After recent ANU research revealed some pensioners live in multi-million dollar houses there were calls, yet again, for the family home to be included in the Age Pension Assets Test.
Over the past three decades property values have gone through the roof. In 1990 we purchased a small, one-level, townhouse for $182,000. Last year an identical unit in our street sold for $800,000; an increase in value of nearly 440 per cent.
Both were built on small blocks of land, with their "footprints" taking about 50 per cent of the area, and are ideal for retirees, age pensioners and disabled individuals.
Increases in property values are also reflected in the annual rates assessments. When we moved in the 1990/1991 assessment totalled $448.71. The 2019/2020 figure is $2,092.55, including a $798 pensioner rebate.
If not for the rebate the amount would've been $2,890.55. That is a 644.2 per cent increase on the 1990/1991 figure, all courtesy of increasing Average Unimproved Value (AUV) valuations.
Just because the value of a family home increased exponentially, it does not follow that its owner is wealthy!
It's no easier to buy food or fuel, pay for utilities or take a holiday just because the "deemed value" of a home goes up.
Are people in such circumstances expected to sell up and live in a tent? Go figure!
R S Baczynski, Isaacs
Last Monday's Q&A was superb. No infighting, no politicians and no argy-bargy; just intelligent, informed people with different interests giving a positive, inspiring view of what can be done to improve (save) the health of our planet, and take the economy forward in unimagined ways.
If only we could replace many of our moronic, head-in-the-sand politicians with these amazing people.
Q&A is available on iView. Watch it, be inspired, and then contact as many politicians as possible and urge them to do the same.
Monica McAvoy, Mawson
Think of the sick
I wonder if there are any human beings out there who think of the suffering of the people who are getting very ill and even dying of this nasty virus.
I am sad to belong to a species which trumpets loudly about the damage this virus causes to tourism and education but which does not seem to empathise with the victims.Jill Sutton, Watson
They are not only feeling very sick. They are also isolated from the touch of their loved ones and professional carers by protective clothing and masks.
I am sure they are feeling all alone and very scared.
I am sad to belong to a species which trumpets loudly about the damage this virus causes to tourism and education but which does not seem to empathise with the victims.
Of course we must protect people from this illness but sometimes it looks as though our economic concerns have an obscene priority.
Jill Sutton, Watson
Very good point
Harry Davis (Letters, February 14) asks "shouldn't there be some qualification required of politicians guaranteeing their ability to be proper guardians, rather than simply crowd-pleasers?"
MPs' job descriptions are unwritten and very vague. What are the skills and qualifications needed? What are the duties of a representative in governing for the people? Or in a democratic system is it governing with the people?
It is time to apply the same standards to those running the country as those filling other important leadership roles.
The Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy is seeking to answer these questions for ACT MLAs.
They are looking at how to extend our present representative system into one that is more responsive, accountable, participatory and transparent.
We will be asking candidates in the October ACT election what they think qualifies them for the job, and what they will do to change the system to make it stronger.
We will then put their answers on our website so voters can make more informed choices about who to vote for.
Peter Tait, secretary, Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy, O'Connor
Mark Sproat (Letters, February 12) thinks climate change demonstrators from interstate are hypocrites because they drove or flew to Canberra.
How does he know how they travelled? Perhaps they came by bus with emissions per head a small fraction of those from a car.
Perhaps their car travel emissions were offset by Greenfleet payments or their air travel by carbon offsets the airlines offer.
But more to the point, anybody with any ideas at all can be labelled a hypocrite in one way or another when they have to deal with the world as it currently is, not as they think it should be.
For instance, people who think the level of spending on their roads is disgracefully low are not hypocrites for using those roads.
I have thought for years that the people who have the greatest right to be on a plane trip overseas are those going to a conference aimed at lessening emissions.
If Mark Sproat really doesn't like the climate demonstrators he should summarise the credible science that says they are wrong. I suspect he can't do that because it doesn't exist.
Paul Pollard, O'Connor
Fix the pollies
It's not the public servants who need compulsory mandatory training in integrity; it's the members of Parliament.
With a notable recent exception, public servants behave with integrity and are conscientious. it is completely unfair to denigrate them because of political infighting and the questionable ethics of members and Senators.
The federal government should show some genuine intent by bringing in a long delayed national integrity commission to which they would be accountable. Only then may the public trust in politicians begin to be restored. Possibly.
Dr Kristine Klugman OAM, president, Civil Liberties Australia
We are so wrong
People everywhere, me included, have jumped to the conclusion Bridget McKenzie's use of a spreadsheet colour-coded to show which party held the seat the grant application came from clearly indicated that the funds allocations were made for nefarious political reasons.
