ActewAGL is correct and just to reduce payments under the solar buyback scheme (''Capital solar buyback slashed'', June 13, p1). The alternative is for those who can afford to have solar panels installed to be subsidised by all other electricity users, which includes many for whom any additional payment is a genuine financial burden.
There has been considerable criticism over past months of ActewAGL over the cost of electricity, notwithstanding the retail price is set by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission and that domestic ACT electricity prices are among the lowest in Australia.
Yet Bill Hall (Letters, June 17) is critical of ActewAGL for reducing the solar buyback from 17.9¢ to 7.5¢ per kilowatt hour. He says: ''Makes me wonder if my investment in solar panels has been worth it.'' Given these panels produce less than 1 per cent of the ACT's electricity need, it is not reasonable for this technology to be used as an investment, paid for by one's neighbours.
Under the ACT government's inequitable feed-in tariff scheme, ACT electricity users make an annual contribution of about $10 million to those who invested in solar panels. That scheme could never have been sustained and the electricity it produces will not save an ice block and certainly not an iceberg.
The scheme had much more to do with political ideology than a sensible approach to reducing energy consumption. It continues to penalise people on low incomes with payments of about 45¢ a kilowatt hour to more than 10,000 people who bought solar panels. These payments, as with the 17.9¢ buyback payment, are not paid by ActewAGL because, quite reasonably, the cost is included in its retail price.
Most purchasers of solar panels received a considerable tax-payer subsidy for the hardware and should not expect continued largesse for the pretence they are saving the planet. Many people make more significant contributions to this end in different ways and do not demand or receive public subsidies.
Graham Downie, O'Connor
Dismissal loses a voter
There is no greater indictment of Julia Gillard than the unconscionable and reprehensible decision to axe the highly regarded, intelligent and true Labor woman, Senator Trish Crossin. Senate valedictories endorse this view.
Political opportunism at the expense of Trish Crossin and the unjustified denigration by Stephen Smith of Commodore Bruce Kafer has shredded my life-long Labor support. I have no idea where to go now.
Hilary Turner, Canberra City
Full marks to David Pope for his marvellous adaptation of the classic Ingmar Bergman film The Seventh Seal to the current political stalemate in the federal Labor Party (''No Hurry … take your time … '' Times2, June 19, p1). We see the disillusioned knight Antonius Block playing chess on the beach with the personification of Death, who plans to kill him.
It is ironic that the title The Seventh Seal is taken from the biblical book of Revelation, chapter 8, verse 1, where we read: ''Now when the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.''
If only the 43rd Parliament, not to mention the whole nation, could enjoy more silence in the political debate!
Robert Willson, Deakin
ASIC damned by delays
If ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell is the best that organisation has to offer, then it's hardly surprising that its investigation of the CBA took 17 months to get off the ground (''Rogue planners: Senate demands answers'', canberratimes.com.au, June 19).
ASIC's performance seems reminiscent to that of some of our religious institutions in their pursuit of paedophile priests … we'll get to it one day. And ASIC will no doubt get to the CBA, the Reserve Bank, OZ Minerals, Cochlear … one day as well.
In the words of Mr Kell: ''That's how law enforcement works.'' But, to be fair to ASIC, let's not forget the antics of those other well-known serial offenders - the AFP, ASIO and Australian Customs - all charged with keeping us safe and all routinely bungling their responsibilities at great expense to Australian taxpayers.
And, of course, how could we forget that other well-known member of the ''gang that can't shoot straight'', Labor funster and federal Justice Minister Jason Clare, who held the nation in thrall with his unsubstantiated and completely irresponsible allegations about drug use in sport that had the effect of damaging the reputation of hundreds of thousands of Australians, whilst garnering him a bit of cheap publicity.
It would be irresponsible to leave any of them in charge of a broken parking meter.
John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW
Values are self-evident
Apparently the Australian Public Service Commission has came up with a new set of APS values intended to be ''effective in driving change'' (''Public servants told ethics at the heart of it all'', June 19, p5).
Why? Is there really a need for ''change'' in the way public servants do their work? Do public servants really need to be reminded that they should ''give frank and honest advice'', and be ''objective'', ''efficient'', ''respectful'', ''ethical'', etc? Is anything really achieved by spending time and money putting out edicts containing vague, ''motherhood'' statements such as these - and even putting them into law(!)?
