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If over half of Australia is on some sort of taxpayer-funded payment as claimed by Treasurer Joe Hockey, surely it is time someone asked who it was that offered taxpayer funds to all and sundry. My memory suggests it was John Howard's government that splashed money to any and everyone they could

Might be called vote-buying in some circles. I don't think you can get around it - a conservative government caused at least their fair share of this problem. So maybe it's only fair they should have to fix it.

Unfortunately, their fix is not by cutting the extravagant welfare that Howard and Costello handed to a lot of people who didn't need it (but now they have it, are not letting go) - it's by cutting those who actually need taxpayer funds to survive.

Bill Shorten might be better off at least calling Joe (and Tony) on that. If all he can do is say 'Joe Hockey is having a Mitt Romney moment' (and how many of us know what that's about?) and is 'out of touch', perhaps we need a new opposition leader. One who can think reasonably intelligently on his feet.

Gabriel Brown, Murrumbateman, NSW

Joe Hockey tells us the budget is fair. With a boss who told us the Coalition was ''the best friend Medicare ever had'' he would say that, wouldn't he?

Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld

 

Heritage disgrace

The Abbott government's request to the World Heritage Committee to delist 74,000 hectares of World Heritage forests in Tasmania is beyond belief. At a time when environment should be front of mind and the precious natural areas we have left in Australia should be treated as national treasures, they lobby the committee to overturn a heritage listing. If it weren't so disgraceful it would be laughable. Not only are they threatening our precious environment, they're damaging our international reputation and the global significance of world heritage protection.

Rick Godfrey, Lyneham

 

It's DIY Medicare

Welcome to the Tony Abbott do-it-yourself era at Medicare. Not satisfied that a large part of its work is now done through doctors' surgeries, the bean counters want more. The ''get yourself a ticket, wait for your number to be called'' system has gone.

On entering a Medicare office, one is greeted by an i-Pad-toting supervisor who asks you to state your business. You are then invited to sit at a computer to lodge your claim or book a place to see one of the few staff still sitting behind a console.

As my claim was a bit more complicated, I avoided the DIY option and booked a place at the counter via the i-Pad. There were only a couple of people in front of me, but it took 20 minutes for my name to be called, whereas the claim was processed in about two minutes flat. To be fair, there were staff helping those opting for the DIY option at computers scattered around the office, but I wonder how long they will last. This change is clearly a cost-cutting/staff-reduction exercise, but one that is certain to reduce efficiency and timeliness, as the grumbles from those waiting demonstrated.

Jeffrey Benson, Curtin

 

Light rail costings

In response to Minister Simon Corbell's comments on my economic report on the light rail project (''Corbell claims Libs' expert not straight down the line on cost'', June 13, P1), I explained during the press conference the scientific method employed to include the benefits to the light rail transit project resulting from corridor development.

Rather than rely on anecdotal evidence, it is necessary to separate the influence of the LRT project on development, away from that which would occur anyway, so the true influence of the LRT project is not overstated. To do so I relied on changes in housing prices for a large Canberra sample five years apart straddling the construction of the Gungahlin Drive extension, comparing price increases affected by this transport project against changes that occurred elsewhere throughout Canberra. The effect was positive but small. The development problem is that Gungahlin has the least proportion of employment to population of any district in Canberra. High-rise residential development along the LRT route may help the patronage of the LRT but may not help the people of Gungahlin with their real problem of unemployment.

Further, the ''health and amenity'' benefits were included in accordance with the report ''Austroads Project No: TP8349, Pg 23'' as quoted in my report.

I should also state that as a professional consultant, being branded a ''Libs' expert'' and therefore ''not straight down the line'' is offensive. I have never been a member of any political party and expect any criticism of my work to be of a professional and technical nature.

Bob Nairn, Hawker

So Katy Gallagher and Shane Rattenbury say they won't tolerate a cost of more than $600 million for the light rail project (''Gallagher puts cap on light rail cost'', June 11, p1). Given this government's history of suppressing any information that contradicts the fairytales they present to the ACT populace, I'm sure the initial costings will be presented so as to support their case.

Unfortunately, also given this government's proven inability to manage projects, I predict the final cost will be a minimum of twice the amount initially presented to us.

Would Gallagher and Rattenbury be prepared to go on record to resign their positions should the cost reach $1 billion? I suspect not.

On a lighter note, the artist's impression of the light rail network (June 11, P1) appears to have relocated Parliament House to somewhere near Dickson. Is this a hidden part of the ACT government's plan?

Les Neulinger, Farrer

Should we thank the Chief Minister that she has drawn ''a line in the sand'' of $614 million (in 2011 dollars) for the Gungahlin to Civic light rail proposal?

