Letters to the editor

Questions over GPs


The Australian National University Medical School has recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and much has been made of the 669 graduates, which is all very meritorious.

One of the public policy reasons for the ACT government investment in the school at the time was that it would generate a supply of graduates into the territory, which was suffering GP shortage.

I was interested in the evidenced-based policy reconciliation of that parenthood statement. Perhaps someone could advise what percentage of the 669 graduates have moved into general practice in the ACT.

Also, then, provide a per graduate breakdown of the cost against ACT government investment over the 10 years against the stated public policy goal of graduates moving into general practice.

The newly proposed hospital at UC seems to be using the word clinical in its description which implies a similar noble public policy goal which may also be more colour and movement with little substance in the long term. The fact remains the ACT GP population is ageing.

Rohan Goyne, Evatt


Hidden rail costs

It is no surprise to find in the ACT government's budget papers (''Public transport gets back on the rails following record pledge'', June 4, p5) and ''It's all about jobs as records topple'', June 4, p6) that the real costs of the absurd Metro Light Rail project are already being concealed from the public.

A figure of $21.3 million has been allocated for 2014-15 to improve the Gungahlin to City corridor and $907,000 is set aside for ''the Chief Minister and Treasury Directorate for operation, finance and advisory aspects of the project's roll-out'', whatever that means.

However, in looking at the figures for ''capital works shared across Canberra's regions'', Capital Metro is the only entry not costed.

There is a comment in the text which claims ''further light-rail capital provisions are included in the budget but the total amounts have been withheld because of commercial sensitivity''.

How could the total amount of the project be commercially sensitive? This is wrong.

Furthermore there does not appear to be any figure provided for the cost of employing the 42 staff that are listed.

If the government really believes that this project is viable, hiding the true cost from the community is not the way to proceed.

Murray Upton, Belconnen

Canberra has a rich history of investing in the future success of the city.

The courage and will required to build a capital city in the bush was not for the faint-hearted. The international competition for its design and the investment in the paths, roads, bridges and parks to support the design for the National Capital was a significant achievement which laid the city's foundation. In the 1960s the city was expanding to cater for a new young generation. It was a time of abundant land supply, cheap fuel and the chance to own a house.

The NCDC courageously responded by investing in the development of a major road system to service a postwar suburban Canberra. Parkes Way and Adelaide Avenue were not built to cater for the existing population but for a vision of a contemporary city of the time.

We have now moved into the second 100 years of the development of the city. The land for suburban development is running out, fuel is now expensive and we have, since the 1960s, constructed more than our fair share of roads and drains to service the population.

We will continue to grow and inevitably we will become a more compact and hopefully sustainable city. Rather than denigrate the idea of light rail, we should learn from the past and invest in appropriate infrastructure to support our future aspirations.

I find it perplexing that a city with a culture of achieving such significant transformative projects does not embrace the opportunity to consider a contemporary solution to city making.

Rodney Moss, Barton

Wake up Raiders

Raiders administration please take note: Ricky Stuart was toxic at the Sydney Roosters.

He was toxic at the Parramatta Eels.

He is toxic at the Raiders.

Do you think it is just coincidence that Josh Mansour, James Tedesco and Michael Ennis all knocked back approaches from Stuart in the course of only a week?

Wake up to yourselves and clean out your football department at the end of this season - and clean out some of the overpaid under-performing players as well.

Some of the players running around in first grade each week would not even be on the bench at most other clubs.

If you insist on following the disastrous unsuccessful path of the last few years, nothing will improve and you will continue to lose long-standing (30 years in my case) loyal supporters.

Noel McNamara, Brighton, Qld

Tackling Tedesco

James Tedesco is reported to have said that he hopes the Raiders and their fans will understand his change of heart concerning joining the Raiders in 2015.

Understand what? Reneging on a signed contract? His breach of faith?

While Tedesco acknowledged that the Raiders were great throughout the contract negotiation process, he has now said that he never felt totally comfortable with his decision to sign with the Raiders.

Give us a break, James Tedesco. Did you go into the contract negotiations with the Raiders in good faith? That is now a legitimate question.

James Tedesco, you will now be known as indecisive, untrustworthy and lacking in good faith.

Will anyone be able to trust you in future contract negotiations given the breach of faith you have just committed?

