Comment

Letters to the Editor

Highly impractical

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Chairman of CanTheTram Inc Dr John L. Smith (Letters, February 2) proposes "bus rapid transit, grade separated at critical intersections" as an alternative to Canberra's stage 1 light-rail project from Gungahlin to Civic.

The term "grade separated" implies either a continuous 12-kilometre-long elevated viaduct for buses, or a series of 30 humpback bridges over the (by his reckoning) 30 road intersections along the route.

In order that high vehicles could be given safe clearance underneath at the intersections, both the continuous bridge option and the humpback bridges would need to be concrete structures with the road deck well over five metres above the surrounding road surfaces or central median and supported by numerous large regularly located concrete columns. Do we really need a Gungahlin Drive/Tuggeranong Parkway with similar bridges down the middle of Flemington Road and Northbourne Avenue?

David Flannery, Torrens

Just the start

Readers should not be fooled by the government's claim that the winning tender for stage 1 of light rail will cost only $698million, plus or minus $35million ("Canberra Metro to build light rail", February 2, p1) rather than the $783million determined by the business case. This figure is only a bid price for construction of exactly what we do not know.

It will grow considerably by the time a contract is negotiated. It does not include at least $480million in interest burden or at least $444million for operations and support costs over the 20-year life of the contract. Independent estimates still say the 20-year cost will be at least $1.8billion, ie $90million a year, which translates into at least $14.50 for the expected 6.3million passengers a year by 2031.

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The winning consortium has said construction would create only 500 jobs, which is a very long way from the claim over the past year by the government and UnionsACT of 3500 jobs.

M. Silex, Erindale

Details of the successful light-rail tenderer and the contract price were not unexpected. The announcement, as usual with the present ACT government, was made when most people had returned from holidays and could be counted on to take little interest.

It confirmed what a lot of Canberrans feel; that the ACT Auditor should conduct an audit on the contract before it is signed.

Where, in the tendered price, is the $180million set aside for contingencies arising from the Northbourne Avenue section.

Where is the listing of the cost of the following ancillary parts of the light-rail project.

To name a few: the duplication of Flemington Road to allow light rail to go between the north/south lanes; the cost of the ticketing system; the pedestrian crossings with traffic lights to get commuters from the footpaths to the centre traffic islands. Not to mention the regrading of Northbourne Avenue. If all the above is included in the $690million quoted price, we have, without doubt, the cheapest 12kilometres of light rail ever built.

The Liberal Party, if it gains power, will have every right to conduct a full audit of the total by the contractors and if deceptive tendering is established, it will have the right to cancel the contract without penalty.

Howard Carew, Isaacs

It's a monarchy

Kevin Connor (Letters, January 29) advocates "a reversion to our former nomenclature, namely the Commonwealth of Australia", which he says is "republican".

The name "Commonwealth of Australia" is neither "former" nor "republican". Our constitution created a new Australia-wide federal entity by that name on January 1, 1901. The entity was then, and is still today, a constitutional monarchy with a British queen as its head of state.

Frank Marris, Forrest

Poor construction

I was not surprised to read that home-unit quality is a burning issue for many. Poor building standards, products and practices abound and one of the most common issues arising from this is a leaky building.

This is not just an ACT problem. Poor home-unit quality has been documented as occurring, and increasing in prevalence, in developing countries around the world for at least two decades. The question is, what is ACT Housing and planning and Building Development Approvals doing about it?' Apparently nothing.

How is it that these apartment buildings get building approval when the building standards known to cause leaking are well known? Improving the quality of building products is a little more tricky, but poor building practices should be tackled by planning department and building certifiers. Too many are not doing their job and apartment buyers are paying a steep price in ongoing maintenance costs.

Robyn Chen, Mawson

Scientifically trained

Both Rosemary Walters and Nick Goldie (Letters, February 2) assume I'm some sort of dolt who is impressed easily by pseudo-science. The fact is that I was educated in geology at one of the finest universities in the US.

I suggest both critics should look in the mirror when they regurgitate euphemisms like "ignorant" and "anti-science" to judge by their rhetoric. Furthermore, both seem to miss the crux of my criticisms about the political nature of the climate debate.

Sorry Ms Walters. If you were familiar with reputable, published scientific papers, you would know that the author almost always appends a doubt disclaimer, often found in the abstract.

