Letters to the Editor

Heritage under threat



There is fear that seven-storey buildings including apartments, commercial/retail space, a hotel and a licensed club would ruin the heritage assets of Manuka Oval, the caretaker's cottage and the adjacent former Griffith child welfare centre.

Assurances by the ACT government that heritage-registered buildings would be incorporated give the false impression that only buildings around Manuka Oval are heritage-registered. But the actual Heritage Register entries include much more than buildings. They specifically include almost all of the open spaces within Manuka Circle, including the cricket practice areas; the surrounding setting of mature landscaping, including original tree plantings from the 1920s, with now large mature specimens of trees that define the circular space of the sports ground; adjacent road verges, which contribute streetscape plantings; and the mature plantings and circular drive around the former welfare centre.

The Heritage Register entries state that any works that have a potential impact on significant fabric or other heritage values shall be guided by a professionally documented assessment and conservation policy. Where are they?

Nowhere, because they would confirm that this proposal would eliminate almost all of the heritage-registered open spaces, including the cricket practice areas, and the heritage-registered mature landscaping. All heritage assets need protection, not just buildings.

G. Fitzgerald, Griffith

Buried in The Canberra Times is the report that GWS Giants are pushing on with the massive development of Manuka Oval ("Giants boss moves to Canberra for Manuka proposal", Sport, March 9, p28). The CEO is moving here to oversee the development. He has had consultations with Telopea Park High School Board and says they were "very appreciative" of the consultation. The report also notes "submissions from the public close at the end of April".


How about more publicity on this! How about the Giants setting up consultations with those of us who live and work in and around Manuka?

Marguerite Castello, Griffith

Further to Nick Swain (Letters, March 8), the GWS Giants proposal recommends that the oval and stands ultimately remain under the control of a community-owned trust similar to the SCG Trust and Melbourne Cricket Ground model.

I can also confirm the facility upgrade will make provision for future expansion.

The unsolicited bid process, which most jurisdictions have, is designed precisely for unique proposals. To rule them out in effect stifles innovation and creativity – not something Canberra would want to do, I would have thought. All feedback is welcome at

Richard Griffiths, chief operating officer, GWS Giants Football Club

Euphemism for suicide

The last thing we want in the ACT is a bunch of busy-body euthanasia advocates knocking on the door of everyone diagnosed with a terminal illness asking if they are prepared to be a "bunny" for a court action underwritten by the so-called "Dying with Dignity" group ("Group seeks dying person for righ-to-die court battle", March 7, p1).

The funds for any court case would be better spent helping everyone with a terminal prognosis to have access to first-rate palliative care, either in a hospice, a hospital, an aged-care facility, or in their home, if they wish. The structures are in place, but there is always a need for more funding.

I notice it has not taken much time for Senator Katy Gallagher to demonstrate her true priorities now she is in the Senate. While the senator protests that her joint sponsorship with the Greens of a "Dying with Dignity" Bill introduced in the Senate last week will not force the Northern Territory or ACT to legislate for euthanasia, it is clear legislative change is the intent. While the bill masquerades under the title of "Restoring Territory Rights (Dying with Dignity) Bill 2016", the explanation goes on to refer to its purpose as being the restoration of "legislative powers concerning euthanasia".

If we did not know previously, everyone should now be alert when we come across the words "dying with dignity", they are a euphemism for euthanasia and assisted suicide.

(Mrs) Bev Cains, president ACT Right to Life Association

A lot of puffery

The ACT government has just announced its fifth and final attempt to enslave Canberra's economy to the volatility of wind energy ("Latest wind auction winner promises millions in benefits to Canberra economy",, March 4). The deal supposedly will be worth millions to the ACT economy. The kickback to the ACT is the relocation of the wind developer's offices to Canberra, and that is probably where the benefits end.

Now that the ACT government has "secured" 90per cent of its non-carbon energy from wind, a new challenge lies ahead: wind energy developers will not be paid to deliver energy when Canberra needs energy. Instead, wind developers will be paid a guaranteed rate of $8910 per megawatt hour for their wind energy whenever the wind blows.

In times of excess wind energy, the ACT government will more likely than not be dumping excess energy on to the grid at wholesale prices as low as $50-$60 per megawatt hour; ie, up to 45per cent less than what the developer is paid, and then purchasing energy from other sources when the wind isn't blowing, typically at rates well beyond what wind energy costs.

