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

Time to clean out the ACT Liberal power brokers

Letter writer SUE DYER, of Downer, offers some fearless advice to the Canberra Liberals.

IT’S now clear that it’s not just letter writers who have despaired at the incompetence and tin-eared behaviours dished up by the ACT Liberal Party’s HQ and its Senate incumbent for far too many years. 

Write to editor@citynews.com.au

Unable to learn from the pathetic antics they foisted upon the electorate at the last ACT election, they delivered a 2022 federal campaign devoid of intelligent and relevant content and communications, instead relying on tactics reminiscent of desperate and out-of-touch crusades and manoeuvres orchestrated by gung-ho strategists for Donald Trump and Boris Johnson. 

Whatever the Liberal campaign team tried and touched fell afoul of standards and expectations held by a well-informed and educated electorate. 

Too often the Liberals and their helpmates failed to show respect for the right of others to stand and work hard to compete for the second Senate seat here. 

A complete clean out of the current ACT Liberal power broking machinery is needed before the party even embarks on trying to regain the interest and trust of more territory voters in the future. Tinkering at the edges won’t work.

Sue Dyer, Downer 

Pain of recruiting party volunteers 

NOBODY wants to talk about elections now, not even me. However, I do want to talk about voting processes in the hope procedures improve next time around.

In the 2022 Federal election there were 104 ACT polling booths open on election day. These all provided useful pocket money for Australian Electoral Commission volunteers who helped staff these outposts.

However, what about the political party volunteers, those who voters face outside these booths?

With polling taking place between 8am and 6pm, if each booth saw one party worker for the entire 10 hours – a big ask – 104 people would be needed. If a reasonable two-hour roster was in place, then 510 volunteers would be needed.

Certainly, some would double up but even with such dedication common sense tells us one person per booth upon any roster is inadequate and, depending on the siting of the booth, at least three possibly four party supporters would be needed – a heavy demand upon what we are told is diminishing party membership and support – and increasing pressure as the ACT population grows and more polling booths are created.

This is despite some 45 per cent of voters either pre-polling or postal voting because there is still a need, apparently, on election day to provide party how-to-vote papers. Democracy is not being served if people are not given a chance to vote for whom they want, even if they don’t know how to do so.

So we face a dilemma. We don’t have enough party volunteers to man all booths in future to show people how to exercise their democratic right and responsibility.

Or do we?

Why not introduce the 100-metre rule around polling booths that applies in Assembly elections also for Federal elections? People seem to manage okay without having sheafs of paper thrust at them and, in the absence of overdue improved voting methods, it would be a better result than the current system, which inevitably will break down.

It also would be fairer to small parties and independents who often have no chance of adequately manning polling booths.

And for once the politicians might listen. Think of the votes they might lose if booths are unmanned under current rules.

 Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla

Democracy well served by sausages

“COMPULSORY” voting is undemocratic and next to useless as the only thing it does is force eligible voters to attend a polling station (or

face a fine) and have their name crossed off the electoral roll. It 

does not necessarily result in a vote being cast. 

You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink . The only good thing about “compulsory” voting is the democracy sausage!

Mario Stivala, Belconnen

Examine the stacking of boards

SO Phil Gaetjens, who headed up the Prime Minister’s Department, has been relieved of his duties. 

Now I look forward to Kathryn Campbell, current head of Foreign Affairs and Trade to follow him. She was head of the Department of Social Services when Robodebt was introduced and was subsequently promoted to DFAT by the Morrison government.

I hope the new federal integrity commission will examine the stacking of boards, tribunals and the like, along with the appointment of politicised departmental heads, ambassadors and delegates to various other Australian and international bodies, which need to be based upon merit rather than political favour.

Ric Hingee, Duffy 

Blind commitment to light rail

THE blind commitment to light rail, a discretionary and unnecessary project, demonstrates the government’s incompetence and arrogance. Increased working from home and improved electric bus technology reinforce the stupidity of proceeding with light rail. A genuine review of Canberra’s land-use and transport strategy is required before more money is misspent on the project

Mike Quirk, via citynews.com.au

The ‘vibrant’ slow, out-of-date tram

HERE, in Canberra, the message is: “The ACT government is building light rail to Woden. We are investing in our city’s future by ensuring Canberra is a more connected, sustainable and vibrant city.” 

