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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

We deserve to know why CEO did what she did

“Having paid someone more than $700,000 over two years while not carrying out any specified duties, the public deserves some direct and honest enlightenment instead of just being told about a well-timed retreat from the public payroll,” says letter writer SUE DYER, of Downer. 

Calling it “a good process”, the chief minister has tried to sign away on stage one of the ACT Integrity Commission’s lengthy investigation into and reporting on the expensive and corruptly managed injection of “transformational” gobbledy-gook into the heads of many CIT staff. 

Write to editor@citynews.com.au

Certainly the time taken would not have been helped by the commission having to wade through the many inept responses offered to it by the highly paid people called to participate in the inquiry. 

However, it was not good to learn a little earlier that the former CIT CEO was allowed to clear out a day before the initial report was made public. Why could she not have been recalled to active duty to at least front the public via the Assembly’s estimates or some other special hearings process? 

Or encouraged to make some other form of public presentation of explanation that would fill in gaps about why she did what she did and for so long, whether her high-level executive team were keen converts to the cause or head-nodding lemmings, and what she believed was actually being achieved from this particular stream of contract expenditure. 

Despite the cost and questionable content of the numerous “transformational change and thinking” contracts, CIT annual reports only mentioned them briefly and vaguely. 

Having paid someone more than $700,000 over two years while not carrying out any specified duties, the public deserves some direct and honest enlightenment instead of just being told about a well-timed retreat from the public payroll.

If this former CEO does not offer plain English explanations, then many might draw their own conclusions about motivating factors and influences that repressed intelligent and transparent leadership.

How many more ACT government financial decision-making and monitoring processes, internal and external to CIT, still require much more attention and explanation so that from now on, they too can be confidently relied upon as “good” ones for the territory ? 

Sue Dyer, Downer 

Unfolding budget wreck becomes more evident

Jon Stanhope and Khalid Ahmed’s article (“Barr tops his baker’s dozen of failed budgets”, CN July 4) should at the very least concern Canberrans, and will more likely raise alarm.

An unfolding budget wreck is more and more evident as time goes on.

If the Greens/Labor ACT government is voted in again later this year, what will happen with the mega-expensive tram project to Woden if a Coalition government is subsequently voted in at federal level?

With an “only too willing to help” Minister for Finance in Katy Gallagher replaced by a more reluctant minister, the ACT could well be between a rock and a hard place. Not to mention ACT ratepayers.

Murray May, Cook 

I was right about electric fire trucks

In early November, in CityNews, I expressed my concerns about the purchase by the Emergency Services Agency of a number of electric fire trucks, each costing twice as much as one normal one.

I said that there was no indication that a cost/benefit analysis had been done and that, in the event of a bushfire, I would prefer two normal firetrucks rather than one electric, especially as the environmental benefits of putting out a fire in half the time would far outweigh the benefit of going electric.

I was criticised for my stance by Braidwood mushroom farmer Peter Marshall. At least CityNews recognised a problem, which our other local paper didn’t when I first raised it with them. 

Considering the article on the front page of the Canberra Times (July 1), perhaps Mr Marshall would be inclined to offer an apology as the auditor-general has the same concerns as me and the new electric fire truck is still sitting unused since May 2023. 

It’s another example of how the Barr/Rattenbury government, along with the ESA, are wasting taxpayers’ money. 

This government needs to go before we are all driven into bankruptcy. Perhaps the rusted-on Labor/Green voters could look for a suitable independent to support if they cannot stomach voting for the Liberal Party.

In any event, we badly need a balance-of-power situation to “keep the bastards honest”.

Ric Hingee, Duffy

Closure of the racecourse would be devastating

The ACT Greens’ proposal to shut down thoroughbred horse racing in the ACT is a misguided approach that echoes their detrimental decision to end greyhound racing, which resulted in significant job losses, reduced revenue and limited entertainment options for ratepayers. 

Horse racing is not merely a sport; it is an integral part of our cultural heritage and an economic driver, providing employment for hundreds of individuals, from trainers and jockeys to support staff and local businesses.

