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Canberra Today 7°/9° | Sunday, August 14, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Questions lead to less information and more spin

“Paul Costigan is right to criticise local ABC for allowing the NCA to get away with propagandising the approval process for the second stage of the light rail,” says letter writer ERIC HUNTER, of Cook.

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THE problem is the ABC as a whole is allowing its interviewing quality to be diminished by thinking that leading questions will spur meaningful information from officialdom (“Canberra Matters”, CN March 17).

A leading, or closed question, puts a proposition that the interviewee is expected to agree with, all too often with the hope the guest will fall into an admission of error over an issue. For example, “Do you think that your decision will cost you votes at the next election?”

Even in my day, when officials and politicians were untrained in media techniques, this was a practice that we journalists were warned to be very careful with and even a half-smart guest knew how to avoid the so-called “gotcha” trap. 

Today interviewees are extremely well trained by a veritable army of media advisers, so the likelihood of an inadvertent admission of culpability or even poor judgement is less than zero.

Yet, the leading question has become the norm, rather than a carefully considered rarity. Why, though, has it been allowed to become so in the ABC, which for years has rightly prided itself on setting journalistic standards, I don’t know. The result though, is that audiences are getting less and less real information, but more and more PR-inspired spin.

Eric Hunter, Cook

What have we done to deserve this lot?

THE article by Jon Stanhope and Dr Khalid Ahmed (CN March 17) is totally shocking, about the truly appalling performance of the current ACT government on public housing. 

When that is put together with all the other important areas where this government has dropped the ball (see letter in the same issue by Robin Underwood), you really have to ask what is going on here? 

Surely it can’t all be due to the unjustified and vastly excessive expenditure on that rampaging “white elephant”, Light Rail Stage 2?

The excellent cartoon strip “Keeping up the ACT” (CN March 17) gives some insights into this, identifying various drones cynically deployed by the Chief Minister – “Mick Flicker Minus”, “the Aero-Shane” and “the Steel Parrot”. What have we done to deserve this lot?

Richard Johnston, Kingston

Housing ACT is broken, a review is overdue

OURS and our family’s experiences with bad public housing tenants over many years, tenants who have been violent, abusive, who have dealt drugs, trashed their yards and vandalised publicly funded properties, has been horrendous. 

Complaints to Housing ACT have been met by one huge government brick wall. Nothing has been done to address these issues or respond adequately to complaints by several neighbours, both private and public. Tenancy privacy is no excuse for the destruction of publicly funded property or for ruining a neighbour’s right to quiet enjoyment in their own home. 

The ACT government has sat back and allowed the deterioration of its housing stock and tenancy management over many years.

As a footnote: The two housing properties next to us are now to be demolished so additional Housing ACT units can take their place. Without any enforcement of a tenant’s “rights and responsibilities”, heaven help us all. Housing ACT is broken and a full review is well overdue.

A Chapple, via

Peeping drones steal our privacy

MURRAY May wrote (Letters, CN March 17) and asked, “Drones: who’s in charge?”.

Yes, CASA regulates aircraft and aircraft noise, but the ACT government has the ability to regulate drones and it is dishonest when it claims that it cannot.

In an October letter to the Australian government on drone regulation, the relevant minister – Tara Cheyne – told the Australian government that the ACT government may be able to regulate the use of land by drone operators, including by regulating “local nuisance and hours of operation”. This could effectively limit Wing’s operations via the Territory Plan 2008.

Also, the Nature Conservation Act 2014 is used to prohibit drone operations in ACT Nature Reserves.

Wing has strategically (sic) placed its Mitchell operations so that to the east, south and west, Wing regularly overflies three nature reserves, all mixed grasslands and forests with high conservation value and abundant birdlife.

We should not let the ACT government dishonestly deny any responsibility for drone regulation.

The ACT government favours Wing, as a commercial operation that is ground breaking. For what, urgent coffee delivery that a multinational with deep pockets is paying for so that consumers aren’t charged? Not yet anyway. Hardly commercial.

