Letters to the Editor

Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Date debate is needed

Your editorial "Leave date debate for another day" (January 14, p.14) seems hypocritical.

If the Australia Day issue is not worth prioritising, and it is tedious to suggest that this is all the Greens would be doing this year, then one wonders why it is worth editorialising about.

While Di Natale didn't choose his words as wisely as he might, the Greens record of achieving change through advancing progressive mainstream policy, as opposed to being "a traditional party of the far left" (is there such a thing as a traditional far left party?) is evident to anyone.

A very interesting and important article ("Cooking the climate change books", January 8, p.37) was hidden away in Business. The article notes the government's dishonesty on the real state of Australia's greenhouse emissions, and the very daunting task that lies ahead.

Changing the date will not solve the problems confronting Aboriginal Australia, problems that Jack Waterford has so consistently and honestly provided informed opinion on.

It is important nonetheless, and could well make a valuable contribution to a process that will bring about some of the necessary changes, such as a treaty.


It is disappointing that the CT seems to be trying to discourage that discussion.

S. Thompson, Curtin

Left in the dark

Re: "Student boarding house planned for Giralang" (, January 11).

You have the heartfelt thanks of ourselves and our friends among the neighbours affected by the above proposal. Unsurprisingly, no one in the vicinity has received the courtesy of notice, oral or written, about the proposal we now discover was lodged on December 10, 2017.

Equally unsurprising, alarmed calls to Access Canberra received the response that "letters would be posted on Monday".

No doubt Christmas slowed them down. Snail mail will further reduce the time for submission, which apparently closes on February 5. It is all too easy to be cynical about the ease with which developers get their way in Canberra.

However, when government and proponents of such a development – so staggeringly at odds with the character of the suburb – show affected parties such as immediate neighbours, to say nothing of the remainder of the area, so little courtesy, that cynicism seems entirely justified.

No doubt we will be told we should have read the EPSDD development application website.

How many people regularly trawl those applications? We don't. Mea culpa! We and our neighbours now have three weeks in which to read the application, learn how to prepare and write a submission and lodge one.

Thanks to The Canberra Times, at least we have three weeks!

Heather and Ian Warfield, Giralang

Walk the walk, please

It is now about 11 months since minister Fitzharris accepted my challenge to a walk in Holt to see the parlous state of the suburb. During that walk, I gave her a folder with photos, comments and suggestions about what needed to be done and how that could be managed.

So what has happened since?

Absolutely nothing, zip, nada, zilch — apart from two shovels full of asphalt on a badly cracked and raised footpath, which the minister herself said was very dangerous. The footpaths remain cracked and broken, overgrown with shrubs and encroached upon by weeds and mower clippings.

The road gutters remain clogged with weeds, tree litter and mower clippings.

The stormwater inlets in the gutters remain clogged with weeds, tree litter, mower clippings and some even have saplings growing out of them!

The playground off Cazaly Close still has just one 40-plus-year-old swing set and one 30-plus-year-old horse head on a spring. But, a new sign proclaiming "No Smoking" was installed just after our walk.

Pity about the drastic need for new play equipment.

Clearly the state of the suburbs does not appear anywhere on the radar of the one (tram) track minds of the Town Council. How else can one explain the physical decay of our suburban infrastructure that is being allowed to happen?

Phillip Harris, Holt

Freedom to complain

Dough Hurst (Letters, January 12) says it is unacceptable for individuals to make harmful accusations "without fear of retribution if they cannot be proved in court".

Wow! What a great idea. That should silence all the kids complaining about sexual abuse from clergy and others.

So they don't have photographs. Go home you wicked child! And then the grizzlin' females trying to make trouble for their hard workin' bosses.

This type of thinking could make the male great again.

A lot of guilty people go free for lack of proof but it seems likely crime and assault would be far more prevalent if victims were scared of suffering retribution for complaining.

Warwick Davis, Isaacs

Lightweight version

I pity Leigh Sales returning to work as host of a watered down 7.30 Report.

