Anguish over Elouera

As the grandmother of an extremely mentally disabled 26-year-old woman who is a client of Elouera Adult Respite Centre, I have to say how distressed I was to hear the news of its closure (''Respite closure distresses carers, disabled'', September 25, p7). Adding to the distress was the fact that the parents/careers of these clients were not informed until the decision had been made.

It is obvious that those who made this decision have absolutely no idea what it is like to cope with a family member who has a disability, regardless of the severity. In my granddaughter's case, she needs 24/7 care; she cannot speak, therefore cannot advise on the care she would prefer; she cannot feed herself, other than with finger food; she is totally incontinent and is extremely physically active.

Change in these people's lives is very hard for them to cope with. They need time to adjust to new faces and environments.

To say Elouera is under-utilised is ridiculous. Yes, there have been occasions when there were more empty beds than optimum, but that would possibly have been due more to the presence of a disruptive client than the lack of desire of the parents/careers.

There are enormous pressures and challenges which have to be faced on a daily basis when caring for these special people. If the decision-makers walked in the shoes of the parents/carers for 24 hours, they would think more than twice about taking away the chance of respite.

Lynda Whittard, Bruce


Save our farms

Over the past few days we have been driving through King and Tulare counties in southern California, admiring their hundreds of square kilometres of crops. We've seen everything from lush green citrus groves to olive groves to vineyards to orchards bearing stone fruits, pomegranates and so on. While many of the orchards and vineyards were clearly well established, many developments are very new. All this while our farmers in the Goulburn Valley and elsewhere are ripping out their orchards. And now, according to The Canberra Times (''Fears foreign giants buying up level playing fields'', September 25, p1) , what is left of our farm is being sold off. As my American friends would say, ''Go figure.''

Ian Pearson, Barton

Merkel in tune

It is hardly surprising that Angela Merkel, the incumbent German Chancellor, has been elected to serve a third term (''Stunning vote of confidence in Merkel'', September 24, p7).

The German voters happen to be in perfect tune with the philosophy of a leader who views a nation's economy to be directly related to its spending within its means.

Indeed, if other European leaders had the courage to adopt Germany's formula, their country would not be relying on regular handouts from Dr Merkel.

Perhaps the late Margaret Thatcher was right when she said that a woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.

Sam Nona, Burradoo, NSW

Dangers to heritage

Canberra's heritage is in real danger. There is a consistent disregard for any heritage places (buildings, ovals, parks, etc) that stand in the way of redevelopment.

Various mechanisms are being considered to prevent such places and buildings being heritage-registered.

These mechanisms range from removing the right of objection once decisions against registration have been made to giving the minister the powers to call in heritage-registered items.

These last nails in the heritage coffin were presented in the explanatory statement of the Heritage Legislation Amendment Bill (2013) as measures to make the registration process more ''transparent''.

The ACT government, in its desperation to fill its coffers, constantly and surreptitiously changes legislation to enable demolition of heritage buildings to free up space for redevelopment.

If St Patrick's church in Braddon were not deregistered by ACAT, it would have been a good contender for deregistration under the proposed call-in powers of the minister.

If the bill is passed, its dire implications will only be realised in the future only when it will be too late to salvage any heritage buildings.

Lydia Frommer, architect, Lyons

Prostate fear defused

The report ''New test could cut prostate infection'' (September 25, p3) suggests that men who aren't offered a relatively new method of biopsy, not currently available in all Australian hospitals, are at risk of serious infection or death.

This is a serious exaggeration and I am concerned it may unnecessarily alarm or deter men from having a biopsy to confirm whether they have a potentially life-threatening cancer.

While the transperineal biopsy method offers some advantages, men should be reassured their health is not seriously compromised by lack of access to the relatively new technique.

While there is a 1 per cent to 2 per cent infection rate from transrectal biopsies, this rate is reduced by the use of antibiotics at the time of the procedure, and by giving special, precautionary antibiotics to men who have travelled to south-east Asia, making them at increased risk of infection from a ''superbug''.

The risk of dying from a biopsy is extremely rare - less than 0.1 per cent. Men are significantly more likely to die from prostate cancer than die, or even have a serious infection, from a biopsy, and the risk should be weighed up accordingly.

