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Childcare cull option

May I suggest a culling program for ACT childcare centres ("Canberra faces childcare oversupply", May 7, p1)? It should be based not on economics, as seems to be the case here, but on quality. We already have a great benchmark for assessing quality – the National Quality Standards for children services. So let's cull those centres that are not meeting these standards. Then our tax dollars will go to something worthwhile. In doing so we can also address the problems touched on in the article "Low early learning rates hinder children" (May 7, p1).

The National Quality Standards focus on the development of the whole child. They address such things as developing positive attributes for learning, for example: curiosity, persistence, resilience and self-regulation all form the basis for formal education.

To quote columnist Angela Mollard, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults."

Vicki Baker, Kambah

On the wrong track

John Rodriguez (Letters, May 6) claims Geneva, Malaga and Barcelona have replaced trams with flexible bus lines or underground metro. In Geneva, an expanding tram network now forms the core of the city's transport system, supported by trolley and motor buses. Twenty years ago Geneva had one tram line. Now it has four with more lines under construction or planned. It has no metro.

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Malaga is building what is generally known as a light metro, part way between a metro and light rail (smaller vehicles more like trams than trains, stops closer together, underground in the city centre but at street level in outer areas).

Barcelona like many cities closed its tram network in the early 1970s under the influence of now discredited car-centric town planning. It is a large city and like many large cities has built an extensive metro system. But it is also re-establishing a tram system and currently has seven lines with more planned.

It is time The Canberra Times stopped giving so much space on its letter pages to the ill-informed blatherings of the Can the Tram fogeys.

Scott Matheson, Downer

Up against it

Frank Cassidy (Letters, May 6) and Lynne Bliss (Letters, May 9) make some valid points about the rearrangement of the ACT electoral boundaries, and of course there will be an increased number of MLAs after the election.

Lynne's letter was not at all relevant, since my original (May 3) was not concerned about boundaries or a particular local representative, but simply that the current ALP local government, as a whole, has failed me on several key matters, many revolving around my suburb, the largest in Canberra.

A single member, ostensibly representing Kambah, if there is one, can carry little weight. It is the ministers purporting to represent urban renewal, and planning and land management, through their designated portfolios that I have a beef with. I have written to them (Barr and Gentleman). No response as yet.

Greg Jackson, Kambah

Power failure

In responding to my May 5 letter, Doug Hynd (Letters, May 9) demonstrates a lack of understanding of production costs and delivery costs of electricity to the end consumer. Regardless of the costs of intermittent renewable energy sources, the expense is more in the patchwork solutions which follow.

A good example of this is found in the recent warnings by Australian Electricity Council chief executive Matthew Warren on the closure of the only baseload coal power station in South Australia. Backup supply is to come from alternative expensive sources, with retail electricity prices set to increase by 25-40per cent.

Doug Hynd unfortunately misses the full picture.

George Papadopoulos, Yass, NSW

Pay concern

I thank Anne Cahill Lambert for her response (Letters, May 7) to my comments on the ACT Remuneration Tribunal (Letters, May 5). However, it is what she does not say in her letter which is most interesting. First, I did not refer to her specifically in my comments, but said that the committee comprised ex-high-level executives of government.

Dr Colin Adrian was chief executive of the Canberra Institute of Technology, deputy chief of the ACT Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services, former head ACT Urban Services, the ACT Planning and Land Authority, head of Environment ACT and the Nature Conservation and Protection Agency as well as holding senior positions in academia, local national boards and committees.

James Smythe held senior positions in the Australian public service including 18 years in the Senior Executive Service. Anne herself belittles herself by saying she "worked" for two NGOs when in fact she did a sterling job as a council member of the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Organ and Tissue Authority.

More eminent persons than myself have suggested that the ACT Remuneration Tribunal should include representatives who come from organisations like the Salvos, Rotary, St Vinnies, etc, who have direct involvement with the community at large.

Pay rises suggested by the Remuneration Tribunal included the recent 6 per cent, until Chief Minister Barr called for restraint and the tribunal then nominated 4 per cent. The year before that it was 3 per cent and prior to that 6 per cent.

These rises were all ahead of those prevailing for ordinary Australians and they flow through in some form to a huge number of board and council members, advisory councils, magistrates, director of public prosecutions, numerous tribunals, the Electoral Commission and its members, the Land Development Agency, Capital Metro light rail board members, etc, etc.

Ms Cahill Lambert also did not address the question of the Remuneration Tribunal's "independence".

How can it be "independent" when it is appointed by the executive and its remuneration is determined by the Chief Minister?