Gerry Murphy, Braddon

Encouraging prejudice

It is sad to read Anne Prendergast's letter of congratulations to Abetz, Bernardi and Abbott ( Letters, February 2) concerning their opposition to same-sex marriage. These out-of-step Christian views deny the existence of the love and compassion we must have for each other, so strongly emphasised in the gospels. The views of these people seek to entrench the prejudice and hurt to same-sex couples and their families who strive every day to protect their children from the hurt and trauma of rejection that comes from a small but vocal section of the community. It, of course, makes it worse when these prejudices are encouraged and fuelled by political and church leaders who not only promote fear but a total lack of understanding of the human experience. These very people will tell us that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. It seems they are not only out of step on the humane question but also with God.

John Whitty, Hawker

Gungahlin will pay with slow commutes

What Kevin Cox perceives as divisive (Letters, February 1), I see as neighbourly concern from our south-side brethren.

From Hibberson Street in the Gungahlin town centre, between 7.30am and 8.30am each weekday morning, route 56, 57, 58 and Red Rapid buses leave for Civic with capacity for 2130 passengers, of whom 1360 can be seated.

In 2020, after Gungahlin's population has grown by about 15per cent, the tram will offer 10 services for 2070 passengers and just 660 seated.

Capital Metro estimates that by 2021, the average speed of other road traffic during the AM peak would be 20per cent higher if the tram was not built, due to tram-induced signal delays and congestion.

Unlike other Canberrans who will only suffer financially, we Gungahlin residents will also pay with more crowded and slower commutes.

Kent Fitch, Nicholls

Smarten up, Alistair

Interviewed on the ABC news on February 2, the ACT Liberal's transport spokesman Alistair Coe flapped around like a fish out of water whenever Virginia Haussegger, with her "serious" face on, repeatedly asked him about sovereign risk and what kind of message the Liberals would be sending by "tearing up the light rail contract"? There hasn't been and will not be any "sovereign risk". That term has no relevance or meaning in this circumstance. It was a silly question and an incompetent response. And what kind of message would the Liberals be sending? Well, how about that they, unlike Labor, will not countenance a contract for such a ridiculously useless and expensive piece of transport infrastructure? Smarten up, Alistair, or pass the spokesman's role on to someone who has an idea of what he's talking about.

I look forward to seeing Virginia ask Labor why it is refusing to hold off signing the contract until after the ACT elections.

Bronis Dudek, Calwell

No protest from V8 crowd as car seems to defy the laws of physics

I find it ironic the car that bears Nikola Tesla's name appears to defy the laws of physics. Sam Charlwood must have had a lot of fun doing his go-to-whoa runs ("Tesla takes on Summernats" Drive, January 30) but in his excitement I think he got carried away with the "nuts and bolts" or perhaps he was just overcome by the lack of fumes. I can readily accept the claim that the Tesla P90D can produce 967Nm of torque at zero rpm, but to claim 568kW of power also at zero rpm is incredible. I'm surprised there have been no howls of protest from the V8 crowd. Put simply, power is the rate of work of an engine and for work to be done something needs to move. In this context electric motors need to turn.

It's not physically possible to generate (mechanical) work at zero rpm. Put another way, power is the product of torque and angular speed (or rpm). Whatever the torque, there is zero power at zero rpm.

J. Higginbottom, Holder

Learn some respect

Thank you Jenna Price for lumping all men in the Sam's basket ("Boys just being boys shouldn't be the norm: Times2, February 2). Apparently, all men need to attend respectful relationship education. Would it not be a good idea for all women to attend as well? Then they could learn what is not appropriate behaviour. We do not all act like [Mitchell] Pearce, and not all women act like those on Geordie Shore or the Kardashians.

Paul Melling, Latham

Vaccination debate

James Allan (Letters, February 2) and Bob Gardiner (Letters, January 28) show themselves to be "ignorant and uninformed" in the vaccination debate. In my experience, the anti-vaccination campaigners are highly intelligent, tertiary-qualified people who have done their research into peer-reviewed material published in medical journals, backed up by government statistics and information. If only they would do the same. It might interest these two to find that the places with the lowest vaccination rates in Australia are not the usual suspects but areas such as Toorak in Melbourne, Forrest in Canberra, and the Eastern Suburbs in Sydney.

David Hobson, Spence

Double standards

Twice today I have heard Peter Dutton reported as saying that Australia does not welcome people to Australia who disrespect women.

This is the same Peter Dutton (Immigration Minister in the Turnbull government) who recently sent a female journalist a text message of commiseration intended for his ministerial colleague Jamie Briggs after Briggs was called out for his appalling behaviour towards a woman in Hong Kong last November. In his text message Peter Dutton described the journalist, who reported on the matter of Briggs' behaviour, as a "mad f---ing witch".

Some people seem to think (wrongly) that the demise of Abbott and the elevation of Turnbull as PM signified an actual change of government.

