G. Downie's concerns (Letters, September 16) regarding the proposed Uriarra solar farm are misplaced. It will produce no pollution or noise, does not contain toxic materials, and will co-exist with sheep grazing. A screen of fast-growing wattles along its boundaries will render the farm invisible from the ground. No one's lifestyle is under threat. Compare this with gas or coal generation: massive air pollution, noise, mines, fracking, cooling ponds, waste dumps and fuel truck movements.
Mr Downie argues that China's greenhouse gas emissions are much larger than ours and thus reducing our emissions makes little difference. On the basis of this argument should I stop paying tax, since my 0.00001 per cent contribution to national tax receipts makes little difference? As Mr Downie says, ''every little bit helps''.
Over the next 30 years most of the current gas and coal generation plant will retire. Wind and solar constitute most of the generation capacity constructed in recent years, and are competitive with new-build fossil fuel power stations. South Australia now obtains 31 per cent of its electricity from thousands of wind and solar generators, up from nearly nothing a few years ago.
Canberra can follow this path to a renewable electricity future at a cost no greater than a fossil fuel future - but without greenhouse gas emissions.
The future electricity system will comprise thousands of widely distributed emissions-free wind and solar generators in place of centralised fossil fuel plant. A profound change in electricity generation systems is under way around the world, driven by astonishing cost reductions in solar and wind.
Professor Andrew Blakers, director, Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, Australian National University
Minister Simon Corbell (Letters, September 14) defends the possibility of using his call in powers over the proposed Uriarra solar farm stating that ''the only difference between a decision made by the Planning and Land Authority and the minister is that the minister's decision cannot be reviewed by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal''.
The role of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal in planning disputes is to undertake a ''merits review'' of a decision made by the Planning and Land Authority with respect to a development application, and to set aside that decision if it is found wanting. If Minister Corbell exercises his call in powers with respect to the Uriarra Village solar farm it will be because he knows that the merits of the development will not withstand scrutiny.
There is no merit in insisting that a solar farm be built within 50 metres of a suburb when the developer has access to other sites that will impact on nobody.
Christina Barbary, Uriarra
I agree with the current residents of Uriarra that the proposed site of the solar farm is ridiculous and should be changed. However, as a former child resident of the early 1960s, I have some issues with the description of it as a beautiful place. I loved living there and I'm still in contact with friends made there 50-plus years later.
My memory is of hot or freezing, dry and dusty, barren paddocks, thistles higher than me, snakes and plovers, saved only by pine forests and the pines around the school, the shady dam near the tennis courts and the creek that ran through the middle - all gone now. It was child heaven for us city migrants but really just quite typical bush. Residents should concentrate on what would be allowed in any other residential area as I don't see anyone proposing the same for Red Hill or Narrabundah. The government needs reminding that it's no longer home to migrants and other forestry workers, and that the people there will speak out.
Roseanne Byrne, Jerrabomberra, NSW
On a number of occasions ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell uses the phrase ''equality before the law'' in relation to same-sex marriage. We infer from this, that until same-sex marriage is enacted in the ACT, same-sex couples in the ACT do not have equality before the law. Recently I heard former federal attorney-general Robert McClelland describing how a range of inequalities which existed at that time in relation to same-sex couples, e.g. concerning inheritance law, had been cleared away in his time as attorney-general. My understanding is that, at the same time, such discrimination had also been removed at territory level. If this is so, Mr Corbell should specify for us precisely what it is that is still creating inequality before the law in relation to same-sex couples, and exactly how same-sex marriage will fix it.
H. MacLean, Deakin
W.B. Mills (Letters, September 18) insists that ACT government's proposal to legislate for same sex marriage ''is an insult to the clear Christian biblical basis of my marriage''; and exhorts ACT residents to throw out their government. Having been free to choose the form of marriage that suited him/her, W.B. Mills wants to deny others the option to choose the form of union that suits them. It is his/her choice to be offended by the proposed legislation, and I doubt that any resident will reverse his/her support for same sex-marriage, just to make W.B. Mills feel better! I, for one, ''frankly, don't give a damn'' about his feelings!
J. Bothroyd, Duffy
Rowing with a view
To at least one of us rowing recently around Kinsgton foreshore, the new Corten bridge looks at home with the best architecture visible from the lake and deserves a prestigious award (''Cool bridge takes gone'', September 17, p8).
