Letters to the Editor

Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Fighter jets aren’t for fun

It seems that family fun events in Canberra are increasingly associated with the roar of fighter jets ("Skyfire2017 offers fireworks, fighter jets and family fun", CT  March 18, p18).

However, there is certainly no fun for the families below when these jets are doing what they are built to do, which is to kill.

For those families, there is only terror.

The people of Mosul are experiencing such terror from the skies right now, with the intense aerial bombardment of their city, supported of course by Australia.

What's the agenda in presenting our killing machines as entertainment?

Sue Wareham, Medical Association for Prevention of War, Cook


Thoughtful forum

Just wanted to congratulate you for compiling another excellent collection of thought-provoking articles in Saturday's Forum.

While I would dearly love to comment in your Letters page on every article let me just flag the following stand-outs: Jack Waterford's description of a "bells-and-whistles secretariat ... developing a vast string of announcables" perfectly described that fictional political unit in PMC from the Hollow Men TV series.

Crispin Hull's neat summary of Howard's mean and tricky legacy that continues to haunt us today.

Nick Miller highlighting the new form of hybrid warfare excelled at by Russia.

Marcus Strom's pointing out that a quantum computer has been "about 10 years away" for the past two decades.

Gweneth Leigh's piece reminded me I really need to get a copy of Wohlleben's book The Hidden Life of Trees! Wendy Squires' "cheater fatigue" ends on a rather useful request for couples to "reconsider commitment" if hard conversations are lacking in the relationship.

Michael Crowe, Hawker

Symphony success

Accolades to the talented "BABBA" singers, world-class Canberra Symphony Orchestra, the CSO's Andrew Heron, conductor George Ellis, the very capable sound, lighting and stage-design teams, and everybody else, who helped to make the Symphony in the Park on March 12 such a stunning success.

It made me feel proud to be a Canberran.

Thanks also to the ACT government and sponsors for having the foresight to plan such a popular event for Canberra's birthday celebrations.

If the same singers and the CSO ever decide to have a similar concert indoors I predict that it will be a sell-out success.

Peter Sherman, Aranda

Keep an eye on bills

In December I was in my front garden when the gas meters were being read. Or rather, not read. Wearing a vest saying meter reader, a man walked straight past my house and stopped to read the meter in, maybe, two houses in the street.

My December quarter bill was then based on an estimate way, way above any previous consumption in this house.

It also said that it was an estimate due to a locked gate whereas the gas meter is totally accessible, and can be read in five seconds.

However, I paid the bill by direct debit, noting to check the next bill carefully.

Imagine my shock when the March quarter bill arrives quoting consumption from a reading which, surely not by coincidence, is exactly half way between the previous actual reading in September and the current actual reading in March.

The March actual is still well below the estimated reading of December so I should be in credit, but I end up with a bill in excess of $200 for gas which has already been paid for.

ActewAGL admits a system malfunction. It is their role to correct the billing mistakes, not their customers'.

To happily and significantly send out bills which double charge when a credit is due appears to border on fraudulent behaviour.

Their response after a lengthy phone call was to say I am now in credit by $53.

My calculations suggest I am in credit by nearly $100.

Mick Toller, Yarralumla

Our super strength

So who needs a Super Rugby Competition anyway?

Did New Zealand's rugby strength come from flying away all the time to play some other provincial team?

No – it was developed from a well-organised and well supported competition within their own country.

If SANZAR wants to drop an Australian team to maximise their profits, maybe we should just tell them to stick it.

Let's focus on Australian teams playing more games and building strength at home (like the rugby league teams) and we can look forward to showing the world how to play the game with international test matches.

Bruce Boyd, Bruce

Aspirational Forrest 

Forrest Residents Group chair Margaret Atcherley, whilst worrying that her "aspirational" suburb is becoming more like Gungahlin ("Gungahlinised: Forrest residents slam approval of hotel",, March 15) bemoans the rates. When citing the case of an elderly woman paying $15,000 per year, she fails to mention  this lucky lady must be sitting on land worth a cool $2.6 million (ACT Revenue Office rates calculator). This doesn't include the value of the house on her large block, but is well beyond what this Gungahlin resident can realistically aspire to.

Andrew Braddock, Gungahlin

High Rise Capital

So our new car registration plates are to be "Canberra the Bush Capital". Surely "Canberra the High Rise Capital" would be more appropriate.

Maureen Fisher, Hawker

Never mind  Snowy Hydro II – when will NBN be completed?

The Prime Minister has revealed his plan to to solve the electricity supply crisis by expanding the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electricity Scheme.

When will Mr Turnbull announce the successful completion of his faster, better National Broadband Network Plan?

The latest NBN progress report on February 28 states: "The national broadband network (NBN) completion is faced with a challenging task: to double its rollout in 2017, and double it again in 2018, in order to stay on track with its completion date of 2020, according to the latest NBN Corporate Plan."

I hope the Prime Minister is not taking bets!

Ted Tregillgas, Flynn

Pumped hydro acts like a battery. Assuming that the pumps operate for an average of four hours per day using excess solar power, the new Snowy pumped hydro facility cost would be $0.25 per Wh, and drops even lower if the pumping time is extended by using excess wind power.

A Tesla battery, which would have a shorter usable life, and a capacity that could not be extended like pumped hydro can be, would provide 14kWh for (retail) $8000 corresponding to $0.57 per Wh.

Turnbull's expansion of Snowy Hydro with an additional 2000MW of pumped power for $2 billion dollars is a good move.

