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Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Sports cuts are bad? Try focusing on cuts to science, they are worse

Andrew Leigh could replicate his comments about the AIS ("Will Canberra lose the shrinking Australian Institute of Sport for Good?" June 9) with a similar article about CSIRO. It would take only minor changes to do so.

Such an eminent economist as Dr Leigh would know better than I do that science is a driver of innovation and wealth for the country, unlike Olympic sport which does, it would seem, great harm to many of the young people involved.

It is a national disgrace that both parties over many years have shrunk CSIRO funding which has responded by sacking scientists, closing and selling off facilities and terminating important research.

It is sad that even someone with the intellectual capacity of Dr Leigh would comment on elite sport rather than the nation's premier scientific organisation, much of which is also in his electorate.

Steve Thomas, Yarralumla

Settle with fists

It's wonderful that Chief Scientist Alan Finkel is coming up with a new energy policy but there are so many other factors to consider.

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For instance, what does the Chinese government want us to do and how much money will it withhold if our government disobeys it? And does the new plan mean that Adani won't go ahead? In that case, the government can't give Adani a billion of our tax dollars. The Coalition and the Labor Party may have already budgeted for some of that money to return to them via donations – money desperately needed to convince a sceptical nation that they are worth voting for.

Wouldn't it be better to arrange a fight between Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten? That might be popular with Rupert Murdoch, and isn't the Coalition one of the executive arms of the Murdoch empire? Murdoch apparently doesn't care about climate change so can the Coalition defy him? And then there are the conservatives in the Coalition – mulish creatures that psychologists have yet to explain. Most Australians, including Coalition voters, want renewable energy but our democracy doesn't prioritise voters. As Donald Trump said, no one would have guessed that governing is so difficult.

Rosemary Walters

Charge account

It is illogical that the cost of producing electricity has risen with the proliferation of solar panels on rooftops.

The feed-in tariffs are less than they charge users. Capital and maintenance costs without published data could have risen but certainly not by the same percentage as the increase in charges.

The only conclusion I can come to is that ActewAGL has lost revenue from the solar panel installations and is seeking to bolster their bottom line by ripping off customers.

Capital costs of solar farms are cheaper than coal and gas with no ongoing costs other than maintenance. Electricity charges should be reducing.

Max Jensen, Chifley

Change already here

Yes, "climate has always changed" (John McKerral, letters, June 8) in past millennia, but the rate of warming in the present episode has been greater than in any previous warming period. Most importantly, in the past six or seven decades, the rate of warming has been at least 10 times faster than any previous warming event, and has kept increasing: the average global temperature versus time curve keeps getting steeper.

There is abundant evidence of global warming. To name just a few: Both the Antarctic and, more noticeably, the Arctic icecaps are inexorably decreasing is size. Glaciers and snow lines all around the world are retreating (the Himalayas and Alaska are notable examples); some, including in Papua New Guinea, have disappeared. Sea levels are slowly rising, though not, of course, uniformly. In the north of Norway, a huge collection of seeds from plants from all over the world, designed to keep then in indefinite frozen safety in a chamber dug tens of metres below the surface of the tundra, was recently found to have been flooded due to previously unheard of melting of the tundra. Fortunately, the seeds were not harmed.

One doesn't need rose-tinted glasses to see that renewable energy is here to stay. The cost of solar energy keeps decreasing and its efficiency keeps improving. In most countries, all new energy generation plants being built or in planning are solar or wind-fuelled. India and China are both intending to shift from fossil fuel to renewables for energy generation.

As for employment, in the US, for example, the solar-energy business alone employs more people than oil, coal and gas-fired energy generators combined (IFL Science, January 19, 2017; The Independent, January 24, 2017).

Like South Australia, other states and countries will use fossil fuels for base-load energy generation until storage technology (pumped hydro and/or batteries) catches up with renewable energy technology; and the gap is closing.