And what of the pressure put on its judgments by the huge range of officials from a wide range of authorities that are dependent on its deliberations for pay rises?

Finally, my letter did not criticise any member of the tribunal including Anne Cahill Lambert. It simply suggested that the makeup of the tribunal could be improved and its judgments regarding remuneration better reflect the prevailing situation in the general community.

Ric Hingee, Duffy

 

Planners pose threat to much loved city

It was such a pleasure to read Tony Wright's article, "Lights, camera, action. Behold, Canberra as a secret city, and a star" (Forum, May 7, p5).

After so much negative comment from developers, their lobbyists and our brainwashed, pathetic government, it was refreshing to read what so many of us love about Canberra.

Recently, I indulged in a cruise on Lake Burley Griffin. As the boat pulled out from the jetty in West Basin, the autumn leaves formed a semi-circle under a perfect blue sky and the thought of this scene being replaced by crammed, concrete buildings was incomprehensible.

At the other end of the lake, the Kingston Foreshore buildings looked like an abandoned industrial zone – so much for all the hype about vibrancy and "edginess".

This government seems intent on undoing the planning of Canberra to turn it into just another boring city with lots of tall buildings, shade and congestion.

Robyn Coghlan, Hawker

Tony Wright is enthusiastic about the beauty of Canberra, as shown in the new TV series Secret City. What a shame then that our airport is plastered with advertisements for weapons of war, drones, submarines, fighter jets and so on. Visitors, including the imminent international ones, will be puzzled why such a beautiful place presents itself as an armed camp.

David Stephens, Bruce

Sight for sore eyes

Rosalie Watson (Letters, May 6) wants "a rotation" of the "two blondes" seated on the government benches behind the Prime Minister. Rosalie (obviously a committed feminist) is obviously unaware one of those "blondes" is Karen McNamara, member for Dobell, who won her seat from Labor's disgraced Craig Thomson – and whom most would prefer to look at.

Christina Faulk, Swinger Hill

 

Neither Turnbull nor Shorten can offer correct advice for Australia

Amanda Vanstone ("Why the PM choice is clear", Times2, May 9, p1) makes a case that Malcolm Turnbull is a better financial adviser than Bill Shorten. But why would we want a financial adviser in charge?

Those guys caused the global financial crisis by marketing garbage dressed up as opportunity. They lied and colluded to hide their misdeeds so that the corrupt, unsustainable profiteering reached mammoth proportions and delivered a crushing blow to the global economy and people's faith in it. And they apparently never saw it coming. It was like watching Nigella Lawson cook something up out of the old leftovers at the back of the fridge then gaze in perplexity at the guests running for the bathroom.

Why would we want one of them?

S.W. Davey, Torrens

Amanda Vanstone has clearly been got at by her Liberal Party mates. Characterising the forthcoming (unnecessary) double dissolution election as a contest between the personalities of Turnbull and Shorten is a ploy to distract from the fact that the Coalition has very few policy offerings of any substance and is showing no real leadership about Australia's future.

For example, the 2016 budget reverts to disproved and hopeless trickle-down economic ideology from the Reagan/Thatcher era. This shows the Coalition is stuck in a time-warp and is bereft of good policy capabilities.

Keith Croker, Kambah

I ask Vanstone to ask herself "Imagine you are not a former politician living on a life-long pension vastly more generous than the majority of Australians will ever receive but paid for by the majority of Australians: who would you trust to make sure you weren't getting shafted?

"A multi-millionaire who cast aside his principles to become PM or a former union official?" The choice is clear and it is not Turnbull.

Rory McElligott, Nicholls

Amanda Vanstone makes a strong point in her opinion piece, but not the one she thinks she does. I don't want either Bill Shorten or Malcolm Turnbull as a financial adviser, and certainly not as the next PM. Ms Vanstone appears unable to countenance this possibility. The "economy" Ms Vanstone waxes lyrical about is a wholly owned subsidiary of the natural environment, and the current economic settings are bleeding the planet dry.

This has occurred under successive Liberal and Labor governments and will surely continue under any future Shorten/Turnbull variety. No jobs on a dead planet, Ms Vanstone. No Liberal Party, no financial advice and certainly no imaginary lottery wins. Climate change and the collapse of life-sustaining ecological systems are the single greatest threat facing all humanity, yet Ms Vanstone wants us to talk about where Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull went to school. She makes clear that the Liberal and Labor parties have abandoned Australia at the hour of greatest need. Vanstone, Shorten and Turnbull; all fiddle while Rome burns.

