Letters to the Editor

Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Act now to save steam locomotive or it will vanish in a puff of steam

Canberrans should not be surprised in early August if they see historic railway carriages, some of them dating to before WWI, disappearing up the highway on semi-trailers as these carriages which are part of our city's heritage, leave Canberra for ever.

Because of debts incurred by the Railway Historical Society, the liquidator is selling off these carriages at auction on August 22 to the highest bidder.

These exhibits are doomed, so what is not being sold in this first auction is of great importance. One such item is the huge Garratt steam locomotive 6029 which was given to the people of Australia via the National Museum by the Whitlam government in 1974.

This locomotive was then given to the Canberra Rail Museum by the National Museum and was painstakingly restored to operating condition by the volunteers at the Rail Museum and was named The City of Canberra at an ACT government ceremony in 2015.

If the liquidator decides to sell more of the collection locomotive 6029, aka The City of Canberra, could be sold to a scrap metal merchant.

What can you do to save these precious remaining exhibits?


Write to The Canberra Times about how you feel about this impending loss and contact your members in the Legislative Assembly and point out what this Canberra heritage means to you and your city and ask them to save it.

Once these exhibits leave Canberra they are gone for ever.

John Davenport, Farrer

Let the secrets out

I signed up to at an early stage and then to electronic record keeping.

I have had several blood tests in the last 18 months alone. None of these appear on my record. None are available to specialists who treat me.

Is this a good ol' fashioned silo mentality, or some quaint idea that specialists cannot read blood tests?

Medicare and I paid for those tests. They are not the property of anyone but me.

The federal Health Minister purports to be worried about duplication of services and unnecessary servicing.

Someone in ACT Health is keeping blood tests, echo sounds and similar a secret.

One result is tests are ordered again or patients carry photocopies from GP to specialist.

Let go the secrets please ACT Health.

Private imaging went digital with web-based access perhaps 10 years ago.

The fuss about Medicare numbers on the deep dark web is so unnecessary. Even if my name could be connected, who cares if the world knows I have ingrown toe nails?

Actually publication would defeat a lot of fraud, both the recent reported dark web blackmail, as well as some claims.

Perhaps more importantly, publishing Medicare data would remove the opportunity for deliberately spreading confusion about just how many patients are bulk-billed (it cannot be the claimed 85 per cent); just how many of us are paying the equivalent of a co-contribution; and what sum.

The principle "sunlight is the best disinfectant" applies equally to parliamentarian's expenses, our Medicare data and tax returns.

Warwick Davis, Isaacs

Keeping it public

Howard Carew (letters, July 13) appears to have a highly privatised thinking process. He cannot see the economic and social aspect of public transport and the contribution it can make to the country's development, for example, by facilitating the establishment and development of new cities.

Taxpayers' money invested in this way is money well invested.

Consider other aspects of our society that are funded by the taxpayer but that, I suspect, according to Mr Carew, should also be privatised, e.g. health, education, defence, police, parliament and politicians' generous pension, to mention just a few. Despite the late Margaret Thatcher's dictum, we are not a collection of individuals at each other's throat. We pride ourselves on being a civilised society, one of the best in the world, according to our Prime Minister. And, while one would agree that certain things are best run by the private sector, there are aspects of our society that are definitely best run by the government on behalf of the people.

John Rodriguez, Florey


One aspect of the debate about the light rail project that should be ringing alarm bells is the breakdown in the Auditor General's role in the whole saga. Recently John L. Smith raised the Auditor's "damning indictment" of the government's benefit-cost analysis (Letters, July 8) and so have others. Yet at the time of its release about a year ago the then minister, Simon Corbell, ignoring the "damning indictment" bit, hailed the report as showing the project delivery was "best practice". The role of the Auditor General is key because it closes the accountability loop between government and parliament for funds appropriated by the latter. Its job is to call out government if it is making fast and loose with the public purse, and to do so in a timely manner. The Auditor General's report on the light rail project (No.5/2016) came out years after the "business case" was published. The project, costing nearly $1 billion, was well underway. Transport economists had been warning for years that the benefit-cost analysis was a fudge.

Some may think this is just a pedantic quibble. Nothing could be further from the truth. When the Auditor General fails to hold the government to proper account good government goes out the window. The ACT's abysmal performance on housing affordability and homelessness demonstrates just how dysfunctional the government has become. We need a more agile Auditor General to spotlight these sorts of shenanigans earlier, not after the horse has bolted.

Brendan Cox, Richardson

Spies? What spies?

Trump asking Putin if Russia meddled in the US election ("Trump backpedals on Russian meddling", July 14, p12), is like the late Labor leader "Doc" Evatt in 1954 asking the Soviets if they had spies in Australia. It seems both were re-assured when the answer came back "Nyet". Evatt's political naivete destroyed him; does the same fate await Trump?

Eric Hunter, Cook

Renters left in the cold

Craig Kelly gets it half right when he says renewable energy will kill people this winter: while he's off the mark on renewables, he's right that cold weather is a huge health risk and a cause of preventable deaths.

But for too many Canberrans, cheaper power is only part of the answer — draughty, poorly-insulated homes mean that keeping a house at a safe and comfy temperature is out of the question for too much of the year.

The situation is even worse for renters, because they don't own their homes so can't make energy efficiency improvements. Not only that, renters are also more likely to be on a low-income or elderly: to have less capacity to pay, and more vulnerability to the cold.