A “vibrant city” with a slow, out-of-date tram that will take nearly twice as long as the new electric buses between Woden and Civic? 

“Sustainable” when the building of the infrastructure for the tram with the necessary tracks and bridges plus importing 16 additional trams from Spain totally assembled will cause massive greenhouse gases? “Ensuring Canberra is a more connected… city?” The authors obviously do not patronise Canberra’s buses otherwise they would know that on the R4 bus one can sit down in Tuggeranong and end up in Belconnen via Woden and Civic without getting up from one’s seat. 

It is the rapid buses that are connecting parts of Canberra and not the tram. Even if after a cost of many billions of dollars a tram would eventually run that route, the ride would be so slow that it is unlikely anybody would opt for it. 

And, of course, never tell the public the cost. The $3 billion the short stretch from Civic to Woden is likely to cost would upset them. Better to have them ride on a virtual tram in a wonderland of neatly trimmed lawns so they forget about the years of traffic chaos ahead.

Robin Underwood, via citynews.com.au

Deep hole draws down buckets of money

THE ACT government will renew talks for further light rail funding from the new federal government, after federal Labor sensibly walked back its $200 million promise during the campaign.

The ACT government will request Commonwealth support for stage 2B through the Parliamentary Triangle.

Max Flint (Letters, CN May 24) states that Light Rail Stages 1 and 2 will cost around $5 billion if not more.

While I recently voted for a change of federal government, I hope Anthony Albanese with his strong background in infrastructure can see this ACT project is a dud that hasn’t stood up to scrutiny by the Auditor-General to date.

If the federal government wants to use funds wisely, it would be far better employed in bolstering the struggling health system in the ACT. The tram is a deep hole that keeps on drawing down large wasteful buckets of money.

Murray May, Cook 

It’s elder abuse 

Re “So broke, the ACT government turns on widows” (“Seven Days”, May 19): Let’s call this out for what it essentially is – elder abuse of the highest order by the ACT Labor/Greens government.

Vesna Strika, Gungahlin

Remember your words, prime minister

DYING with Dignity ACT would like to remind Prime Minister Anthony Albanese that he opposed the euthanasia laws bill proposed by Kevin Andrews with the following words in the Federal Parliament in 1996:

“I oppose this Bill because I support human dignity. I oppose this Bill because I support freedom of choice. I oppose this Bill because I support civil liberties. I oppose this Bill because my Christian upbringing taught me that compassion is important. I oppose this Bill because modern medical practice should be open and accountable, not covert and dishonest. I oppose this Bill because I believe that the national parliament should only intervene against the state or territory legislature when there is overwhelming public support to do so on a national level.”

We call on Mr Albanese to remember his words and to act immediately to repeal the 1997 Euthanasia Laws Act.

Jeanne Arthur, president, Dying with Dignity ACT

Pricing ourselves out of existence

DURING the election we often heard the call for affordable housing. Few understand how the problem is deeply rooted in the prevailing culture and the pursuit of so-called success and wealth to the extent that it now raises a question of survival.

Since World War II we have gradually built up vast social security and welfare schemes on which millions of Australians now depend (expenditure is about one third of the Australian government’s total expenditure). 

These schemes have effectively displaced the family as stewards of social welfare but now they are unsustainable simply because there are not enough children being born to fund them going forward.

Australian fertility was 1.9 in 2010 and 1.58 in 2020. The price of housing, pursuing a career and maintaining a certain standard of living are all factors in the birth dearth. We’ve become addicted to affluence. Family and children get in the way of our addiction.

Australia’s declining fertility is papered over with immigration. While large-scale immigration increases the number of skilled workers, it suppresses wages, especially for the unskilled. 

It also increases demand for housing, driving up property prices along with competition from investors and now inflation. Housing prices are becoming prohibitive for young people, discouraging family formation.

At first, people did not have children because they wanted more (materially). Today it is because they cannot afford them (financially). We are pricing ourselves out of existence.

John L Smith, Farrer 

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