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Canberra Today 3°/9° | Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Lee teases developers with money for nothing 

“Elizabeth Lee’s right that there should be an inquiry into the currently opaque LVC system. But rather than telegraphing the outcome being that these charges be removed, the LVC assessments should become publicly available,” says letter writer IAN HUBBARD.

Presenting to the ACT Property Council, Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee read the room by almost promising to gift them something they have wanted forever.

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That’s the removal of the lease variation charge (LVC). Standing ovation. Lee committed to undertaking an inquiry into the LVC system.

An LVC arises when land’s allowable use is changed. For example, by changing the land use from broad-acre agricultural to high-density residential, the government increases the use value of the land significantly. 

The ACT government captures this value increase as revenue after the land has been sold and rezoned. On large development sites rezoning can result in multi-million dollar value increases. LVCs raise about $27 million a year (after discounts).

Like seagulls on a chip, developers have always tried to pocket this value increase. Remember the numerous corruption inquiries based on the collusion and secret rezoning of land? 

The recent rezoning of RZ1 and RZ2 produced an estimated 20 per cent increase in property prices. 

Developers unhappy with this windfall wanted more and received a 25 per cent LVC discount, if they built a dual occupancy. These zone changes and discounts hope to produce a greater supply of housing, meet demand, lower prices and produce housing that’s affordable. It’s too slow and doesn’t work.

Lee’s right that there should be an inquiry into the currently opaque LVC system. But rather than telegraphing the outcome being that these charges be removed, the LVC assessments should become publicly available.

A potential option could be capturing 100 per cent of the land value increase. Then use it to discount new land prices by 25 per cent for owner occupiers, producing house and land packages that are more affordable. 

Revenue from LVCs could also be used to fund more public housing, the most affordable housing, rather than lining the pockets of developers.

Ian Hubbard, via email

Drop tram, wake up to what’s possible

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart is envious of the new Christchurch stadium. I feel sorry for you and your fans, Ricky. 

The ACT government has put so much of our money into the light rail network – $1.8 billion for Stage 1, about $1.6 billion Stage 2A and likely $4 billion for Stage 2B. You would think this was the only project worth pursuing and Canberrans are asleep to the possibilities.

The current Civic to Woden bus route works magnificently – probably the best route in Canberra. It would be really easy to replace the diesel buses with emission-free electric ones, delivery in 12 months. 

Instead, we wait until 2033 for the emissions miracle to occur.

If Minister Steel must have a tram, there are electric, tram-shaped buses that can carry up to 250 passengers. 

The government’s proposed new trams will likely not increase patronage markedly; and a dogleg route through the Parliamentary Triangle is more likely to drive patrons away.

Drop 2A and 2B from the shopping list, and there’s a lot of change to get a new stadium with a roof and a convention centre, and the rest can be used to replace our diesel buses. 

Ah, but I forgot, we have a huge budget black hole and we shouldn’t be doing any major projects of this magnitude at all.

Wake up, Canberra. This has got to change.

Russ Morison, Theodore 

Libs need a vision for the future

At present, I could hardly contemplate yet another term of the Barr-Rattenbury government, but cannot see an attractive and viable alternative. 

As Andrew Hughes asks “Can the Liberals get momentum under Lee?” (CN March 28). The answer to that curly question is far from straightforward. To put it simply: not without a vision for the future. 

The Liberals need to do more than criticise, find fault or pick arguments: they must demonstrate that they can govern the ACT more efficiently, and much more openly than the Labor/Greens do. They must show that they have longer-term plans of how the Canberra of the 2040s – and the 2050s – will function and appeal to the eye.

The Liberals could do well to begin with cancelling light rail stage 2B and investing in 21st century mass-transport technology, such as trackless trams with flexible rather than fixed routes. 

They could also begin on the now-enormous task of restoring Canberra to a neat and tidy national capital that will not only attract more tourists, but attract favourable comments rather than the criticisms I often hear.

Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Hundreds of claims of Israeli war crimes

It was John Howard who said that “truth is never disposable in national political life.” 

For that reason, it is important to correct the misinformation in Paul Myers’ letter (CN March 21) that Israel is doing all it can to protect civilian lives.

Under Israeli law, all IDF personnel have complete immunity from any actions that they take in uniform. Any Israeli soldier can commit an atrocity on an enemy combatant or civilian without fear of prosecution. 

Before the Gaza war, Jewish civil rights groups challenged this legislation in the Supreme Court of Israel but lost.

Like German civilians in the Holocaust, most Israelis know this. That is why two escaping hostages stripped to the waist, wrote a sign in Hebrew and held their hands up. They were gunned down anyway.

There are hundreds of claims of war crimes. One of the more serious relates to the Shadia Abu Ghazal school on December 13. 

Suspected Hamas militants captured there were taken off in their underwear for questioning. There are allegations that women, children and babies sheltering with them were then herded into one school room and killed with small-arms fire. The Israeli government promised an investigation, but nothing eventuated.

In the age of social media, phone clips are posted on social media of the desecration of mosques and prayer mats and the deliberate burning of food and children’s toys. 

Israel once had an armed force the equal of any in the world. It has become an ill-disciplined rabble, where what constitutes a war crime is determined by the individual soldier or squad-level commander.

