News location:

Canberra Today 7°/10° | Sunday, August 14, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Ecological treasure that lives in dead gum trees 

Letter writer Dr GINA NEWTON, of Hughes, sees ecological treasure in dead gum trees.

ON reading “The years pass and the gums are dead” (Letters, CN May 19), I couldn’t help thinking that one person’s trash is another’s treasure.

Write to

Dr Douglas Mackenzie, of Deakin, appears to consider dead gum trees as trash (ie “these eyesores” and “unkempt ugliness”).

In contrast, I consider them to be treasure – ecological treasure.

Gum, or eucalyptus, trees support our native biodiversity and are native to Australia. The interdependence between them has evolved over millennia.

In particular, the hollows in gum trees offer homes, nesting sites and food for a range of native mammals (marsupials and bats), birds, reptiles and insects. 

However, small hollows in eucalyptus trees take about 100 years to form. Larger and deeper hollows, that are more suited to bigger animals and birds, take considerably longer at 200 years or more. 

Scientists have reported that about 20 per cent to 50 per cent of mammal, bird and reptile species found in south-east Australia use gum-tree hollows. This includes many threatened species. 

Therefore, each dead gum tree, along with its hollows, constitutes an ongoing ecologically significant habitat.

Thinking local, I am heartened that the ACT government seems to have recently recognised the value of these older, hollow-bearing dead gum trees, and may be making efforts to retain at least some of them – if they are deemed safe to the public and are appropriately managed. 

Thinking global, Australia is currently in the midst of an extinction crisis and our native wildlife, found nowhere else in the world, is rapidly declining. If deemed safe, we can’t afford to lose dead gum trees. Our wildlife doesn’t have another 200 years to wait.

Dr Gina Newton, Hughes

Just call in the rangers

DR Mackenzie might stop wondering if “the Barr government… may not even be aware of them” and simply log a job to have his neighbourhood dead gums attended to (Letters, CN May 19).

We did that last year regarding a dead tree on our nature strip and a team of rangers attended the site within the week.

Had I written to “CityNews” instead, I imagine we might still be looking at a dead tree.

John Noble, Braddon

The killing must stop!

Yes, the killing of kangaroos must stop and if it requires the Queen to stop it, then so be it.

I intend sending a copy of this letter and the newspaper article (“Stop the killing”, CN May 26) to the Queen so she becomes aware of the barbaric treatment of one of Australia’s national symbols because the killing must stop. 

Her Majesty has visited Canberra many times and delighted in viewing kangaroos in their natural state – even the mob who live on the grounds of Government House.

I am 89 years old, Canberra born and bred, and proud of it until this hideous culling began. Twenty years ago I rehomed to a small complex of five houses built specifically for the aged, located opposite a small park and near the base of Mt Ainslie Nature Reserve, with much bird and animal life.

My suburb was one of the older places and many original inhabitants still live here. During the drought, with food and water shortages, it offered refuge to kangaroos placing water bowls on nature strips and many trees for shelter.

It quickly became an early morning ritual to open curtains, to look on to the frosty grass of the park to see the kangaroos and maybe later to compare notes with neighbours – sometimes just one or two, sometimes a family with joeys hovering close to mum, or just laying about until traffic noises tell them to adjourn to Mt Ainslie for the day to return perhaps at dusk.

Now somebody has decided to end this calming start to my day. It is very distressing and unnecessary to me and probably every person I know to have this cull occurring every year. THE KILLING MUST STOP!

Ruth Aylott, Ainslie

Tram problem solved, don’t build it!

THE esteemed Jack Kershaw (Letters, CN May 26) offers an alternative to the proposed route for Light Rail Stage 2. However I have a better idea that is shared by the vast majority of Canberrans – just don’t build it! 

It is a complete and diabolical waste of money that will hardly be used and is only being built to appease the idealist Shane Rattenbury who has held the ALP (and therefore all of us) to ransom for many years now. He is clearly the most powerful person in the ACT. 

Mr Kershaw offers a more aesthetic, least disruptive and more practical solution, but from a perception management point of view it will fail as it will add to the already time-consuming trip for time-poor people. 

Light rail is madness. Currently it is barely used but the dark, tinted windows on the trams prevent us from seeing they are nearly empty most of the time. 

I have a better solution for Canberrans. Come out of your auto-tribal-along-party-line mode and stop voting for the ALP and the destructive Greens. 

They have been in power for over 20 years and are now taking us for granted. Start voting on merit, for goodness sake. By doing this, democracy will actually work here in Canberra rather than being non-existent under the current totalitarian ALP government. 

Michael Collins, Banks

One independent truly represented

IT was a fair point made by Mario Stivala (CN Letters, June 2) that one doesn’t necessarily need to cast a vote on polling day. 

However, I would suggest that if Scott Morrison and the Liberal National Party coalition had been re-elected, there would be little, if any discussion about compulsory voting being undemocratic and useless. 

Greg Cornwell also made some excellent points in his letter about small parties and independents not being able to have a presence at polling booths, although there was one independent well and truly represented at all booths on election day and at pre-poll, and he has every chance of success.  

Chris Doyle, Gordon

The candidate for Bean and gone

I AM writing this letter to the citizens of the electorate of Bean in Canberra, I am in complete bewilderment by the people in this city at how they can vote in great numbers for a candidate that is invisible and by all accounts does not exist. 

He never appeared during the run up to the election, did not appear after he had won the seat and I only know he existed by the corflutes that lined the sides of the major roads around Canberra.

So if we in Bean get nothing from the new federal government during the next

term, then don’t be surprised; for the rest of us that did vote for real candidates, sorry!

