I realise that supporters of the National Broadband Network, in particular Labor's model, are enthusiastic about it. But W.A. Brown (Letters, September 23) dismisses too quickly the other infrastructure concerns of the people who voted for Cathy McGowan. I heard numerous interviews with Ms McGowan and her supporters on radio in the past few weeks.
They rarely if ever mentioned the NBN without also mentioning trains to and from Melbourne, even the young tech-savvy people who formed a core part of her campaign team. As one who lives in a small rural town, I can assure W.A. Brown that the NBN is no panacea. We don't want to be stuck in idyllic geographical islands, only seeing the outside world through television and computer screens.
We still need transport infrastructure, and it can be argued the NBN funds would have been better spent on roads, rail, fast rail or even very fast rail. It is arguable because there has been little cost-benefit analysis of the NBN, in comparison to the very fast train which seems to have been cost-benefit-analysed to death. Sure, fibre to the node is a crock - you should see the Telstra connection to my house, bare wires covered by what appears to be an upended plastic bucket secured to a power pole with electrical tape. But the NBN as a whole represents a huge opportunity cost to the country, and I remain unconvinced that it is the best way to spend such enormous sums.
Peter Marshall, Captains Flat, NSW
Planning going amok
Simon Corbell is pondering whether to approve DV308, a Variation of the Territory Plan to permit high-rise apartments on the site of the ABC flats (''Contentious ABC flats plan divides Assembly'', September 7, p9). It might help if he considers what ''planning'' means.
Does planning mean: ''How to make money from real estate?'' In the early stages of a city's development, deriving government revenue from land sales may be in the public interest. In later stages, when redevelopment of assets becomes more important, this may not be appropriate.
To Ebenezer Howard, planning certainly meant more than financial return. Howard's innovative concept, the Garden City, offered a vision for urban communities that went far beyond the overcrowded, multi-storey tenements of late 19th century industrial cities. Howard's designs inspired the Griffins and subsequent Canberra planners.
Planning today needs to reassert the public interest against powerful commercial interests. The developers' strategy is to debase surrounding areas. The QIC overdeveloped the Canberra Centre, so Garema Place, City Walk and the Sydney and Melbourne Buildings are now ripe for redevelopment (''You can't beat a renewed heart'', September 14, Forum p3).
Planning in the ACT should not be prostituted to the city's need to raise revenue. In the case of the ABC flats, DV308 envisages cramming as many residential units as possible into the existing footprint and auctioning the sites to the highest bidder. The adjacent, carefully designed residential areas of Argyle Square and Reid's heritage Garden Suburb would be devalued, both in terms of amenity and property values. Will Minister Corbell let this happen?
Elizabeth K. Teather and David Teather, Reid
Love and marriage
Jon Kehrer, (Letters, September 23) claims that ''Marriage is not primarily an expression of love but the mechanism by which all human societies have attempted to provide a stable nurturing environment for the production, support and raising of children''. Yep, that seems more or less on the mark, but great if you can throw in a bit of love as well, not forgetting that some couples want a legal partnership without the kids.
Same-sex couples have been doing just this for years, nurturing children in a stable environment, supporting each other in a loving relationship and like all couples facing difficulties with mixed success. And surprisingly enough, the whole fabric of society has not broken down. If same sex-marriage is introduced with the Marriage Equality Act all that will change is that these relationships will now be recognised for what they are, marriages in all but name.
At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious not everyone believes in God! And even fewer in a God judgmental and narrow in focus. The God I was taught about in school was not like that. The God believers amongst us can continue to think of marriage as only suitable for those of different sexes if they must. But let the rest of us just get on with our lives which includes extending the same rights to all.
Judy Aulich, Giralang
Whilst I respect Jon Kehrer's right to express his view on marriage equality legislation, I must point out that his is but one Christian view and not representative of all Christians. There are people of good faith and conscience on all sides of this issue, and regardless of where one stands, I for one, cannot remain silent in the face of vilification of gay couples, e.g. ''While they can support children, their own self-indulgent, self-serving behaviours corrupt themselves and the easily influenced, making them unsuited to the raising of children.''
Jesus condemned the vilification of people, especially the tearing down of those who are considered, at least by some, to be on the margins of mainstream society. There are many Christian voices, and otherwise, in this debate and I continue to hope and pray that our respect for one another as human beings and Jesus' commandment to love one another will enable us to shape a just, accepting and life-giving community for all.