Also, Wing invades our privacy and it is Google that is invited; an information-mining company. Google’s backyard peeping cameras are claimed to be low resolution – lower resolution than what? They steal privacy.

It is disappointing, no wonder independents thrive.

Brett Goyne, Giralang

It’s time for Tanya to take over

I read with interest the column (“Here they come, despite no date”, CN March 17) by Michael Moore. Good to know that I wasn’t the only one to notice the new suit and reduced weight of Anthony Albanese.

Unfortunately, as the saying goes, “clothes don’t make the man”. 

And, as much as Mr Albanese changes his appearance, it still hasn’t altered his personality. When it comes to leadership material, the Labor Party needs someone with a personality that people not only warm to, but feel have a vision, and that is something I, and many others, have not seen in Mr Albanese. 

Over the past six months I have discussed this forthcoming election with many people from all walks of life and, after much debate, I drop in thoughts about having Tanya Plibersek as Leader of the Opposition, and the whole nature of the discussion changes. 

So many people have told me they would vote Labor if Ms Plibersek was at the helm, but although they pray and hope “Scotty from Marketing” won’t be re-elected, they are in a quandary as to who they will vote for on the day. 

To those silent men in the back room of the Labor Party, change the leadership to Tanya Plibersek and you will be on a winner. But you can’t wait until after the Budget, then it will be too late. 

Julie Finch-Scally, Narrabundah 

Renewable energy isn’t cheap

NOW that the Mike Cannon-Brookes’ renewable-energy fizzer is behind us, it remains that the climate change/renewable energy issue will probably be the deciding factor in the coming election. 

Unfortunately, there is very little appreciation of what must be done to bring about the widely held expectations for the energy sector.

Putting aside the irony that coal is our second biggest export earner, I quote from the 2022 Draft Integrated System Plan (DISP) for the National Energy Market (NEM): “By 2050, without coal, the NEM will require 45GW/620GWh (gigawatt hours) of storage, in all its forms.” 

That is sufficient energy to run the entire eastern grid today for more than a day. The required dispatchable rate of 45GW is more than 20 times the generation capacity of Snowy Hydro 2.

The DISP also requires an additional 10,000 kilometres of new transmission lines “to connect geographically and technologically diverse, low-cost generation and firming with consumers”, as well as two-way electricity flow.

It will take a lot more than a change of government to meet these enormous system and technology challenges. The first thing will be to defuse the idea that renewable energy is cheap.

John L Smith, Farrer 

Inner-north minority laps up the tram

DANNY Corvini ( Letters, CN March 17) , opines that he has never heard anyone from the inner north complain about the gold-plated “Rattenbury Rattler” [the tram]. Why should they? 

As a minority group living in the inner north, they are the beneficiaries at the expense of the rest of the ACT community who, aside from having to wear most of the substantial initial capital cost, will have to contribute towards its maintenance over the rest of its commercial life without getting any benefit themselves.

Mario Stivala, Belconnen 

Snipers have come a long way

I WAS astonished to learn from the letter by Colliss Parrett (“What’s the longest rifle shot?”, CN March 24) that a Canadian sniper neutralised an ISIS target at a distance of more than 3540 metres.

I was a member of the Canberra Rifle Club for about 20 years back in the ’50s and ’60s. We used ex-army Lee Enfield .303 calibre heavy-barrel (snipers’) rifles. The pinnacle of achievement was to hit a 30-inch (76cm) diameter bullseye 16 times from 900 yards (823 metres). My personal best was eight shots in a four-inch (10cm) circle from 600 yards (549 metres).

At the time, these were accomplishments to be proud of, because we used open “peep” sights, the ammunition was standard military issue, and its large calibre and relatively slow muzzle velocity meant that it was strongly affected by the wind.

Modern snipers’ rifles with telescopic sights and modern ammunition have taken the skill of snipers a very long way in 60 years!

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin 

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