Letters / Canberra can survive a change of government

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Andrew Barr is unpopular, Alistair Coe is of a lower profile but that is not a disqualification. History is full of new leaders proving their opponents wrong, says letter writer MARTIN GORDON, of Dunlop.

“CITYNEWS” is right to zero in on the ALP’s negative flyer in the electorate of Yerrabi (citynews.com.au, October 3). 

Negative advertising works, because it plays to well established prejudices. Notwithstanding as Malcolm Mackerras pointed out years back that the ACT is a lop-sided jurisdiction, it is perfectly normal in a democracy to change the management occasionally. 

It’s like the shareholders wanting to go in a different direction, get rid of the old grey men who have been there forever. Barr was a staffer before being an MLA and a true illustration of a functionary (aka apparatchik).  

The underlying message in the flyer in Labor mythology is that only the Labor Party knows what is best for you. The reminder that they are progressive (ie the red flyer in the letterbox recently) seems to have flopped. 

The flurry of new promises does not entirely conceal the non-delivery of many earlier promises and the poor performance of their management. Oddly, given the financial mess of the ACT, I am bemused by the lack of questioning of Labor promises, their cost and their sudden urgency (elections can do that!). 

Andrew Barr is unpopular, Alistair Coe is of a lower profile but that is not a disqualification. History is full of new leaders proving their opponents wrong. Many prove to be perfectly competent, and sometimes particularly good. 

The Labor Yerrabi flyer will sway some wavers back to their column, but it will also highlight to many others that they should change things as they will interpret it as a sign of arrogance. 

The Labor (and Green) dominance is under threat, not only from the Liberals but from the people. 

Remember them; that’s the reason we have a democracy so the people’s interests are served, not those of parties let alone their transitory leaders, ministers and staff. 

To end, there is no shortage of metaphors, it’s time, time’s up, not yet, mean and tricky, desperate. An analogy with another leader, none are indispensable and one day Russia will be free of Vladamir Putin, no matter whether it is death or political death, he will be gone. Russia will move on. So, too, Canberra can survive a change of government. 

Martin Gordon, Dunlop  

Canberra not good enough for Barr?

SO, if Chief Minister Andrew Barr loses the election he will leave town (“We win, I’m in; we lose, I’m gone”, CN, October 1). What? Canberra not good enough for him? You created the dreadful, unsightly mess, ran up over $7.7 billion debt, now you say that it’s not good enough for you to live in if you lose. I wonder why?

But then again, Andrew, why wait till the election?

Paul Crowhurst, Hawker

Dickson ‘placemaking’ failure

CEO Malcolm Snow’s latest gung-ho pronouncements on Civic (“How many times can Civic’s pavements be replaced?” by Paul Costigan, citynews.com.au, October 3) also deflect attention away from the fact that glossy City Renewal Authority charters on “placemaking” have so far failed to deliver any quality public space and amenity improvements across the whole Dickson Group Centre, whose overdue renewal is also a key part of CRA’s remit. 

The three-year old Dickson Interchange still lacks a public toilet and the vast group centre area has become a far less attractive, interesting and people-friendly destination since the last election. 

It requires more than the basic infrastructure and connectivity upgrades that the CRA’s recently announced $5m spend on the area around Woolley Street is likely to deliver. 

Businesses are leaving the Dickson shopping area, which has become far less diversified and appealing over the years. A new CRA-sponsored mural or two makes no real difference. 

As October 17 approaches, many have been left wondering what state the whole Dickson Group Centre will be in by October, 2024.

In addition, moving to and around Civic, Braddon or Dickson in the way Malcom Snow wants, is hardly helped by long-suffering local bus users across Canberra who will still face limited, two-hourly services for most of Saturday and all of Sunday after October 10, including evenings.  Retention of hourly services on week nights also will not facilitate participation by all age groups in hospitality, cultural and other safe socialising activities that our town and group centres now wish to reboot.  

Sue Dyer, Downer 

The ‘all-about-me’ generation

IF Australia is to become less reliant on other countries, it should not be lagging behind countries such as China in education results.

Although, admittedly mostly funded by taxpayers rather than by entrepreneurship, the ACT has 1½ times the average income of other states and should be ahead of other states/territories in education results, but it isn’t.

Increasingly, more schooling time is spent on self development, environmental issues, political correctness and personal rights with less time spent on basic learning.

