So the ACT government is going to remove all the established trees along Northbourne Avenue for a railway line and line the ''boulevard'' leading into the city with eight-storey, grey concrete blocks (''Trees to go in light rail plan,'' July 1, p1). These grey blocks will throw long, dark shadows across the road and prevent any sun shining into residents' units. The residents will no longer look out onto an avenue of trees but a railway line.

Is this really what Canberra residents want? Mr Rattenbury says Canberra residents will have a say in where the train stops are placed. Does the ACT government really think this is public consultation?

The three huge blocks of grey units at the corner of Mouat Street and Northbourne Avenue in Lyneham have created the initial ugly entrance into Canberra. More is to come.

Penelope Upward, O'Connor

It simply does not compute (''Trees to go in light rail plans'', July 1, p1). Assume a minimum investor (government or private) requirement of 8 per cent per annum profit on $630 million. i.e. $50.4 million per annum before paying for running costs.

Taking Capital Metro's figures of 13,000 boardings/day by 2021 and assuming six days/week for 52 weeks of the year (a massive overestimate) then each boarding (i.e. from Gunghalin to Civic or vice versa) will cost $12.42, or $24.84 return. Is Capital Metro serious - or is this yet another Green/Labor con job?

Baden Williams, Lyneham

Surely we've learnt

Simon Corbell's defence of the light rail project (Letters, June 30) displays a moral problem familiar throughout history.

He wants us to suffer harm now ($1 billion wasted, budget at risk, most voters ignored) for what his development ideology says will be the greater good, later, with better infrastructure.

In short: you can stand it, wait for the pie in the sky, by and by, when you die.

Isn't that exactly the pattern being followed by the federal government? It asks most Australians to put up with harm now (cuts, thousands out of work, too much meanness to list) for what its economic ideology says will be the greater good, years later, with a budget back in surplus.

This same reasoning has been used to try to justify wars and other horrors through the ages. Surely there must be a few politicians with better sensitivity to moral issues and history.

Brian Stone, Weetangera

Simon Corbell (Letters, June 30) would have been better off not trying to answer the wide-spread criticism of his proposed Gungahlin tram. First, he quotes a Centre for International Economics report on the ACT budget in support of the tramway; in fact, the centre's report said, ''The cost of the Capital Metro is subject to a high degree of uncertainty and is a source of risk for the fiscal position of the ACT.'' Second, Corbell says the project ''can play a significant role in supporting and driving [infill development]''.

But sensible town planning will cause that to happen anyway (as Corbell says, it's cheaper than greenfields development), and therefore can't be counted as a benefit to the community produced by the tramway. Nor can the tramway's estimated revenue. A significant proportion of that will come from passengers who would otherwise catch a bus - so that public transport revenue will increase only to the extent that the tramway attracts people who would otherwise drive cars or ride bicycles or walk.

There's no doubt this tramway is the silliest project the government has ever taken on.

R.S. Gilbert, Braddon

Animals crackers

In the book, The Gap, primarily about the difference between the minds of humans and animals, the experimental psychologist Thomas Suddendorf describes overwhelming evidence that most animals, unlike humans, lack memory of past events, ability to imagine future events and sense of self.

Humans, unlike animals, have developed many cultural institutions and beliefs giving meaning to life and death.

We should calibrate our behaviour towards animals according to their sentience. Overestimating it (such as holding them responsible for some action well after the event) can be as cruel as underestimating it (such as neglecting that they feel pain and hunger).

We have done as much as we need or should when we behave so as to cause animals as little stress as possible. But we anthropomorphise if we attribute to them fear of death, or grieving over the death of another.

When a kangaroo is culled, provided the event is instantaneous, it knows nothing. Nearby kangaroos see an animal falling over; they do not sacralise it.

I would hate to kill a kangaroo, but could do it for sufficient reason. The reason would be human of course; kangaroos do not do things for reasons.

John Cashman, Yarralumla

Bubbling over

It seems cruel in the extreme to punish Todd Carney's misdemeanour with a completely disproportionate penalty. What was it that he did that is so heinous as to take away from him his livelihood? Drinking his own urine while a mate(?) recorded the event for posterity rates on a par with Todd's love of tattoos: both activities to me are low and coarse but not illegal.

There are precedents one could look at. For instance, a former prime minister of India, Morarji Desai, used to drink his fresh urine every morning as thousands of Hindu holy men in India still do. There are many other examples of urine drinking that are as well documented. I believe a two-match suspension while the matter was considered by an appropriate disciplinary body was all that was required in the Carney case.

