I'd like to thank Bryn Challis (Letters, March 18) for enlightening us on the history of Canberra's shared walkways.
It wasn't so long ago that Canberra's roads were mainly the domain of motor cars with the occasional cyclist riding along. However most of Canberra's arterial roads now have dedicated cycle lanes to encourage and accommodate greater cycle usage. Not even that, there are green right of way sections at many intersections and furthermore the ACT government has legislated that motorists must keep at least one metre clearance when passing cyclists.
In my view cyclists are now well catered for. We need to duplicate the existing network of shared pathways at great expense to ACT taxpayers.
If cyclists wish to improve on their "personal best" then they should use one of the many on-road cycle lanes or as suggested in my earlier letter, show some common courtesy and slow down when passing pedestrians.
Peter Toscan, Amaroo
Does anyone else see the sad irony of a group of very conservative politicians using their power and influence to object to an education program that has been designed to promote tolerance, acceptance and aims to eradicate bullying of children who are feeling isolated and "different"?
The very attitudes being displayed and verbalised by this influential group reinforces the need to have these programs.
Annette Gilmour, Melba
Time to move on
Regarding the Canberra Times' recent article ("Government reveals changes to controversial Safe Schools program", March 19, p6) the outcome is not surprising.
Normal people from both the 'godless left' and 'religious right' already knew that apart from some specific material of questionable appropriateness, the Safe Schools Program was an otherwise unremarkable and worthwhile anti-bullying program. Any further complaints are purely about political point scoring, and achieve nothing for either side.
The umpire made his call. Respect it. Move on.
Christopher Budd, Turner
Safe Schools puzzle
The Christians in the Liberal Party are congratulating themselves on saving our poor little children from various wickednesses in the Safe Schools programme. But there are some questions which they themselves must answer.
Why were there no problems in the programme when Tony Abbott introduced it, but there are now when Tony Abbott is no longer prime minister?
What has changed? Or did Saint Tony make a mistake? And if that's the case, then why wasn't it picked up at the time by all the Christian vigilantes? Why didn't they care about Australian schoolchildren back then? Are they now trying to save themselves from all the embarrassment and anger caused by Cardinal Pell?
G. Agnew, Coopers Plains
Ballot fairness needed
Suddenly the 'above the line and #1 position' on the Senate ballot papers becomes of immense significance. Names (not political affiliations) and positions must be democratically (and fairly) selected by an apolitical process, such as the publicly open and transparent FIFA world cup draw or the initial Vietnam conscription, conducted by an independent apolitical body without any vested interest.
The draw must be publicly conducted and live, real time relayed through the media. There will not be any seeds. Every candidate has to be given a 'fair go' and have the same opportunities. This will be a lengthy process as no two Senate ballot papers should be the same (Robson Rotation).
Computer-generated selections must be banned as they are open to alleged fraud, cheating, hacking, disputes, challenges and viruses.
P. Temple, Macquarie
Geology and climate
As a geologist who has looked at lots of old sedimentary rocks, I assure David Jenkins (Letters March 18) that interpreting these "old rocks" requires knowledge of the "complex dynamic systems" of hydrodynamics, weather and climate, and water and atmosphere chemistry including CO2 levels, involved in origins of sediments, their precursors.
Conversely these old rocks reveal much about the history of weather and climate, and atmosphere and ocean chemistry, in the geological past. These are important constraints on climate models.
Climatology is a multi-disciplinary field. Geologists can be, and many are, also climatologists. Many are convinced that geological evidence is consistent with predictions of warming climate and also major impacts on ocean chemistry and biota if CO2 contents continue to rise.
Max Brown, Mawson
Due to our tepid response to climate change, our planet is heading towards disaster. The Coalition couldn't care less. They're too busy using negative gearing to move homes out of reach of low and middle-income earners into the hands of the already over-housed.
We can learn from the past, plan for the future and cooperate to achieve goals. We need responsible government.
Rosemary Walters, Palmerston
So Housing ACT is crowing about its success in selling off high-value properties in Canberra's inner suburbs to fund new housing developments and maintain its stock in a way that meets the needs of its tenants while emphasising the importance of avoiding "concentrations of disadvantage" ("Public housing raises $100m", March 15, p1). Sales criteria include location, maintenance costs and energy efficiency. Why then has Housing consistently failed to sell off properties in our street that meet all of the above criteria and, if sold, would easily make or even top the published table of sales for 2015-16?