Don Sephton, Greenway

Defence honours

General David Hurley will be the second member of the Australian Defence Force top brass to be promoted to vice-royalty in recent months (''Hurley's top honour'', June 6, p5).

Meanwhile, others slightly down the pecking order are continuing to be promoted to ever higher levels in the defence hierarchy.

Have all these men been cleared of complicity in the thousands of incomplete investigations into abuse?

Or is it a fact that it has been decided that the system will exonerate everyone above the rank of major?

Chris Smith, Kingston

Abbott government in different boat to most on climate

Thank you for summarising some of the findings of the latest Lowy Institute opinion survey (''Strong support for Prime Minister's boat turn-back policy, poll finds'', June 4, p8).

I went to the institute's website for more details, and found a most telling result on global warming opinion.

This was that 63 per cent of Australians think that Australia should take a leadership role among countries in reducing emissions, 28 per cent think that Australia should reduce emissions generally along with other countries, and 2 per cent had no opinion.

This left only 7 per cent thinking we should do nothing on reducing emissions, showing how small is the climate denialist fringe. Yet, as Ian Dunlop said in his penetrating article (''Burning science books is not the answer'', Times2, June 2, p5), this is the fringe from which ''scientific illiterates have been appointed to key climate and business policy advisory positions''. He also pointed to the widespread denialist group-think within conservative ranks. A related Lowy poll on global warming showed the call for urgent action is rising as a proportion, and the opposition to action is shrinking.

A recent Essential Media poll showed that less than half of people, 49 per cent, want to abolish the carbon tax, and 46 per cent want to keep it. There is no strong mandate to abolish it.

The de facto denialism of the Abbott government is utterly inconsistent with the views of the people. Meanwhile, it is busily destroying Australia's part in a huge industry of the 21st century, the renewable energy industry. The whole thing is a triumph of ignorance.

Paul Pollard, O'Connor

Running behind

I can only assume David Pope (Times2, June 5, p1) and Jennie Goldie (Letters, June 5) have not caught up with the latest on climate change. The Geological Society of Australia, representing more than 2000 earth scientists, has decided not to proceed with a statement on climate change as there was no settled position.

Oh, and don't believe the myth that 97 per cent of world scientists believe the world is warming dangerously. The most basic research reveals this figure is based on sloppy survey work at best and deliberate misinformation more generally. None of this proves anything, of course, but you would think people would at least pause and wonder why.

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Another reason to worry

If, as J. McKerral (Letters, May 5) asserts, rapidly rising atmospheric CO2 levels and rising average global temperatures are mainly ''natural'' and nothing to worry about, why is it that 97 per cent of climate scientists, every major scientific body and every meteorological organisation in the world take global warming seriously? And in what ways are more intense heatwaves, storms and mega-fires, rising sea levels and greater coastal inundation and erosion, ''beneficial''?

Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Fat thought-upon-Avon

Although in line with orthodox views on diet, Boris Johnson's commendable group therapy for weight loss (''Together to shed poundage'', Times2, June 5, p4) has been partially trumped by startling observations on humans and animals that the intractable obesity epidemic over the past 30 years may be linked with infection by a contagious bug, adenovirus 36, causing the common cold .

One author of the research stated the virus was more likely to be transmitted by a thin person than a fat one. Shakespeare was aware of this, having Julius Caesar declare to Mark Antony: ''Let me have men about me that are fat;/ sleek-headed men, such as sleep a-nights;/ Yond' Cassius has a lean and hungry look;/ He thinks too much: Such men are dangerous.'' - (Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2).

Bryan Furnass, Hughes

Better the medicine now

Mark Boscawen (Letters, May 24) suggested that Australia internationally is in a commendable position to go on borrowing, getting into deeper debt, because debt isn't all that bad. I suggest he may be a little out of touch with global economies.

Is he aware of the huge indebtedness of the US to China and the crumbling economies of Europe? Would he like to live in,say, Greece, Spain, Ireland or Britain and the US for that matter?

Sure, we have done well selling our resources, but what happens when the buying stops? What happens when China's economy slows to a crash? How will we survive then with greater debts then we have today? In the global financial crisis we had $50 billion in savings to buffer our economy. With debt growing unchecked there is no buffering in the event of another financial crisis.

Then we will be like the sick countries of Europe today, where their poor and needy have really been thrown on the ''scrap heap''.