Bruce A. Peterson, Kambah

Where will the Prime Minister (Snowy Mountains Scheme Mk II) get the water to turn Turnbull's turbines?

The Snowy's main storage, Lake Eucumbene, hasn't been full since the 1970s and at times since then has dropped nearly to below operating level.

Lakes Jindabyne and Tantangara also struggle for enough water each year and the all-important winter snow volumes are declining.

No more dams are planned so it will be interesting to see where next year's Snowy Mk II feasibility study plans to source the water for what appears to be a quickly conceived political knee-jerk project.

Graham Pike, Kiama, NSW

Malcolm Turnbull's grand pumped storage scheme for the Snowy may need a little more thought.

Pumped storage uses more electricity than it produces, its benefit being it uses it when it is not needed by other users and produces it when it is needed.

Present pumped storage schemes use power from coal-fired, baseload power stations at night to pump up and thus produce more greenhouse gases per unit of electricity produced than the coal-fired power station itself.

As there is no solar power and little wind power at night, where will the low-polluting power come from once our coal-fired power stations eventually close?

Alan Robertson, Canberra City

Malcolm Turnbull's proposal to augment The Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric scheme to provide pumped storage for renewable energy is a game changer. But, since it will take four to seven years to deliver results, it raises both short and longer-term questions.

What can be done to increase the reliability of electricity supply in the short term?

South Australia's solution includes the emergency use of a gas-fired generator, a bank of electric batteries, and the possibility of a new solar thermal plant at Whyalla (which stores energy as heat, accessed on demand to produce electricity via conventional steam turbines).

Professor Andrew Blakers, of ANU, proposes augmenting storage on the national grid by constructing many small-scale pumped hydro plants. He has located suitable sites throughout south-east Australia.

All these ways of storing renewable energy (produced cheaply by wind, solar and hydroelectric power) may be needed in the longer term, in addition to Snowy Mountains 2.0, to increase reliability as we move towards an electricity grid powered entirely by renewables.

We are building an economy with zero net carbon emissions.  The sooner we and other countries achieve this goal, the more we reduce the very real risk of runaway climate change.

David Teather, Reid

Taken for a ride

Around 10 years ago, the Commonwealth moved heaven and earth to offload its share in the Snowy scheme and failed. Memory failure or cynicism? Whatever, the electorate is being taken for a ride.

Sarah Brasch, Weston

Perhaps Bill Shorten could hijack Malcolm's Snowy proposal with a slogan like: "Don't let Malcolm stuff up the Snowy expansion like he did the NBN".

H. Simon, Watson

Surely, it will be the much-maligned renewable energy, possibly from South Australia, that will boost the water up the hill? CT, Friday March 17.

John Simsons, Holt

Big business wins

When will Turnbull realise the states are just modernising their energy production in adopting renewables, despite the federal government neglecting to modernise the electricity grid between the states.

The coal lobby seems to have the LNP totally locked into the 1950s.

Despite them being subsidised to dig coal, they are not prepared to invest substantially in not so "clean coal".

This is yet another example of government listening to big business resistance to change at the expense of the rest of the country.

Colin Handley, Lyneham

A day's work counts

While M Pascoe (letters, March 17) has a point, it's not the one they are trying to make.

A single day a week of paid work would be a "step up" for over 700,000 unemployed Australians, never mind the other hundreds of thousands not in the workforce, or underemployed.

No doubt many do vote for the Greens, knowing that the policies of successive Labor and Liberal-National governments have failed them and the country as a whole.

Peter Marshall, Captains Flat, NSW

Good on ya, Chuck

Hail , hail Rock 'n' Roll, Vale, Vale Number 1.

Gone to join Maybellene and Johnnie B Goode in the Promised Land.

Bruce Arthurson, Surf Beach, NSW



Is an inland city in a dry land that grows at more than eight per cent per year, consuming iconic landmarks such as the Murrumbidgee and Ginninderra Gorges, sustainable? Or is it an example of the ACT government's eco-hypocrisy? Jenny Stewart ("A minute to midnight", Forum, March 18, p.11) suggests the latter.

Dave Kelly, Aranda


The aged parent visa is available to people over the age of 65 who have a child settled in Australia. The Department warns applicants they may be forced to wait up to 30 years because of demand and limited places. I guess the visa, if granted, would become available after most applicants are dead.

Peter Dahler, Calwell


Michael F Buggy (letters, March 20) worries about "political correctness" destroying our senses of humour. If the phrase "political correctness" worries Michael, he might like to think of PC as standing for "polite consideration" or, if he prefers, simple, old fashioned, "good manners".

Eric Hunter, Cook


Interviewed on Radio National this morning (March 20), shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus came up with the deep profundity that changing Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act would not create a single job. The interviewer neglected to ask the obvious question: Who said it would?

Bill Deane, Chapman


Peter Dutton should probably be a bit careful what he says about the part corporations play in the political process. Apart from the fact he affects to support free speech he's probably going to be looking for a job with one of them in about two years.

Peter Edsor, Bungendore, NSW


The ACT's infection rate of campylobacter bacteria, which leads to gastroenteritis, is 150per cent the national average. My observation is that the ACT has fewer public toilets with soap, compared with other states and countries. It's time for the ACT government to act.

John Skurr, Deakin


It would be interesting to read an estimate of the income required to take advantage of the geriatric isolation ghettos planned for Canberra's ageing population ("Developments aim to meet aged need", March 18, pp22-23).

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

Email: 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).