The Sunday Canberra Times front page article and editorial on September 5 ("Canberra lockdown could lead to greater electricity bill rise", canberratimes.com.au) warned us of electricity bill shock as a result of higher power use with families stuck at home during the ongoing lockdown.
While COVID-19 is part of the story I believe that higher bills will mainly reflect the 15 per cent increase in prices authorised for this year and the failure of many to look around for the best deals.
My own experience illustrates this. As a lifelong ActewAGL customer I received their new offer which would automatically apply from July 1 if I did nothing. It seemed high so I put their charges into the price comparator referenced in their letter.
To my surprise, I found that there were several suppliers with considerably lower prices. I chose to switch to one that had an indicative 25 per cent lower annual cost.
Some two weeks later ActewAGL asked me to switch back on a revised contract that marginally undercut that of the company I had signed up with. It was beyond the cooling off period so I could not in conscience do so.
I made it clear to ActewAGL that I disapproved of their approach of a high initial offer, followed by a much more competitive one to bring back customers who signed up elsewhere.
While I guess they are hamstrung to some extent by the fact they have to pay a dividend to the ACT government they risk losing a lot of customers.
Dr Ian Lambert, Garran
Power claim incorrect
The ACT government's false claim that all the ACT's electricity is generated from renewable sources, repeated by Ray Peck, (Letters, August 28) must not go unchallenged.
Official figures from Evoenergy show that of the ACT's electricity consumed in 2020-21, about 91 per cent was from the National Electricity Market and about nine per cent was from large-scale and small-scale renewable energy sources.
Of the 91 per cent from the national market, about 70 per cent is produced by burning fossil fuel, about 10 percentage points less than the world average.
The government's claim that all of the ACT's power is from renewable sources is based on its purchase of power through its large-scale feed in tariff scheme and from the national renewable energy target, which offsets the actual power produced from fossil fuel. To be clear, while paying for renewable electricity equivalent to the total used, the ACT remains largely dependent on electricity produced by burning coal and gas, without which there would be frequent and lengthy blackouts.
Further, the government has not served Canberrans well with its offset purchases. As the cost of renewable electricity continues to fall, consumers were hit with an almost 12 per cent cost increase from July, because the government has contracted to buy renewable electricity well above the current market rate. (Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission, "Retail-electricity-price-recalibration-2021-22")
Graham Downie, O'Connor
I've never been a big fan of our Chief Minister Andrew Barr. However, I will give him full marks for his handling of the pandemic with clear messaging on what is required during these trying times.
I am especially impressed with the Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith. Are we sure she is a politician?
The minister is well spoken and answers questions directly. I'm wondering why she isn't Andrew Barr's deputy?
Kim Fitzgerald, Deakin
Isolate after testing
Andrew Barr and our chief health officer have been doing a great job with their advice but I am yet to hear a very important instruction.
I have not heard, and I apologise if I have missed it, them say that if you go for a COVID-19 test you need to go home and quarantine yourself until you have received a negative result. This is most important if you do return a positive result.
Paul O'Connor, Hawker
Whilst I do not agree with many of Chief Minister Barr's policies I have been particularly impressed with his daily COVID-19 updates and press briefings. They are direct, yet calm, articulate and informative. And I may also commend the behaviour of the assembled press contingent who have been respectful and polite to the government representatives and to each other.
What a vast difference from the daily NSW Premier's update, which degenerates into a combative "baying for blood" exercise with media constantly interrupting and screaming at and over each other and NSW Government representatives. Well done ACT.
Angela Kueter-Luks, Bruce
And the cost?
Michael and Christine O'Loughlin raise some important points about potholes (Letters, September 5).
Preventative maintenance, such as the recent resurfacing of Northbourne Avenue, is one good option, but it is time-consuming and expensive.
Unfortunately the O'Loughlins' letter omitted the estimated budget for their city-wide preventative maintenance program (and the necessary budget offsets or increased taxes).
I look forwards to seeing these details at the soonest possible opportunity.
Antony Burnham, Turner
Seniors want choice
Thank you for printing an article on how our government is ignoring ATAGI advice on vaccines for older Australians (Letters, September 4).
There was recently another death linked to AstraZeneca.
It seems we older folk are expendable and that the government thinks it is more important to get the vaccination numbers up anyway they can.
It's not just the deaths, there are those who have suffered severe strokes and been hospitalised.
Please keep pushing this subject. All we want is to have a choice as ATAGI has said.
