My heart goes out to ''name and address withheld by request'' (Letters, March 19). I have been in a similar situation, though by no means as dire. I am frustrated by two things the health people say: ''We won't talk to you because it breaks confidentiality'' and ''we can't do anything unless they're a danger to themselves or to others''.

While I accept the need for patient confidentiality, nevertheless, having a mentally ill family member threatens your own mental health. A bit more compassion would be appreciated. As for the latter comment, it only applies to physical violence. Surely, however, if they spend their entire savings recklessly in five minutes, that should constitute ''a danger to themselves'' and also to family members who then have to bail them out. Medication sorts out a lot of mental health problems, but how do you keep them on it? If you speak of their civil rights, what of the civil rights of those who love and have to care for them?

Jenny Goldie, Michelago, NSW

The widow with a son who is victim of the rotating-door syndrome of mental health services asks (Letters, March 19) ''What should I do?'' She could seek referral by her GP to a grief counsellor. Otherwise, the Association of the Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Ill or similar organisations can be helpful.

Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor

The cars that ate tickets

Your editorial ''The Subaru driver who dared'' (Times2, March 19, p2) said in part that ''some people - lobbyists, property developers or financial industry whiz-kids … tend to eschew Subarus - a marque more generally associated with sober, conservative folk''. The editor has obviously never heard of the Subaru Impreza WRX. It's a vehicle much favoured by the anti-social classes which, while it might look like the sort of car your nana would drive, is apparently one that holds particular appeal for the very people you describe and/or young men whose choice of vehicle is generally funded by one or more of the ''three Ds'' (dad, debt or drugs). Maybe that's how the driver paid for parking fines?

Phil Johnston, Ainslie

Hot air on wind farms

Simon Corbell's 90 per cent energy target (announced last week) which is in part designed to kick-start stalled wind farm projects such as at Collector, Crookwell and Capital Wind Farm, is based on misinformation. We are told that ACT power bills will rise to a maximum of only $4 per household per week; wind is the cheapest technology to deliver power, costing 8¢ or 9¢ per kilowatt hour; and that these projects will bring permanent jobs to Goulburn and Collector. In addition, despite the fact that an auction for this energy supply has not taken place, he has pre-empted the process by saying the bid from the owner of Collector Wind Farm will be accepted. The electricity-costs issue has been exposed by the member for Hume, Angus Taylor (a Rhodes Scholar economist and lawyer who has studied this matter), who advises that under Mr Corbell's initiative, power bills in the ACT are likely to triple and render the territory an economic basket case (''Corbell puts wind up bush politician'', March 15, p1). Based on figures in The Canberra Times' article ''Electricity bills rise by 34 per cent in the ACT'' (October 25, 2013), in dollar terms this means the average household annual electricity bill will go from $1353 per annum to more than $4000 per annum. Mr Corbell's figure of an extra $4 per week ($208 per annum) thus looks dodgy.

ACT businesses will clearly not be able to absorb the steep rises in electricity prices. There will be a multiplier effect as key service providers such as supermarkets, petrol stations and retail outlets pass on costs. Many businesses will relocate to Queanbeyan. In addition, people who obtained subsidised solar systems on their roofs under previous ACT government arrangements will be able to offset these new electricity costs, but those that have not - new home owners and lower income people - will have to carry an even higher proportion of the costs. ACT Labor is therefore betraying the people it is supposed to care about. Mr Corbell's claim of jobs for Collector is also a total furphy. I am on the Collector Wind Farm Forum (run by the proponent RATCH-Australia).

Upper Lachlan Council has banned wind farm traffic from the south exit to the Collector-Gunning Road (for safety reasons - it is an unsealed low-grade road). This means the workers will need to use the north exit via the Hume Highway and go to Gunning or Goulburn. Collector will therefore not even benefit from providing beer and meals - we are really being sold the dump.

In setting extreme renewable energy targets without real research or consultation, Mr Corbell is taking ACT consumers on his political ride where they will wear all the costs, handicap the economic future of the ACT for many years and wreck adjacent communities subject to non-beneficial wind-farm developments.

Frank Ross, Hackett

A question of beliefs

Sharon Beder (''Variability in terms a product of government climate'', Times2, March 19, p5) examined the changing terms used to describe the enhanced, anthropogenic greenhouse effect: changes to accommodate sceptics and vested interests and calm the masses. She thinks ''global roasting'' now apt.

But better naming won't bring belief. Regardless of what it's called, there won't be majority popular acceptance of the science of anthropogenic climate change any time soon.

