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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

How the Danes took a stand on wood heaters

Letter writer DARRYL JOHNSTON,of Tuggeranong says “it’s worthwhile drawing public attention to the recent actions of the Danish Consumer Ombudsman against what it considered was ‘greenwashing’ of wood heaters and wood burning.

In response to the push by the wood heating industry to overturn the ACT government’s decision to phase out wood heaters in suburban Canberra, it’s worthwhile drawing public attention to the recent actions of the Danish Consumer Ombudsman against what it considered was “greenwashing” of wood heaters and wood burning.

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In July, 23 companies were charged with violating that country’s Marketing Practices Act with what the Danish Consumer Ombudsman found were deceptive environmental claims about wood burning. 

The ombudsman’s office ruled that wood stoves, firewood, and wood pellets may no longer be marketed as environmentally friendly or carbon neutral in Denmark, because it considered the claims to be false and misleading.

Despite Denmark’s tough environmental certification scheme, the Ombudsman noted that certified wood heaters still emit “environmentally harmful particles”. 

A press release issued by the Ombudsman stated that “marketing must therefore not give the consumer the impression that burning wood in a certified wood heater is less harmful than it is.”

Further, it said wood heaters can no longer be marketed as being carbon neutral, because it is “misleading.”

Perhaps there is something we can all learn from the environmentally health conscious Danes.

Darryl Johnston, Tuggeranong

Nice to see a change in local government 

The June 3 edition of CityNews was an excellent issue, especially the Great Rates Rip-off articles by Clive Williams, Jon Stanhope and Khalid Ahmed, Hugh Selby and, of course, the KEEPING UP THE ACT cartoon.

Criticism of the local Labor/Greens government by one is formidable but to have four and a cartoon in one edition was outstanding. 

As a community, we have borne their mismanagement for years, (especially Barr/Rattenbury, who show no remorse) and we, our children, grandchildren and their children will be paying off this government’s debt for years to come while services deteriorate even further. 

They, of course, will leave the scene on a fat super payment plus other benefits, all paid for by the people.

The Canberra community is supposed to be one of the most highly intelligent in Australia, yet come this October, most of those that voted for this local mob in the last election will do the same again and then go home and whinge about how they are being screwed by the government. Why, you ask. Because people have become too complacent.

It would be nice to see a change in local government in October with a lot more independents taking the stand and Labor, Greens, Liberals in a minority role. One can only dream.

Errol Good, Macgregor

Compensating for a poor opposition

Thank you for Clive William’s insightful article “The great rates rip-off, the debt mountain and how you’re paying for it” (CN June 6). 

Every person voting in October’s ACT election needs to read this along with all back copies of excellent CityNews articles written by Jon Stanhope and Khalid Ahmed. 

CityNews has compensated for a poor opposition, many of whom are, without shame, seeking re-election. Amazing! 

CityNews is our last hope for common sense, thank you for your diligent reporting.

John Lawrence via email

Thank you for getting VAD bill passed

I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne and others who worked with dogged determination to get the Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) legislation over the line. Congratulations!

I am unsure if letter writer John L Smith (CN June 13) has witnessed the pain, debilitation, loss of independence and dignity of someone suffering from a terminal illness. Sadly, I have.

Last year, I witnessed a dear friend succumb to the cruelty of motor neurone disease, which ultimately led to her taking her own life, as there was no effective palliative care (ie she would have starved to death while receiving such “care”). That is simply inhumane.

Two years ago, I watched my father take his last breath after suffering from dementia for several years. During this time, I observed his demeanour change from being a highly intelligent man to figuratively “disappearing” from his former self.

My father’s cognitive function declined to the point his disassociation with reality was almost incomprehensible. It was a dreadful experience for him, and for those who loved him; I could see the fear in his eyes when he was hallucinating and so very confused. My dad would have despised dying in the way he did.

At the end of the day, when the VAD legislation is implemented, it will be about an individual’s choice to end, or not end their life. And while I respect John’s choice to not end his own life if diagnosed with a terminal illness, I would request he respect others’ decisions to embrace VAD.

Janine Haskins, Cook

Trams won’t ‘save the planet’, nor reduce rates

Rail-borne public transport is something I understand, growing up in a tramline city and serving as chief surveyor for a major urban rail project.

