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Canberra Times letters to the editor: Lake folly is disgraceful

There has been a steady stream of letters in The Canberra Times on the planning flaws in Canberra, such as by Penleigh Boyd (June 27),  and substantial articles by the Auditor General on what appears to be very questionable government procedures. 

The government is about to commence spending $37 million for the infilling of part of the lake in West Basin to enhance the area for a dense estate of private apartments. 

The public's compensation will be a concrete walkway and some barbecues, but with no public parking areas the use of barbecues will be limited to  apartment estate residents.

For two years Lake Burley Griffin Guardians has been requesting a review of the West Basin proposal only to be brushed off by the government with the comment "the West Basin development is locked in". 

The public has not seen a heritage impact assessment or a final master plan for West Basin or any feasible proposal for bridging of Parkes Way. Nor has the public seen a cost benefit analysis that considers the contingency of losing a popular central park that is a visitor/tourist destination in the heart of the nation. The ACT government along with the ACT Greens shows scant interest in heritage conservation and no knowledge of how important it is for the public to retain a living green recreation environment. 

Our national capital is fast becoming an urban mess where decent planning and heritage conservation is long gone and our central lake system is being butchered. 

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The West Basin work should be halted to allow appropriate research and planning for this important green heart of Canberra.

Sue Byrne, Reid

The latest copy of Our Canberra shows an artist's impression of how the West Basin area might look when developed. 

It reveals, when looking east from West Basin, how the graceful lines of the bridge could be hidden and how new buildings are likely to obscure the pleasant and essential treescape. 

It has the potential to be an insensitive interruption to the continuity of the landscaping of Commonwealth Park on the other side of the bridge.

The private residential development in the north-east corner is a planning mistake, creating a visual barrier to any graceful "city to lake" connection. 

It blatantly favours the wealthy in such an obvious way, undermining our  egalitarian community attitude. It is also fundamentally wrong to obtrude  on a magnificent view of the Brindabellas from Vernon Circle in a "Blow you Jack, I'm all right" manner. 

It is arrogantly thumbing its nose at good planning.

Lastly, the viewing windows from the apartments will be facing west, requiring solar shading (inconsistent with the wonderful view) and their northern windows will overlook Parkes Way with all its traffic noise. Solar heating from these windows will prove inadequate, planners seemingly not understanding architectural problems.

Slowly but surely the attractive qualities of the bush capital are being eroded by unnecessary man-made structures to make our city like Sydney and Melbourne.

Derek F. Wrigley, Mawson 

Drug argument fails

In his letter about our prison facilities problems ("Drug strategy wanting", July 7) Bill Bush, vice-president, Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform, bemoans the fact then Liberal Chief Minister Kate Carnell did not get approval for a heroin injecting room trial. 

Essentially, methadone treatment is a secondary prevention maintenance program aimed at controlling heroin and other opioid dependence/addiction. 

In October 1995 the Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health, in its review of methadone treatment in Australia, reported: "For Australia as a whole, the number of clients participating in methadone programs increased from approximately 6500 in 1989, to nearly 15,000 in 1994". 

In 2016 the estimated number of persons on methadone was 51,000.

There is an accepted link between numbers becoming dependent on opioids and numbers on methadone. The greater the increase in the former, the greater the numbers on methadone. Consequently the 240 per cent jump in the 21 years to 2016 has not normalised lives, exampling only the failure of the drug strategy to prevent first-time opioid use. 

Colliss Parrett, Drug Advisory Council Australia, Barton

Blame where it's due

Julie Tongs (Letters, July 5) advises "If the ACT government is seriously looking for a reason for its consistent failure to address Indigenous disadvantage in Canberra (Step Up for Kids) would be a good place to start". I suggest an even better place to start would be a reading of Aboriginal activist Jacinta Price's article in The Spectator Australia (June 24) titled "Men of Violence: Aborigines must defeat the abuse that comes from within their own culture". 

