ACT rates rises can't go on forever

The ACT government may be hitting a wall when it comes to funding its empire ("ACT govt rates soaring", May 2, p1). In the past decade property taxes have grown rapidly at the local level. The ACT economy is completely dependent on government subsidies and deals. Projects without genuine economic merit are made to appear profitable merely of the virtue of the existence of artificially low interest rates and subsidies.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr's government may be hitting a wall, writes Victor Diskordia. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Chief Minister Andrew Barr's government may be hitting a wall, writes Victor Diskordia. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

As property taxes and interest rates rise and break family budgets, antipathy towards the government will rise. Incredulity of their claims on how much they need from us to fund government services will grow. Anger at their poor economic and planning decision-making will grow.

To paraphrase President Nixon's former economic adviser Herbert Stein, things that can't go on forever, don't.

Victor Diskordia, McKellar

Short-term pain, long-term gain

The cost of acting to save the environment will be repaid hugely in improved environmental outcomes. A little short-term loss of potential jobs and income will leave Australia and particularly the Great Barrier Reef with less pollution and better tourism options.

Jan Sismey, Isaacs

Are the Greens listening?

We have yet to see the business case for stage two of light rail, and that may indicate that Andrew Barr has not yet managed to extract enough financial benefit from the venture, especially when compared with the existing fast Woden to Civic bus service. A tram may give a smoother ride, but with most passengers standing and probably no speed advantage. But given Mr Barr's penchants for extracting rates and for high buildings, it would not surprise if when the business case emerges it is built on an assumption of turning Yarra Glen into a property zone, instead of the green space it presently exhibits.

There is a video accessible on the government internet site that depicts the future of light rail at either end of the stage two route, and planned large buildings are in evidence. While there are no predictive images of the Yarra Glen section, that does not mean there are no plans for more buildings. This government's track record is to plan first and consult later with no provision for dropping unpopular proposals. It gives the appearance of a secretive government. And the current thinking seems to be that light rail is for some (unexplained) reason preferred by developers over buses, notwithstanding the fact that Woden is already undergoing re-development without the aid of light rail.

Our city was deliberately built with greenspace separating our town centres, and there is a psychological benefit in being able to travel through greenspace rather than a continuous built-up area. As Canberrans we should treasure that benefit. And we should expect the Greens to stand up for that greenspace, rather than letting it be stolen from us by a chief minister who seems not to like Canberra as a bush capital. (We were once proud of Northbourne Avenue, but it will be many years, if ever, until we feel that again as we come home.) Likewise we should expect the Greens to look very carefully at any proposals to remove stands of heritage trees along the route, in Commonwealth Avenue or elsewhere.

Chris Mobbs, Torrens

Aboriginal languages a delight

Last weekend's Sunday Canberra Times had a great story of "The 140-year-old central Australian cover of Bach" (May 5, p2). Sadly I was unable to attend the performance at the NGA, but I'm sure it was wonderful.

The Ntaria Ladies Choir, from Alice Springs, was singing music embedded in their culture for more than 140 years. This resulted from Lutheran missionaries who, in 1877, built a mission at Hermannsburg. Finding it difficult to communicate with the Aboriginal people, they eventually developed a dictionary of Western Arrarnta words. Hymns, many composed by Bach, were translated into this language.

When listening to people speaking in Aboriginal languages, or listening to songs in language, I have found them a delight to the ear. They are so melodic. Attending a performance of The Sapphires at the Q Theatre in February, an absolute stand-out was the song sung in language - I feel sure it brought tears to the eyes of most of the audience.

Why this letter? The New Zealand national anthem reflects the history of that nation, as does that of South Africa - sung in dual language. In Australia it is a little more difficult because of the large number of languages spoken by our First Nations people, however, I'm sure this would not be insurmountable. I can't wait for the day that Australia's national anthem reflects our history going back well over 40,000 years.

Maureen Blackmore, Kambah

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