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Proposal spells doom

The proposed redevelopment of West Basin will have one disastrous implication that for me makes the proposal totally unacceptable: it will destroy Canberra's greatest community event; Floriade. This is because the redevelopment means that car access to Floriade will be impossible as there will be no public parking in West Basin. Once people become aware of this, I feel sure that all Canberrans will join me in drawing a firm line in the sand.

The Land Development Agency tells us that there are "alternative plans" to keep Floriade alive. Such as relocating the event to Haig Park. Floriade in Haig Park? Don't make me laugh! The whole attraction of Floriade is its unique location.

For the period it operates during Spring, the festival transforms Canberra, making it into one of the botanical wonders of the world. Rivalling – perhaps excelling – the famous Jardin Anglais on Lake Geneva, which attracts tourists from all over the world. To move the festival anywhere else would destroy its unique ambience.

There have been previous efforts by money hungry bureaucrats to destroy Floriade. Back in the 1990s, the ACT government imposed a fee for anyone visiting the festival. The catastrophic fall in visitor numbers, and very vigorous community opposition, had the initiative reversed.

If the destruction of Floriade is allowed to go ahead – in a bureaucratic campaign of a thousand subtle cuts – I, for one, will stand at the barricades!

Derek Emerson-Elliott, Theodore

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New development permitted in the City to the Lake Plan is grossly excessive, ruining the open-space, campus-like character of the area, and many important vistas. It diminishes Parliament House, focal point of the capital, and arguably the nation.

This stems from the National Capital Authority's sad and loose "Griffin Legacy Plan", driven by a 2003 "Canberra Central Task Force" set up by out-of-town political heavies and development lobbyists demanding that the ACT derive more revenue from inner city land sales after "up-zoning". (The task force was responsible for ditching time-honoured and appropriate "Civic", replacing it with cringing "City", with no public consultation.) The Joint Parliamentary Standing Committee on the National Capital largely rejected the Griffin Legacy Amendments to the National Capital Plan, but they were "whipped" through Parliament late at night.

With work about to commence on public works along the West Basin shore, it's time to put the City to the Lake Plan right. The general height and density of proposed development at City Hill, and on the land extending from there down to the lake, especially along Commonwealth Avenue, have to be dramatically reduced.

Now that land uses there are gelling, City Hill needs a new inspired and binding master plan/design, that can respect heritage, and brilliantly realise through great individual works of architecture, landscaping, and art, the territory's main civic, cultural, judicial, legislative, exhibition/conferencing, public gathering, administrative, recreational, and related functions.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah

Let's set some rules

From the many comments from around the land concerning "rules of the road and cycling" ("Why bike riders sometimes eschew their lanes", canberratimes.com.au, October 1) it may be wise to establish a common set of rules for motorist and cyclist to follow. City planners will then have common planning guidelines to follow.

It may be worth considering having a training program established in schools to prepare cyclists for riding on the road. Just as a motorcyclist must take a training program to receive an endorsement, perhaps a cyclist should demonstrate they understand their responsibilities and dangers of riding on a shared road way. As a cyclist and a driver we will have shared expectations of one another in our shared space.

Bill Gillespie, Wamboin, NSW

Light rail not wanted

While I agree with Shane Rattenbury ("Canberra needs a road diet to get in better shape", September 29, Times2, p5) that "sensible and balanced" planning demands "some level of resistance to the constant pressure to build bigger and bigger roads", I absolutely disagree that investing in light rail from Gungahlin to Civic is a "smart solution" to the predicted congestion on Northbourne Avenue. Nor do I agree that light rail is "a long term and sustainable transport solution".

We will not be told that we have to have light rail (at an enormous cost if there were to be a city-wide network) when the alternatives have not been properly evaluated and the comparisons communicated.

Come on Mr Rattenbury, where is your justification for investing in light rail? A "myriad other benefits" won't do. We all know that $1billion would go a long way towards constructing a city-wide bus-way network, including a bus-way along the Cotter Road.

A. Smith, Farrer

Caution urged

Various correspondents (Letters, September 29) responded unfavorably to Richard Denniss's article "It's no contest in the debate over light rail" (Forum, September 26, p6). Yet a November 24, 2014, piece on the ABC news website entitled "Canberra light rail: experts urge caution etc" reported that Australia Institute economist Matt Grudnoff said the risk for Canberra's Capital Metro project was that if forecast passenger numbers did not materialise, the project's private partners could collapse, just as they did in Sydney and Brisbane.

Instead of shielding taxpayers from risk, a public-private partnership (PPP) deal could leave them more exposed to a government bail-out. "We should be worried," Mr Grudnoff said.

