Trust lost in government processes

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LIKE columnist Michael Moore (CN, May 2), I’m not voting for either of the major parties.

They take Canberra for granted and they have let us down on climate change. We’ve also lost basic trust in government processes. Who’s buying favours?

But there’s an option he’s missed. The Greens would ensure we get a federal ICAC, caps on party donations and total transparency on every lobbyist who meets our MPs. No one else is dedicated to complete integrity and transparency of government decisions.

I’ve looked at the websites of the independents running this time and there’s no policy detail, just motherhood statements. Who are they really?

And Zed won his Senate seat by default last time. He doesn’t represent our values and puts his own wishes above ours. I want to pull whoever wins government in the right direction, away from lobbyists, donors and new coal mines towards accountability and doing something real about the climate crisis. Canberra will have 19 per cent less rainfall by 2050 according to Prof Penny Sackett. We have no more time to waste on people who think this is a game.

Dr Julie Kidd, Bonner

Working for Warringah

FORTUNATELY,  the big question going around town about “Where’s Zed?” (“Absent Zed the butt of meeting’s jokes”,, May 6) was answered in a snippet in the May 9 edition: Zed Seselja has been busy door knocking for good mate Tony Abbott in the electorate of Warringah.

We can now appreciate that even the God-fearing can’t be in two places at once and that a meet-the-candidates session in Canberra will always lack added attractions, like soothing sea views.

Sue Dyer, Downer

Not very nice, Michael

NOT nice, Michael Moore (“Use your vote to tell them Canberra counts”, CN May 2).

While extolling the virtues of Labor and an independent in the seat of Canberra and declaring it “up for grabs”, you then state “the Liberals have no chance”.

Five words.  Not even Mina Zaki’s name.  What is it: sexism, racism, migrant phobia? It’s not like you, Michael.

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla

Real cost of light rail

In the letters page (CN, May 2) Jon Stanhope cites a figure of some $200 million for the relocation of utilities etcetera in preparation for light rail.

While that may prove to be true, Smart Canberra Transport estimates of expenses by the government outside the PPP contract at $150 million comprise the erstwhile project office costs, consultancies (lawyers, engineers and others involved in preparation of documentation such as the business case) plus the Transport Canberra public servants and consultants who have been administering the PPP contract and spin doctoring.  

The $150 million figure can be determined from Budget papers for the Stage 1 pre-commissioning budgets for financial years 2012-19.
Smart Canberra Transport’s estimate for the cost to the taxpayer of Stage 1 is $1.8 billion (in 2019 dollars), incurred over some 26 years (from and including pre-commissioning budgets 2012-19, plus 20 years of operations and maintenance.  

If ever made public, the Stage 1 PPP contract price will prove to be about $1.275 billion. The non-PPP cost of $525 million is comprised of the $375 million capital contribution (payable upon commissioning) and $150 million project office costs.
Note that the government has not yet revealed any PPP contract costs, but Minister Fitzharris has promised to reveal them in a month or so.

M Flint, co-ordinator, Smart Canberra Transport

Building trust in planning

WHEN Ben Ponton was appointed Canberra’s new head of planning in April, 2017, he told a local newspaper he wanted to build up Canberrans’ trust in the planning process by “being genuine, listening, engaging with key groups and by providing feedback”.
Since then, Mr Ponton has attended community council meetings, listened to focus groups and consulted with industry.
Fifteen thousand Canberrans were invited by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate – which Mr Ponton heads up – to comment on the future of Canberra’s housing.
The directorate is also reviewing the ACT Territory Plan to enable Canberra to move towards an outcome-focused plan, as opposed to a rules-based plan.
So it’s far-fetched for columnist Paul Costigan to allege Mr Ponton has not met “his own key performance indicators” (“Chief Planner’s quotes come home to roost”, CN, April 17).
Building a democratic and trustworthy planning system is an important and ongoing task, and if we’re to have informed discussion on this issue we can’t be giving credence to hearsay and “things said often by residents at community meetings over the past two years”.

David Williams, CEO, The Planning Institute of Australia, Barton

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