Bike highway a good idea but missed opportunity | The Canberra Times

Catrina P. Smith

comment, letters to the editor, canberra times

A great idea to employ people during the 2020 pandemic created the Belconnen bike highway which links the main centres of Belconnen with bike-only separated cycle ways. However, the beginning of the network starts on the 80 kilometre an hour Coulter Drive, one of the scariest places to cycle in Canberra due to the high speed traffic and chronic debris on the bike lane which has no physical separation from automobiles. After taking an inconvenient trip with my four-year-old son to find the entrance, we finally found it unused and similar to a ghost road. This is obvious when you tour the entrance section of the bike highway. My expectation that the beginning of the bike highway would start at Florey Shops, a convenient park and ride location. There is a huge missed opportunity to link Florey, Latham, Scullin and Page to this great cycle infrastructure project and actually get it used. Would you pay over $8000 for a service that takes over four years to complete? That’s the problem facing me and thousands of other Australians who played by the governments rules and applied for a prospective marriage visa (PMV). My partner and I applied in August not knowing the extent of the uphill battle ahead. PMV applicants are the most disadvantaged by this government’s partnership visa debacle. We pay at least $1285 more than any other partner visa applicant and wait twice as long to get our permanent partner visa once in Australia. That’s up to a two-year wait for a PMV visa and another two or more years for an onshore partner visa. These broken systems have been further affected by the ongoing pandemic. Now with COVID-19 restrictions we have been told our partners aren’t even considered immediate family and as such are not eligible to come to Australia. Despite the government bending over backwards to welcome sports teams, actors, students and business people. Australian citizens and their families are being left out in the cold. Because of the biased, broken and inefficient partner visa system and COVID-19 exemption process, many Australian citizens are forced to travel to less safe parts of the world to be reunited with their partners. No Australian citizen should be treated like this. We love who we love, and we should not be punished because of it. When will the government fix these problems and reunite binational couples? Ray Edmondson’s suggestion that parliamentary inquiries are cynical box-ticking exercises is accurate (Letters, January 1) Another example is the parliamentary inquiry on 5G which reported in March 2020. Substitute Communications Minister Paul Fletcher for Environment Minister Sussan Ley in Ray’s letter and change the topic to 5G and the letter reads well. For example, a quote from the above letter states that “[He] did not acknowledge that the submissions were overwhelmingly opposed to the project, nor explain why such cogent and detailed opposition had made no difference to the government’s intentions.” Whether it is the Australian War Memorial extension or the industry driven 5G tech juggernaut, these inquiries end up being government propaganda exercises, using the mantle of “government inquiry” to justify questionable government policies. I must correct Russ Morison (Letters, January 1). Canberrans did not vote “overwhelmingly for light rail” at the last election, nor for any other individual item of the mixed bag. They voted for a Labor party victory, perhaps persuaded by one issue or another, but more likely because they did not like the insipid offer by the other major party. Prohibition doesn’t work. It never has. It would be better if the government treated all recreational drugs as they do alcohol and nicotine. Content, distribution and revenue all managed. In an instant drug cartels become redundant, the population of prisons will halve (at least), court time is time freed up, police resources redirected to other areas and revenue generated to address health and education issues. The war on drugs hasn’t worked. A new approach is needed, not sticking our heads in the sand and continue with what has failed for decades. Just to be clear, I’ve never used illicit drugs. Len Goodman took the federal Opposition to task on energy policy and for a lack of bipartisanship on climate policy (Letters, December 28). He’s correct on the first but misguided on the second. Bipartisanship was destroyed by the LNP in 2007. He was well off the mark, however, when he referred to the ACT as having the country’s highest energy prices and attributing that to Territory policies to promote renewable energy use. Goodman let himself down on ACT electricity prices when he took the Canberra Times article of December 21 at face value (“ACT bills to rise despite nationwide fall”, p3). If he had read the Australian Energy Market Commission’s report he could see that ACT electricity customers in 2019-20 and 2020-21 pay less than consumers in Victoria, NSW and South Australia in terms of cents a kilowatt hour for their electricity. The forecast price is still predicted to be less than in those jurisdictions (other than Victoria) in 2022-23. To the extent that there was a story in Australian Energy Market Commission’s recent report on electricity price trends it is the high retail component in the price of electricity in the ACT. In that regard, the ACT is not helped by Snowy Hydro’s failure to operate its RED Energy retail business in the ACT. The Commonwealth could address this by directing Snowy Hydro to operate its retail business in the ACT, just as it is requiring it to build a gas fired generator in the Hunter Valley. While a time machine does not exist for us to go back to the past to change our actions, it is incredibly disappointing to learn that Australia could have had an Emissions Trading Scheme way back in 2000 (“Don’t tie govt’s hands on climate change, agencies told”, January 1, p6). Profit margin was chosen over protecting our environment, but at what cost? This is extreme short-sightedness and has been highlighted in the Deloitte Access Economics’ report in November 2020, which estimated the Australian economy would lose more than $3 trillion over the next 50 years if climate change was not addressed. Farming, manufacturing, mining and tourism businesses were reported to be most badly affected, with an estimated 880,000 job losses unless global warming is restrained to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. We have had 20 years of climate paralysis at the federal level. It is time to end the climate wars, and to start acting on the national interest of all Australians. Time to formulate climate policies that will get us to net zero emissions soonest possible. Whist you acknowledge there was no shortage of deaths in 2020, including those as a result of the pandemic, nearly all of the 1.8 million were not world famous (“The people we farewelled in 2020”, January 2, p21). They were ordinary people of the world, yet they were special. Their deaths leave a void in the lives of families, friends, work colleagues, team members and the community of which they were apart. They weren’t celebrities, however, their lives need to be celebrated. How much more do your readers have to endure from habitual letter writer Douglas Mackenzie of Deakin and his continual harping on climate change, the latest being in the letters page of January 2? I think by now we have all well and truly got the picture that it is a subject dear to his heart. Yes, it is a problem, but please give us a break from this constant barrage. Perhaps instead of writing about it he should do something constructive – like try for election to a position of influence in parliament, as he seems to have all the answers. Were it not for returning travellers and an unavoidably leaky hotel quarantine system, Australia would in all probability have eliminated local transmission of the coronavirus by mid June 2020. Now that there are multiple vaccines approved and available, why isn’t the Australian government insisting that anyone wanting to return home from overseas first get inoculated? Yes, we’d have to have vaccine available at our embassies and high commissions, along with pre-transit tests. But wouldn’t that be a lot more effective – and cost effective – than the current ongoing whack-a-mole arrangements? More Australians could come home sooner and at a lower cost and lower risk to themselves and the rest of us.


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