Trams don’t suit Canberra’s low density, disbursed residential and workplace commuting patterns. Trams are inherently inflexible. Trams cannot respond quickly or inexpensively to commuter traffic variations. Fixed tram routes serve a limited clientele. Making commuters change modes (bus to tram and vice versa) is shown to deter the use of public transport due to waiting times and inconvenience. Thus door-to-door cars are Canberra’s commuter preference, especially in winter.

For a low-density city like Canberra, trams are a costly luxury. The billion-dollar Gungahlin tram increased rates by more than 40 per cent in three years. It resulted from political pressure to establish a minority government and elevate a power-broker. Trams will never recoup the ACT government’s borrowing costs.

Extending trams to Woden will cost another billion dollars, hiking rates and despoiling Commonwealth Avenue and parts of Civic, one of the world’s few planned, attractive conurbations that works.

Canberra’s low-density environment suits efficient, flexible, economical, low-emission buses, sharing the cost of roads with other vehicles. Trams won’t “save the planet” and definitely don’t reduce the cost of rates.

Anthony Horden, Jamison Centre

Fallen for the government’s two-card trick

Dave Rogers (Letters, CN June 13), is right to question Douglas Mackenzie’s extraordinarily inaccurate claims of up to $8-$10 billion for the Stage 2B tram to Woden. 

Having been cost estimating the stages of light rail for 10 years, I don’t know where Dr Mackenzie gets his $9-$10 billion cost from.

My best estimate for Stage 2 (Civic-Woden) is $4 billion for construction only, and $5.3 billion, including 20 years of operations and maintenance (O&M).

That said, Mr Rogers has fallen for the government’s two-card trick that Stage 1 cost only $675 million, but that was for construction only, whereas the total cost in 2016 was $1.78 billion, including 20 years of O&M (auditor-general’s figure).

Max Flint, co-ordinator, Smart Canberra Transport

Tunnel, bridges and billions more

Further to my letter and those by Tim Walshaw and Dave Rogers (CN June 13), I offer more examples of the madness gripping the increasingly desperate Barr-Rattenbury government.

Having assumed that the Commonwealth Avenue bridge problem has been solved, the government plans to press ahead with Light Rail Stage 2B. 

The 100-year-old Himalayan cedars along the median of Commonwealth Avenue median will be destroyed. This has been indirectly confirmed by the Major Projects Canberra plans for planting trees.

A “cut and cover” tunnel under Commonwealth Avenue to State Circle East has been proposed to solve the engineering problems posed by a tight left-hand bend on the preferred light rail route. The tunnel would carry the rail tracks under the Commonwealth Avenue median on the approach to Parliament House, then up on to the State Circle median.

The rails would then follow the State Circle median until nearing Adelaide Avenue, where it is proposed to cut across the northbound lane of State Circle, across Capital Circle, presumably via a new bridge, another very tight bend, and another new bridge over State Circle; then on to the median of Adelaide Avenue.

There are several other problems, but it is already clear that Stage 2B will cost multi-billions, take many years to build, and cause many months of severe road-traffic disruption.

Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Long time since cyclones were so deadly 

Columnist Robert Macklin (CN May 25) preaches the same tired, old line about how we are supposably experiencing more natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, etcetera. 

There is no real hard scientific evidence to back this up just endless slogans from the left with even former politicians such as Jacinda Ardern and Malcolm Turnbull saying such scientific based statements like: “It is getting hotter”, along with media hysteria that like you to believe that the latest storm is the worst one that has ever happened. 

One check on history will tell you natural disasters have been occurring for millions of centuries and were just as bad then, if not worse, than they are now. 

Our worst cyclone, Mahina, occurred more than 100 years ago resulting in more than 400 deaths and was the worst recorded tropical cyclone in the southern hemisphere; more well known was Cyclone Tracey and that was 50 years ago. Seems like a long time since our cyclones were so deadly. 

Ian Pilsner, Weston

This government has its priorities so wrong

As I walked home from my consulting rooms on a very cold, wet and dark Canberra evening, I was struck with a mix of despair and anger.

I had to pick my way carefully along the street using my phone torch as, yet again, our street lights have been out for the last week.

Our footpaths are bitumen – all lumpy and uneven from our beautiful old oak tree roots.

