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Sale of lake bed 'abhorrent'

On November 24, the National Capital Authority is likely to seek federal government approval for the sale of part of Lake Burley Griffin's bed to the ACT government to enable a waterfront complex over the lake.

The in-filled lake-bed land will house the first row of the West Basin building conglomerate.

Point Park, alongside Commonwealth Avenue Bridge abutment with 150 metres of lake-edge concrete promenade, is costing ACT taxpayers $10million. The 550 metres of waterfront to come with its concrete promenade, bike path, kiosks, a road and foundations to start the building estate will cost taxpayers at least $55million.

The proposed link from the city to the lake, needed for apartment owners' vehicular access, was estimated in June to cost up to $460million.

There is no public parking on the plans. Of course we will be able visit the trendy waterfront by bike, foot and even kayak, but pity families who delight in lakeside picnics.

We have been subjected to propaganda images of people enjoying waterfront features while there are no images showing the impact of six-storey buildings abutting Commonwealth Avenue, or the buildings looming over the waterfront.

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The West Basin development proposal is abhorrent. It sells a large chunk of our lake's public parkland perimeter for a scheme that government planners have the audacity to falsely call "Griffin Legacy". It is time to stop this unsound development and its awful precedent of selling off our iconic lake and its parklands to the rich.

Juliet Ramsay, Burra, NSW

Canberra a sober city

Before we go getting all hot and bothered about the drunken state of our city ("Drunks costing millions", November16, p1), we should recall the old adage "Lies, damn lies and statistics".

I've always been sceptical when comparisons are made between Canberra and other cities (the recent light rail debacle has been a classic example of this).

Was there any consideration given in the Deakin University study to:

■ The high population of university students within walking distance of Civic;

■ The fact that the whole of the Canberra population gravitates into Civic due to the lack of nightlife facilities in the satellite areas of Canberra; and

■ The proportion of Canberra's total population that creates these numbers as opposed to the total population of other cities?

I am highly sceptical of reports like this. They do not reflect what is truly happening in our wonderful city.

Our capital comes to life at 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. Don't let the Fun Police persuade you that we are turning into a city of drunken debauchery. Canberra is one of very few cities in the world where you can enjoy a relative feeling of safety at any timet – ask any overseas tourist who goes out at night here.

Gil Miller, Barton

Days numbered

Who comes up with the catchphrases that appear on the ACT vehicle number plates?

Of all the ACT plate slogans used over the years, the only one that makes sense is "The Nation's Capital".

The two most ridiculous catchphrases were "The Heart Of The Nation" and the egomaniacal "Feel The Power Of Canberra".

Then there's the ludicrous catchphrase: "Canberra – Age Friendly City".

It appears NSW has come to its senses and done away with this stupid slogan idea. Recently I've only seen "NSW" or "New South Wales" on its plates.

Let's just go back to normal, "plain" number plates.

Christopher Jobson, Monash

Parking facts

Mark Boscawen (Letters, November11) wonders whether a shared fleet of 23,000 autonomous cars will either use scarce parking spaces in the city, or create gridlock leaving the city after morning peak-hour.

Between the morning and afternoon peaks, passenger journeys fall to 60per cent of their peak, but as cars are shared by passengers along common routes during peaks but are not shared off-peak, the number of idle (and parked) cars only increases slightly between these peaks to at most 8500, distributed across all of Canberra, ready to satisfy 98per cent of requests within one minute.

By way of comparison, the ABS Survey of Motor Vehicle Use, October 2014, estimated there are about 227,000 passenger vehicles in Canberra.

Canberra Centre alone has 5250 car spaces; Belconnen Mall has 2880.

Most unoccupied travel (or "dead running") of autonomous cars occurs during peak periods as cars relocate to collect the next "wave" of passengers (for example, back to the suburbs in the morning peak).

But these cars are empty only in proportion to the lack of demand for travel in that direction, and hence do not cause congestion but utilise otherwise unused roads.

Kent Fitch, Nicholls

Universe's marvels

I am sorry, James Allan (Letters, November13) chose to shoot the messenger.

What I was hoping to hear was where exactly any flaw in my probability reasoning may exist. I did not have space for that in my letter. Could it be the theoretical physicists were so fixated on numbers they overlooked the simple and obvious? It has happened before.

Also, the respected philosopher R.M. Unger and theoretical physicist L. Smolin, perceiving a crisis in cosmology, have apparently achieved what you say has failed (The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time: a Proposal in Natural Philosophy; Cambridge University Press, 543pp, 2015).

And, with Coleridge, I reserve my right to wonder aloud at the marvels of our universe.

Peter Cooper, Greenway

Triggs' dumping opens way for human rights lapdog

Malcolm Turnbull has announced that Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs will not be granted an extension on her contract when it ends next year.

Is the government now going to headhunt a suitably qualified lapdog to replace MsTriggs so that resistance to its inhumane treatment of refugees can be diminished?

The Coalition's treatment of MsTriggs has been little short of deplorable.

The whole controversy around section18C of the Racial Discrimination Act has also been highly exaggerated and presented in a grossly misleading manner to stir up negative emotions and incorrect assumptions.

MrsTriggs has been vilified and denigrated for trying to do her job with great conscience and to stand against the bullying tactics of a very poor government. Shame, shame.

Annette Gilmour, Melba

Visas cost jobs

Much has been said over the past few weeks about temporary visa holders doing jobs that should be available to Australians. Despite assurances that the visas are to be used to fill gaps in the labour market, they are widely abused and it is much more profitable for employers to import workers or to employ international students at lower rates and conditions.

Many Australian workers have been displaced as a result and are now unemployed. Those still working have to pay the unemployment benefits from their taxes. Is this the meaning of jobs and growth?

