What a interesting opinion piece on renters' human rights by Adam Hughes Henry ("Renters' rights are human rights", canberratimes.com.au).
The human misery and stress inflicted by rental non availability and unaffordability on many renters in the ACT is, I believe, one of the most serious issues afflicting the Canberra community. The issue goes beyond creating highly significant individual and family financial stress.
It impacts across areas of family disadvantage, social inequality, isolation, homelessness, petty crime, mental and physical health and family violence. These all cost the community and our local budget dearly.
Many factors affect high rental levels but the ACT government persists with what are easily the highest rates of land tax in Australia. It equates to about $4000 per annum imposed by the local government on a landlord renting out an average old suburban house.
It is more in suburbs where land values and therefore rates and land tax are far higher (try $10,000 in rates and $15,000 in land tax on an old house with land in Yarralumla). The levels of land tax charged are completely unnecessary and are the result of the ACT government spending too much on lower priority policies and projects.
The cost of the land tax is naturally passed onto renters by landlords.
The ACT government parades itself as innovative and inclusive and the protector of various human rights. But it fails miserably on the most basic issue of housing costs. It is responsible for much stress and misery in this city and irresponsibly passes these problems onto various social agencies and charities.
Nothing appears likely to change this situation.
John Mungoven, Stirling
Democracy under threat
On January 6, 2021 the most egregious attack on American democracy in modern times took place; the invasion of the US Capitol building by far right extremists.
In Australia we recently had a similar attack with the burning of the doors of Old Parliament House (the Museum of Australian Democracy).
While not of the same magnitude as the attack on the US Capitol it was just as serious taking into account our much smaller population. Just as in the US, the attack on OPH had a background of far right anti-vaxxers and anti-government demonstrators from all over Australia.
Although democracy and real freedom are under increasing attack all the police spokesperson could say was that things got a little bit out of hand. The Greens have not apologised for the disgraceful comment from their Senator Thorpe. There has been little media or expert commentary.
What is going on in Australia? Is our democracy at risk or will the supposed laid back "practical" nature of Australian people ensure our democratic institutions are safe ?
Roderick Holesgrove, Crace
Summernats COVID-19 safe?
I've lived in Watson since 1994 and have never before cared one way or another about Summernats. My objection to this year's event is the government's fatuous public assertion that it will be "COVID-safe".
"If you have symptoms, leave the event immediately", say the organisers. "Travel directly to your home", they say. Yeah, like a tent-load of fans from Sydney, who've spent big to get to the event, is going to go home because one of them is a bit sick.
This, as hospital admissions climb, government testing capacity crumbles, RATs are unavailable and governments continually attempt to "re-define" their way out of a mess caused largely by their own poor planning.
Peter Moran, Watson
Forget Tennis Australia's processes, independent or otherwise. Forget whether or not the Victorian government is prepared to allow unvaccinated non-citizens into the state. As Prime Minister Morrison stated, visas are a federal responsibility. Someone in the Australian Border Force had to grant Novak Djokovic a visa in the first instance. It's hard to believe that would have been without the knowledge of the Home Affairs Minister or even the Prime Minister.
Now, reacting to popular anger against Djokovic's perceived special treatment, Morrison is acting all tough, proclaiming "there'll be no special treatment". A classic Morrison play. I'd go so far as to speculate that it was all a set up from the start. Allow the processes to play out then quietly grant a visa in expectation of serious media and public outrage. Then, come in and play the populist card by rejecting the visa and deporting Djokovic.
A nice diversion from the RAT kit stuff up.
Keith Hill, Isaacs
The Djokovic haters are having a field day. What is his offence this time?
He had the audacity to want to defend his title and win the Australian Open for a record 10th time. He also wanted to have a crack at becoming the greatest of all time. How dare he? And and how arrogant of him to apply to take part under the conditions that applied to everyone.
If he did not meet the requirements then permission for him to play should not have been granted. Not revealing his vaccination status seemed inflammatory but, by the fury swirling around, you would think Djokovic himself was responsible for the decision. This was apparently made by two independent panels, the applicants being anonymous.
It is to these bodies that the pent-up COVID-19 hostility should be directed, not at Djokovic.
Many people do not particularly like Djokovic but he should at least be given the respect he rightfully deserves.
G Ford, Higgins
I have just read part of your article in your newspaper about Mr Djokovic and I must say I was also very annoyed about the exception made to grant him a visa.
I was going to visit my sister-in-law who lives in Brisbane in 2020. I have not seen her in more than three years. Then my flight was cancelled and I was not allowed to visit. And it looks as if it is still impossible for now. I am very sad about it.
