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Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: A plea for public housing

It was chilling to read of the lack of affordable housing available for minimum-wage families ("Lack of affordable housing crushing families", May 27, pp. 2 — 3).

Yet on 24 May, Chief Minister Barr announced the ACT Government has $38 million to fund Stage 2, the Foreshore with infill at West Basin. More than a third of the Foreshore infill will be the site of the first row of the elite private apartment development and their access road.

The intention is to start Stage 2 immediately after Floriade this year, with major construction to start early in 2018. Of course the bridging of Parkes Way, supposedly to give access to the Building Estate, requires hundreds of millions of dollars. It is easy to conclude that the current ACT Government intends to sell building sites before the next Territory election and well before any bridging of Parkes Way happens.

The West Basin Development insults the excellent planning by the Griffins and the visionary development under Prime Minister Menzies, who each set out a perimeter of parkland around the lake. Most people do not want our parkland filled with apartments with million-dollar views. Stop selling our prime lake parkland Mr Barr, and use that $38million to reduce public housing stress.

Anne Emerson-Elliott, Theodore

Car still dominant

If the NCA's "Kings and Commonwealth Avenues Draft Design Strategy" is to be taken seriously, there is a need for detailed mathematical modelling of the impact on traffic flow and car travel times of the proposed lower speed limits, and the elimination of the cloverleaf/slipway intersections and their replacement with rectangular intersections controlled by traffic lights.

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Canberra is a spread out city with a relatively small population for its size, and it's clear that in my lifetime the light rail system, cycling and walking won't (for most people) be a feasible alternative to getting around by car.

For better or worse, Kings and Commonwealth Avenues are the major thoroughfares carrying car traffic between the inner north and the inner south, and on the face of it, the changes look likely to create traffic delays and jams at peak hours, to the great annoyance and inconvenience of many.

Since the relative absence of traffic jams has always been one of the benefits of living in Canberra, it would seem grossly irresponsible to make changes which could jeopardise that without the most careful and scientific analysis of the impact of the changes.

 So let's hear from the NCA. Has the modelling been done? If so, what does it show? If not, why not?

Michael Maley, Queanbeyan, NSW

Emerging technologies

When Karen Wright ("Have your say, but let planners do their job", May 26, p29) writes "we are in a new era of planning for Canberra: one of revitalising town centres that were built around the dominance of the car" she seems to imply that the car will not remain dominant.

Last week the leading national bodies in road transport (Austroads and the National Transport Commission) published the "Guidelines for Trials of Automated Vehicles in Australia". The chairmen of these organisations wrote: "Automated vehicles are set to fundamentally change the way we look at transport and our society at large".

One would hope that the planners that Karen Wright represents heed this advice.

It has already been demonstrated that public transport can be based on automated vehicles ("Could self-drive cars be the death knell for city's light rail". May 4, p2) and Andrew Barr has acknowledged the possibilities ("Face-tracking tech on trial in driverless cars" May 19, p10).

To plan to revitalise the Woden town centre around a tram line and so underestimate the impact of (emerging) technology would be completely irresponsible.

John L Smith, Farrer

Start with the land

Kevin Cox's letter (letters, May 28) on affordable housing had good elements in it.

He left out the one essential; you must start with affordable land.

Since 1995 successive Labor Governments have kept our economy in the black by restricting the supply of land and selling it by auction far above its value.

The solution is to supply adequate land and sell it over the counter for a reasonable price.

This will not happen under either of the two major parties.

My suggestion is at the next election vote independent. They could be better but definitely could not be worse than the dodos who control our finances at the moment.

Howard Carew, Isaacs

By the case

So, Finance Minister Cormann re-assures us ("Feds admit lack of policy work", p1, CT 26 May) that his department is preparing a "template business case for relocations" (no, don't laugh — this is serious!) which ministers will have to use to justify why their departments and agencies should remain in Canberra, or Sydney or Melbourne.

This will not apply restrospectively to the APVMA move to Armidale, which was an "election promise" (by whom to whom and for what reason(s) one might reasonably ask).

One can just imagine the ghostly hand of Sir Humphrey assisting in this preparation – to produce a "template business case" which will allow ministers (and their secretaries) to mount compelling cases against any moves of anyone away from Canberra (or Sydney or Melbourne).

"Of course, Humphrey, our department will have to remain here in Canberra, to administer and coordinate this whole exercise."

"Yes, Minister!"

Paul E Bowler, Holder

One Nation faces dilemma of which way to jump on Uluru treaty call

It will be most interesting to see the reaction of One Nation to the call from the meeting at Uluru for a treaty between white Australia and the original inhabitants of the continent, Tasmania and the Torres Strait islands.

The easy, predictable thing for James Ashby – sorry, Pauline Hanson – to do is to shout the whole thing down.

You know, just as happened with the Makarrata  idea in the lead-up to the 1988 Bicentenary.

Or, One Nation could embrace the idea of a treaty, because it would be a once-and-for-all solution to all the problems of land rights and everything else. It would not only set a level below which Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders could no longer be pushed, it would also bring an end to the special claims which they can make.

After all, the sinking of the Makarrata  was closely followed by the Mabo and Wik cases, and One Nation is dead keen to avoid any more surprises of their kind.

It will also be interesting to see how the likes of Barnaby Joyce will react to this new call for a treaty. Will they do what National Party hystericals did last time? Or will they take the longer, more considered and more ruthless view?

G. T. W. Agnew, Coopers Plains, Qld

Keep Queen out of it

There has been talk of linking the calls for recognition by Indigenous people to a republic, with some saying that we break away, and Australia becomes a republic, then we no longer become a subject of England, of the monarchy.

