Rates up again
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Rates up again

It seems that the Legislative Assembly had made a lot of noise about an inquiry into the change in methodology for calculating rates for unit owners; change which resulted in astronomical increases in rates last year. However, having received my rates notice, I see that the noise has come to nothing, apart from a further 10 per cent increase in rates, without commensurate increase in services.

The circumstances indicate that the Legislative Assembly inquiry amounts to nothing more than window dressing and that the Labor government seems hell-bent on screwing pensioners and units owners via this iniquitous change.

For a government which repeatedly says that it "listens" to the people, it has certainly done no listening at all when it comes to this issue. It is indicative of a government which has been too long in power, and clearly has become too entrenched in its own views and somewhat arrogant when pushing them on to the public. I am disgusted.

PJ Bewley, Barton

The gen on flies

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Blowflies are found throughout the year in Canberra and, according to local entomologist Roger Farrow who recently published Insects of South-East Australia, are probably just torpid on cold days, hiding in sheltered spots.

Sunshine will stimulate their flight activity and bring themselves to our attention.

The blowflies (Calliphoridae) are the largest flies to be found in Canberra: the 'brown or blue bombers' whose maggots feed on carrion and are important forensic indicators. There are also flesh flies (Sarcophagidae) with their black and white chequerboard markings which breed in rotting carrion and vegetation.

The bushflies (Muscidae), which look like smaller versions of houseflies, are the ones that get into our eyes and ears seeking food and stimulating the "Aussie salute". They are considered one of the worst features of Australia by departing tourists and were remarked on during Cook's voyage of discovery.

They lay their eggs in dung and since the introduction of livestock to Australia have become the most ubiquitous of nuisance insects. Bushflies do not overwinter in south-east Australia and are blown in on weather fronts from late spring and then begin local breeding, although the introduced dung beetles have helped reduce their impact.

These are the true insect harbingers of spring in Canberra and an observer can rightly claim to see the first bushfly of spring, but not the blowfly as reported by Ric Innes (Letters, July 28).

Dr Philip Spradbery, Yarralumla

Express mess

We live just off Hayden Drive, Bruce, and can and do use the five different route 300 express services to the city and Belconnen.

It is not unusual in peak times to have to watch two or more buses go past with the sign 'Sorry. Bus full'. The proposed new arrangements reduce these buses to two. There will be many city workers and university students in particular who will need to adjust their travel times by 15 minutes or more in order to meet their time commitments, and hope the next one coming past is not full.

So much for progress.

Do the people who plan the routes and timetables ever catch the bus?

TW Campbell, Bruce

Turning blind eye

Farm work in Queensland has a long history of exploitation. Suggesting demands that workers be paid for their labour is an "ideological attack by unions on the labour-hire business" displays gross ignorance of the state's fraught agrarian past ("Migrant workers in $10m wages claim", Sunday CT, July 29, p9).

Australia's dark history of slavery, excluding First Fleet convicts, dates from the 1860s, when tens of thousands of Kanakas – Pacific Islanders – were blackbirded to work in Queensland's plantations. It is recorded the first – of an estimated 62,000 – blackbirded "workers" arrived in 1863, at Moreton Bay, aboard Don Juan, to work predominantly on cotton plantations. While their islands of origin varied, most were, ironically, from Vanuatu. Work was hard, dirty, dangerous and negligibly rewarded.

Birds in the trees could have told anyone who would listen, of the rorting, corruption and exploitation of farm workers. It was an open secret to all but policing authorities who, to their shame, chose to turn a blind eye.

In May 2015 a Four Corners investigation exposed the rottenness of the industry. Authorities maintained their state of suspended animation. In 2017 a female backpacker was stabbed to death in a hostel, a newly arrived male Belgian died of heat exhaustion, a German female under a ride-on mower.

Blood, sweat, tears, suffering of fellow humans, even death, seem insufficient to shame authorities into action. Staggeringly, they seem relaxed, "awaiting the findings of the Fair Work Ombudsman..."!

Body-hire provides employers, convenient, Pilate-like deniability for slavery.

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan

Waste of money

Is it just me or do others ask themselves how much the 'Our Canberra' newsletter is costing ACT ratepayers with its colour printing and delivery to every letter box?

Every edition includes on the front page a 'message' from the Chief Minister and a photograph of him looking his smug best.

I have just received the latest Woden, Weston Creek and Molonglo edition of this propaganda guff. Given that the average age of the population in these areas is around 50 years, and that our Chief Minister is on record as saying he disregards people over the age of 50 years, could we not save some ratepayer money by scrapping the Woden, Weston Creek and Molonglo edition at least? Please.

John Mellors, Coombs

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