Our children have become an “all-about-me” generation that would rather spend time protesting than going out and picking fruit in order to earn a buck and help get our economy back on its feet.

Instead of giving already affluent people money towards electric cars etcetera, spend it on quality teacher training and better wages to encourage more teachers who know how to get results.

Don’t leave it to Canberra Grammar to get top results!

Rewa Bate, Coombs 

Supporting walk-in clinics

WHILE I think that our local government needs changing, I heard a member of the most militant union we have in this country (the Australian Medical Association) hoping for a change so that the walk-in clinics will be abolished.

Any one that has used the service and is grateful to it will stick with the government.

Ben Gershon, via email

Thumbs up for election coverage

I WANTED to say a huge thank you to Ian Meikle and the rest of the team at “CityNews” for their fantastic coverage of the upcoming ACT election. 

I have been thoroughly impressed by how “CityNews” has explained how to vote in our electoral system, provided a platform for a whole range of candidates, and let the policies of the major parties lead the discussion on who to vote for. A big thumbs up from me!

Siobhan Williams, via email

Wake up, it’s a hydrogen future

MINISTERS Steel and Rattenbury have announced purchasing a fleet of electric buses to change from diesel when (and a big “if”) re-elected. 

It would appear they have not caught up with worldwide technology on fuel for cars, buses and heavy transport; electric for low emissions is on the way out, hydrogen with zero pollution is on the way in. 

The only emissions from hydrogen fuel are about a litre of clean water after a full day’s running. 

So which countries are switching to hydrogen power?

A few examples, London Transport, according to reports, are expected to have all their buses running on hydrogen by 2021. 

The Bamford Bus Company, Britain’s only builder of buses, will have four hydrogen plants producing hydrogen from water by 2025 with a target of more than 3000 hydrogen-fuelled buses on the road in Britain by 2024. Just these vehicles alone, with only the release of water vapour, will save an estimated 280,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. This equates to taking about 107,000 cars off the road each year!

Scania trucks, Volvo and Daimler have all announced production of hydrogen engines. All three Scandinavian countries already have hydrogen-powered buses and trucks on the road as also do France, Germany and Holland.

Toyota and Hyundai already have hydrogen buses on the road. 

Before spending ratepayers’ money on a fleet of electric buses, it’s time the government caught up with modern technology. All the information is readily available.

Cedric Bryant, Watson 

Insensitive ACT government

ANKETELL Street in Tuggeranong is a botched mess. 

After publicity on the difficulties of parking at the front of the health centre (with insufficient disabled parking) and my wife, in her wheelchair, talking for some time to Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith, roadworks were undertaken. 

Imagine our horror at seeing the two parking spots at the front of the centre moved some distance further away and halved in number. Spaces exist behind the centre, access to the back of which requires the ambulant person to apply considerable strength to proceed up the inclined access. 

A bus lane was added. Then the government announced buses would be taken out of Anketell Street. The work was redundant before being started! People in wheelchairs were completely ignored.

Canberra politicians and public servants pay no attention to the public, yet again attacking the minority for whom the government exists to protect.

John Wright, via email

More drug tragedies ahead

OVER the past 40 years politicians of all parties in Canberra have helped, either by action or inaction, to prevent the introduction of a drug policy that aims primarily to get our kids drug-free instead of doing little to stop them from becoming dependent/addicted, either to methadone or illicit drugs. 

Almost immediately the coronavirus became known, all world medical authorities demanded immediate research for a vaccine to cure it. Currently there are 20 plus such research centres.

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre has estimated there were 1795 drug-induced deaths among Australians in 2017. Coronavirus deaths in Australia at about 875 are half the drug deaths of 2017. However, there is not one designated Commonwealth/state-funded rehabilitation clinic dedicated by charter specifically to achieving drug-free lives for those addicted.

Penington Institute CEO John Ryan has commented: “Unintentional deaths where stimulants were detected have almost tripled in the ACT in the last decade, and they’ve almost tripled nationally in the last five years alone. That points to a problem that we’re just not getting to grips with. It’s time to call this what it is: Australia’s very own overdose crisis. The ACT is no exception.” 

So, as long as all our ACT politicians remain paralysed in the face of the disaster that is drug taking, Canberra parents must brace themselves for more needless family tragedies.

Colliss Parrett, Barton 


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