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Canberra Today 15°/19° | Wednesday, November 29, 2023 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

So, we’ll never know what happened to Brontë 

The late Brontë Haskins… “Our family engaged an independent CCTV expert (at the cost of $11,000), however there is a crucial 46 minutes of footage missing, which can never be found,” writes Janine Haskins.

Letter writer JANINE HASKINS bemoans the storage of evidence in coronial matters. “I am still none the wiser. Does anyone in the community know, because I am certainly not getting answers from the AFP or Police Minister Mick Gentleman?” she says.

IT was interesting to read that an ACT judge has slammed a Canberra detective for trying to “cover up” the mishandling of evidence, remarking that “lawlessness on the part of police encourages lawlessness in our society”.

Write to

It was refreshing to read that the AFP detective was held (somewhat) accountable for his unlawful practice of redacting a note in his official AFP notebook, and falsely denying that he had been told the device was examined out of time.

Unfortunately, this was not the case in the coronial hearing of my daughter, where it was determined that evidence (CCTV DVR) was returned by an AFP officer to a significant witness in the investigation; just two days after Brontë’s death.

At the hearing, there was confusion between the two AFP officers (one of whom is no longer an officer), as they “ummed and ahhed” regarding the reasoning of why the evidence was returned. Their responses were vague in nature, with no evidence through contemporaneous notes of the AFP officer involved in returning the CCTV DVR. 

Our family engaged an independent CCTV expert (at the cost of $11,000), however there is a crucial 46 minutes of footage missing, which can never be found.

Three years later, I am still requesting a copy of the legislation regarding the storage of evidence in coronial matters; I am still none the wiser. Does anyone in the community know, because I am certainly not getting answers from the AFP or Police Minister Mick Gentleman?

As it currently stands, we will never know what happened to Brontë. Oh, and no one was held accountable – no surprises there.

The law is beginning to look more and more like an ass as time goes on (and on and on). Tedious.

Janine Haskins, Cook

We can do better than regurgitating Mr Fluffy

IT is surprising that the chief minister is extolling the virtues of Mr Fluffy dual occupancies in his plans for Canberra.

They are essentially planning failures because they cover the whole block with impervious material. 

The last things we want in a warming climate are residential blocks with no space for plants and trees.

The Greens are calling for “30 per cent permeable surfaces to cool our city” – that should put an end to Mr Fluffy dual occupancy lookalikes if this policy is endorsed. The Chief Minister may not like the 30 per cent.

The government planners should be able to do a lot better than regurgitating Mr Fluffy.

David Denham, Griffith

We give special thanks to Paul

PAUL Costigan gives “a special thanks” to our “city’s former designers and planners” (“Enough! The time has finally come to walk away“, CN September 6). 

We give special thanks to him for reminding us of their role and enduring contributions, and for raising community awareness about our urban design, history, values and vast untapped opportunities for extending and enjoying our city’s uniqueness. 

All at a time when such matters seem increasingly ignored by the government as necessary underpinnings of this city’s existence, workability, appearance, and future appeal as a preferred place to live, work and visit. 

Paul also leaves a lasting legacy that must live on through community initiative, watchfulness and action. 

The valuable foundations of this city should be built on, not squandered or destroyed via loads of conveniently timed political utterings, spin and platitudes that don’t ensure high-quality planning and delivery of improved physical, visual and social amenity for the benefit of the broader public who live here and the many who should be enticed to visit from interstate and overseas. 

There is much more to urban design and planning than prioritising the lucrative rezoning of plots of land as fast as possible for intensive housing development, some scraps of usually disappointing “mixed use” offerings and additional rail infrastructure.

Government seems to be fast losing the plot, and the funds for focusing on the other equally important components of what is instead ending up as a rapidly densifying, heat trapping, urban landscape that is also decaying in too many places, year after year. 

Many of the matters arising and not being met are piling up, yet they have been thoughtfully observed, identified and analysed by Paul Costigan, month after month. 

The current imbalances around us are fast causing many to lose pride in their city and local surroundings. Trust is also being lost in those who should be committing to and guaranteeing the delivery of far better and more generous on-the-ground “people-focused” and liveability outcomes – but aren’t.

May “CityNews’s” independent reporting attract other knowledgeable and insightful commentators who can regularly provide the information, analysis and think pieces we need on these matters because our elected representatives and their administrations still seem unwilling or unable to be honest and open about them.

Sue Dyer, Downer

Enough! The time has come to finally walk away


Waiting an ‘eternity’ for council building approval

I WOULD like to comment on the Yass Valley Council and its absolutely ridiculously long-winded, drawn out, totally unacceptable and unreasonable development application (DA) processes.