The closure of Thoroughbred Park would devastate our community, stripping away a source of enjoyment and tradition for many, while also causing financial harm. The revenue generated by horse racing supports vital community projects and services, contributing to the overall well-being of the ACT.

The Greens’ policies, driven by extreme views on animal welfare, fail to recognize the stringent regulations and continuous improvements within the horse racing industry aimed at ensuring animal safety and welfare. Instead of outright bans, a more balanced approach that promotes animal welfare through regulation and oversight would be far more effective.

By opposing the closure of thoroughbred racing, we stand not only for the preservation of jobs and economic stability but also for the protection of our cultural and recreational heritage. It’s time to find common ground that values both animal welfare and the significant contributions of the horse racing industry to our community.

Errol Good, Macgregor

On a bumpy road overstating the word ‘acronym’

Words and their meanings do change, though mostly because we’re too lazy to find out if there’s an existing alternative that fits better. 

Somewhat contradictorily, we also believe that what we learned growing up was the right way (no matter which older generation it was). 

Clive Williams (CN June 27), eloquent though he is, has taken us down a bumpy road by overstating the word “acronym”. 

It once meant helping make our understanding easier by identifying a simple, everyday word from the initials of a longer phrase or title. “MAD”, derived from “Mutually Assured Destruction”, was a very apt example during the cold-war. Or you can do it in reverse. 

Take a common, easily remembered word, then contrive a title whose initials made up the word. Thus, a few years later, “SALT” became “Strategic Arms Limitations Talks”. This process became known as a “backronym”.

But it’s still lazy days. Now, a group of initials that don’t necessarily form a word, are nevertheless also called “acronyms”. Clive instances “ATM” as one, but fails to mention the grammatical definition for this variation is actually “initialism” – more precise and descriptive than “acronym”. Grammatical change isn’t the end of the world, but it is significant if it detracts from the precise communication expected of professional writers – for instance, with the seemingly lost, but important difference between “regime” and “regimen”. 

Sorry to be a pedant folks but it’s in my deoxyribonucleic acid (initialised of course).

Eric Hunter, Cook

Efficient acronyms can also be excluding

Clive Williams (CN, 27 June) rightly hints at the problematic use of acronyms. While acronyms provide efficient shorthand when used within a work domain or subcultural group, they can be excluding when communicated to people outside those groups. 

Indeed, arcane acronyms are often used to demonstrate that the speaker is part of an “in-group”. Unfortunately, many public servants feel compelled to use acronyms when writing to the public, when it would be more courteous to use fully expanded terms each time. Readers should not be forced to undertake an internet search to decode acronyms.

As a pedantic aside, most sources define acronyms as abbreviations which can also be pronounced phonetically as a word (e.g. TAFE and Laser). In contrast, abbreviations of terms where the letters are spelled out orally are initialisms (e.g. FBI and ATM).

Jonathan Miller, Curtin

There are acronyms and initialisms

Clive Williams suggests that “many find acronyms annoying” (CN June 27).

I am a big fan of acronyms. But I do find it irritating when people don’t know the difference between acronyms and initialisms, or when they lazily merge the two and call them all acronyms. 

An acronym is formed when the initial letter or groups of letters or sounds for two or more words are then pronounced as a word. So SCUBA is an acronym as are NATO, ANZAC, and NASA. 

If you pronounce the individual letters, like MRI, USA, or HTTP, it’s an initialism rather than an acronym. Make sure you know your PIN (acronym) before you step up to the ATM (initialism).

And, for the record, Wi-Fi doesn’t mean “wireless fidelity” so is not an acronym at all.

Jimmy Yonder, Duffy

Failing to recognise the virtues of Trump

Robert Macklin pins his far-left colours in his column criticising former and future US president Donald Trump (“Why we all can’t get enough of Donald Trump”, CN June 27), including fat shaming and other physical characteristics, yet nothing about current President Joe Biden’s vacant stare, open-gate mouth and unsteady gait. 

He fails to recognise that Trump was the only world leader to broker peace deals with Middle-Eastern Arab countries, lower the jobless rate and increase manufacturing in the US during his only term as president. He also kept the illegal immigrants out of the country, which has now been flooded with them in record numbers under the hapless Biden. 

