Comment

Letters to the Editor

Cost outweighs benefit

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Where does The Canberra Times get the idea that Commonwealth government property values between Civic and Russell will go up by 30per cent if light rail is extended to the Defence precinct ("Feds in for tram property boom", March 5, p1). From a briefing by the ACT government to the Federal parliamentary standing committee on transport, infrastructure and cities?

While the Prime Minister may favour public transport, he has said also that for each proposal there has to be a business case and one that makes economic sense.

Andrew Barr is quoted in the article as having "previously estimated the financial benefit at about $85million". Even if true, that is a long way from $500million that would be the probable 20-year cost of the 3.5km Russell extension, based on what Stage 1 is going to cost. Did the government tell the Federal parliamentary committee how much Stage 2 would cost, or did it keep it a big secret from them too, like it has from ACT taxpayers?

M. Silex, Erindale

How many passenger trips currently are recorded per day for the Gungahlin-Civic-Russell route and what is the basis for suggesting extending the tram line to Russell could create about 5600 extra passenger trips per day ("Feds in for tram property boom", March 5, p1): closure of the car parks? Furthermore, how would the Commonwealth government benefit from an increase in property values if the ageing buildings along Constitution Avenue were not sold?

Ken McPhan, Spence

Chiefs must be on deck

Emergency Services Agency commissioner Dominic Lane took to the airwaves on Thursday to respond to concerns raised in The Canberra Times concerning the absence of any chief officer of ACT Fire and Rescue ("Lack of fire chiefs during 48-hour stretch leaves ACT vulnerable: union", March 4, p3).

On ABC radio in the afternoon, Mr Lane defended the absence of the chief officer, and argued that he could perform his role while away in Melbourne. It is distressing that Mr Lane seems to be ignorant of the strong views held in the community about emergency service chiefs performing their role in absentia. On need to look no further than the example of former Victorian police commissioner, Christine Nixon, who was widely condemned within the community for being at dinner while Victoria burned in the 2009 Black Saturday fires. A royal commission later heavily criticised Ms Nixon's actions that day. The community expects that in the event of an emergency, ACT Fire and Rescue will be properly commanded and led.

Sending the chief officer to Melbourne, and abolishing the deputy chief position, is not consistent with community expectations. He could ask Christine Nixon for her views on that.

Greg McConville, secretary, United Firefighters Union of Australia ACT Branch

Plan needs revising

I would love the Manuka Oval to be upgraded — facilities such as toilets and food outlets are poor. I have two clearly biased leading questions for the thinking people of funny little Canberra.

First, is the current unsolicited proposal a slick con job or a bribe? Second, is the major developer using GWS as a Trojan Horse to take over the Manuka Oval precinct and encase it in a very profitable development (once built there will be no room for expansion)?

I am looking forward to a substantive community consultation. Locals have many useful ideas to contribute to refine the current concept proposal. From that process should come a revised master plan for the precinct. Then, of course, an open tender process so that real value for money is assured.

Nick Swain, Barton

Deaf overlooked

It is well over a decade since closed captions have been mandatory for the majority of programs on the main station for each TV network. There has also been extensive advertising inviting comment on the Free to Air Industry Code of Practice, the proposed relinquishing of current TV ownership laws and the availability of new HD channels.

But there is silence from the industry with respect to ending the discrimination against those in our community who are hard of hearing by the provision of closed captions on all TV channels. Submissions to this government,the Industry Code of Practice web site and the Disability Discrimination Commissioner simply elicit either a quote of current legislation, with the opposition simply forwarding the same response to a complainant, or a statement that they are unable/unwilling to address this behaviour.

The staff from the minister for Communications don't bother to respond to the issue of the legislation needing to be changed and updated. With today's technology there is simply no excuse to not broadcast closed captions on all TV channels, both free to air and paid TV/Foxtel.

It's time for all political parties to work together and require TV stations to end this discrimination.

Tom Brimson, Dunlop

Shooting more ethical

Jochen Zeil (Letters, March 2 ) asks a valid question. Why are the authorities mucking around with immature fertility-control technology for roos when the skills of precision shooters and fine chefs could be adding value to a fine meat ?

Perhaps the answer is societal pressure from urbanised people who have lost knowledge of the tools and techniques needed to run and restore our much degraded rural lands.

Some of these tools might sound scary to the urban dweller but only because their precision and power have been forgotten. A sharp axe for coppicing, scrub bars for erosion gully repair, big excavators to repair wetlands, explosives for tree planting (Charles Weston used them to plant Westbourne Woods) and, yes, accurate firearms for culling roos and controlling feral predators. I suggest that much of the misunderstanding about the level and type of management required in our countryside is because most of the action happens in darkness.