The state of Israel is in no danger of collapse. It alone has nuclear weapons, able to assure the mutual destruction of any or all of its Arab neighbours.

Noel Baxendell, Holt

In the wrong place at the wrong time

I thank Paul Myers, of Karabar (Letters CN, March 21) and others of his ilk for enlightening me about the validity of Israel’s actions in Gaza. 

I am now completely comfortable with the IDF bombing the bejesus out of homes, hospitals and schools and killing the elderly and women and children who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They only had themselves to blame. 

Dallas Stow, O’Connor 

Sick of unresponsive, dismissive government

This government must be out of its mind if they think they can get away with declaring kangaroos as invasive species in the latest State of the Environment Report. 

Canberrans are sick to death of this undemocratic, unresponsive and dismissive government. 

With political parties, such as the Animal Justice Party, the Belco Party, some independents and the Liberal Party all against killing kangaroos, this is now a political issue. 

The Labor/Greens coalition’s time in power is up. We are fed up with the dishonesty from Andrew Barr, Shane Rattenbury and Rebecca Vassarotti about kangaroos. 

Canberrans want and demand vegetated overpasses around our nature reserves to allow our precious wildlife to move around safely.

Robyn Soxsmith, Kambah

Kangaroos classed as ‘invasive species’!

On reading the State of the Environment Report 2023 I was shocked to learn that Eastern Grey Kangaroos are classed as an invasive species. It is safe to say the people who made that call are indeed, without a doubt, invasive species and have wrought utter destruction on much of Australia’s iconic wildlife and natural processes in this region.

These people continue to neglect and mismanage the spread of invasive weeds (that must be removed under legislation) left to seed and spread year after year. This has contributed to a serious loss of biodiversity of local flora and fauna in our surrounding nature reserves.

Add to that the impending risk of fire in these reserves due to a massive buildup of dried grasses through lack of grazing. We are now paying contractors to mow and placing cattle to graze to mitigate the risk of fire. 

Not to mention another six species have been added to the endangered list. Surely, we should expect people tasked with protecting our environment to perform at a higher level than what is currently occurring.

Anton Lindner, Farrer 

More persecution than just the culls

The ACT government’s persecution of the kangaroos is not limited to the annual cull which sees hundreds of healthy kangaroos and joeys killed in a brutal and terrifying manner. 

The persecution is ongoing, and impacts on the health and well being of kangaroos in Canberra every day. 

Few Canberrans would realise that the ACT government enacted legislation in 2017 that effectively deems kangaroos as pests. Bizarrely, they are referred to as an “invasive species” in the directorate’s reports.

Wildlife carers in Canberra are not allowed to treat and rehabilitate injured or sick kangaroos. They are euthanised by gunshot, or in the case of joeys, hit on the head with a wooden mallet. 

The government chooses to undertake the killing of kangaroos at night, in the middle of winter, knowing that any joeys that lose their mothers are doomed to die of starvation, thirst, exposure or stress. 

The Greens/Labor government’s abhorrent, callous and cruel treatment of our national icon is a disgrace. 

This year Canberrans have the opportunity to reject the government’s ongoing persecution and mistreatment of kangaroos and joeys. Thankfully, there are plenty of candidates who feel that kangaroos have a right to live their lives in peace, free from government-funded massacres. 

Rebecca Marks, Palmerston

Losing liberty is a punishment within itself

I thank Russ Morison (CN March 21) for his letter re the shortcomings of Canberra’s prison, the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC).

Russ validated the concerns of what, I assume, many members of the Canberra community feel; although I am aware there remains an attitude of “lock them up and throw away the key” for those who are not cognisant that detainees have lost their liberty after being convicted of committing criminal offences. Losing one’s liberty is a punishment within itself.

As Russ mentioned, low-risk detainees should be afforded work experience with local businesses. The outcomes could be twofold, if not more; the development of skills, the opportunity to earn an income, and most importantly, a positive assimilation back to community.

Disappointingly, I can only assume that the “throw-away-the-key” people have not had a loved one incarcerated and not observed the way they are treated, ie limited opportunities for rehabilitation, programs, education and industry at the AMC.

Janine Haskins, Cook

The concerned citizens are still here

Re John Lawrence’s letter (“Where have concerned citizens’ gone?”, CN March 21).

I don’t agree that Aboriginals are repressed, excluded and not all are disadvantaged. There are a lot of Aboriginals that have made a success of their lives. They are in politics, sport, medical, entertainment, broadcasters and education at universities. 

Percentage wise there are more Aboriginal people in parliament than non-Aboriginals.

The concerned citizens are still here. It is of concern to most Australians of what many Aboriginals have to contend with. But the referendum was not the answer and the way it was promoted was most of the reason it was defeated. 

However there is no reason things cannot change. It just needs politicians, the 3000 Aboriginal corporations and the NIAA to organise themselves to do something. 

Vi Evans via email

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One Response to Lee teases developers with money for nothing 

Palmerston's Observational Lament says: 2 April 2024 at 6:20 am

I see the KAK at again. Would they like to comment on the current phase of kangaroo life cycle, where the majority of alpha males have been kicked out of the mob and left to die stressed and alone?


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