Was the ABC report correct, or is it "no contest" within the Australia Institute as well?

Murray May, Cook

Ask for a discount

I recently had a service technician come to our house to fix our wall oven. As I was about to pay the $120 bill, I half jokingly asked if there was a seniors' discount ?

"Yes", he replied, 10per cent ($12 in my pocket). So I did the same at the butcher's shop and the answer was "Yes". If you spend $20 or more, a 10per cent seniors' discount applies. My wife had a $4 coffee after a group walk and got a seniors' discount.

You have worked hard to be a senior, so if it's the butcher, baker or candlestick maker, ask the question: "Do you have a seniors' discount?" You're rarely told that there is one.

Des Bird, Farrer

 

Parochial drivel and a woman in a bubble

I was forced to buy a copy of The Canberra Times on Wednesday on a six-hour return trip via Wagga for a medical appointment. It was late in the afternoon and the real ones were all gone. I knew from previous experience what I was getting into but I have to say your bias is probably only bettered by the staff at "our" ABC.

I'm wondering if Latika Bourke ("Grit your teeth and back Turnbull: Abbott's message", September 30, p4) would've reminded us all that Tony Abbott was interviewed by a "conservative and sympathetic host" if the "progressive" Phillip Adams from ABC Radio National had been the interviewer?

Your editorial ("Gosford's gift a blow for Canberra", Times2, p2) was most amusing, I haven't read such parochial drivel in a long time, although the article "Stressed PS bosses may be cause of staff woes" (September 30, p6) might be up there somewhere. Those EL1s having to manage no team members must be under huge pressure! This brings me nicely to Jessica Irvine ("Motherhood and equality", Times2, p1).

Does this woman live in a bubble? I'm saving this article to pass to all the women around this district who have raised children on their own and helped run farms or businesses with no subsidised childcare or paid parental leave. Her suggestion that PPL be paid "at a replacement wage" and that business be "forced" to stump up the cost only proves my point about Jessica residing in a bubble.

Lastly, I really loved the letters page! I'm going to cut out the one from A. Moore on Malcolm Turnbull's "chocolate coating" of Coalition policies. The only letter of any real issue was boxed like a rabbit caught in a spotlight. It must have snuck through by mistake, surely. I'll bet readers find out where Ric Hingee lives and blockade his street.

Anyway, what an experience. I'm going back to the "Tele"!

Mark Dwyer, Rankins Springs, NSW

 

Turnbull too late to get a crack at the lifetime pension gravy train

One interesting fact about the revolving prime ministerial door which seems to have been overlooked is that Malcolm Turnbull will be our first PM to not get a lifetime pension from the Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Scheme when he retires.

The scheme was closed to new members in 2004 and Malcolm arrivedone term too late for that gravy train. Given reports that his Point Piper residence is valued at $50million plus, I don't think that Malcolm will be too worried.

Such a shame that the one remaining Commonwealth gravy train, the Governors-General Pension Fund, still remains open to new members. At the moment we have six former governors-general picking up annual pensions of 60per cent of the salary of the Chief Justice of the High Court (so a pension of about $300,000 per annum).

These unfunded, fully defined schemes are dinosaurs. It is hard to understand why it was logical to close the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme in 1990, the Public Sector Superannuation Scheme in 2005 and the Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Scheme in 2004, while the Governors-General Pension Fund remains open to provide this extraordinary level of taxpayer-funded benefit.

Stephen Barnett, O'Connor

Austerity for all

Unfortunately, Bill Dean (Letters, September 29) just doesn't get it! Firstly, my letter (September 21) was to say that whilst Malcolm Turnbull is a far more politically attractive PM than his predecessor (and that I hoped he will introduce a range of progressive social policies), chances are there will be more austere economic policies.

My concern is that those policies will further punish poor people for being poor. The austerity will not be directed at high income earners who have access to tax minimisation or to multinational companies who are not paying any tax in this country.

I too think that some "austerity would do us the world of good", provided we are talking about everyone suffering austerity and not just imposing more hardship on the most vulnerable in our community.

Jane Timbrell, Reid

Humane response

Ric Hingee (Letters, September 30) is critical of Germany's welcoming of refugees. Admittedly, taking in perhaps as many as 800,000 refugees is a massive undertaking. It makes our 13,000, but soon to be increased intake of 20,000, look pretty weak. I think we're better than that.

He foresees many problems with taking in huge numbers of "unregulated arrivals from basically one race and one religion".

In Australia, we've done it before with huge numbers of Europeans after World War II and, more recently Vietnamese and Kosovars. Furthermore, Germany is not luring refugees away as Mr Hingee infers. It is simply responding in a humane way to the massive push factors driving people away from their homes – war, tyranny, famine, drought and persecution.

