The pandemic has reduced population and employment growth, and led to an increase in working from home. As a consequence, the timing and the need for infrastructure projects, especially transport infrastructure, in the ACT should be reviewed.
This includes the extension of the light rail to Woden, despite it being somewhat of a sacred cow. Even before the pandemic the project was questionable given its cost, limited value capture opportunities along its route, the rapid improvement in electric bus technology, and the government's failure to consider bus-based alternatives.
Once the fog of the election clears, whoever forms government should review infrastructure priorities to determine which projects generate the greatest benefit to the community.
Mike Quirk, Garran
Rates up again
I have just received notice of the annual blister from the "city fathers" - the annual rates assessment.
The average unimproved value of the property is shown to have increased by 2.5 per cent since last year.
The notice also shows that the "valuation based charge (based on AUV)" has been increased by 9.5 per cent since last year.
This implies a rate increase of about seven per cent. How is this consistent with the claim in the accompanying explanatory leaflet that "the usual annual increase was not applied to 2020-21 residential general rates bills"?
Oliver Raymond, Mawson
Labor failings exposed
It has been revealing to have some of the failings of the current Labor/Green government exposed by former Labor leader Jon Stanhope, particularly its positions on social housing and light rail stage 2.
To note that social housing numbers are lower now than in 2010 is an appalling confirmation of the hollowness of the claim that Labor and the Greens are the parties that support low income earners and the underprivileged.
The displacement of thousands of public housing tenants from the inner areas of Northbourne Avenue, Red Hill and Griffith without specifying that a proportion of the new apartments will be for social housing speaks for itself.
Then they compounded the disaffection by identifying outer suburban locations, previously designated as community and green spaces, for the replacement social housing.
To claim a mandate for Light Rail Stage 2, recently increased in estimated cost to $1.9 billion, without any demonstration of its cost effectiveness compared with buses, is at best mind-numbingly arrogant.
Graham Anderson, Garran
Civic Pool should stay
What a daft idea to even contemplate a sports stadium on the present site of the Civic Pool.
To everyone, other than our current Chief Minister and his Minister for Planning and Community Services, Mick Gentleman, it is obvious that trying to access such a facility would cause no end of traffic congestion.
Far better to spend the territory's hard-earned dollars on a complete refurbishment and possible extension of the Civic Pool area and look further afield for a new sporting venue.
Along with C. Williams (Letters, October 15), regular correspondent Jack Kershaw and others, there must be quite a number of Canberrans who would prefer to see a multi-purpose sporting facility in the more easily-accessed Tuggeranong area.
Surely such a decision would lend credulity to the current big-spender item, i.e. light rail stage 2 - not that I agree with the proposed route for that piece of planning misadventure, designed, as it is, to lend credence to the future desecration of a swathe of Yarralumla and Curtin urban greenspace.
Pat Watson, Red Hill
Get over corflutes
The ACT Greens are moaning and whinging about the corflutes and how they are a "huge turnoff for the community" and that "people hate billboards".
ACT Greens campaign manager Clancy Barnard has stated "I want to drive down Limestone Avenue and see the trees that are flowering" (rather than corflutes).
Where is the research for all these sweeping statements by the Greens?
The corflutes are only up for a short six weeks every four years to keep the public informed of who the candidates are for the upcoming election. It is part of our democracy and, unless I am someone who suffers from road rage, the corflutes do not concern me. I don't hate them. I can still continue to look at the flowering trees if I wish as I drive along our beautiful avenues and vistas.
My advice for the Greens is: "Take a deep breath, relax, and continue to look at the flowering trees".
Tony Falla, Ngunnawal
An alternate view
I am disappointed The Canberra Times continues to publish letters promoting the conversion of gas heating to reverse cycle without also publishing letters that query the efficiency claimed in a cold climate.
Advocates for reverse cycle stress the "four or five to one efficiency claim. However, when the outside air temperature falls below about five degrees the external unit freezes over and ceases working until it is defrosted. Such defrosting is done by electric elements operating at full cost (no four or five to one efficiency). In such conditions, which prevail in Canberra for most of winter, reverse cycle heating will prove to be more expensive than people might otherwise expect.
Graeme Rickert, Mawson
Switch and save
Rohan Goyne (Letters, October 13) criticises the phase out of domestic gas reticulation and calculates it would take him many years to recoup the cost of a particular reverse cycle air conditioning system. However, he only considers the first out of five relevant costs and benefits.
The first is saving the $320 per year supply cost for gas. The second consideration is the much lower running cost of a heat pump system. The third is that one would replace an ageing gas system when it is wearing out, so one should only consider the extra cost of the electric system over the cost of repairs or an alternative replacement.
