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Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Great architect's dream of capital squandered for a mess of pottage

The success of the achievement of Lake Burley Griffin ("From ugly swampling to our swan lake", June 16, p1) is a great Canberra heritage story.

The lake as the city centrepiece was a key element of the Griffin's brilliant plan for a central city lake with a perimeter parklands. But it was the skilled research of the hydrologists, engineers and landscape architects under the direction and persistence of Prime Minister Menzies that transformed Griffin's concept drawings to a beautiful, refreshing reality.

Menzies paid tribute to Griffin's visionary work by naming the lake in his honour and also spoke of other aspects that resonate today: "I see this lake ultimately not as something purely artificial in its surrounding but as a haunt of birds, as a haunt of wildlife. Indeed, I am optimistic enough to think the day will come when tourists coming through will be able to feed the swans and this will be quite a feature of the city."

Today the masterwork of the lake's achievement is not protected in a heritage listing. Instead both the federal and ACT governments are in filling the lake waters to sell off the West Basin parklands for private apartments. This is not an act of Griffin legacy, as the governments claim, but a travesty of our lake's visionary planning and a brutal kick in the head to our nation's heritage.

Juliet Ramsay, Burra

Going off half-cocked

In regards to the article "ACT first jurisdiction to pass laws restricting Adler lever-action shotguns" (canberratimes.com.au, June 6), I am curious as to why there was no mention of the fact that this legislation was pushed through despite concerns from the ACT Firearms Registry, or a distinct lack of consultation with lawful firearm owners.

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There is also no mention of what the concerns raised were.

After reading Minister Gentleman's speech from the March Hansard, it is clear that he should have sought much more advice than he has, given the justification of this legislation rides almost entirely on emotion and misinformation.

The minister clings tenaciously to the inaccurate claims of lever-action firearms evolving into "rapid fire" technology and the NFA "keeping up with technology".

I also draw attention to the lack of another question which is equally pertinent: with all of the focus on imposing further restrictions on lawful firearm ownership in the name of public safety, how then did a criminal obtain a fully automatic firearm, then go onto shoot a police officer?

Full-auto firearms are illegal for private ownership to the vast majority of citizens, yet a person with a significant criminal background still managed to obtain one.

Surely this is where the attention of our legislators should lie.

Shane Bennett, Firearm Owners United Leadership Team, Canberra

Art for art's sake

To all those Canberra philistines who rail against public art, get over it.

Artists in Canberra are generally undervalued, underpaid and unfortunately far too little recognised.

Their work makes us think on a higher level and escape the daily drudgery. It should be everywhere in a civilised city, not just in the Arboretum. Though I have long thought the Arboretum would be a fantastic place to showcase, not dump, our art in a natural setting.

Art is meant to make us think and discuss its virtues. The very fact the Louis Pratt's Backwards Attitude has prompted discussion means it is a success.

I hope we see more art in the forest.

Bryan Cossart, Stirling

Rules for some

Full TV news coverage for a Syrian man trying to get to from Sydney to Syria to fight.

The crime "a hostile act in a foreign territory".

Yet we tolerate Australian mercenaries fighting for the UAE under the control of an ex-Australian Army general, Michael Hindmarsh, controlled by Saudi Arabia and the US.

We have allowed Israeli dual-passported so-called "Australians" to come and go as they please and kill Palestinians for decades and made no effort to stop those actions.

Obviously it depends on who you are and your political connections.

Rex Williams, Ainslie

Stooges in dock

So, three of the ideological "stooges" of the Turnbull government, ministers Hunt, Sukkar and Tudge, could face hard time in the slammer for contempt of court ("Ministers to be hauled before Supreme Court after criticising terror sentencing", canberratimes.com.au, June 15).

We can only hope that they won't find themselves facing sentencing before Victoria has a chance to review and strengthen its probation laws and that, if sent away, they will serve their time in solitary confinement, so as to avoid their fellow inmates becoming "radicalised".

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

No bias by gender

Observations by the CPSU on gender pay reported in Friday's Canberra Times are inaccurate.

In the APS there is no significant difference in pay between genders at individual classifications.

It is a strength of the APS that employees are paid the same for work of the same value.

The statement by the CPSU that "there's no excuse why women and men shouldn't be getting paid the same for work of the same level, whether they're working in a Commonwealth department or the private sector" erroneously suggests that such differences occur in the Australian Public Service.

The 2016 Remuneration Report shows there is no gender pay gap on a classification basis.

The government's bargaining policy is not gender biased. It provides up to 2 per cent per annum in wage increases with no gender segmentation.

The reason for a low annual remuneration increase for some staff is that the CPSU has opposed pay offers. The CPSU's own action has denied its members and others a pay increase for up to 3 years. This is the simple result of the CPSU policy.

John Lloyd, Australian Public Service Commissioner

Lock 'em up for full term

The Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues ought to take care when criticising the judiciary. When they claim that the judiciary is independent it has to be taken with some degree of care.

The judiciary is independent when it comes to what should happen in the court, when the verdict has been handed down. But that, in my opinion, is where the independence ends. The courts apply the laws that have been handed down from the governments.

We need the governments to review their stance on parole. So when there is criticism that a violent offender or a convicted terrorist is paroled, it's because the government allowed that to happen not the judge.

Governments in Australia don't want the cost of running jails to increase, that is why they are so liberal with parole.

I'm sure I'm not the lone ranger when I suggest we would not complain if our taxes were marginally increased to ensure violent offenders and convicted terrorists are imprisoned for their full sentence.