Bronwyn Suptut, Lyons
It's religious bigotry
Rita Joseph (Letters, September 24) reproduces the thrust of her anti-gay marriage letter of May 17, 2013. Yet again, she wields a faux secular sword; brandishing ''human rights'' legalese as an Orwellian proof that gays should be denied human rights! This bizarre conceit may bamboozle some readers but it won't alter a fundamental truth: anti-gay sentiment springs from religious bigotry.
Peter Robinson, Ainslie
Not letting momentum slip is a new spin on gung-ho spirit
I see that the new Defence Minister, David Johnston, believes that the Australian Defence Force should be kept ''battle-ready'' because, following its involvement in recent conflicts, it ''had a strong fighting momentum that should not be lost'' (''Return to Afghanistan a possibility, says minister'', September 21, p7).
Presumably fighting momentum reaches an optimal level by the ADF actually fighting in new wars. One war could lead smoothly to another ad infinitum with the ADF hardly breaking stride. This would certainly, in the minister's words, ''maintain some interest for the troops''.
Naively, I had always thought the main reason we sent troops overseas was to curry favour with the United States, perhaps glossed up with some rhetoric about ''promoting democracy'' or ''preserving our freedom''. This minister is showing a welcome practical streak.
David Stephens, Bruce
Rectitude rules once again
Having managed to get us all focused on our own navels for four years, now Tony Abbott wants us to lift our eyes to the far horizons. I hear that the candidates for the Labor leadership are tired old representatives of a government that was roundly defeated, and should respect their rejection by the nation by making way for new blood. Our new executive, in stark contrast, is very experienced. The Howard characteristics we so often endorsed at the ballot box are back, the same old faces, the same old MO, pretty much the same policies and the same noisy and obdurate assurance of their own rectitude.
S.W. Davey, Torren
Kenya needs our help
It is to be hoped that the Australian government will offer help to predominantly Christian Kenya and not leave it in the lurch as it deals with extremist Muslim terrorists. From this distance Australia can offer only limited practical assistance but it can and must give moral support both directly with our traditional allies and in international organisations.
That should include a clear indication that, while we accept immigrants from various sources, we will act to tighten security checks, particularly on those coming from countries with predominantly Muslim populations. It should also be made clear that, as a democracy, Australia does not accept that religious views can ever override those decided by our elected representatives.
Des Moore, South Yarra, Vic
If it ain't broke
I was reassured to read the considered comments of the AEC in ''Electoral chief wary of shift to online vote'' (September 21, p7).
Putting the complexity of Senate ballots aside, we must be wary of the belief that progress always involves ''upgrading'' existing systems with new technology. The current paper system is sound and there is high public confidence in it. If this was America, misplaced ballots in Indi might now be the subject of a lengthy legal challenge.
Electronic voting is nowhere as resilient as our current system. The paper system allows polling booths to be set up almost anywhere, and does not require reliable electricity or other infrastructure. An election could still be held in the days or weeks after a major disaster. Voters have confidence in how their vote has been recorded, unlike experience with some proprietary electronic voting machines in the US. The count can be transparently overseen by scrutineers. All of this increases confidence in our elections.
Counting has been slow in some electorates and for the Senate. However, the principal result was known by 9pm on election day. The claim that we need to speed up counting, particularly for the House of Representatives, is spurious. As the new Senate does not sit until July, those results are not urgent.
Paper voting is simple and resilient. I consider fair elections to be one of our most precious assets and we should not be in a rush to make them more ''convenient''.
Ben Elliston, Hawker
Sorry, not an apologist
Allan Jackson (Letters, September 20) condemns me as a ''Liberal apologist'' for not speaking out against what Allan calls ''Tony Abbott's inhumane refugee policies''. I have thought much about this issue but I do not speak out because I do not have a simple answer. It is our duty to welcome genuine refugees seeking to escape persecution, but not those who simply seek to avail themselves of Australia's higher living standards. Where do we draw the line? If millions try to come to our land do we have the resources to settle them all? The Good Samaritan not only had good intentions; he had money as well. We already have a very generous legal program for settling refugees. Do the nations to our north also have a generous refugee resettlement policy?
Robert Willson, Deakin
Equity before higher GST
So Tim Colebatch would have us believe that increasing the GST is ''best practice'' tax reform and the only way to fund future essential services (''Either we pay the tax or we lose the service'', canberratimes .com.au, September 24).
