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Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Heart of the capital under attack and we’re in the dark on detail

I was hopeful after reading the Chief Minister's recent article (Opinion, May 20) that the way planning decisions are made in Canberra might take a turn for the better.

Unfortunately, I heard on the news on May 22 that the government is ploughing ahead with the West Basin development.

The consultation process for this project has been minimal at best and was done about 10years ago.

Last Sunday I was part of a group that asked people, as they walked by the ferry terminal in West Basin, if they were aware of the development and that it included a private housing estate.

Of about 100 people consulted, not one person knew there would be private housing.

In addition, most were shocked that part of the lake was to be filled in. Surely there is a case for going back to the community and asking for their views.

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We are yet to be told the cost of filling in the lake and what materials will be used to do this.

Once the lake is filled in and the concrete boardwalk erected there will be no turning back. At the very least, a professional heritage impact study needs to be conducted on the proposed building estate.

The lake is an icon of our national capital and Canberrans deserve to be fully consulted.

Penny Moyes, Hughes

Beggaring belief

The proposal, outlined in the paper today (May 23) to eliminate the clover leaf intersections at either end of Kings and Commonwealth avenues and replace them with conventional intersections in order to slow traffic down would have to suggest that the planners at the National Capital Authority (NCA) all need to be sacked or the agency abolished.

Those avenues are important through roads and traffic needs to move along them freely. The planners at the NCA need to recognise that they live in the real world and these avenue, while they have ceremonial and symbolic significance, are primarily functional roads, important, as roads tend to be, for getting from A to B.

If they want to give more space for pedestrians and cyclists, then use the space beside the roads and, in any case, the cycle paths over the bridge were widened a few years ago.

It is beyond belief that such a proposal would even be contemplated.

Stan Marks, Hawker

Action needed now

Don Maye's "To the Point" (CT, May 22) on the state of Kambah Village Shops was timely and correct. His comment, as a recent arrival, doesn't mention the ACT government environment and sustainable development booklet "Kambah group  centre master plan", dated July 2012.

Although some maintenance work is currently under way, none of it appears to follow this  five-plus-year-old plan.

However, anything is positive for this rundown and dirty area that has needed renewal for decades. As most of local government "powers that be" live northside, the southside needs attention before the next election.

Even the Kambah Oval signs are almost unreadable. The whole master plan mentioned above needs to be implemented after such a long gestation. And soon.

Ian Warren, Kambah

Election beckons

Andrew Barr's West Basin development ("The lake reclaimed: it's a shore thing at West Basin", May 24, p2) will concrete over two existing open areas: the lake and the adjacent lakeside park.

In exchange, the public will get a concrete walkway, the construction unions will get work for several years and developers will probably make a good profit (and both will continue to donate to Labor), and a few wealthy people will get lakeside apartments.

I forgot the ferry service – expect that to extend to Yarralumla and Weston Park to cater for further lakeside developments.

Unfortunately, it's probably too late to stop this "shore thing". However, at the 2020 ACT election, to be sure this race to the bottom does not continue, voters should elect several sensible independent candidates.

Bruce Paine, Red Hill

In father's footsteps

What a delight to see Heather Henderson's defence of our city so ably supported by her father Sir Robert Menzies ("Why are we spending millions of dollars to become less efficient?" (Letters, May 23).

He was a Liberal prime minister who believed in the primacy of Canberra as our nation's capital and home for the dedicated public servants who support the government of the day. Unlike the government of today, which doesn't.

And what happened to evidence-based policy? Evidently and conveniently ignoring the inconvenient truth about the inefficiency of the APVMA's move to the Deputy Prime Minister's electorate.

Tell me, Barnaby and Fiona, why didn't you start by moving the headquarters of the National Party out of Canberra? Put it right amongst your voters, surely?

Peter Graves, Canberra 

Heather Henderson (Letters, May 23) highlights the folly of attempting to turn one-dog towns in National Party electorates into two-dog towns by sending elements of the public service there.

One further point is worth adding. Unless there is bipartisan support for such moves (which seems unlikely so long as the destinations are safe seats), the substantial costs of sending people and organisations out are likely to be duplicated when sanity returns and they are brought back to Canberra following a change of government.

Michael Maley, Queanbeyan, NSW

It's people, not poor

If we are going to be serious about addressing climate change and the welfare of large sections of humanity, we should be looking at the size of all families, not just those of the poor ("Question posed: Should poor people have fewer children?", May 22, p4).

In the view of many experts, the Earth is already overpopulated, and this is one of the drivers of climate change.

Overpopulation is also a strain on other aspects of the environment, especially food sources and the other natural resources that they require.

There is no valid reason to single out the poor.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Strength grows in centre

Maybe it is time for Australia to have a new centrist party like France. The conflicts within and between Labor and the Coalition will not go away – there is such negativity and it turns voters right off.

Malcolm cannot get the Nationals and conservatives to join the centrists, so policy is a mishmash. Also, the differences between unions and other Labor supporters limit Labor policy.

Perhaps it is too late for Malcolm to establish a new party for centrists, as he has disappointed so many of the public who supported him, so maybe someone new needs to stand up, as occurred in France. In my view, the days of adversarial politics are over – we want sensible policy supported by those with values the majority can align with.

Like in France, it would be good to have the competent/visionary politicians from all parties working together in a centrist party. How about it?

Caroline Fitzwarryne, Yarralumla

Negative results

The bomb explosion in Manchester was a pointless action done by a gullible loser who believed that he was going to paradise for his foolishness. Lone wolf? Bewildered rabbit, more like!