H.M. Kowalik, Deakin

Todd Carney says that he has been unable to speak to his mother since the ''bubbling'' incident became public. Pity that his continuing immaturity results in his ongoing poor decision making. Perhaps he will just end up being another 45-year-old juvenile delinquent, which, given his undoubted ability on the football field, will be a tragic waste of his undoubted enormous natural talent.

Ian De Landelles, Hawker

I admire Les Hegedus (Letters, July 2) for defending Todd Carney. But it wasn't drinking urine that ruined Carney's football career. From 18 to 28, drinking alcohol began each crazy escapade.

My grandfather died from alcoholism in an asylum in 1943. Alcoholics Anonymous didn't come to Australia until 1946. My grandfather had no hope. But Carney does.

Graham Macafee, Latham

Environment comes last as Liberals indulge class crusade

For years and years Australians have had to put up with the persistent whingeing of some Liberal Party members about what they perceive as class warfare whenever anyone who isn't to the right of Attila the Hun raises their voice in disagreement with their policies. Now it seems the Liberals have openly declared class warfare on most of us.

Not content with their budget debacle, their complete rejection of science, restoring tax rorts for the wealthiest among us, and their persecution of refugees, the Liberals now want to revoke charitable status for environmental organisations.

Here's an idea for you, Tony Abbott, how about you revoke the IPA's charitable status, too? And while you're at it, how about putting some teeth into laws that safeguard the environment and enforce them. If it wasn't for the glaring shortcomings of governments (of all persuasions) when it comes to protecting the environment, I wouldn't feel compelled to support environmental NGOs in the first place.

Brad Sherman, Duffy

A headline in The Guardian (Australian edition) of July 1 reads, ''Liberal push to strip environmental groups of charitable tax status. Federal Liberal council unanimously agrees to proposal from Tasmanian MP Andrew Nikolic that environmental groups should not receive tax-deductible donations.'' This is yet another example of extreme ideological Tea Party small-minded fanatical self-interest twaddle oozing into the political environment.

A better policy would be ''that all religious charities be treated as corporations under consumer and competition law and should not be eligible for deductible gift recipient status and that the tax revenue be used to compensate the victims of child sexual abuse committed by religious persons''. Revenue raised could also fund the royal commission into child sexual abuse.

It is totally unacceptable, perhaps a sin, that filthy rich religious organisations rolling in property, gold chalices and jewellery are not required to pay any taxation.

Chris Lathbury, Fadden

Wrong tack on Israel

Justin McCarthy (Letters, June 30) is right when he says the Australian government position on East Jerusalem is consistent with UN resolutions. He is, however, wrong about what this means. UN Resolution 242 does not require Israel to withdraw from the whole of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as it would have done if Israel's presence was illegal.

Instead, it calls for the boundaries to be negotiated, thereby acknowledging there are competing claims. It would also be farcical if, as McCarthy argues, Jews were not allowed to live in East Jerusalem because they were ethnically cleansed from there for the 19 years it was occupied by Jordan, even though there had been a significant Jewish community there for thousands of years before that.

Alan Shroot, Forrest

Right course for refugees

Sue Wareham wrings her hands (Letters, July 1) about our approach to asylum seekers, but once again offers no solution to preventing people dying at sea or those gaming the system. After years of chaos, the government is well on the way to stopping the boats, preventing deaths at sea, clearing the detention centres and returning to a generous and orderly immigration system that targets those most in need. It is not easy, but this is an area for strong leadership not feel-good platitudes. Can Wareham explain why this is not a sensible and humane policy?

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Dual approach to search

The federal government is tendering for a private organisation to search for the missing MH370 aircraft. It is rumoured that $80 million has already been spent on the search, so it is to be expected that a similar amount is to be allocated to the tender. I wonder if consideration has been given to running a geological survey of the ocean floor simultaneously with the search. The Australian taxpayer and the resource sector may then get some return on what could be a fruitless search.

Norm Johnston, Monash

FODI should come clean

In his letter (June 30) alluding to cancellation of a session of the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Bob Gardiner stated: ''At a time when George Brandis says people have a right to be bigots, do I detect a whiff of the notion that it's OK as long as those bigots are one of us?'' Is Gardiner aware that the organisers of FODI made the decision to cancel the session? It might help to clear the air if the FODI organisers published a comprehensive and detailed statement of reasons for their decision to cancel the session (as opposed to intermittent tweets on the matter).

