Letters to the Editor

Light rail not in Weston master plan

The ACT government has a poster display for the ‘‘Weston Group Centre Draft Master Plan’’. ‘‘The draft master plan establishes a long-term framework that can guide future planing decisions and provide directions about land use, building height and scale, public realm and transport connections.’’

I looked at all the posters and read everything, twice [and] there is not a single mention of light rail.
There is also no mention of light rail in the Weston Group Centre master plan fact sheet, which lists ‘‘Potential actions’’ for the next ‘‘20+ years’’.

All who think that Canberra will in the foreseeable future have a light rail network connecting outer areas, don’t hold your breath.

It’s not going to happen. The only thing that will happen is that rates and other charges will go up to pay for the Gungahlin to the city section to be built, subsidised and maintained and it is you who will have pay for Corbell’s folly.

David Fuller, Duffy

What about the owner?

The response to the sham sale of the house in MacGregor is staggering.


How a house was sold illegally in a lawful sale and now ‘‘belongs’’ to the new owner is beyond me. The response by the Real Estate Institute, ACT CEO Ron Bell also beggars belief: ‘‘I’m not sure what we put in place to prevent this.’’

So it seems that if I leave my house in the care of a real estate agent they are able to sell it without recourse if the sale was made in good faith. Everyone but the original owner seems to be protected. Where is the legal obligation that sits with the estate agent, with the conveyancer? Where is the duty of care?

Joe Murphy, Bonython

Careful who you trust

In view of the fact the new ASIO building cannot be occupied due to Chinese hackers learning of the interior layout, it seems strange  the government  invited the Chinese to do military exercises with US and Australian forces in the Northern Territory.

We have been ‘‘reassured’’ there will be no weapons used just military exercises to  learn survival tactics in a difficult environment – our country. In so doing, the Australian government is giving information away about Australia to people we  apparently cannot trust and people who have hacked and crippled our intelligence abilities.

Penelope Upward, O’Connor

ASIO leaks
It is with a sardonic smile, from world-wearily knowing the score on the standards of construction in Australia and more so in Canberra, that new-apartment owners and residents in the ACT can reflect on the crippling defects that keep the new ASIO headquarters – all billion-odd dollars’ worth of it – empty a year from its hurried pre-election pretend-opening. It is not  as well-guarded a secret as appropriate for its intended tenant that they were busy pumping  Lake Burley Griffin out of flooded underground garages, in the hours before the dignitaries’ opening tour.

Ring a bell with the prestige apartment blocks facing ASIO across Eastlake? And what about the multinational corporation in charge of building Spook Central – recognisable to some of the owners’ corporations who have had to take legal action against their builders to achieve redress over multimillion-dollar structural repair and reconstruction bills in recent years?

Anarchists and left-wingers –  traditionally  the focus of ASIO’s ‘‘security’’ activities – rejoice! The agency will be too busy for years to come, centring buckets under new ceiling leaks, to be too preoccupied with your un-Australian activities.

Alex Mattea, Kingston

Share the compassion
Both crashes of the Malaysia Airlines planes are unspeakable tragedies, with hundreds of people affected by the loss of loved ones. The Prime Minister (and his government) is showing compassion and spending millions of dollars to reach  positive outcomes for the families. One hopes that this deep compassion (and money) will be extended to others in dire need – women and children in indescribable misery on Christmas Island,  more than 150 Tamils kept on an Australian coast guard boat, men in despair on Manus and Nauru Islands,  more than 600 Palestinians slaughtered by Israelis without a single message to Israel urging restraint from our government.

It is distressing that our government only shows concern for Australian citizens and is unwilling to share our wealth and resources with some of the needy of our world.

Gwenyth Bray, Belconnen

Forgetting to value life
Waleed Aly’s musings over our selective mourning of those who died on Flight MH17 points to something far greater (‘‘MH17, Gaza and the value of human life’’, July 25).

 In declaring the self-evident truth that all people are created equal, the American Declaration of Independence, which is democracy’s founding document, entreats us all to value human life equally, irrespective of political and other circumstances. For this reason, when former US President George W. Bush announced America’s imminent invasion of Iraq, he painstakingly made the distinction that it was not the Iraqi people he was targeting, but the regime. Likewise, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu justifies Israel’s latest offensive into Gaza on the grounds that Hamas militants are the real enemy.

Under such circumstances it is indeed impossible to universally value human life. But in so doing, we are in danger of destroying whatever is left of democracy and leaving our world ever more hostile to the sanctity of our own human existence.

