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Canberra Today 11°/13° | Monday, December 4, 2023 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Public service integrity: How many followed the leader?

Letter writer SUE DYER, of Downer, ponders the question of public service integrity in the wake of the Home Affairs’ secretary standing down.

LAST week Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo was stood down when he should have offered to spend a final hour at the office, packing his bags and keeping his hands off the shredders (“Pezzullo’s end will be predictable”, September 26). 

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But when he departs the APS ignominiously, how many think-and-act-alike Pezzullos will he leave in his wake? Who in his team of also very highly paid senior executives had even an inkling of their boss’s frequent and ingratiating wheeling and dealing with a close and cherished political conduit over several years? 

How many acquiesced and followed the leader in showing only contempt for the public interest and for public scrutiny, which need to be enabled by APS values, a free press, public inquiries and Senate estimates? The robodebt royal commission clearly showed that another controversial recipient of a publicly funded $900,000 salary package was not a “lone wolf”. 

Sue Dyer, Downer

Come on, Canberra, get with the times

I WAS watching some of the video of the Legislative Assembly and laughed out loud when Liberal Jeremy Hanson was asked to withdraw a statement that included the word “porkies”.

The Assembly was adjourned for a few minutes while the assistant speaker conferred and, eventually, it was decided that “porkies” would be withdrawn from Hansard.

Further, Mr Hanson’s argument to have the decriminalisation of drugs legislation deferred until 2025 was also amusing. His argument was based on misconceptions and dramatic antics and just plain nonsense.

While Mr Hanson repeatedly quoted Neil Gaughan, he missed a significant point that the ACT chief police officer had made – that he wasn’t sure what would happen when the law was implemented.

Thankfully, Mr Hanson’s proposal to defer the legislation failed miserably.

Also, I found some of Mr Gaughan’s statements ambiguous; he advised that the commencement of the legislation this month will be around the same time as the Spilt Milk music festival and the annual Rebels ride to Canberra. Mr Gaughan stated there will be a high police presence at the Spilt Milk Festival. 

Am I missing something here? The legislation says individuals with a certain amount (extremely regulated) of illicit substances can expect a fine if they are found to have drugs in that measure on them.

This begs the question of whether the high police presence is determined to be a revenue-raising event, or perhaps Chief Gaughan is concerned that the Rebels are going to set up an illicit substance stall at the festival?

Come on, Canberra, get with the times; we all know people are going to use illicit substances, decriminalised or not. And, please, let’s not have further deaths at festivals where, previously, a number of revellers, so fearful of the police, have ingested all their substances at once, leading to tragic and completely unnecessary deaths.

Janine Haskins, Cook

Here’s an ‘ideal’ spot for the ABC

THE planning vision for the corners of Northbourne and Macarthur-Wakefield Avenues, is for all four to be developed with high rises. 

Three are apparently underway, but on the remaining one, Cinderella-like, sits the very low-rise ABC centre. 

It needs to remain in its familiar locale, while retaining its visibility and character – and certainly not subsumed into some high-rise complex. Nearby, down Northbourne, is the former Churchill House, brilliantly designed by Robin Boyd. With its striking presence, and extensions to the rear, it would be ideal for our national broadcaster.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah

Light rail 2B a disaster in the making

MICHAEL Moore (“Ignore Barr’s spin, things are going to get worse”, CN September 21) attacks the government for allowing the ACT’s Standard and Poor’s credit rating slip below the ideal AAA level. 

He presents a general criticism of Andrew Barr’s performance in fiscal management, but specifically mentions the light rail project: in my opinion a disaster in the making.

As Sue Dyer (Letters, CN September 21) wrote: “There is actually little spare money… for the development of anything other than pre-determined and contentious planning reforms and associated light rail preparations, construction and likely cost blow-outs”.

Given the multitude of problems facing light rail stage 2B, I would say that cost blowouts will be not only very likely, but also breathtakingly huge. 

As one consequence, the national capital will become even more untidy and unkempt, as lamented by Phillip and Beth Harris (Letters, CN September 21) who were so disgusted with what the Barr government has done to Canberra that they moved to Goulburn.

Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Things are slowing for big polluters

DR Douglas Mackenzie (Letters, CN September 14) commends the wisdom of Senator Pocock over Zed Seselja. I am not so sure.

Senator Pocock has backed the left and other transient independents in an unwarranted rush into clean energy while the major economies of the world are hardly curbing their emissions. 

This is of great cost to the Australian taxpayer while cheaper electricity is a figment of the left’s imagination.

Looking at data largely unnoticed by those in the political scrum, the top 30 countries in the world by GDP have more than 60 per cent of the world’s population and are responsible for 78 per cent of the world’s energy consumption. 

Except for India, these nations have been ageing for decades and even including India with its current fertility rate of 2.0, their population weighted fertility rate is 1.6.

By 2050, these countries will be about 40 per cent aged 65 and over. More than every third person will be elderly. Just look at Japan and South Korea. Dynamism is fading. Things are slowing down and this will become the case in all the big polluters. 

It is the countries of Africa and parts of Asia where clean energy investment should be made in preparation for the shift in dynamism by 2050.

Family life will be critical to the wellbeing of our aged society in 2050. I would put my trust in Zed Seselja for his perception of the challenges.

John L Smith, Farrer


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