Comment

Canberra international flights will bring big opportunities as well as travellers

Congratulations to the ACT government and Canberra Airport in securing international flights with Singapore Airlines to Canberra in 2016.

This may well be the most significant boost to Canberra's future since our inception. All of a sudden, we are on the world map with a massive market of holidaymakers and business people feeding into the Singapore hub from China and Asia. These future travellers will have exciting options to fly direct to Canberra to see our beautiful city and its stunning environment. No doubt those that are nimble-footed in the Canberra business community will recognise this opportunity and the benefits will flow through to our community.

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On a personal note, and as a very frequent flyer, the thought of getting on an aircraft in Singapore and getting off in Canberra is pure bliss. No more will we be herded into Kingsford Smith Airport along with scores of arriving aircraft offloading their passengers to be greeted by immigration queues and general chaos.

No more will we be asked to make that agonising transfer to the domestic terminal and the last leg to Canberra. Instead, we will arrive home, fresh as daisies, off the only international aircraft on the tarmac, to be greeting by smiling officials, friends and family.

Ross Goddard, Farrer

Nothing to celebrate

The first Australia Day will occur when Australia is free from the shackles of the British monarchy with our own Australian head of state. It will be when our Indigenous peoples are recognised in the constitution, when the gulags of Manus and Nauru are closed and when the Australian Parliament protects, rather than exploits, the human rights of asylum seekers. It will occur when anti-Muslim xenophobia disappears and the wide-ranging views and opinions of all who live in this multicultural society are respected. In the meantime, an equally acceptable day for the celebration of Australia is November 6. On that day, in 1931, Indigenous fast bowler Eddie Gilbert dismissed Don Bradman for a duck.

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Peter Crossing, Curtin

Release the report

The Lister Veitch report on the light-rail traffic and patronage, which cost the ACT taxpayer $120,000, and was referred to in the so-called economic section of the LRT business case, is still not available, despite the fact it is the fundamental basis for the LRT patronage, the effect on road congestion, the amount of rolling stock required and the travel times to be expected from LRT.

Previous reports such as the 2012 Infrastructure Australia LRT submission and the 2004 Haliburton KBR report, which was the most comprehensive report on mass transit for Canberra, are available – why not the Lister Veitch report?

Is it because it agrees with these previous reports that Gungahlin is the wrong place to start the mass transport network and that LRT is not the best mode? Or is it because the report did not confirm the ACT government's previous patronage statements?

Bob Nairn, Hawker

Traffic hazard

Each weekend in the warmer months, I am impressed to see the huge number of Canberrans using the excellent Mount Taylor nature reserve walking trails in Kambah. The number of parked cars on the dirt strip adjacent to the Mannheim Street and Sulwood Drive intersection can be counted in the dozens on a nice day.

Far less impressive is the dangerous way that many of these trail users leave the busy road to reach their parking spots. On three occasions already this summer, I have had to come to a halt behind a car all but stopped on this 80km/h single-lane, blind crested road so they can give way before veering across unbroken double lines in order to get their car parked close to the walking trail gate.

The ACT government cannot afford to wait until a tragedy occurs to act. This dangerous and illegal manoeuvre will eventually result in a horrific accident. Fining people, or better yet, educating them with signs and police at the makeshift car park would be a good start.

Adam Nightingale, Kambah

First Boat Day?

Although I live in Western Australia, I enjoy reading your paper online most days – interesting cover of news from all over the world that one doesn't have to search for among endless pages of advertisements as in print news. Well done!

The items about Australia Day on January 22 got me thinking: if that name is not acceptable, perhaps it could be called "First Boat Day", which would then link the past with the present — our Indigenous friends thankfully didn't have a "turn back the boats" policy or detention centres, for the country of origin provided the latter.

If we are to retain the present appellation for January 26, surely it would be more accurate to celebrate it on the day that this country became a Commonwealth, for we were really only a collection of colonies and states until 1901.

1788 was not a good year for either the original Aussies or the transported Brits, so why commemorate it? But then, upon reflection, "First Boat Day" may not be the best choice, for how did the very first arrivals get here anyway?

Ted Doncaster, Balga, WA

Hitting the high road

I am not as worried as Gerard Ryan (Letters, January 23) regarding positive drugs tests by drivers. Firstly, the number of tests carried out was minuscule compared with the number of breath tests. Thus, 15per cent of not many is not a large number.

Secondly, the swab test reveals the mere presence of drugs in one's system and does not test for impairment to operate a motor vehicle.

Juha Turunen, Queanbeyan, NSW

Awards a joke

While the Australian of the Year Awards mob inundate us with ads, I feel quite sour about the whole exercise.

