One really has to hand it to Andrew Barr and the ACT Labor Party for their progressive reforms ("Unions don't have say on contracts", March 17, p1). For too long now, union collusion has had a bad name. It was something that usually occurred furtively; behind closed doors with a sly wink and a brown paper bag.
But now Andrew Barr has reformed those dark days; proudly bringing union collusion out in the open through a formalised memorandum of understanding, and proving experts wrong that sunlight is the best form of disinfectant.
I would like to suggest a further reform. How about we stop the whole regulatory charade altogether?
After all, it has grown rather tiresome. Why don't we just let the unions and private sector extort each other until their dark hearts are content. Let the invisible guiding fist of the market rule.
Of course, the government would still have an important role to play; confecting new projects to keep them both happy and ensuring that politicians also get looked after in the process. What about it, Mr Barr?
He's already made an admirable start with the Canberra tram, but I'm sure he could come up with even greater cash cows for the unions and private sector to milk. Meanwhile, we taxpayers will stay out of his way and just get on with earning money to make up the shortfall.
There has never been a more inciting time to be a Canberran!
Simon Cobcroft, Lyneham
Keep MPs honest
Given the importance that the Turnbull government places on investigating and stamping out corruption in the building industry (very laudable!), one also feels compelled to ask: how about investigating corruption in the political system?
A royal commission with the writ to investigate and prosecute MPs, senators, party apparatchiks and political donors is long overdue. Why we think it disgraceful that a building company is stood over by thugs but tolerate relatively poor entrants to parliament retiring rich is beyond my comprehension. The salaries our pollies are on (frontbenchers excepted) are relatively modest, yet many seem to retire in very comfortable circumstances indeed. And yet we don't question it. Let us by all means end corruption in unions and industry – but don't stop there! Look also at politics and, perhaps most important, big business. Corruption is not the province solely of the blue collar sector.
Stuart Kennedy, Birtinya, Qld
We're in the dark
Canberra has always been a well oiled machine – until self-government took over. Now, instead of experts in their fields, we have local politicians. No greater example of this is the street lights debacle in my suburb. After a month of no street lights in certain sections of Macquarie and numerous messages to Fix My Street (alas, ACTEW is no longer involved) we still have no street lights or laneway lights. I guess this is the government's attempt to save on electricity.
F. Bourke, Macquarie
Your article about the high rate of hospital-acquired conditions for ACT patients ("ACT patients face highest risk of getting hospital-acquired conditions", March 16, p1) does not surprise me at all. I refer also to the article "Former Labor MLA tells of hospital 'horror story"' (March 9, p2). The factors outlined in the articles occur within an environment at the Canberra Hospital where other care issues arise and which are evidence of a generally lackadaisical culture.
A family member's recent stay at this hospital revealed an appalling low level of cleanliness in a surgical ward. Unsuitable practices included a toilet being attended to by a cleaner who wiped out the toilet bowel and then the other bathroom surfaces with the same grimy cloth. Following a request, the floor in the patient's room was dry swept to "clean" an accumulation over several days of blood, vomit and mucus.
Over two weeks, it was obvious that even a basic standard of cleanliness was not a priority in that ward and often cleaning methods were sub-standard and conducive to the spread of disease. To all those responsible for Canberra Hospital including the ACT Minister for Health, this is shameful and we are all at risk – staff, patients, general public.
I visited a surgical ward in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which had a far higher standard of hygiene practices and ward cleanliness.
M. Fitzgerald, Farrer
Strata help needed
Lewis Rushbrook ("Looking to buy an apartment? Be cautious", Times2, March 14, p5) advocates that the ACT government sponsor training for owners' corporation executive committees. Stories in the same edition of the Canberra Times ("Concerns ACT strata laws stifling development", March 14, p3, and "Substandard work on buildings investigated", March 14, p3) supported his arguments.
Owners Corporation Network ACT, an organisation of townhouse and unit owners, has long been advocating this, so far to no avail.
Executive committee members, who are doing a voluntary, after-hours task, have significant legal responsibilities. After all, their decisions affect the property rights of all owners in the owners' corporation. When you have a large apartment complex with major defects, even engineers, architects and lawyers do not have all the information they need to choose the best solutions.
So how do the less prepared get on? Owners Corporation Network ACT does what it can with two seminars a year and an informal advice service. But ACT townhouse and unit owners need more correct information.
Just ask the Members of ACAT. Trained executive committees will reduce their case load.
Libby Amiel, treasurer OCN ACT, Kambah
Manuka has issues
Your editorial "Manuka Oval proposal must be fleshed out" (Times2, March1, p2) questions where the apartments and commercial spaces may be located under the GWS Giants/Grocon redevelopment proposal for the Manuka Oval precinct.
