Many comments about the appropriate remuneration for MLAs (''QC blasts pay boost for ACT Assembly'', February 19, p3) wrongly conclude that the ACT MLAs have requested a pay rise and that there is some link to the number of days that the Assembly sits. In fact, MLAs have not requested a pay rise and it is the tribunal's experience that they do not usually want a pay rise. The Remuneration Tribunal is responsible for setting pay rates for a number of office holders in the ACT and must take into account a range of issues. An issues paper has been released and is available at timetotalk.act.gov.au. For the first time in 25 years, a thorough review of remuneration, including entitlements, has been undertaken by the tribunal and it urges the community to review the issues paper and provide informed advice (at remtrib@act.gov.au) or to the website. The paper was prepared solely by the tribunal without input from ''remuneration consultants''.

Anne Cahill Lambert, Lyneham

Shoddy telco service

If you are elderly, nearly blind and have impaired mobility and balance because of Parkinson's disease, a personal medi-alarm allows you to call for help if, for example, you fall. The alarm is connected to your landline but if the phone cable is damaged - e.g. accidentally cut by workmen - your alarm becomes useless and, of course, you can't telephone your provider and you don't have a mobile phone because you wouldn't be able to use one. You would think a situation such as this would get priority.

This happened my neighbour recently. He is not a Telstra customer (they own the line) so they didn't want to know. His telco provider didn't want to know either because they don't own the line. After two days of of frustrating phone calls, my neighbour's daughter rang the Telecommunications Ombudsman and within a few hours a temporary but functional line had been connected by Telstra. I wonder if either company would have accepted liability for the consequences if there had been an emergency?

Peggy Spratt, Ainslie

Save iconic buildings

I disagree with Jack Kershaw's comments (Letters, February 21) on his view of the Sydney and Melbourne buildings on Northbourne Avenue.

According to him, these unique historical buildings should be knocked down and replaced with modern buildings. Roger Pegrum is right in saying in the article ''Sydney building worth full restoration, says architect'' (February 20, p2) that the Sydney Building should be restored. What will Canberra become if these iconic buildings are demolished … another modern city full of skyscrapers like Singapore?

The buildings are a recognisable symbol of Canberra city centre and create a special space. It's always a wonderful experience to walk under the long arcades. Also, their facades facing London Circuit resemble a book cover that reveals the starting point of the city centre. Because of their architectural value, it is important that both the Sydney and Melbourne Buildings be renovated when needed and never demolished.

Paola Giurgola, Kingston

Isolated opinion

After 67 years in Canberra, Jack Kershaw (Letters, February 20) is the first person I've heard say he/she doesn't like the Sydney and Melbourne buildings. And I understand he's an architect!

R.S. Gilbert, Braddon

Wake-up WIN

It has now become apparent that WIN Television's approach to local news - namely recording a bulletin in Wollongong early in the morning and beaming it into Canberra almost 12 hours later - is a failure that has caused several embarrassing moments. On Christmas Eve the station reported that police were still searching Lake Tuggeranong for a windsurfer who had disappeared. The body was found before 4pm but WIN still broadcast a bulletin at 7pm saying the search was continuing. That wasn't a one-off. A few days ago, three cavers were lost in Bungonia Gorge but were found about 3pm. Nine News from Sydney during the afternoon reported that the cavers had been rescued and they showed filmed reports in its 4.30pm and 6pm bulletins. Yet WIN News at 7pm said that they were still missing.

There used to be a slogan for TV news - ''First, fast and factual''. What WIN is now showing would be more suited to The History Channel. It should be blindingly apparent to WIN that it urgently needs to get the local news back to being produced in Canberra and being broadcast live. The current set-up is fast becoming an industry joke and is now the laughing stock of Canberra.

John Moulis, Pearce

Brazen bank policy

I received information from my bank recently about revised ''privacy'' laws. After all these years hiking credit limits to the unsuspecting, they now want legal powers to cut their risk.

''Dear Mr So 'n' so we are increasing your credit limit to $2800''. Six months later ''Dear Mr So 'n' so we are increasing your credit limit to $4100''. Dear, dear, dear! What are they conning us into!

Now, like the Tax Office, they're saying: ''You must let us know if information you have provided has changed'' - or we'll griddle you.

Small ''privacy''. They will tell every business, referee, employer, advisor, regulatory body, law enforcement agency, courts, government agencies that ask and probably even my budgerigar - if it could get the accent right - everyone except my partner. Banks should change their culpable lending rules before putting us all into this situation.

