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Canberra Today 3°/6° | Monday, May 20, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Government hell-bent on digging a bigger hole

It has become increasingly apparent the government is hell-bent on digging an even larger financial and social hole by extending light rail,” says letter writer MIKE QUIRK

Public transport is the Achilles heel of the Barr-Rattenbury government.

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Minister Chris Steel, referencing an internal report Light Rail Five Years On: Benefits Realisation Report 2024, claimed light rail had encouraged $2.3 billion in construction, had attracted new passengers to public transport, driven up land values and cut motor vehicle traffic.

What the report did not assess was whether these benefits could have been delivered, at considerably lower cost, by a busway operating on its own right of way. The government’s own submission to Infrastructure Australia in 2012 found that a busway was the superior option.

The high demand for higher-density housing at Kingston and the town centres not served by light rail, further calls into question how essential light rail has been in increasing density along the corridor.

The Greens also released its transport policy focusing on extending light rail, the electrification of the bus fleet, increasing the frequency of bus services, extra bus lanes and extending concessional fares. Other than developing light rail, the Greens policy is similar to that of the ACT Liberals.

What Mr Steel (and the Greens) have not considered is whether the priority given to light rail has been at the expense of improving housing, health, education and disability services.

As a community we cannot afford both light rail and the necessary transport improvements being advocated by the Greens and the Liberals. Busways, operating on their own right of way, on the intertown transport route would be a more prudent use of limited public funds than light rail.

It has become increasingly apparent the government is hell-bent on digging an even larger financial and social hole by extending light rail.

The government is well past its use-buy date.

Mike Quirk, Garran

Tram propaganda for the October election

The ACT government has released its report Light Rail Five Years On: Benefits Realisation Report 2024, prepared by Transport Canberra, thus by a government agency writing its own report card.

While the report is well written, well presented and apparently well researched, it is not without some errors of fact and has deliberate omissions of importance to taxpayers. 

Essentially, it is a one-way street of claimed positive outcomes of Stage 1, but contains nothing of the many downsides to taxpayers. 

The report addresses only perceived benefits of light rail, from the government’s point of view and, except for the claimed $675 million for construction, does not attempt to identify the many actual costs to the taxpayer, nor direct benefits to the government (and taxpayer) by clawback from land sales or by taxes imposed on the claimed benefits to others such as the construction industry. 

There is no way of validating claimed figures – dollars or otherwise – without access to source data, but that would not be possible under this government, which is baldly saying “trust us!”. However, a review of the report by the auditor-general, to validate claims, would be very useful and probably enlightening.

While this long-awaited report gives some interesting data about light rail operations and claimed benefits (assuming validity), yet nothing at all on negative impacts, it can easily be seen as government propaganda leading to the ACT’s October 2024 election.

See a full critique at rail

Max Flint, co-ordinator, Smart Canberra Transport

Becoming a concrete jungle, devoid of wildlife

Re “Slaughter of the Red Hill roos, third year in a row” (Letters, CN May 2). I’m devastated the ACT government continues to take the side of development/developers/money over the natural values of our once wonderful city and the views of so many citizens who are against this senseless slaughter. 

There is no scientific or social justification for slaughtering the Red Hill roos and stealing evermore habitat from these amazing macropods – sentient lifeforms (with family structure) that are critical to the natural functioning of native grassland and woodland ecosystems. 

I used to enjoy walking in Red Hill Reserve and seeing the roos on the golf course (so did my interstate/international visitors). 

The federal government’s message is to conserve what’s left of our native biota and “halt the extinction crisis”, but it seems the ACT Barr government hasn’t got the memo! 

Our so-called Bush Capital is becoming an increasingly unappealing concrete jungle-desert, devoid of native wildlife. 

Let’s hope there is someone standing in the October ACT elections who commits to ending this senseless slaughter – they’d get my vote. 

Dr Gina Newton (ecologist), Hughes

Be grateful, you got off, Janine

I have some advice to Janine Haskins after being pulled over by the local constabulary (Letters, CN May 9) and it relates to Justice Lee’s observations in the recent Federal Court case involving Bruce Lehrman.

Justice Lee observed that, “having escaped the lion’s den, Mr Lehrmann made the mistake of going back for his hat”. 

I suggest that you are doing the same thing, Janine. 

The police officer was gruff with you as you were transgressing. He let you off without fineing you. Pretty reasonable, I reckon. Be grateful. 

Michael Collins, Banks 

Why is empty public housing left to moulder?

