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Letters to the editor: Consultation? Don't ask

Krystian Seibert's article "Government of the people" (January 9, p12) and your editorial "Destroying Canberra to save it?" (January 12, p16) hit the nail on the head. Siebert mentions the need for proper and sincere community engagement which is severely lacking in the Canberra planning processes.

It is rather puzzling, as early last year the ACT government brought two Canadian planners to Canberra to discuss how community consultation could work to the benefit of all.

My hopes were raised that at last there would be a different approach to the archaic, bullying tactics of the LDA. But no. None of the wisdom of the Canadian planners has been taken on board, even though the City of Geraldton in WA and the South Australian government have had great success with such an approach.

For citizens juries to work effectively the government has to be sincere in wanting to hear what the community views are and have the community involved from the beginning.

Here in Canberra the opposite approach is taken – rather – this is what you are going to get unless you scream. With this approach the ACT government now has on its hands many issues that the community is very unhappy about – the City to the Lake, the Manuka Oval complex, the Curtin and Dickson shops developments, and the Currong flat development, not to mention West Basin where part of the Lake is due to be filled in and a private housing development plonked right on our park. It is truly time for a more mature approach to our planning process so that we don't lose the city we love and treasure.

Penny Moyes, Hughes

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Let down by lift

I read with interest the announcement that the ACT Labor Club Group is proposing a 12-storey building in Belconnen ("Labor Club gets hotel nod", January 13, p1). We members of the Ginninderra Labor Club in Charnwood hope that moving up and down the 12 floors will be easier than moving from the ground floor to the basement at the Ginninderra Labor Club where the elevator has been broken, out of order, defunct, useless for over two months.

Perhaps the plot is to trap the unwary, downtrodden working class members of this suburb in the poker machine area where they fork out millions of dollars a year – probably to build a new building, with lifts, at Belconnen.

Jack Sandry, Melba

Club concern unfounded

I feel that the concerns of the ACT government's strategic planning section regarding the design of a new Labor club in Belconnen are unfounded. Perhaps the existing basement areas will suffice for a gym and conference rooms without much more expensive excavation.

There is already a large commercial gym within 100 metres on Benjamin Way. Four levels of carpark are certainly not excessive in the current era of redeveloping open air carparks into apartment blocks in a voracious rush . Each time I visit the club I wonder how much longer the excellent open air carpark alongside will remain, as it must seem an alluring prize to the Barr government.

The Labor Club is to be congratulated on its plan but must be aware of its aim of serving its members and continue to ensure the club is easily accessible to those coming by car.

Paul O'Connor, Hawker

Land neglect not on

Llois Cutts (Letters, January 10) is happy with the state of our parks and gardens, is she? And also with the increase in rates we've had to endure to address nameless "important policy concerns" demanding our attention.

I'm sorry Llois, but self government does not entail allowing our once presentable city to be neglected the way it has.

I too have been a resident of Canberra for a long time, but my recollections are not "nostalgic". Rather they're reflective of an expectation that certainly even today, our grassland areas should be presentable. Similarly the weed-infested garden spaces also demand immediate attention. This also is what "self government entails".

Lud Kerec, Forde

Canberra name game

It would be good if Jacqueline Maley and others of her profession could refrain from using Canberra when they actually mean the federal government, eg, "Canberra is often criticised for being out of touch with everyday Australians" ("Shameful gay marriage battle echoes plight of suffragettes", canberratimes.com.au, September 2, 2016).

It gets confusing, and in this particular case, even insulting, given that Canberra's ACT Legislative Assembly attempted to deliver marriage and was "overruled" by actions of "Canberra" the federal government.

Don't use Canberra as shorthand for the federal government.

A. Rhodes, Cook

AWM flight of fancy

The Australian War Memorial's apparent inability to raise sufficient funding to display, at its Campbell building, more restored military aircraft seems to be leading to aircraft being displayed all around Canberra. To date we have seen a beautifully restored Lockheed Hudson displayed at Canberra Airport, and now Bob Howe and Chris Parks have proposed (Letters, January 10 and 13) that a restored English Electric Canberra Bomber be displayed on the top of Red Hill or in Civic Square .