P.M. Button, Cook

Treatment called for

The somewhat anguished letter from Maurine Wearne (Letters, May 22) alleging disrespect to our Prime Minister in a David Pope cartoon ignored some pertinent details about Australia and Australian history.

Unlike class-sodden and riven Britain, where the assumption is that the office is respected, the reality here since colonial times has been that the person holding the office must first earn respect. Examples of this abound in our literature and in our history - they are part of the ethical foundation of our society. Politicians like Abbott, Hockey, Brandis, Morrison, Pyne and Cormann are derided, and rightly so, because they've chosen for ideological reasons to redraw the political, economic and social maps of Australia before they have earned the trust, the respect and the tolerance of the nation they purport to lead.

The Abbott government's lies and duplicity, and attempts to govern by fiat or prime ministerial encyclical have produced a great deal of rancour. In consequence, many view our current crop of political leaders with disdain and alarm. Cartoonists very reasonably view them as suitable cases for treatment.

I.C. Dillon, Garran

Answers needed to deal with ACT fires

The devastating impact of climate change on the scale and intensity of wildfires was clearly evident in last week's ABC TV's Catalyst program, ''Earth on Fire''.

The NSW government's move to give homeowners living near bushfire-prone areas the freedom to clear trees within 10 metres of their homes (''Trees in sights'', May 30, p6) is a significant response to changing summer-time conditions. The report quotes the Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner saying ''the measures would have made a huge difference if they were in place during the Blue Mountains bushfires last year''.

How is the ACT being prepared to meet the now inevitable worse conditions for future wildfires in the ACT? Should existing practices for hazard reduction be reviewed to ensure maximum rather than minimum protection for vital facilities such as Black Mountain communications tower and the Calvary Hospital complex, and all suburbs where there is a high level of risk such as Aranda and Bruce?

Geoff Mannall, O'Connor

Cross purposes

The report handed down in the Legislative Assembly (''Report calls for 30km zones'', June 6, p1) proposes removing the requirement for cyclists to dismount and walk across 'pedestrian' crossings. I am a cyclist and I can't think of anything more stupid. No matter what speed a cyclist crosses (the proposal requires the cyclist to cross at walking speed) it is dangerous. The speed at which a bike arrives at the crossing is also a factor.

The safest way to cross a pedestrian crossing is to walk your bike across. If this report is really about keeping people safe, then let's stick to common sense.

Paul Kinghorne, Narrabundah

To the point


In the US, no one can aspire to be president unless born in one of those states. A mixture of the poor performance of current and former holders of our highest office and recent findings of corrupt practices in state jurisdictions suggest that this restriction ought to be introduced to Australia.

John Murray, Fadden


Considering the number of politicians who have been severely compromised recently, one can expect the body politic to remain silent on one item of proposed legislation in the Queen's Speech for the opening of (Britain's) Parliament.

The London Times headline ''Voters to kick out MPs for crimes and misdemeanours'' says it all.

Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor


If Ben Lilley (''Makes perfect sense after you tangle with a van'', June 6, p1) was wearing the same outfit (pictured) the night he was hit, I am not surprised. I consider myself an alert driver but even some careful cyclists are difficult to see at night with luminous clothing.

J. McDonald, Downer


Damien Haas (''Light rail commitment to pay major dividends'', Times2, June 6, p5) defends the light rail project by appealing to public transport's benefits. But he doesn't explain why squandering $600 million on light rail is the best way to improve our public transport system.

Michael Plummer, Watson


Thanks, Roy Bray (Letters, June 5). Now I know how light rail can be powered without poles, wires etc. I hope the government can defer the big-bucks spending until the anti-gravity technology is available.

Brian Bell, Bonython


What with the cost of laying rails, overhead power lines etc, light rail is restricted in its travel. Trolley cars, on the other hand, usually ''environmentally friendly'', can travel on any ''existing'' road and only require ''overhead'' wires for power supply. Trolley cars could then supply the rest of Canberra for what could be a fraction of the cost of light rail.

Ken and Ruth Weaver, Dunlop


Perhaps the Legislative Assembly's report on 30km/h speed limits (''Report calls for 30km/h zones'', June 6, p1) might have considered having people walking before vehicles, holding a red flag? Next year the recommendation will probably be 20km/h.

Peter Baxter, Symonston

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