Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Admitting errors a necessary step to saving lives

My thanks to The Canberra Times, the Mental Health Consumer Network and especially to Ann Finlay for the excellent and thoughtful series of articles and podcasts, Losing Paul.

We need more in-depth journalism of this calibre regarding the profound issuesof mental health facingthe ACT.

There were many system failures that led to the tragic death of Paul Fennessy. As noted in your editorial of  January 23, establishing an Australia-wide mandatory, real-time prescription monitoring scheme is an urgent requirement to savelives.

However, the prescription drug monitoring scheme must be implemented in tandem with expanded services for alcohol and drug rehabilitation as well as appropriate mental health services for all, but especially for young people.

One abiding concern is the reaction of the ACT Health system, which Ann Finlay's lawyer noted "closed ranks" rather than admit that serious mistakes were made.

Admitting mistakes is a necessary step for correction and change. 


As an active member of the Canberra Mental Health Forum (U3A) our experience has been that a culture change is required in the ACT Health system.

ACT Health should work with  carers as partners as well as increase transparency and communication among different departments and services.

Pamela Collett, Narrabundah

Rape of the lake

The multitude of aesthetic, recreation and social experiences gifted to us from Lake Burley Griffin is a lake-landscape success story.

The success is in how the lake respects the Griffin design in keeping his composition of three central basins, but incorporates necessary changes to follow the findings of technical research and extensive works under the direction of Menzies NCDC, some 50 years later.

Together Griffin and the NCDC transformed a flood plain into our beautiful lake with its formal central basin shoreline in the Parliamentary zone, but a mostly naturalistic edging with parklands on the northern shoreline and in West Lake.

The appalling "Griffin Legacy" spin that fills in  two hectares of lake with a 150-metre-long retaining wall as a lone fragment of Griffin's lake edge is to give prestige to a ploy that provides land for vista-blocking private apartments. The result will damage the lake's composition and obliterate a park and part of the lake.

The developer-inspired gambit of the City to the Lake (CttL) at West Basin has caused stress to many Canberrans and national capital visitors. The aggressive proposal is stealing our lake and lake shore to blight a popular and public space.

At a packed meeting in 2016 the public unanimously condemned the City to the Lake development while more than 700 Canberrans petitioned the ACT government late in 2017 to protect the lake and lake shore.

Lake Burley Griffin Guardians have been trying to have the lake and lake shore assessed for the National Heritage List, a status that our lake and lake shore well deserve.

As this has not happened and the two-hectare lake infill to facilitate the West Basin building estate is imminent, an Emergency National Heritage Nomination has been made to Josh Frydenberg MP for his consideration.

Juliet Ramsay, convener Lake Burley Griffin Guardians, Burra, NSW

Fish and chips

The experts tell us that there is a carp problem in Lake Burley Griffin and it is not getting any better. Solution: employ the services of two to three trawlers and one industrial wood chipper. Result: excellent fertiliser and a cleaner lake.

Don't put in a virus to kill the carp – this is introducing disease to that ecosystem. There are plenty of people who would be happy to run this new eco-business. 

Mark Kiermaier, Yarralumla 

Think twice, not all right

Australians need to become vocal about their freedoms, before the Orwellian left mafia remove them entirely.

Conservative opinion is constantly shut down in our universities. Now a group of mostly ageing, irrelevant musicians are seeking to censor Cory Bernardi's Spotify Australia Day playlist.

Their moral posturing sits uncomfortably for some of them with a dubious record of drug, alcohol abuse etc.

Fair-minded music lovers should think twice before supporting them.

Johann Sheller, Forrest 

Battery is best

Pumped hydro is only effective to store waste power during the night when coal fired power stations are not needed due to low demand.

It only acts as a standby system when the demand is high and takes minutes to synchronize and be brought on line.

The prime failure for the proposed pumped hydro system is that it is located in one place and an upgrade of the grid is necessary at the cost of billions of dollars.

