Letters / Trolley laws untroubled by any prosecutions

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Letter writer RICHARD GORRELL cannot believe Minister Chris Steel is reliable or sincere in his promise to tackle afresh the broader problem of litter. 

OUR government is adept at glossy self-promotion, but its propensity for sabotaging its own legislation suggests that replacing one Litter Act with another will not enhance its record or our urban environment. 

Minister Chris Steel.

Many of the proposed new or higher penalties may be welcome, but given the government’s reluctance to enforce existing laws one might readily suspect that the promised escalation springs from ulterior motives.

In March, 2011 the Litter Act (2004) was amended to impose penalties on those found abandoning shopping trolleys in parks and residential areas, and on retailers who failed to fully comply with its regulations. Since then the TCCS and the parade of ministers assigned to its oversight appear to have circumvented the enforcement provisions of the Act. 

Even when offenders have been identified City Services has declined to act decisively, thus assuring a continuing immunity for those who already anticipate it. 

On this matter TCCS has apparently abandoned the supervisory roles assigned to government under the Act, preferring to rely on “industry self-regulation” via a Trolley Trackers’ app. The strategy has not worked in Belconnen where several retailers remain clearly non-compliant and trolleys are a permanent feature of local streetscapes.

When I challenged Minister Chris Steel and his staff in January on their prior inaction (no person or business has ever been fined or prosecuted for shopping-trolley offences under the Act) they resorted first to the “silent treatment” of deliberate delays, then to calculated misinformation, false statements and, most disturbingly, a refusal to provide data or any substance beyond the anecdotal to support their claimed regulatory “success”.

I cannot believe this Minister reliable or sincere in his promise to tackle afresh the broader litter problem and it should go without saying that the law itself lacks credibility if its enforcement is capricious, suspended or replaced by deals that favour some sections of the community to the detriment of others.

Richard Gorrell, Belconnen

Trees don’t grow overnight

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY support John Hutchison’s letter (CN, October 24) about the Molonglo Valley. Every community has to start somewhere and trees don’t grow overnight. 

The same goes for his commentary about people saying there is a lack of “open space” – what nonsense! There are parks and open spaces all over Molonglo, not to mention the close proximity to the river and Mount Stromlo. 

As a resident of Coombs since 2015 I’m sick of people attacking our area because of these imagined issues, when in reality it is a beautiful and well-planned area of town that is right at the beginning of what will be a very bright future. Well done, John, on weighing in with some positive commentary – more of it, I say.

Brenton Sloane, Coombs

Government’s gone barking mad

AS if things could not be bad enough with this current Labor government and the looney Greens. Now funds are needed to have the “doggie police” ready to enforce compliance of the new “Red no go areas for dogs”! (Michael Moore, “Man bites dog”, CN, October 17).

Never mind the true hard facts that Canberrans have been waiting for years and actually want “human police” to combat the growing unsolved crimes that are increasing on a daily basis. 

Not to mention desperately wanting to see a much needed police presence on our roads, to curb bad driver behaviour. 

Our police numbers have dwindled under this government, in stark contrast with our growing population. Yet, doggie police are now their priority! Not human safety, or road-user safety!

Wanting to legalise cannabis is bad enough, particularly when it is illegal, however this latest, truly beggars belief! 

Clearly, you could be forgiven for thinking that this lot of rabble making these decisions have gone stark raving mad!

Ros Thomas, Banks

Dogs get a fair go

I READ Michael Moore’s column on dogs in the ACT with great interest (“Man bites dog”, CN, October 17).

As a dog owner of many years I must disagree with his views on dog exercise areas in the ACT.

It seems to me the ACT government has maintained an excellent balance for dog owners with the provision of large and small dog parks for people to exercise and socialise their dogs in a most friendly way.

The best way to exercise your dog is just by walking out the front door around your neighbourhood and meeting with others in your community.

Opening up more public space is not the answer, particularly bushland or lakeside walkway areas where there are animals or birdlife habitat.

The mere presence of any dog has a profound negative effect on any remaining wildlife inhabiting these areas, particularly ground dwelling and feeding birds.

So put the walking shoes on and around the block you go, you never know what wonders you may discover.