A plan showing the proposed development at manukagreen.com.au suggests buildings along the practice wickets side of the oval, as well as on the opposite side, thus occupying a lot of the current green area within the Manuka Circle roadway.
The other illustration seemingly has people wandering all over Manuka Circle and Canberra Avenue – perhaps this is how the proposal hopes to achieve a better link between the oval precinct and the Manuka shopping area.
Trevor Bruhn, Curtin
The master plan image in the Manuka Green consultation website shows in some detail the footprint of the proposed Manuka Oval upgrade.
The Giants have been open and transparent regarding the proposed footprint and it is worth remembering that designs are yet to be finalised.
The Giants' proposal does not include development along the Telopea Park corridor other than adding a running track for the community to enjoy.
We are proposing using the value of the land in a way which yields the community a significant upgrade to Manuka Oval. This is a proposal to jointly leverage the territory land assets to enhance the precinct and deliver improved community amenity, while embedding the Giants and AFL in Canberra forever.
Richard Griffiths, chief operating officer, GWS Giants FC.
Not an 'embassy'
Barbara Fisher's response (Letters, March 17) to my concerns about the Aboriginal tent embassy is correctly titled "Embarrassment".
An embassy is typically a diplomatic mission representing a foreign country with an ambassador or high commissioner, who typically presents their credentials of appointment to the country's head of state.
Perhaps Ms Fisher could let us know which country the Yuendumu lookalike settlement and its squatters represent and to whom have they sought endorsement. Time to move the squatters whence they came.
L. Christie, Canberra City
Praise for results
Thank you to the staff at The Canberra Times for changing your attitude and not creating and publishing league tables based on the 2015 NAPLAN results.
League tables have always been a crude measure of a school's performance.
This year's comparison of the results of the same students at the same school two years apart provides much more meaningful information to parents and to the general community.
Anna Chrysostomou, Kaleen
Aussie follows US
Peter Grabosky (Letters, March 14) is right to express concern about Australia being perceived as a launching pad for offensive operations. He is right to express concern about Australian governments following the US into ill-conceived conflicts (Letters, March 14).
David Denham (Letters, March 14) is right to argue that if we had strategic freedom we would not have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and we would not now be involved in a Sunni/Shiite conflict in Iraq and Syria.
We are just following instructions from Washington. The decisions to invade and bomb these countries were all momentous decisions. They were taken by the prime minister or MPs. The legal basis for some of the decisions is obscure. It is high time the Parliament enacted legislation requiring parliamentary approval before Australia goes to war.
Ernst Willheim, Forrest
Sticks and stones
Poor Josh Manuatu ("Safe Schools gender zealots are the real bullies", Times2, March 18, p5), being called rude names by that vocal minority of Orwellian Marxists of the PC lefty lynch mob, enforcing the disgraceful form of social engineering of their LGBTI sexuality and gender agenda-driven wrong and offensive propaganda of minority political correctness.
Why, the next thing you know these paper tiger, running dog oppressors will be challenging his divine right to tell others that they are not allowed tomarry!
I wept in my Weeties.
Felix MacNeill, Dickson
TO THE POINT
TAKING THE LOAD
Jenna Price ("Is it really worth having health insurance?", Times2, March15, p5) says, "Part of the reason we decided to have health cover is because it's one way of taking some of the load off the public health system". Get away with you!
John Bromhead, Rivett
GET THE CRIMS OUT
Colliss Parrett (Letters, March 17) misses the point. The trouble with our current drug laws is that they allow criminals to control the market. What we need to do is to get criminals out of the drug market. As long as there are huge profits to be made, illicit drugs will continue to destroy our society.
Patrick O'Hara, Isaacs
DON'T BET ON PELL
Patrick Jones (Letters, March 17) believes Cardinal Pell is right when he says the great problem with Islam is that it cannot renovate. If Mr Jones were a betting man he might risk a wager that at some point in the future Islam would "renovate". He would know, of course, not to put money on Pell. He will never see the error of his ways.
Clive Banson, Moruya, NSW
For future reference Patrick Jones (Letters, March 16), as poignant as your observations were, if you'd asserted that "1 + 1 = 2" and then quoted George Pell to support your position, many people (quite justifiably) wouldn't believe you.
James Allan, Narrabundah
Once again we have a Prime Minister who came to office promising a new agenda and a new way of doing things. Once again, we have a PM who after a few months is proving to be a huge disappointment. The only recent PM who met expectations is Tony Abbott. It was anticipated he would be truly appalling ... and he was.
Rob Ey, Weston
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