By the way, I am a scientist, with a PhD in geology.

Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

A kick in the guts

As eloquently articulated by Michael McLaren, the federal government has control over the three major expenses facing Australians: energy, fuel and mortgage payments. Again we see the small business sector being asked to do the heavy lifting with the $22 weekly wage increase to assist Australians meeting these turbo-charged increases.

All we hear is talk, inquiries and meetings, with no outcome to actually do something practical to solve these issues.

Here in this social cocoon of Canberra it is an even bigger kick in the guts for small business. Not only do they have the three big costs burden, plus the $22 weekly wage increase, but this government of fiscal vandals has increased rates and land tax 300 per cent above the CPI. There is no doubt this is going to push some small businesses over the edge.

Brendan Ryan, Mawson

The end of a life

James Allan uses a ridiculous argument in his letter (June 8). There needs to be a deliberate action on the part of the mother (and one other person) before the human being can "arrive" in the womb. That human being is not a stranger, it contains the DNA of the father and the mother.

Also, he is really not talking about "removing" someone. He is talking about ending someone's life.

Nick Stuparich, Bruce

Workers not ones at fault

It's interesting reading about the "worst sickie records in the public service" at the Department of Human Services and Agriculture Department ("Union goes on attack over sickies", CT, June 8, p2).

The union's advice to members regarding management's proposed attendance plans is absolutely correct. However, it is remiss of the union to overlook the key factor in all of this. The people taking "on average, more than three weeks and one day" of their personal leave are not just a bunch of rapscallions skiving off at every opportunity to have fun and frolic in the park. They seem to be seeking respite from what appears to be a toxic working environment.

Absenteeism is not the problem, it is a symptom of a much more serious problem. Faulty management systems, managerial styles, and deteriorating working conditions will each contribute to an increase in the numbers of damaged employees, declining productivity, and overwhelming malaise in the workforce. Don't blame the workers for a problem created by management.

W.Book, Hackett

Vision limited

Andrew Barr slinks away from the execrable, utterly ill-considered Westside Container Village which could never, ever, be described as a "village": it was always a slum, a hulking and ugly blight on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, offending the foreshore and the natural vista. This was obvious to young and old. You did not have to be wizened to appreciate this – just sensitised to our natural surroundings. This "village" repelled anyone with a sense of aesthetics.

The latest desecration of the lake foreshore in the quest for "vibrancy" (i.e. commercial profits) is just another government-developer conspiracy to stealthily whittle away the public amenity of Canberra in favour of private interests.

A.Whiddett, Yarralumla

Every time the National Capital Authority or the ACT government releases a new drawing of West Basin, this part of Lake Burley Griffin seems to shrink a bit more to make room for future land sales. The latest rendering (Canberra Times, June 7, p8) illustrates this point, especially compared to early drawings for the City to the Lake project.

Based on a false interpretation of Griffin's vision for the lake which now bears his name, the ACT government is to get more than four hectares of submerged land in West Basin, reclaiming a strip up to 80 metres wide. Why? So it can build an eight-metre wide promenade, pavilions and coffee concessions, a cycle path and a road over the lakebed, which will then enable the new City Renewal Authority to sell the maximum amount of developable land on prime West Basin Estate for apartments, offices, restaurants and bars.

Development of West Basin is a rare opportunity to create a landmark precinct for the nation at the lake's shore. It would be an excellent site for the Australia Forum convention centre or a national institution.

Yet the best the ACT government can think up is more high-density shops and flats with limited on-street public parking, while incidentally creating a foreshore restaurant/bar district over the muddy bottom and cold north shore of the lake. Even the swimming pool looks to have now been put off and probably won't happen.

Canberra needs a world-class inner city public lakeside precinct. Linking the City to the Lake, joining Acton Peninsula to Civic and bringing light rail close to the best greenfield waterfront site in Canberra are all good in theory. But West Basin should not be alienated from public use, should not have its landscape heritage value trashed for private profit, and should not be repurposed as Kingston Foreshore 2.0. Think "Stanley Park Vancouver" rather than "King St Wharf Sydney".

