Letters to the Editor

Manuka Oval development's scope is incomprehensible



I'm trying to resist being a nimby about the extraordinary proposal to redevelop Manuka Oval and surrounds put forward by GWS Giants and Grocon, but the fact is the proposed development would be practically in our front yard ("Eyes on Manuka Pool land", March 19, p1).

When the new light towers went up, I was supportive and saw it as a positive move towards gaining more major events.

However, the latest proposal is breathtaking in its scope and would have an massively negative impact on the surrounding area if it were to proceed as detailed.

I would be more relaxed about a significantly more modest plan, involving, say, 200 apartments and perhaps some commercial and retail space, plus of course the required parking for the residential and commercial tenants, along with extra public parking, which is so desperately needed for the oval.

The proposal as I understand it, though, is for about 1000 apartments, which is mind-boggling.

No one I've spoken with can comprehend how so many apartments could conceivably fit in the very limited space surrounding the oval.


The dumping of 1000 residences in such a tight area would cause massive traffic congestion and significant loss of amenity, and, on simple supply-and-demand principles, result in a huge loss of values for existing apartments in the area.

It should be a given that even though GWS and Grocon have initiated this unsolicited proposal, whatever development might eventuate it will need to be subject to the normal competitive tender processes of government.

Allan E. Williams, Forrest

If the truth hurts

The determination of the federal government to enact a narrowly focused building industry watchdog rather than a broad-ranging Commonwealth anti-corruption body may have something to do with a well-founded fear of the potential for political embarrassment from an independent commission beyond political control.

It is likely that experience with the National Crime Authority explains this reluctance.

That authority was established in 1984 to continue the work of a series of royal commissions that revealed widespread corruption at Commonwealth and state levels.

Its undoing came in 2001 in contradicting the Howard government's narrative that it was winning its war against drugs.

In fulfilling its remit to publicise information on the state of organised crime and recommend reform of the law and administrative practices, its chairman wrote in a commentary "that the illicit drug trade continues to flourish in our country".

His sin was to suggest unpalatable non-law enforcement solutions: "Among the many measures worthy of consideration is to control the market for addicts by treating the supply of addictive drugs to them as a medical and treatment matter subject to supervision of a treating doctor and supplied from a repository that is government controlled."

The resulting abolition of the authority and its replacement by a less than adequate Australian Crime Commission remains an intimidating warning against anyone in government criticising drug policy and of the political danger of according any agency too much independence.

Bill Bush, Turner

Economy v planet

Thank you for publishing the article by Mark Hearn, of Macquarie University, ("We are going to need a climate plan – and fast", Forum, March 19, p7) about the alarming fact of the emergency of climate warming and the lack of Australia's response to a climate emergency plan.

Hearn's statement – "we can't seem to win the battle against climate change. Perhaps that's because the pursuit of economic growth accelerates at all costs" – rings very true.

Making money by exploiting the natural environment is the only thing that counts for many people and governments.

Fiona MacDonald Brand, Lyneham

Liberal madness

It is reported that Liberal candidates for October's ACT election will be required to disclose any mental-health problems to party officials as part of the nomination process ("Libs adopt strict stance on social media", March 22, p2).

One in five Australians experienced a diagnosable mental health disorder in the last 12 months and nearly half will do so in their lifetime.

In other words experiencing mental health issues is completely normal.

So why would the Canberra Liberals consider previous mental-health issues to be such a risk that prospective candidates must report this experience alongside criminal history?

The stigma of mental illness is alive and well, and it appears the Canberra Liberals are trying to avoid having any of those risky people with mental-health issues among their election candidates.

What the Canberra Liberals ought to do is to recognise that experiencing mental health issues is normal and having had such an experience makes a person more qualified to relate to the electorate, not less!

Simon Viereck, executive officer, Mental Health Community Coalition ACT

Mitigating chaos

Whatever else the slogan "continuity with change" may be, it is not meaningless ("Has Malcolm Turnbull copied Veep's campaign slogan?", online, March 23).

In fact, it describes not only the way things are, but the way they should be. Change is inevitable, but a degree of continuity is essential or else chaos ensues.

The key to good politics and government is finding the right pace for change: too fast and you alienate the conservatives; too slow and you frustrate the progressives.

I think Turnbull is doing reasonably well so far.