R.S. Gilbert, Braddon
Work a pain in rear end
Strange things are happening at Farrer Place, Farrer. A ''revamp'' of the car park is advancing, slower than a snail in sleep mode, that is obviously costing big bikkies. Part of the work involved replacing drains on one side of the parking area and that seems sensible enough.
The work requires an urgent review and an explanation of the narrowing of the Marshall Street entrance that is a dangerous choke point.
The widening of the shopfront footpath effectively narrows the area between the parking slots along each side of the area. As vehicles reverse it seems certain there will be rear-end episodes.
Ian Welch, Mawson
Heritage considerations need to be objective and impartial
As in other states, the ACT Heritage Act is being amended to conform to the national standard. That standard does not include economic consideration in the assessment of heritage significance. In the bill's summary statement, the government accepts the principle of separating the identification and registration of heritage places from decisions about their conservation and management, also saying ''it is important the [Heritage] Council's role at the time of making a decision on registration continues to reflect this model''. However, Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Simon Corbell is proposing to create a ministerial call-in power, allowing himself to control directly the outcome of heritage registration processes.
The amendments will allow the minister to intervene on grounds of government economic policy, for instance, to include consideration of anticipated economic and financial implications while making decisions about heritage registration. Management and financial factors are generally more appropriately considered during the planning and development stages of projects, all the more reason why an independent process under the act should remain one of the checks and balances against inappropriate planning decisions.
Providing a ministerial call-in power would undermine the role of the Heritage Council and is directly contrary to one of the key recommendations of a report the government commissioned in 2010, Duncan Marshall's ACT Heritage Act Review. The fact that subsequent planning decisions in the ACT would also be subject to ministerial call-in shows just how important it is to preserve the objectivity and impartiality of the heritage registration process.
Dr Karen Williams, Oaks Estate
Find reverence for life
As an enlightened planetary physician, Bob Douglas warns us about the potentially suicidal impact of humans on the health of the biosphere, including anthropogenic temperature increase of up to 6 degrees by the end of the century (Put global change on the agenda, Times2, June 17, p4). At the local level, warming is predicted by Australia's Climate Commission to cause a marked increase in bushfires, food security and heat stroke (Scorching increase in bushfire danger, June 17, p1).
A sustainable future will require no less than an industrial revolution, from a carbon economy that is combusting non-renewable and polluting fossilised solar capital, to what James Hansen of NASA calls a photon economy, using endlessly renewable clean solar currency directly and indirectly. It will also require population stability and an end to replacing chlorophyll with concrete. Although this transition will need a huge re-orientation of industrial and economic investment, it will be less painful to human health and lifestyles than the 19th century industrialisation in Britain.
The first step - unlikely to be popular with backwards-looking, myopic opposition parties, mining giants and shareholders - will be to leave coal in the ground (Editorial, Time to end our dependence on coal, June 18). To replace our energy needs we need to be aware of the economic and employment potential of renewable sources, such as solar, wave and wind power and biofuel from algae grown on sea water, which collectively will be available 24/7 and compete with fossil fuels. The philosophy for our survival will be what Albert Schweitzer called a reverence for life.
Bryan Furnass, Hughes
Jack Waterford's article (''New broom can make a mess'', Times2, June 19, p1) regarding the Red and Blue Book recommendations of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet for the administrative arrangements of departments after the election raises some issues about the importance of major industries.
I cannot agree with his commentary on ''ratbag groupings such tourism and the arts'', however. Tourism and arts remain in the top five industries in Australia alongside mining, racing and education. These industries should be represented by ministers in cabinet to ensure there are positive economic and taxation support. I suggest matching ''like with like'' by rewriting the administrative arrangements to remove the responsibility for tourism and education visa approvals from the Department of Immigration and give them to the relevant departments.
Peter Conway, director, The Canberra Institute, Braddon
I have to agree with the three correspondents (Letters, June 18) that the self-promotion of John Mackay at Canberrans' expense has been unwarranted; but it has been going on for years. The ACTEW board seem to be but pawns in the game. Reports of his achievements are greatly exaggerated by himself. He has been in a position of great responsibility and his unnecessary largesse at our expense warrants an investigation, as does the ACTEW itself.
The price recommendation by the less-compliant Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission for a drop in water charges is merely a start. An investigation by an independent body can start with the incompetency in deciding upon a small dam in what is appearing to be an inappropriate site, paying a bonus for allowing the mini-Cotter Dam costs to balloon, the deviousness in disclosing executive salaries, the heinous abstraction charge and the apparent lack of vigilance by shareholders.