Reverend Dr Vincent Zankin, Rivett

Where is Muslim aid?
Ella Ryan (Letters, July 15) rails against what she calls Israeli propaganda  designed to drum up support for ‘‘Israel’s brutal air attack on Gaza’’.

Pardon me, but what about all the rockets continually fired into Israel?

Is Israel seriously expected to sit still and not defend herself from people who are driven by visceral, unreasoning hatred, and despicably use their own population to hide in, for the very purpose of using the pictures of dead women and children to gain media sympathy.

During the 2004 tsunami I heard that someone on talkback radio in Indonesia commented, ‘‘How come we get no help from other Muslim countries but the Christians help us?’’ Quite so.

And how come we hear  often that Israel sends help to disasters in other countries? When does radical Islam help anyone anywhere? Even their own. Do tell.

J. Halgren, Latham  

Government truth warning

The Canberra Times reports (''Big tobacco denials'', July 18,) claims by the Philip Morris tobacco company that cigarette sales ''actually increased'' in the year after plain packaging was introduced, and that there were ''five tax increases'' in the years during which the National Drug Strategy Household Survey reported a remarkable decline in adult smoking prevalence from 15.1 per cent in 2010 to 12.8 per cent in 2013.

Sales increase? The authoritative Treasury figures show that ''tobacco clearances (including excise and customs duty) fell by 3.4 per cent in 2013 relative to 2012 when tobacco plain packaging was introduced''.

And ''five tax increases''? All the increases between April 29, 2010, and December 1, 2013, were only stock standard CPI adjustments, not real increases in excise/customs duty.

Claims from Big Tobacco should carry a government truth warning.

Professor Mike Daube, Curtin University

Hold that carbon licence

In response to J. McKerral (''Negative emissions preclude need for carbon tax, agencies,'' CT Letters, July 21): hate to burst your bubble, but the GOSAT findings are not conclusive. First, the GOSAT analysis contains some caveats, especially in relation to ''bias'' between land and ocean data retrieval in the southern hemisphere. Scientists are still working to correct this. Second, the data retrieved by GOSAT covered only 18 months, not enough to produce a true picture of terrestrial carbon cycles. Scientists involved in the project concluded: ''It remains to be seen whether our conclusions hold up when a different - possibly improved - retrieval data set is assimilated or when a different transport model is used.''

Third, the GOSAT data set did not include measurements of fossil fuel emissions. And anyway, even if Australia does have negative emissions, the axing of the carbon tax, by giving free licence to carbon polluters, will surely change that.

Lulu Respall-Turner, Belconnen

Light rail light reading

The ACT government continues with the fictions on light rail stage 1 (Gungahlin-Civic, 12 kilometres).

Fiction 1: It will cost $614 million. The Gold Coast tram (13 kilometres) just opened cost $1600 million.

Fiction 2: According to Development Minister Simon Corbell, light rail won't cost the government anything until the trams start running. This is commercial naivety; no company is going to carry such huge costs over several years of construction without progress payments.

Fiction 3: The government thinks it has a mandate for this project. It may do to spend the $30 million so far budgeted, but it certainly does not have a mandate to start construction; and the Parliamentary Agreement (with the Greens) for the 8th Legislative Assembly for the ACT, November 2, 2012, does not constitute such a mandate.

Fiction 4: Mr Corbell believes the benefits outweigh the costs. The URS report of August 2012 showed that the bus rapid transit option had a far superior benefit/cost ratio than the light rail option, but the government opted for a tram anyway.

M. Silex, Greenway

Nazi comparison odious

G. Coquillette's comparison of Israel with the Nazis (Letters, July 23) is doubly contemptible. It casts a monstrous slur on the Israelis, who are trying to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza while defending themselves against unprovoked terror attacks, while comparing that to what the Nazis did amounts to nothing less than Holocaust denial. No rational person could actually believe that there is any valid comparison there.

As the letter says, Israel is equipped with advance weaponry. If it really wanted to ''annihilate'', ''exterminate'' or ''kill at will'', it could have levelled Gaza, wiping out hundreds of thousands of people by now. Instead, it targets only terrorists, and when the terrorists are, in contravention of international law, embedded in civilian areas, it warns the civilians there before striking.

Coquillette tries to excuse Hamas barbarism with a bizarre conspiracy theory that Israel's blockade is specifically intended to provoke the Palestinians into attacking Israel so it can respond and ''annihilate'' them. However, that blockade is only partial. It allows in food, water, medical supplies, fuel and electricity, while keeping out only material that has a military use. Moreover, the blockade was begun in response to the rockets, not vice versa.