Michael McCarthy, Deakin

Enormous costs

I disagree strongly with Mike Brayshaw's views on feral animals ("Why dealing with feral animals is so complex", March 18, p6).

I'd suggest there is little real value in the feral pigs, horses, camels, etc that plague Australia but enormous costs, including severe damage to free ecological goods and services such as the water supply.

I'd further suggest that these feral animals were mostly brought in not because of their value but because of cultural cringe: the nasty belief that Australian animals and plants were grossly inferior to the Old World's.

Adopting Brayshaw's apparent prescription of abandoning feral animal control would condemn many unique native plants, animals and environs to eventual destruction/extinction.

Brayshaw also says carp thrive because our Murray-Darling rivers are degraded. We should be very clear that carp are not just a symptom but an active driver of poor river health (albeit one of several).

He also says that, in the lower Murray River, "native fish can't survive but carp can survive in 50 per cent seawater". Yet numerous reference books attest that some native fish, such as the important golden perch, are able to survive such salinities.

Simon Kaminskas, Palmerston

Fast train clincher

An east coast high-speed rail system is logical and desirable (Editorial, March 21). A truly great station here, showcasing the national capital, could clinch Canberra's inclusion, if it were in doubt.

The Commonwealth's recent report on a complete Brisbane-Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne high-speed-rail system examines several ACT station locations – including the airport, recently praised by Andrew Robb ("'Right time' for a very fast train", February29, p5) – against wide-ranging criteria, especially commercial benefits. The report recommends a Civic station below and on the alignment of Ainslie Avenue nudging Cooyong Street. That relates to the report's preferred route in and out of Canberra.

Chosen is a two-way tunnel under Mount Ainslie, which is shown to be quieter and faster, and involves less disruption, land acquisition, etc than alternatives, including an airport approach route.

What's missing from both the sub-Ainslie-Avenue and airport locations is a great "national capital arrival experience". A site offering that, still using the Mount Ainslie tunnel, could be near the CSIRO headquarters in Campbell, with a large elevated glass concourse over the intersection of Ainslie and Limestone avenues, commanding fine prospects of Parliament House, Civic, the lake and mountains.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah

Light rail relief

The ACT government will "seek a mandate for [the light rail to Russell] from voters" ("Barr puts Russell tram plan on shelf", March 23, p2).

All three main parties have promised us a light rail at one time or another. Do they really need yet another mandate?

I just received a pamphlet from "CanTheTram", which said incorrectly that rates are increasing because of light rail, rather than because the government is phasing out stamp duty. The pamphlet implied that only the people of Gungahlin will benefit, ignoring the reduced congestion and pollution for the rest of Canberra.

It also said a bus rapid transit network would be better, even though buses are bumpy, cramped and vulnerable to traffic jams.

I'd hate to think the government was caving to a well-organised but ill-informed minority.

Jack Heath, Charnwood

Fair recompense

I was dismayed to read Anthony Senti's letter about the new Lifeline Book Fair venue this September (Letters, March 23). I trust that Andrew Barr will make good any shortfall in revenue that is likely to result from using a smaller venue.

Gay von Ess, Aranda




Tony Abbott should not follow in the footsteps of Kevin Rudd by destabilising his party. He could show "true grit" and support Malcolm Turnbull – if "the Peta principle" allows.

Cynthia Moloney, Yarralumla


Is Tony Abbott working towards the Turnbull government being defeated or at least damaged at the next election, as an exercise in self-vindication? Perhaps with a view to resuming the role in which he was so effective: leader of the opposition?

Geoff Hayes, Fadden


Your front-page article "Student debt may still be nabbed after death" (March 23) begs the question: $100,000 is a lot of money. Why do students who have serious equity or cash qualify for government loans?

Gerry Murphy, Braddon


It's obvious Ian Warden has never visited Mongolia ("Yurt classroom pops up at ANU", Gang-gang, March 24, p12). I have, and when I referred to the Mongolian yurts during a visit, the Mongolians quickly corrected me. As they don't seem to particularly like the Russians, whom they remember as their former colonisers, it was pointed out to me that "yurt" is a Russian word – and the Mongolian word, which I should have used, is "ger".

John Milne, Chapman


If our society is as good at implementing electric cars as it is at implementing telephone call centres, then we will never know how many accidents there are.

E Linsky, Fisher


Choo Choo. Choo Choo. Watch out, Andrew and Shane. The clock is ticking.

John Mungoven, Stirling

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