I cannot but wholeheartedly agree with Professor Ken Taylor's view that green space in Canberra ought to be rigorously protected (''Dense view of city planning'', Times2, March 14, p1). The story he tells, however, seems clouded by an unwarranted and dangerous conflation of two distinct issues: green space and high-density living.
It would be a crime to evoke Walter Burley Griffin's vision to justify evolving Canberra into a sprawling urban wasteland.
There is a city not far to the north-east that provides a compelling warning for the dysfunctional infrastructure and services that such a path effects.
Professor Taylor's fleeting reference to Canberra's proposed tram system fails to serve the intelligent discussion that functional public transport deserves. I am not sure which memorable cities of tree-lined avenues and graceful boulevards he alludes to; he is not specific.
Paris is celebrated for such an image. It is a city with one of the more dense populations in Europe, yet renowned for its beauty and considered one of the most liveable cities in the world.
Canberra should be our own; we must know and respect our past, yet we should never be afraid to define our future. We have an intergenerational duty to create a city of the highest quality, which must not be subverted by self-interest and short-term thinking. We can have the best of both worlds: a functional city and one immersed in natural beauty.
Cameron McDonald, Higgins
I support what Professor Ken Taylor wrote. He refers to our city's green space and the present response to the problems related to urban density. This is often not a simple matter of open land appropriation and high rise development as adopted all over the world. Canberra is unquestionably among the world's most beautiful cities; one wonders what inspired Griffin, Scrivener, Watson, and others to conceive, as it is said, that ''a land does not belong to man but man belongs to land.''
It is hard to compare their convictions with the present, but with Canberra's population approaching 400,000 and the prospect of changing environmental conditions, projects for living organisms of everlasting ''continuity'' require serious and urgent approaches. Our city needs an institution of urban planning capable of informing the public without illusory prospects, but with timing, competence, and work that fosters ''the health and wellbeing of people.''
Romaldo Giurgola, Kingston
Let's get technical
Your editorial ''Ambitious aims in the wind'' (Forum, March 15, p8) is right to draw attention to problems with the ACT government's proposals for installation of so-called renewable energy systems. But I have yet to see any mention of the huge technical problems. Solar and wind systems intermittently produce direct current electricity at seriously varying rates. Somewhere, this electricity has to be converted to alternating current, at a rate which matches demand. I do not know what proportion of the total system can be accepted by the central agency, but I have heard that about 20 per cent of the total would be the maximum input that could be handled. So the mentioned 90 per cent produced by this means would be fed into the NSW grid and thereby become a minuscule percentage. The proponents of this wind/solar scheme should acknowledge that the other 80 per cent of demand on overcast still days would be provided by the coal-fired base load generated in NSW - like it or not.
Your editorial also reports Mr Corbell's statement that the additional cost to each household would peak at $4 a week depending on household electricity use. This raises the question of why ACT consumers should be made to pay for the political ideology of the government when cheaper alternatives are available.
Surely it is the government's responsibility to provide us with dependable electricity at the lowest cost, consistent with other restrictions such as environmental considerations, regardless of their political leanings.
Alan Parkinson, Weetangera
Environment Minister Simon Corbell should be highly commended for his commitment to renewable energy. What is of deep concern is that a majority of Australian political leaders do not seem to understand the climate crisis. There is outright rejection of climate science that is established beyond all reasonable doubt and a failure to look even a few years ahead, let alone decades ahead, as the impacts will hit us harder and harder. These impacts will cost billions of dollars with more frequent bushfires and other disasters, and in human lives as disease patterns change and as millions of vulnerable people lose their land to rising seas.
Humanity has limited choices in reducing the scope of these effects. The use of fossil fuels must be severely curtailed, energy conservation is critical, and renewable energies must be greatly expanded. Solar and wind power are proven, effective and affordable solutions. Thanks to Minister Corbell and the other handful of parliamentarians who are prepared to challenge the stranglehold that the fossil fuel lobby holds in this country. They are showing the sort of leadership on the big issues that restores some hope to our political process.
Sue Wareham, Cook
Have I understood this correctly? The Bienniale of Sydney has spurned very significant long-term funding from Transfield Holdings and the Belgiorno-Nettis family, because of minority interests in another company involved in running Australian detention centres. It is, however, keen to obtain financial subsidies from a body involved in the arms trade, which generates many millions of dollars from tobacco and alcohol sales and gambling, the federal government.