In summary, it states "We cannot expect government to solve the problems that belong to us. We cannot expect whitefellas to continue to shoulder the blame for our women dying".

Bill Deane, Chapman

 Role of unions

The letter from Glenn Fowler, secretary the ACT branch of the Australian Education Union, (July 8) is contentious in that it suggests the main AEU objectives are the support of social issues and not teaching conditions and education standards. The CFMEU has been severely criticised for its recent actions but they were based on the support of members' rights and safety standards.

It would appear to leave social engineering issues to the ALP.

John Reaney, Queanbeyan

This high-speed train should not be running late — so just build it

According to a report by Infrastructure Australia, a high-speed rail between Canberra and Sydney could be operating in 15 years ("High speed rail in 15 years", July 7, p1). 

What? Fifteen years! We want it now. If old, tired and heavily indebted Spain can build kilometres of high-speed rail and all its accompanying infrastructure – railways stations, workshops, service centres, etc – all over the country in about 25 years; surely we can build a 900-km high-speed rail between Sydney and Melbourne via Canberra in less than 15 years. 

Come on, Mr/Ms Politician, what are you waiting for? Show a bit of vision and guts. 

Fifty per cent of Australia's population lives in that corridor! You cannot go wrong with a fast train linking the two cities...as soon as possible.

John Rodriguez, Florey

 After an exasperated shaking of the head, I had to acknowledge that your piece on "imminent" (in 15 years) high-speed rail between Canberra and Sydney exuded chutzpah, given the sad and sorry stop-start nature of this debate over decades. For those of us who have heard all this before, ad nauseum, it uncannily coincided with electoral cycles or some troubling political circumstance from which a distraction was needed.

You only have to travel to Europe, and so-called "developing" countries, to know that our public transport system in Australia is thoroughly inadequate to serve — in comparable global terms - a mere 24million people.

 For the present, high-speed rail is the holy grail; an aspirational goal for those who still believe in the promises of politicians ... or fairies at the bottom of the garden.

A.Whiddett, Forrest

No way out

I was saddened but not at all surprised to read of the problems at Bimberi ("Revealed: The 'living hell' of life inside the Bimberi youth detention centre", July 4,  p1). 

I used to work in a maximum security prison, and Bimberi would probably be no worse than most of the juvenile justice "prep schools" my inmates attended to prepare them for life in the "big house". We can't fix Bimberi, which should be replaced with small residential units, consistent with overseas practice. 

The problem with this obvious solution is that our political leaders in the ACT are too gutless to implement it. 

The residents' associations, which would want juvenile delinquents as badly as they want housing commission tenants and mosque-building Muslims, would have to be dealt with. 

What about the correctional officers, most of whom would be incapable of obtaining employment elsewhere? 

No, society's young losers will have to suffer and the taxpayers will have to pay to fix the horrendous damage caused by Bimberi.

John Mason, Latham

Visitors report

 Having been a former Official Visitor in the ACT for 10 years, I am very surprised to read the comments of a former Official Visitor at Bimberi ("Bimberi youth living without hope", July 7, p1). I note that Mr Bashford was appointed an Official Visitor in June 2016. 

In eight months he visited Bimberi four times – or about once every eight weeks.  

Readers can be certain that the young persons held at Bimberi would not know who he was and in no way would they trust him with their problems or issues. His lack of attention to his role and duties can only be viewed as very lacking in commitment. 

Rather than quit when the issues he raised were "dismissed" as he claims, why did he not report his concerns direct to the minister responsible?

One would hope that his two colleagues appointed at the same time performed their duty more often than Mr Bashford is reported to have done. In the current enquiry into recent events at the Centre, the role and performance of these Official Visitors should also be carefully investigated as part of the alleged problems. 

I also note in the article that Official Visitors report through the Directorate that is supposed to be independently monitoring. If this is truly the case, such independence is a farce.  If the Official Visitor Scheme is being reviewed, it is hoped that the once fully independent Official Visitor role is not further diluted.