I urge Canberra residents to have a say now about the future of West Basin. You can give your views on the National Capital Authority's proposed Kings and Commonwealth Avenue Design Strategy (at www.nationalcapital.gov.au, open till July 3) and the ACT's Light Rail Stage Two route (yoursay.act.gov.au/LRS2, until June 11).

There are many good elements in these proposals but neither seems to be giving much weight to the north-south traffic restrictions and congestion that would follow, especially the additional traffic load from a new suburb in West Basin.

You can also comment on the Acton Peninsula Precinct Draft Structure Plan (available on the NCA and other websites but only open till June 13) which has great merit but it also has heritage impacts and includes further land reclamations to make way for development sites on ACT-managed land in the north and west of West Basin. It's not yet too late to stop the sell-off of public foreshore land in Lake Burley Griffin.

Mike Lawson, New Acton

More hikes to come

People complaining about another big hike in rates by Mr Barr, well in excess again of the CPI (where personal incomes are essentially stuck), have not seen anything yet as the hikes to pay for the tram are yet to come.

CanTheTram has been saying for more than two years that the Gungahlin-Civic tram will cost householders an average of more than $500 a year for 20 years in higher rates or government debt. Either way, the householder pays (whether owner or renter). Stage 2 to Woden will be even more expensive than Stage 1 and considerably less cost-effective. So, when that comes on stream, we householders can expect, on average, an additional $650 or so a year for 20 years.

To all those starry-eyed Labor/Greens supporters who voted for the tram, I hope you enjoy paying for it.

M. Flint, Erindale

TO THE POINT

WAGES TRAIL BEHIND

So ACT retail electricity and natural gas bills will rise by around $333 and $247 respectively for typical households from July 1, 2017. I can see the recent lifting of the minimum wage by 59c per hour or $22 a week will go a long way to help paying these bills.

Peter Dahler, Calwell

NAMING RIGHTS

In light of a series of controversial, unwelcome and unpopular decisions by the highly self-regarded Chief Minister, the latest being the West Basin lakeside land sell-off to property developers, I would like to accord him the place in history he apparently seeks by proposing a new name for the nation's capital – CanBarrA.

Doug Foskett, Griffith

UGLY VISION

Mr Barr's latest faux pas is the desire to move a shipping container into Mount Stromlo forest. Does he really think a shipping container enhances a forest? Get with it, Mr Barr! Take off your dollar-sign goggles and get someone to advise you about what is beautiful for Canberra and what is ugly. You're wrecking the place!

P.A. Upward, O'Connor

NOT A WIN-WIN

Is it possible that our US-controlled feckless government could one day realise the terrorists are coming over here because we are over there? It's called logic. The US at least benefits from the sale of $300billion of military weapons to Saudi Arabia alone, to cover its dirty deeds. Australia on the other hand, just gets a pat on the back from its US masters.

Rhys Stanley, Hall, NSW

POETRY DECLINING

In the preface to his Leaves of Grass (1885), Walt Whitman wrote, "The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem". Indeed they have been, from their Civil War to the Marshall Plan. But now they only trumpet doggerel.

Eva Reid, Farrer

COAL STILL KING

We hear that climate change threatens the planet,but 120 coal-fired power plants are under construction in south-east Asia, about 100 in Africa, and 45 planned for Japan. Burning coal seems fashionable.

Rod Matthews, Fairfield, Vic

BRITISH VOTE

Excuse my mirth but I am getting perverse pleasure from the results of the British election. Considering Labor was seen by many as a non-event leading up to voting, there will be many washing egg off their faces.

D.J.Fraser, Currumbin, Qld

With Theresa May, the Iron Lady Mark II, heading for the scrap heap, will Britain's answer to Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, soon be PM?

Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld

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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