We're such silly billies. The obvious reason the spreadsheet was colour-coded was so Bridget didn't inadvertently disadvantage non-Coalition seats. Well done Bridget.
And I see that the masses of the federal public service are to be given "integrity" training, presumably so they don't fall into the same trap of labelling perfectly honourable behaviour a "rort".
How good is that!
Bronis Dudek, Calwell
It is appropriate for Canberra to be the inspiration of a new capital city ("Canberra inspires Indonesia's plans for new capital city" (CT 1 Feb, p.8). This is especially so as February 11 was the 83rd anniversary of Walter Burley Griffin's death in Lucknow, India and February 14 was the 149th anniversary of Marion Mahony Griffin's birth.
There is much to inspire in the beauty of their designs and what Canberra has become today.
Peter Graves, chair, Canberra Chapter Walter Burley Griffin Society
Light rail issues
Using Commonwealth Avenue for light rail stage 2 (Civic - Woden) has many unresolvable problems.
Issues include: The telling, costly, and dangerous decision to divide the project into two parts, (stage 2a is Civic to Commonwealth Park); major traffic disruption during construction; inappropriate "land value capture" for vista-destroying private residential development, at south-facing West Basin, and Commonwealth Avenue North and the destruction of cultural landscapes, including famous trees, and open space character.
Then there is the loss of vital national capital heritage (including engineering elements); inevitable development along Commonwealth Avenue South, destroying the visual developmental balance of the Parliamentary Zone; ruining the existing symmetry with Kings Avenue, including its bridge; filling in the attractive bulk-reducing bifurcated form of Commonwealth Avenue Bridge for tram tracks; and, complying with the ban on overhead wires, etc.
Briefly, an alternative route that ameliorates those problems, takes in Edinburgh Avenue, New Acton, the ANU, Lawson Crescent or the land bridge over Parkes Way tunnel, Acton Peninsula south, Griffin's missing elevated third central lake crossing (for trams, pedestrians, and bikes only), a discrete enlarged Lennox Gardens North, and Flynn Drive, connecting to State Circle.
This route is more inclusive.
Peak hour services could run partially express between Capital Hill and Civic to optimise the inter-town travel time.
Jack Kershaw, Kambah
TO THE POINT
PROOF PLEASE PAULINE
Hanson doesn't provide examples of her claim teachers use "skewed versions of history taught as fact". It's not the first time she has made unsubstantiated claims. Hanson is not an expert historian and has no idea about how schools and universities go about producing students who can think and write critically about historical events.
James Mahoney, McKellar
RAISE NEWSTART NOW
There have been numerous calls for an increase in the Newstart allowance. Senator Anne Ruston said if recipients received more money they would spend it on drugs and alcohol.
That was disgusting and insulting. So many people are living in poverty. You cannot tar all Newstart recipients with the same brush.
Phil Nicolls, Monash
TOP JOB JENNA
Jenna Price's article ("Nothing but brand management", February 14. p33) presented a great defence of the ABC. The only thing she could have done better would be to ignore the inane comments made by the buffoon of a backbencher.
Jeff Bradley, Isaacs
Thank you, Federation forefathers, for the office of the Auditor-General and the initial Audit Act 1901. Having to deal with weeks of a PM shamelessly mangling the word "eligible" for pure political purposes would probably have been beyond your comprehension and wildest nightmares.
Sue Dyer, Downer
Mr Barr can fix the budget deficit by installing cameras along the Printers Way dragstrip in Kingston, and booking the cars that routinely ignore the stop signs at Dawes, Eyre and Giles Street crossings. Maybe when the inevitable fatality occurs something will be done.
Les Bienkiewicz, Kingston
RAISE THE BAR
Harry Davis (Letters, February 14) says "some qualifications should be required of politicians". Yes, starting with passing the year 9 NAPLAN test so we know candidates are as well educated as they expect their 15 year old constituents to be.
John F. Simmons, Kambah
So there will now be mandatory integrity training for public servants. Shouldn't the program be extended to include politicians, starting with the current government?
Ray Edmondson, Kambah
THE WINNER IS...
Two brilliant early contenders for the satirical letter of the year award from David Lima and Philip Benwell of the Australian Monarchist League (Letters, February 13). Oh, hold on.....
Martyn Hearle, Narrabundah
COST OF WINNING
Once candidates would slip the locals a couple of coins for their vote. Now it takes a swimming pool. That's progress for you.
Keith Davis, Pearce
The government's strategic vision is only for the LNP to be re-elected. The three year electoral cycle is slowly killing this country. A four year electoral cycle might see a newly elected government spend two years in implementing their strategic reforms.
Kim Fitzgerald, Deakin
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