However, I doubt that that bomb has destroyed as many lives as the equally irresponsible policy of negative gearing.

Imagine being without a home, sleeping on the cold concrete, knowing that with your unkempt look, deteriorating health, unwashed body and withno fixed address, you are unemployable.

The lists for government housing stretch for years ahead. You are just one among many miserable people pushing your belongings around in a shopping trolley.

Their lives have imploded.

And why are you on the street? Because negative gearing turns potential homes into empty investments. A "paradise" of wealth for some creates the hellish misery that the poor live in.

Systematic greed is government policy and it shatters more lives than bombs.

Rosemary Walters, Palmerston 

Bubbling under

Snowy Hydro II is still in the thought-bubble stage.

Snowy Hydro Limited executives have estimated that "an essential upgrade of power transmission lines from the mountains into Sydney and Melbourne will cost up to $2 billion" ("Snowy Hydro II may cost double $2b estimation", May 24, p3).

Essential is not necessarily consequential. It is possible that the upgrade is long overdue as the plant degenerated and technology progressed.

That is it could be essentially maintenance, and so arguably an operating cost, not capital expenditure or infrastructure.

The executives also believe that the project could take six, not four, years to complete "because of 'challenging' geology" but have not amended the cost estimate to allow for this expectation.

It may take some time for the figures to harden on this project.

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

Decisions, decisions

Graham Brady (Letters, May 22) is correct in labelling the penalty shootout in soccer as basically unfair. His suggestion of a seven-a-side decider for 30 minutes may well please fans, but will take soccer administrators decades to accept.

While waiting for a better solution, perhaps the soccer hierarchy could adopt an "advantage" rule in the case of draw at full-time.

 This would make the team earning the most corners during the match the winner.

Again, in the event that both teams had  earned the same number of corners (or none) during the match, each team could be awarded three corners in an attempt to score a winning goal, thus involving team tactics.

Still no winner? Then Graham Brady's golden goal – or we could just say "it's a draw" and go home.

Ian Mathews, Garran

In the world football game, results determined by penalty shootouts do not necessarily reflect the conduct, strategy or fairness shown by either team during a game that culminates in a draw.

While respecting the opinions of Graham Brady (Letters, May 22) and Tom Middlemiss (Letters, May 24), might I suggest that more time spent overall in possession in an opponent's half counts towards a one-point win.

A definitive win on goals gathers three points for the win.

This would see more attacking games, more attraction for the spectators, and no draws.

Also it involves all players for the duration of the match, not a select few, as suggested in Graham Brady's scenario of a reduction of the number of players after extra time. 

No extra time in this one.

Greg Simmons, Lyons

Blinkered and vile

Rex Williams (Letters, May 20) crosses the line into racial, cultural and religious intolerance and abuse when he refers to "the Jewish PR machine ... promoting the Holocaust again as they [sic] have for 72 years".

Williams also illustrates just the type of prejudiced and blinkered thinking in commenting on the Israel-Arab conflict, which makes peace so difficult to reach.

He ignores the fate of more than 800,000 Jewish refugees who fled or were forced from their homes in Middle Eastern and North African countries, where they had lived for up to 2600 years.

Most of these Jewish refugees were settled and integrated into Israeli society and not kept in camps for 70 years. 

The circumstances of the Israel/Arab conflict are far more complex than the "alternative facts" presented by Williams, who demonstrates so clearly why this sort of propaganda does nothing to advance the cause of peace.

Robert Cussel, Yarralumla

TO THE POINT

WHISPERING LEAVES

Jill Sutton (Letters, May 24) is right to ask about the planting of different trees in distinct groups at the Arboretum.

In The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben details the interdependence of trees in the forest he manages in Germany. If you thought trees did not "talk" to each other read this book and learn.

Wendy Limbrick Schmidt, Monash

MORAL EQUATION

The 2011 ABS report shows that the homeless population of Australia was 105,237, which included approximately 1000 people sleeping out.

Government agencies and politicians continue to propose a solution with investment as the bottom line.

My question: is this an issue overriding the "moral" one?

Enrico Taglietti, Griffith 

DISGUSTED AT FLOGGING

I am appalled The Canberra Times ("Crowd roars as men flogged for prohibited gay sex", May 24, p.13) is encouraging people to go online to watch a video of a caning.

It is sickening that locals flocked to watch the barbaric event live.

What sort of person would open a video to watch a flogging?

Auriel Barlow, Dickson

TRAGEDY EXPLOITED

How the media must love it when a tragedy or rescue occurs somewhere in the world and photos come down the line of pretty young ladies with their clothes torn asunder.

I am no particular promoter of feminism, but this consistent form of exploitation I find inexcusable and totally unedifying.

Trevor Fowler, Chisholm

I wonder how the victims' families feel when they hear the bomber Salman Abedi was on the radar of the British Intelligence?

If the Lindt Cafe killer Monis' being on the radar of the authorities here isanything to go by they would be feeling awfully let down.

Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

A KILLER IRONY

As I entered Majura Reserve the other morning I noted the warning sign advising visitors that the 'roo cull is currently under way.

It's ironic, isn't it, that the ACT Conservator of Flora and Fauna is responsible for the wasteful slaughter of thousands of kangaroos?

W. Book, Hackett

Maria Taylor claims ("Another unnecessary roo slaughter", May 25, p.19) that if I walk in our bush reserves I will be lucky to see "a kangaroo or two".

This morning I tried. 

Visibility was low due to fog, but within 10 minutes of entering the reserve I had seen 13 roos.

Paul Pentony, Hackett

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