News location:

Canberra Today 2°/6° | Monday, May 20, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Wood-heat industry feels heat of health impacts

“We are more informed and better educated today about… the harmful health impacts of smoke from wood heaters, despite what the wood-heating industry claims,” says letter writer DARRYL JOHNSTON, of Tuggeranong. 

The wood-heating industry is obviously feeling the heat from the ACT government’s decision to phase out wood heaters in suburban Canberra. 

Write to

It appears to be spending big on newspaper and radio advertising and continuing to push claims that have been repeatedly disproven by environmental and public health experts. 

In 2023, the Medical Journal of Australia published a study that showed smoke from wood heaters was responsible for as many as 63 premature deaths a year in Canberra. 

The recently released 2023 ACT State of the Environment Report says wood heaters are responsible for up to 75 per cent of Canberra’s fine particle PM2.5 air pollution in cooler months, responsible for the majority of total exceedances in air pollution standards and warns smoke from wood heaters impacts public health. 

The wood heating industry’s latest advertising campaign reminds me of big tobacco of old in its relentless push to hook more and more smokers. Among its popular slogans were: “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette,” and “Not one single case of throat irritation due to smoking Camels.” 

We are more informed and better educated today about the serious health impacts from tobacco, just as we now are about the harmful health impacts of smoke from wood heaters despite what the wood-heating industry claims. 

Darryl Johnston, Tuggeranong

Complainants treated poorly over sexual assault

I watched with sadness, the 60 Minutes episode of sexual assault complainants regarding the way they are treated within the criminal justice system.

My heart extends to Emily Campbell-Ross for her courage to speak out about just how poorly complainants are treated in sexual assault matters that culminate in a criminal hearing or trial.

I was previously employed at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions as the Senior Witness Assistant (SWA). My primary role was to support complainants and witnesses in an array of criminal prosecutions.

The job as the SWA was incredibly rewarding albeit stressful, with the real risk of suffering from vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue. And that was just the impact on me. Let’s think about the trauma imposed on complainants in sexual offence matters.

Pray tell, why does the defendant have the right not to provide evidence, which equates to not being cross-examined? Yet, the complainant is subjected to re-telling their traumatic experience, and at times, vigorous and aggressive cross-examination. This simply does not make sense.

Hearing Ms Campbell-Ross state that her experience at the trial was more traumatising than the sexual assault itself, is extremely telling and distressing.

These matters need to be handled differently; with a trauma informed approach.

I fully support Labor MLA Dr Marisa Paterson in her proposal to establish a specialised sexual offences court to reduce the harm sustained by complainants in such matters.

If not, who would be brave enough to report a sexual offence? I know I wouldn’t.

Janine Haskins, Cook

Celebrate governor-general with goodwill

Re Robert Macklin’s column “Sam Who? Time for some vice-regal sunshine” (CN April18).

Samantha Mostyn’s education at Canberra schools and the ANU Faculty of Law followed by a distinguished career in many areas of the law as well as her interests in a diversity of organisations in Australia were widely reported in the press at the time of her appointment as governor-general designate, yet, relying on Google, you summed her up in terms of her “respected lawyer” husband and daughter. Women these days do not depend upon their husband and family for their identity and place in society.

Next, you claimed your interest in her appointment to advertise at length your own latest book about Charles Weston. Interesting as this may be, this and the rest of your article about politics would have been better reserved for another occasion.

Let’s all celebrate the appointment of our next governor-general with goodwill not this niggardly self interest.

Mary Samara-Wickrama, Weston

In war, taking sides is inevitable

In response to several published letters about the war in Israel: it is inevitable that people will take sides. 

While some may consider the conflict a just war, it is how it is being prosecuted that is unjust. Whether it is a deliberate military strategy by Israeli leaders or unintentional, 30,000 civilian casualties is reckless, cruel and morally reprehensible.

More needs to be done by the rest of the world in condemning Israeli leaders. A good start would be for countries to stop selling military weapons and to start imposing sanctions.

Robyn Soxsmith, Kambah

Channel 7’s pack of out-of-control cowboys

Increasingly Seven Network seems to be run by a pack of out-of-control, unethical, “grab what you can while you can” cowboys. 

It is time for chairman Kerry Stokes to put on his running shoes and ensure that a very substantial out-of-court sum is offered to the unfortunate young student who suffered so badly after he was misnamed and promoted by Channel 7 as the Bondi Junction killer (“Social media a ‘scourge’ after Bondi attack: PM”, April 15). 

Seven’s breathless reporters and so-called investigators need to learn to inquire, read and/or listen more carefully – the two surnames started with a ‘C’ but that’s where the similarity ended.

Sue Dyer, Downer

Anything Christian is in the firing line

Sad to see the closure of the Y at Chifley. The YMCA was originally set up by some Christian folk as a youth club where young people could go to “play ball”, or just hang out with others.

Latest statistics indicate that young people are increasingly indulging in hard drugs, only since they were legalised by this government.

