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Letters to the Editor: Griffin's vision being ruined by short-sightedness

Unlike Ryan Hemsley apparently (Letters, November 21), I miss [Walter Burley] Griffin's formalised shorelines for the three central lake basins.

It's good that West Basin is now getting a northern one, providing the reclamation component is not for creating more apartment land.

In the City to the Lake Plan, major public recreational facilities like swimming pools, face south on to the water, overlooked and overshadowed by flats.

That contrasts with Brisbane's hugely successful Southbank artificial beach precinct, which faces northeast to the river and the city beyond. Implementing Griffin's plan for West Basin fully could give us what Brisbane has achieved.

A new Acton Peninsula Structure Plan could see Griffin's missing circular bridge installed, extending from lower Lawson Crescent, to a shared-zone Flynn Drive.

This would create a large area of superb north-facing reclaimed land, significantly expanding Lennox Gardens.

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Griffin's curved bridge would complete his formalised West Basin circular form, and provide much needed limited-traffic and pedestrian connectivity from Acton to Parkes, in a picturesque setting.

An alternative bridge off the point of Acton Peninsula would destroy the integrity of West Basin and the peninsula itself.

The City to the Lake Plan must go. City expansion can continue north.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah

Lake an eyesore

The letter by H Simon (November 22) quite rightly criticises the condition of the West Basin lake edge.

The entire Acton Park is degraded —its lake edge does have weeds and the former futsal pads are barren and ugly. This demonstrates an age-old ploy to encourage support for development—let it run down and look underwhelming.

There are many wonderful treatments for lake side pathways interspersed with timber platforms, clusters of rocks and groups of water grass that do not involve retaining walls.

The most attractive segment of the Menzies walk is where it has a sandy rocky lake interface that is now a venue for water birds such as cormorants.

Sadly that will not happen in West Basin waterfront where a retaining wall is needed to hold back the 2ha of fill needed for the public promenade strip, the cycle path, the road and the first row of apartments.

The other hackneyed ploy is to only show images of the public strip with happy people but without the inclusion of any apartments or barely discernible ghost buildings in the background.

I urge you, when you go to West Basin, stand halfway along the timber jetty — that is where the apartments will start – and imagine how Acton Park will look when buildings are casting winter shadows over the public strip.

Juliet Ramsay, Burra

Homes for the rich

Ryan Hemsley (November 21) might or might not be right about Walter Burley Griffin's precise thoughts about the lake shore but the question is, what would he think now?

He would have observed how well the present situation works and the value that the residents of this city get from it.

He would have observed that it is consistent with his overriding objective of a city that blended into the landscape.

Hemsley says that the lake of today is "a ghostly shadow of its namesake's true intentions".

That is hard to see as the lake provides the beautiful central focus that Griffin planned. And I very much doubt that Griffin would have gone for a development that will be a scar on the landscape in the interests of homes for a small number of the very rich and restaurants we don't need.

He had a larger view than that.

Stan Marks, Hawker

Disappointment

I agree with your readers who have complained about the unkempt appearance of this fine city.

I am a "pre-laker" in Canberra and have always had a love for the city.

My career took me away from this city for 20 years and I have recently returned. What a shock and disappointment.

This once beautiful city has been let go to the dogs by what can only be an incompetent local government.

Those with the power and influence in the management of Canberra must move around the city with their eyes closed.

Queanbeyan, once the poor cousin, is now a better kept and attractive environment than Canberra.

Shame on those responsible.

Colin Toll, Bywong, NSW

Third world country

We have visited Canberra many times over the last 50 years and were always proud of our capital.

However this latest visit would have had us embarrassed if we had come to show overseas visitors around. The city looked like one from a third world country — overgrown grass and weeds everywhere. Hedges that hadn't seen clippers in months.

Tree trimmings were left on the grass for at least two weeks. Fountains not working. Poorly maintained footpaths.

What has happened to our beautiful capital? This is not the first time we have noticed a deterioration in the maintenance of Canberra.

It seems to us it started when the ACT got its own government. Something needs to be done to bring it back to a place we can all be proud of.

Michael and Janet Kuilboer, Brisbane, Qld

Defending the land

It is gratifying to see Dr Brendan Nelson of the AWM saying: "We honour those who in every sense have fought to defend land — Aboriginal land, our common land, our nation Australia". (Canberra Times, November 12, pp 2/3).

