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Canberra Today 1°/5° | Sunday, May 22, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Why did government oppose inquiry into valley fire?

Letter writer RIC HINGEE, of Duffy, raises the unanswered questions of why the ACT government opposed the inquiry into the Orroral Valley bushfires. 

ACT fire victims over the years are still waiting on the coroner’s report into the Orroral Valley fires, started by a Defence helicopter, which threatened Canberra and burnt out much of the ACT. 

Write to

There are many questions that remain unanswered thanks to the Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Greens leader Shane Rattenbury opposing an inquiry into the circumstances. 

As someone who flies a helicopter from time to time, I am amazed that the Defence helicopter did not land as soon as possible to inspect the damage done to it and to call in the fire to authorities. 

I find this both unimaginable and inexcusable and wonder what the Defence Department has done, if anything, to ensure that a similar disaster does not happen again. 

I am hoping the coroner will be able to provide some light on this issue, even if Defence uses “security” as an excuse not to provide information relative to the inquiry. And Shane Rattenbury, who presided over one of the greatest environmental disasters in ACT history, along with the Chief Minister, needs to explain why he felt an inquiry was not necessary.

Ric Hingee, Duffy 

Labor’s ‘own goal’ on consultants’ purge

KATY Gallagher’s announcement that Labor is to purge $3 billion from the public service consultants’ bill could well be an own goal unless she can show conclusively how the money would be saved. 

First, the consultants have to be replaced with at least the same number of public servants, but probably many more, given relative productivity. Second, cost overheads for public servants are about 150 per cent more than the salary bill. 

Third, one must ask which voters the policy is aimed at? It cannot be Canberrans, most of whom the Labor Party already owns. Is it aspirant public servants outside Canberra? 

Fourth, how many voters in the rest of Australia will look kindly on more public servants in Canberra? Sorry, own goal to the shadow finance minister and Labor.

Max Flint, via email

Precious shade lost to loppers

WHEN Housing ACT decides to do something, they really do act! On April 12 two arborists and their mulching truck arrived at my housing complex and proceeded to lop branches excessively. 

Their objective was to cut away branches from near the buildings so that the leaves don’t accumulate in the gutters. My alder was severely cut back. The privet near another building was pruned. I had gone out and was flabbergasted when I returned. 

There is sometimes a misperception that plants in gardens have been planted by Housing ACT. 

No, the tenants are responsible, at great cost, especially as so many plants are damaged by dogs and people. 

Regardless, they should be respected. Now we won’t have as much precious shade in the searingly hot summers of the future. 

This is of great concern to me and how extensive was all this cutting? Did it entail other housing complexes? Were the Greens in this ACT Labor-Greens government complicit? They should know better, just as Labor should, too. 

How does Housing ACT speak for itself? Of course, the tram cost the government too much!

Jenny Holmes, Weston

More commitment on electric vehicles

WE’VE come a long way since Minister Michaelia Cash said: “We are going to stand by our tradies and we are going to save their utes.” 

So, letter writer Douglas Mackenzie is right to “torque up” the electric utes that are coming (“All the torque’s about electric utes”, CN April 22). However, even if a Tesla Cybertruck was available in Australia, I’m not sure that many Aussie tradies would feel comfortable driving it to a building site. It looks like something out of a Bond movie. 

The conventionally shaped Ford F-150 Lightning is more likely to appeal. It comes with a wide range of tradie-friendly features such as bidirectional charging that can power a home at a rate of 9.6kW for three days. It also has 11 power outlets that can be used for tools and charging other battery-powered gear. 

Sadly, huge orders in the US and the Australian government’s inadequate EV policy mean the utes won’t be here any time soon. There’s also the cost. Unlike France, which has incentives up to $A28,000, Australia only provides $3000, and then only in some states. Douglas concludes with the question, “What more do you need?” I’d say we need a lot more commitment and realistic incentives from our governments before we make any real headway electrifying the transport sector in this country.

Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Victoria

Development should go ahead

I REFER to the article “YWCA hisses at locals opposing development” by columnist Paul Costigan (CN, April 21). 

I am a local who lives near the proposed YWCA housing development in Bill Pye Park, Ainslie. But I am certainly not a local who opposes this development; with many others I know, I am really keen to see it go ahead. 

It will provide older, vulnerable women with safe, affordable, and supportive accommodation where there will be easy access to public transport, shops, and other facilities without the need for a car. 

The lovely park will remain for the Ainslie community to continue to enjoy. This proposal has had many setbacks, has been modified to suit the objections of the few who oppose it and needs to proceed as soon as possible. 