Richard Carne, Evatt

Don't pass the parcel

Max Blyton (Letters, February 17) reminds us that Australia Post tries to weasel out of its responsibilities by blaming contractors for faults in the postal system.

It seems to me that AP is responsible for the management and monitoring of the contracts. There should be a measurable contractual outcome in relation to contractors attempting to deliver items (rather than just delivering ''sorry, we missed you'' cards to occupied residences!). If a contractor does not deliver items as they are obliged to do, the contract should be awarded to someone else. If the contractual obligations set the bar too high and are simply unachievable, then AP needs to engage more contractors to do the work.

AP can't continue to wash its hands of not providing services that we pay for. We pay our money to AP, not to its contractors.

Gordon Fyfe, Kambah

End age of entitlement, but do it for everyone

The forthcoming change of governor-general is an opportunity to put an end to the gravy train that is the defined-benefit superannuation arrangements that come with this position. Public servants will know that their generous defined-benefit arrangements were closed in 1990 (the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme) and 2005 (Public Sector Superannuation scheme).

Even the extraordinarily generous Commonwealth parliamentarians defined benefit pension scheme closed in 2004.

However, a governor-general who serves even one day in the job will be given a very generous pension for life. This unfunded superannuation scheme gives an indexed pension, for life, to the retiring governor-general.

The pension is 60 per cent of the salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court, with reversionary benefits to a surviving spouse. Given that the Chief Justice's present salary is $486,000, the life pension payable to the GG is a tad less than $300,000.

Let us not forget that, as a retiring former chief of the Defence Force, Peter Cosgrove is already in receipt of an unfunded Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits pension that the rest of us can only fantasise about. Benefits under the governors-general pension scheme are governed by the Governor-General Act 1974. Much has changed in the past 40 years, so perhaps it is time this arrangement is revisited.

When Quentin Bryce retires she will be the sixth former governor-general still soaking up the superannuation gravy trail. If the ''age of entitlement'' is over, this is surely an obvious starting point.

Stephen Barnett, O'Connor

Fair pay for fair play

The Coalition government is not alone in bargaining hard on public service conditions (''Pay deal threat to PS entitlements'', February 19, p1). The previous Labor government did too (and cut PS numbers). Even the ACT government is getting in on the act (at last) as it struggles financially.

The public interest represents the broader interests of taxpayers, consumers and the users of government-provided or funded services, i.e. about 22 million people.

I am happy to pay public servants well, for good-quality, good-value services to the public.

But public service personal pay pursuits are private interests, not to be confused with the public interest.

M. Gordon, Flynn

Heartfelt compassion

I have always liked bleeding hearts, Bob McDonald (Letters, February 21). They wonder at the courage of men and women to flee persecution, in a boat. They wonder why a government would spend billions of dollars to secure our borders from such people in boats.

They wonder why the government can find money to stop boats but cannot find money to try to secure jobs in industry, help single mothers, people on pensions and people with special needs. They wonder what was so bad about the carbon tax, and if the government really knows what it is doing about the environment.

Patricia Varga, Holt

Bizarre byzantine

The good thing about The Canberra Times is that just when life is starting to get dull, it publishes a letter or article containing a word that probably 0.001 per cent of the population has ever heard of, let alone used.

Bruce Haigh ( ''Morrison all at sea over asylum-seeker solution'', Times2, February 20, p4) has filled the ticket this time when he refers to the ''byzantine'' rules governing spying operations.

Morrison's rant ranged over riots on Manus Island; insulting General Angus Campbell; Edward Snowden's spying allegations; lies and deceptions about refugee boat turnarounds; US Vice-President John Kerry's discussions with Indonesia on climate change; apartheid and the white South African government, plus other minor matters.

He included many of his personal grievances without offering a shred of evidence for any of them but redeemed the whole by including the ''byzantine'' descriptor of government spying. I, for one, look forward to the more frequent adjectival use of that ancient Greek civilisation from contributors to Letters to the Editor.

Baden Williams, Lyneham

NBN debacle

There has been huge progress in computing and information technology in the past 30 years, and Australia should be well positioned to take advantage of the extraordinary potential that science and technology have to offer both us and the rest of the world.

The continual bickering, back-pedalling and cost-cutting measures that are evident as the national broadband network progresses are a poor reflection on the government, which is clearly focused on short-term profiteering rather than the country's long-term interests.