Greg O'Regan, Farrer
The photograph of John Mackay accompanying the article ''You have to pay for A-grade: Mackay unrepentant'' (June 15, p1) is eloquent. It recalls the achievement of his alleged ambition to be seen on the social pages at least once a week while at ACTEW. Also, it is a fitting accompaniment to the tone of his self-portrayal as a manager - one of the images reflects his ego. One is left musing about, firstly, the nature of his management style at his two previous positions where no slush funds were available and, second, the propriety of such use of public money.
P. Robertson, Rivett
Make good on organ donation intentions
I refer to your article 'Promise of rebirth in double transplant' (February 25, p3) which is magnetised to my fridge along with a four-leaf clover found by my daughter the following week. Kerri Cargill is my friend from school days. She recently sent me a reflection that she has written for ShareLife, the website mentioned in the conclusion of your article. I logged on to www.sharelife.org.au wondering whether there was more I could do than hope and pray for Kerri. I was amazed to read that Australia has one of the lowest donation rates in the developed world despite the fact that surveys indicate that over 90 per cent of Australians support organ donation and there are over 5 million people on the national register. Why are our donation rates so low?
ShareLife researched countries where donation rates are higher. Two key elements were dedicated donor co-ordinators in every hospital and a national co-ordinated approach. Sharelife Director and donor dad, Graham Harrison, has put together a petition to send to Parliament requiring 2000 signatures. I signed the petition - I want good intentions to be transferred to real life improvement in our system. Then I sent an email to family and friends encouraging them to sign. I am keenly watching the count on the petition; as I write this 327 more signatures are required.
Perhaps if enough of your readers are inspired to sign Graham Harrison's petition, Kerri Cargill's chances for organ donation could double.
Sonja Mingay, Kambah
Live sport just not on
I'm baffled. As an occasional rugby union follower, and an occasional soccer follower, I'd like to have the opportunity to see the major games as they occur. Last night, when the Brumbies defeated the Lions, there was not a whisper about this international match on television. Meanwhile, in Sydney, the Socceroos were making hard work of the courageous Iraqis, and TV coverage was delayed by an hour. Why?
Meanwhile, there's front page treatment for the ''big men'' of league and their counterparts in AFL, whose on-field performances are little more than inter-suburban rivalry and whose off-field behaviour defies calm description.
Nick Goldie, Michelago, NSW
TO THE POINT
CONTENTS THE PROBLEM
The problem isn't who is selling Labor's neo-liberal shit sandwich; the problem is the shit sandwich.
John Passant, Kambah
SIN BIN THE LOT OF THEM
Never mind individual players: sin bin NRL and AFL for a year and give all time to think.
Gary Frances, Red Hill
PM DESERVES BETTER
Why are people so personally nasty and rude to our Prime Minister? Surely criticisms should be about policies? Maybe politicians should be able to sue for defamation.
I don't like Alan Jones but I've never been rude to him. He probably has fewer supporters than he realises.
S. MacDougall, Scullin
MACKAY'S GOOD WORKS
John Mackay has done an immense amount for Canberra over the past 15 years. I should have realised how the article ''You have to pay for A-grade: Mackay unrepentant'' (June 15, p1) would provoke the tall poppy syndrome in readers. Quite frankly, I have never heard of them nor of anything they have done for Canberra.
Vic Adams, Reid
DOESN'T ADD UP
Some of the practices reported in the interview with John Mackay (You have to pay for A-grade: Mackay unrepentant, June 15, p1) are astonishing. Accountability processes must have changed dramatically since I had anything to do with the workforce. There used to be a thing called ''audit'' which needed to be satisfied - even by chairmen and good bosses!
Brian Smith, Conder
FULL OF HOT AIR
Who led the rally against wind generation? Alan Jones. Who generates the most wind? Alan Jones.
Mike Stracey, Fraser
A VOTE WASTED
Interesting, Ian Reynolds (Letters, June 18) that you're not voting for Zed Seselja for the Senate. Given that neither party will gain two Senate seats in the ACT, your vote for the No.2 position will be a wasted vote. If you're the sort of person who puts personalities before ideology, go ahead, waste your vote!
Geoff McLaren, Scullin
EASY WAY OUT
The director of the National Security Agency said on Tuesday the US government's surveillance programs have foiled some 50 terrorist plots worldwide. A nicely rounded figure but how convenient not to be required to disclose details of what could be a bagful of lies, so familiar are we in receiving fabricated evidence from US government sources.
Rex Williams, Ainslie