The Australian Monarchist League would like to point out that Australia is totally independent of the United Kingdom and that the Queen, as Queen of Australia, acts only in accordance with the Australian constitution and on the advice of her Australian government.

 Republicans often talk about being "free of England", which is a furphy because we became an independent nation making our own decisions in 1901.

 The monarchy has always been supportive of the Indigenous people of Australia as can be seen by their many visits to Aboriginal centres and we would warn republicans not to use the issue of Indigenous recognition to bolster their own failing support amongst the people.

Philip Benwell, national chair, Australian Monarchist League, Sydney, NSW

Point scoring

Fifty  years ago, I conducted my first This Day Tonight interview, one that set the Liberal government off with a vitriolic attack on the ABC's "bias".

Cleary nothing has changed with Peter Dutton's call for a "purge of the ABC". He's happy with the removal of Yassmin Abdel-Magied but says Tony Jones should be next.

While Dutton's demands are predictable, there is a germ of reason in his complaint. Tony Jones does spend too much Q&A time in trying to score points off politician guests (from all sides). Furthermore, his interruptions usually consist of leading questions (a journalistic no-no) and often are only barely related to the audience questions.

Jones is not "biased" in the way his detractors would allege but he should lift his professional game to the higher standards he is capable of. It would also help if Q&A's panel was limited to four.

The present five is too unwieldy for every member to be given a fair go, which can also lead to perceptions of bias.

There will always be cries of bias against the ABC, but much of it could be ameliorated if producers in charge of programs insisted on holding to the standards the ABC sets out in its own journalism guidelines.

Eric Hunter, Cook

Give peace a chance

Another massacre and we still refuse to even consider the possibility that we are partly responsible for the tragic situation in which we, east and west, north and south, find ourselves.

We are told that 40,000 heavily armed soldiers will be patrolling the streets of Britain.

To what end?

Perhaps to show them, whoever they are, that the government is prepared to sacrifice any number of innocent lives rather than to look into the origins of their grievance and why they are resorting to such a devastating course of action to fight for their cause.

Surely we know who we should be addressing ourselves to, to try to  establish some sort of negotiation to stop this carnage.

Surely these people, whoever they are, would much prefer the comfort of discussions in Geneva than the horrors of burning cities and the sight of the dismembered bodies of their children and our children.

Sadly, it seems that we have forgotten the words and sentiments so eloquently expressed by the Beatles 48 years ago in their beautiful song: "Give peace a chance".

"C'mon, ev'rybody's talking about Ministers, sinisters, banisters and canisters Bishops and Fishops and Rabbis and Popeyes and bye-bye, bye-byes All we are saying is give peace a chance All we are saying is give peace a chance"

John Rodriguez, Florey

Playing the media

How does one determine priorities, and define vulgarity now that we're well into the 21st century?

First, Australians had been afflicted by a certain TV network exhibiting a unique but inept way to extricate kids from a tangled Beirut family squabble.

Second, the Sainsbury family and associates are now advancing the alleged drug runner's cause with melodramatic photos and commentary on a Bogota clink.

Third, here comes Corby. She's in thick electronically with countless thousands of followers, in concert with her media-savvy sister. They play hide and seek as they explore financial inducements and orchestrate iPhone  recordings of their persona while simultaneously pleading for privacy.

Reports that roughly 166 Australians are in overseas jails for drug-related crimes are of concern but they do help to refine our thinking.

 This is notwithstanding that some foreign jurisdictions appear not to demonstrate dainty management of drug runners from a bleeding heart standpoint.

In the interim an excess of our media goes into bat on a damp and dubious pitch.

Patrick Jones, Griffith

TO THE POINT

ROO REPAIR RACKET

I recently had accident repairs done to my vehicle. The NRMA sent it to Wagga Wagga. The local smash repairers are snowed under. Do the animal rights mob have shares in the repair industry? Do we all have to work from home? Wake up and cull the roos.

Phil Parnell, Chapman

NO FLY ZONE

Will HansonAir be grounded?

Thos Puckett, Ashgrove

SCHLOW NEWS DAY

Yet another 'no news' day ("Schapelle Corby arrives in Australia amid media frenzy", canberratimes.com.au, May 28).

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

The Australian media is very excited about Schapelle Corby's "homecoming" after spending 13 years in an Indonesian jail for drug trafficking. Why? Is she performing brain surgery to benefit Australian society?

Rajend Naidu, Glenfield

THE OBVIOUS ANSWER

So Peter Dutton does not like the ABC's Q&A program. The Q&A program is far too advanced for him.

T.J.Marks, Holt

FIDGETS AT THE WHEEL

Pat's cartoon (May 29, p. 17) shows fidget spinners being used by a few politicians. And a right collection of Captain Queegs they are.

Roy Bray, Flynn

SAME SAME

Isn't Andrew Barr  advocating same-sex marriage from a high-profile position himself? Come on Andrew. ("Barr returns serve", May 29, p. 10).

Terry Craig, Holt

Margaret Court's refusal to fly Qantas may rebound against her should other airlines announce their support for marriage equality.

John Sandilands,  St Marys, Tas

NEGATIVE ASSOCIATION

Rosemary Walters (Letters, May 26) should enter an archery competition, given her ability to draw the longest of bows between the Manchester bombing and negative gearing.

Gordon Williams, Watson

ALLIANCE TO STAY

I agree with John Rodriguez of Florey that NATO should be disbanded (Letters, May 26), but they don't. Their slogan is "A 21st century headquarters for a 21st century alliance".

Kenneth Griffiths, O'Connor

STRONG CONSTITUTION

Can't we just say, at the outset: "This is a constitution for the people of Australia, which includes the descendants of its original inhabitants, our Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples."

Barrie Smillie, Duffy

Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attached file. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).