I, like thousands of other people around Australia, nominated Professor Gillian Triggs. The council did not even put her name on the list of finalists. Why not? It makes a nonsense of the whole awards process. I would like an answer, but I am not holding my breath.

The award organisers have devalued them to a laughing stock.

Dr Kristine Klugman, president, Civil Liberties Australia, Fisher

We must tackle the real problem

Keeping a low profile and practically invisible on the sidelines of the ongoing "one punch" political stoush about who intends imposing the most draconian penalties, brewers, distillers, club and pub proprietors and their lobbying coterie must be chortling in glee at their, so far, Teflon-like ability to escape all opprobrium ("Hanson takes on 'coward' hit thugs", January 22, p1).

The veneer of projected political legislative toughness, huff and puff, to reactively impose harsh penalties rather than proactively eliminate the all-night swilling, from which both the inebriated perpetrators and victims emerge in the wee small hours, is an exercise in do nothing, procrastination. It is beyond time "policy makers" acted on behalf of real citizens rather than their rent-seeking masters.

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan

Prevention better way

So Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson ("Hanson takes on coward hit thugs", January 22, p1) believes the community wants tougher penalties for "coward's punch" attacks. However, rather than punishing offenders, wouldn't a better policy aim to prevent these attacks?

I recommend an ABC Four Corners program Hidden Harm. It highlights a mental condition known as FASD (Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) that conservatively affects 500,000 people in Australia. Apparently these people are incurably brain damaged before birth and whilst seeming normal in many respects can have severe social and behavioural problems.

The program and internet articles report that violent behaviour is a common symptom of FASD but "Remember that most of the time the child cannot control his/her behaviour. Even when actions seem deliberate or manipulative, this is really the nature of FASD, a process of brain dysfunction."

There seems to be significant evidence that FASD could at least be a factor for some violent attacks but that a punitive response in these cases will be ineffective and indeed unfair for the perpetrator if they are mentally incapable of understanding or controlling their behaviour. A better policy should try to identify those suffering from FASD (and, of course, emphasise not drinking while pregnant) and attempt to manage their condition through medication and support programs in an attempt to prevent future violent attacks.

Geoff Clarke, Holder

Look at liquor laws

Jailing someone for up to 25 years for unintentionally killing another in an unprovoked attack would in itself, be a cowardly act ("Hanson takes on 'coward' hit thugs", January 22, p1). The individuals guilty of such attacks do have a problem and part of that may be a tendency towards violence. But it seems that virtually every incident we read about is underpinned with excessive amounts of alcohol/drugs. There seems to be a strong correlation between drunken men behaving badly and "king" hits.

Hanson is identifying the "soft" option as an improbable way to deter such anti-social behaviour. He would have greater credibility if he targeted current liquor laws including trading hours, individual limits and so on. Of course the liquor lobby would disagree because the number of incidents isn't really huge (90 deaths between 2000 and 2013). But the clubs and pubs continue to serve drunken individuals and t an evening can turn tragic. Does it warrant 25 years' imprisonment or would the suspension of a club's/pub's liquor licence for a few months be more effective?

W. Book, Hackett

Silence on Flight MH17

The father of a young American who died on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 is pressing US Secretary of State John Kerry to release evidence to support his early claims that the US government possessed details about the launch of the missile that killed 298 people, He made these claims on July 20-, 2014 on TV. Not a word since with 38 Australian families also still waiting for an answer from the US.

Rex Williams, Ainslie

I'll choose when to die

Eric French (Letters, January 22) is right. We should respect other people's views and not argue against them with disparagement. It doesn't help to prove a case. At the same time, I agree with much of what Edwina Barton said about rational suicide (Letters, January 13). I can't take all the pain medication I need during daytime because I wouldn't be able to drive my husband (who can no longer drive) or myself. I don't want any "religious" groups to force their beliefs on me. I don't believe we have to suffer to achieve salvation. I will choose when it's time to die in a quick, peaceful manner, and expect other people to respect my decision too.

Susan MacDougall, Scullin

Day of mourning

Over the years as Australia Day is celebrated , my thoughts go to the Indigenous Australians and understand why many of them could consider this to be a day of mourning.

The dispossession of their lands and the bitter conflict they faced as they were forced into settlements, reserves and missions and with their children removed to be brought up as "whites" while their Indigenous family and culture was considered detrimental to their welfare , affected generations.