Few city dwellers have seen the night time killing fields of Australian range and bush. There the hyper predators rule. Taking a thermal imager out at night is a revelation. Once you have seen feral cats taking hours to torture goannas to death or a fox kill 30 ducks in 10 minutes or a starving joey from a starving mob pulled apart by wild dogs .

I have seen these things , and more than once. It makes a single rifle shot look like exactly what it is. That is to say, a highly selective , totally controllable and ethical tool of the trade.

Peter A Marshall, Braidwood, NSW

 

Screeching queens give gays a bad name

The Mardi Gras was held in Sydney at the weekend, and unfortunately, the media obsesssed over make-up covered, dress-donning, stiletto-wearing screeching queens who are, apparently, representative of most gay men!

Well, hello world, let me tell you, they do not represent the majority of gay men — normal, professional, everyday guys just wanting to get on with life.

I am a former first grade rugby-playing, fit, masculine, muscular Jeep-driving, Kelpie-owning professional guy who would be considered far straighter than most straight guys.

Most of my dozens of gay friends are the same.

We cringe at men wearing dresses, heels and make-up, are tired of the media kowtowing to such stereotypes, and still, on occasion, unfortunately, experience discrimination because of such perhaps well-meaning, but dreadful stereotypes.

It's 2016. Can we please, please move on from Priscilla and Tootsie.

Matt Meyer, Gungahlin

Dangers dangling

In the warm weather, I have noticed there are large numbers of arm danglers, gutter grippers and elbow leaners driving around in their cars with the windows down. Both drivers and passengers are doing this.

Besides being against the road rules, it greatly increases the risk of a mangled arm or shattered elbow which all the miracles of modern medicine may not be able to adequately repair. I do wish they would not do this. Have open car windows by all means, but the arm dangling does not make the air any cooler.

R. Richards, Belconnen

Extending an adage

Pollies should learn that the "post-computer" version of the old adage is "lies, damned lies, statistics and now modelling"!

Adrian Gibbs, Yarralumla

 

Time to do away with two-party system that's stifling progress

Mark Kenny's opinion piece "Turnbull's leadership challenge: herding cats" (Times2, March 4, p5) is a timely reminder in this election year about how difficult it is for the nation to move forward under the two-party system, even with a prime minister who can clearly see and articulate the way ahead.

The difficulty our party leaders on both sides of the House have in "herding the cats" is a strong argument in favour of doing away with our system of single-seat electorates. In a multi-seat electorate system, the behind closed doors party room negotiations that have stymied progress over the past 10 years and brought leaders to their knees would be replaced with more rational and mature discussions between smaller parties wishing to form government through a coalition.

Under these circumstances, common sense in the national interest would be more likely to prevail over the more uncompromising views of the hard right or far left.

Malcolm Robertson, Chapman

Muir's election a farce

R. King (Letters, March 5) accuses the LNP and Greens of attacking democracy in their bill altering the Senate voting system. He notes that Senator Ricky Muir received more first preference votes than 3 LNP senators who were also elected at the 2013 elections. But the difference, of course, is that those LNP senators were elected because their party received about 40per cent of the first preference votes (compared with 0.5per cent for Senator Muir's party).

The farcical nature of Muir's election is highlighted by the fact that no fewer than nine other minor parties in Victoria that achieved a higher first preference vote than Muir's party failed to snare a single seat. I doubt that they would view Senator Muir's election as "democratic".

Frank Marris, Forrest

Well said R. King (Letters, March 5). How can our current petulant PM (and our once Green leader), demean, humiliate and denigrate Senator Muir who received 479 first preference votes when his own angry, rude and arrogant Minister, Michaela Cash, received only 349 primary votes (27 per cent less than Mr Muir). Its a funny democracy we have, but our government has no mandate to change it?

We deserve a first-past-the-post system with no preferences. This will give us the politicians we actually want and voted for.

P.R. Temple, Macquarie

Subs white elephants

Rod Price (Letters, March 5) is spot on in advocating that Australia not purchase a new submarine fleet.

Submarines are vastly expensive to build, maintain (and crew, according to recent reports), and are arguably "bow and arrow" technology in today's world. They have played no role in any major conflict since World War II.

Who needs 12 white elephants with no apparent offensive or defensive capability.

Further massive savings in government expenditure could also be achieved by abolishing the Senate.

This costly and increasingly obstructive institution contributes very little to the maintenance of our democracy, which is well protected by the three year election cycle.