None of the properties is a good match for their tenants and Housing has shown scant interest in managing this street's at-risk tenants over a period of at least 35 years. What is more, this small, contained street now comprises over 57 per cent public housing among its dwellings. This includes half a duplex, dating back to 1939, that has sat vacant since November, and which required intensive repairs over many weeks by a large work team following the previous tenant's departure. Yet now we find that, not only is Housing proposing to re-let this property, but is also planning to re-develop the duplex block at the earliest opportunity to include at least four townhouses.
This could lead to a concentration of up to 70 per cent public housing in the street.
Michael and Christine O'Loughlin, Griffith
Sorry Gerry (Letters, March 14) but you've missed the point. As an ecologist, I'm well aware of the resilience of ecosystems, including coral reefs, to environmental pressure. In fact, as demonstrated by Connell's intermediate disturbance hypothesis, ecosystem diversity is increased under environmental pressure, up to a point. We seem to be in furious agreement on that.
However, I put it to you, again, that such knowledge in itself doesn't prove that an ecosystem under pressure from various anthropogenic influences, including pollution from modified catchments and shifting ocean temperature is, and will be, perfectly fine.
I've searched in vain for any scientifically peer-reviewed evidence that measurements have disproved "my claim" of warming oceans (not mine actually) and unfortunately have come up empty-handed. I look forward to a credible reference for this.
I've no idea how to respond to your statement that observations of warming oceans are "a claptrap hypothesis spawned by alarmists to try to hide the decline in global temperatures" except to again seek a supporting reference. I will say, however, your suggestion that seasonal to decadal climate states and movements can't possibly be predicted because BoM sometimes can't even get weekly weather forecasts right speaks volumes. I refer you to James Allen's letter of March 12 for a start and would be happy to provide references explaining the differences between methods and models used in weather forecasting and those used in climate prediction.
David Barratt, Yarralumla
Too much to retire in
Indeed, Dr Paul Recher (Letters, March 16), it is all about money when you are trying to downsize and buy somewhere suitable to spend the rest of your days. Maybe a lot of other pensioners are in the same boat as I am, rattling around in their large houses.
When I bought my large 4-bedroom plus study, 2-level home with extraordinary views over the Tuggeranong Valley and to the Brindabellas, back in '95, I thought I had catered adequately for my older years. Now I find this is not so.
There are many lovely retirement villages being built that I would love to live in but they are not catering for a certain demographic. To buy a 3-bed 2-garage home in one of these villages costs nearly $600,000 and you have to pay $500 a month to live in them. As I will probably live until I am 100 (longevity on both sides) I need single-level, no-garden accommodation. Even if I could pay the levy now, I may not be able to afford it later and it would be deducted from the value of my home.
I have had my house on the market for some time but as it is in the "antipodes", I will be extremely lucky if I get $600,000 for it. It is time the government stepped in and built more affordable retirement villages.
Jenni Warren, Isabella Plains
Cut the choppers
I noticed in your online report of March 18 that Actew is doing more helicopter inspections over and above those done in February. In that period, it reportedly flew 37 hours and covered 1793km.
As someone who flies a small two-seater Robinson 22 helicopter, which costs about 15¢ a second all up to fly, I am wondering why Actew is not using drones or camera-equipped light aircraft for its inspections as does the Forestry Department, National Parks and various oil and gas companies.
This would be much cheaper for Actew clients, especially as the senior management of Actew is so excessively remunerated.
Ric Hingee, Duffy
Address census data
On December 18, 2015, the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced that it would be retaining name and address data from the 2016 population census to enable matching census data with other government databases.
This change was slammed in the Australian Financial Review, March 9, by former government statistician Bill McLennan.
The census is perhaps the country's most important statistical collection. It provides the data that determines electoral boundaries and allocation of funds to the states and local government. It enables planning for major infrastructure such as hospitals and schools. It is vital for these purposes.
