Comment

Letters to the Editor

Environmental maths

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A commonly used equation in the environmental field calculates environmental impact by considering the combination of three principal drivers, namely population, affluence (consumption per person), and technology.

In promoting its climate-change action credentials, the ACT government likes to makes much of its commitment to renewable energy technologies, the third of the above factors.

Missing in action apparently is the same government's attention to the population and affluence factors driving environmental impact, as, for example, in its support for a massive commercial and residential development near Manuka Oval comprising multistoried buildings of apartments, a hotel, retail and office space and more car parks and their increased traffic flows (Letters, February 27). Another example is the government's support for increased people flows and emissions-heavy international travel via Canberra Airport.

If the ACT government's goal is development at all costs, should not the greenhouse gas emission costs and environmental impacts of this activity be included in the government's climate-change accounting as well? Improving technology and energy efficiency is useful, but is essentially "swimming against the tide" if the combined population and affluence factors are high and keep increasing.

Murray May, Cook

Like lemmings

The Canberra Times editorial "Is Barr railroading Canberrans?" (Forum, February 27, p6) very succinctly expressed the views of most Canberrans on the performance of the present ACT government.

It is hard to see what its game plan is, because with the tram and destruction of Northbourne Avenue, its plans for filling up West Basin, destruction of Manuka, the proposal to build low-quality public housing on Lake Ginninderra, turning nature strips into vegetable farms, and much more, they have systematically managed to offend most of the electorate in one way or another.

Simon Corbell has indicated he will not be seeking re-election at the October election.

This leaves only a few rusted-on Labor supporters for the election, the outcome of which will be a certain loss for Labor. It is astounding what Chief Minister Andrew Barr will do to retain office in the short term by bowing to Shane Rattenbury's demands. It is like lemmings heading for a cliff.

Unfortunately, we will be left to pay for and put up with the mess.

Robert Adams, Ainslie

Go underground

I find it amazing that our paranoid transport visionaries Messrs Barr, Rattenbury and Corbell created so much debate in planning to alter our landscape over a silly little "light-rail" project. You know every city just has to have one. I keep wondering why didn't opt for something bigger and rather more grand then the all-too-soon-obsolete proposed "light rail".

You see, if you want to get motorists off the road, you need to think big and go underground, like all the major capitals of the world. That's what a real public transport system is about. Surely we should be going underground, subway, metro, now. Don't worry about the cost – that, in the current debate, is immaterial.

P. M. Button, Cook

Negativity hurting us

Yet another expensive campaign to attract tourists to Canberra ("New tourism campaign: do more in less time", February 26, p3). Wherever I travel in Australia or overseas, I make an effort to chat to other travellers , especially those from overseas. I usually ask them if they will be visiting Canberra.

Replies are mostly to the effect that no, they have been told by travel agents and the travel press that Canberra is not worth visiting.

The negative attitude of most Australian politicians to Canberra often backs this up.

A bit more positivity towards Canberra by Australians themselves, especially those in public life and the travel industry, would do wonders for our local travel industry.

Timothy Walsh, Garran

Park not well used

I can only assume Graham McLennan and Judy Kelly (Letters, February 25) are talking about the Turner side of Haig Park. The part of Haig Park I pass almost daily is in Braddon between Northbourne Avenue and Limestone Crescent.

There is no room for a cafe among its serried rows of gloomy conifers and I believe the powerful owl prefers the more open space on the other side.

The park I see is only used by people as a shortcut to go somewhere else, and in three years of observation, I could count on one hand the number of people seen sitting on its rare benches.

This is a rapidly growing inner urban area and, although I don't want to see this side of the park developed to the extent advocated by Simon Copland ("Historic park has turned into a waste of space", Times2, February 22, p5) , it seems completely wasteful not to rethink its purpose and to change it into a people-friendly park.

Felicity Siro, Ainslie

Water facility

I have to ask why water tankers are still being permitted to draw our drinking water from street-side hydrants when there is a completely functional nonpotable water dispensing facility not a kilometre away, ageing gracefully, having been built during the peak of the last drought.

I expect the ACT water company will have long written off that extraordinary waste of ratepayers' money.

David Elliston, Holt

Attractive traction

Dave Roberts (Letters, February 26) believes Infrastructure Australia should spend money to bring important rail links at least into the 20th century.

As an initial investment in rolling stock for the Canberra-Sydney run, the 20th-century "Flying Scotsman" would be an excellent choice, a steamer soon to be seen regularly back on Britain's rails. Attractive traction, I would think.

