents etc in 2012. I'm still waiting for the home lender to get back to me as well as the financial planner.

Actually, come to think of it I'm glad they didn't.

V. Harris, Yass NSW

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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