I give praise to the ACT government for implementing the use of government certifiers to inspect large-scale residential developments in the ACT ("Government certifiers back in new building crackdown", July 22, p1).
This is a positive move protecting buyers from unwanted building defects, the cost of which is transferred to the buying public and/or insurers, and subsequently all taxpayers.
Having some experience with a poor private certifier making wrong decisions next door to me, I would like the ACT government to extend this proposal to all residential developments within the ACT.
In an election year this would go over well with the citizens of the ACT.
Gavin Holmes, Macquarie
Waiting on reform
After years or even decades of unrest about urban planning decisions, the ACT government seems to have experienced a change of heart.
The Chief Minister expressed disquiet about a Kingston high-rise development - but did nothing about it.
Nearly half a million new tree trees would thicken the sadly depleted urban canopy - over the next 25 years.
Government building inspectors are back - after the next election.
The government is not hurrying to remedy decades of neglect, even with an election coming.
Chris Pratt, O'Malley
Fewer motorists is the trick
Thank you for publishing John Smith's letter ("ACT government's speed bump obsession is over the top", Letters, July 22). As a motorist, Mr Smith is understandably interested in making driving more convenient. As a cyclist who finds speeding motorists to be a major threat to life, I would suggest that our government should install more speed bumps, not fewer. One might ask why we should waste police resources on hoons when the speed bumps are more effective?
Canberra needs fewer motorists, especially near schools, and if the speed bumps encourage people to walk, ride bicycles, and take public transport they are certainly beneficial.
John Mason, Latham
Speed cushion welcomed
John Smith comments on speed cushions recently installed on Lambrigg Street in Farrer, in the vicinity of the school children crossing to Farrer Primary School. Mr Smith also can't recall one serious road accident involving school children at the school during the past 50 years.
Since 2011, I have been walking my two children to Farrer Primary School. During this time, I have witnessed many vehicles not giving way to school children on or approaching the Lambrigg Street crossing, including my own children accompanied by me. Consequently, I and representatives of the Farrer Primary School have been lobbying the ACT government for the installation of traffic calming measures in the vicinity of the Lambrigg Street crossing since 2018. I'm also informed that there has been an accident at this crossing in past years.
I proposed to the ACT government that such traffic calming measures could have included any of the following: crossing supervisor, speed humps or radar speed signs.
It's not a matter of taking into account the number of school hours, any fatalities, or the number of vehicles infringing the law. It's about providing a safe crossing for children to walk to school. I and many other Farrer Primary School parents welcome the installation of these speed cushions.
Edward Corbitt, Farrer
Financial advice not all equal
Having read Melinda Houghton's article ("Financial planning regulations have left the industry in tatters", July 22, p22), and as a practising financial planner, every word of what she has said is true. I want to point out a simple distinction, between "real" financial planning and product flogging.
Let's start with the latter first. Product flogging has been called "financial planning" for a long time. In truth, it is a million miles from financial planning.
As an example, if you were to go into your local bank branch and ask to see the resident "financial planner", what are the odds that you would come out of that bank branch with one of that bank's financial products? You have just been flogged a product by a product flogger who worked for a bank that wanted someone to flog their product.
Is this "financial planning"? You know, and I know and Melinda Houghton knows that it is not. Financial planning is the professional pursuit of understanding a person's objectives and developing strategies that help them achieve those objectives. Nothing more, nothing less. Financial planners charge a fee for this service, and it requires significant study and knowledge to deliver this service.
The problem that Melinda has identified is that product floggers are still hiding in our industry; it's easy for them to hide in there because there is very little chance of being caught.
We want real financial planning that is affordable for all Australians.
Andrew Browning, Werribee, VIC
Financial planners need change
It is challenging gaining sympathy for the financial planning sector, given our history and current the current COVID-19 environment. However, my clients are deeply sympathetic to the challenges I face and, in particular, almost fall over when I reveal my licensing fees. The compliance burden is overwhelming.
I believe that, ultimately, the powers-that-be will make smarter changes because consumer groups will complain advice is no longer accessible. However, by the time that happens adviser numbers would have been decimated and barriers to entry remain too high to meet demands.
We collectively need to do more and Melinda Houghton's article is a wonderful start. I hope the Association of Financial Advisers and other representative groups find journalists willing to share Melinda Houghton's story and many more like it.
Paul Stephan, West Perth, WA
Three R's stem good results
Sarah Lansdown provided a good overview of proposals to improve the teaching of mathematics ("Solving the education equation", July 20, p8) but they will fail unless the fundamental prerequisite for all the STEM subjects is addressed. In Australia that is English comprehension. It is the most important subject for anyone to be employed in a STEM trade or profession, including those who teach any STEM subject.
