Living very close to Black Mountain I am deeply concerned about a bushfire breaking out there and a wall of burning embers flying through the air. These can fly up to 30 km and set fire to hundreds of homes.
Many fires have been deliberately lit there in the past.
Many ACT house dwellers have not cleared the mass of accumulated dead and dry stuff from their gardens or the huge amount of dry leaves dropped from giant oak trees planted on nature strips. Oaks are a nice tree but not a good choice for this country. Many are struggling to survive and there are dead trees on nature strips in O'Connor.
I spoke to the fire brigade at Ainslie asking would it be possible for a small leaflet to be printed and dropped in every letter box from Black Mountain down to the O'Connor shops. They suggested I write to the ACT Fire Brigade administration. The reply, marked "unofficial" stated: "The ACT government has been proactive distributing to all Canberra households comprehensive information on bushfire preparation in their monthly magazine Our Canberra. This is true.
The only problem is the ACT government has not taken the advice dished out to Canberrans and have failed, along with The National Capital Authority, to remove the mass of dead and dying trees all over Canberra. I ran into Andrew Barr crossing London Circuit and told him of the dead pine trees on City Hill. Although the Legislative Assembly is right next to City Hill he hadn't noticed.
Now the Roman cypresses there are also dead or dying. The ACT government could water this area from the lake.
I drew NCA's attention to the huge dead pine trees beside Albert Hall, one of which is leaning right across the road and threatening passing motorists. They removed two. There are dozens more that need removing. There are also dead trees in front of Albert hall beside Commonwealth Avenue.
The poplars opposite the Katie Benders Memorial should be pruned every year. There is a gigantic dead tree at the top of Nara Park behind The Hyatt. There are also dead trees around the lake and on nature strips.
The worst example of negligence is the mass of dead and dying Monterey pine (Pinus Radiata) along Haig Park. Many are dying and have thousands of dead branches. This is total bushfire fuel.
And in the same Our Canberra pamphlet the ACT government says it is planting 17,000 trees over next four years.
Will the ACT government and the NCA please do what you are telling the citizens of Canberra to do? Can you do it now?
Penelope Upward, O'Connor
Hong Kong escalation
This year my daughter and I hosted an exchange student from Hong Kong. Waiting at the International Airport in Sydney for her to depart two days after the Hong Kong airport was shut down was stressful. The thought "will the airport be open when she arrives" kept going through our minds.
At that point I understood the motivation of the protesters. Their point was clearly being made.
This week, as I sat at Sydney International Airport waiting for my daughter to depart on her leg of the exchange, I am wondering what the Hong Kong protesters are trying to achieve.
Over this past six months we have had to keep in close contact with the exchange sister. When the protesters caused the exchange sister's school to be evacuated and shut down and when we heard about people being stabbed and about protesters with black dots on their arms going into alleys and being paid for their involvement I no longer understood what the protests are about or who is organising them.
I keep reminding myself this is a domestic affairs involving China and Hong Kong and that I should not worry. But, as the protests seem to have got out of control, I have lost confidence in sending my daughter to Hong Kong. On the day we had expected her to visit the traditional peaceful symbol of success in Asia that was Hong Kong she is going to Vietnam because of concerns about her safety.
Greg Adamson, Griffith
Ministers on the case
I see from the article "Sexist ads could stall construction work" (November 18, p2) that both the ACT's Planning Minister and Minister for Women are concerned about "sexist" advertisements at building sites.
It reminded me of the South Australian obscenity case many years ago where a policeman gave evidence in court that a cartoon depicting a man and a woman on a desert island was obscene because it implied they would be having sex.
Keep up the good work Yvette and Mick.
Bill Deane, Chapman
A decade ago we came out of a 10 year drought. Many had installed tanks as we did, all knew to use a bucket in the shower and to turn the tap off while cleaning their teeth.
The ACT government, much the same one as today, spent millions drought-proofing the ACT.
The ACT government, much the same one as today, spent millions drought-proofing the ACT. We were told we would never face water restrictions again. Now we hear they will be on again next year.Alastair Bridges, Canberra
We were told we would never face water restrictions again. Now we hear they will be on again next year.
What value was there in the drought-proofing? What value is a politician's word?
Alastair Bridges, Canberra
We're not perfect
It is a bit rich that Andrew Hastie and James Patterson are calling China out over its treatment of ethnic minorities given our own shameful record.
We can go from the rounding up of the Tasmanian people and sending them to an off-shore island to rot in the 19th century to sending refugees to the detention centres (aka prisons) on Manus and Christmas islands now.
We can then move through the White Australia Policy, the Stolen Generations, and the appalling fact that the original inhabitants of Australia were not even deemed people to be counted in the population census until 1967.
If Hastie and Patterson are sincere and have not just jumped on a bandwagon to get themselves publicity, perhaps Morrison could divide Dutton's portfolio between them.