We've got form. The majority of people on this earth still insist evolution of species is no more than a theory, despite its near-universal acceptance and use by scientists in every related field.

And, of course, the north/south and rich/poor national stand-off, and entrenched divisions of policy perception between rent-seekers/technologists/economists/ hippies guarantee climate policy stalemate until the 11th hour.

Unfortunately, unlike with evolution, we don't have a couple of thousand years to play with the semantics of climate change.

Cuthbert Douglas, Bonython

A novel proposal

Your editorial cartoonist, Pope, has a penchant for recycling literature. Will we see a Tasmanian post-election cartoon showing Braveheart Bob Brown and Maid Milne, armed only with their public pension/salary, riding south to save Tasmanians from having real jobs while muttering (with apologies to Tolkien) ''Tasmania is ours, Precious'' and ''We should have squeezed those nasty anti-Green voters harder, Precious''.

M. Macphail, Richmond, Tas

Ironic how the powerful can be paid for 'knowing nothing'

I am amazed - no, more than that - bemused at the number of high profile people (mainly men) who hold positions of power in this country, either in business or politics, who, when their organisation goes pear-shaped for whatever reason, claim they had no knowledge of what was going on in their organisation while they were chairman, CEO or in a position of power.

While being paid far more than what they are worth, they ''knew nothing'' when challenged and use that as their defence. If these people want us to believe they are so stupid as to oversee such alleged corruption while being paid extraordinary amounts of money, I am happy to do that. So where are the checks and balances, and how are they not accountable? The buck stops at the top. They accept the position and ALL that goes with it, surely. No argument.

Christine Tutty, Page

Secrets and lies

Just look at this government … secrets and lies, no surprise (''Is Abbott's pass-over of Sinodinos becoming clearer?'' March 19, p4).

W. Book, Hackett

My bet of a shilling goes on the suspicion that the ''House of Wollstonecraft'' had a say in the standing down of Senator Arthur Sinodinos as Assistant Treasurer. Of course I will never collect. That is ''Howard's Way'', after all.

Greg Simmons, Lyons

Democracy failing

It is surely axiomatic that, in a democracy, information must be freely available. Government should be frank, honest and open. I would go so far as to suggest that any information that is held back by government from the public is a failure, or at least a restriction, of democracy.

The first thing a totalitarian government does is withhold information, and the second is to rebrand things with names that make the intent unclear or deceptive (tax reform and border protection spring to mind). It may be that it is not practically possible to make all information available. However, to the extent that a government does not broadcast everything, the failure to do so must be recognised as a failing of democracy. There may be cases where a level of compromise is needed (although not nearly as many as is commonly accepted and certainly not as many as governments would have us believe). In such cases we might accept that it is necessary to compromise the theory but only where the grounds for the compromise are powerful and convincing.

Dr Simon Rose, Downer

'Red-taping' the issues

We can only hope that despite his parliamentary tirade on Wednesday against government ''red tape'' as the root of all of the country's troubles, Tony Abbott will return from paranoid-ideological orbit long enough to realise that it was deregulation that was entirely responsible for all the shams into which the royal commission into the insulation scheme is now inquiring.

Indeed, that in setting up this royal commission he has effectively accused the previous federal government of not regulating the insulation industry enough to prevent its crimes when the federal incentives were on offer.

And is there any chance that anyone could draw Mr Abbott's attention to the relationship between our universally moist, leaky and crumbly recent new apartments and the laissez-faire deregulation with which their construction has oddly coincided?

Alex Mattea, Kingston

Mockery out of step

H. Ronald's mockery (Letters, March 20) of the March in March and the participants is what one can expect from someone as far right as he seems to be. I went to the Monday March, where there was nothing incoherent about the speeches. Was H. Ronald there, too? He may have been one of the conservative ''plants'' who were at the marches with the worst of the placards about Tony Abbott. There were people bragging about it on social media. Nothing I saw or heard compared with the nastiness at the Convoy of No Confidence. Just everyday Australians from all walks of life concerned for the future of the environment, education, economy, asylum seekers, equal rights and so on. With no mates on radio or TV to promote it like the Convoy of No Confidence, it was a pretty good turn-out, one that shouldn't be dismissed by sneering comments from H. Ronald or the Prime Minister.

Jan Gulliver, Lyneham

Sheila Duke (Letters, March 20) doesn't like the fact that protesters in Canberra's March in March rally who were calling for Tony Abbott's death were ''the same ones'' horrified by the ''Ditch the Witch'' slogans levelled at Julia Gillard. Too bad. The venomous hatred levelled against Gillard that Abbott encouraged set the bar at a new low. He can live with it and we can do without sanctimony of government supporters saying it should be raised. H. Ronald refers to the protesters as including the ''nastiness of the few''. Talk about pot and kettle! What about the saga of the ''nastiness of the one'' - i.e. him?