Richard Hoare, Kambah

Airport security

Mike Reddy (Letters, February 27) describes the treatment meted out by airport security to people with metal prosthesis. I, too, have a hip replacement, which "pinged" the machine, and I was ordered to remove my shoes. My difficulty was putting them on again.

After some effort by various means, about a year ago, I obtained an email from Ferdi Lumbaca, manager terminal business, regarding shoe removal. I present this at the Canberra airport security and have not had to remove my shoes since.

John Simsons, Holt

Has Turnbull simply ticked being prime minister off his bucket list?

Anticipating Malcolm Turnbull's vision for Australia's future.

Why is Jack Waterford ("Malcolm Turnbull hasn't been the messiah and doesn't seem to have a gospel", canberratimes.com.au, February 27) puzzled by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's apparent lack of purpose?

Putting to one side the obvious fact that any leader of the Liberal Party will be totally committed to serving the interests of the "big end of town", has Jack or anyone else examined the man's ambitions and motivations in aspiring to the nation's leadership? Is our PM nothing more than a high achiever who has succeeded in attaining all his goals over the years and has finally "ticked the box" on becoming prime minister? Based on his behaviour, the job was done as soon as he was sworn in. Certainly I haven't heard him utter a word that would suggest he has a "vision" for Australia's future.

Ambition is a funny creature and can be either master or servant. There are those who have it for its own sake and are satisfied with the gaudy and superficial trappings that "look at me" success so often brings. Then there are those who pursue opportunities to do great things for the nation and can't rest until they succeed.

On that basis, it would seem that Malcolm Turnbull is no better than any other politician; it's just that his Facebook page is a bit better managed than most.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

Jack Waterford asks 'Does PM have the ticker for tough choices?' (Forum, February 27, p1). I think Turnbull may have made his tough choice: to lie down with the Coalition right wing. If he relies on shonky, ill-considered, anti-democratic legislation to change Senate voting practice followed by a successful double-dissolution election, would his new "mandate" allow him to rediscover the Turnbull we thought we were getting? Don't put money on it.

David Townsend, Curtin

Merger a bad idea

I hope that ABC and SBS don't merge – despite the wishes of ABC managing director Mark Scott ("ABC boss reveals secret SBS deal", February 25, p4). SBS is by far the best free to air channel. The commercial channels are on the whole unwatchable. ABC has too many repeats of second rate British programs and I'm afraid to say un-noteworthy Australian shows. SBS has the best range of good documentaries and beats hands down other free to air with its drama series, for example, Borgen, The Bridge, Mad Men, Masters of Sex, Breaking Bad and Fargo.

Many of its foreign language movies are very good and are generally the best movies one can see on free to air. I believe SBS fulfils its charter in terms of foreign language broadcasting. To argue, as Scott does, that merging SBS with the stronger ABC, would not affect the type of programs SBS offers , strains credibility.

Rod Holesgrove, O'Connor

Something's fishy

Thank you Ross Fitzgerald ("Hypocrisy taints vote laws", Times2, February 26, p1). I had an uneasy feeling that there was something fishy about the new Senate election deal. Now I know, but what is to be done about it. I would like to read some suggestions in The Canberra Times and will try to start the ball rolling with one of my own. How about taking a "how to vote paper" from the party you least like and voting in reverse order of its recommendation. That way we might give proportional representation a chance.

John F. Simmons, Kambah

I don't object to preferential voting, as long as I have exhausted my preferences. If there are six vacant positions up for grabs, then I should not be required to express more than six preferences. If I prefer to vote for the Sun-Ripened Warm Tomato Party or the Party! Party! Party! Party (and they have appeared on a ballot paper in the ACT – and both at the same election) then I should opt for them with one of my six preferences. I should also be allowed to opt not to vote at all, without penalty, if the system is to be truly optional, but that is another issue.

I could, if I felt so inclined, continue to vote for the other 76 bozos, and my vote should be counted as valid down to the point where I inevitably stuff things up or collapse from exhaustion, as long as I cast a valid vote for the required six candidates. A form of optional preferential voting such as this is used in other ballots supervised by the Electoral Commission, so why not for Senate elections? But even a voting system like this will almost certainly result in a scenario in which a minority party member will be corrupted, and the whole dirty business will grind on. To paraphrase Ned Kelly: Such is politics!

Dick Parker, Page

Below the line

It is certainly time to change the Senate voting system, but I am a bit worried that the most obvious change is being ignored in the proposed legislation, and I think I smell a fishy smell. Optional preferential voting above the line is good, but what we need is optional preferential voting below the line as well. Voters would only have to number six boxes below the line (or two in the ACT), instead of all the boxes, which could be as many as a 100. Unfortunately, I don't think it is an accident that this simple reform does not appear in the legislation.