Nothing could be further from the truth, apparently.

Annie Lang, Kambah

Fewer donkey votes

In reply to R.S.Gilbert's letter (Letters, February 2) referring to independents and the electoral system and above-the-line voting: above-the-line voting aids the major parties by reducing the donkey vote. In a compulsory voting system if the voter is that incompetent or disinterested then maybe the donkey vote is more democratic. The preselection process in a party system is undemocratic and candidates are probably selected for political reasons rather than for their character or their policies. More good legislation was passed during the last hung parliament when independents held the balance of power. Each piece of legislation should be voted on its merits, not along biased party ideology lines. True democracy will only be achieved when we do away with the party system.

Eighty per cent of the population vote for the major parties and 20per cent vote for minor parties or are swinging voters. If we do away with the party system then we have 100per cent of voters that matter, except for the donkeys.

Max Jensen, Chifley

Community is sick

The report that Canberra's troubled emergency hospital departments have struggled to cope with a dramatic increase in demand, should surprise no one. ("Canberra hospitals are sick and slow" January 29, p 1).

Why is there such an increase in demand? Much of it is simply due to the inconvenient truth that the lifestyle of many people is stupid and unhealthy. Binge drinking of alcohol, cigarette smoking and gross overeating, are endemic.

While we claim to love sport, regular and disciplined physical exercise is not on the radar of many people. Our health system has to cope with 100,000 abortions (mostly unnecessary), a year. Those who point out these inconvenient realities are damned as wowsers, or puritans or "moral straighteners", to use Manning Clark's phrase. It is the community that is sick and slow, not the hospitals.

Father Robert Willson, Deakin

Problem with housing

Noel Towell reports that overseas migration has staved off recession in the ACT because migrants are building houses and buying consumer goods ("Migrants and houses keep ACT afloat," January 27, p1).

The problem with housing is that it is a case of capital widening, not deepening, and does not really add to the real wealth of the community even though there is a flurry of economic activity. Migrants are, of course, welcome but once here, what do they do? They need jobs, just like the rest of us. Are they all building homes for their fellow migrants? There is a limit to how much population growth Canberra can sustain and why bother promoting it anyway? We have world-class institutions such as the National Library, National Gallery and ANU thanks to our being the nation's capital.

We don't need a bigger population to get what we have already. There will always be a public service even if it contracts and expands depending on who is in power. We can sustain a bit more light industry to give the ACT a bit more economic flexibility, possibly by expanding the renewable energy sector, but housing for the sake of housing (other than to provide homes for the homeless) is not needed.

Jenny Goldie, Michelago, NSW

TO THE POINT

BUNNY GALA NOT FUNNY

We are now to have a festival commemorating the rabbit. Seriously, this could only have been dreamt up by the ACT government's "new" consultants: the gag writers from the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Commemorating an animal the government has spent thousands of dollars on seeking to eradicate – some joke.

Gary Thompson, Turner

Amazing, we spend millions of dollars in recent years on research and control on the most recent rabbit plaque across the ACT. Now, Enlighten 2016 celebrates rabbits, and we, the ACT taxpayer, pay for that, too.

Dianne Thompson, Fisher

OUR ORIGINS IN AFRICA

A further correction, Evelyn Bean (Letters, February 2): all the osteological, archaeological and genetic evidence supports an African origin for humanity.

Patricia Saunders, Chapman

POLITICAL SUICIDE

News flash! Appearing in The Canberra Times between now and the ACT election this year: the ALP / Green ACT government has cancelled all contracts for the light rail; they have come to realise it is political suicide.

R. Cunliffe, Condor

UNFAIR TO POLITICIAN

I thought the interview by Virginia Haussegger of Alistair Coe on the ABC news on February 2 in the classical style of constantly interrupting the interviewee without giving him a chance to answer the question was disgusting.

Norman Lee, Weston

TRY DRIVING IN PERTH

Christopher Jobson (Letters, February 2) claims that Canberra drivers are the worst in Australia. We have recently arrived in Canberra and found the vast majority of drivers to be excellent.

Perhaps he should visit Perth. The experience would certainly make him rethink his views on Canberra drivers.

Shane Mawer, Kingston

ADVICE FOR ABBOTT

Amanda Vanstone has put former PM Abbott's future in the searing light of pragmatic wisdom ("It'll all end in tears and grief", Times2, February 1). We can only hope he's in a mood to accept her advice.

J. R. Huggett, Bruce

ILL-INFORMED VIEWS

Gerry Murphy and his ill-informed views get far too much exposure in The Canberra Times' Letters section. I deliberately avoid News Ltd publications so I don't have to listen to people like him.

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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