So, where are the millions in benefits? Rather the opposite: the ACT economy will be subsidising the existence of wind farms, paying premiums for energy, whilst turning swaths of quiet rural areas into no-go zones. Out of sight and out of mind for those in Canberra who are glowing with a green halo.

George Papadopoulos, Yass, NSW

Attempted theft

No decent Australian could be proud of the part the federal government has played in trying to thwart a small impoverished country called East Timor from gaining a small level of financial security. But we have been guilty of that and few people are aware of such perfidy, ongoing to this day. The disgraceful spying by Australia on this little country and now the attempt to steal the oil reserves from East Timor is being highlighted on the Parliament lawns on March 15, at 12.30pm. The world needs to know about the Australians that shame us all.

Rhys Stanley, via Hall, NSW

Road maintenance concerns

Last week, a close friend was killed when his motorcycle hit a patch of broken pavement on a recently resealed section of the Hume Highway. On Saturday, driving south on the Tuggeranong Parkway, I exited at the Cotter Road turn-off heading east. The whole length of the turn-off had been sprayed with tar and had a deep coating of loose gravel spread over it. There were no warning signs and the speed limit on the exit was unchanged. An inattentive – or even an attentive – motorcycle rider would be lucky to escape with no more than gravel rash.

This method of resealing goes well beyond incompetence. For the sake of saving a few dollars, the ACT government is not just getting a third-rate job, evidenced by the regular failure of the "chipseal" process; it's putting all road users at severe risk.

It's well past time to demand a professional standard of road maintenance in the ACT.

Fred Pilcher, Kaleen

Container dump

The National Capital Authority's proposed review of the Westside Container Village with regards its overall management activation, presentation and public-safety compliancecould be a short exercise, for there is little evidence of any of these attributes.

The site presents an opportunity to showcase Canberra to the world, but some people in authority have confused innovation, beautification and commercial acumen with an enthusiasm for crass stupidity.

It should be a sight that builds on the beauty of Lake Burley Griffin and its surrounding innovative and tasteful architectural varieties. Instead, it is a site created by an absence of common sense emerging from its various roles, namely a never-used futsal park to a part-time parking area and finally emerging from its cosseted cocoon to its present role as a dilapidated dump for disused containers.

James Grenfell, Spence

Comcare and CommInsure seem to have dubious practices in common

Following on from the story "Doctor alleges opinions pressure", (March 8, p1), I have now a report that the federal government may initiate an inquiry into the insurance industry. If this were to happen, I strongly suggest that it make sure any inquiry includes an examination of the practices of its own insurer, Comcare.

As a member of Superannuated Commonwealth Officers Association, I have been involved in assisting members in their dealings with Comcare. After reading the news reports, I see a distinct similarity between some Comcare practices and those now being imputed to CommInsure.

In particular, Comcare seems to be taking a very strict (dare I say, "doctrinaire") approach with respect to older clients and those with chronic conditions. Often these are people who, due to their workplace-related injuries and conditions, are unlikely to ever be in a position to go back to work. In many cases, in my opinion, these people are unfairly treated, which can result in substantial hardship for those involved.

The basis of the Comcare legislation is that it is supposed to be of "beneficial" effect, but that is often not the case now. This should be changed.

Robert Steins, Weston Creek

Rebranding due

Is it true that CommInsure is now known as ConInsure?

John Coleman, Monash

Curious politics

It's curious to see righties hopping on the "get rid of the Senate independents" bandwagon when they are all right of centre, natural allies of the Coalition.

The Coalition's inability to negotiate usefully with them indicates nothing more than another Tony Abbott cock-up. A person of normal temperament like Turnbull should really be able to work with these ideological fellow-travellers. Why can't he?

S. W. Davey, Torrens

APS family-friendly

I am writing in response to the article ("APS's family-friendly employer reputation is at risk: report" (March 9, p4). This headline is misleading. The survey referred to in the article covers not only the Australian Public Service, but also other jurisdictions and the private sector. The article paints an inaccurate picture of APS work cultures.

The APS has a long standing reputation as a family-friendly and inclusive workplace. And it continues to be.

APS employees enjoy a range of generous and flexible arrangements that assist women and men to balance their work and family responsibilities. These include flex-time, access to part-time employment, at least 12 weeks' paid maternity leave, and personal leave entitlements well in excess of minimum standards.

Contrary to reports in the media, APS employees also have access to support and leave for employees affected by domestic and family violence.