Ian Warden sends us to a watery grave should we row in ''skulls'' (twice-mentioned) - there is no known link between our sport and the Jolly Roger or Shakespeare's Yorick - we prefer to row in something that floats, usually referred to as ''shells'' (in two, four or eight seat combinations) or ''sculls'' (in single, double or quad configuration).
Peter Chivers, Curtin
Short-sighted cabinet suggests lack of vision on vital issues
The list of important subjects without dedicated ministers is of concern, as it exposes the short-term planning perspectives of the new government.
The Coalition seems preoccupied with subjects it perceives as being of immediate concern.
Long-term [strategic] subjects such as science, water resources, climate change and aged care - all exponentially growing issues of concern - are either not recognised or hidden away in multiple allocations to individual ministers.
This is not thinking which looks forward 20 years.
Were the PM and his cohort in a military combat situation (politicians so love to use the military lexicon) they would deal only with the problems to their front.
Such a short-term outlook suggests that this government will fail to address the really vital issues which lie ahead.
Science, by way of example, is about conceptual vision, imagination and laborious testing and peer review; in short it is about the future not the now. Engineers et al attend to the now.
The problem with multi-hatted responsibility is that a head can only wear one hat at a time.
Let's worry about these truly significant blind spots of process and less about the issue of gender imbalances; one is sure the women of Liberal and National Parties will address these issues.
F.A. Roberts, Curtin
Repeating the past
Prime Minister Tony Abbott clearly demonstrated the core of his philosophy of government on day one.
He talks of ''governing for all Australians'' while sacking departmental heads deemed too close to the opposition and giving party figures plum jobs.
Like the ALP, the Coalition will learn - eventually - that reality bites.
Eventually, the Coalition will fall because it ignores the overwhelming evidence about fossil fuel consumption accelerating climate change.
The Coalition knows that menacing refugee boats with warship guns will cost lives. The truth will out just as it did before.
It is all so predictable, except for whether Mr Abbott lasts longer than his former boss.
Rod Olsen, Flynn
Lowdown on Lomborg
Your article by Bjorn Lomborg (''Don't blame weather extremes on climate change'', Times2, September 18, p4) omitted to mention that Lomborg is an economist, not a climate scientist.
Further, that approximately 97 per cent of the big league of climate scientists reject his denial of global warming and its effects.
To be more even-handed, perhaps you could refer readers to Howard Friel's book, The Lomborg Deception, a long read but a good refutation of most of what Lomborg claims about the world's climate. It also enlightens us on the threat for future generations.
Friel neatly deconstructs Lomborg's specious climate-denial arguments and offers readers a cogent, expert review of some of today's most urgent climate concerns.
Fred Hart, Weston
Consequences to come
John McKerral (Letters, September 17) may be a tad early in claiming victory for the deniers in the debate over human-induced climate change. CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere continue to climb at a steady rate because of our emissions, so mankind's grand experiment with the atmosphere is really only getting under way.
Certainly, the reality of climate change is somewhat equivocal at present because of the confounding effects of natural climate variability and the complexity of the planetary processes that influence climate.
Nevertheless, nature will take its course and the consequences of the experiment will be revealed in the decades to come.
Ian Webster, Curtin
Women and politics
Roy Darling (Letters, September 18), in his cheap attack on Tony Abbot's lack of women in the new cabinet, entirely misses the root cause of the imbalance. This is the lack of capable women who want to be politicians.
There is no lack of capable women in the population.
However, their sensible preference is not to participate in the poor work life of the average federal politician.
The life of a politician requires the uncertainty of fighting for a marginal seat that has a high chance of being lost at the next election.
A work schedule of long hours during the week, then travelling home to a distant constituency at weekends for the dubious pleasure of ''selfies'' with their constituents, is not a priority for capable women.
The recent TV series Borgen, about a Danish female politician, was very close to the truth.
Fortunately for civilisation, capable women tend to rise to the top in more important professions such as law, medicine, science and other worthy occupations.
Paul Fitzwarryne, Yarralumla
Aflame about alcohol
Jeff House from Clubs ACT has no right to be ''furious'' about the merging of the alcohol taskforce and the beat squad (''Fury from clubs after merging of taskforce'', September 17, p3).