The money saved in closing the off-shore prisons could be used to top up the pitifully inadequate Newstart allowance.
Barbara Fisher, Cook
Law guide for dopes
I have received this unclassified letter, dated November 11, 2019, under the authority of the Health Minister, Greg Hunt: "The possession of cannabis or cultivation with the intention to sell will remain an offence in Australia, by virtue of the offences created in the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995 (Criminal Code). The Australian Government considers that the ACT legislation has no legal effect, and that offences in the Criminal Code will continue to operate, including in the ACT, as the ACT legislation does not prevail over, or negate the operation of the Criminal Code".
In a dispute with Minister Dutton "Dutton, Barr trade barbs over ACT cops megadata bungles" (canberratimes.com.au, July 24) Andrew Barr said: "We have Peter Dutton, the person directly responsible for the Australian Federal Police and by extension ACT Policing...".
Clearly Mr Barr accepts the Commonwealth/ACT agreement, still leaves ACT Policing responsible to Minister Dutton, including for drug matters.
Colliss Parrett, Barton
On the buses
Judy Ryan (Letters, November 18) writes in favour of electric buses. I also favour the rapid electrification of transport. However, Ms Ryan is mistaken on two counts when she suggests buses could be trickle-charged overnight from "ordinary 10-amp power outlets and ... reliable off-peak coal".
I know from 10 years of personal experience that one can add almost 200km of range to an electric car with overnight charging from an ordinary 10A power point. However, much heavier, higher-mileage vehicles such as buses need higher powered charging outlets. These can be installed at locations such as bus depots.
As for coal being reliable, Australia's coal fired generators are mostly approaching the end of their design lives and even the newer plants frequently fail, especially in hot weather.
In 2018 thermal generators broke down once every three days. The CEO of Origin Energy, owner of Australia's largest coal-fired generator, recently said: "We need to recognise that coal is the wrong type of generation to firm renewables and extending the life of old coal plants without a strong carbon signal will extend the uncertainty we are all facing today".
To the extent that electrification of transport requires additional electricity generation capacity, that additional capacity will come from renewables teamed with demand management, pumped hydro and battery storage. Renewables are now cheaper than new coal generation according to the CSIRO, the Australian Energy Market Operator and many other organisations. The Coalition should be honest with Australians, especially fossil fuel workers.
Peter Campbell, Cook
Israel Folau says the NSW bushfires are God's response to the same sex marriage bill. He could be answered with reference to climate change, weather drought and arsonists inter alia. But we should follow the advice of Proverbs 26.4 which roughly translates as: "Don't argue with a fool lest people not be able to tell the difference".
David Goss, Woonona, NSW
FIRE AND FLOOD
If Israel Folau is correct about the cause of the bushfires, what terrible things have the people of Tonga done? God is flooding their country.
Hans Muller, Tuross Head, NSW
GOD ISN'T PICKY
Folau "knows" that the fires are God's punishment because we voted for same-sex marriage. Does this mean God only devastated the lives of those who voted in favour? If God did pick and choose it would be in line with the "end of days" beliefs of Christian fundamentalists and must also mean anti-voters have been spared. Over to you Israel.
Eric Hunter, Cook
Israel Folau thinks the drought and fires are God's wrath, Greens and others think it's all the carbon dioxide we produce by burning coal, rationalists think the lack of hazard reduction burning makes things worse and the dreamers think the Aborigines had all the answers, despite Captain Cook seeing multiple fires along the east coast before white settlement. I'm with the rationalists. This is just mother nature at work. We can't stop her, but we can do much more to reduce her impact.
Doug Hurst, Chapman
I couldn't give a stuff about The Greens politically. But why is it whenever we suffer dreadful fire events the screamers blame the greenies? They don't hold office anywhere so who is making decisions about managing bushland?
Linus Cole, Palmerston
NO EASY ANSWERS
Bushfires have encouraged climate change recommendations but abolishing fossil fuels will not solve the problem. That is that there are too many people and our excessive reproduction will only result in further environmental degradation. Don't just blame the big polluters.
Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla
On the matter of biblical retribution for Australia's collective behaviour, didn't rural NSW and Queensland in particular vote in the climate change denying, fossil fuel cheerleading Federal government we have? James Lovelock, FRS, has formulated such cause-effect re-equilibrating phenomena as the GAIA hypothesis.
Alex Mattea, Sydney, NSW
Would someone tell the fossils in the Liberal and National parties it's time to go. Even the political climate is changing. They will get burnt at the next election.
A Mutch, Nicholls
In the 4.5 billion years before the earth is consumed by the expansion of the dying sun the miracle molecule DNA will have restored the biosphere many times over to its pristine condition before the rise of that malignant mutation, the self-aware brain.
Kenneth Griffiths, O'Connor
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