The most significant rail infrastructure currently being built in Australia is from Roy Hill to Port Hedland (the equivalent of Gungahlin to say, Gosford). This $620 million contract includes the construction of heavy rail formation, together with sidings and level crossings. Overall the works will involve the moving of 10.5 million cubic metres of material. The line is scheduled to carry over 5 billion tonnes of exports per annum when completed in 2015.

Please, Katy, don't even try to emulate King Canute. As M. Gordon (Letters, June 11) points out, the ACT already faces a debt of $4.7 billion in 2018 - our ''community credit card'' is already ''maxed out to its limit''.

David Dickson, Kaleen

 

Our war memorial

David Stephens misses the point entirely in his criticism of the Australian War Memorial and how they operate, in his article ''Memorial parochial in honouring all too few'' (Times2, June 11, P5).

What he has missed is Charles Bean's intent for the AWM, and if Stephens had done the research he would have realised he was so wrong.

The AWM was conceived by Bean to commemorate the deeds of the Australians who have served and died in times of war. It operates under the banner of Bean's words: ''Here is their spirit in the land they loved, and here we guard the record which they themselves made.'' The Australian war story is always told in the context of the greater war.

Stephens has missed the point completely. There is a Holocaust museum for that horrendous event and other countries have their own memorials and museums for their own conflicts and war dead.

The AWM is for Australia's conflicts to remember Australian sacrifices.

Chris Osborne, Marks Point, NSW

 

Denialist echoes

H. Ronald (Letters, June 9) claims it's a myth 97 per cent of climate scientists support the conclusion that global warming is real and serious, but does not cite any sources. This seems to be a reference to a recent piece by Richard Tol, widely circulated in the climate denial echo chamber, criticising the original 97 per cent study.

In a cocktail of irony and predictability, Tol's paper itself has been found to be deeply flawed. After further analysis of his claims, it is clear the 97 per cent consensus is confirmed and perhaps even strengthened. See sks.to/24errors for a full dissection on all this.

Matt Andrews, Aranda

 

Renewable jobs

Interesting to read about the recent ''love-in'' between PMs Harper and Abbott, where they demonised the carbon tax and made comments such as ''no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country'' (Mr Harper). Do they realise renewable energy creates jobs?

Mr Abbott is quick to advise public servants and car industry workers they can retrain for new jobs, so why can't miners and loggers do the same thing? Time to wake up and realise that economies will suffer without a sustainable environment.

Barbara Godfrey, Lyneham

 

Kangaroo shame

I am so ashamed to be a citizen of Canberra. Every year I have to explain to my relatives and friends in Britain why we are killing thousands of our beautiful kangaroos. Please do not insult my intelligence, Ms Gallagher, by saying you are protecting our flora and fauna.

Remember the huge cull where the suburb of Molonglo is now being built? I have no doubt there will be a lot of kangaroos killed in their natural corridor on either side of the Monaro Highway. This will enable the building of the crematorium, Tuggeranong Cemetery, Taree and the finishing of the Hume West Industrial Estate.

I don't know how you sleep in bed at night knowing you are destroying one of the national icons of this country.

In a word, disgraceful!

Carole Briggs, Chisholm

SENSITIVITY NEEDED

Lynn Nickols (Letters, June 11) wouldn't think a joke about MH370 was quite so funny if her family had been on board. I have friends whose relatives were on that plane and I can assure you, it's no laughing matter.

Tony Fletcher, Rivett

GONE AND FORGOTTEN

While the points made by David Stephens (''Memorial parochial in honouring all too few'', Times2, June 11, p5) are perfectly valid, could he enlighten his readers by listing those countries which honour the civilians killed in war? Does Russia memoralise those German civilians killed when they invaded Germany, or Japan memorialise the Chinese killed at Nanjing?

Ken McPhan, Spence

ACTORS IN FINE PITCH

The football World Cup is just one game old and already there is a diving controversy! Surprise, surprise. I am sure the rest of tournament will reinforce my view the acronym FIFA describes the referees and players - ''Frustratingly Inconsistent, Fantastic Actors''. I won't sacrifice any sleep to watch games marred by such deception.

Matt Meyer, Campbell

ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO

I look forward each day to the front-page cartoons in Times2 and often marvel at their ingenious caricatures, but Thursday's (June 12, p1) hit new heights - what the Pope provided was brilliant.

David Williams, Watson

SPRAY FOR LISTENERS

I believe the rants against Malcolm Turnbull by Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt were not aimed at him but at their own listeners and readers in response to the overwhelming groundswell preferring him to Abbott as PM. If this happened they would both lose their ratbag influence on policy.

Michael F. Buggy, Torrens

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