Letters to the editor
Uriarra residents concerned over a proposed solar farm within less than 200 metres of their homes will take little comfort that this so-called large-scale solar project will produce only about 0.5 per cent of the ACT's annual electricity supply.
It is yet another example of the ACT government, and Sustainable Development Minister Simon Corbell in particular, overstating the value of renewable electricity projects. The only winners will be the successful tenderers who will receive inflated prices for the power they generate.
The effect of all proposed solar farms - Hume, Uriarra, Royalla and Majura - will have negligible benefits to the environment as coal-fired power stations will continue to operate.
With or without a price on carbon, it is clear there is no magic solution to reducing harmful emissions. Wind and solar farms are almost always opposed by some nearby residents and to date, there is no generator of base load power, except for uranium, which does not produce greenhouse gas emissions.
While it is true that every little bit helps, it is unreasonable for the ACT government to promote renewable projects that add millions of dollars to Canberra's annual power bills but achieve virtually nothing in the stated aim of reducing emissions.
The concerning aspect of climate change is that Australia is effectively impotent. This does not mean Australia should not try, but if all of our emissions ceased today, China's increasing emissions alone would lead to the balance restored within about six months.
Meanwhile, it is easy to understand the frustration of Uriarra residents whose lifestyle is threatened by a token to combat climate change. To this end we might all have to make some sacrifice, but a 10-megawatt solar farm will not be a game changer. Neither is the government's proposal for up to 40 megawatts of large-scale solar generation, which, at best, would produce about 2 per cent of Canberra's annual electricity requirement, not the 14 per cent claimed by Corbell in November 2011.
Graham Downie, O'Connor
Carbon reduction costs
Labor's carbon pollution reduction scheme basically involved fining the big polluters to encourage them to reduce their carbon pollution. Yes, this may have resulted in the affected companies charging higher prices for their products, but those most likely to be affected by these price rises were compensated.
The incoming Coalition government has a so-called direct action plan that, instead, involves bribing the polluters to cut their emissions (''Labor urged not to block 'dud policy','' September 12, p4). I wonder where that $3.2 billion is coming from? General revenue, i.e. taxes, would it be?
So our taxes, instead of being spent on health and education, will be diverted to bribe the big polluters to reduce their pollution. So isn't the incoming Coalition government's carbon reduction scheme really just another ''carbon tax'' of sorts? There must be some fine distinctions here that I'm not grasping. The bottom line is, if we want to reduce carbon pollution, there will be a cost. That cost will be smaller now than it will be in the future. More than one million Australian homes already have electricity-generating solar panels, installed at some expense. Not just for the sake of cheaper power bills, I think.
Heather Crawford, Evatt
It is disturbing to hear Labor members of Parliament suggesting that Labor should vote in support of the Coalition's bill to repeal the carbon and mining taxes. Peter Benson (Letters, September 11) effectively nails this idea, arguing in effect that the government has a mandate to prepare a bill for repeal and to put that bill to the Parliament, nothing more. Labor cannot join a race to the bottom on resource taxes and climate change action. As soon as the Coalition's popularity begins to wane, it will develop a campaign to scare people into believing that Labor has not ''changed its spots''.
Better for Labor to keep those spots, by promoting and protecting a strong position on major environmental and climate issues from day one. This will look better as more evidence rises of developing environmental crises. One thing is for sure: when the next election comes around, the party that has still done nothing - or next to nothing - on climate change (and that is all we are offered by the Coalition on this issue) will look fairly stupid.
Jim Douglas, Kingston
Wisdom not power
What a lucid and scholarly commentary by Ramesh Thakur, in which he explains cogently that the US insistence on attacking the Syrian regime will neither halt the conflict nor bring down the government (''US out to save face rather than solve Syrian crisis'', Times2, September 11, p5).
Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear that the military attack is largely to avoid being mocked - despite trashing the values of democracy and of international law.
It makes one wonder why today's Western leaders are much more eager at brandishing their military power than winning the support of the world through wisdom and sound judgment!
Sam Nona, Burradoo, NSW
For the first time since World War II, we are seeing Russia and the US tentatively moving towards international co-operation. Sad as the Syrian situation is, I fail to understand the stream of criticism from correspondents to The Canberra Times, no matter how slow and tentative the diplomatic manoeuvring might appear.
Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor
Let me get this straight. Ricky Stuart, Canberra's favourite son (who finished his career with Canterbury) has been hired as the new Raiders' coach. This is the man who (under Phil Gould's mentoring) ''flummed'' a first-grade premiership with Eastern Suburbs. Next, on his own, he has managed to ''coach'' every team he has been in charge of, to the bottom of the table - Easts, Canterbury, Cronulla and now Parramatta. Did I miss anybody? Oh yeah, Australia (World Cup) and NSW! Gimme a break!
Rod Tonkin, Scullin
Abbott had a mandate to oust a dysfunctional government
Peter Benson (Letters, September 11) argues the Coalition has no mandate to implement policies it took to the election. Sorry, but clearly Tony Abbott did receive a mandate, namely to remove a dysfunctional, disingenuous, and devious government, the likes of which Australia has not seen previously. If that's not a mandate, then I'm not sure what is.
Leaving that issue aside, the Coalition was committed to, inter alia, ''turning back the boats, removing the carbon tax, and removing the mining tax''. It was pretty strident in promoting these policies, and again many voters could relate to them and doubtless voted accordingly. Equally this was a mandate. It is an absurd proposition to suggest that the Coalition has no mandate because each and every policy may not have been equally supported by the electorate.
The same could be argued in the case of the ALP should it have prevailed - clearly not all voters would have voted for each and every ALP policy. Would that have made a Rudd victory any less tenable?
John Fuhrman, Kambah
Statesman of our time
I was entranced by Tony Abbot's victory speech as our new Prime Minister. Here, I thought, we truly have been gifted with a statesman of our time. The quotes from former great world leaders, his allusions to philosophy, literature, art and music inspired my heart. His innate knowledge of the gifted visions of Jesuit and Franciscan church fathers: ''It is not the actual physical exertion that counts toward neither a man's progress, nor the nature of the task, but the spirit of faith with which it is undertaken.'' (St Francis Xavier) and ''Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.'' (St Francis of Assisi). These made me reel with spiritual delight. At last, here was someone who could elevate the dreams of the ''common man''.
The banal cliches of politics were replaced by thought-provoking sentiments about truth, justice, integrity and beauty. Who could his speechwriter possibly be? A new era of scholarship was surely at hand. But then in a Yeats-like nightmare I saw; ''What rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?''
Colette O'Kane-Davison, Kaleen
House of clowns
Much has been written over the past week about the implications for Australian democracy of the appointment to the Senate of minor party candidates with as little as 2-3 per cent of the primary vote.
The real tragedy is that the Senate is designed to be the only house of Parliament truly representative of the Australian people. The House of Representatives, being determined by a two-party-preferred system of preference voting, ends up with the two dominant parties scrambling for the middle ground that takes in the majority of the Australian voters.
Their policies are inevitably hardly distinguishable, with elections for that house fought out on the basis of personalities, team coherence and whom you trust, not policy details. As a result, the House of Representatives fails to take into account the concerns and priorities of a large slab of the Australian people, whose preferences invariably end up with one or other of the two major parties, with one or two exceptions.
In contrast, the Senate is meant to comprise those elected on the basis of genuinely proportionate representation, and is thus intended to be a house of review in which the broader concerns of the Australian people are taken into account.
However, with all the major contenders for the Senate focused on denying their nearest rivals any advantage from their allocation of preferences, the entire Senate has been distorted into a house of clowns with very narrow agendas and, perhaps, a willingness to sell their souls as trade-offs for those narrow agendas.
Australia deserves better than that! Senator Xenophon is right when he argues for urgent Senate reform. In my view, those who (or whose parties) have not obtained at least 30 per cent of a quota in the primary vote should be disqualified from election and be the first to have their preference distributed to those candidates who have at least earned and gained real democratic support, and not just fortuitously accumulated 19th and 20th-level preferences. That is not democracy!
Adrian van Leest, Campbell
Thanks, Dr Kelly
Whilst the voters of Eden-Monaro have decided by the narrowest of margins that Dr Mike Kelly will no longer be their federal representative, few would deny he has been a diligent and effective representative for the electorate over the past six years (''Mike Kelly confirms he will concede Eden-Monaro'', canberratimes.com.au, September 13).
We would like to wish Dr Kelly and his family every success and happiness in the future and to thank him for his tireless service on behalf of our community and his country.
