Experts at the time may have disagreed, but as soon as publicity was given to just two flight paths or corridors that MH370 most likely would have taken upon deviation, it seemed certain that the aircraft was not accidentally off course, and was doomed.

With virtually wall-to-wall countries, the northern hemisphere route is a complex of radar and detection sites and would have picked up the plane. The determining factor in my view was on what basis could authorities at any level describe flight to the deep southern Indian Ocean, devoid of land-based airports, as a flight path. Satellite military intelligence has played its role in bringing this tragic event to a close.

Today's world, full of nuclear mistrust, cannot let an aircraft just disappear, but, if nothing else, MH370 has mocked that defence concept.

Colliss Parrett, Barton

Why are Tony Abbott and Warren Truss making all the announcements on the search for possible debris from the missing plane in the Indian Ocean - after all, this is an ''on water operational matter''.

Seems like Abbott and Truss are big-noting themselves for political reasons.

Rod Holesgrove, O'Connor

Perhaps I'm overlooking something, but with today's proliferation of mobile phones, why didn't anybody on the missing plane call home?

M. Pietersen, Kambah


Thomson hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is a key word these days. Craig Thomson still claims total innocence and now he has the hide to plead community work in mitigation.

What community work? His duty as an MP?

Thomson stole from union members, fitted up others, lied in Parliament many times and even cried for sympathy.

He should go to jail, and your correspondent R. Stewart (Letters, March 20) should not condemn Arthur Sinodinos until full evidence of some criminality is presented. But I agree, he should wait with bated breath.

At least Senator Sinodinos has done the right thing by stepping aside - Thomson didn't, and Julia Gillard condoned his criminality to retain power.

Peter Murray, Red Hill


Wind from where?

How will the NSW government's removal on Wednesday of the ''critical infrastructure'' status for wind farms affect the ACT government's 200MW wind auction?

I do hope that we have sufficient suitable sites in the ACT to deliver the outcomes intended … or that ACT government can be very persuasive with the NSW and Capital Region local governments and residents about the benefits of wind farms.

G.M. King, Narrabundah


No barbaric return

It seems every time there is a high-profile murder conviction, the supporters of state-implemented murder (i.e., capital punishment) such as Greg Cornwell (Letters, March 18) feel emboldened to emerge from their caves to call for its reinstatement.

It becomes very tedious to have to restate the arguments against this barbaric practice: it has been proven not to be a deterrent; the conviction of many people, supposedly beyond doubt, later found to be innocent (sometimes, sadly, post-mortem); the moral reprehensibility of the state murdering its own citizens, thereby performing the very crime it is itself punishing, and so on.

As for the furphy that the polity was never asked to approve the death penalty's abolition, let alone that there was no discussion about it, as far as I know the ACT has never had capital punishment.

It is, after all, a state government responsibility. Beyond that, the people were also never asked whether we should have gone to war in Iraq, been subjected to WorkChoices or whether there should be more women in the current cabinet.

Perhaps Mr Cornwall would prefer the paralysis in government that subjecting all such matters to referendums would cause, or would he want only the things that he personally disagrees with? We have elections, after all.

It's just a bit sad that Mr Cornwall seems to place such a high priority in the governance of Australia on his desire to exact mortal revenge on people already being punished severely.

David Jenkins, Casey


Catholic challenge

Apart from challenging us to distinguish between ''involvement'' and ''engagement'', something which the reader can ignore as simply banal, Tim Smith's article ''Catholic parents unite in creating distinct standpoint'' (March 20, Times2, p5) offered little ''food for thought''.

That is, unless one considers the sentence ''Authentic parental engagement offers opportunities for transformational …'' to contain meaningful information.

I am still wondering, what is the difference between ''authentic parental engagement'' and simply ''parental engagement''.

As a, non-practising, Catholic parent whose children were educated at Catholic schools I can assure Tim that the vast majority of us (I say this based on my rapport with other parents over many years) do not need a litany of associations to assume responsibility for our children's decent and honest upbringing.

John Rodriguez, Florey


To hypothecate

Douglas Mackenzie (Letters, March 21) may be interested to learn that the original use of the word hypothecate regarded a pledge of property as collateral for a debt without transfer of possession to the party making the loan. Wouldn't it be perfectly natural for Senator Eric Abetz to confuse ''hypothecate'' with ''hypothesise'' when discussing the relationship between Senator Sinodinos and Eddie Obeid on the ABC's 7.30?

Peter Snowdon, Aranda


Ambiguous Irish

On St Patrick's Day, Frank O'Shea gave us a marvellous essay on what he called the ''fertile ambiguity'' of the Irish use of language (''Irish are after being over any notion of rational talk'', Times2, March 17, p5).

His essay reminded me of a day when I walked the length of the main thoroughfare of Dublin, O'Connell Street.

There are statues of Irish patriots Parnell at one end and O'Connell at the other end, and there was formerly a statue of Lord Nelson in the middle of the street.

An Irishman once demanded to know why they had to tolerate a statue of a one-eyed English adulterer in the middle of the street. His friend replied that they also had a couple of two-eyed Irish adulterers at each end of the street! But Frank would agree that there was nothing ambiguous in what the Irish did about the Nelson statue.

Republican activists blew it up in a massive explosion in 1966, and today a simple spire marks the spot.

Father Robert Willson, Deakin


F35 boondoggle

One can only conclude that ''the nice man from Lockheed Martin'' has snake eyes for he has not only mesmerised our air force brass but also your columnist Nicholas Stuart (''Fighter aircraft plan marred by a strategic mistake'', Times2, March 18, p5). After junketing with Lockheed Martin, Stuart repeats claims that the unit cost of the F35 is going down and that it's a bargain at $85million a piece.