Meredith Edwards, Ainslie

Prof Edwards was a member of the ACT Minister’s Affordable Housing Consultative Group that provided the framework for the 2019 Affordable Housing Innovation Fund, which granted the YWCA $125,000. However, she had resigned from the committee in 2018. 

Paying for taking the cheap way out

I’M not sure why Ray Peck (Letters, CN April 14) has bothered to dispute my claim that renewable energy isn’t cheap because it isn’t, and electricity prices are likely to remain comparatively the same or higher.

I have never opposed the introduction of renewables, only the environmental pitch that only quotes the generation costs. 

The pity is that renewables were introduced in a hurry due to global warming because they would have been adopted in any case, only in a well-planned way.

Ray Peck cites the CSIRO GenCost reports that wind and solar are a cheaper new-build option than coal-fired or gas-fired generators. This is only true while the renewable component is less than 60 per cent of the total demand.

It is the last 40 per cent that is the killer when it comes to replacing fossil-fuelled generators with renewables. Then the requirements for stored energy and an expanded transmission network increase at a greater rate.

In addition, instead of the transmission and distribution networks being purely top down, they will have to transmit energy bottom-up or top-down. This is one of the long-term costs we will pay for taking the cheap way out in the first place in the form of large amounts of roof-top solar.

John L Smith, Farrer 

Here are some climate solutions, Greg

GREG Cornwell (Letters, CN April 28) argued that the “sanctimonious” Greens have “a deep-rooted hatred of success”, then segues illogically to climate change. 

He went on to ask: “If we abandon existing methods of living and without producing provable satisfactory alternatives, where is humankind heading? Their solution to the imagined horror of the future still dominated by the use of fossil fuels is unknown. All the Greens can offer is fear.”

Here are some of the many solutions, Mr Cornwell: 

1: Phase out the use of fossil fuels; phase in renewable energy and electric vehicles as quickly as technologically and economically possible.

2: Cease clearing of native forests and move to plantation sources of timber. 

3: Make our cities and towns more energy efficient with rooftop solar, double glazing and north-facing feature windows, and improved roof and wall insulation.

I could go on but, hopefully, you get the picture, Mr Cornwell.

Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Is Albo up to the job?

UNBELIEVABLE, Albanese claiming Labor are the underdogs at the upcoming federal election. He is treating the public with complete and utter contempt, as every single poll taken within the last two years has indicated otherwise and by a substantial margin. 

Should Albo become PM, and all indications are that he will, heaven help us all if this is the sort of unadulterated rubbish we can expect from him. Is Albo, as PM-in-waiting, up to the job? I don’t think so .

Mario Stivala, Belconnen 

It’s all about calibration, Ross

ROSS Kelly admits to little regret at not seeing my letter about the role of snipers (“Sniper, a ‘deplorable’ military role”, CN April 21). If I may slightly misuse a Biblical clause “and the lot then fell on Douglas Mackenzie” who wrote with understanding of the situation.

English is a bottomless well of necessary clarity of meaning and it should be plumbed frequently. Certainly the word “calibrate” is one of its riches when putting forward military opinions.

May we, for example, compare the calibration of a sniper’s rifle, which almost without exception kills one, while the calibration of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom bombs killed about 200,000. Which calibrates as the more/most deplorable. Lesson: compare like with like.

Kelly is again wide of the mark in suggesting I enthused over a Canadian sniper “neutralising” an ISIS soldier. I was using Canadian Armed Forces wording. It can be said I was enthused more over Kelly’s unfortunate misunderstanding of the subject – leading me only to look more closely at that correspondent’s future letters.

Colliss Parrett, Barton 

An assembly free of gooberism

NOW that the date of our next Legislative Assembly election has been confirmed as October 19, 2024, it’s important to remind ourselves that one of the most important ways an individual can influence governmental decision-making is through informed voting in parliamentary elections. 

In a representative democracy such as Australia, this gives you the power to affect how you are going to be governed by those who will represent your interests in parliament.

I only hope recognised, established, competent people run for elected office and low-flying ding-bats look for their $6000 a fortnight backbencher salary somewhere else. 

Our Legislative Assembly needs to be free of gooberism, which is defined as when individuals’ decisions and actions are viewed as the intellectual equivalent of a doorknob.

The truth is, we will always be connected at the hip with the government we vote for, as many have recently been noting, but now happily an opportunity is approaching for us to change voting behaviour, implement improvement for the collective good and cleanse/purify through regeneration.

John Lawrence via email



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