Chris Williams, Griffith

When life takes flight

Clive Williams's commentary on the disappearance of the Malaysian aircraft MH370 (''What happened on MH370?'' Times2, March 18, p1) was followed by a second commentary by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson (''Hope rides on a lost plane'', Times2, March 18, p4).

Not unexpectedly, neither article could pinpoint the whereabouts of the plane, or predict what might have happened to it, despite the elaborate co-operation of numerous countries. But I am puzzled at how little public reaction there has been from our religious institutions; even from those who believe that ''it is written''.

I confess, though, to have been touched by the comment of one of my students, who said, ''Sir, since none of us has had a say as to whether one should be born, then it is simple logic that one has equally no say as to when and how to leave this world''.

Sam Nona, Burradoo, NSW

A virtual invite to all identity thieves

While I applaud Katy Gallagher's efforts to promote Canberra through her digital action plan (The very model of a digital city, March 14, p2) and, in so doing, allow Canberra to ''host Australia's largest free outdoor wireless internet network for public use'', is she inadvertently creating the nation's cyber crime capital?

I can imagine our town's commuters taking a few spare minutes to catch up on daily chores, pay a few bills and transfer a few dollars between their various accounts on their smartphones and tablets.

In so doing they may expose their secure passwords to anyone lurking for that type of information to gain access to a few dollars for their own use.

How secure is this free network going to be? Perhaps Katy should first spend a few dollars getting some advice.

There are companies in this town that lead the world in implementing secure networks that could probably help.

Capital Metro, another of Katy's initiatives that I initially denigrated when I thought it was just a tram between Gungahlin and Civic to keep the greenies happy, is a classic opportunity for this. If Capital Metro really does become a light-rail network linking all our town centres it will provide commuters with lots of spare minutes for this activity.

And think of the side benefit that will come with it. We will be able to replace all those ugly large buses on our streets, devoid of passengers, with a fleet of small buses taking residents from their suburbs to the town centres where they will connect to Capital Metro, to spend that spare time doing their digital chores and spreading their passwords far and wide.

Two great initiatives for our town, but maybe we should first spend a few minutes making sure we get it right and do not unintentionally create a national capital that none of us want.

Scott Rashleigh, O'Malley





Please don't print any more stories about DFAT staff receiving voluntary redundancies (''VR provides change of scenery and perspective'', March 19, p2). The recipient of the VR, Phil Bacon, declares in the article that successive governments had ''undervalued'' the work of their foreign affairs officials. I read it as soon as I got the paper first thing this morning. It's now lunchtime, and I still can't stop laughing. Mr Bacon can't be serious; I hope he was just pulling your reporter's leg.

Gordon Maher, Gilmore

Aged 62, took a VR, doing the tropical thing near Byron, oh and could I have my ComSuper benefits too (''VR provides change of scenery and perspective'', March 19, p2). Spare a thought for the younger generation left in Canberra with family, mortgage, no career and no choice; you need us.

Gordon Edwards, Page


Why would the CSIRO be taken seriously by the federal government (Letters, March 19) when it does not even have a minister for science?

Robyn Lewis, Raglan, NSW


Owen Reid (Letters, March 19) has a strange idea of ''successful'' border protection. A government which runs concentration camps in our name shames all Australians. Eighty years ago, the Nazis ran concentration camps, and generations of innocent Germans are still feeling the pain. Will that be our legacy, too?

Richard Keys, Ainslie


So the John Gorton Building is to be revamped (''Staff bring desk lamps to work as covers go up during building repairs'', March 19, p2). I thought that any building over 40 years old was bulldozed and turned into apartments.

D.J. O'Connor, Campbell


It has been reported that the wife of Craig Thomson claims he is a ''good man''. If secretly having sex on multiple occasions with people other than your spouse, and misusing substantial amounts of money provided to you by others, is being a good man, then the rest of us must be bloomin' heroes!

Gordon Fyfe, Kambah


On Wednesday night on the ABC's 7.30, Senator Eric Abetz increased the English lexicon by one word. He used the verb ''hypothecate'' or a derivative not once but twice. The word ''hypothesise'' must have become old hat. Like ''impact'' instead of ''affect''. This illustrates the intellectual power and cultural creativity of at least one of our elected representatives.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin


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.

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).