The APY painting commission is a fine beginning.

Now for some detail, starting perhaps with those occasions when colonial martial law was declared and then moving on to a map remembering successive points of conflict, as recorded both in the official records and in local traditions.

As Dr Nelson reasonably declares, the AWM is an "iconic repository of emotion and pride".

It should begin in the right place.

Geoff Page, Narrabundah

The right to say 'no'

The Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse did the right thing by "calling on hardline laws to allow businesses and individuals to refuse service for same-sex weddings because of religious and moral objections".

He then pointed out that the Church wants law to protect religious freedom.

So do I and many other practising Catholics and people of other Christian religions.

I am a recently retired businesswoman who owned and operated a secretarial service from my home.

I can recall two conscience hurdles I had to face; one was carrying out a large assignment for an atheist magazine and the other was taking minutes for a meeting of The Teachers' Union (that particular one being as a very active, conservative member of The Liberal Party).

I refused to carry out both assignments.

Anne Prendergast, Reid

False empathy on wages

Given the Reserve Bank's warning that persistently lower wages are a brake on economic growth, it is amusing to reflect on the recent claims of NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn and Wesfarmers' Richard Goyder concerning their "desperate" wish to raise wages, sadly blocked by a failure to increase productivity.

At no time since Federation have employers' organisations expressed the view that any wage rise outcome in any economic cycle was justified by labour productivity, rather depicting these rises, in particular for the lowest-paid employees, as moral outrages, the beginning of economic collapse, and the end of civilisation.

Given the steady decrease in the labour share of the national product over recent years, it is obvious that the lion's share of future productivity gains are being permanently appropriated by capital, while with respect to their own emoluments, CEOs like to speak about incentives.

Now that employers have achieved their long-term aims of minimising wages, their hand-wringing about the consequences is implausible.

David Roth, Kambah

No fan of Molan

Regarding the eligibility of Jim Molan to sit in Parliament, not everyone shares Kym MacMillan's enthusiasm for this retired general (Letters, November20).

Molan was chief of operations at the coalition forces headquarters during the second assault on Fallujah in Iraq in 2004, which caused terrible civilian harm.

While it is reported that the coalition forces urged women and children to leave the city before the bombing began (where they were meant to go is not clear), it is also reported that they forced all males between 15and 45 years of age to stay, then cut off the water, electricity and humanitarian aid.

Molan has consistently tried to downplay the gravity of both the illegal act of invading Iraq in2003 and everything that followed.

Is it too much to expect that our parliamentarians can recognise grave violations of human rights when they are staring them in the face?

We can do without Molan's "real-world experience" which MacMillan so admires.

Sue Wareham, Cook

Clinics too costly

In response to the comments made by your readers about walk-in centres (Letters, November21), anecdotes are fine but go only so far.

I would refer your readers to the data released by the ACT health department, which shows that:

a. The vast majority of the people seen at the clinics are for colds and coughs, and are seen during normal business hours and not during the extended opening hours.

b. Each clinic employs 10 clinicians, yet only sees an average of 3.5 people an hour at the cost of $188 a visit.

As a taxpayer and GP, I find this to be an incredibly poor use of an already overstretched health budget.

At the current costs, the future-planned five clinics will cost ACT taxpayers nearly $50,000 every single day.

This is money we do not have to waste.

There has been no recent market analysis to justify this expense.

To claim that they are justified because there is insufficient access to bulk-billing GPs is patently untrue.

There are at least two large, fully bulk-billing clinics in the ACT that operate the exact same hours the nurse-led clinics do.

Many smaller clinics are also open after normal working hours.

These are clinics where a bulk-billed attendance costs the federal taxpayer a mere $37 per visit.

The millions spent on these nurse-led clinics simply cannot be justified on any level while we see the services at our hospital outpatient clinics deteriorate.

Dr F.M.Janse van Rensburg, Charnwood

Unnecessary duplication

The letters from Cesira Costello and John Mason (November21) extolling the virtues of the nurse-led walk-in clinics cannot pass without comment.

They received excellent service, but at what price? The cost to the ACT government is $188 per patient.

The same service by a GP costs the local government nothing and the federal government less than $40.