Mike Varga, Holt

Major obstacle

Congratulations to Peter Graves (Letters, September 28) for injecting some uncommon sense into the vaccines debate. Around the world each year, vaccines save about 3million lives, but about 1.5million children under five in the poorest and most remote communities still die from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Australia is a valuable supporter of Gavi the Vaccine Alliance and will help to save the lives of 5million children and immunise a further 300million children over the next five years on top of the 500million immunised so far.

However, keeping vaccines at between 2-8 degrees Celsius from the factory to the most remote village is a major obstacle to getting kids immunised. Gavi is now focusing on improving the temperature-controlled vaccine supply chain to get more vaccines to more kids. I call on Ms Bishop and the Turnbull government to invest in bilateral programs to improve the temperature-controlled vaccine supply chain, thus ensuring that kids in the poorest and most remote areas across our region are vaccinated.

David Bailey, Deakin West

Shameful trade-offs

Is there nobody in the government who knows the difference between a corporation and a nation? As Dr Patricia Ranald ("Australia must say no to shameful TPP trade-offs", Times2, September 30, p5) sums up: "why [would] our government would secretly trade off democratic rights to decide national laws on medicines, public health and copyright, and agree to have such laws challenged by global corporations. These are issues which should be determined through open democratic parliamentary processes, not traded away behind closed doors."

Kenneth Griffiths, O'Connor

Profit before people

John Nikolic's self-serving article linking the CFMEU to increased workplace accidents ("The safety myth that is propagated by the CFMEU", Times2, October 1, p5) is wrong. Nikiloc relies on a Master Builders Association survey of its own members and "anecdotal evidence". These are hardly independent or unbiased.

Independent analysis in other countries shows that unionised worksites have fewer deaths and serious injuries than non-union sites. In Australia workplace deaths on building sites increased after the introduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission. The reason is pretty simple. The ABCC hamstrung the CFMEU in its ability to campaign for and police in any effective way safety on site.

The real agenda of the MBA becomes clear in light of the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions to drop blackmail charges against CFMEU organiser John Lomax ("Lomax blackmail charge dropped", October 2, p1). Those political charges arose as a consequence of the thoroughly discredited royal commission witch hunt in trade unions.

The Nikolic safety smear campaign and the clearly anti-union and political nature of the charges against Lomax show that the building industry bosses and their state apparatchiks will stop at nothing in their quest to put profit before people.

John Passant, Kambah

 

TO THE POINT

GROTESQUE POLICY

At this point, US, Russian, British, French and Australian foreign policy towards Syria has become too grotesque to even contemplate.

Of course, there will be hundreds of thousands of dead bodies and hundreds of thousands of people walking around with missing limbs orpsychological trauma.

Victor Diskordia, McKellar

UNFAIR CRITICISM

It seems a bit unfair to be criticising Russian President Vladimir Putin for concentrating his Syrian operations on non-IS Syrian rebels. We, the US and the Iraqis are taking on IS, Turkey is dealing with the Kurds, andthe Saudis are containing the Yemeni threat. So who else is left forthe Russians?

S.W. Davey, Torrens

SHOULD GO QUIETLY

After the 2013 election, Tony Abbott broke several election promises. Hispromise to the current Prime Minister to bow out is not borne out by his current interviews. Tony, please shut up.

Vic Robertson, Page

MASTER OF WAFFLE

Hail, Australia's newest Prime Minister, Lord Ruddbull, of Waffle.

Bob Edwards, Kambah

SEAL BEATS SUB ADS

Canberra's No Airport Arms Ads campaign ("Shooing away the submarines", Gang-gang, October 1, p8) reminds me that Hobart Airport has a large seal that travels on the carousel with the baggage, and lots of advertising for Tasmania's natural, built and crafted wonders.

Peter Tait, O'Connor

I don't think the average traveller is in the market for war machinery, and anyone who was would hardly be collecting their own bags. I can't imagine the minion who does such tasks saying to the boss, "I saw this great ad for a submarine. We should get some".

Lis Hoorweg, Campbell

CHARGE THE MARTIANS

So Mars has water, some of it hidden. For goodness sake, don't tell Icon. Who will pay the excess rates?

Linus Cole, Palmerston

BIG PLAYERS HURTING

Uber is to taxis as crowdfunding is to the stock exchange, as TV is to the cinema, as internet video is to TV.

Technology is being used to justify illegality and deregulation except, that is, when the big players lose money. Then they argue vehemently for regulation, as in intellectual property. The finance industry has shown clearly the dangers of deregulation.

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attached file. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).