There must surely be a better way to celebrate Australian aviation in Canberra. What about a decent museum, possibly at Fairbairn Aerodrome, where the aircraft that have played a significant role in Australian history can be professionally displayed and interpreted? The Canberra Bomber could be a focal point of such a museum. After all, it was named after our city, it was a magnificent and very successful aeroplane, and many were assembled in Australia.

John Gray, Mawson

 

Treated like mugs by politicians who think they're royalty

When did well-paid government ministers begin to believe that they were royalty and were entitled to live as such? On top of the wretched excesses of Bronwyn Bishop, Barnaby Joyce, Sussan Ley, Joe Hockey, George Brandis, Julie Bishop, et al, we now read of Peter Dutton hosting a $4000 "working dinner" in Washington and sending the bill to Australian taxpayers ("Taxpayers slugged for Dutton's $4000 'working dinner' in the US", January 13, p4).

The travel costs alone are a scandal – haven't these people heard of email and online conferencing, or using their government-funded mobile phones?

Do ministers ever consider staying at four-star hotels instead of five-star, eating at modest restaurants instead of so-called "fine dining" establishments, flying economy, or driving themselves from A to B like mere mortals?

It would also be interesting to know which ministers ape "royal" behaviour by never carrying cash because they never have to pay for anything from their own pockets.

And don't get me started on those who claim an exorbitant "allowance" for staying at houses owned by family members.

These arrogant "leaders" treat us all like mugs and it's well past time that they stopped.

Steve Ellis, Hackett

Double standards

In among the furore over the latest politicians' expense scandal, one element that seems to have been ignored is the consumption of alcohol. Welfare recipients in Ceduna and the Northern Kimberley are issued with cashless welfare cards to make it more difficult for them to blow their welfare on alcohol and gambling. The rationale for this policy is that it is morally wrong for public funds to be wasted on the consumption of alcohol.

The people who put this policy in place included Peter Dutton, Sussan Ley and Julie Bishop. Mr Dutton, however, had no qualms in sitting down to a $350 per head dinner in Washington – paid for by public funds ("Taxpayers slugged for Peter Dutton's $4000 dinner in the US", January 13, p4). I doubt that he drank water. Julie Bishop was happy to bill the taxpayer for a business class flight to attend a polo match and drink her generous host's alcohol.

If it is evil for a Newstart recipient to spend their welfare on a slab of beer why it is acceptable for the taxpayer to pick up the tab so our pollies get an opportunity to drink French champagne?

Mike Reddy, Curtin

Lacking integrity

Human Services Minister Alan Trudge has stated "People who work hard and pay taxes to assist those in need expect there to be integrity in the welfare system".

Meanwhile we have large companies using transfer pricing to avoid legitimate taxes, Barnaby Joyce pork barreling his electorate at a cost of more than $25 million (plus incentives), and Sussan Ley and others up to their eyeballs in the apparently bottomless public trough of "parliamentary entitlements".

Would it be too much to expect Malcolm Turnbull, in the fullness of time, after due consideration blah blah blah, to say "People who work hard and pay taxes expect companies to pay their proper share of tax, and their parliamentary representatives to behave with integrity when dealing with the public purse"?

Pigs will have pilots' licences first no doubt.

Jon Stirzaker, Latham

Pick up the tab

I heard federal Trade Minister Steve Ciobo on ABC radio last week saying how there was no problem with him claiming $1000 travel costs to attend the AFL grand final in 2013. He said he was invited to attend by business people.

If it is important for business people to invite politicians to these sporting events, surely they should be prepared to pick up the tab. They are probably already writing it off as a business expense, anyway.

Come on, Malcolm Turnbull, show some leadership and do something about these rorts.