Meanwhile, the government rangers and hired guns were zeroing their weapons on Red Hill. It was night two of the annual kangaroo slaughter and night one of the killing on Red Hill.

Strathbogie holds the five-year contract for the slaughter. It was originally valued at $880,000, but they romped through that in four years, so I assume that the cost is now well past a million – for killing kangaroos and wallabies. 

Security is, quite frankly, over the top this year. Another not insubstantial cost to taxpayers.

While we can’t even get our street lights to work consistently or the footpaths repaired so our elderly don’t trip and fall, this government has its priorities so wrong.

Dr Gwenda Griffiths, via email

Time for an independent inquiry into roo culling

This whole annual killing of kangaroos and joeys in the dead of these freezing winter nights in Canberra is inhumane, to put it mildly.

The chance of survival of pouch joeys who escape bludgeoning to death when pulled from the pouches of shot females is almost non-existent.

The claim by the government that the so-called cull is carried out at a time of year when there are fewer pouch joeys is not backed up by its own post-killing figures each year. These figures show that at least 60 per cent of females every year were carrying pouch joeys when shot.

Not only that, it is leaving many reserves devoid of almost their entire kangaroo populations. The flawed counting models used by the government to set its kill target is a major contributor to this. And that target never even includes the pouch joeys killed, yet they make up an additional 30 per cent every year of the numbers actually killed.

It is time for a truly independent inquiry into this whole sorry and inherently cruel business and, once and for all, the Canberra public be informed of the true numbers to be killed. And to be told why this is done at such a bitterly cold time of the year, as the current argument in that regard just does not stand up to scrutiny.

Jennifer Macdougall, Farrer 

I’m sick of this government

How can the ACT claim any credibility in animal welfare when Eastern Greys are slaughtered and their joeys bludgeoned to death or left to die in our freezing weather!

I’m sick of this government, let’s move to a clear and compassionate one. For the first time in a very long time l will be voting Liberal, who have promised to bring some brains and compassion to this issue.

Gillian Jewell, Barton



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5 Responses to How the Danes took a stand on wood heaters

Jim says: 18 June 2024 at 9:18 am

I’m no great fan, but in what world is there an expectation that public transport must “recoup the ACT government’s borrowing costs”?

Public transport is just that – a publicly provided service. With the exception of a handful of very large examples around the world (such as the Tube in London), public transport never recovers it costs, and never will. It is a public good, provided as a public service, and is never likely

Do the same people complain about the 150m+ that buses costs in net terms every year?

It should be required to measure up to standard requirements for any major infrastructure project of its like, but that doesn’t include, and never should include, a requirement to be able to pay for itself without some form of subsidy from government.

Palmerston's Lament says: 18 June 2024 at 11:29 am

Yet again the Canberra Kangaroo supporters choose hubris over reality. A careful review this morning has again shown that pouched young are at the self sufficient stage with the next summer season breeders, and the alpha male to female ratio runs at about 1:16, where 1:4 would be better given overall numbers and feed quality.

Occassionaly Intrested says: 18 June 2024 at 12:52 pm

Jim, although a full recoup of costs for public transport services is not a reasonable expectation, there should be attention given to some fair level of ‘cost recovery’. While this may fall well short of the overall expenditure of a service, it should be included as a Key Performance Indicator. I don’t think a ‘black hole’ of funding for any public service expenditure is reasonable with a mindset of ‘no matter how much it costs’.
And yes, I for one do think the cost of the buses in Canberra is obscene – and it should be privatised. With financial help from the Gov., which has oversight and KPI’s to use a big stick if the level of service drops.
The money has to come from somewhere for all this spending – either rates/taxes go up and up and up or other services (e.g. health) continue to decline as they lose funding.

Eric Hunter, Cook says: 23 June 2024 at 2:54 pm

Is there a link between those who decline to put their names to their opinions and those who seldom provide hard evidence to support those opinions?

Occassionaly Intrested says: 24 June 2024 at 4:28 pm

Eric if you are interested – you can have a look at some hard evidence in relation to the ACT buses at the following:
A response by the ACT Gov can be found at:
Some of this goes back to 2015.
And of course our City News has many articles over time that you would know about too.
Not providing a name (having concerns about internet privacy and tracking) – doesn’t mean opinions aren’t based on facts.


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