When elected, all the far-left critics predicted Trump would start a world war, but no new wars were started, yet under Biden we have had the Russia/Ukraine and Israel/Palestine wars escalate to massive proportions. 

Does Macklin really think that Biden, after the presidential debate, is really capable of running a country rather than Trump? Or is he like the other left-leaning media outlets that have hidden Biden’s physical and mental decline from all to see for years only to act surprised now, like it’s just a recent thing? 

Ian Pilsner, Weston

No capacity for uranium enrichment

I refer to the article “Dutton’s nuclear build to cost up to $600 billion” (citynews.com.au, June 23) and the letter from Sue Dyer (CN July 4).

Of the seven sites identified by Peter Dutton, only one – Port Augusta in SA – could possibly provide the 1,800,000 litres per minute of water needed to cool a reactor core and prevent catastrophic meltdown. 

Mr Dutton has revealed that multiple reactors will be built on some, if not all, sites, multiplying the water problem accordingly.

The CSIRO, organisations such as the Australian Energy Council and the Australian Energy Market Operator, and numerous energy experts have concluded that nuclear power is technically, economically and legally infeasible for Australia. 

There is no capacity for uranium enrichment, and both state and federal governments prohibit the use of nuclear power. Nuclear power plants take 15 to 20 years, cost $9 to $12 billion to build, and have an average useful lifespan of 32 years.

In contrast, solar panels, either in solar farms and on rooftops, receive their energy from the giant nuclear fusion reactor at the centre of our planetary system, as alluded to by Richard Johnston (letters, CN July 4). The sun’s energy is free to use, and will be “online” for about another five billion years.

We must now devise the most efficient and cost-effective means of capturing, using and storing the sun’s energy. This quest has made great progress in recent years; but is really just beginning.

Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Tram payments roll on for 20 years

I refer to the letter by Dave Rogers (CN July 4) about light rail operating costs (CN July 4) commenting on my letter of June 20. 

First, he did not clearly state the $675 million for Stage 1 was the capital cost but, rather, he said the total cost of Stage 1 was $675 million. 

The rest of his letter ignores the fact that the contract was for $1.78 billion (auditor-general’s figure), which included capital cost and 20 years of operations and maintenance costs (O&M). 

The ACT government paid $350 million upon commissioning in April 2019, with the balance of capital and O&M cost paid in annual instalments over the next 20 years. 

Although the contract itself has never been made public (ostensibly for confidentiality reasons), such contracts normally provide, within reason, for escalation of cost components over the course of the contract. 

But we do not know for sure what the contract says, given the endemic propensity of the government not to disclose light rail costs or contract terms and conditions.

Max Flint, co-ordinator, Smart Canberra Transport

Tram route that will save the trees

Why not save the trees on Commonwealth Avenue outside Albert Hall (the nicest part of Canberra if you ask me) and hook the light rail left into King Edward Terrace instead, taking tourists to the National Library, Questacon, the Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery and the Old Parliament House, before turning right on to Kings Ave and then State Circle? 

Danny Corvini, Turner

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2 Responses to We deserve to know why CEO did what she did

Jim says: 9 July 2024 at 8:51 am

Horse racing is a minor employer in the grand scheme of the Territory, and its sale would not ‘devastate our community’ in any particular way. It is a relatively niche pursuit in the Territory – and while of course some would be impacted, to suggest it has any significance from an economic perspective is frankly laughable.

I have never supported a ban on the activity, but some forward thinking, proactive thought from the race club could see them actually have a far brighter future away from Thoroughbred Park. In an age where attendance at the track is effectively negligible outside of a couple of days a year, a central location is hardly required. Merge with the Queanbeyan track, build a Capital Country club, and a combined entity would likely be well in front – with greater numbers of race meetings possible (perhaps even weekly). A new site for a track could be at the current Queanbeyan track, or they could hit up the government for a significant contribution to a new facility from the proceeds of development of Thoroughbred Park on a greenfield site in the region.

The greens are loonies, and banning the activity is nonsense. But the idea to move away from Thoroughbred Park is not nearly as stupid as it seems.

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