Clubs ACT and other licensees got what they paid for with the additional $3 million in liquor licensing fees. That is, a dedicated squad of police who target offences by the patrons of licensed premises.
The police are winners, too, with additional resources to apply to one of its key performance measures.
And the Attorney General, Simon Corbell, is a winner because he can simplistically point to stunning reductions in ''alcohol-related crime statistics''.
The losers continue to be the ACT community because the role of liquor licensees in delivering the alcohol-related problems on to the streets will continue to be ignored.
Tony Brown, Fadden
Surely, usage of the term ''mandate'' is now lapsed, as the politically correct term would be ''persondate''?
Peter Baskett, Murrumbateman, NSW
Our great country merits news spotlight
My wife and I recently had a marvellous holiday in Norway and Britain. During that time I occasionally read the local papers to see what was making news. Sadly there was minimal reporting of events in Australia. Even the Singapore share index was preferred to reporting Australian share data.
However, one newspaper in London devoted two full pages to the 2013 OECD Better Life index. Australia was top of the report for the third year running, according to the newspaper, leading all other countries in the OECD in regard to quality of life.
We did not score well on work-life balance (apparently we work more hours in comparison with most members of the OECD) and our income did not match some countries such as the USA but, averaged over the 11 characteristics compared, we were the leading country for quality of life. Different weighting for the characteristics can change the overall result, but even with a wide variety of subject weightings Australia always ends up at or near the top. Sadly, on our return I did not find this encouraging report by such a prestigious economic body featured in Australian newspapers. Perhaps we need to appreciate more what a great country we live in.
Eugene Holzapfel, Campbell
A big thank you to the person(s) who dress up the whimsical ''stumpy'' figure beside the northbound on-ramp from Cotter Road onto the Tuggeranong Parkway.
It's fun to see the costumes and props signifying the changing seasons and festivities.
Christmas brought red duds and tinsel, Easter's fluffy bunny ears were cute, winter featured scarf, beanie and a written reminder to ''rug up'' and now spring's arrived, a jaunty floral shirt, a straw bonnet adorned with sunflower and a large posy of blossoms bring cheer to the daily commuter grind.
The artfully simple ''skiing Kangaroo'' sign just before the southbound off-ramp to Cotter Road was defaced some time ago. ''Stumpy'' has restored my smile.
Heather Stewart, Weston
TO THE POINT
MIRABELLA FOR G-G
It is still open to Prime Minister Tony Abbott to prove that he genuinely likes to surround himself with strong women.
He could start by announcing that Sophie Mirabella will succeed Quentin Bryce as our next governor-general.
Nigel Thompson, Queanbeyan, NSW
Memo to Bronwyn Bishop: anyone who could describe former prime minister Julia Gillard's incandescent righteous anger at the shoddy, sexist way in which she and her office were treated as ''playing the victim'' is a person lacking discernment and hardly worthy of respect as Speaker of our House of Representatives. Not a very dignified beginning, Mrs Bishop.
K.L. Calvert, Downer
SPEAKER WITH BEARING
Congratulations to Bronwyn Bishop on her appointment as Speaker. When ''restoring the dignity of Parliament'', she will be able to fling one of her ''Shroud of Turin'' shawls over her shoulder with a particularly emphatic flourish (a la Miss Piggy).
Natalie Hale, Beecroft, NSW
UPGRADE JULIE PLEASE
If, as an airline check-in person, I was fixed with that infamous death stare, would it be OK on occupational health and safety grounds to provide that passenger with a free upgrade to a first-class seat?
Maureen Cummuskey, O'Connor
The very idea of our government spending one more taxpayer dollar on the feasibility of the ''Rattenbury railway line'' should be anathema to any ratepayer in this overtaxed territory. The idea, born out of political blackmail, colour Green, is neither practical, economical nor affordable.
Rex Williams, Ainslie
Liberal apologist Robert Willson (Letters, September 16) would have some credibility if he just once condemned Tony Abbott's inhumane refugee policies. They directly oppose the message of the Good Samaritan and the most basic of Christian messages. Even the Catholic Bishops Conference has condemned them.
Allan Jackson, Nicholls
LOADING THE BOATS
I was relieved to read Douglas Mackenzie's explanation to Chris Mobbs that the reason Indonesia does little about the practice of ''overloading fishing boats with asylum seekers'' is corruption (Letters, September 17 ). I had feared that it might have been policy.
Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor
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