Professor Mark Frydenberg, vice-president, Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand

Spithill for Wallabies

Aussie James Spithill skippers a crew to win the America's Cup against the seemingly unbeatable Kiwis in one of the greatest sporting comebacks.

The Wallabies should immediately send a delegation to San Francisco to engage him for the next Bledisloe Cup.

John Bell, Heidelberg Heights, Vic

Global disaster is under way while leadership does nothing

The 10-nation research group on Norway's Spitsbergen has found that Greenland's ice sheet has recently been melting by 200 gigatonnes a year - a loss rate which is four times that of a decade ago. Greenland's ice sheet is three kilometres deep, which - if melted - would provide enough water to raise the global sea level by seven metres.

If the Antarctic ice also melts, the global sea level could rise by a further 57 metres (due to both melting and to the high volume of warmed water). Adding these two figures tallies with National Geographic's recent estimate our warming planet could have the sea level rise by 64 metres. If this happens, then: Florida will disappear underwater; China may undertake engineering to try to save her threatened northern-eastern province; and Australia's coastal cities (along with London and New York) will be inundated. Hopefully, all this will take a lot of time. But it is now under way. What is lacking is early leadership in the face of this slowly evolving global disaster.

Cameron Burgess, Yarralumla

Overblown rhetoric

There is an almost mediaeval zeal about Mathew Higgins' view on climate change (''Coalition policy cold comfort as winter wanes'', Times2, September 26, p4).

Leave aside the fact that it is highly contestable whether it is climate change or just climate variability that has produced some of the unusual (for the incredibly short period of our climate records) weather events in recent years, including the poor snow season Higgins refers to. If as Higgins says, we should maintain the carbon tax and presumably the ETS, what material affect will that have on the climate?

Higgins knows it will not make the slightest difference, not one handful of snow, and it is nonsense to infer it would.

The world would need to virtually shut down its CO2 emissions creating power consumption to have any hope of addressing global warming as predicted, and on present form this is highly unlikely.

I have lost count of the number of tipping points (the point beyond which nothing can be done to stop global warming) that have come and gone, so perhaps there is some hope that we have got it wrong.

However, in the unhappy event that our scientists are proven correct, perhaps we should be looking at smarter ways of adapting to climate change while we search for better answers. For a start, how about moving on from utterly pointless gestures and overblown rhetoric.

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Nuclear-powered view

Lesley Kemeny (''The PM needs real experts'', Times2, September 23, p4) writes persuasively in support of nuclear power for Australia, but he will need to make a better case to disarm the critics and doubters who fall into two camps: (a) large electrical power companies doing very nicely burning fossil fuels, and (b) the public memory of nuclear disasters, one very recent and ongoing.

Each of the latter needs a short explanatory history (how and why it happened) and how it can be prevented in future.

In addition, we need to know how much steady power, megawatts not megawatt hours or megajoules, is needed for the electrolytic refinement of our greatest asset, metals, viz, aluminium, copper of "conductor quality", zinc et al, presently supplied by large, coal-fired power stations and a hydro.

Strongly in favour of ''nuclear'' is the absence of coal and ash handling plant. Nor is there need for coastal siting when "dry" cooling towers can be used, thus shortening supply lines and reducing transmission losses.

Can "renewables", some of intermittent, weather-dependant capacity, fill the bill?

Colin P. Glover, Canberra city

In defence of defences

I seem to find myself the public relations officer for the criminal justice system, in order to correct misinformation by the likes of Patrick Jones (Letters, September 25).

He cites the very ethical Stuart Littlemore QC in apparently saying that it is a matter for pride by defence counsel to have a guilty person acquitted. I bet he didn't say that. As any criminal lawyer knows, our knowledge of the facts in the case come solely from the client's instructions.

The lawyer was not present at the scene of the crime and cannot actually know anything about what happened. In my own cases I don't even ponder the question of guilt as it is so irrelevant to the job I have to do. In the rare circumstance that a client admits guilt to the lawyer but wants to plead not guilty, the lawyer is extremely limited in the way the case is run. The bar rules forbid the running of a defence such as alibi or suggesting another person was the true culprit.

The defence is limited to obliging the Crown to prove their case - so technical points could be taken involving matters such as appropriate testing of blood samples for DNA or fingerprints or proving identification. A defence lawyer is obliged to withdraw from the case if the client insists on a prohibited defence being used.