Next we will be hearing this fifth generation hi-tech wonder defies gravity. The cost figures certainly defy imagination. $85 million x 86 = $7.31 billion. According to Stuart this is the equivalent of building about 1200 hospitals. But forget hospitals. Stuart does.

The F35 is a boondoggle infamous for its design troubles, its delays and its cost blow-outs. When PM Howard signed up for it in a Washington restaurant more than 10 years ago, it was touted at about $40 million each.

Canada, which like Australia was an early project partner and committed to buy 86 F35s, recently dropped out after a government auditor examined the project and concluded the unit cost, cradle to grave, would be $400 million each. Oh, to have our Auditor-General unpick the Lockheed lies.

Where is honest debate and strategic assessments on the ADF's need for the F35? Where is the forum that might have raised Stuart's concern that F35 is incompatible with the Pacific Island invasion fleet of helicopter and rear-ramped landing craft carriers now being assembled for our navy?

In Washington the F35 is described as ''the jet that ate the Pentagon'' and has high-profile critics such as Republican hawk John McCain and former test pilot Chuck Yeager.

The strategic concern among F35 critics is that the single-pointed, at-whatever-cost commitment to the ever-troubled F35 is a long-term setback to US global air superiority. Maybe Australia would do better to skip fifth-generation war planes, look around for a cheaper existing production fighter that suits our needs and then pick up on sixth generation when and if it comes.

If our defence need for a fast fighter jet is, as Stuart asserts, to deter an invasion fleet, maybe we might follow the Chinese example and invest in long-range rockets. These seem to be holding the US 7th Fleet at bay so well that the US Navy is now planning for new bases a hemisphere away in Australia.

Graeme Dunstan, Kambah


Birth story wrong

The article ''Doctors hold key to growth in caesareans'' (March 20, p6) suggested that a survey of Queensland mothers found that differences in caesarean rates between public and private hospitals was due to doctors denying choice to public hospital patients.

In fact, the survey in question clearly states that ''women who birthed in private facilities were more likely than women who birthed in public facilities to say they could have chosen either method of birth (vaginal or caesarean)'', with 61.1 per cent of women in private hospitals saying they had such a choice compared to just 36.7 per cent in public hospitals.

The same survey also found that women who birthed in private facilities were significantly more likely to say they were well cared for, were treated with respect, kindness and understanding and treated as an individual compared with women who birthed in public hospitals.

Perhaps of most significance, those giving birth in private hospitals were more likely to say their care providers were open and honest, respected their privacy, respected their decisions and genuinely cared about their wellbeing.

This is exactly the opposite of the impression created by your article.

Michael Roff, chief executive officer, Australian Private Hospitals Association


Next question: what is ''I have no more territorial ambitions in Europe'' in Russian?

Bernard McMinn, Mawson


With regard to the article ''Cyclists peddle better foreshore access'' (March 19, p3), might it be too much to suggest that cyclists slow down as they approach the foreshore precinct on the shared path rather than seek the removal of car park spaces on Eastlake Parade? In many cities in the world, pedestrians and cyclists coexist quite happily in conditions far more congested than the foreshore precinct. A little courtesy goes a long way.

John L. Huppatz, Kingston


Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop hastens to endorse US sanctions against Russia; no doubt Labor would do the same. We never fail to back Uncle Sam, whether right or wrong, do we?

Gordon Nevin, O'Connor


Telopoea Park School is not the only school subjected to unregulated parking chaos (Letters, March 20). Every afternoon large numbers of cars park on the Melbourne Avenue median strip opposite Canberra Girls Grammar School, directly under ''no parking'' signs. Requests to Parking Operations have failed to bring about any enforcement action.

Ernst Willheim, Forrest


I do not recall H. Ronald (Letters, March 20) complaining about ''the silly incoherence of most participants and vile nastiness of the few'' when Alan Jones, Tony Abbott and others were participating in that demonstration outside Parliament House during which Julia Gillard was abused some years ago. Nor do I recall a similar letter from Sheila Duke.

Roger Terry, Kingston


This article states what most Canberrans already know - the cameras should be a safety strategy but instead are just revenue collectors. Treat motorists as machines that can't exceed the speed limit and the result is increased driver annoyance and people who don't have respect for what seems to be a nanny government.

Snaddle, March 20

To all those who have driven too fast and thus provided some extra voluntary taxation: my thanks. If you are grumpy about being caught, don't drive so fast.

His Lordship, March 20

If you think it's bad now; just wait until the Majura Parkway is finished and see what ridiculously slow speed limit they put on that! Canberra is the Wrapped-In-Cotton-Wool capital of Australia … the Territory's politicians and public servants are devoted to saving Territorians from themselves.

Mike, March 20


Pretty hypocritical seeing as they have just been through a round of redundancies in the WAPS.

Muppet, March 19

Come on Noel! Barnett is after a very limited number of very senior bureaucrats, from what he says. How is this an opportunity for younger or lower-ranked public servants, the latter of whom make up the bulk of those out of work? Your headline is quite misleading.

Abbott's Nemesis, March 19


Maybe the authorities should do a thorough audit of the danger spots on off-road cycle paths, and establish a budget for repairing them. The paths are dangerously narrow, steep and curvy, with poor surfaces riven with tree roots. In the last 25 years our quiet cul-de-sac has been unnecessarily resurfaced. Always Rolls-Royce design standards for cars, cheap and nasty for bikes - even though good design for bikes would cost little compared with the total roads budget.

John Smith, March 19

These payouts are when a piece of infrastructure causes an injury. This story isn't reporting the facts correctly. It's not just cyclists claiming, it's pedestrians too and anybody else who has had an accident due to poor infrastructure.

KB1971, March 19

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.
Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).