Hugh McGowan, Holt

Beware the little men

Brave of Steve Biddulph ("The role of shame in incidents like the Lindt Cafe siege", canberratimes.com.au, June 14) to maintain that Man Haron Monis really wasn't a terrorist, despite that being the discredited opinion of the operational police commanders and their consulting psychiatrist, whose names are now mud. But surely the salient point is not their allegiance or lack of it but whether or not they expect to survive.

Steve alludes to a truth about patriarchal monogamy which rarely dares speak its name. The main danger to social harmony is humiliated, powerless men.

While they may be on the lowest rung of the male hierarchy they have always, until recently, been able to control their wife and children; any restriction of their freedom by society implies diminution of that control.

I think the case of Monis speaks eloquently to this truth.

S. W. Davey, Torrens

Move insults agency

Do the Nationals have no shame? Not content with decimating a functioning government agency, the APVMA, in the name of their ill-conceived "decentralisation" policy, they now insult the remaining overworked staff by stating that the purpose of the move to Armidale is the only way to repair an "inefficient" organisation ("Coalition senators cry relocation witch-hunt", June 14, p6).

Where are Malcolm Turnbull and Martin Parkinson when you need them, particularly now a "proper, balanced and focused decentralised inquiry" seems to be on the cards?

Malcolm Robertson, Chapman

Taking the test

The federal government is actively considering a written test for those who want to become Australian citizens.

To make sure that terrorists are kept out, the test will be of the same standard as a university exam.

This isn't a bad idea but, as usual, it's not applied to our most important citizens – those who sit in Federal Parliament and make our laws. This time they want us to think that obeying those laws is apparently so difficult that newcomers to Australia must sit an exam, but making them, of course, is just easy-peasy.

It's time for all those who are already Australian to stand up and tell our MPs and senators what's what here.

It is they, not wannabe citizens, who should sit this test, and then be thrown out of Parliament if they fail it.

G. T. W. Agnew, Coopers Plains, Qld

A nation of laws

The Australian government's decision to settle the 1905 Manus Island detainees' class action for wrongful imprisonment with hefty ($70 million) compensation payouts should serve as a stark reminder to state officials (ministers and senior bureaucrats) that we are a nation of laws, not of men.

Many human rights defenders and refugee advocates had repeatedly pointed out that the incarceration of the refugees in the detention centre on Manus Island was unlawful, inhumane and cruel, but they were castigated by state officials who had a false sense of power to make arbitrary decisions regarding the detention of refugees.

Hope appropriate lessons have been learned by state authorities for future reference.

Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

Islam is a problem

Usman Mahmood (Letters, June 15) conflates the small percentage of sociopaths and psychopaths that exist at the fringe of every society with the seemingly bottomless talent pool of militant Islamic extremists, whose behaviour is clearly sanctioned in Islam's seminal texts.

Yes, Usman, terrorists exist in every race, colour and religion, but the absence of any Buddhist suicide bombers railing against Chinese tyranny in Tibet and thesheer number of deluded miscreants who honestly think that killing Westerners grants them a ticket to paradise highlights a particular problem with the teachings of Islam.

James Allan, Narrabundah

Brown paper answer

Jevon Kinder (Letters, June 6) has correctly identified that Andrew Barr's ban on plastic bags in the ACT has been only partially successful.

When I arrived in Canberra in the late '60s the Manuka supermarket only provided brown paper bags. As one option, these could be reintroduced.

Brian Brocklebank, Bruce

Seen this movie before

And who pays the mooted $70million plus for settlement of the Manus Island class action? The bureaucrats? The pollies? Nope, as usual it's the taxpayers.

Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld

TO THE POINT

STAND-UP STUNT

So Malcolm Turnbull has been caught out taking the mickey out of Donald Trump? Perhaps this a cunning ploy to turn his popularity figures around.

M. Moore, Bonython

COMEDY TO BURN

Neither the content nor delivery of Turnbull's speech at the Midwinter Ball can have been as funny as his comments on how he would need to tone it down "next year".

H. Simon, Watson

REGISTER TO VOTE

As Tony Abbott in his disloyalty and self-interest single-handedly loses the next election for his own party, may the electors of Warringah reward him in kind and cast their vote in the most commonsense way. This would result in Tony finding himself the first to lose his comfortable seat.

Sylvia Miners, Isabella Plains

DECLINE AND FALL

P.A. Upward is not alone in lamenting the destruction of our beautiful city (Letters, June 12). I try to avoid Northbourne Avenue now that it has been denuded but when I do have to cross it I deplore "Andrew the Barrbarian" and his cohort of Vandals.

R. I. Boxall, Hawker

GENDER BENDER

I just discovered women generally pay less in car insurance premiums than men. Seeing you can change your gender on so many official documents, and there's moves to even allow it on your birth certificate, I'm wondering if biological males could write themselves down as females on their insurance policy, and save?

J. Coleman, Chisholm

SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE

Is Collis Parrett of the Drug Advisory Council (Letters, June 13) seriously laying the blame on cannabis for an inordinate number of people developing alcohol and tobacco addictions? Maybe there's something in the air at the council chambers and some testing is required.

Matt Ford, Crookwell

BUY LOCAL

I find it strange that the incoming Brumbies coach wants to talk up the fact that he wants local players in his squad within a few days of culling the excellent young local Tom Staniforth, who the Waratahs have snapped up.

Dave Eriksson, Jindabyne

EYE-OPENER

Does anyone else believe, as implied by D. N. Callaghan (Letters, June 15), that sight can be restored for as little as $25 when the actual cost is a few times greater than $25?

I have seen figures that suggest the cost of a cataract operation for a child is about $300; the difference is made up by the Commonwealth.

Ken McPhan, Spence

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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