D. McNeill, Rivett

Vote whisperer needed

Clive Palmer is not the first businessman to try to change Australian politics. In the late 1960s, Gordon Barton set up the Australia Party which grew out of the Liberal Reform Group, a splinter group of Liberals disenchanted with the Liberal Party's support for the Vietnam War.

Critics suggested Barton was trying to upset the two airline policy because he owned Interstate Parcel Express Company (IPEC). Those closer to him saw that he genuinely wanted to upset the two party system with strong policies on the environment, education, women's rights and opposition to the Vietnam War.

The party contested state and federal elections, with its best results in 1972 when it contested 60 seats, but failing to win any. In the ACT, journalist Alan Fitzgerald, as the Australia Party candidate in the May 1970 byelection, ran for the House of Representatives seat of Canberra. He won the highest vote of any Australia Party candidate in any election, but was eliminated from the vote count in a final distribution of preference votes. Yet another third-party candidate to fall short in the ACT.

Perhaps Barton needed a showman with unlimited cash for the House of Reps and a ''vote whisperer'' guiding Senate candidates.

Hugh Watson, Hall

Car-parking scarcity a threat to tourism

Babysitting our interstate-based granddaughter this morning we decided to visit Questacon only to find there was no parking to be had within reasonable walking distance for a five-year-old. A bit sad for us locals who probably should have known better than to raise expectations and to try for a park. What was really sad was the number of interstate tourists who could not find parking, or who were parking illegally.

What the lack of parking (whether free or paid) must do for Canberra's reputation as a tourist destination can only be imagined.

Don Gruber, Evatt

A visit to Questacon by a Sydney family on Tuesday required them to park illegally after trying for half an hour to find a car park. Yes, they could have caught several buses but on a 7 degree day and five small children it's not likely! So I guess they won't make good Human Postcards for Canberra. Perhaps we should fix up some basics before spending more money on tourist advertising.

Stewart Homan, Greenway

Disingenuous claim

My clear impression was that David Smith (Letters, July 2) was indeed making a value judgment in comparing Labor's 170 (sic) Senate actions prior to 1975 with the Fraser government's decision to block supply in that year.

To assert that he was not taking sides but merely providing information appeared to me somewhat disingenuous since what Labor did in previous years were hardly equal individually or collectively or even relevant to the 1975 crisis. But since I cannot know exactly what is in Smith's mind I made no direct accusation regarding his motives.

I merely posed a question; perhaps he thought it was merely rhetorical. Nevertheless, here's another question to consider: is Sir David protesting a bit too much?

Eric Hunter, Cook



Peter Greste has committed no crime apart from being a nuisance to the Egyptian government and he is locked up for seven years. Asylum seekers in Australia have committed no crime apart from being a nuisance to the Australian government and they are locked up indefinitely. Tony Abbott's criticism of the Egyptian government for abuses of human rights seems to reek of hypocrisy.

Charles Body, Kaleen


I know we all underestimate how good we have it here in Canberra, but Kirsten Lawson's article (''Meet Mick Gentleman, our newest minister'', June 30, p6) has confirmed it.

Apparently the working class now consists of one person living in Calwell with two cockatiels and a garage of vintage vehicles. It's very good of Mr Gentleman to have a concern for that person, however it sounds like he or she isn't doing too badly.

Fred Barnes, Bruce


I'd be interested to hear a justifiable explanation why gas producers through ActewAGL will increase the ACT household gas price by 14.5 per cent from 1 July 2014. Australia is a major gas producer. Surely its citizens should benefit from an advantageous price especially with wages and inflation rising only slowly and interest rates also low.

Clive Dyer, Wanniassa

ActewAGL's explanation for putting up my gas bill by a whopping 14.5 per cent is, and I quote, ''due to the increasing influence of international markets on Australia's gas prices''. I went to the Australian Energy Regulator website for further information. Very informative but not a hint of the role of Australia's international gas markets!

How they can possibly justify this when most working-class Australians are financially struggling?

Ian Jannaway, Monash


According to Nick Kyrgios' reasoning, Roger Federer and Simon Corbell have won seven Wimbledon titles between them.

John Milne, Chapman


An insurance company that I deal with includes in its advertising material the statement ''And remember, with [company name], you'll always speak to a real person, not a machine, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week''.

The other day I tried this and true to their word I spoke to a real person - who then connected me to the appropriate machine to tell me which button to press etc.

Roger Quarterman, Campbell

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