Geoff Ely, Amaroo

Trump upside

John Hewson ("We have learnt zilch", January 13, p20) gave a very perceptive observation in regard to this time of transition between the recent American election and the upcoming inauguration!

Unfortunately, only now is the stark realisation setting in for many Washington insiders, that the boutique social and sexual issues so cherished by undergraduates, the manufactured minorities and the inner-city elites, are actually not shared by the majority of hard-working and tax-paying suburbia.

Indeed, mainstream voters are unsurprisingly more concerned about available and meaningful work, accessible health care, peaceful streets and strong borders, rather than LGBT safe spaces, same-sex marriage, climate change and glass ceilings.

And so for millions of weary American citizens, the promise of a fresh dose of old school patriotism, was the preferred option to four more years of passionate identity politics. Without wanting to sound too starry-eyed, Trump has the potential to be a neo-Ronald Reagan, by essentially seeing himself as a figurehead for renewed optimism, and surrounding himself with a capable cabinet to do the legislative logistics.

If the United States is made great again, then good for them, and all the better for us.

Peter Waterhouse, Craigieburn Vic

Echoes of Rome

"The budget should be balanced, the treasury refilled, public debt reduced blah blah blah".

So wrote Taylor Caldwell, in her historical fiction novel Pillar of Iron in 1965.

Caldwell, a prolific author of such stuff, was also well known in the US for her very conservative political views. As the words she so artfully put in the mouth of that poor old Roman philosopher, Marcus Tullius Cicero, reflect.

So what have we learnt in the 52 years since? The finger-waggers just dish up whatever unchecked tosh suits them.

Mind you, Cicero was very much a politician, too. Not universally respected then or now, he was known to be the sort of wind-bag wavering populist hypocrite we rightly deride today.

Don Clark, Latham

 

TO THE POINT

TOP FLIGHT HUBRIS

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo sees nothing wrong in claiming taxpayer-funded travel expenses to attend elite sporting events. I'm happy to buy him a dictionary so that he can look up "hubris" and "arrogance". That's if he has time in between events, free food and drink, and business class travel.

Maggie Indian, Turner

GAME IS OVER

Fly away. Fly away. Sussan Ley.

The game is over. On your way.

John Mungoven, Stirling

THE PRICE OF VALUES

When I applied for citizenship, the exam consisted of one question: what credit card would I use to pay the fee? Yes, I passed ("Peter Dutton's push for 'Australian values' in citizenship test hurts freedom", canberratimes.com.au, January 12).

Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld

OBAMA'S A FRAUD

In his farewell speech, President Barack Obama listed his "achievements" but didn't tell his audience what he didn't do.

He didn't jail the torturers and their chain of command. He didn't jail the bankers in 2008. He didn't stop the drones (in fact he escalated the drones).

The man's a fraud. He's Hillary Clinton with a neck tie.

Kenneth Griffiths, O'Connor

LIGHTS OUT WHINGERS

Such a lot of fuss and outrage over ActewAGL conducting some essential maintenance affecting a hundred or so houses. Householders knew about it and could prepare, and in my experience work such as this is usually finished by early afternoon at the latest – the hottest part of the day. What has society come to when we cannot prepare for and handle a few hours without electricity on a hot day?

Eric Hodge, Pearce

CORAL CALAMITY

In the extreme likelihood that it escaped their attention, I wish to propose to our very own "Trumpists" that the Chinese did also successfully conspire to kill by bleaching almost 75 per cent of Japan's biggest coral reef, the Sekisei lagoon in Okinawa.

Luca Biason, Latham

A TRUE GENTLEMAN

After listening to Barack Obama's farewell speech, and reading Paul McGeough's interesting article "It all ends in tears as the 44th president takes his final bow" (January 12, pp8-9), I believe that if he had been allowed to stand, Mr Obama would easily have defeated Donald Trump.

He came across to me as a true gentleman. He will be missed.

Evelyn Bean, Ainslie

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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