Assimilation policies and the racist White Australia policy denied Indigenous people their rightful place in the developing Australian society. However, due to the combined efforts of Indigenous leaders, and community activists , 250,000 people marched over the Sydney Harbour Bridge in May, 2000 to say "sorry". This strong public action expressed the sentiments of the great majority of people who voted in the 1967 referendum to count, for the first time, Indigenous people in the Australian population.

Such public support for Indigenous Australians was also shown by the widespread response to the heartfelt Apology to the Stolen Generations.

However, there is still a lot of unfinished business to be undertaken by all, and a treaty is one of the many issues to be resolved.

Keith McEwan, Bonython

Poll raises questions

Most would accept that a boxing match organised between a man with two arms and a man with none is more concerned with satisfying our need for spectacle than it is with evidencing the former's skill in the "manly art" ("Malcolm Turnbull extends huge lead over Bill Shorten in first poll for 2016", January 23).

On that basis, perhaps we should ask ourselves if Bill Shorten's shortcoming really makes Malcolm Turnbull a better leader or just a poor first choice?

John Richardson, Wallagoot

Airport route would improve light rail

Most reports and letters indicate the Barr government has got the light rail project terribly wrong. The "service" from Gungahlin down a torn-apart Northbourne Avenue excludes the majority of ACT taxpayers and visitors. It's too costly and is stupid.

Had it been that the project went from the airport via Russell to Civic and then on to Parliament House and the parliamentary triangle and back to the airport, it would have significantly greater acceptance as being somewhat more practical and meaningful. Most residents in the ACT, as well as visitors, might then make some good use of such a service.

A follow-up second light rail line could then perhaps be planned and scheduled (with more likely universal acceptance) to run from Civic to Belconnen. Locals, like visitors, could make use of such a transport service. Then at least there would be two light rail lines that would be seen as being sensible and inclusive, surely plans more palatable for our consumption and likely to succeed. The present plans will see the Labor government out of office. The only problem then remaining would be to unravel the mess created by a government that was ill-advised and acted in undue haste.

P. Button, Cook

Barr hoo-ha

The first news story on ABC TV news Canberra on Friday, January 22, was an interview with Andrew Barr.

I attempted to switch between channels but each time I switched back, there was Andrew Barr still droning on about his ministerial reshuffle.

This was, in effect, disgraceful unpaid coverage by ABC TV Canberra for the Chief Minister in an election year.

To rank a reshuffle of the ACT government's ministers ahead of every other piece of national and international news this day suggests the ABC should reconsider its news priorities or terminate its ACT version of the nightly news.

John Mellors, Mawson

TO THE POINT

CHANGE OF CODES

With his stamina, and other attributes, Nick Kyrgios should join the Essendon AFL team, which is in need of players. He would work well with tagger Ryan Crowley.

John Milne, Chapman

TREADING A FINE LINE

What a pleasure to watch some of the Australian Open tennis. I am thankful other players don't carry on like a "Pork Chop" as Mr "Curious" does. One day an umpire will default him for obnoxious behaviour – the sooner the better.

Brian Hale, Wanniassa

COSTLY ABUSE

It seems there are going to be so many abuse cases against Defence, that it might bankrupt the nation it is supposed to defend.

Richard Keys, Ainslie

MIXED MESSAGE

President Francois Hollande and Julie Gayet, "take pleasure out of playing 'hide and seek' with paparazzi" ("Francois Hollande 'too traumatised' by ex-lover to make Julie Gayet First Lady", January 23). I'm not sure if this means they take pleasure in doing this or the way they do it takes the pleasure out of it.

Michael McCarthy, Deakin

HIRSUTE CONCEALMENT

It seems shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has decided to grow a beard. My mother told me men with beards were hiding something, which is not good for transparency in politics.

Peter Baskett, Murrumbateman, NSW

WHINGE SELF-SERVING

I'm sorry to say H. Ronald's suggestion for an Australia Day medallion for the most vacuous, pathetic and hysterical whinge (Letters, January 22) seems to be self-serving, as he would be nominated for such an award and end up a mile in front.

G. Spence, Bruce

DIDDUMS WARNE

Stop press: Shane Warne complains about sledging!

Richard Manderson, Narrabundah

TAILOR MADE FOR TONY

At last, a suitable job for Tony Abbott, president of Australia, or will the title be Captain Australia?

C. Johnston, Duffy

ROUGHER JUSTICE

Jeremy Hanson wants perpetrators of one-punch attacks causing death to get 25 years' jail. Does this mean that someone whose victim dies from head injuries caused by hitting the pavement after a single blow gets a heavier punishment than someone who beats his or her victim to a pulp with multiple blows?

David Stephens, Bruce

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