The results of the survey conducted by the CPSU are inconsistent with the results from a census of all Australian Public Service employees conducted annually.

Moreover, the CPSU survey itself found 74per cent of respondents were very satisfied or satisfied with their access to flexible work arrangements. I am again disappointed The Canberra Times has published such a misleading article.

John Lloyd, commissioner, Australian Public Service Commission

In our defence

Apparent complacency is no excuse to inflict even greater intergenerational inequity on our descendants by not shouldering our fair share now of the long-term investment required in our national defence.

Rod Price's call (Letters, March 4) to divert even more defence investment elsewhere ignores or unduly discounts long-term risk management principles. Long periods of relative peace are optimal in opportunity-cost terms for moderate but sustained investment in our national defence infrastructure, and our diplomatic capacities, to deter and manage a wide range of serious strategic risks to our national interests over many decades hence.

The potential cost of one day losing our strategic freedom of action as a nation, however unlikely this might seem to some at any one time now, far outweighs the relatively minimal national investment we make in our common defence.

Neil James, executive director, Australia Defence Association

Global warming

Congratulations, Gerry Murphy (Letters, March 5), you've managed to discover there are many causes of coral bleaching. To use your own words, allow me to correct your misinformation. The fact "Corals bleach naturally under a variety of conditions. They consume their symbiotic algae often for a host of reasons" has no bearing whatever on the issues and arguments pertaining to warming oceans and subsequent risks to coral communities.

The fact we all commonly get headaches is not a reason to ignore one that appears to be a consequence of the onset of meningitis.

I'd recommend a basic course in statistics, Gerry, particularly on the principles of cause and effect. Also, your disdain for pointers "to a higher authority" is actually what we scientists like to call citing one's references, something you don't appear to hold in very high regard.

And finally, Gerry, had you bothered to check, rather than just cynically insinuating fraud on the BoM's part, you'd know Australia's Bureau of Meteorology has been investigated. A 2011 review found the bureau's data and analysis methods met world best practice, but recommended a group be set up to review progress on the development and operation of temperature data. A panel was set up under the Abbott government to undertake such a review and included eminent statisticians.

The review confirmed the credibility of the BoM in its report released in June 2015, which did not find any evidence the bureau had been adjusting its figures to fit a pattern of global warming.

"There is a clear trend [of temperature] increase in both the raw and homogenised temperature data, and the temperature patterns exhibited in a variety of other data sets have a similar character," the report said.

Don't let the truth get in the way of a good bit of mud slinging.

David Barratt, Yarralumla



Former health minister Kay Patterson said on ABC radio today (March 8) that Peta Credlin "demands perfection," and that, "You're never going to be perfect." What more needs to be said?

Leon Arundell, Downer


Reading James Allan's comment (Letters, March 8) "Procreation is one of the most selfish things a person can do," one wonders what Mr Allan's parents might think of that remark.

Roderick Saunders, Macgregor


For the information of Louis Pretorius (Letters, March 7), no rain fell at a family home in Melba last Thursday evening. Who knows about the rest of Belconnen, and other places? Perhaps the Bureau of Meteorology.

Pamela Oldmeadow, Lyneham


Cardinal Pell once admitted he was reluctant to acknowledge complaints of abuse by fellow priests for fear that potential legal action would be damaging to the Church's balance sheet. With such credentials, who better than he to take responsibility of the Vatican's finances, though remembering the combination to the safe could prove a challenge.

Tony May, Pearce


John Clarke (Letters, March8) writes that it doesn't matter what people think, "Without proof to the contrary, Cardinal Pell is an innocent man". Quite true, but only in a courtroom. I doubt Mr Clarke would be inclined to employ a bailed paedophile as a babysitter.

Bill Deane, Chapman


I like to keep up with language developments, but I'm starting to find it a bit of a challenge. For example, what does "people who've been bled on keeping quiet" mean? ("The fault with Credlin and Abbott lies close to home", Times2, March 8, p5) However, I'm obliged to Jenna Price for introducing me to the terms "clickbait" and "switch-hitter".

Michael McCarthy, Deakin


For visitors to the city who aren't sure where to find the village festival ("High hopes for festival at Westside container village", March 8, p2), just walk towards the city across Commonwealth Avenue bridge and look for a derelict junkyard on your left.

John Howarth, Weston


I'm doubly disillusioned about having a double dissolution.

Brian Hale, Wanniassa

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