It will cause ill feelings in many people if exceptions are made because somebody is famous. It is really a "slap in the face" for your countrymen and people all over the world.
Gudrun Sivanathan Cologne, Germany
Get it right
The (politically convenient) emphasis has now largely been shifted to citizens being left to their own devices to determine whether they have COVID and who they should alert if they have.
Another piece of vital information apparently gone missing is how some COVID cases are then expected to treat themselves in isolation and with what medications to relieve worrying symptoms.
Watch this space. There are reports that the US and some other countries are close to having developed medications to counter COVID symptoms which will be made available to the public.
Going on past form, one hopes that the federal government manages to keep up with developments and makes plans to lock in the necessary supplies.
David Fisher, Curtin
Not so Pollyanna
Steve Evans wants us to be cheerful: "the Reserve Bank is forecasting growth in wages by 3 per cent in the next two years" and "the economy will grow by 5 per cent next year". ("Here's why you should be cheerful and have hope for 2022 now that 2021 is over", canberratimes.com.au, December 31).
A pity it's not so.
The Reserve Bank thinks wage growth may reach a three per cent rate by the end of 2023. That's not a 3 per cent gain by that time. And that's growth in nominal dollars only.
Real wages are expected to drop over 2022, and rise a little over 2023, for a very small net rise by the end of 2023.
Meanwhile the GDP rise is estimated at a real 5 per cent for 2022 alone, with more growth in 2023.
So wages decline, then rebound a little ... and the whole economy rises substantially, with most of that gain going to profits.
Why should wage earners be cheerful?
Christopher Hood, Queanbeyan, NSW
Mr Morrison's decision to withhold free rapid antigen test kits from the general public is both an astonishing assault on our national health system and a grossly inept way to manage a dangerous pandemic.
It introduces another item, essential to health care, that is only available on a "user-pays" basis to non-concession card holders. It will do nothing to limit the spread of an out of control virus that is making a lot of people very sick indeed, and may soon overwhelm the hospital system.
$38 billion were doled out to companies which lost not a cent below the threshold, but there is not a penny for the the general public in this hour of need.
We really have become a "crony capitalist" nation under this cack-handed leadership.
David Perkins, Reid
TO THE POINT
Common sense prevailed over financial considerations when Novak Djokovic's visa was revoked by the Australian Border Force. It looks like the joker's selfish and inconsiderate actions have come to an end to everyone's relief. Thank you ABF for your timely intervention in preventing a potential health disaster in the making.
Mario Stivala, Belconnen
Re the Serbian; the "djokes" on us.
Bob Gardiner, Isabella Plains
DJOKOVIC NOT WELCOME
Granting an unvaccinated tennis player an exemption to enter Australia was disgraceful. Pandering to the wilfully unvaccinated insults all of us who are doing the right thing.
Peter Stanley, Dickson
I say bring in Barnaby Joyce to deal with the Novak Djokovic debacle. He didn't muck around when dealing with Pistol and Boo. I believe the words he used were "bugger off". Where are you Barnaby?
Barbara Mecham, Melba
Apparently arrogance, narcissism and a lack of humility are medical conditions so acute that you can get an Australian Open COVID-19 vaccination exemption with them.
Don Sephton, Greenway
The phrase "forward planning" seems to be a prolixity. I note Judy Bamberger of O'Connor uses it in her letter (Letters, January 4). Doesn't planning have to be "forward", ie for the future. Can one plan something retrospectively?
Vee Saunders, Weetangera
ASPEN AN ARTEFACT
I am afraid N Ellis' imagination has got the better of him (Letters, January 4). Aspen Island was never a small hill in a sheep paddock, it was an island constructed during preparation for Lake Burley Griffin.
Fred Barnes, Watson
Claims of rapid antigen price gouging comes as no surprise. It was bound to happen. A time of crisis is also a time of opportunity for the greedy in our midst who put profiteering above the well-being of people. There is nothing new about that.
Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW
Critics of the Morrison government are frequently told that hindsight is wonderful. What about foresight? That's the quality this government has failed to display on bushfires, JobKeeper, the vaccine debacle, respect for women, global warming, relations with China, an effective integrity commission and the availability of rapid antigen tests, just to name a few.
Ken Brazel, Wright
ECONOMY, NOT SOCIETY
For Scott Morrison there's no such thing as society.
Annie Lang, Kambah
So Scomo is going give concession card holders up to 10 rapid antigen tests - presumably two packs of five - at no cost. Given this crisis is going to be with us for months how long will they last? Especially if you have a big family.