I agree with Vivien Munoz (“Public housing home has sat empty since August”, Letters, May 2). I know of at least one home in Kambalda Crescent Fisher that has sat empty and deteriorating for at least two years with no sign of maintenance or occupancy. 

One wonders about the effectiveness of the processes government has to manage these homes. 

We constantly hear about the short supply of public housing yet these houses sit vacant, vandalised and deteriorating to a point beyond basic maintenance and occupancy.

I am sure there are many similar vacant houses in many suburbs across Canberra. The question is why is this allowed to happen?

John Collits, Fisher

Share some random kindness every day

What is kindness and why is it necessary? If not for the random kindness shown to me by various strangers, friends and acquaintances in these past weeks, I, like many others, would be in a deep state of depression. A big thank you goes out to them everywhere from children to adults.

I urge everyone to practise at least one random, positive, kind act every day; be aware that even a friendly smile can cascade into happy responses with whom we find ourselves sharing our public and personal spaces. 

There will be a time when you will be rewarded when you least expect it.

Ilona Crabb, Narrabundah

Nothing ‘pretty’ about taking mind-altering drugs 

I returned from interstate just in time to find one person who still seems to support our illicit drug policy, which many now see as – aim low and lose (“No regrets, I’ve done pretty well despite drugs”, Janine Haskins, letters, CN April 11). 

I don’t see anything “pretty” about consuming mind-altering and toxic drugs. In terms of morbidity and mortality, alcohol has run second to smoking for scores of years and numbers up to 2500 in those categories annually. 

And by the way, please, let no one in the community party-on with the new drug nitazenes – similar to fentanyl – a drug that causes annually up to 10,000 plus deaths in the US. 

Colliss Parrett, Barton 

A little more about Joe’s skills, please

When clearing my letterbox of junk mail last week, I encountered a Libs flyer promoting Joe Prevedello for Ginninderra. It went on to inform that Joe had run his own small business here in the ACT and has been a regular fixture on Radio 2CC commenting on the mighty Raiders.

Mark Parton could have serious internal competition. Please tell me we’re not going to have a rooster in the hen house jostling/pecking between former radio personalities as a result.

Could someone kindly expand on Joe’s small business history and let us know the extent of his “ekonomiks” skills?

John Lawrence via email

No road works, but fined anyway

I have just received an infringement notice ($468) for a camera detected offence, namely exceeding the posted speed limit of 60 km/h for Monaro Highway Hume Road Works.

The date of my offence was April 25.

If I missed the notice after turning on to the Monaro Highway from Long Gully Road, then so too did the road workers, who were nowhere evident. More strength to their arm. Perhaps they had decided to take a break on Anzac Day?

Alastair McKenzie, Kambah

Divisive sloganism is not the answer

All Australians, us men included, would agree that the sickening pandemic of violence against women is unacceptable. However it cannot be addressed simply by divisive sloganism: “It’s a man’s issue”.

It’s not just “A man’s Issue”, it is “The man’s issue”. The man with a history of violence, the man with mental health issues, the same man who would cowardly king hit another man from behind.

It’s more than a gender issue. It’s an issue with the Justice System, AVO procedures and lax bail conditions. It’s an issue with a failing mental health system. It is an issue of access to weapons such as knives. 

Even here in Canberra, there are retail outlets, including common hardware stores, where anyone can walk in and buy a lethal hunting knife.

And let us not forget the elephant in the room: while men, by and large, are the perpetrators of domestic violence, they are also sometimes the victims but, hindered by the reluctance to recognise that men can actually be victims in the first instance, and the intense shame and stigma of their situation, men are less willing to reach out for help

Declan Mcgrath, via email

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2 Responses to Government hell-bent on digging a bigger hole

Motojohnno says: 15 May 2024 at 8:59 pm

Well said Dr Gina Newton. The ACT Government persists with its pointless kangaroo killing in ACT nature reserves, achieving very little but causing trauma and death to harmless sentient animals who belong in the grassy woodland habitat in the ACT. Kangaroos are being scapegoated for problems they did not cause. And, not only are the contract shooters costing us money, but add in the exorbitant costs of the staff engaged year in year out on this hideous program.

Palmerston's Lament says: 18 May 2024 at 7:29 am

Meanwhile, kangaroos continue to over graze Percy Hill and die on the roadside due to population competition. With all the pouched young now independent, this is an adequate time for culling.

I would prefer, however, more targeted control through the year as each Reserve would benefit from a local Warden and conservation plan to manage the area and deal with the issues on a holistic level.


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