Parks and desperation

WHILE aspects of the article ''A cheapskate's guide to parking'' (April 13, p7) are reasonable - using an app to find relatively cheap parking, car pooling, buses and cycling - some suggestions are irresponsible and serve only to encourage some to save money at the expense of others.

The article suggests drivers use free parking around areas of Kingston. The inevitable result of this would be that local residents and those who currently work in Kingston would be disadvantaged and inconvenienced. The area has quite a large population of elderly people, including in the social housing apartments near Kingston Oval. The area near Kingston Oval is also close to St Edmund's and St Clare's colleges and encouraging Parliamentary Triangle workers to park in this area would lead to increased traffic in these school zones. Kingston Oval is also regularly used on workdays and early evenings for sports competition and training.

The article also states that the Hyatt Hotel offers 200 free parking spots. I assume the authors consulted the Hyatt management. To offer free parking places on business premises without the consent of the business would be highly irresponsible.

While workers are entitled to find reasonable and appropriate ways to reduce their daily expenses, doing so at the expense of the elderly, school students, local business and others hardly seems to meet those criteria.

M. Willis, Kambah

Ban up in smoke

IT WAS with great bemusement - and little hope - that I read the Canberra Hospital's announcement it was going smoke-free (Canberra Times, April 6, p3). For years, I've wandered through fields of cigarette butts and navigated curtains of smoke entering and leaving the place.


I've written dozens of letters and filed numerous complaints about the lack of enforcement - including smokers standing underneath No Smoking signs puffing away. I've asked smokers nicely to stop … only to receive verbal abuse. I've begged security to do something … they've shrugged and said they weren't authorised to do anything.

With such permissiveness and impotence, the hospital and the ACT Government have nurtured a culture of smoking ''on campus'' that will be extremely hard - or impossible! - to change. (''Smokers defy ban at hospital,'' April 13) As long as hospital security guards can ''not issue fines or penalties for smoking violations'', smoking will continue unabated, as it has to date. And we patients and visitors will continue to run the gauntlet of smokers as we enter and leave.

Judy Bamberger, O'Connor

Dodgy business

THE KICKER above John Collett's article was, ''The problem with dodgy financial planners is that they keep coming back because no one is tracking them'', (''Chuck out the bad apples'', April 13, p19).

It is a classic piece of misdirection by an undisclosed lobbyist for an industry that supports 54,000 people, according to ASIC's submission to the senate financial system inquiry.

It bestows a degree of credibility on a dodgy industry of commission salespersons. At the risk of tarring a few well-intentioned individuals with the industry's brush, financial planners are purveyors of snake oil.

Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor

Learn from Canada

MY MOTHER was not an economist or politician but she was an astute observer of the health and wellbeing of Canada and the Canadian community over 80 years. She would be in complete agreement with Paul Malone's assessment of the value of the free trade agreements the PM is hurrying to close (''Trade deals are Mickey Mouse'', April 13, p17). But she would bemoan the fact that Malone hadn't gone far enough with his warning to Australians of the folly of Abbott's rush to sign ''anything'' in the interests of self-aggrandisement. In brief, Mum summarised the North American Free Trade Agreement as being responsible for the decline of much of Canadian industry and the nemesis of many Canadian workers. The jobs promised and fortunes foreshadowed by the Canadian government of the day never eventuated. The only true beneficiaries she could identify were corporations, mainly American, and the biggest losers were the Canadian and Mexican workers and companies. But Malone is right. We will see no hesitation by this government in their pursuit of ''free'' trade with selected partners in spite of contrary evidence in examples around the world. The contents of Abbott's new agreements will be kept secret until it is too late and the taxpayers will pay the price for accepting the government's word that whatever they do is good for the country and the workforce. They did that in Canada, too.

W. Book, Hackett

Shaken and stirred

OUR Prime Minister has, unfortunately, developed a habit of grabbing the elbows of VIPs he is shaking hands with, presumably on the basis that someone has told him that such an action is a positive thing, from a body language point of view.

To any world leaders who read the Letters page of The Canberra Times, I would like to apologise for our Prime Minister ambushing your elbows in what I regard as an irritating, arrogant and condescending gesture, presumably intended only to boost his own stature. Clearly, he doesn't realise that grabbing someone else's elbow when shaking hands doesn't automatically enhance one's status as a statesman.

Gordon Fyfe, Kambah

Screen savers

THE National Film and Sound Archive plans to cut out its regular film screening program at its ARC cinema. The archive's CEO Michael Loebenstein says it is hard to justify spending taxpayer funds on importing international films to screen to the public (''NFSA sheds 28 staff, cuts Canberra film screenings'', April 11).

The idea that the nation's principal film archive must abandon regular film screenings in its own cinema for want of films is absurd. Perhaps the archive should look a little closer to home - indeed, it needs only to examine its own vaults. International programs are one thing, but the NFSA is the nations's repository of Australian films: its declared mission is ''collecting, preserving and sharing our rich audiovisual heritage''. It holds thousands of titles in its collection, of which surely enough have good screening copies to provide a regular and relevant Australian program. Indeed, the collection even includes a range of international classics.

The archive is right in its plans to embrace digital and online delivery of its collection, but even if the luxury of screening imported material is no longer affordable, it is entirely wrong to abandon screening Australian films in the format and environment they have always been, and continue to be produced for: a large-screen cinema.

Dominic Case, East Balmain, NSW

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