Logan McLennan, OConnor

Earth burns, we fiddle

The sight of Canadians desperately releasing more carbon to combat climate-driven wildfires in the heartland of mega-carbon-polluting tar sands says something about so-called Homo sapiens. He's as thick as two bricks. Next summer it'll be Australia's turn again, to see if we can turn a disaster into a catastrophe.

The only thing the rest of the world will remember us for, in the long sweep of history, is for wrecking the Great Barrier Reef, extinguishing our native fauna and flora and contributing disproportionately – out of greed alone – to climate suffering for all humanity. And our governments don't give a toss.

Julian Cribb, Franklin

At least balance right

Congratulations on the balance in your choice of letters. For example, Paul Feldman (Letters, May 6), not for the first time, asserting that the so-called 50 per cent capital gains tax concession is an undesirable " incentive for speculative borrowing" – immediately followed by a letter from George Beaton showing that he in fact paid more tax with this so-called 50 per cent "concession' than he would have paid under the old system of taxing the full capital gain but allowing for inflation. What a "concession"! The reality is that house values have to increase by more than twice the rate of inflation before you benefit from the so-called "concession".

R.S. Gilbert, Braddon

Beware categorising

G. Charles (Letters, May 6) argues that it is wrong to victimise people who make a lifestyle choice "to live frugally, saving for a deposit, paying off a mortgage and then perhaps diverting surplus funds into an investment property".

In doing so, G. Charles categorises people into two groups. Those quoted above and the other group who "spend their money on other things, such as rent, alcohol, smokes, pay TV, footy, pokies and the horses".

G. Charles's argument is that taxing people (I presume) in the first category is victimisation. It follows that taxing the people in the second category is acceptable.

What arrant nonsense.

Firstly, people cannot be categorised into two groups. Secondly, the activities of one group of people cannot be adjudged to be inferior to another, even if there were just two groups. In truth, I didn't think that people like G. Charles still existed. I thought attitudes like this disappeared in the 19th century.

G. Charles implies that the nature of the activities of the people in the second group is profligate, indulgent and unrestrained; thus justifiably taxable. How arrogant, especially concerning the payment of rent, which if you lease property is not an indulgence, and which, I presume, G. Charles is charging for the "investment properties".

I once paid rent, then obtained a mortgage, paid the mortgage off and invested money. Also, I drink alcohol, have pay TV, watch the footy, played the pokies (occasionally) and I used to bet on horses.

However, my sins extend further. I subscribe to Netflix, I play chess, I'm a carer for my aged parents, a member of the National Library and in the process of writing two books.

I'd like to know into which category G. Charles thinks I should be; victimisable or no?

Craig Gamack, Holt

 

TO THE POINT

POLICIES COME FIRST

Most voters will be more concerned with what kind of government they want in power, and what measures they are likely to introduce. They will focus more on policies than personalities, in the belief that our government is more democratic than Amanda Vanstone ("Why the PM choice is clear", Times2, May 9, p1) apparently believes.

Harry Davis, Campbell

REINSTATE CSIRO FUNDS

Malcolm Turnbull talks about jobs and growth and innovation. Well, he can start by reinstating funding to the CSIRO that should never have been removed in the first place.

R.Moulis, Hackett

EVEN MORE EXPENSIVE

Your article "Majura streets ahead of GDE" (Forum, May 7, p3) costed the GDE at $200million, about six times the original budget of $32million. Ontop of that must be added the unknown but huge cost of the disruption to travelling Canberrans during its duplication from a single lane to double lane.

Has there ever been a greater example of incompetence by a government? A Stanhope-led Labor government, let's not forget.

Ian Morison, Forrest

NEGATIVE FEELINGS

Michael Lane's statement of despair (Letters, May 7) for the future of Australia because electors cannot understand the facts about negative gearing and capital gain tax, as stated in his (earlier) letter, caused me great despair and even anxiety.

John Rodriguez, Florey

I apologise for missing the subtle nuances of Michael Lane (Letters, May 7). I assumed that most serious negative gear users used interest-only loans and did not pay down their mortgages, preferring to use their capital to buy more homes.

It was published just recently that a multi-millionaire had 55 homes. Iwondered whether they were all negatively geared? I despair that the tax avoidance industry thrives because of poor legislation.

Max Jensen, Chifley

PARKING PROPOSAL

I hope there's no truth in the rumour that the Barr government plans to install parking meters in people's driveways.

John Milne, Chapman

NO THREAT TO US

Like Neil James of the Australia Defence Association (Letters, May 9), I, too, ask why our soldiers should have to fight "traitors" who go overseas and take up arms against Australia.

They pose no threat to Australia while they remain overseas.

Leon Arundell, Downer

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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