Fred Barnes, Bruce
Back up for teachers
F. Lamb (Letters, March 14) is spot on. We, in the ACT, delude ourselves that, because ACT schools seem to perform well relative to the rest of the nation, there is not much wrong with our school system. As an ACT relief teacher, I can attest to the fact that still too many of our students continue to fall through the very large cracks that continue to exist in the system.
This is caused largely by there being far too many administrators, yet far too few teachers actually employed. What we need instead is for the ACT government to start thinking a little more creatively about education. It might begin perhaps by employing relief teachers also to be backup support teachers in some of the more challenging classrooms and/or schools that undoubtedly exist in the ACT.
Terry Gibson, Kambah
Business lobby's call to axe penalty rates beyond the pale
Kate Carnell, with her background in demolition - hospitals, traffic-light food labelling, etc - seems the ideal person to lead the attack on workplace conditions (''Weekend penalty rates put on notice'', March 15, p3).
It is disappointing her former executive position failed to inform her that lack of basic home comforts (or even a home!) represent a major cause of desperate people seeking assistance from hardship, including depression. The very people who depend on weekend work, and its meagre ''penalties'', are Australia's working poor, who seek some degree of human dignity and recognition, by earning an honest living to buy bread, pay rent and clothe themselves. The more courageous even try maintain a family.
The empty mantra of ''cutting red tape'' fits neatly with ''stop the boats'', and ''debt and deficit'', but, whereas the latter are inane, history continues to record the effects of the former. Implementation of the political philosophies of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan helps explain why 85 individuals now lay claim to half the world's wealth! Australia has come a long way since the Harvester Case (1907) and Justice Higgins' historic judgment, requiring workers be paid a ''decent, fair wage''. Surely it is unreasonable to demand workers subsidise an inefficient business model! Seriously, if Tony Abbott wants the budget back on track why eliminate two major taxes and embark on upper-class welfare, parental leave?
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan, NSW
The sabbath is possibly the oldest industrial relations law in the world. One does not have to be a theist, or even a Christian, to warn the demolition princess, Kate Carnell, of the folly of her support for ''Weekend penalty rates put on notice'' (March 15, p3).
Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor
The article ''It's a fight for a job in public service'' (March 14, p1) claims my office did not respond on Thursday to requests for comment on evidence given by CPSU secretary Nadine Flood at a parliamentary committee hearing in Melbourne.
My office called your journalist and told him Ms Flood had conceded to Senator Bushby decisions of the previous government were responsible for current cuts to the public service, as well as pointing him to the variance between Senator Lundy's fanciful claim during proceedings that Labor could have achieved its budget savings from non-job sources and Ms Flood's statement that those easy saves have now gone.
My office also pointed to questioning on the CPSU's job-endangering 12 per cent pay claim, where I note that Ms Flood expressed a preference for the cost to be fully supplemented, i.e. added to the national credit card. Your story not only failed to report this key evidence from the committee hearing, it misrepresented dealings with my office.
Eric Abetz, Minister for Employment and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
Silver Star reminder
As Anzac Day approaches, the posthumous award of a Silver Star to Flying Officer Edward Mobsby (''After 72 years, hero dad finally gets his Silver Star for WWII exploits'', March 15, p8) is a timely reminder of the tremendous debt of gratitude we owe him and the many other members of the air force, navy and army who have given their lives for their country. It was indeed regrettable that it fell to his daughter, rather than the Department of Air (as it then was) to pursue the question of Flying Officer Mobsby's Silver Star recommendation with the Americans. Fortunately, the US Air Force has finally recognised his gallantry. And hopefully, today's Department of Defence would not permit a repeat of such masterly inactivity. Also, spare a thought for our servicemen and women who returned, not only from the Second World War but later conflicts including Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan. Many who have survived are often deeply physically and psychologically scarred for the rest of their lives. The price paid by many of them for serving our country is high and they are deserving of our recognition, thanks and support. We should be grateful for the sacrifices they have made.
Lest we forget.
Don Malcolmson, Bywong, NSW
China trade agreement
The Chinese ambassador to Australia says every Australian is $13,000 better off thanks to his country (''China adds $13,000 to households'', March 15, p9). I think he's mistaken. It's not us average citizens that are better off, it's the Gina Rineharts and Clive Palmers that are better off.
He also mentions an Australia-China free trade agreement. Many of China's products undercut Australian ones, not just because their wages are lower and real estate is cheaper, but because of government assistance that our producers do not get.
