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Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Electric vehicles have advantages but there are challenges as well

Ben Elliston is correct to say electric vehicles are more efficient than internal combustion vehicles (Letters, November 11).

He cites an efficiency of only 20 per cent for internal combustion vehicles (due to large thermal losses), which is about right for most. He says an electric vehicle is about 90per cent efficient. That may be the case for "battery to wheels" for some electric vehicles but it is more like 60 per cent for "grid to wheels", i.e. including recharging batteries.

A comparison of the relative cost of energy per 100 kilometres for a Tesla-sized electric vehicle versus a similar sized/weight internal combustion vehicle shows an energy consumed cost advantage of about 2.8. He is also generally correct to say a solar array producing 1KWh could power a Tesla-sized electric vehicle over 10,000 kilometres per year. Although he does not mention the cost of the solar power, it is about $200 a year for a one KWh array, compared with equivalent grid power in Canberra of about $365.

Nevertheless, even with an energy consumption advantage of 2.8:1 for electric vehicles, that is still a great deal of renewable power — home solar or grid — to be generated to replace internal combustion vehicles with electric vehicles. I wonder if Elliston owns an electric vehicle and if not, why not?

M. Flint, Erindale

Batteries the issue

The big drawback with electric cars is the long charging times for batteries and it's this that puts most people off buying one. Can't manufacturers design cars that will accept rapid slot-out/slot-in batteries in the same way as swap and go BBQ gas bottles are changed?

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Another advantage would be that storage of fully charged, or charging, batteries at servos would surely be more economical than it is for storing liquid fuels. And, of course, truck deliveries would be reduced to a minimum.

Lee Welling, Nicholls

Bus works for me ...

With reference to Russ Morison's featured letter "Canberra public transport fails us ... " (Letters, November 11), the people who actually use Action Buses are happy with the service and are aware that the bus is not an exclusive taxi service from our home to our sole destination, but actually has to stop and pick up and set down others passengers and travel via interchanges. I enjoy the interaction with passengers and would also like to extend a big thank you to the helpful and pleasant bus drivers, and the young people who offer their seat if the bus is crowded.

John Davenport, Farrer

... but cars still rule ...

Your report on the first tram to leave Spain bound for Canberra (November 10) contrasts with another news item out of Portugal two days earlier.

John Krafcik, chief executive of Google's sister company Waymo, speaking at a technical conference in Lisbon announced that from mid-October Waymo has been operating its autonomous minivans on public roads in Chandler, a part of Phoenix Arizona, without a safety driver. At this stage a Waymo employee is in the vehicle.

The next step for Waymo is a commercial ride-hail service, in which riders can hail one of the company's autonomous minivans via an app.

"People will get to use our fleet of on-demand vehicles, to do anything from commute to work, get home from a night out, or run errands," Krafcik said. I think this is a serious prospect for Canberra's roads by 2030.

Unfortunately, under Barr and Rattenbury I only foresee a conventional city clogged with cars. Will any of the high-rise buildings planned for Northbourne not boast underground parking for tenants' cars?

The government ought to heed the advice of recent letter writers and plan to run a couple of old Melbourne trams up and down Northbourne because, whatever the type of tram, they will be mainly for show.

John L Smith, Farrer

... and train too slow

Contrary to the recent announcement by ministers from the ACT and NSW about speeding up the train service ("Leaders meet to announce ACT-NSW memorandum of understanding and fast train plan", November 3), the new Sydney Xplorer timetable effective November 26, 2017 shows that most trips between Canberra and Sydney will soon take longer than they do now.

On Friday morning, I tried to buy an unbooked walk-in seat on the Canberra to Sydney train, later returning Sydney-Canberra, but both trains were booked out. This clearly shows there is strong demand for the train service, even with its current very slow journey time of over four hours.

I have been advised on good technical authority that the current Xplorer train could actually do the journey in a little over 3 hours by the simple expedients of:

  • Removing some of the nine Xplorer stops between Canberra and Sydney, many of which are served by NSW local trains. (Each stop costs two to three minutes.)
  • Adjusting the speed signage to reflect the higher speeds the Xplorer train could safely run at without track modifications.
  • Giving the Xplorer priority over Sydney suburban trains.

These simple measures offer a workable stopgap solution to speeding up the service until that distant day when a tilt train will do it in two hours.

C. Williams, Friends of Canberra-Sydney Rail Group, Forrest

A better dog's life

Dogs are what we make of them. If they are not trained properly they can become dangerous. So, all dogs need to be registered and those that the authorities consider dangerous must undergo proper training with their owners.

We all know that it is the owner's responsibility to make sure that the dog behaves well in public. Dogs must also learn to socialise. There is also a different kind of behaviour when a dog is on a leash and when not.

The authorities need to get their act together and monitor those dogs that they believe are dangerous. But not only dangerous dogs will attack another dog or a human. When the authorities are preparing what they are going to do about this very serious problem, I hope the fines they implement are going to be tough enough to make those irresponsible dog owners wake up.

And, finally, what do we expect from dogs? Unconditional love, to be a good watch dog and be part of the family. But above all, be well trained.

Maureen Heslop, Bonner

Euphemisms are deadly

Every Anzac and Remembrance Day, we hear euphemisms for men and women who have died in war. They are "the fallen", they "made the supreme sacrifice", "they shall grow not old".

In his book Sacred Places, distinguished historian Ken Inglis nailed this language: "soldiers of the Queen did not stagger or sink or topple or have bits blown off, but fell, to become not quite simply the dead but the fallen, who cleanly, heroically, sacrificially gave their lives in war. People raised on such high diction were not prepared for squalid actualities."

The more we – the people who are fed that "high diction" – repeat it and believe it the more we mislead ourselves about the nature of war and let ourselves be sucked into future conflicts.