David McCarthy, Bruce

Peculiar green and red areas

MICHAEL Moore wrote a great column with an important reminder on the difference between objectives and implementation (“Man bites dog”, CN, October 17). 

There are quite a number of large “red” patches across Canberra, many of which seem odd. But, there are many more “green” patches on the map than people realise. 

Particularly on the southside, there are a significant number of off-leash areas outside the formal dog parks. Trouble is, many of the “green” areas are beside major roads, which must be unsafe (e.g Yamba Drive in O’Malley to Farrer). 

Others are next door to “red” areas (eg. beside Farrer Primary School). Those areas don’t make sense to me.

 I think the largest southside “green” area is Isaacs Pines, which is also odd as it is next door to the Canberra Nature Park where dogs must be on leash and there is no border or fence to indicate which is which.

There is a sign indicating on-leash in the Nature Park less than 50 metres from the Isaacs Pines sign saying off-leash. It didn’t stop the stray dog I saw chasing kangaroos in the Nature Park (a very happy kelpie). 

I’m not a dog owner and so have no great insights, but it seems there are just as many peculiar green areas as red. Interested people really should look at the current map and provide feedback otherwise nothing will change. 

For me, I’ve been barked at by dogs off-leash too many times while out walking. So, I’d prefer more “red” areas – but at least some logic and clear signage of all areas would be a good compromise.

Gary Brooke, via email

Keep urban renewal ‘natural’

AFTER the painted pavements have faded (“Plonk and run – urban renewal, Canberra style”, October 23), many Canberrans may be left wondering if they will ever live long enough to witness and enjoy the results of well co-ordinated and high-quality upgrades of our older public urban spaces that have suffered from too little attention over many years. 

Too often renewal projects deliver much hard surfacing, little shading and too few opportunities for respite from the heating caused by climate change and the increasing densification of our city. Hopefully our renewal policies and practices will now give much higher planning priority to designing and integrating significant permanent “urban forest”, other “living infrastructure” inclusions and parkland into all urban renewal spaces, large and small, as prioritised in the ACT government’s recently released “Cooling the City” strategy. 

This would help create far more comfortable, user-friendly, attractive and healthy public spaces. Urban forest does not just belong on verges, along major roadways. 

Nor are coloured umbrellas, that throw little shade in a few spots here and there, substitutes for the considerable investment in natural shading and protection that is still required along many streets and pathways that active travellers have to use to cross through suburbs and move around increasingly large and built-up group centres such as Dickson.

Sue Dyer, Downer

The Woolley Street ‘eyesore’

THE Woolley Street “upgrade” mentioned in Paul Costigan’s Canberra Matters” column (CN, October 24) is largely a frame covered in cheap synthetic fabric (already torn) – illegally close to a pedestrian crossing – that is requiring huge concrete blocks and metal weights (not covered in fabric) to keep it upright. Not only is it an eyesore, it is a traffic hazard: drivers cannot see pedestrians heading for the crossing.

Lucy Baker, via email

Bill misses the point

BILL Stefaniak brings himself little credit with his unpleasant attack on Greta Thunberg. It is not just Greta but many young people are deeply worried about climate change. 

The point that Australia is a relatively small emitter compared to the giant economies misses the point somewhat. Australia still emits a lot of greenhouse gases and is unlikely to meet the inadequate targets set by the Paris Accord. 

More to the point is that Australia is a major exporter of coal and gas, right up there in the top league. If Adani and other proposed mines in the Galilee Basin are developed our contribution to global warming will be in world-beater class.

Graham Markovitch, Kingston 

I’m with Bill on the environment

CONGRATULATIONS to Bill Stefaniak for beating me to it! (“A shining example of not letting 16-year-olds vote”, CN, letters, October 17). I have been mulling over exactly the same points for some time but didn’t put pen to paper, so to speak. 

My concern for the environment goes back long before today’s “greenies” could even spell the word, but I don’t see why we as a nation should lower our standard of living while exporting coal for others to increase pollution; and even worse, why as citizens of the ACT should we be forced to produce yet another “world’s best practice” or even worse a “world’s first”, while our rates, levies and “contributions” continue to spiral out of control!

Klaus Inveen, Macquarie

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