G.W.Potts, Holder

Arguments derailed

The placement of Susan MacDougal's excellent description of the anti-tram letter writers (Letters, July 7) was very strategic of the letters editor, considering the confused contributions of messrs Quarterman, Marks and Emery that followed. 

Mr Quarterman claims buses sustain 80 km/h along Adelaide Avenue, which Mr Emery trumps with a claim they safely do 100km/h. 

The reality is buses often do close to 90 km/h, while carrying up to 110 unrestrained people in the same traffic lanes as Australia's worst drivers.  

The trio claim light rail journey times will be considerably greater than bus times. 

Putting some sense around this claim, the Woden to Civic distance is about 11 kilometres. Therefore, theoretical non-stop travel times will differ by less than a minute. Of course, both modes will stop for passengers. 

Mr Emery also makes the absurd claim of a threefold increase in journey times if light rail follows the favoured route and services the Parliamentary triangle employment and tourist zones. 

The actual increases would only be marginal.

Bill Gemmell, Holder

No praise for vision

For just a fleeting moment I thought we might just hear the Turnbull government congratulate Jay Weatherill for his visionary acceptance of Tesla's bold commitment to build a 100-megawatt lithium ion battery farm. 

The battery  is in conjunction with SA's wind farms, but alas  the mining industry and other businesses have no intention of allowing the likes of Mr Weatherill to get a foot in the door when it comes to alternate power generation.

Instead of Mr Weatherill being applauded for his visionary approach to power generation he has a federal government that will do everything it can to destroy him.

Thankfully South Australia has always been able to rise above the negativity it encounters from the flat earthers.

D. J. Fraser, Currumbin, QLD

TO THE POINT

GOOSE, GANDER

North Korea just wanted what a lot of other countries have, (I want what they have!). It makes them feel safer!

Pamela Fawke, Dunlop

MEDICAL AID FOR SOME

I'm intrigued that the US medical system can come up with a treatment for a terminal illness which affects only 16 people worldwide. On the other hand, big pharma can't see a compelling business case for the development of new classes of antibiotics. Please  explain.

S. W. Davey, Torrens

 JUST A TRUMPISM

Covfefe. Did Trump mean "kerfuffle"? No, I think he was writing "coverage" but felt it needed jazzing up and making sexier.

Michael McCarthy, Deakin

THROWING STONES

Could Fr Robert Willson (Letters, July 5) inform us as to which of Christ's values permits him to mock Amanda Vanstone's faith?   

 Peter Snowdon, Aranda 

 ABBOTT SINKING SHIP 

I wish if it is possible, that all Australians clap hands for Mr Abbott at once. He is having his sweet revenge. His party is crumbling and he gets all the credit for that. Hope he can live with that.

 Mokhles K. Sidden, South Strathfield, NSW 

TROUBLED WATERS

Australia appears to be floundering. Non-mining business investment hasn't materialised,  though our dollar is down, interest rates are at record lows, and wages aren't growing.    

Rod Matthews, Fairfield, Victoria 

MAKING A KILLING

There will be plenty of lucrative land deals done long before the first rail for the high-speed train is laid.

Bert Castellari, Curtin

SHAME ON THE ARU ... 

Hearty congratulations for the ACT Schoolboy Rugby team in winning the recent championships. That they have two representatives in the Australian Schoolboys Team of 20 is symptomatic of the diabolical state of Australian Rugby. Shame on the ARU. 

Andrew Gordon, Tuross Head, NSW

... AND ON MITOLO

The attempt by Australia's biggest potato grower, Mitolo Group, to have the Fair Work Commission rule that the lower rates of the Horticulture Award apply to its store workers rather than the Storage Service Award, as currently, sounds like an opportunity for its farm workers ("Spitting chips: potato giant accused of 'wage theft"', July 6, p10).

Mitolo should expect a riposte. 

 Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor