Letters to the Editor

Manuka's heritage much more than historic buildings

Professor Ken Taylor's admonishment to the ACT government regarding the proposal to redevelop Manuka Oval ("Manuka heritage will be protected", February 24, p1) was timely, and the response from the Chief Minister that heritage-listed buildings would be incorporated was predictable.

There is, however, far more to Manuka's heritage that needs to be protected than a few old buildings.

Manuka's heritage includes a leafy walk past the nets on Manuka Circle on a Sunday morning, pausing to watch the cricketers at practice. It includes the walks to and from the lake on a weekend that finish with breakfast on the lawns, watching kids rumble with their dogs.

It includes the peace on New Year's Eve night when the bars and restaurants in the village close at 9pm so their staff can enjoy the celebrations, and the nearby residents can sleep if they wish.

It includes families strolling through the village preparing to watch a game of footy, a T20 game, grab a milkshake or the papers. It is the village, its ambience, its moods, its trees, its character, its history, and its shortcomings.

Maunka's heritage does not need seven stories of one and two-bedroom apartments. It does not need a flash chrome and glass hotel snuggled next to the oval. It does not need increased traffic flows. It does not need cars overflowing from the apartments, parked on the nature strips because the developers never provide enough car parking. It does not need concerts that blast noise late into the evenings.


It will not survive handing over these tangible and intangible community assets to a greedy developer so they can make $1billion in profit. It will not survive Mr Barr and his develop-at-all-costs government.

The Chief Minister, despite his nod to community consultation, consistently fails to understand that we like our heritage, our spaces and our village.

We want to keep Manuka a special place for our kids and their kids to appreciate.

No "grandiose schemes ... enthusiastically supported by the Chief Minister" and his cheerleading developers will change that.

Tony Webster, Griffith

No one listening

One of Michael Leunig's many evocative cartoons depicts a man standing alone in the wilderness of a vast mountain range reading a lone sign that proclaims: "Have your say. Make a comment."

May I suggest that our government, its bureaucracy and city "planners", avaricious Grocon, and its hulking "partners", the Giants, replace – if they have not done so already – their respective and obligatory, but deeply insincere mission, vision and ethics statements that the "customer" (read resident/taxpayer/pawn) is "important to us" with this telling-it-as-it-is cartoon.

A. Whiddett, Yarralumla

Look nearer home

Gosh, it warms my heart that the Christian conservative lobby are so relaxed and comfortable aiming a few kicks at queer kids to score political points ("PM orders review of Safe School LGBTI program", February 24, p4).

Personally, I find the monumental decades-long cover-up of paedophile priests and clergy just a tad more troubling than some public schools using my taxes to implement a voluntary program to create social acceptance and safety.

What do these Christians see when they look into their own souls? Methinks just a black hole.

Shan Short, Hackett

Scare campaign

I would have expected that by now some combination of organisations and individuals would have demolished the scurrilous scare campaign being conducted by the PM and others in the Tory parties in their desperate attempts to discredit the opposition policy on negative gearing, but they go on seemingly unchallenged.

These people use terminology like "smash house prices", from which you might infer that a dramatic collapse in the housing market is to be expected. Of course, the analysis on which these claims are allegedly based said nothing of the sort. What it does say could be expected would be a slowing of the rise in house prices – and who, apart from the Real Estate Institute, would say that is a bad thing?

But this week we have at least one dissenting voice, from a surprising direction, with the Deputy Treasurer announcing that opposition policy would lead to an increase in house prices.

T. J. Marks, Holt

Fresh message

Perhaps advocates of a more compassionate approach by the Abbott/Turnbull government are just using the wrong terminology.

Using the words Liberal senator Cory Bernardi used to describe the progressive and compassionate Safe Schools program ("At least I'm not a homophobe": Bill Shorten in tense exchange with Cory Bernardi",, February 24), I implore the Turnbull government to apply a Marxist agenda of cultural relativism to refugees and vulnerable Australians.

Tony Judge, Woolgoolga, NSW

Twisting the rules

Again, the major parties feel hard done by, so they think they can change the rules to keep themselves exclusive.

How many major party politicians have snuck into politics on the barest margin of preferences? We already have to put up with their two-party system in the House of Reps; now it seems to be heading the same way for the Senate. These so-called "upstarts" stopped Joe Hockey from implementing all the major slashing that was intended in his first budget.

Let's not forget the number of votes needed to become a senator is still the same for all the parties.