Before children are old enough to have an employment ambition, they must be taught how to listen and read so as to comprehend what they are being told, and be taught how to speak and write so that those they are addressing will comprehend what they are being told.
This learning process must start in the early years of primary school and continue well into adulthood. Of course, this is also true for non-STEM subjects but students and teachers of STEM subjects, including a once youthful John F. Simmons, often do not give English comprehension the attention required for success in STEM subjects.
Here is a simple demonstration of the need. Say these two sentences out loud and answer the question. What is half of two plus two? What is half of two, plus two? If one of those questions was part of a calculation of a safety factor and the practitioner comprehends it as the other question, the consequences could be catastrophic.
John F. Simmons, Kambah
Spend out of pandemic crisis
The government is being mean and unrealistic with its latest announcement for the 5 million Australians needing work by continuing JobSeeker and JobKeeper at lower rates in the future. Its jobs catchcry is hollow, as there is no adequate economic activity. The aim should be to kill the virus recession by government spending either by printing money or borrowing at 0.5 per cent per annum. This will lead to increased economic activity and confidence in private investment. We must not repeat the failed strategy of the 1930s depression.
It is time Treasury and the Reserve Bank applied some modern monetary theory, as the federal government can create money.
We have an ideal situation to pump money into the economy without causing hyper-inflation as we have deficient demand, so the Reserve Bank could print money and the government could spend it.
The outdated thinking of Joe Hockey that there is evil debt is inappropriate. We must reduce the real unemployment figure of 11 per cent and the similar level of under-employment.
We need a New Deal infrastructure program in the broadest sense: construction, education, value added to our raw materials, core supply chains and research and development. Let us create the jobs by government action to boost the economy, and not lose the war against COVID-19, because of the expense.
Geoff Henkel, Farrer
TO THE POINT
WIELDING THE MUTE BUTTON
The reason the Prime Minister closed parliament and won't use Zoom like the rest of us is that the Speaker of the House can actually mute everyone for once.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, VIC
The reintroduction of the mutual obligation provisions in JobSeeker represents a new low in disregard for the dreadful position of those thrown out of work by the pandemic, imposing a Kafkaesque requirement that those on JobSeeker must go through the soul-destroying, bureaucratic process of chasing jobs that do not exist.
Chris Ryan, Carss Park, NSW
MISSING A POINT
John Coochey, in his letter maintaining that one of your editorials "misses a few salient points", also misses one himself (Letters, July 21). The previous all-time maximum temperature of 37 degrees in Verkoyansk, mentioned by Mr Coochey, was recorded in the month of July, the hottest month of the year in that region. The recent recording of 38 degrees, however, was made on June 20, in a month during which no temperature recorded there before 2020 had ever exceeded 34.5 degrees.
David Wilson, Braddon
WHY BOTHER WITH MASKS?
Given that the great majority of people who wear masks won't follow the recommended protocols ("How to make the most of your mask", July 22, p12), what is the point of wearing them? Is it to give a false sense of security, which the WHO suggests as a possible outcome? Or is it just to give politicians another subject to waffle about in their endless press conferences?
Mike Dallwitz, Giralang
PATCHY COVER UP
As I was distancing in a queue to order my takeaway, a cook appeared from the back, topped up the trays at the counter and then the server continued the orders. Neither wore masks. Dicing with death?
Paul O'Connor, Hawker
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE
For Donald Trump to be now advising people to wear masks is like shutting the stable door after the horses have bolted, and the barn has burnt to the ground.
George Beaton, Greenway
ET TU, REPUBLICANS?
Donald Trump looks a racing certainty to lose the presidential election in November - and to take more than a few Republican Congress members down with him. The Republican party must be envious of the Australian political system which knows how to deal with leaders likely to lose a forthcoming election. Prime ministers are simply stabbed in the back by their party and replaced by a more likely winner. Will any delegates to the Republican National Convention in August dare to speak against Trump's nomination?
Hugh Smith, Deakin
RATES OF SELF-PUNISHMENT
I have just received my fourth rates installment notice, with a note enclosed about the "election sweetener" $150 rebate to the fixed charge of the first rates bill of 2020-21. If re-elected, the ACT government will resume its turning of the rates screws in future. In contrast, the Liberals have undertaken to freeze rates for a first term if elected.
Are ACT residents willing to put their hands up for still more economic punishment? If so, they only have themselves to blame.
Murray May, Cook
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