Various elements of the development industry are complaining about the long timeframe for approving development applications.
There has been no discussion about why this is so. Could it have anything to do with the fact that the ACT government gave in to lobbying by those same interests that the planning rules were too restrictive?
In 2007, the ACT government introduced a second assessment track. The original process where proposals were assessed on the basis of whether or not they complied with the planning rules became the code track.
The new process, called the merit track, permitted variations to the rules under vague criteria. Instead of a speedy tick-the-box process, the merit track requires consideration and exercise of judgment. This is much more time consuming.
Over the years, the number of development applications lodged in the merit track have increased to the point where very few are now lodged in the code track.
Is it any wonder they take longer to assess? Will the development industry pay for a greater number of assessors to be hired and trained?
Robyn Coghlan, Hawker
Throw open gates at Phillip track
I am a Canberran who is currently working in Namibia and most mornings here I head to this athletics track in to do a few laps and a bit of a workout. Love it and it's open all the time and its free. I then look at the athletes track in my home town at Phillip.
It's only open to the public between 4.30pm and 6pm 3 days a week at a cost of $5. It's closed with no public access from April to September. Why do we spend so much money on these things and make it almost impossible for people to use. With obesity a huge problem and we know how good exercise is for mental health shouldn't we be throwing open the gates and say come and use this great facility that your rates have paid for?
Matthew Napier, Wanniassa
Love trees in your suburb?
The latest central Canberra edition of 'OUR CBR' asks us to tell it where we would like more trees planted. While walking my dog in Narrabundah recently I was saddened to see that a number of gum trees on the grounds of Winnunga Nimmityjah had been cut down for what appears to be a car parking area for the planned extensions.
These trees were home to many magpies. Removing them at a time when the newly hatched birds are at their most vulnerable perhaps accounts for the two dead magpies seen in the near vicinity.
Valerie Baxter, Narrabundah
Reject four-year terms
Here we go again: "four year terms would steady the ship" (CT, Nov 9, p36). Not only should we not extend the federal parliamentary term to four years, we should also not adopt fixed election dates
You well express the reason for this when you say "...should we find ourselves stuck with a bad government, it doesn't have to be for long." The so-called instability of the last decade, simply reflects the truth of that argument.
Four year terms would not have facilitated resolution of the situation you describe as "shambolic". Indeed it would only have driven further the general public's disillusionment with the political and parliamentary processes.
Nor will four year terms do anything to address the other issues you flag - non-stop media, fracturing public debate and difficulty in building consensus. Those issues and the issue of Australia being able to achieve a better balance between the now and the long term, need to be addressed more directly.
M. Ives, Griffith
Probe budget cuts on fire funding
The state government cut funding to NSW Fire and Rescue by 35.4 per cent ($78 million), in June 2019, plus cutting $13 million from their expenses. They also shut down some fire stations.
How has that impacted on the current and future catastrophes ?
We need a full investigation of this situation by a non-governmental body and perhaps those impacted upon, will be able to consider a class action against the government.
Elizabeth Blackmore, Holt
Tipping point for Coalition on climate
It is true to say that Australia always has had droughts and bushfires. So it is not surprising that we keep on hearing some politicians trot out this refrain in their responses to the current extreme and tragic situations across the land.
But maybe those same politicians, from the prime minister down, are beginning to experience just a few doubts that maybe things are getting worse year by year.
Leaders on the ground who are fighting the fires and dealing with the drought speak of "unchartered territory" and "unprecedented events".
So it must be getting more difficult day by day for those who reject or ignore the evidence that the climate is changing in ways that scientists are demonstrating and predicting.
And increasingly difficult for those politicians to ignore the pressure from the increasing proportion of the general population who are convinced by the science and increasingly concerned. Surely we are soon approaching a tipping point when the federal government will abandon its existing grossly irresponsible stance.
To then unambiguously acknowledge the threats from climate change and take decisive action. That's called leadership.
Tim Hardy, Florey
Canberra Theatre letting audience down
Yesterday afternoon I attended the "On Point' talk by the brilliant dancer Li Cunxin at the Canberra Theatre.
What an inspiring man with such a positive attitude despite his terrible life experiences.
He wasn't wanting pity (nor donations) but merely to explain what he had endured both good and bad. There was hardly a dry eye in the house. He is an absolute inspiration to young and old alike. However, the same cannot be said of the Canberra Theatre.
Prior to the performance I asked two staff members separately if the book 'Mao's Last Dancer' would be available for sale but neither knew or bothered to check.
If the theatre cannot ensure that the seating area and floor is clean for all performances surely a 'no food' policy is necessary.Chris Parks, Torrens
Thankfully it was for sale among other books and t-shirts but the eftpos machine didn't want to work despite being rebooted three times. Great! When we stepped inside the theatre following the matinee there were a lot of dropped food remnants on the carpet. Not a good look.
