We fear people may view Lagani's situation ("Developer pays $2.8m to settle bitter dispute", canberratimes.com.au, April 23) as atypical. To the contrary, it illustrates an unpalatable scenario confronting many apartment owners. That is, having to fund and fix repairs, then seek redress from the developer.
Lagani is not atypical. Any owners' corporation faced with significant, urgent repairs and a developer disputing defects just has to swallow its disbelief, curb the hand-wringing and proceed to self-fund the repairs; and then, with no guarantee of success, do its damnedest to attempt to recover something from the developer.
In Lagani's case, at owner angst, repairs simply had to be undertaken. They began in 2010 and were completed in 2011, but the redress route took until 2018. Eight years between costly outlays by owners – loans, legals and repairs – and partial recovery of those costs. This must be addressed in the ACT government's new inquiry into building quality, particularly regarding newer apartment developments.Alex Morozow and Lewis Rushbrook, executive committee, Lagani Units Owners' Corporation, Braddon
I was intrigued to read Katie Burgess' article ("Rates overhaul impact revealed", April 24, p1) providing ACT Treasury's breakdown of the impact of this year's budget on the increases in rates payable on strata properties. My intrigue grew when I find that my analysis as submitted to the Assembly inquiry into this matter was described by an ACT government spokesman as "flawed, as the vast majority of units continue to have far lower assessed unimproved value than freestanding houses and townhouses, and thus pay lower rates even after the methodology change".
My analysis identified and quantified the inequalities created by this methodology between multi-unit dwellings, including townhouses, merely because of the overall size of the complex. Same units, same value, one pays more in rates because it's in a larger complex.
Memo to spokesman: my analysis is correct. You may not like it, but that doesn't make it wrong or flawed.
What is wrong about this shambles of a policy is a government that taxes on one basis, i.e. the unimproved property value (or land value), and then determines "fairness and equity" on another, i.e. the improved property value (or market value). When you tax on one criterion and formulate policy on another the odds are it will end up as the proverbial dog's breakfast.
Jack Evans, Barton
Rates impact unfair
With reference to Katie Burgess ("Rates overhaul impact revealed", April 24, p1) ACT Treasury's breakdown of strata rate increases avoids addressing the real impact of the government's methodological change, instead highlighting that "over 90 per cent of unit owners still fall into the lowest two rating categories".
I agree 90 per cent of unit owners' (land only based average unimproved values) AUVs are no higher than $300,000. This was always the case and up to 2016-17 they all had the fair advantage like most property holders of being rated on the first two rating scales. What is not admitted by Treasury officials is the most critical factor: the amount charged is calculated on the total land-based value of the complex. I reject Treasury's claims that this is fair.
The marginal rate for the first bracket (to $150,000 AUV) is 0.2960 per cent and for the second bracket ($150,001 to $300,000) is 0.4088 per cent. Yet the overwhelming proportion of that 90 per cent is paying much higher average rates than these, sometimes more than double because the methodology now determines rating charges based on the whole complex's AUV and this charge is applied uniformly to each unit in the complex — including lots that are very small and have very low individual AUVs – less than $150,000.
One complex has an AUV of $51.6 million, giving a value based (rating) charge (VBC) of 0.5995 per cent. 252 units (89 per cent) come within the Treasury model's 90 per cent lowest two AUV brackets but all pay their VBCs at the complex's rate, not the much lower rates Treasury implied. Every complex where the total AUV is more than $300,000 is in a similar position; every unit is paying more than the "nominal" rates.
I can identify many strata complexes where the complex has AUVs of $10million to $20million and in these complexes most of the lots would have previously qualified for use of the two lower rating scales. That is why the Treasury telling us no more than 10 per cent of strata properties are above the second-tier bracket is meaningless.
Treasury should present far more meaningful data and then allow the Public Accounts Committee to do its independent inquiry.
Gary Petherbridge, Barton
Pill testing danger
Canberra's pill testing "trial" sets a dangerous precedent at the Groovin the Moo Festival.
1. Is safety in consuming these drugs always about the purity of the substance? No. The reality is that people can die from tested "pure" drugs, because of an allergic reaction. Similar to an asthmatic who takes aspirin.