It's "dead" or "killed" not "fallen", "sacrificed" not "made the supreme sacrifice", robbed of their lives, not forever young. No more comforting nonsense.

David Stephens, Bruce

Gunghalin failings

I agree with Scott Humphries' (Letters,November 13) observation about the inadequacy of implementation of the NCDC's town centre policy.

The town centres were to have substantial employment, retail, and community facilities and services primarily serving their respective town populations. The policies have been implemented with reasonable success, with the exception of Gungahlin.

The failure to attract major Commonwealth offices to Gungahlin is primarily a product of the responsibility for location being devolved to individual departments and the inability to control the level of office development at the airport, a product of the bureaucratic weakness of the National Capital Authority and ACT planning.

The problem was exacerbated by the pace of development of Gungahlin being higher than desirable as a consequence of delays in Molonglo's development. The result is the high level of commuting to work from Gungahlin and associated congestion from inadequate provision of transport infrastructure.

As Professor Troy has observed, light rail is a poor attempt to compensate for this transport issue.

It is essential that effort be made to encourage employment at the Gungahlin Town Centre through incentives, having development-ready sites available, and the advocacy by the ACT government of the centre, which would greatly assisted by evidence from a robust review of the ACT planning strategy.

Mike Quirk, Garran

CTP details

Let us look at some details omitted from The Canberra Times' article on compulsory third party insurance ("ACT's soaring CTP payouts", November10, p1). The article talks about soaring claims, $28million up to $108million; well, my rates and other utilities, not to mention food and power etc, have gone up by similar rates of increase. The article talks about the rising cost of treatment rates; I am lucky my costs are covered by workers comp, so I get seen privately if needed. But you don't see many hard up doctors (or lawyers!), do you?

A sense of perspective is needed, and not scaremongering regarding costs.

If, as I do, you have a life-changing injury and are in pain every day, despite medication, how much would you expect in compensation? I can tell you $10million would not be enough, yet the Barr government would seek to deny us the little we would get.

The changes to compulsory third party insurance are ill-considered and only designed to benefit Treasury income levels.

Factor in that the jury members do not know or understand what they are doing, as evidenced by the article in this paper, and the system will not benefit consumers.

Ian Jannaway, Monash

Traffic casualties

The key takeaway message from the article ("ACT's soaring CTP payouts", November10, p1) is that the current compulsory third-party insurance scheme is coming under intense financial pressure and may well be unsustainable. This would explain why the citizens' jury has been hurriedly established with a narrow brief to recommend affordable changes.

The reality is, the growing financial pressure is a direct result of three key factors: today's improved cars are reducing fatalities but people are living with life-long injuries; the ever-increasing costs and complexity of medical attention; and the do-almost-nothing road safety strategy. This results in a continuous stream of traffic casualties to bolster the financial exposure. To attempt to create the illusion, as the Chief Minister seems to be doing, that the most recent data includes some clearance of difficult cases, demonstrates a limited knowledge of how long-tail personal injury insurance works.

Bill Gemmell, Holder

Myanmar flak

Aung San Su Kyi has taken a lot of flak lately from safe and secure do-gooders like Bob Geldof for not speaking out for the Rohingya in Myanmar, but at least there are some mitigating factors. She has no control over the military, and to do anything would mean the loss of all that she has achieved so far (or can in the future) in and about the liberation of her country, personal extinction, and a regression to total military rule with even worse excesses to follow.

Our own cowardly political so-called-leaders face no such dilemma in regard to the people, including children, being left to rot in the hellholes of Nauru and Manus, which are the 21stcentury's near equivalents to Devil's Island and are all our very own work.

Electoral opprobrium is something that true leadership can turn around. Leadership is not the same as clinging on to or grasping for power, no matterwhat.

James Gralton, Garran

TO THE POINT

BUNCH OF INTERLOPERS

The citizenship fiasco has revealed that we're run by a bunch of interlopers with only shallow roots in the country. The solution is obvious though: only those with Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander heritage should sit in the Parliament.

Matt Gately, Rivett

POLITICAL TACTICS

First you ridicule by declaring the minor parties sloppy. Then you tell the High Court what to decide. Then you stall. Then you have no further ideas. What next, surrender?

Jeff Bradley, Isaacs

EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Looks like for those with British antecedents the Empire has come back big time to bite them on the bum.

Peter Dahler, Calwell

GREAT TALENT

As a long-standing admirer of David Pope's cartoons, including drawing and detail, add me to the growing list, but "explosive unequal growth" (November 10) has special appeal.

Dick Varley, Braidwood

LET'S SWAP FEES

Ray Atkin of Gungahlin (Letters, November 10) tells us that he should not have to pay the $10 pruning fee to be levied on power bills because the power lines where he lives are all underground.

I'll make a deal with Ray: I'll pay his $10 levy if he pays me for the inevitable increase in my rates to pay for the construction and running of his Gungahlin tram.

Ian Webster, Curtin

FAIR'S FAIR

Have the people in Gungahlin who say they object to paying the extra $10 for clearing power lines considered how much the people of Tuggeranong are paying towards their tram?

Angela Douglass, Kambah

YELLEN OVERLOOKED

Janet Yellen was generally regarded as the most experienced and qualified central banker going around. She also had a pretty formidable record of overseeing good numbers in economic performance. She was widely regarded as the best choice to head the Fed and expected to retain the job. She is a highly respected, powerful woman. Altogether too much like Hillary Clinton. Obviously she had to go.

S.W Davey, Torrens

DIFFERENT VIEWS

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is showing different views on the same matter. He has congratulated John Alexander for resigning from Parliament on the dual citizenship issue. Yet he insisted on keeping former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce in Parliament on the same issue. Is there one rule for Alexander and another for Joyce?

Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt

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.

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