This move is similar to the takeover of Calvary Hospital. Anything Christian is in the firing line of this so-called health minister. 

She seems to have a big chip on her shoulder, so it’s up to the people to relieve her of the burden at the next election.

L Saunders, Hughes

Deport migrants who break the law

I strongly support Ric Hingee (“Review migration, we don’t have the infrastructure”, letters, CN April 11), but would like to see the federal government go further and deport migrants and refugees who break our laws with crimes such as murder, rape and drugs, to name a few. 

We have enough criminals of our own without importing more.

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla

We can’t even recycle properly

How can we build electric buses in Canberra when we can’t even recycle properly? How long until our recycling stops going to landfill with the hard rubbish?

Danny Corvini, Turner

October election can’t come soon enough

In their article “Nation’s worst performer with no end in sight” (CN, April 18) Jon Stanhope and Khalid Ahmed show graphically how the ACT’s financial position has declined since 2013-2014, and especially so since 2014-2015. 

I believe it is no coincidence that Andrew Barr was elected Chief Minister and Treasurer in November 2014.

The well-researched and very informative article by Beatrice Bodart-Bailey in the same edition presents a damning analysis of the misguided and excessively politically pragmatic decision for the ACT government to press on, regardless, with the outdated light rail project. Never mind the abysmal benefit cost ratio and the decline of other aspects of this city such as health services, maintenance of roads and public land, and the general appearance of a national capital of which we should all be proud to show to our visitors.

Messrs Stanhope and Ahmed were right to conclude there seems “no end in sight” to this profligate spending of ACT ratepayers’ money. The October 19, 2024 ACT election can’t come soon enough.

Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

When is Labor going to take responsibility?

Columnist Robert Macklin (CN April 11) assumes that the bunch of louts that shouted racist abuse at Eddie Betts’ kids as they played in their backyard are non-Aboriginal. 

Does he have proof or know that the louts were not Aboriginal themselves? 

As with most left-wing writers, Macklin tries to blame Opposition Leader Peter Dutton. When are Labor and their cheerleaders actually going to take responsibility for their own actions?

Ian Pilsner, Weston

Racists are not worth getting stressed about 

I feel for the children of Eddie Betts (The Gadfly, CN April 11). It is not pleasant being the receiver of racist comments. 

When I came to Australia 52 years ago, I got a lot of racist abuse for no apparent reason other than that I was not an “Aussie”. 

It did not bother me at first, but then I just put it down to their bad manners. Now I never get any. 

However, I think Robert Macklin’s comment about valuing Aboriginal Australia against the colonial forces that occupied and transformed the continent to be totally unnecessary. 

It shows that there is some bias on his part against the colonialists. All nationalities, including some Aboriginals, have racists among them. We just have to ignore them because they are not worth getting stressed about or losing any sleep over. 

We are all human, just have differences in many ways. I suggest Betts tells his kids to just ignore them.

Vi Evans, via email

‘Economic and engineering reality’ no one can estimate

In rejecting the need for nuclear energy Eric Hunter (Letters, CN April 18) is assuming that the Australian Energy Market Operator plans to meet the national energy generation requirements at net zero emissions, solely with a wind and solar mix of clean energy generation, will work at the projected cost or even work at all.

The “economic and engineering reality” is that no one can estimate how much it would cost to firm the supply at net zero emissions, without nuclear energy.

Mr Hunter is probably correct that the left would cut off their nose to spite their face by ensuring “a long time before our present laws banning nuclear could be changed”.

He is incorrect that reactors should be located “close to large population areas”. All current large dispatchable energy sources and those proposed are remote from population centres.

John L Smith, Farrer 

Who can be trusted?

In a world of spin and confusion, there’s never been a more important time to support independent journalism in Canberra.

If you trust our work online and want to enforce the power of independent voices, I invite you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support is invested back into our journalism to help keep strong and free.

Become a supporter

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Share this

2 Responses to Wood-heat industry feels heat of health impacts

Jim says: 23 April 2024 at 8:52 am

“Latest statistics indicate that young people are increasingly indulging in hard drugs, only since they were legalised by this government.”

Does L Saunders have any evidence that this has only happened ‘since they were legalised’. That sounds like a fair exaggeration of the likely truth (that there is a longer term trend there) to make a point lacking in any actual supporting empirical evidence. But as with many letter writers to this paper, facts and accuracy are a long line second to the chance to rant.

Curious Canberran says: 23 April 2024 at 8:52 pm

Something about the smell of wood heating fires in Tuggeranong during winter is just so “Canberra” to me.


Leave a Reply

Related Posts


Untangling the legal threads of life and death

Legal columnist HUGH SELBY says a reader, possibly motivated by a personal tragedy, requested an article explaining “assisting” or “inciting” a suicide. He says that while suicide is no longer a crime, assisting or inducing a suicide is.

Follow us on Instagram @canberracitynews