Annie and John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW
The ingenuity of rats
In your editorial on the attempt of Bill Shorten to become leader of the opposition (''Secret deals will hurt Shorten's rise'', Times2, September 12, p 2), you correctly remind us that Shorten played a key role in the leadership coups against both Gillard and Rudd. He will struggle for credibility because he switched allegiances so readily between two prime ministers. As always Winston Churchill put the issue with both wit and brevity. He said, ''Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat!''
Robert Willson, Deakin
Alcohol and driving
The magistrate who allowed Ms Peta Credlin, Tony Abbott's chief of staff, to leave the court without a conviction being recorded despite Credlin having a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .075, made a lamentable decision. Years ago the University of NSW produced evidence that even the ablest of drivers had impaired judgment at a level of .05. Ms Credlin's judgment would have been definitely impaired. Perhaps the law should be changed to compel magistrates to record a conviction if the level is .05 or above. Furthermore, it would help if the magistrate publicly justified the decision.
Keith Powell, Weston
Development legal but still an eyesore
The planning for the Kingston Foreshore development in 2005 secured, by signed deed, land for a slipway and maintenance shed for commercial boats beside the Kingston boat harbour. Now the site no longer meets ACT environmental regulations for its planned purpose. However, the proposed industrial development, with its security fencing and lighting, is considered by planning authorities to be quite suitable for the western side of Black Mountain Peninsula.
Although the peninsula site for the development is highly visible from Weston Park, Lady Denman Drive and the Black Mountain restaurant lookout, is located in the most naturalistic area of the lake, and will abut the Nara Grove and bike path within the parkland, apparently it does meet environmental regulations. That the industrial proposal for Black Mountain Peninsula is contrary to policies 10.2 and 10.3 of the National Capital Plan (2012) for places of significance and places for conservation seems to be irrelevant.
Juliet Ramsay, Burra, NSW
No catering to visitors
I have just visited the National Arboretum and I was very excited to investigate the new Margaret Whitlam Pavilion. As an event organiser here in Canberra, the thought of a new event space was very exciting. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. The venue is in a prime location with endless possibilities for a range of events but, as is the usual in this town, the planning and execution is pathetic and unbelievably short-sighted.
There is no hot food available, due to the lack of a functioning commercial kitchen, and no sit-down banquet style dining at all! The walk to the pavilion is via a rocky unsealed path with no parking close by. The parking that is available is 24-hour pay parking, so no free parking after hours. What was the ACT government thinking? ''This is a nice place to build a building. It doesn't need to do anything, just be here so it looks like we have done something''? I feel for the catering company desperately trying to make this space viable.
Lynne Gozzard, Pearce
TO THE POINT
With all the political infighting that is taking place nationally, I was heartened when I visited an elderly friend of limited mobility in an aged care facility in Canberra. Hanging on the wall of her room was a photograph of Katy Gallagher speaking with her. Obviously the Chief Minister had found time in her busy schedule to pay a visit to those in the aged care facility. How blessed we are to have such a caring Chief Minister.
John Milne, Chapman
DYING FOR ECOLOGY
Robert Willson (Letters, September 11) reminds us of caveat emperor (sic) and notes with pleasure the milestone of our peaceful and dignified change of leadership. In the unlikely event the majority of climate scientists are correct and Tony Abbott is wrong, we should also record the mile … err … tombstone of the first species wise enough to have just peacefully voted for its own extinction. As a classical scholar like Robert may know, dulce et decorum est, pro ecologia mori.
Doug Thompson, Campbell
How fortunate we are to live in Australia. We have just experienced a change of government with nothing more than several months of painful electioneering, snide remarks and unkind cartoons. No hard feelings (not many, anyway). No civil war, no burning of buildings, no riots in the streets or assassinations. Life goes on. Without falling into complacency, let us make sure we keep it this way for our children's children and future generations. ''The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.''
Pauline Snowie, Griffith
How many people does a dog have to attack before it is put down?
David Hobson, Spence
TIPPING THE BOATS
The reason, Chris Mobbs (Letters, September 13), why Indonesia seems to be doing ''precious little'' about the immoral, if not illegal, overloading of boats with asylum seekers is very simple. It's one word: Corruption.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
KELLY'S SWISH OFFICE
So Mike Kelly has conceded defeat in Eden-Monaro. I am sure that the taxpayers who funded his expensive pre- election office refurbishment will consider their money well spent.
Ian Jannaway, Monash
Good old Fyshwick Pravda again. 'Tony Abbott's woman problem migrates to his ministry' (canberratimes.com.au, September 13). It's got whiskers on it. Enough.
R.C. Warn, Weston
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