Anyone go MyWay?

The idea of combining buses and taxis to provide services at times of low demand (''Taxi-bus collaboration could solve transport woes'', July 8, p3) is an attractive one, provided the MyWay card can be used for the taxis. But I suspect that by basing the analysis on MyWay data, the proposal may have underestimated the potential demand by ignoring the journeys people would have liked to make but could not because of the poor service. Some of these are suburb to suburb, and would only involve a hub (in my case Civic) if two buses are needed and it's the only place to connect, so the taxi journey may need to be end-to-end, with no bus and no hub.

Two such journeys I would like to make in coming weeks (both on a Saturday) are Ainslie to Curtin, which now requires a 30-minute wait in Civic and takes just over an hour, which is feasible but unattractive, and Ainslie to Fyshwick, where the bus from Ainslie is scheduled to arrive just as the Fyshwick bus leaves, meaning an hour's wait and a total journey time of an hour and three quarters, definitely not a goer. Getting home again is equally problematic (the Curtin trip is to an evening function). In both cases, since I don't drive I am reluctantly trying to cadge lifts from friends.

David Walker, Ainslie

N-power will come

H. Ronald (Letters, July 7) has missed the boat on nuclear power. Sure, nuclear is the answer, I believe, to meeting our need for energy production in the long term. It won't come from nuclear fission, however; too many have been scare-mongered to allow this politically. I believe nuclear fission works well for the countries that use it, but even they are starting to submit to world responses because of the (very few) catastrophes that have damaged public and political opinion.

Nuclear fusion is the answer - huge power, ongoing, no fuel supply issues, and, unlike nuclear fission, no environmental issues. The power is well established, but not yet the control. Wait for it - it will come, but perhaps not in my lifetime.


Greg Jackson, Kambah

Transport is a service

Simon Corbell is mistaken in trying to justify the Gungahlin tramline on economic grounds, when it so obviously will be neither profitable nor economic. He should be trying to justify it on social grounds - that it's the role of government to provide, or subsidise, community services. And one of those is public transport - I doubt there would be any public transport service in the world that's profitable or not subsidised by government.

And having argued that, Mr Corbell should then go on to demonstrate to the public (if he can) that a tramway would involve less subsidisation than extending the existing Gungahlin bus service.

R.S. Gilbert, Braddon

The ACT government seems to be spending a lot on promoting the light rail project, a price it had to pay to secure Greens support and win office at the last election. I think many Canberrans would rather see some of the money spent on tackling the substantive issues raised in the Nairn report. Ratepayers will not be happy to fund continuing losses and the burden of massive debt if all they get to see for it is empty carriages trundling to and from Gungahlin most of the day.

Robin Eckermann, Campbell

Dog of an idea

I walked the length of Haig Park and back again today, giving my dogs an off-lead walk. This is probably one of the last times I will be able to do this legally. The poorly advertised changes from off-lead to on-lead dog-walking in Canberra and ACT parks will make us the most unfriendly location for man's best friend in Australia and probably the world. The changes reduce off-lead walking parks to practically nil, there being only one designated pocket-sized area in Ainslie, which inappropriately contains a scout hall and today hosted the mediaeval warriors. Proposed areas in Turner/O'Connor/Lyneham are inappropriate as they are sports parks. Strangely, Lake Burley Griffin is off-lead in its entirety. The ACT government has only eight discussions programmed, of which four have already been held, the remaining four will be in late July, and final comments are required by August 1. I wonder how many people attended these sessions considering the lack of advertising - I certainly missed the first four.

During my walk in Haig Park, I met and spoke with several other dog owners, and my dogs met some new pals. The dog walkers outnumbered those exercising or sitting at tables by two or three to one. The largest number of people I saw were those crossing the park to reach Civic, or returning, and their use of the park probably took less than five minutes. My observation is that dog owners walking their dogs are the major users of Haig Park, and this is probably replicated across Canberra.

Why are dog owners being discriminated against by the ACT government when we use parks the most? Does the government have designs on the parks by trying to get rid of users, then selling the land to developers because ''Canberrans don't use their parks''?

John Ramsay, Ainslie

Miscarriage of justice

I share the concerns of R.S. Gilbert (Letters, June 26) about the functioning of our ACT legal system, particularly the legislation under which the David Eastman Inquiry is being conducted.

I sat in the Federal Court on June 23 as three Supreme Court judges questioned how it was possible to act in accordance with the legislation. It asks them to use only Justice Martin's tabled inquiry report to make their final determination. They said they couldn't, and allowed submissions by affected parties.

