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Canberra Today 1°/5° | Monday, October 25, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Painting a different picture of covid in Canberra

Letter writer ANTHONY STEIN, of Melba wants to see a covid picture more accurately painting the ACT situation. He says it’s not only deserved by the community, it is expected.

RATHER than enter the debate on whether or not we should be in lockdown and what freedoms we should have, there are some holes in the way information is being presented to our community that forms the rationale for our lockdown and is worthy of debate.

With a very few exceptions when a concise report has been delivered to the community, such as Tuesday, September 14, we are generally being patted on the head and told to go inside and play. 

This reminds me of the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era and “don’t you worry about that” approach to government. A rather strange approach to a community renowned as one of the more educated in Australia.

So, the issues. Firstly the daily totals of positive tests and the trends that are jumped on by one and all. 

Simply, the daily totals are just the sum of those people who are positive and chose to go and get tested on that day. Add asymptomatic people and it is just a number when it comes to relevance in the news sense. Behind the scenes it has value, no doubt, but to the general community it is but a means of painting the picture that is desired at a time.

The people who test positive from the same house distort the numbers. It is like the road toll where a single car crash could kill one or four or more, just the luck of the draw on how many chose to ride in that car at the time. 

The statistics look far worse when there are multiple outcomes but it was only one crash. So, while the household members who catch the virus may be counted, we expect them to catch it and they are not able to be separated from the genuine risks, the real transmission between unconnected members of the community or new instances that have crept in. The apparent fact that household members of a positive case are not immediately in quarantine is mind boggling, but that is what seems to be the case.

What we really need to know is those who initially contract the virus from a venue and those instances where ongoing transmission is not the result of being a household member. 

I suggest the results would paint a different picture of the virus in Canberra. Not that it should be seen as less serious but it seems that covid has only been transmitted at some 15 locations in the ACT plus the household locations where it is spreading as expected. 

I, for one, am heartened that the hundreds of contact sites around the ACT have in fact not resulted in a transmission. This should be good news that when we are all vaccinated, we can anticipate being able to go out and with a degree of common sense, have very little chance of catching the virus.

If we had reached the NSW situation then all of this would be meaningless. We are fortunately in the position where the case numbers are still manageable by contact tracers therefore, a picture more accurately painting the ACT situation is not only deserved by the community, it is expected.

Anthony Stein, Melba

Stanhope’s column on Barr worth re-reading

SOME ACT residents may think Chief Minister Andrew Barr is overstepping the mark and not weighing up risks properly with an additional four weeks of lockdown, with no end in sight and no roadmap out. 

Now with possibly tying in national vaccination rates to relaxing of restrictions instead of ACT rates, and seemingly to drag on the lockdown as long as possible, I suggest some interesting reading is found in former ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope’s opinion piece (“Barr sullies virus recovery with pokie politics”) from “CityNews” of June 11, 2020 (search, relating to Barr’s stoush with ClubsACT and the ACT lockdown restrictions at that point of the pandemic are well worth re-reading.

Tim Ledlie, via email

Stop the sale of lakeside land

I’M upset at the proposed sale of foreshore land at Lake Ginninderra under the auspices of the Suburban Land Agency. This frontage is alongside the Sea Scouts’ shed.

We now need voices of lakeside users and those with a lake view to please contact our Belconnen politicians, especially MLA Yvette Berry, who has ministerial responsibility for the land agency.

Moreover, this open space so close to the recently built high-rise apartment complex on Emu Bank is needed as a recreation space, including a playground. 

A Friends of Lake Ginninderra group is needed to help cherish the lake and its surroundings. 

Chris L Watson, Latham

Light rail stage 2 makes no sense to me

THE ACT government has done a pretty good job of managing covid and moving Canberra’s electricity to 100 per cent renewable sources.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem prepared to rethink its priorities in relation to the next big challenge, reducing transport-sector emissions, which are now around 60 per cent of the total for the ACT.

We are being told it is imperative to take all possible measures to drastically reduce emissions over the next decade, which could be significantly helped by electrifying the bus fleet much more quickly, rather than by 2040, and improving its attractiveness to potential users, thus getting more cars off the road. 

But the government seems determined to persist with Light Rail Stage 2 – City to Woden – with limited future benefits to only a small part of the metropolitan area. 

The government loves it as a means to advance its and the development industry’s “urban intensification” (aka money-making) agenda. 

This is made very clear in the “Business Case for Stage 2A – City to Commonwealth Park”, which is anticipated to “accelerate development at the Acton Waterfront”. 

“Stage 2B is anticipated to have a transformational impact on the Woden Town Centre and support urban revitalisation and place-making activities along the corridor,” it says.

All this seems wonderfully aspirational, although unclear when and how it will be achieved and it will no doubt meet a lot of community opposition. 

We know Light Rail Stage 2 will cost a huge amount, has poor benefit/cost ratios, is unlikely to be fully operational by 2030 and its construction will be very disruptive and cause massively increased, rather than reduced, emissions. Makes no sense to me.

Richard Johnston, Kingston 

Stefaniak’s comment was ‘completely wrong’

GOOD to see old Bill Stefaniak still actively involved and contributing to the public discourse around this great town of ours. In a recent letter to “CityNews” (Jono needs to do his homework, CN September 9), Bill made reference to his time as a former sports minister and ACTSPORT. He then went on to make an accusation, for me, completely wrong, that it was Shane Rattenbury who was responsible for its abolition.

This very publication in 2015 covered this issue with Jim Roberts, president of ACTSPORT, saying the decision to wind down the organisation had been made following self-examination of the business model in terms of sustainability and the future needs of Canberra sporting organisations. In another interview, he went on to say it was the “end of an era” and that he believed ACTSPORT’s job “was done” in the capital.

Chris Doyle, Gordon 

Not the time for cheap shots, Zed

LIBERAL Senator Zed Seselja was quick to make attention-seeking noise about the ACT government’s decision to extend the territory’s lockdown until mid October, calling it “bitterly disappointing news” that “lacked compassion and balance”. 

However, the main disappointment at this critical time is Senator Seselja’s inability to show empathy and support for the difficult day-to-day decision making and public health responses that are needed to safeguard his constituents. 

He knows full well that at this stage of the federal government’s slow and insufficient vaccine rollout there are still many tens of thousands of eligible ACT residents at risk of serious illness and lingering, debilitating health impacts if covid surged Sydney-style across the territory. 

Senator Seselja should be careful not to take the slick and easy path of emulating the hapless Opposition Leader in Victoria, whose predictable bleatings and focus on political point scoring during necessary lockdowns finally led to his loss of the leadership earlier this month. Many will be looking for evidence of a far more constructive and co-operative approach from both the senator and ACT Liberal opposition MLAs over the coming months.

Sue Dyer, Downer

Careful what you ask for, Shane

NYAMUDY-Ngambri Elder Shane Mortimer reports in his letter (CN September 2) that during a national Aboriginal conference live streamed about the Australian War Memorial’s half billion dollar extension plans, the National Capital Authority CEO and the Australian War Memorial director could not answer his request to ”show him the bill of sale to the Crown for the War Memorial site from his Ngambri ancestors, the Allodial Title Holders”.

If Allodial ownership means no more than ownership freed from the oppressive duties of service and fealty, with the accompanying liability to distress, owed to some person with superior interests, such as a superior lord, in the same land one would obviously want to see how Allodial Title was acquired in the first instance in support of any latter day claims of entitlement. Maybe you can show us that.

John Lawrence via email


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