Jennifer Saunders, Canberra Civic

Tenants misrepresented

The photograph of Stuart Flats attached to the article ''Public housing 'should be kept for needy''' (, September 25) misrepresents the situation of tenants who live there or in any other ACT government flat, unit or townhouse because tenants in these types of dwellings are excluded from all ACT government home purchase schemes. Tenants living in these types of dwellings who receive an eviction notice on the basis of their income will not be able to negotiate the purchase of their home, even if they want to buy it.

Jeannine Hedley, ''middle-class'' public housing tenant, Narrabundah

Turn up the heat on dining amid the din

Finally someone dares to point out the (loud) elephant in the (dining) room. Byan Martin (''Quiet achiever delivers'', Food &Wine, September 25, p7) acknowledges that most trendy restaurants have noise levels which make any pleasant conversation with your dinner partners an impossibility. Perhaps it focuses the diner's attention on the food and makes them eat rapidly and get out fast, which could be a hidden agenda … I would encourage everybody to let their chosen restaurant know about noise levels that are too high.

Even though my experience is a ''Thanks for the feedback we'll keep it in mind'', I believe in the weight of numbers and maybe at the next fit-out these comments will be remembered. Perhaps a paradigm shift is on the menu.

Silke Smaglinski, Campbell

War over memorials

The spurious arguments of the Memorial(s) Development Committee have been demolished many times and Clive Badelow (letters, September 24) knows this. The main point is that Dr Brendan Nelson was reflecting the view of the Australian War Memorial Council, which on August 9, 2012, advised the National Capital Authority, ''As the purpose of the MDC memorials is to commemorate the service and sacrifice of Australians in the First and Second World Wars, there is duplication with themes and subject matter covered by the Australian War Memorial.'' The council was responding to a question from the NCA: ''Does the MDC's commemorative purpose duplicate the theme or subject matter of the Australian War Memorial?'' In asking this question, the NCA of 2012 was applying its Guidelines for Commemorative Works in the National Capital, guidelines which the NCA of 2005-07 had set aside in its rush to facilitate the MDC.

Recent advice from the NCA to the forum confirms that the MDC's site reservation runs out on December 31, after which date the MDC would have to start the process again under full community consultation arrangements. Crucially, ''the NCA would not take this proposal to the CNMC without AWM's support''. The AWM's support is conspicuously lacking. The rival war memorials scheme is, in the words of John Cleese, a dead parrot.

David Stephens, Lake War Memorials Forum, Bruce



A United States team has won the America's Cup using an Australian skipper and a non-American crew. Where was the boat built? China?

Alan Blake, Duffy


David Blake (Letters, September 26) suggests that, ''Scientific research in Australia and worldwide would be more useful if it were concentrated on how to deal with man-made pollution rather on inevitable future climate changes.'' Good thinking that far, but I fear that the most convenient way to deal with future climate changes would soon be found to be increasing man-made pollution.

Ken Brewer, Belconnen


Jenny Stewart (''Abbott sailing in rough seas'', Canberra Times, September 24, p1), and I couldn't agree more. Could there be anything sadder than the actions of a Palestinian leadership that has elected to perpetuate its refugee problem rather than accept the principle of reasonable compromise and sign one of the several serious offers Israel has made for the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem since 2000?

Justin Said, Coogee, NSW


Now that the federal government has decided to stop talking about the boats, perhaps the ACT government can decide to stop talking about light rail. Give us a break, it's not the most important issue facing the ratepayers of the territory.

David Pederson, O'Connor


Pssst! Heard about the new silent movie about boat people titled ''Behind the Iron Curtain''?

P.R. Earle, Torrens


In a previous, unpublished, letter I warned about the dangers of property price increases due largely to the SMSF entering the speculative property market. Now it's the RBA saying it (''Reserve warns DIY super may set new property debt trap'', canberra, September 26).

John Rodriguez, Florey


Roads ACT's proposals for further so-called ''traffic calming measures'' in Holt are apparently going to proceed, despite 60 per cent of responses to a Roads ACT survey opposing these measures. Why?

Well, the answer, says Roads ACT, is that opposing the proposals was not an option in the survey. So much for democracy! If the Holt experiences is anything to go by, all Canberra residents need to be aware.

Phillip Harris, Holt

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