A fourth is the extra utility of a heating system that also cools, which avoids the cost of a separate cooling system. The fifth consideration is the cost to society from continued combustion of fossil fuels.
An on-line calculator at maketheswitch.org.au makes it very easy to work out the personal economics of replacing old gas appliances with new efficient electric equivalents.
Peter Campbell, Cook
Energy policy clarified
Thank you to our major political parties for starting to clarify their differences on energy policy ("Labor launches childcare plan, says budget leaves people behind, canberratimes.com.au, October 8). The LNP proposes investing most heavily in gas now as a transition fuel. Labor proposes we invest now in upgrading electricity infrastructure to better integrate renewables in the grid.
Should we take a short term view or a long term view? The NBN rollout is a useful case-study. Adopting the short-term solution first has just meant we need to spend more now to implement the solution best suited to future needs. Can we learn from this and start investing now in the clean energy electricity infrastructure needed for the future?
Michelle Storey, Yass River, NSW
Back the ponies please
As a longstanding member of the Canberra Racing Club, and a lifetime supporter of the horse racing industry, I am very concerned about ACT Labor's lack of commitment to the local industry at a time when the government's focus has rightly been on sustaining employment and industries in the Territory.
Canberra racing, and the local racing industry, generate approximately $11 million in point of consumption (POC) taxes - revenue that goes to the ACT government.
Other jurisdictions support their racing industries by reinvesting part of the POC tax back into racing.
The ACT government's failure to match this is imperilling a local industry that has been a success story for this community.
The industry generates approximately $54.5 million for the local economy and supports around 440 jobs.
Canberra trainers and jockeys continue to compete successfully with wealthier jurisdictions, both here and in Sydney.
The industry cannot hope to maintain this without access to at least some of the revenue the industry itself generates.
With additional funding Canberra racing could conduct more races, increase prize money, and attract more horses from interstate.
This in turn would increase visits to the territory, generate hospitality spending and create more local employment opportunities in the racing industry and the broader community.
This would be a win-win situation for all parties.
Mike Ford, Curtin
TO THE POINT
MISSING IN ACTION?
Six weeks ago I was actually able to find a Canberra bus timetable online. I saved the page for that route but now there is a message telling me the page no longer exists. I looked in vain for the express bus timetable from Civic to Woden. It appears our government is incapable of providing a usable bus timetable.
Pauline Westwood, Dickson
A NOBLE EFFORT
I would like to thank the Liberal Party for delivering a pamphlet explaining how to vote for its five candidates in the electorate of Kurrajong in the upcoming ACT election. It is a pity I live in the Murrumbidgee electorate.
Dave Byers, Curtin
THE NUMBERS GAME
So the Liberal promises will cost $1.1 billion. This can easily be achieved by not proceeding with light rail stage 2 and the Lake West Basin infill and development. Mr Barr's promises will cost at least that. It just sounds better because he announces each expenditure in smaller chunks.
Wal Pywell, Wanniassa
CLEAN UP YOUR ACT
It is to be hoped and expected that all those candidates who stood for election in the ACT will spend their Sunday removing all their personal untidy billboards from all roadsides. The current situation in Canberra is tatty enough without the inclusion of these eyesores.
Nick Bailey, Canberra
It must be time to vote, all the corflutes are being obscured by long grass!
Valerie Quigley, Crace
AND SOCIAL HOUSING?
The Chief Minister stated that hundreds of units would be part of West Basin, not thousands. He didn't explain how many affordable or social housing units would be built on what is now public land.
Chris Pratt, O'Malley
It is time for the ACT government to move on from naming new suburbs after past pollies and other notables. My first name suggestion is "Null-Arbor". Another could be "Monaro", notable for its absence of trees.
John Mungoven, Stirling
Oh the pleasures of early voting. I can drive along our highways and ignore the corflutes galore: muttering as I whizz past "Ha Ha I've already voted."
Gwenda Bramley, Torrens
AN APT INCLUSION
The one interesting thing from the the Alistair Coe profile piece in The Canberra Times ("Who is the real Alistair Coe?", October 14, p5-6) was the choice of the accompanying photographs.
What caught my eye was the one of the ACT puppet and the federal puppet master.
Graeme Rankin, Holder
DON'T BE FOOLED
A message to America: Trump fooled you once, shame on him; but if he fools you twice, shame on you.
Bronis Dudek, Calwell
Ah, yes, Julie Smith (Letters, October 15), but when bees feed on Paterson's curse they produce excellent honey.
James Mahoney, McKellar
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