Karyn Flynn, Epsom, Vic
Wendy Goodwin (Letters, September 4) is right to question why the government is not supporting local manufacture of vaccines apart from AstraZeneca.
The mRNA vaccines are apparently the future, not only for COVID-19 but for other conditions as well. But requests from Australian researchers to the government for funding support are apparently getting only limited response.
We need to be more self-reliant with pharmaceuticals. There's no reason why Australia couldn't again be a major producer of vaccines as it once was with CSL.
The Australian government is also playing a spoiler role internationally in relation to the move by a number of developing countries to produce their own vaccines which intellectual property rights are holding up.
Even the US is now supporting the waiver of the IP rights. The Morrison government is holding out, perhaps because the pharmaceutical manufacturers don't want it.
If we had our own, preferably government-owned, manufacturing capacity we wouldn't be beholden to multinationals which are making billions from this pandemic. A future industry for the ACT?
Kathryn Kelly, Chifley
Smoke and mirrors
It's astounding to see the Coalition's remarkable concern for business's privacy given it has enthusiastically introduced technology and legislation to pry into the lives of individual Australians' lives "just in case".
Let's face it, you're nothing in the radical right's eyes if you are a salary earner and tax payer rather than a business and recipient of corporate welfare.
Alex Mattea, Sydney
More than 20 years after the Tampa episode there have been many retrospectives in print, online and radio media.
All have focussed on Australia's failure to comply with its obligations under the Refugees Convention.
None has focused on the serious breach of international maritime law. The Tampa's duty under the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) to render assistance to a vessel in distress was clear.
The master complied with that duty. When the Howard government ordered the master to take the Tampa out of Australian waters the ship was legally unsafe. As a container vessel it carried a crew of 27 and was licensed to carry no more than 40 persons.
It only had safety equipment, including life jackets and life boats, for this number; not the additional around 438 asylum seekers.
Australia was under a legal obligation (under SOLAS) to prevent the ship from leaving its waters. The Australian direction to leave was clearly contrary to this obligation.
When I explained the SOLAS obligation in a paper I presented at a conference at Oxford there was universal agreement that this constituted a serious breach of Australia's international obligations.
Ernst Willheim, Campbell
OFF THE GRASS
Angela Walker (Letters, September 3) requests Canberra Metro to remove the grasslands along the tram route. Please don't remove them Canberra Metro. They are the only thing about our last-century-technology, uber expensive tramway that I enjoy.
Gina Pinkas, Aranda
HEALTH, NOT TRAMS
The response of the ACT government to the pandemic has been exemplary. However, to ensure the health system is adequately resourced if the number of COVID-19 cases grows exponentially it should mothball discretionary projects such as the light rail extension.
Mike Quirk, Garran
RENOUNCE THE PRESENT
If the Taliban want to apply the outdated Sharia laws in Afghanistan, then they should stop using the helicopters, the machine guns, rockets and mobile phones and instead start using horses, body armours, swords and pigeons to deliver messages.
Mokhles K Sidden, Strathfield, NSW
SPRING HAS SPRUNG
The first day of spring and another fencer's ute is seen stuck to its axles between the Macarthur Park and Rose Cottage horse paddocks. ACT land management? Let's blame it all on the kangaroos.
Chris Klootwijk, Macarthur
Imagine if the US had spent those trillions of dollars on social programs in their own country, where charity should primarily begin. There would have been less money given to the munitions makers and fewer body bags to fly home.
Gary Frances, Bexley, NSW
Based on the USA's past experience with Germany, Japan and Vietnam don't be surprised when a cooling off period with the Taliban has lapsed the Americans will be the best of friends and it will be business as usual with the new government of Afghanistan.
Johnny Sandilands, Garran
Xi Jinping is allegedly going to clamp down on China's affluent by forcing them to donate some of their wealth to achieve a "common prosperity". As Xi is reputed to have a net worth of $1.51 billion will he doing some of the donating as well?
Mario Stivala, Belconnen
On Monday, September 30, I received a spam text message authorised by Craig Kelly, United Australia Party advising I "can never trust the Liberals, Labor or Greens again". I have never knowingly given my number to Kelly. How can I trust my privacy is protected from his spam?
Gary Fan, Reid
With the extension of exercise times to two hours could the Chief Minister or chief health officer release and explain the health advice on why walking for two hours outside is allowed but walking for two hours with the occasional brief stop to hit a golf ball is not?
Martin Kenseley, Rivett
Memo to Gladys: "Things will get worse before they get better" is not quite the same as "we will fight them on the beaches".
M Moore, Bonython
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