The ABS Privacy Impact Assessment claims the impact of loss of public trust is "very low" and states "81 per cent of the general public ... trust Australia's official statistical organisation", meaning 1 in 5 people do not trust the ABS.
Will these people co-operate when they know that name and address data will be retained for matching to other agencies databases? This begs another question, is the ABS going to make it clear to the general public that their names and addresses will be retained and used is this manner? No matter what spin you put on it, the risk of non-cooperation and misreporting is unacceptably high and, as Mr McLennan says, "You may as well not run the census". As a former ABS employee and ardent defender of ABS and its role in government and the community, I feel betrayed.
David Groube, Guerilla Bay, NSW
There's room for a stadium elsewhere
It seems highly unlikely that any of those involved in the GWS Giants/Grocon proposal for "Manuka Green" actually live in the Manuka area, or will be directly affected by the redevelopment proposal except perhaps in terms of lining their pockets. If we really need a bigger stadium, there seems to be plenty of space for a new mega-stadium and adequate parking at Symonston, only 15 minutes from Manuka. The ACT's political parties should make clear their positions on the proposal before the next election so we know who to vote for.
C. Williams, Forrest
I was surprised by Richard Fox's enthusiastic endorsement of Grocon's proposal ("Manuka Green proposal good fit for go-ahead capital, Times2, March 18, p5), because the Manuka Green website does not indicate where the proposed hotel and apartments being will be located. What can be seen is that most of the gardens in the block where the swimming pool is located will be built on. This land contains heritage listed buildings, including the swimming pool building and its contained pool, the wading pool and associated landscaped grounds comprising spacious lawns, trees and boundary fencing.
How can anyone endorse this proposal when there is no information on where the hotel and the apartments are to be situated or how the heritage facilities will be incorporated into the design? Let's just stick to upgrading the oval.
David Denham, Griffith
CEO should try it
It was amusing watching the bleeding of Telstra CEO Andy Penn regarding the "unacceptable" Telstra network outage, again. One wonders if he called the Telstra faults number and was placed on hold for several hours without result by his off shore call centre, as was my experience before terminating my Telstra account recently.
Chris Longhurst, Jerrabomberra, NSW
TO THE POINT
The Canberra Times wants to hear from you in short bursts. Email views in 50 words or fewer to
I refer to homophobia, Islamophobia, technophobia and, now, transphobia. Is there a phobia to cover people like me who are tired of phobias?
Heather Nash, Kingston
The Senate pulls an allnighter, and plumbs the depths of Parliamentary debate and behaviour. I am starting to think that my five-year-old granddaughter's kindy class could do a better job.
Janet Cossart, Stirling
LISTEN AND LEARN
With President Barack Obama's visit to Cuba, there is speculation about whether he can pressure Cuba to improve its human rights record. But any comparison of Cuba's human, rights record with that of the United States shows that the US should be taking lessons from Cuba.
Alan McNeil, Weetangera
PATHOLOGY OF VOTES
Pathology will no longer be bulk-billed from July 1. But over-65s — even those with millions in the bank — enjoy the same health rights as pensioners. Instead, Mr Turnbull, why not means-test the over-65 non-pensioner sector?
Or would that cost you votes?
Gordon Nevin, O'Connor
CROSS BENCH TO BLAME
The cross bench senators didn't play their cards right. They joined the Coalition to repeal the so called "Carbon Tax" and to introduce the "Direct Action Plan". They strengthened the hands of the Coalition only to bring their own demise.
Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt
TIME TO ACT
Faced with yet more bleaching of corals on the Great Barrier Reef, environment Minister Greg Hunt allocates $3.8 million to monitoring the situation. What's long overdue is government action to ban the development of new mines for the extraction of thermal coal.
David Teather, Reid
Good on Woden Tradies Club staff (and member) for their later but great contribution to Clean Up Australia Day 2016. All manner of rubbish was cleaned away from the large to the small, including useful recyclables to the downright dangerous. Can all clubs participate next year?
J. Emerson, Kambah
A DECIMAL POINT
Family First senator Bob Day is challenging the constitutional validity of the new Senate voting provisions and reckons that he has a 50 per cent chance of success. I'd rate Senator Day's chances at 0.5 per cent.
Frank Marris, Forrest
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