Jenny Andrews, Aranda

Spending ignored

David Roth (Letters, February 26) criticises Geoff Davies' and Jane O'Sullivan's writings on the issue of Australia's population. However, his own argument is fallacious in that, among other things, he ignores the cost of capital: the spending of environmental capital; soil, water, mineral, landscapes in general. Capital spent in the acquisition of infrastructure to support those escalating numbers of people. That bank of natural capital, in maintaining our present numbers, is more and more obviously approaching bankruptcy.

Colin Samundsett, Farrer

Criticise with caution

I read with interest D.A. Nolan's observation (Letters, February 25) regarding the apparent Christian deficit of Donald Trump. As an apparent Christian I would have thought D.A. Nolan might have been familiar with the Christian tenet: "Judge not lest ye be judged". Clearly he resides not in a glass house. And as for standing with the Pope, someone should throw the "spotlight" on that.

Mark Quinane, Battery Point, Tas

Campbell 5 the latest development disaster

In what's shaping up as another Land Development Agency disaster, the current development of Campbell 5 is a perfect example of what happens when government doesn't consult the community.

Despite the pre-existing site having clearly defined walking and cycling tracks indented in the landscape from constant use, the LDA obviously assumed this unleased land was unused land and, therefore, no consultation was undertaken with the hundreds of daily site users or nearby residents.

As a result, the newly developed park does not include walking or cycling routes that match residents' use of the site, or even create a logical route across the site.

Add to this, new parks, play equipment, streetscapes and walking vistas have been built for the yet-to-arrive residents of Campbell 5, while less than two metres away, the long-suffering current residents of Chowne and Page streets face on to an unmown verge on the other side of their road, which has no street lights, footpaths or even road gutters to guide flooding waters.

And while the ACT government is obsessed by Campbell 5, the rest of Campbell has been ignored, with potholes everywhere, unused roadworks signs still scattered across the suburb, the bronze plaque in RSL Park missing for many months, and the Legacy Park walk looking more like an ant farm than a place for reflection and dedication.

It's time the head of the LDA actually visited the site and sorted out this growing suburban divide.

M. T. Rollins, Campbell

Show a rip-off

On Sunday, I took my eight-year-son for the first time to the Royal Canberra Show. Before arriving at the entrance, I was stung $10 for a car spot. When I got to the entrance gate, a further $37 was extracted from my wallet. So I spent $47 just to enter. A showbag and four rides lasting two minutes each and I left soon after $100 poorer. I will never return.

Anthony Sirr, Kambah

TO THE POINT

WITHIN THE RULES

Senator Ricky Muir has indicated he (and possibly other senators) might challenge the proposed Senate voting changes on the grounds that they are "unconstitutional". The changes might appear "unfair" to some sitting senators, but they are in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

Paul E. Bowler, Holder

FAILED LEADERS

Hasn't anyone told both John Howard and Tony Abbott they are not only ex-PMs but also failed PMs. Howard even lost his seat. Why is the public still being subjected to political pronouncements by the former and quasi foreign minister statements by the latter?

E. R. Moffat, Weston

I'm glad John Howard has emerged from the parlour to advise Bill Shorten about being "out of touch" with the electorate. After all, he learnt the hard way.

Linus Cole, Palmerston

TIME FOR ABBOTT TO GO

Given the exodus of long-serving MPs and others from the LNP's parliamentary ranks, foreshadowed for the next election, it's time for ex-PM Tony Abbott to join them. Given his obsession and commitment to the defence of Australia, I think it's time for Tony to man up and put his body on the line and join the armed services. I'm sure they would give him a commission.

John Mungoven, Stirling

FRACKING THE REASON

I'm sorry to disappoint Chris Thorne (Letters, February 26), but the Saudis haven't caused the drop in crude oil prices. One of the reasons is the North American drive in gas-seam production (fracking), which is a strategic decision to rid an economy from reliance on Middle Eastern oil dependencies.

Gerry Murphy, Braddon

DEFENCE EXPENDITURE

I sometimes wonder if the "Defence 2per cent of GDP" number is used to deliberately mislead. Certainly, someone got it wrong (Letters, February 27), citing defence as 2per cent of the budget, not GDP. Defence expenditure is actually 17per cent of the federal budget.

Eric Pozza, Red Hill

INDEX TAX BRACKETS

For over 50 years, I have watched politicians of all stripes crying crocodile tears over bracket creep – usually when they want to make heroes of themselves before an election by promising a "tax cut" if elected. Memo: If you're really, genuinely serious about the unfairness of bracket creep, the solution is simple. Index the tax brackets annually to inflation.

John Payne, Kambah

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