If I see a patient today who requires a joint replacement and cannot afford private cover, it will take two to three years before they have adequate treatment. In the meantime, the patient will suffer considerable pain and difficulty mobilising.

Similarly, if I refer a patient with prostate cancer or a bleed from the bowel or, indeed, request an opinion from an ENT surgeon or several other specialties, that patient will not be seen for a year.

I don't know where to start with the grossly inadequate facilities to provide mental healthcare in the territory.

Furthermore, in the community, services to pensioners in relation to podiatry, physiotherapy and dental are pitiful. The ACT government, for its own political reasons, has decided to waste a fistful of dollars on duplicating a service which is provided adequately by general practitioners instead of spending the money responsibly where it is most needed.

Dr Alan D.Shroot, Dickson

Past their use-by date

To the casual observer, Test cricket has become a self-indulgent trough for gamblers and spoilt, young, overpaid men, not to mention old cricketers turned commentators who are past their use-by date.

Women's cricket is where the excitement is. Young women who don't, at this stage, appear to have ego above their raw talent are taking the game to the Australian public yearning for the old days of sport for sport's sake.

Still no TV test coverage and still excluded by old-fogey-dominated TV commentary teams. Commercial TV is a tragedy on so many levels.

Patrick O'Hara, Isaacs

Patronising attitude

Gosh, how generously patronising of our minister the honourable Peter Dutton to acknowledge sovereign countries (i.e. PNG and New Zealand) could talk to each other (Thaw in Refugee Deal", November17) and enter into bilateral arrangements about the refugees from Manus Island.

He's also warned them "they would have to to think about their relationship" if these arrangements proceed.

Given this very colonial, superior attitude to our nearest neighbours, some of our government clearly value lessons of empire from our colonial forebears.

Linda Shaw, Braddon

TO THE POINT

The Canberra Times wants to hear from you in short bursts. Email 50 or fewer words to letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au.

ACADEMIC NONSENSE

Ben Phillips' logic escapes me ("ACT is not short of dwellings", November 20, p.14). If a vacant, unoccupied dwelling is not for sale or rent it is unavailable, it is certainly not affecting the housing shortage. To say there is no housing shortage in Canberra is academic nonsense. This shortage will remain until the "stockpiled" dwellings are made available.

Murray Upton, Belconnen

MARCH ON PARLIAMENT

Could the unions, Greens, Labor Party and refugee activists organise a people's march to open "our" Parliament on November 27?

John Passant, Kambah

MOLAN NOT SAVED

Kym MacMillan (Letters, November 20) suggests that the exclusion to section 44(iv) of the Constitution will save Jim Molan from parliamentary disqualification. It won't. As the First Lord of the Admiralty made clear in HMS Pinafore, the Queen's "navee" (or army) is the Imperial (British) version, not that of Australia.

Frank Marris, Forrest

CAP HEAD

I refer to this week's Four Corners program on Justice Murphy, Ryan, Saffron and all. My grandmother used to say that you are known by the company you keep.

Allen Mawer, Acton

DOGGED ARGUMENT

The dog conundrum is becoming a little spooky. Our carnivorous cousins are in revolt and it's high time to question the relevance of the trite maxim; "man's best friend". I don't need the cue, of walking a dog, to walk. My neighbours certainly don't need the barking.

Matt Ford, Crookwell, NSW

POLL POSITION

Malcolm Turnbull has announced he is working with the Treasurer for possible tax cuts for middle income earners. Wouldn't have anything to do with the two by-elections or would it?

Jack Wiles, Gilmore

LEAPING TO DEFENCE

Peter Dutton is referred to as stone personified, by Graham Macafee, (Letters, November 20). An army of advocates is assembling to defend stone against this ill-founded insult. Everyone knows stone is more responsive than a cabbage head.

Warwick Davis, Isaacs

FLUSHED OUT

The ruling ZANU-PF party realised belatedly that Robert Mugabe, the autocratic ruler they imposed on the people of Zimbabwe for 37 years, had become waste matter for the country and expelled him on World Toilet Day (November 19).

Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

DIFFICULT QUESTIONS

Does the Family Law Act need to be amended to remove any presumption that a divorce can only take place between a man and a woman?

Mark Hartmann, Hawker