We've already got troublesome FTAs with the US and Korea, whose companies can sue our government when they don't like our democratically adopted laws. Negative results of the US FTA are continuing barriers to Australian imports while the US gained removal of nearly all traditional trade barriers, and influence over Australian domestic policy institutions, such as our copyright laws. In general, FTAs benefit the more powerful nation and transnational corporations, not our citizens.
If our governments want to prove themselves, I suggest they concentrate on promoting education, health and science.
M. Pietersen, Kambah
Car industry stalls
Richard Denniss argues that the car industry is leaving Australia because overseas consumers can get their cars from cheaper places (''Goodies, baddies, all lost in a logjam'' Forum, March 15, p9).
Two points: firstly, our car industry was created to serve largely the home market. Secondly, it is the Australian consumer who has deserted our car industry, for the more expensive overseas cars, because of the inferior quality of the home product.
Sam Nona, Burradoo, NSW
Library's tough stand will pinch pensioners
From the beginning of this month, the ACT Library Service has changed its long-standing policy of not fining pensioners and is now fining us for overdue items.
A letter I received from the library says they won't fine us if we are suddenly hospitalised and provide a medical certificate. Fantastic. What about those of us who can't get our items back on time because we are struggling with our illnesses, disabilities and frailties on a day-to-day basis - the conditions that got us put on pensions to begin with? Some days I am well enough to leave the house, other days I am not. I can't predict when I will be well or not. I'm sure I'm not the only pensioner in this situation.
The library already bars people from its services if they have overdue items - surely that is enough of a deterrent for pensioners. I am a very conscientious library user who always tries hard to get my items back on time but frequently my health condition means that I can't get there so an item or two might become overdue for up to a week. Under the new system, the fines would rack up.
I've gone from what one librarian called a ''super user'' of the library to someone who is scared to borrow items. I now have 10 per cent of the library items I had two weeks ago and I am scared even to have those few. Like most pensioners, I can't afford to rack up library fines. Unfortunately this new library policy means that I can't risk using services that have always been available to me in the past. I can't afford to risk the fines and the added stress they cause.
D.M. Williams, North Lyneham
Vote on death penalty
With emotions generated by the Morcombe trial, it would be inappropriate now, but could we have a referendum at the next election to reinstate the death penalty? As I recall, the public was never asked for an opinion about its abolition.
Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla
TO THE POINT
CAMERA FACTS IN DARK
John May (Letters, March 11) seems to believe that hiding mobile speed cameras plays some role in road safety. I suggest he support a study into their effectiveness. Hang on, that's already under way because we don't know if they are effective. There's lots of anecdotal evidence that might mean something but until it is studied we don't know. As to the white van parked outside your house, even if a driver does an illegal u-turn there is nothing the speed camera can do unless they were speeding.
Joe Murphy, Bonython
POT CALLING …
If anyone is suitably qualified to comment on bias, it's gotta be H. Ronald (Letters, March 14). I look forward to his next letter, hopefully enlightening us all about hypocrisy.
Michael Bakos, Holt
Ronaldian ''logic'' (Letters, March 14): Jenna Price is a ''leftie''; Jenna Price likes the ABC; ergo, the ABC is ''leftie''.
I, in the ''mind'' of H. Ronald, am a ''leftie''; I like Mozart; ergo, Mozart is a ''leftie''. See, it's all logical - if you suspend your critical faculties.
Paul McElligott, Aranda
SKYWHALE IS ART
It's a pity Ms Ponting (Letters, March 14) doesn't see the beauty of the Skywhale, but based on the gasps and exclamations when the balloon took off at the Spectacular, I'm not alone in admiring it. While Pegleg Pete is fantastic, he's cartoon - Skywhale is art, and I'm very happy to have it as a representative of my city.
Mina Roberts, Deakin
BATHERS AT THE READY
Can't wait to have a dip in those clear, deep blue waters of the lake depicted in the article ''Waterfront precinct gets $500,000 boost'' (March 17, p1).
Eric Lindemann, Greenway
In Chapman there are notices on suburban streets informing motorists that , ''Resealing of roads in this suburb will commence 3/3/14. Weather permitting''. I haven't seen any evidence of the resealing of roads, the surfaces of which look in good shape. But some footpaths in the suburb are in urgent need of replacement.
John Milne, Chapman
SAINTS NOT THE ISSUE
Penelope Upward (Letters, March 15) wonders why we would want to remove the crosses of Saints Andrew, Patrick and George from our flag. Perhaps our admiration for these Christian emblems is outweighed by our antipathy towards having a foreign country's standard on our national symbol.
Frank Marris, Forrest
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