If the theatre cannot ensure that the seating area and floor is clean for all performances surely a 'no food' policy is necessary. After the talk there was another performance of "Cinderella', goodness knows what those patrons thought of the previous attendee's manners.
Shame on you Canberra Theatre for such a poor appearance.
Chris Parks, Torrens
PM still denies climate reality
Large areas of Australia are in severe and prolonged drought, unseasonal bushfires are ravaging parts of NSW, Queensland and Western Australia and lives and property have been lost at huge personal and economic cost.
Just as climate scientists have warned for decades, yet, in thrall to the fossil fuel industry, Scott Morrison continues to deny the reality of anthropogenic global warming, placing us all at great risk.
Patricia Saunders, Chapman
New bus trip blows out by an hour
In the good old days, in my part of Ngunnawal, I could get on a very early weekday bus from Gungahlin town centre and 20 minutes later alight at Belconnen town centre.
Now, under the new spoke and hub initiative, I can get on a very early weekday bus to get to Gungahlin town centre in 20 minutes in order to catch the new Rapid 8 service to Belconnen town centre, which takes about 25 minutes.
Now, going backwards to go forwards and a more than doubling of the journey time is bad enough, but here's the rub: the earliest weekday bus gets me into the Gungahlin town centre at 6.01am, but the earliest Rapid 8 departure is at 6.40am for a Belconnen town centre arrival of 7.05am.
That's a whopping one hour and 25 minutes of journey time under the new system compared to 20 minutes under the old system.
I presume this story is the same for all those who are commuters living in the in-between town centre suburbs.
It would be really interesting if The Canberra Times could feature an article on the intellectual giants who thought up this scheme, including their photos, so we can all have a good laugh at some of the people who are making public transport decisions "in our best interests".
Graham Bridge, Ngunnawal
A glaring irony is apparent when below an editorial about Labor losing it's origin story there is a letter from Glen Fowler at the education union where he is more concerned with freedom from religion than with how chaplains (low paid workers) in ACT schools have been treated by the education department.
They have no offer on the table to keep their jobs next year in any form and will be unemployed at the end of the year.
Judy Douglas, Holt
TO THE POINT
POLICE TRAINING IN SHREDDING
Whenever I read or hear comments such as those of Angela Smith (Canberra's police shortage has safety, mental health ramifications, November 10) I am reminded of the time I went to the Mitchell Police Station to collect property which they had illegally seized.
I was told I was lucky because the officer responsible for its return would shortly be travelling to Sydney for four days. Purpose, almost unbelievably, to do a paper shredding course. For four days?
John Coochey, Chisholm
WHO SHOULD COVER FIRE LOSSES?
I noted that the fires in NSW and Qld seem to have started at state forests or national parks that are owned and controlled by the state government.
I was wondering if those who have lost property or injured because of a fire that originated in state property can sue the owner, the state government for compensation for any loss or injury.
Robert Buick, Mountain Creek, Qld
SOLAR NO SOLUTION FOR TENANTS
For years homeowners have installed solar panels to give them power bill relief. The key term here is 'homeowners.' As a landlord, I can see little reason to provide power bill relief for tenants.
It leaves me to wonder how did our country ever get into a position whereby we fail to take care of the 30 per cent of the population who are in the rental market?
Greg Adamson, Griffith
Ian Kirkswood's article (November 9, 2019 pp31,35) on the AWM's program to create a digital record of war memorials called Places of Pride is interesting but ignores the significant work done in this regard over the last 20 years.
Tribute should be paid to the pioneering work of people such as Professor Ken Inglis and Jan Brazier in their book Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape (MUP 2008) and Judith McKay and Richard Allom's Lest We Forget: A Guide to the Conservation of War Memorials.
Timothy Walsh, Garran
PEARCE NBN A FAILURE
Sitting here in my $35 per night hotel in Tbilisi, Georgia, I'm happy. Cheap delicious food, quality lodgings, nice weather, pleasant people and an internet speed of 23mbs.
They mustn't have the NBN here because that's way faster than what I can get in my Pearce hovel.
Doug Hodgson, Pearce
ALP POLICY DUDS
Graeme Rankin (letters, November 10) would appear to be as daft as the rest of his Labor mates. The ALP were united behind Bill Shorten who led them to defeat like lemmings because the policies they adopted were duds. As ALP stalwart Graham 'Richo' Richardson has said often: "the mob will always find you out".
Mark Sproat, Lyons
ACT NOW ON CLIMATE
Time to stop talking about the effects of climate change on your children and grand children.
It's time to take notice of the current effects -of raging bush fires, droughts, dead forests, dried up rivers, melting glaciers, the extinction of species of animals, birds, plants and reptiles, and the encroaching sea. Prayer is better if followed up by resolve to act, and it is well and truly time for drastic action.
Glenys Hammer, Narrabundah
Email: email@example.com. Send from the message field, not as an attachment. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.
Keep your letter to 250 or fewer words. 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).
To send a letter via the online form, click or touch here.