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Gold mine in wrong hands

So it has come to this. Mr. Fluffy homeowners, now priced out of the market, have to watch, read and listen to real estate agents picking over the entrails of their once family homes. (Canberra Times Nov. 28, Dual occupancy demand for razed Mr Fluffy blocks).

Independent Property Group reports it is keenly keeping a database of those developers who intend to subdivide the blocks and sell to those who want to downsize into a dual occupancy.

The government has allowed a special concession for Mr. Fluffy blocks to be divided into two if the block is 700 square metres or over.

The agents are salivating at the prospect of selling the blocks for an average of $590,000 and pushing the so-called advantages of changing the character of suburbs.

The ACT government has handed the gold mine of property sales and development to the private sector and looks on as agents and developers rake in the profits while the dispossessed and disadvantaged simply stay that way.

One wonders how a Labor government that has lost its history of social justice remains in power.

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John Whitty, Hawker

Words of Lucretius

The Australian National University has this year celebrated seventy years, having been founded in 1946.

The Latin motto of the University is Naturam Primum Cognoscere Rerum. ("First to know the nature of things").

Was this motto selected from the writings of Roman poet, philosopher and scientist, Lucretius, because he denied any belief in the Roman gods of his day and was considered to be an atheist? Who chose the motto?

This motto contrasts with the motto of Oxford University: Dominus Illuminatio Mea. ("The Lord is my Light"), taken from Psalm 22.

Richard Dawkins, former atheist and now admitting that God may indeed exist and now calling himself an agnostic, did not hesitate to accept a professorial chair in a university with deep Christian roots.

The words of Lucretius about knowing the nature of things clearly points to a creator God and an intelligent world.

Without that reality scientific and humanitarian research at ANU or anywhere else, would be impossible.

Father Robert Willson, Deakin

Observe climate truths

Damon Fraser (Letters, Nov. 28) presses replay on the old line that climate models are "provably wrong" and "have grossly overestimated the real measurable climate change".

That may be the accepted wisdom in the self-congratulating, closed information, bubble of climate denial blogs, but in the real world ... well, see bit.ly/climodaug16 for a recent graph comparing observations to models.

It might surprise some, such as Gerry Murphy (Letters, Nov. 25), but climate change is already causing many, many deaths. The World Health Organisation estimates current deaths attributable to climate change at 150,000 per year.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum, in a report commissioned by 20 governments, puts the figure at 400,000 now and expects it to rise to over 600,000 by 2030.

Matt Andrews, Aranda

Damon Fraser (letters 28/11/2016) asserts thousands of scientists from reputable scientific research organisations have all got it wrong on climate change. Presenting no evidence, Mr Fraser has given Canberra Times readers only denial, not even a conspiracy theory. If he has convincing evidence, he should present that for critical review in the relevant scientific literature then prepare to receive his Nobel Prize.

Peter Campbell, Cook

Climate change denialists commonly complain that there is insufficient evidence to support it. Apparently Gerry Murphy (To The Point, 25/11/16) now thinks he can dismiss it because there is too much evidence. There are none so blind ...

Mark Chapman, Palmerston

Our gardens fight

Gardeners if you want to protest about the high price you pay for looking after your gardens, attend the public forum [on the price of water] next Tuesday, December 6, 5pm at the Waldorf on London Cct.

Make your views known to the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission.

We need to fight to maintain our beautiful garden city environment.

Dr Kristine Klugman, Fisher

Castro's revolution

Most comments on the death of Castro have been written by people who appear to believe the US-Cuban relationship began with the overthrow of the Batista regime.

In 1898 the US went to war with Spain, ostensibly to free the Cuban and Filipino peoples from colonialism. The Americans ended brutal Spanish colonial rule in both countries and proceeded to rule Cuba through a series of puppet dictators.

The Platt Amendment, passed by the US Congress in 1901 and forced upon Cuba as a condition of the withdrawal of US forces, gave the US effective control.

The existence of the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, an American enclave within Cuba, is one of the more obvious examples of this.

By the end of WWII Cuba was effectively ruled by a combination of American sugar companies, the Mafia and the US State Department working with a compliant Cuban ruling class.

It is little wonder a popular revolution led by Castro had — and still has — the support of most Cubans, even in the face of internal political oppression that is largely the result of 60 years of bullying by a neo-colonial US government.

Steve Ellis, Hackett

Do not underestimate the level of achievement at school of music

It brought me no pleasure whatsoever to read your article "ANU School of Music still searching for a head', (CT, November 28).

Australia deserves a school of national ambition for the nation's capital, as per Ernest Llewellyn's founding vision.

I remain committed to that cause and remain truly sorry I was not enabled to help secure such a future during my tenure.

I should like to clarify two issues of fact.

First, by the time I separated from my employment at the ANU I had signed a continuing contract. Lest there be any doubt, I was committed to the long haul and had not planned on leaving precipitiously.

Second, while Professor Podger's report clearly vindicates the concerns I had raised repeatedly with university senior management around poor governance, budgeting, and staff resourcing, it fails to distinguish between historic difficulties around curriculum and culture that had plagued the School of Music and the quality and direction of the school under my leadership.

The facts point irrefutably to significantly rising academic and artistic standards and a dramatically improving financial situation out of the malaise I had inherited in August 2012.

This positive trend continued until I was forced to take leave for health reasons in the first half of 2015.

I remain very proud of the manifold achievements of the academic and professional staff and, above all, the students who worked alongside me and who prevailed despite an otherwise very challenging environment.