Athol O’Hare, Kambah

Herman’s happily staying on

I AM “chuffed” that the ACT government has recognised the seriousness of the chromophobia pandemic, removing all coloured corflutes from its streets after my letter (CN May 12) was published.

However, the warnings may have come too late. The huge green and teal corflute signs from Advance Australia, so prominently promoting David Pocock for the Senate, have obviously weakened the immune systems of the presenters at Sky News. 

The monkeypox pandemic has struck, leaving them howling at the empty airwaves. I thank your reader John Lawrence (Letters, CN May 26) for his kind wishes and am extending my visit to your green and cultured capital city.

Herman Safransky, via email

Bring back the dragway strip

SOME time ago there was a dragway (strip) near the Canberra airport. Many young people visited there on weekends and it was used during Summernats. 

Canberra identity Chic Henry, the founder of Summernats who sadly recently passed away, was instrumental in providing a place for young people to not only display their motor vehicles but also to engage in some form of motor sport. 

At Chic’s memorial at EPIC, hundreds of friends attended to farewell him. A number of Canberra politicians attended, including Shane Rattenbury.

Sadly, a venue for young people to perform some type of motor sport is lacking. The venue near the airport could be resurrected by the government or by private companies, perhaps from the Motor Vehicle Traders. 

If so, it could provide a supervised venue where young enthusiasts could enjoy their modified or standard motor vehicles. 

If this were possible then perhaps much of the racing and foolishness on Canberra’s streets could be limited and may, in fact, save lives. I’m sure some of Canberra’s car clubs would be on board with this suggestion. 

Ray Zak, via email

Capitulating to illegal drug trafficking

OUR drug policy largely explains why illicit drug use has found its way to upper levels in the Alexander Maconochie Centre. 

Inferring or telling a community there’s nothing illegal or wrong with using illicit mind-altering toxic drugs doesn’t align with doing what is right.

And limiting the aims of drug policy to basically “reducing the harmful effects of drugs” is to capitulate to illegal drug trafficking and to accept that drugs have come to stay in our societies. 

Limiting the harmful effects of drugs is one part of the efforts made in drug-use care on behalf of persons who have become addicted to drugs, but if a strategy is formulated and implemented essentially in terms of alleviating the situation of those who have already become dependent/addicted, the role and effectiveness of primary prevention is severely reduced and results in growing numbers of first-time users who feed expansion of use.

Colliss Parrett, Barton 

Life in a neglected town

I WALKED through our ‘burb on a day that could be better, past trillions tied up in modest houses, sequestered through the dastardly deeds of late ’80s real-estate push marketeers. 

Good for rates, to spend elsewhere, like wrecking City Hill or propping up developers, whacking up lousy flats. 

There are grand old gum trees along the way, but the African Lovegrass is winning, and can’t be stopped. Cheap concrete paths crack, lift, and separate, and then get ground down, like a too-late facelift, to just about avoid civil cases being brought. 

You can tell the investment properties, some deliberately kept vacant and shuttered, mostly decrepit and sad to see. You can tell the gardener-occupiers, and those aggressively against the idea. Life in a neglected town, ah he ma ma…* 

Jack Kershaw, Kambah 

*With apologies to “Life in a Northern Town” by The Dream Academy. 

Who can be trusted?

In a world of spin and confusion, there’s never been a more important time to support independent journalism in Canberra.

If you trust our work online and want to enforce the power of independent voices, I invite you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support is invested back into our journalism to help keep strong and free.

Become a supporter

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Share this

One Response to Ecological treasure that lives in dead gum trees 

Robin Underwood says: June 8, 2022 at 1:14 am

The Immorality of the Tram to Woden.
The discussion between MLAs Parton and Steel on June 7, 2022 in the ACT Assembly was an interesting performance. MLA Parton was asking MLA Steel why works for the raising of London Circuit in preparation for extending the tram were behind schedule. In other words, why the traffic chaos which this will cause had not yet commenced. After all, our taxes are paying for a Disruption Taskforce which must be keen to gain some real-life experience. MLA Parton then reminded MLA Steel of the Auditor General’s criticism of September 2021, and MLA Steel promised to assuage this gentleman (tasked with improving the government’s accountability) by drawing up a Benefits Realization Plan. Of course, these benefits would not materialize right now. Benefits have a long lead time, some take up to a decade to become apparent, the minister cautioned. Finally, MLA Parton chided the latter for making him look like “an anti-tram warrior”.
Sad to say, neither of these two gentlemen, nor, it appears, any member of our elected Assembly, is aware of the immorality of the light rail extension to Woden. Immoral because the several billion dollars this project will cost (the minister has been unable to work out the amount so far) will only be of benefit to some 10% of Canberra’s population, namely those who can afford to live near a rail stop. For the rest of Canberrans it will be a curse. For those living in the Woden or Tuggeranong area because the express bus to Civic will disappear – as in the North – and they will be forced to take the tram taking almost twice as long, or buy a car. For all Canberrans, regardless of where they live, it will mean a heavy financial debt not just now but for generations to come. Increasingly there will be even less money for essential public services which are in a desperate state already. Some people, like those living in Oaks Estate, don’t even have public transport.
Mr. Albanese, could you please teach Mr. Barr and friends the long-held principles of the Labor Party? Isn’t one of the most important the care for the have-nots who suffer most when public services are run down as they are here in Canberra?


Leave a Reply

Related Posts


The real deal on electric cars is in the Congo

"While most of us look forward to having access to an affordable electric vehicle, there is a serious human rights issue that needs to be considered as society makes the switch.," says "Canberra Matters" columnist PAUL COSTIGAN. 

Follow us on Instagram @canberracitynews