On Monday, Leigh presented a report on negative gearing. The item, of prime importance, given the government misled the nation on the impact of this matter, was hidden as a third rating issue. No politician proposing the change of policy to abolish this tax break, or comment on the descriptive position prosecuted by the government, was invited to appear to explain or defend their rationale for proposing a change to the current policy.

I fear for Leigh's reputation if she continues to front a lightweight version of a program that once held politicians of different colours and representatives of public organisations to account.

Jeff Bradley, Isaacs

Not convinced

It intrigues me that Marilyn Shepherd would want to live in a country that so offends her values (Letters, January 17).

However, I will be an unlikely ally if Shepherd can produce examples to support her view that Australia Day is a day of racism and the brutal abuse of minorities.

H.Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Vagaries of 2003 bushfires show need for new preventive measures

Your editorial (January 18, p.18) and articles on the 15th anniversary of the devastating 2003 bushfire raises some questions for today.

The Australian Standard AS3959 uses the McArthur Fire Danger Index created some decades ago, based on the progress of grass fires through radiant heat.

The 2003 bushfire behaved differently and triggered research which has shown that certain factors, including steep slopes, can trigger eruptive, turbulent fires.

Jason Sharples, of the UNSW in Canberra, has used the Ginninderry region in West Belconnen as a case study because it is surrounded by gorges whose slopes are of the type that can generate a convective plume that distributes airborne embers.

ACT Parks and Conservation manager  Brett McNamara has described the ember attack that rained down on his house in Tidbinbilla and destroyed it, despite his careful preparations.

AS3959 basically assigns building construction standards based on distance from vegetation, with 100 metres generally regarded as safe in the ACT.

Although further research is required to confirm essential standards, the Ginninderry case study indicated that embers could impact structures well into parts of the region not normally assessed as vulnerable.

Will building better fire-proofed houses provide safety to residents in these conditions?

Robyn Coghlan, president, Ginninderra Falls Association Incorporated

Burnt into my memory

When the huge bushfire struck Canberra on January 18, 2003 ("A bushfire that's burnt into the memory", January 17, p. 4), I was living in Queanbeyan.

It was a surreal and rather scary experience.

The huge cloud of smoke being blown towards us caused the skies to become darker and darker, until we were enveloped by a ghostly twilight, lit by an eerie orange-red glow.

Red-hot embers, some several centimetres long, along with leaves and other debris rained from the skies.

The main fire front was about 20 kilometres away, a stark illustration of how far from the main fire front spot fires cold be ignited.

A former colleague living in Eucumbene Drive, Duffy, was one of the unlucky ones. He had loaded up his car with all of the family's most treasured possessions and was on the roof of his house wetting it down with a garden hose.

While his attention was elsewhere, his car caught fire and all those treasured possessions were lost. Other friends' houses were spared while those of their immediate neighbours were totally destroyed.

That day of that cruel, fickle fire will forever be etched into my memory — even though I was "safely" 20 kilometres away.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Learn or burn

January 18 marked 15 years since the day that Canberra burnt (again, depending on your perspective, at least the sixth time or perhaps more).

I suppose it is all relative.

At the end does it matter?

For me, as a bushfire fighter back in 2003 it shows we have not learnt the lessons or perhaps choose to ignore them.

This is not about disrespect but unless you were there then you will not understand.

So, to the Canberra Community I would not wish January 18, 2003, on my worst enemy. We need to "Learn or Burn". It's over to you.

P. Barling, AFSM, Holder

Arboretum is a wick

All Canberrans should thank The Canberra Times for its challenging editorial, "Pride in baptism by fire" (January 18, p.18). 

Most rural dwellers in Australia clear a firebreak. Our bush capital, by some idiotic arrogance, having been trampled by the red steer, reseeded the pasture that led the beast into town and called it the Arboretum.

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

Hands off viking clap

I nearly choked on my porridge when my husband read out to me that the Minnesota Vikings have stolen the Canberra Raiders' traditional viking clap! (Tuesday, January 16, p33).