2. Will pill testing make people feel safer? Yes – and sadly it will lull users into a false sense of security. The message they get is that it's safe and OK to consume them, when in reality it is not ... that is why they are illegal.
3. Will it encourage more people to use the drugs? Yes. Disturbingly it will encourage novitiate users because they have been tested. After the festival they will then use drugs that have not been tested.
We also question the rigour of the so-called "life-saving results", published as "We did it!". Very easy to manipulate the statistics on this one. Jo Baxter, Drug Free Australia executive director
Any service that is available to music festival goers, especially the newly introduced pill-testing at the Canberra's Groovin the Moo, is a state of safety for young people. It stops overdoses for those who avail themselves of the service – and the fact that it is available is a huge step forward.
Alena Almassy, Lyneham
Taxes and wages
Simon Cowan writes "The economic case for a company tax reduction is strong and the benefits will flow through into wage increases" ("Budget to determine legacy",April 28, p10). This echoes the government's arguments for reducing company tax rates from 30 per cent to 25 per cent.
So tax is the problem causing the wage freeze? If that is the case it must be very rewarding to be employed by one of the many multinational companies that are paying little or no tax. Their salaries surely are way above those received by employees of concerns that are paying the current 30 per cent. Or am I dreaming?
Michael Adler, Gungahlin
When life was a drag
Your story "Emotional farewell to the Dogs" (April 30, p6) reminded me of the sport I love being lost to Canberra 20 years ago.
The ACT had drag racing from the late '70s, when a section of disused road at Pialligo was turned into a quarter-mile drag strip which ran until 1989 with one minuscule grant from the government of the day.
In 1992 a new eighth-mile facility was funded by a consortium with no financial help from government, although once again a small grant was received for a new timing system in 1995.
Unfortunately, due to problems with the lease, and outside influences, the track closed in December 1998, leaving many racers, fans and businesses devastated.
The greyhound enthusiasts are now going through what the drag racers went through 20years ago. Many cars, some valued at six figures, sat in sheds or were sold off.
It seems sport is all about football and cricket in Canberra.
Tony Wadley, Kambah
The soldier's story
Chris Bettle's handsome portrait of Andy Cunningham (Letters, April 28) is refreshing in a way.
I don't think he made it to university – he was wanted back at the farm. I don't know that natural soldier quite captures him either. Certainly he was not the same on his return from the war. He did make a big impression on those who knew him, including the military. His MC was paired with a court martial.
The rest of his life was spent living down his upbringing as son of a prominent grazier, and the expectations of continuing in that role himself (as the eldest of a large family).
"The unexpurgated version of Bean's idealised Aussie bush soldier" inadvertently may be closer to the truth than my remarks above suggest: Bean was well acquainted with Andy's exploits (and possibly the despair of his mother in the face of a terminal falling out with his father before he enlisted, and her desperation as conscription was resisted, exposing willing enlistees to fight with mounting casualties) as he moved into the family's former residence at Tuggeranong to write his official history.
But Bean would never have confused Andy with the average bush soldier, who had none of Andy's advantages, nor his own type of tragedy. Andy does appear exceptional in this regard – he could write cheerfully home after having a bullet pass through his neck at Gallipoli, and before relaunching into the Palestine campaign.
There are many postwar Andy stories, all of them entertaining, and in hindsight endearing. None of them quite add up to the sum total of destruction that serving in a brutal war does to even the most privileged and those around them.
Stephen Horn, Melba
The wheel spins
The ACT Auditor's report on poor compliance with the distribution of the poker machine levy is timely. Years ago ACT Racing and Gaming published yearly detailed reports on each club's distribution of the levy.
This practice was stopped for no reason other than it was embarrassing the clubs. One example was a club that resurfaced its oval with money from the levy.
It was felt by many at the time that non-disclosure of the levy distribution would lead to rorts.
The combined levy from the clubs should go to a independent board made up of representatives from the different community groups such as St Vinnies. The ACT government should put in a equivalent amount from poker machine tax and the total should be distributed where the most need exists. This concept is everyday commonsense. Sadly with successive ACT governments the idea has withered with their sycophancy to the clubs.