Jeff Tomlinson, Duffy

Good suggestions

Can the federal government give a single good reason why a reconstituted Building and Construction Commission should not be broadened to cover other construction-related issues, like sham contracting and phoenixing, so that the commission functions as a more general national corruption watchdog?

These suggestions were made by some of our Senate crossbenchers and seem to indicate that, far from being dangerous ill-disciplined ratbags, as branded by the Coalition, they are successfully functioning to limit obvious shortcomings and abuses of power by a biased, self-serving, non-representative government.

Julian Robinson, Narrrabundah

Dangers of alcohol

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the dangers and consequences of alcohol-fuelled violence. Three come to mind: one-punch attacks, domestic violence and drink-driving.

Here are some suggestions on the supply side.

Treat alcohol similar to cigarettes. No advertising, including stopping the two major supermarkets from advertising alcohol on their receipts. No sponsorship of sports. Plain packaging with strong warnings of the danger.

Other approaches should include separate shops for alcohol sales, rather than being easily available in supermarkets. And something different to cigarette sales; purchases of single items only – no six packs or slabs or wine by the box.

There must be education on the demand side, too.

Robert Crawford, Kaleen

Act of bravery

Like most people with a metal prosthesis, I always make the machine go "ping" at airport security. About half the time I am patted down. On one memorable occasion last year, I was asked to remove my belt and shoes and spread my arms as I was put through the procedure. I was a bit embarrassed when my pants subsequently fell to my ankles in front of a crowd of a hundred or so, but as Joe Citizen, I just muttered under my breath and walked away.

I guess if I was the Foreign Minister (like the one who jogs in the Gucci tracksuit), I would have got a few people suspended or sacked ("Julie Minister complained about pat down at Melbourne airport", canberra, February 21). It will be a brave security operative who pats down a VIP in the future. And we think we are a classless society.

Mike Reddy, Curtin

Inquiry needed

The nightmare that is Constitution Avenue, so succinctly catalogued by Bruce Taggart (Letters, February 24) should be the subject of a full and immediate Legislative Assembly inquiry.

If the Assembly isn't prepared to exercise its responsibilities, then Senators Gallagher and Seselja ought to refer the whole sorry saga to the appropriate federal parliamentary committee. Heaven help Manuka if this mob get its hands on it.

Bob Bennett, Gowrie

Can The Tram

In answer to John Mason's query (Letters, February 24) about Can The Tram leaflets and who is behind the group, I deployed the website in March 2014 when it was not apparent that this would be an election issue.

I had worked in research and development for 42 years before retiring from CSIRO in 2010.

In my latter years at CSIRO, I led the Intelligent Transport Systems project.

I had formed the opinion that the Gungahlin-Civic light-rail proposal was seriously flawed from both a land use and a transport viewpoint.

The website proved a rallying point and Can The Tram Inc was formed as a citizens group in April 2015. It now has about 100 members with an active committee and about 1200 registered supporters, and is growing rapidly, as we increase our efforts to inform the community.

We believe our ideas for transport in Canberra are forward-looking and that light rail, as currently proposed, is the least suited of all the possible transport technologies.

We have now modified our printed material and internet presence to conform to the directions of the Electoral Commission and it has informed us the matter is now closed.

Dr John L. Smith, chairman, Can The Tram Inc




Two per cent of the budget to be earmarked for Defence spending. How about 2per cent for cheaper government housing?

Dennis Nicholls, Curtin


Malcolm Turnbull wore a teal ribbon on Wednesday to raise awareness of ovarian cancer. The five-year ovarian cancer survival rate is only 43per cent compared with 90per cent for breast cancer. I am being treated for ovarian cancer and have heard not one word about it in the media – only talk about submarines.

Sandra Altin, Holder


Senate voting could be made much simpler and more meaningful if we did away with above-the-line voting and just had everyone number their preferences one to six (or one to 12 in a double-dissolution ballot). Counting would be a whole lot faster as well.

Tom Cooke, Pearce


There is nothing clandestine about Can the Tram, as John Mason implies (Letters, February 24). Google reveals a website and lots of detail.

Christopher Dorman, Aranda


Malcolm Turnbull has put tax reform in the too-hard basket. However, I am sure it will become much easier when voters fall for his charm and he wins the election. Be prepared for his 2017 budget when the real Turnbull will be revealed.

Robyn Lewis, Raglan, NSW


Nick Swain (Letters, February 25) should be careful what he wishes for. The National Library has a couple of car parks where the NCA might not notice a 34-storey block of apartments or a stadium quite as much as on the Patrick White Lawns.

Christine Coghlan, Higgins

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