Ross Crichton, Yarralumla

I am in absolute agreement with Rod Price's suggestion concerning the wasteful splurge of so much money on outdated and unnecessary military equipment. Twelve submarines? To do what for us?

Twenty-plus new fighter planes which will be obsolete by the time they see commission? To do what for us? In this age of airborne drones? The subs and the planes are not for Australia's defence but are an expression of our ridiculously slavish political support for the failing US power in Asia and elsewhere, far away from our own shores.

The reconsideration and reassessment of our grovelling bipartisan support for the US is very urgent in the view of the extremely brutal and war-mongering political platforms of the conservative presidential candidates in the American elections. We must take responsibility for our own future.

Adam Rustowski, Belconnen

Pell under oath

Like him or loathe him, we must remember Cardinal George Pell was under oath answering questions at the royal commission into child abuse last week. Under our system of justice, his oath means he is regarded as telling the truth, unless and until the commission finds proof that he didn't. And in its search for truth, the commission has extraordinarily strong powers to uncover it.

It matters not what you or I think, what the social commentators think, or indeed what the chairman or members of the commission think of his testimony. Without proof to the contrary, Cardinal Pell is an innocent man.

John Clarke, Pearce

Having watched much of Cardinal Pell's testimony to the commission there is a thought that comes to mind. Paedophilia is a crime and those who had a hand in moving priests to new pastures, giving them access to even more children, are complicit in aiding and abetting criminal activity. These actions may attract a prison sentence and I think the police should press charges against all those senior members of the church who were responsible.

Ken Cantle, Kianga, NSW

Trump a lesson for us

Ross Buckley's article "Trump is voicing the pain, anger of average Americans " (Times2, March 4, p5) made for sobering reading as he revealed how the once land of "The Brave and the Free" is now the land of the "Lost and Deceived".

Under the influence of the powerful military-industrial forces, along with the spread of global capitalism, the working people are being denied a living wage. It seems that the only growth industries are the armed forces and prisons.

If there is a lesson for Australia, as we watch this disturbing run-up to the US elections, we should remind ourselves that working people here, who are in secure jobs with fair wages and safe working conditions, are the beneficiaries of the past struggles of unionists.

This is the case with union activists today, who despite a few members who violated correct procedures, are demonstrating that a Trump has no place in Australian politics.

Keith McEwan, Bonython

 

TO THE POINT

PROCREATION SELFISH

I wish Les Brennan (Letters, March 3) the best of luck convincing people of the reality that we're already stretching our planet's resources to the limit. Procreation is one of the most selfish things a person can do, and yet people look at me as if I'm the bad guy when another consumer pops out and congratulations aren't forthcoming. All of our problems could be solved with fewer people, and anyone who genuinely cares about the Earth's future should adopt instead.

James Allan, Narrabundah

BROKEN PEOPLE

David Pope's editorial cartoon of March 4 (Times2, p1). Beautiful!

Auriel Barlow, Dickson

PELL IN WRONG CAREER

If only Cardinal Pell had stuck with Aussie Rules as his metaphor for life ("Essays map out the true essence of Australian Rules", Forum, March 5, p5) and played for Richmond.

Dr Peter Smith, Lake Illawarra, NSW

Pell's Bells will be a box office sensation, especially if the eminent Geoffrey Rush has the starring role.

Susan Liebke, Stirling

MEMORY FAILURE

There was a popular memory assistance scheme called Pelmanism practised early in the 20th century. I think it's a pity Cardinal George Pell didn't tune into it to assist him in having better recollections for the recent Royal Commission.

Brian Millett, Yass, NSW

MURDOCH WEDDING

Didn't the father of the bride scrub up well at the weekend's Murdoch/Hall marriage?

Ken Stokes, Wanniassa

ARE LESBIANS EXEMPT?

I saw a lot of leather-clad bikers on TV roaring through the streets of Sydney at the weekend. None were wearing helmets, so I assumed they were "outlaw motorcycle gang" members. Turns out they were "Dykes on bikes". Do motorcycle riders have to be lesbians to have police ignore 300+ breaches of helmet laws?

Jevon Kinder, Murrumbateman, NSW

THE SIMPLEST TEST

Memo to Shane Rattenbury and his fellow supporters wanting to spend more scarce taxpayer funds to test illegal drugs at music festivals. There's a very simple cost-effective test for all-would be users. Are the pills supplied via your prescription by a chemist. If the answer is yes, they're OK to consume. If the answer is no, then leave alone. Simple as that.

Peter Toscan, Amaroo

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