So now the DPP and the AFP can have another crack at preventing the Supreme Court judges from upholding the miscarriage of justice recommendation of the Martin Report. Both have been part of the Eastman Inquiry since day one. They argued their case for the conviction to be upheld, only to have Justice Martin find: ''To allow such a miscarriage of justice to stand uncorrected would be contrary to the fundamental principles that guide the administration of justice in Australia and would bring the administration of justice into disrepute'' (p2, Report of the Board of Inquiry).

Next week they intend to rehash the arguments before the full bench. Surely they can see what Justice Martin has seen? This is a situation not of David Eastman's making. The cost and time lie at the door of the DPP and the AFP, who squirm through every loophole to avoid responsibility for a miscarriage of justice that resulted in a man being locked up for 19 years.

Chris Harris, Kambah

Reaction to Harris pains grim picture

It seems to me that Rolf Harris is the victim of something disturbingly like a mediaeval witch-hunt.

Such is the almost hysterical atmosphere surrounding the whole subject of child abuse that an accusation is enough to prove guilt. A well-known rock star famously remarked that he and his mates treated available teeny-boppers ''like tissues''.

Can we be so sure they were all over the age of consent? Have he or any of his associates ever been investigated? That wasn't just groping, either.

Harris' putative crimes are hardly at the worst end of the spectrum. I can think of far worse offences committed by celebrated poets, writers, film directors and politicians, Australian and otherwise, whose memories the intellectuals revere.

As each new edition of the Soviet encyclopaedia came out, the comrades who had been shot since the last one were airbrushed out of smiling group photographs. Now we are painting over Rolf's murals and hiding his paintings. What's next? Book burning?

Dr Alan N. Cowan, Yarralumla

Money well spent

Geoff Thomson (Letters, July 8) is right to be concerned about health and housing, however, I was impressed to read in the Canberra Times of Andrew Barr's $165 million sporting legacy.

Much of this money has been spent on quality sporting infrastructure that invests in community wellbeing and health. Funds have also brought long-overdue sporting fixtures to Canberra that boost our economy and provide opportunities for elite sports competitors to engage with local clubs, schools and media, providing inspiration and motivation to local talent. The funding over eight years seems a proud and forward-looking legacy given the demands on the territory budget.

Michael Lee, Amaroo

Coalition's veil of secrecy on asylum seekers unacceptable

Ben Doherty (''Abetz hits out over 'disappear' claims'', July 7, p5) quotes minister Eric Abetz as saying ''We don't disappear asylum seekers''.

The government's retreat behind a cloak of opacity by refusing to comment on ''operational matters'' is not good enough. Australians have a right to know how their government is implementing its policies in their name.

One might recall how our great and powerful friend George W. Bush flatly stated that ''the United States does not torture''. As we have seen, he was not to be taken at his word. How can we be confident that the Abbott government, one that came to power on a raft of deceptive assurances, is not concealing practices that may later be found to be dishonourable? We, and those dutiful public servants called upon to implement these policies, are entitled to independent verification of our government's assertions.

Peter Grabosky, Forrest

Monday's letters dripped with compassion. But let reality temper our compassion! Some 20 million people around the world want to live elsewhere. Sri Lankans stuck in southern India say ''we can't get good jobs or a good education''. Even if they tell a good story about persecution, most ''refugees'' are looking to self-improvement due to war or a dysfunctional government at home - about which they do nothing. They should get off their bottoms.

Where then to look? The secret is out: Australia is the world's El Dorado. But our carrying capacity is limited - poor soil, erratic rainfall. Two-thirds of Australia is semi-arid or arid. Most life exists in a few reasonably well-watered strips around the coastline.

Bleeding hearts from affluent suburbs might explain how their grandchildren will enjoy living on a few cents a day with little to eat, water shortages, and infrastructure under such strain that everything will break down completely - if their admirably compassionate desires are satisfied and we throw open the gates. If we don't regulate it, our trickle will be a flood.

Ned Ovolny, Duffy

Refugee language barrier

Aristotle said in any debate you should first define your terms, so after apparently being one of the ''guys'' slightingly referred to as ''bigots'' by Jacqueline Maley (''Some freedoms are more equal than others'' Forum, July 4, p2) I got out my Australian Oxford Dictionary. In it, a bigot is defined as ''an obstinate and intolerant believer in a religion, political theory, etc.'' Well, hello kindly Pope Frank and his employees and fervent supporters.