The CSIRO mentioned there were hundreds of sites spread around the nation that could be used for pumped hydro that could be built faster, and cheaper, and connected to the local population without loss of energy.

For the cost of snowy 2 that is 80 batteries at 100 MW that could be spread around the country taking advantage of local solar farms, wind farms and coal /gas fired power stations.

So it does not matter were the wind blows sun shines there is a local battery system to take advantage of it and can be connected at moment's notice.

Battery storage is the future, and as Australia has one of largest deposits of lithium in the world, it is a lost opportunity.

We should be making batteries for the world.

Clive Broomfield, Googong

Fanning the flames

Everybody, even Clancy Yeates, seems to be jumping on the fracking bandwagon ("One area where the banks are getting it right: curbing coal", January 22, p37). 

That's despite him acknowledging, "many would like to see them take a tougher stance towards ... liquefied natural gas".

There is money in forcing a massive and precipitate investment in gas generation of electricity, not least because the fossil fuel miners would be allowed to frack every last  cubic centimetre of suitable strata for the gas and then move on to the oil as well.

If you do not realise how large an incursion that implies, type "fracking map USA" into your search engine.

Remember that the original expose of the deleterious effects of fracking came from the US with a movie showing flammable gas coming out of household taps with the water.

Government penalisation of coal generators, which is driving investment dollars, has already resulted in reports that "Businesses face power hikes of up to 200pc" (January 22, p39).

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

Rare chance to agree

I have limited interest in the actual date for Australia Day. But for Australia's Indigenous peoples the current date must literally add perpetual insult to deep injury. While I realise this view is not universally held among Aboriginal groups, I ask how can we achieve overall reconciliation while we have this date?

For tens of thousands of years Aboriginal peoples looked after Australia's tough and unforgiving land. Could we not ask our Indigenous peoples which date they would choose if one could have meaning for them? There may be a season or spiritual period which Aboriginal peoples could agree upon, and from which a date could be derived.

While Indigenous people are extremely diverse, consultation has been effected before. A nationally agreed date that comes from their essence would represent all who have lived here, together with all who have come here, and would represent the land itself.

Some will see this as impracticable or irrelevant. I see this as a rare opportunity to make a strong statement towards reconciliation and respect. If handled appropriately, this change could be as important and powerful as the "Sorry" day.

 Whatever the people who cared for this land for so long come up with will be just fine with me.

Diana Cooper, Aranda

Ideological impost

Your report "ACT government extends rebate for solar and battery installation" (, January 13), prompts another question about payment for the grid. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry (Preliminary Report) states that 48 per cent of the average residential bill is comprised of network (grid) costs.

In the ACT the major part of this cost is linked to the residents' overall consumption, at a rate of 7.16¢ per kWh. This cost is largely avoided by residents who install solar PV systems, although all connections bear a 33.79¢ per day charge. The grid is the most important infrastructure in the nation. It must reliably deliver the peak power on that day of the year when peak demand rises above that of every other day, year after year.

The size of the grid (and hence the costs of building and maintaining it) is determined by its peak power transmission capacity. The ACCC criticises "the uptake of solar PV systems which reduce the overall consumption of a solar customer, but with a much smaller impact on their peak consumption (p114)".

My question is will that privileged group whom the rest of us are subsidising $4000 for a battery system that might reduce their demand on the grid at the peak time, be required to return the favour by having their feed-in tariff allocated to covering our grid costs?

Whatever, this is another ideological impost from a minister who doesn't seem to know the difference between power and energy!

John L. Smith, Farrer

Pain goes public

ACT Health and Wellbeing Minister Meegan Fitzharris says that the lack of private clinics dealing with chronic pain has increased the long waiting times to access the pain management unit at Canberra Hospital. 

She should have noted that the lack of private clinics dealing with chronic pain has increased the need for the public pain management unit at Canberra Hospital to be resourced to minimise waiting times.

She highlights the cost of chronic pain, and then makes excuses for the delays. As Health Minister, her job is to fix it.