Meanwhile, the government is negotiating various so-called free trade agreements without bothering to commission independent cost-benefit analyses.

These will necessitate changes to Australian domestic law and policy, and are likely to lower skill levels and working conditions, not to mention other important social legislation. These agreements will bind future administrations, restricting the ability of federal, state and local governments to protect us from increasing unemployment and rampant privatisation of our public services.

Did any of us vote for this?

Pauline Westwood, Dickson

Give Pauline credit

So 457 visas are in the news again, with the Turnbull government and the opposition vying with each other to ensure that these visas aren't overused or rorted. People looking for the reason behind the sudden interest by our federal pollies don't need to drag Donald Trump into the question. They need search no further than the results of our own recent federal election.

Distasteful as it will be to many, honesty demands we give credit where it is due. So, ladies and gents, I invite you to stand with me, holding your noses if you have to, and join in saying: "Thank you, Pauline!".

Gordon Soames, Curtin

Batting bowlers

Australia was thrashed in the Hobart Test. But we should not forget three things: A.B. deVilliers, as good a batsman as any in the world, has not toured. Dale Steyn, arguably the best fast bowler in the world, did not play in this match. We lost the Test before lunch on day four. But, as the second day was washed out, we lost outright in about two days.

My advice to Cricket Australia: Don't pick bowlers because they can bat a bit. If the side can't win with four bowlers it is not going to win with five. Pick the best gloveman, even if he has to bat at 10 or 11.

Pick batsmen who show spine and have pride in wearing the baggy green cap.

Chris Hunter, Farrer

US climate denial

Almost all commentary since Donald Trump's victory has been on the relatively trivial, or the reversible, such as stock prices, trade agreements or alliances. There has been almost nothing on the (Republican) elephant in the room – the terrifying Republican platform on global warming, with the latter's potential for catastrophic and irreversible change, unless urgent action is taken.

The Republican platform calls for ripping up the Paris Agreement, destroying any current attempt to limit globalemissions.

It supports removing all emission standards from power stations, and giving maximum incentives to coaluse.

Incredibly, it labels the mainstream and ever-stronger scientific position on climate change as "political" when its own position is a triumph of political extremism over science. The 2008 Republican platform accepted the science, and called for action to limitemissions.

Many Republican voters accept the science, as increasingly do most Americans.

The Republican Party is now the only major climate denialist political party in the world. Trump's minority-vote victory might come to be seen as the worst thing that ever happened to the world.

Incredibly, I believe the world could well turn to Xi Jin Ping to lead the effort to keep the world habitable for billions of humans.

Paul Pollard, O'Connor

FBI's lesson for all

In the US election aftermath, a lesson to be learnt by law enforcement agencies (there and here) is this: When any police investigation is in train, it is crucial that nothing is revealed publicly until it is finalised.

The FBI's announcement it was re-investigating Hillary Clinton's emails was politically motivated. Investigators should not be put in a position where politics is more important than impartiality and independence.

A. Whiddett, Yarralumla

'Sob story' incorrect

Peter Murray (Letters, November16) perversely identifies the real issue worrying many Americans – and Australians. It is not political correctness.

He uses the words "successive sobs" in relation to Ross Gittins' regular articles.

Ross is one of the finest and fairest economic journalists in this country.

He regularly writes that Australia does not only have a spending problem (as promoted by our government) but also a revenue one, the latter being exacerbated by overgenerous tax concessions to the wealthy, negative gearing and superannuation, not to mention trusts.

While better-off individuals support the rorts that diminish the government's revenue stream at the expense of services to the less well-off, the level of unrest here will mimic that of the US.

John Landos, Ainslie

TO THE POINT

CODE SWAP PLAN

Perhaps the Socceroos could play the South Africans in Adelaide and our Text cricket team can line up for the next World Cup qualifier.

Both have 11 players in each team and the result could well be better than what is currently being achieved.

Andrew Gordon, Tuross Head, NSW

SHOTGUN SHOCK

As a non-firearm owner with only a passing acquaintance with shotguns, I was still a little surprised that Shane Bennett (Letters, November 17) thinks scopes are useful on shotguns.

Peter Marshall, Captains Flat, NSW

LOSING GANG WAR

Somehow I think our current crop of state political leaders has neither the fortitude nor intelligence to curtail gang warfare in Sydney despite all their useless rhetoric and platitudes. We need Inspector Harry Callaghan to sort these punks out.

To quote Clint Eastwood, "We've raised a generation of pussies."

Gerry Murphy, Braddon

NEGATIVE MESSAGE

Your article "Assange gets a visit from Swedish law" (November 16, p15) contained the line: "Mr Assange's team said he agreed to the interview 'in part to ensure the Swedish authorities have no further excuse not to discontinue their investigation'." If persons need to use three negatives where only one was required how do they expect us to understand what they are trying to say?

Michael Bungey, Mawson

MP BURIED INSIDE

The front page of The Canberra Times on Wednesday should have been dedicated to John Barilaro, the new leader of NSW Nationals party and MP for Monaro.

As an Australian of ethnic background he got pages six and seven. If he was white Anglo Saxon he would have got front-page treatment.

Sofia Rita Belmonte, Griffith

JOB SECURITY

If either side of politics really gave a toss about job security ("Foreign workers row: Malcolm Turnbull hits out at Bill Shorten's 'rank opportunism", canberratimes.com.au, November 16) policy-makers would have long ago designated the systemic export of private and public sector jobs as unacceptable anti-social behaviour.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

MISOGYNIST MYSTERY

We get that John Galvin (Letters, November 16) dislikes Donald Trump, but what does he have against pigs, and why are they misogynists?

Diana Schneider, Kambah

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.

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