Alan Shroot, Forrest

Flight-path risk

Bob Salmond (Letters, July 13) correctly advises regarding aircraft noise that prevention is better than cure. The most effective prevention is not buying a home under the flight paths. Rarely do existing airports encroach on residential areas; it is mostly people buying cheaper land under the flight paths causing the problem. Canberra airport predated most housing within earshot of its noise, which is ever diminishing with modern aircraft design.

Curfews in Australia operate only at Sydney, Coolangatta, Adelaide and Essendon airports, which probably explains why Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane are building new runways, while defending loudly their cities' prized curfew-free status. Considering the recent encroachment of large residential areas around the site of the proposed Badgerys Creek airport I now expect efforts to get that airport crippled by a curfew.

Incidentally, some people don't realise curfews in Australia are only heavy-jet curfews and smaller aircraft and many freight movements continue round the clock.

Chris Emery, Reid

Monkey tricks at home

So it is legally and morally correct for a government to seek tens of thousands of dollars for stamp duty on the purchase of a family home whilst not being required to ''ascertain the bona fides of people '' seeking the transfer (''Owners unaware home sold by cheats'', CT, July 24). I assume all home owners are as horrified and disgusted as I am.

Heather O'Connor, Hawker

Taxing questions on professor's theory

I don't wish to express an opinion on the debate between professors Parker, pictured, and Young about the merits of the government's tertiary education policies. But I do want to comment on an argument Professor Stephen Parker uses to support his position (Uni 'reforms' risk disaster, July 24). He argues that you can't justify the government's policies on the basis that a degree increases a graduate's earning potential because we already collect more income tax from a higher earner than from a lower earner.

This is a version of the argument used by mining companies - that income tax should be a sufficient share of the profits they make from exploiting our mineral resources - and it suffers from the same flaw. If the only community return is income tax, then wage earners whose income is due to their tertiary education will pay the same amount as wage earners whose income is the same but who did not get a free tertiary education. The community is not compensated for the free education it gave one group and the others are unfairly treated because they were given less but are taxed the same.

If Professor Parker wants to abolish the HECS-HELP scheme, he will need to find a better argument.

Greg Pinder, Charnwood

Apportioning blame

If Russia is responsible for the deaths of those on flight MH17, is the US to be held responsible for the deaths of the hundreds of civilians being killed in Gaza by its missiles? And other countries such as Australia turning a blind eye to Israel's excesses?

Sue Wareham, Cook



Dammit. If I'd known there was a house scammer in town (Canberra Times, July 25), I could have saved him some trouble. I would have been happy to leave my keys in the door and the mortgage papers on the front step of my Mr Fluffy home.

Dianne, Torrens


To judge the good sense in Eric French's call (Letters, July 25) for censorship as a way to combat the plague of domestic violence, one need only cast one's mind back 20 years or so to the days before the internet when domestic violence - indeed, crime of all kinds - was virtually unknown.

Fred Pilcher, Kaleen


Just because the politicians leave Canberra periodically does not mean those thousands who live here go into a state of suspended animation awaiting their return. I never know or care whether they are here or not. I assume you (Damien Murphy) really meant Parliament House goes into hibernation.

Lis Hoorweg, Campbell


There are acknowledged anomalies in the law, but the top act must be that after the government has been deceived by fraudulent documents to register transfer of real estate, the transfer stands in law. That is like saying identity theft actually results in the thief becoming the victim.

Gary Wilson, Macgregor


Rod Matthews (Letters, July 23) has redrawn the map of Europe.. All of Ukraine and much of the Russian Federation, including Moscow, is in Europe. The people of Ukraine voted in a referendum to join the EU with a greater majority than Britain.

Peter Haddon, Jerrabomberra, NSW


The only thing sillier than Tony Abbott's reintroduction of knights and dames is commentators at the Tour de France and the Commonwealth Games referring to ''Sir Bradley Wiggins''. No offence to those magnificent athletes, but what on earth has his imperial elevation got to do with participation in a cycling event?

D.N. Callaghan, Kingston


The nonsensical demand by Clive Palmer for the resignation of Senate clerk Rosemary Laing seems to indicate he is determined to make a fool of himself during his three years as an MP. Ms Laing offered sound advice to Mr Palmer in accordance with the rules of the Parliament.

N. Bailey, Nicholls

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