At a time when IT usage projections are at an all-time high for all sectors, including healthcare, education and industry, the government is being negligent by not investing fully in the NBN.

David Jenkins, O'Connor

Rewriting history

Marilyn Shepherd (Letters, February 18) can cite extreme left Israeli writers all she wants, but that does not alter the fact that Israel occupied the West Bank in a defensive war.

Egypt and Syria had announced they were about to destroy Israel. They had also committed acts of war by mobilising their armies and, in Egypt's case, blockading Israeli ports. The fact that Israel launched a pre-emptive strike in these circumstances does not make the war any less defensive.

In the case of Jordan, from whom Israel took the West Bank, it is even more clear-cut. Jordan attacked Israel first, after having been told by Israel it would not be attacked if it stayed out of the war, and then Israel responded. Israel's government may have been told by some in 1967 that to build settlements there would be illegal, but it was told by others that it would not be illegal. That is why this is disputed, not cut-and-dried, as Ms Shepherd would have us believe.

She should not rewrite history, especially if she accuses others of propaganda and lies when they are just setting the record straight.

Alan Shroot, Forrest

Who will you call? Maybe not the SES

After the Wednesday storm, it might be timely to remind/inform the general populace about guidelines for calling the SES. I am prompted to send this after reading about Sally Hopman's tree (''Storm is one big home-wrecker'', February 21, p2) while I await Treetops to come and remove two large trees that crashed down over our backyard with mercifully little structural damage during our own mini tornado in Barton on Wednesday.

For instance, I can understand if a public tree has fallen or you have roof damage to your property or power lines or all three, that you would call the SES. However, if it is your tree, on your property and it's not causing public or private danger, should the SES be involved?

I didn't think they were there to do for free what would otherwise cost thousands of dollars. In the instance of private trees, surely it is the householder's responsibility to pay someone to fix it?

(Our bill is over $3500 for the trees and it will be covered by insurance only because of damage to the pergola.)

Lesley Fisk, Barton

Please don't implode

I heard the announcement of approval to redevelop the public-housing precinct in the inner city last week as ominous storm clouds advanced on the city from the west. I sensed some carry-over excitement from our ''one very big year''. Complete clearing of the whole site was mentioned. The joyful wording sounded like that of excited young staffers who were probably in junior school when in 1997 we learnt a new word: ''implosion.''

A different time, a different government. Let's hope that word is not even suggested.

Noel Haberecht, Ainslie



It is absolutely galling to be lectured about the treatment of asylum seekers by Iran and China (''China's unexpected attack'', February 21, p9), two countries with an abysmal human rights record. Even opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek has said it is a ''bit rich'' for them to be criticising Australia. A cherry on top of this hypocrisy pudding would be North Korea officials criticising the Australian government over secrecy.

Gordon Williams, Watson


People who don't like Australia being a ''nanny country'', e.g., Rex Williams (Letters, February 21), might find countries like Russia, Azerbaijan or Kazakhstan more to their liking.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin


A new co-payment to visit the family doctor? Peter Dutton, I already make a substantial co-payment. My GP doesn't bulk bill and charged me $75 for my last visit. The Medicare rebate was just $36.30. That meant a substantial co-payment of $38.70. A further impost is not wanted.

Don Sephton, Greenway


Twenty-four years ago I stood in for five months as the director of ACT Adult Corrective Services. The ACT's inadequate provision for mentally ill offenders was a big issue then and I can recall discussions in virtually the same terms as in your story (''Magistrate criticises jailing of mentally ill man'', February 19, p1). Surely it is way past time that this issue was addressed properly?

David Stephens, Bruce


I hold a concession card, so from March 31, I can post letters for just 60¢. My partner must spend 70¢. Guess who's doing the postal runs in our house.

Until 2017, how will the post office determine whether a letter needs to be returned for additional postage? If postage stamps could talk, they could be interrogated about the qualifications of those affixing them to an envelope. This must be one of our government's goofiest ideas to date.

Judy Bamberger, O'Connor


It was only three-quarters of the way through Judy Diamond's diatribe (Letters, February 19) about the recent arrival in Canberra that has taken up residence here, throwing out the previous occupants and inflicting us with from 5am onwards with the most annoying noises in creation and on a par with the peacock, that I realised that she was talking about the koel and not Tony Abbott.

Dallas Stow, O'Connor

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