My daughter and her partner have been waiting an eternity for their DA to be approved for what is a very, very simple extension project. 

After 10 weeks of waiting, countless emails, phone calls and actual visits to council chambers, they have recently been informed that the person handling their DA has left council and that their DA will now have to be dealt with by someone else! 

Another builder friend of ours purchased a vacant block of land in Yass with the intent of building a spec home and on-selling at completion. What he and his son thought would be an excellent opportunity to showcase their prowess, contribute to the local housing economy and, of course, make some money at the project’s completion, turned out to be a nightmare. 

After eventually being granted approval to develop, our friend then had to deal with inept and totally unreasonable council personnel throughout the construct. He has vowed never again to take on a project within the Yass Valley Council. 

After having personally dealt (seamlessly and timely) with the Cootamundra Council over the years and more recently the ACT government and Eurobodalla Council, I am astonished as to why the Yass Valley Council just cannot get it right! 

Our most recent dealing with the Eurobodalla Council involves construction of a large elevated rear deck, engineering/construction certificates, surveys, trade liaison, etcetera. We had our DA approved within two weeks! 

One would think that with the proximity of Yass to Canberra and with more and more people searching for a country style of living, the Yass Valley Council would welcome potential residents/builders/newcomers with open arms and do everything in its power to make the process as seamless and comfortable as possible; not so. 

It’s time for the Yass Valley Council to totally review its internal DA processes, as what’s currently in place is clearly unacceptable and unreasonable.

I’m wondering if any of the wider audience of readers have had similar dealings and/or could comment on their experiences? 

John Bone, via email

Surely better decisions can be made? 

I RECEIVED the 10-page “Official Referendum Booklet” in my mailbox several days ago.

I read the booklet and recognised the familiar arguments that have been promoted by the ‘Yes’ and ’No’ campaigns.

While I already know how I will vote, I have been saddened by the confusing and divisive nature this campaign has taken on.

The object of the Voice is to unite the nation so we can bring about the change that will address the imbalances that still exist between our First Peoples and the non-indigenous population.

Their needs are complex and influenced by strongly held, ancient cultural beliefs. The existing methods employed to deliver appropriate support where it’s needed, have become fragmented and ineffective.

Recently, I’ve been viewing the HBO series “The Gilded Age”.

I recognised how this historical drama (about class struggle, racism, heritage and believed superiority) divided the people living in late 19th century New York City in the same way that we’re being divided now.

The people who feel most threatened by the proposed change in our constitution, need a majority “No” vote to maintain the status quo, which has existed for more than 200 years.

The “No” campaign employs volatile language, threats of land grabs, budget blowouts, radical activism, division and fear to influence those of us who are undecided.

I look at this in the same way that I’ve thought about other social issues that we struggle to deal with. If what we’re doing hasn’t been successful, it’s time to change the way we approach the issue.

We need to focus on what change is needed, where and how to bring those changes to bear.

If chosen representatives of the indigenous people are drawn into the consultation process, on a permanent basis, surely better decisions can be made that will bring about the desired outcomes?

As a responsible person who recognises injustice I will be voting ‘Yes’.

Carole Ford, via email

On ya, Bill, let’s stop the kill

I’M not one to normally agree with the sentiments of former ACT Opposition Leader, Bill Stefaniak, but in this case I fully agree. 

He has criticised the blatant disregard by the chief minister for his colleagues’ overwhelming support to have an independent (and hopefully scientific – my words) review into the culling of Canberra’s kangaroos. It seems 268 of 270 delegates at the ALP’s ACT Conference supported it. 

Bill made the point that “if you are in power for too long, hubris and a dictatorial attitude can creep in”. We only need to look at the world news to see where that can lead! 

As a long-term resident of Canberra, I am deeply concerned, for both the kangaroos and my fellow citizens! Bring on that independent scientific review.

Dr Gina Newton, Hughes 

Zed supporters are ‘confused or delusional’

I HEARTILY agree with Sue Dyer (Letters, CN September 7): those urging Zed Seselja to run again for the Senate in 2025 must be confused or delusional. Zed was comfortably defeated (despite some almost Trumpian trickery) in the Senate vote by independent candidate David Pocock.  

Former rugby great Senator Pocock has been a revelation, showing more wisdom and common sense than many other federal politicians, especially on vitally important issues such as climate change. I’m sure he would have taken note of the warning from incoming RBA governor Michele Bullock about climate change and the risks it poses to the Australian economy and the Australian people.

Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

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