How dare they. One of the marvellous things about going to a Canberra Raiders match is that feeling of community when we all stand together and solemnly clap along with Victor the Viking.

It is a longstanding part of our Canberra culture to welcome our boys in green onto the field with our fierce, symbolic, and very original viking clap, and to frighten the pants off the opposition.

I seem to remember my mother, and my mother's father, and my mother's father's mother, talking fondly about the viking clap, going back to the days when Flora and George Blundell first moved into their cottage. It's ours, Minnesota — hands off!

Pearl Curd, Lyneham

City of weeds

We used to proudly call Canberra "The City of Trees" now it is "The City of Weeds".

The managers in charge of the area that looks after the weed problem need to get out of their offices into their cars and drive around Canberra's suburbs.

In Belconnen there are sapling trees and weeds growing out of the drains.

They need also to drive the length of the Tuggeranong Parkway going south, and then coming north continue up William Hovell Drive and the length of Kingsford Smith Drive. Hopefully, they may realise that these areas are just as important as the tram and the city tourist spots.

B. M. Cooke, Latham

More care for children

Charles Foley (Letters, January 16) correctly highlights the success of NZ's restorative justice family group conferencing in child protection.

Canberra's sister city, Wellington, (a similar population size) has less than a quarter of Canberra's 900 children in state care.

John Stanhope's reflection of our lack of empathy, compassion and interest, is something we all now need to face up to.

The recently released Law Reform Advisory Council Report "Canberra- Becoming a Restorative City" offers us some ways forward.

Mary Ivec, Monash

Well done, ACTEW

On Sunday, as a result of strong winds, a branch from a gum tree in our yard damaged the power line to the house.

From the time my husband rang ACTEW and reported the damage up until the completion of the repair late that afternoon we have nothing but praise for the workers who had had a busy few days.

We were kept informed and everyone was courteous and efficient.

Last year ACTEW received a fair bit of bad press so we are happy to give our thanks to all those involved.

Michele Stemp, Macarthur

Animal crackers

Linus Cole's amusing effort (Letters, January 18) is evidence that puns aren't always the lowest form of wit.

D. Gentle, Belconnen 



Alice Springs Town Councillor Jacinta Price has argued for retaining Australia Day on  January 26. She also suggested finding another date for celebrating Aboriginal history and culture.

May I suggest adopting  May 27, the 1967 date of the successful constitutional referendum on inclusion of Aboriginal people in the census and thus recognising them as members of the Australian population?

Miles Farwell Stirling, ACT


The only thing that belongs in the "stone age" is the view of Gary J. Wilson (Letters, January 18) that Aboriginal people, the oldest continued civilisation in world history, somehow benefited from invasion, colonisation, dispossession and genocidal actions.

It's disappointing that some people still hold such neanderthal views towards Indigenous people.

Simon Tatz, Curtin


I was going to respond to Gary Wilson's inane comments on Indigenous Australians but decided not to when I realised it would involve a battle of wits with an unarmed man. Mate, are you as thick as you appear or do you just get a kick out of being offensive?

M. Moore, Bonython


Change the name from the Margaret Court Arena to the Politically Correct Arena.

Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld


Bryan Cossant (Ready To Strike, Letters, January 16) doesn't appear to know the difference between a tram and a train and industrial relations under a Labor government in the ACT and a Liberal/National government in NSW, a government that recently closed Newcastle's railway station and privatised Newcastle's government bus services. 

John Davenport, Farrer


One of the hidden benefits of a Ecuadorean passport for Julian Assange is that he can't stand for Parliament.

Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic


Perhaps we will find out on April 1 that the Trump presidency is the ultimate reality TV hoax..

Linus Cole, Palmerston


I love the tennis but is there anything more frustrating than watching Stosur find yet another way to lose?

Vic Gibbons, Chifley


Robyn Lewis (Letters, January 17), I didn't say millionaires should not be receiving the pension: I said multi-millionaires.

Michael McCarthy, Deakin

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