Letters / Cash-strapped land grab

AS an affected owner, Catherine Carter’s Yarralumla brickworks contribution (CN, June 5) is strong on adjectival praise (exciting, spectacular) and light on reality.  

Some 1600 dwellings, including eight-storey buildings, does not respect the heritage value of the site nor the amenity of existing residents, but simply is a land grab by the cash-strapped ACT government and their developer mates.

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla

Alarmed at debt

I WAS not surprised when Michael Moore took issue with some Federal Budget actions, but his quiet acceptance of the ACT Budget was perplexing (“When left is the right move”, CN, June 4).

I suggest he read Budget Paper No.3, figure 8.3.3 to be precise. Dodgy scaling aside, it shows that between June 2012 and June 2018 the ACT borrowing will expand from about $2.1 billion to $4.7 billion. In fact, this Budget has a real sting in the tail, the debt doubles in two years from 2016 to 2018. To put this in a long-term context, in the 12-years to 2018, the debt has grown from about $0.8 billion to $4.7 billion. The rise is dramatic by any measure (nearly 500 per cent).

Martin Gordon, Flynn

More extravagant spin

THE latest banner headlines read: “Light rail to deliver ‘over 3000 jobs’”. It should have read, “may” deliver these jobs.

There are so many extravagant claims with this project, but where have we heard similar claims on another project paid for by ACT ratepayers? Why, the arboretum, of course.

Early in 2004 the ACT government announced a $10 million arboretum that, by October 2006, was back to $6 million as the first trees were planted.

By March 2008, it was up to $7 million with supporter John Mackay, later chairman of the arboretum board, saying: “It was a fantastic use of ratepayers’ money”.

And so to the claims to rival the light rail concept. In 2004, I attended a talk on the arboretum in amazement of a projected 900,000 visitors a year paying $20 entry fee and, on this basis, it would be largely self-funding.

The first paying visitors would be in 2008. Oh, really! How did they arrive at these figures? Quite simple, suggested Tourism Minister Andrew Barr: “We [at that time] have 350,000 visitors to Floriade, so we will have two Floriades a year, one in spring and one in autumn. That gives us 700,000 visitors which leaves 10 months to attract the other 200,000.

Of course, in due course all these figures were totally spurious along with the amount spent to date, in excess of $70m and growing.

We all fell for the extravagant claims of the arboretum and now are stuck with it. Are we also going to fall for the light rail concept?

Cedric Bryant, Watson

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