As we have seen from the banks royal commission, greedy people and organisations cannot be trusted
Howard Carew, Isaacs
Awaken the charm
In her letter about ACT planning (Letters, April 27) Celia Kneen points out "the community is disempowered in matters they care deeply about". I have recently had this experience in responding to a development application for three units in a site next door, previously a MrFluffy site.
Although I am very happy to welcome increased density next door, I am amazed that there has been little enthusiasm for green technologies which might have softened the impact of the site on our local environment. Planning officers seem disempowered, unwilling to discuss any vision for the growth of our suburb and paralysed by the complications and "criteria" in their planning documents as outlined in Murray Upton's letter (April 27).
Having experienced the vigour and exhilaration of being both an activist and later an elected member of the council in Lane Cove, a suburb of Sydney, I can assure planners in Canberra that bodies like the North Canberra Community Council, although worthy and hard working, are no substitute for real ongoing political power in the development of our local environment.
I was recently inspired by Jenny Donovan's precis of her book Designing the Compassionate City, published in the website publication The Conversation (April 27). She describes "living yards" developed in the Netherlands since the 1970s, which have spaces which "invite walking, playing, socialising and cycling. At the same time, they tightly control car movements so that the "vehicle domain" does not overwhelm these other activities". There are pockets of Canberra which have achieved something of this "polyvalence", but I fear that our planning regulations are in desperate need of re-inspiration if we are to sustain Canberra as a compassionate city into the future. In-fill developments should be seen as an opportunity to introduce innovation and a fresh charm to our bush capital.
Jill Sutton, Watson
Here's an idea that would almost certainly secure a Nobel peace prize and the admiration of the world for President Trump: agree to give up his own 6800 nuclear weapons in return for Kim Jong-un giving up his 10-20. Such a dismantling of the hypocrisies that perpetuate the nuclear weapons problem would be the mark of a true leader rather than a self-inflated bully.
Sue Wareham, Cook
TO THE POINT
Oh dear, we seem to be in a pickle over the future route for Light Rail in Canberra.
I suggest an alternative plan. Extend the line, not to the south of Canberra, but to the north and out of town.
John Mungoven, Stirling
I think I can help John Mungoven (Letters, April 30) in his quest to locate Brendan Smyth. If John cares to look on page five of the recently delivered 2018-19 ACT phone book, he’ll find a listing of ACT Assembly members. Brendan’s phone number is there. Oh, if anyone’s looking for Simon Corbell or Mary Porter, their numbers are also listed...
Bob Hall, Kambah
ONE WEE PROBLEM
The new $13 million Henry Rolland Park, Western Basin, offers much for family entertainment, barbecue, playground — but where are the toilets? A commodity, essential for every living person.
S. Cornish, Canberra
SPEND ON EDUCATION
Dear Malcolm, You stand beside the Real Gonski at last. Please don’t waste our money on tiny tax cuts. Win the election by spending our $8billion extra revenue on Gonski 3.0 – please.
Frank McKone, Holt
Had to laugh when I read that Trump has accused Jeff Bezos of tax dodging (‘‘The case for regulating tech giants’’, April 30, p38). Doesn’t that make Bezos a genius who should be running the joint?
SW Davey, Torrens
Clubs having outlived their social remit of bonding like-minded groups, have evolving into money-grubbing empires preying on and impoverishing communities they purport to serve, while ingratiating themselves with the big end of town, lavishly bestowing upon them their ill-gotten gains (‘‘Poor oversight of club contributions’’, April 28, p3).
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan
CAR PARK CHAOS
Every time I enter and exit the Gungahlin Woolworths underground car park my blood pressure goes up. Too many right-angle turns within short spaces drive me nuts.
I feel sorry for those smaller people, with shorter hands than me, struggling to get the car in position to get a ticket to enter, or to insert their tickets to exit. Who approved the dreadful car park design I wonder?
Nizam Yoosuf, Gungahlin
UN-AUSTRALIAN? NO WAY
For years we have heard the uneducated spruiking the word ‘‘un-Australian’’ mainly by politicians and public commentators. There is no definition to this, and it needs exposure as such. It is a false/fake word.
Robert S Buick, Mountain Creek, Qld
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