Bruce Wright, Latham

Must try harder

I suspect that Malcolm Turnbull is allocating more money to schools to shut people up rather than any personal commitment.

Reduced funding to universities reinforces the suspicion that he doesn't feel that education is important.

This is dangerous thinking when other countries have the opposite philosophy and recognise it as the key to success.

The school sector needs a radical overhaul. No one should expect a career in education unless they have shown a personal commitment to it through their own up-to-date studies. All those wanting a promotion position, in schools, in unions or in administration, should demonstrate a commitment to their own updated education.

All students have something to offer although it often goes unrecognised. We blame year 10 dropouts, for example, for their failures rather than realising that we have failed them.

Many of them go on to fill our jails, proving an expensive lifestyle for taxpayers to support and hardly a satisfying lifestyle for them.

Those responsible for our schools aren't sufficiently educated themselves to recognise the real problem.

We waste millions of dollars trying to bridge the gap between the results of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students because we can't see that education is based on white culture and rarely recognises theirs, even though it can at times be superior.

Our report card reads "could do better" because we don't require our politicians to keep up to date with modern knowledge.

More money in schools, less in universities, isn't going to achieve this. We need more educated thinking.

Dr Audrey Guy, Ngunnawal 

Enter the scammer

The AFP's idea to use email to send fines looks, on the surface, to be a good idea, but they did not speak to their IT experts first. Had they done so, they would have learnt that the email protocol does not guarantee delivery.

They also have  exposed the entire ACT community to scammers: "You have been charged with an offence ... Failure to pay will incur ..." The AFP needs to tell the community it has changed its mind and will never send infringements by email.

David Brown, Bruce

Where's the value?

So the AEC didn't get value for money when it spent $27 million on machines to scan the Senate ballot papers at the last election.Neither did we.  Agoodly chunk of those wevoted in have since departed on "own goals".

M. Moore, Bonython



The Queen has set a perfect example of the ideal public holiday. The celebration of her majesty's birthday is always a long weekend. I nominate the last Friday in February as the perfect day to celebrate what's great about Australia: it will be a long weekend at the end of summer and those of us lucky enough not to work on weekends won't have to get up early after the fireworks.

Marie Louise, Queanbeyan 


Would Kim Fitzgerald (Letters, January 20) please enlighten us as to how a driver's wearing of a baseball cap backwards indicates they are probably not on the way to an emergency?

Jane Craig, Holt


I like Noel Pearson's idea of celebrating the arrival not only of the First Fleet, but of the first Aborigines 60,000 years earlier. Perhaps we need two days. This would be more inclusive than divisive because it would recognise both groups, but give them equal status as Australians.

Michael McCarthy, Deakin


What has a barometer got to do with counting bicycles going past it ("On a roll", January  23, p1)? Do the efforts of the cyclist raise the pressure as they cycle past?

Pamela Fawke, Dunlop


The Turnbull government has proudly pledged $60 million to help improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef. Last year, the same government offered a $1 billion loan for infrastructure to develop an enormous coal mine to hasten the global warming and shipping that is destroying the reef. It is not hard to see the government's priorities.

Tony Judge, Woolgoolga, NSW


Is Canberra really the hottest capital city on the planet? Looking at the list of the world's highest temperatures (January 20, p72) only Bangkok and Suva with a 32 degree maximum came close to Canberra's 38 degrees.

John Milne, Chapman


A big congratulations also to Domestic Animal Services who have consistently achieved, in association with local rescue groups, a rehoming rate of over 90 per cent over a number of years ("RSPCA rehoming rate nearly purfect", January 20, p20). Well done to all involved.

Carol Anderson, Kambah


Surely if we are serious about reducing violence and demonstrating respect for women, the very first step should be for the federal government to introduce legislation making a gender pay gap unlawful. It would provide some national credibility and authority to the notion of civil liberty!

Gerry Gillespie, Queanbeyan

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