It dawned on me that someone nobody likes - Cardinal Pell for instance - is obviously bigoted. However, loveable Pope Frank is merely a firm believer in certain religious beliefs and dogma. So the question whether someone is a bigot depends on whether you like them or not. Such as your circle of friends is intelligent and your enemies are cunning. Or someone arriving in Australia in a fishing boat can either be an ''illegal immigrant'' or an ''asylum seeker'', a situation where lawyers argue the first is legally incorrect and the sympathetic bandy the second around to pluck at our heartstrings before there is the slightest evidence of persecution.

Debate using loaded language can be difficult - the dictionary definition above would not carry the flavour of ''bigotry'' if it substituted ''firm'' for ''obstinate'' - but when it comes to asylum seekers, perhaps we could more objectivelyrefer to them as ''unsolicited migrants'', admittedly a bit of a mouthful, but 20 years ago a significant proportion of them, having torn up their passports, were shown in separateinterviews to have trouble remembering their names and those of close relatives.

Bill Deane, Chapman

Substance over spin

Stephen Mills (''Stick to a winning strategy'', Times2, July 7, p1) suggested that governments should continue to use campaign directors as ''central players'' for the ''whole life of the government'', or as I see it, government by spin doctor. The trouble this government has in ''selling'' its budget is surely due less to the salesmanship than to the substance.

When voters can read details of policy proposals, and can assess the effect of them, no amount of spinning can turn black into white. Campaign directors would seem to me to less use in the long term than good policy analysts, research and consultation with the community.

Jennifer Bradley, McKellar

Violent policy backfire

In a letter that suggests his moral compass is in urgent need of recalibration, Athol Morris (Letters, July 8) has stated he supports the recent decision of the Israeli government to revive the policy of punitive home demolitions on the basis that ''it's hard to see a better way for Israel to deter'' Palestinian terrorists.

It would seem Mr Morris is unaware that the policy was abandoned in 2005 following the findings of a commission of inquiry which concluded that, not only was it doubtful it was having the desired effect of deterring others from engaging in criminal activity, but the policy may have been counterproductive.

Justin McCarthy, Chapman

Education in Islam

With all due respect to L. Christie (Letters, July 8), if you're going to criticise a religion and its adherents you should at least get your basic terminology right. The deity to whom Christie refers as ''Islam'' is known by his followers as, variously, Jehova, Jesus or Allah, depending on brand preference. The followers of Islam are known as Muslims and they refer to this deity as ''Allah''. (He has several other titles including ''Holy Ghost'', ''I am that I am'' and ''He Who Must Not be Named'', but one need not go overboard.)

I propose, in order to be respectfully inclusive of his followers and to avoid confusion with other gods (a generic term, not a title), that this particular one henceforth be referred to as JehovaJesusAllah, listed in order of their invention.

Fred Pilcher, Kaleen



Handing asylum seekers fleeing torture in Sri Lanka over to the Criminal Investigation Division is comparable to handing Jews fleeing the Holocaust over to the SS. Has this government no conscience, no humanity?

Mark Hartmann, Hawker

I thought that those who abducted people on the high seas were called pirates.

Adrian Gibbs, Yarralumla

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop raised Australia's concerns about human rights abuses when visiting Burma. What did President Sein think when being lectured on human rights issues considering Australia's current disgraceful record on the human rights of asylum seekers, the disappeared and others? Perhaps Ms Bishop and her government should practice what it preaches.

C. Lathbury, Fadden


Was the dinner given by our Chief Minister Katy Gallagher to celebrate Ramadan paid for out of the public purse (''A capital Ramadan'', July 4, p3)? If so, why is Ramadan the only religious feast celebrated in this way, and at what cost to the ACT taxpayer?

A. Cooper, Wanniassa

As I live in Canberra with a supposed inclusive non-discriminatory, secular government, I presume I have missed hearing about the Chief Minister's hosted dinners for Hindus, Anglicans, Buddhists, United Church, Catholics, Mormons, Jews etc at their special times, showing respect for their religions. Perhaps they were held but were not given such prominence in The Canberra Times?

S. Lee, Macgregor


I must congratulate David Pope on his superb reading of the current political climate. He has certainly ruffled the feathers of the ultra-conservative commentariat. Rest assured, Greg O'Regan (Letters, July 8), that he would be just as scathing of the opposition if they were as morally corrupt as the government we are now dealing with.

Rick Godfrey, Lyneham


When I read about the poor accommodation for public servants and the need for improvement (''PS office building back on agenda'', Editorial, Times2, July 8, p2) I think about the facilities many of our teachers in public schools work in. When will they have the same standards in their workplaces as already provided to the people who determine what staff facilities are appropriate for our teachers?

Steve Thomas, Yarralumla

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