I would be less sceptical about Tim's thesis on ''best practice'' if it was really going to produce a more equitable outcome for ordinary taxpayers and a fairer tax system for all Australians. For example, why not start by doing away with some of the existing welfare rorts like negative gearing, excessive superannuation tax breaks, the ''baby bonus'' and family trust benefits? Or maybe if we found a way to get the 70 Australians who enjoy tax-free incomes in excess of $1 million annually to contribute their fair share, we would have less of a problem. And perhaps if the 40 per cent of big businesses in this country which pay no income tax at all were required to pay their way, we wouldn't need a regressive tax like the GST in the first place.
John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW
St Patrick's deserves to be on heritage list
If St Patrick's can't make it to the heritage list (''Tribunal crosses St Patrick's off heritage list'', September 21, p1), there must be something wrong with the criteria.
I'm no Catholic but I am Canberra-born and many of my friends attended St Pat's school. They would be aghast to know that their old school can't make the list. After all, it opened in 1935. That's only 22 years after Canberra was founded and only eight years after the original Parliament opened! There were only about 8000 people living in Canberra back then and I'm sure St Pat's was only one of two Catholic schools in Canberra - certainly the only one on the north side.
If we can't preserve buildings like this, what can be saved? I can't help being suspicious that if St Pat's was elsewhere, that is not on a prime site for redevelopment, there would be no problems getting the heritage listing. We all remember the fate of the Capitol Theatre in Manuka, don't we? What a tragedy that was!
Peter Edwards, Surf Beach, NSW
Notable barrister Stuart Littlemore was reported in The Sydney Morning Herald (''Innocence and guilt in the hands of the brief'', March 16, 2007, p15) as proudly boasting that it was a badge of honour in legal circles to secure the acquittal of a guilty person. Now, The Canberra Times readers are informed by Kathryn-Magnolia Feeley, a human rights lawyer, that miscreants who have no regard for the rights of innocents can employ technology to screw our justice system and turn legislation on its head (''Just the app for when you get court'', September 23, p3).
Society is not served by these kinds of lawyers. All they do is undermine the credibility of hard-working, not especially well-remunerated suburban solicitors and the admittedly good spread who do pro bono work in and around the courts and in the community. Hugh Stretton, SC, cannot stand by and allow Feeley a free hand, and he should distance himself from the Littlemores of this world.
Patrick Jones, Griffith
TO THE POINT
CAN'T KEEP KELLY OUT
What a crap political system we have. The voters throw out Mike Kelly, and now he wants to bludge his way into a Senate seat without a vote being cast. This sucks.
David Robertson, Red Hill
COMPETITION MUST FLY
Wow! Canberra airport has been named capital city airport of the year. Now, if we can only convince Jetstar and/or Tigerair to come here then we might have some price competition worthy of the national capital and that title.
George Tafe, Kambah
ROYAL PAIN IN BUDGET
Stop the waste: let there be no more public funding of royal visits.
Dan Buchler, Waramanga
DRAWING ON FRESH BIAS
After years of relentless attacks on the opposition, I was starting to think your cartoonist David Pope was irredeemably biased. I note that he is now showing some clear balance. By relentlessly attacking the government.
Peter Mackay, Reid
CHEAP MID-AIR THRILLS
It was perhaps an unfortunate coincidence in view of the recent near miss (''Qantas collision averted in SA'', September 21, p6) that Qantas with its latest fares offer, was advertising for a mere $1499, a new Qantas flight simulator experience that reads, ''Get ready for the thrill of a lifetime as you take control of a multimillion dollar full-motion flight simulator with this amazing experience''. Probably cheaper to just go economy.
Ann Darbyshire, Gunning, NSW
A SACRED SILENCE
The Abbott government is already showing a distinctly Catholic propensity. For instance, Scott Morrison has taken a vow of silence over asylum seeker boat arrivals.
Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld
BRINGING LATIN TO LIFE
I blame myself for Robert Willson's criticism (Letters, September 21), having quite forgotten Latin is a dead language. Non cogito ergo summary execution, eh? I must also acknowledge he has improved on my eco-gallows humour. Those Roman emperors could apparently censor any mention of the many pesky sciences ending in -logy just by claiming the language of science was all Greek to them. Hmm, democratic as our system is, it seems our new leader can still pull useful ideas from imperial antiquity.
Doug Thompson, Campbell
SEND PALMER TO PACIFIC
The Abbott government should send the boatpeople back to Indonesia and Clive Palmer to Nauru.
Fabio Scalia, Windsor, Vic
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