The answer is simple: require landlords to make sure that rental properties meet a minimum standard for energy efficiency.

This will make sure that all Canberrans, renters and others, can live in dignity and comfort through the whole year. It'll keep us healthier. It'll stop making the most vulnerable in our community pay the price through the depths of winter.

Renters have been left out in the cold for too long.

The government has to step up and make sure that no-one is forced to keep shivering through winter in a glorified tent.

Joel Dignam, Comfy Homes Alliance, Watson

Easy energy solution

John Smith (Letters, July 12) will be relieved to know that our son recently repeated your 1950s generator-grid synchronisation exercise.

And yes, the girls and boys also learnt your "test its mounting bolts main lesson".

Our son's assessment of the issues you raise within "complex synchronism problem of large scale inverted alternating current sources" was nowhere near as polite as yours.

The tragedy is that the kids recognise that the "clean energy crisis" is simply an engineering problem that has known and proven solutions.

If you gave the kids in the electrical, civil, mechanical and environmental faculties some funding and elevated land in South Australia near the ocean, I have no doubt they could have ocean pumped hydro up and running very quickly.

Their biggest headache would be arguments on whether the pumped hydro baseload capacity should carry the grid for two weeks or two months when the wind turbines are idle or the sun fails.

I am sure many of John Smith's old school, first principles engineers brandishing slide rules would love the chance to mentor them.

The Greens can argue about what fish species should stock the hydro reservoirs while the Liberals and Labor agonise over jet-ski permits.

Ronald Elliott, Sandringham, Vic

Acting for leadership

Mr Turnbull has two options to save his leadership.

He could call a leadership spill and cement his position over potential challengers such as Dutton, Bishop and Morrison. I feel he would win.

Secondly, he could crash through by challenging the hard right head-on in his party and implementing policies he really believes in such as renewable energy, same-sex marriage, climate change and changes to negative gearing.

Using the massive budget deficit as a valid reason, he could close Manus and Nauru which is costing $500,000 per refugee and process the refugees in Australia. A saving of billions.

The boats would not return as long as the turnback policy is maintained.

Actions speak louder than words if you want your polling to improve Malcolm.

Ray Armstrong, Tweed Heads South, NSW

Queen on the team

When the PM visited the Queen of Australian in London recently some media highlighted that he is a republican.

However his personal views are irrelevant as the prime minister is representing all Australians not his personal views. Watching the United States in chaos we are fortunate to have the Queen on our team.

Adrian Jackson, Middle Park, Vic

Where are principles?

Republican Malcolm Turnbull should have stood by his principles and not met the Queen.

She is, after all, a foreigner born into an exalted and privileged position and is also an anachronistic remnant of a bygone era.

Rod Matthews, Fairfield, Vic

Our holy bread

James Gralton (Letters, July 14) has obviously been persuaded by the media that the Catholic Church has issued new and "idiotic rulings" about the ashes of those who have been cremated and the bread used in communion.

The rulings are not new, they are restatements of what was already in place, and I think follow the age-old behaviour of the Catholic Church in adapting to the times.

Catholics believe in the death and resurrection of the body, such is the dignity of the person.

The church states that our ashes should be treated in a way that is consistent with that belief and be committed to burial in a sacred place, just as our Aborigines did with their dead, and not spread to the four winds or kept to possibly end up on some rubbish dump.

The restatement of the requirement for a gluten content sufficient to ensure "the confection of bread" is about the practicality of maintaining the Gospel tradition of unleavened bread.

Internet trading means that traditional suppliers of low gluten communion bread are being undercut by others who only have commercial interests, so that ultimately it could become a case of ice cream wafers and who knows what that is provided.

John L Smith, Farrer



Twenty-five years on and the feral abacus (Paul Keating's famous description of John Hewson) still doesn't get it: voters do respond to ideology. In 1993 they were looking for almost any excuse to kick out Labor but baulked at Hewson's veneration of the market, his so-called Fightback. The first Hockey budget stank because it was all about user pays. Ideology is the mark of a politician. Of course voters respond to it.

Matt Gately, Rivett


Craig Kelly's comment that people will die due to the payment of subsidies for renewable energy is absurd.

The serious effects of climate change are directly related to energy policy. In order to address climate change our leaders need to take the advice of scientists and formulate a policy framework that will take the world to a fossil-fuel free planet as soon as possible. There is no event in the history of this planet that will cause more deaths than serious climate change.

Chris Hansen, Rivett


If the incidence of discrimination against those wearing head scarves is increasing, then perhaps all women should wear them.

Let's nominate a day or week in which we all wear a head scarf to show our disgust at the discrimination women face each day.

Those who think they have power over us will be confused as to who they can target.

V. Lauf, Bungendore, NSW


After Jayson Taylor (Letters, July 13) finished admiring his name in print, I hope he turned the page and read Peter Martin's article which demolished his major premise.

Mark Westcott, Farrer

Jayson Taylor (letters, July 13) claims South Australia has the most expensive energy prices in the world because of its proportion of renewable-based electricity.

Really? What research basis does he have for such an outlandish claim?

David Jenkins, Casey


I think the world will be a better place if Mr Trump is impeached, at least we will have more oxygen in the air to breath.

Mokhles K Sidden, South Strathfield, NSW


Even though Senator Sinodinos has come late to the realisation of the need for a space agency, I hope he remembers what and where space exists (given what he has forgotten in the past).

Jeff Bradley, Isaacs

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