Professor Peter Tregear, London

Tracks of tears

While I cannot dispute the ACT government has a mandate to build a tram line from Gungahlin to Woden, the development tragedy it forebodes is something future Canberra generations will rue ("Time to form next stage of tram plan", November 26, p2).

High-density strip development from Gungahlin to Woden is the name of the game. The tram line is an incidental for the developers to hang their hat on.

There has not been any analysis to suggest that the tram line can be the linchpin of a successful transport strategy.

Claims it is visionary are just ludicrous. The logical extension is for "the strip" to run all the way to Tuggeranong, and be complemented by a cross city strip from Belconnen to Queanbeyan.

The planning that saw Canberra grow over 60 years towards a unique city of prospering towns is being scrapped.

A. Smith, Farrer

 According to the Canberra Times editorial ("Light rail formulated on the run", November 28), there are two issues still to be resolved "the possible need to reinforce the Commonwealth Avenue bridge to carry trams" and "the National Capital Authority's opposition to the use of overhead lines in the Parliamentary Triangle".

 The fact these issues were not resolved before the light rail Stage 1 contract was signed is a sign of gross incompetence.

Resolution of these issues could result in the cancellation of the Stage 1 contract, not proceeding with any further stages, designing the network to by pass the bridge, by passing the Parliamentary Triangle or operating two light rail networks, one powered by overhead wires and the other by the light rail.

All would result in enormous ongoing overheads for Canberrans.

Ed Dobson, Hughes

Thank you for the editorial (November 28) highlighting the lack of due diligence so far by the Barr government in respect of light rail Stage 2. 

Given the severe criticism from many expert quarters on Stage 1 that the government simply ignored for more than two years, there can be zero confidence this government will bother to consult in good faith, let alone listen to external experts, on Stage 2.

This is particularly true given the stranglehold UnionsACT and the CMFEU have over ACT government tendering, through the scandalous MOU.

Irrespective what Messrs Barr and Rattenbury may privately want to do, there is no way UnionsACT would allow Stage 2 to be halted, business case or not.

M. Silex, Erindale

Your editorial "Light rail plan formulated on the run" describes the shortcomings of the government's approach to light rail.

Take the decision to proceed first, think about it later.

There is always a reason when government's behave irrationally, in this case ideological for the Greens and political for Labor.

Rattenbury will undoubtedly continue to claim that the project is "visionary" as if that exempts it from serious analysis. It doesn't.

As your editorial says, the question is whether the government can bring the project into being in a "cost effective, user friendly and practical" way.

Stan Marks, Hawker

While your editorial on the Woden Light Rail proposal is "on the money" and most welcome it is a bit late.

You should have published it before the election. The switch of Light Rail Stage 2 from Canberra Airport, where some form of enhanced public transport is surely needed, to Woden was, as you noted, nothing but a cynical exercise in vote buying.

Stage 1 – the Gungahlin-Civic line – is the wrong solution to the perceived traffic problem along Northbourne Avenue.

Correctly, you state that considerable intellectual rigour appears not to have been applied to the Light Rail project.

The omission was deliberate and not accidental.

Paul E. Bowler, Holder

Transport minister Megan Fitzharris is in the process of finalising proposals for a tram to Woden.

I do hope the ACT government is not going to replace the intertown bus service with the tram. I travel to Civic on it often and find it very convenient, fast and comfortable.

I have travelled on the Gold Coast tram and I can't see that a tram service will be any better than a bus.

Why do I have to pay for the capital cost of a tram service that is unlikely to be superior to the existing intertown bus service?

John Gray, Mawson

TO THE POINT

WASTE DISPOSAL

Thanks to the dog walkers between Wybalena Grove and the Cook houses for bagging your dog poo. Throwing it at the base of the nearest pole or fence is not the disposal method. Take it home and pop it in the bin.

Paul Scholtens, Aranda

CLICHE RECORD

Following on from Ken Fraser's delightful sports quiz (Letters, November26), here's another question. What is the largest book in the world? Answer: The compendium of sporting cliches!

Eric Hunter, Cook

CONCERT REVIEW

I'm waiting in vain for a review of the Voices in the Forest concert. Publicity beforehand is great, but what did your reviewer think?

Helen Moore, Cook

CORRUPTION RENAMED

Crispin Hull shows his  skills as a wordsmith (CT Forum, November26, p2). He describes lobbying as "reciprocal altruism". The meaning is, of course, "corruption". Well done.

David Willenborg, Royalla

LOSING CROWN

This episode with Chinese authority will acquaint Crown with what it feels like to be a losing mug gambler in their global casino empire ("Crown covering backsides on China", BusinessDay, November26, p26). The "house" has almost certainly lost its shirt!

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan

TAXING DEBATE

Another period of intelligent debate and compromise by our representatives considering the backpacker tax. Try to "grow up" and do your jobs.

John Mungoven, Stirling

REVISIT LAKE GEORGE

I hope you will do another article on Lake George. It steadily refilled during the wet winter. At the highest it got to within 200metres of the road, covering hundreds of acres. There are swans and other waterbirds. It is retreating again. Time to take photos before summer.

Jane Tuckwell, ​Parkesbourne, NSW

PROTEA ORIGIN

Contrary to the assertion by artist Michael Zavros ("Meeting her own gaze: Bryce approves portrait", November26), proteas are from South Africa, not Australia.

Lyndal Thorburn, ​Greenleigh, NSW

FOR GOD'S SAKE...

Gwyneth Bray (Letters, November 28) doesn't like the term "god botherer". None of the alternatives are fit to print.

James Allan, Narrabundah

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.

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