Letters to the Editor

To make Canberra a unique city close Northbourne Ave to traffic

Being in agreement with Chief Minister Andrew Barr that "Canberra be unique, determined not to become another traffic-choked city", my view to achieve this are: Northbourne Avenue should never be the city gateway; Northbourne Ave should become a boulevard accessed only by services, public transport, pedestrians and cyclists; the city gateway and corridors be peripheral leaving central Canberra free of motor traffic. These alternatives will be more difficult to achieve, but would ensure that Canberra maintains its unique place in the world.

Enrico Taglietti, Griffith

Light rail deficiencies

I agree with P. Button (Letters, January 26) that the light rail as proposed has a number of deficiencies. The two lines to Gungahlin is an uneconomic design. One line with passing loops would have more than enough capacity for 30 or more years. At slightly more cost than proposed, a single line to Belconnen could also be built at the same time.

Northbourne Avenue is a fine entry to Canberra as it stands. One line could be installed in it without damage and the cost of a second line and the uncosted rehabilitation proposed by the government avoided.

A single line would be far better around the Parliamentary Triangle than double overhead cables. As well, the tram is old technology. In most parts of the world battery electric buses are established technology, avoiding the costs of expensive track changes as demographics change. The present proposal should be put to a reputable consultant for evaluation before proceeding.

Robert Adams, Ainslie


Revise constitution

There is an urgent need to revise our constitution so it reflects the needs of our modern society. The question of a republic v monarchy is not urgent; it is at best an ego question. More urgent is the need to clean up the Senate's preferential voting system to prevent manipulation which results in less than 1per cent of the votes obtaining a seat.

If our politicians were courageous they would address the three tiers of government (federal, state/territory and local), which has resulted in a proliferation of bureaucracy, costs and conflicting demands.

Ed Dobson, Hughes

Showcase features

Congratulations to Canberra Airport for securing regular international flights to Singapore and Wellington, recognition of our great location between the two other capital cities. Now we have a chance of showcasing our city and region to tourists from both Asia and the Pacific.

So what a pity, that incoming tourists will think they have arrived at a military base. Advertisements for military industries dominate our airport arrivals hall. There is no such industry here. It is not even a major preoccupation for the region. Yet as citizens of Canberra, we are included by association with this choice of promotion, which is so at odds with our pride in a city which is human rights-focused and welcoming to refugees.

Let's turn this around. We now have an opportunity to welcome visitors to Canberra with advertisements which show the region's features – iconic national institutions, a world-renowned university metropolis, seated in natural surroundings that are a gateway to both mountains and beaches, while still being in such close proximity to Sydney and Melbourne. A truly unique combination and an exciting one to show visitors as they arrive. It is high time for the Canberra Airport Group to develop a positive advertising policy which makes the gateway to Canberra reflect the spirit of the region. Let's gear up to welcome visitors with advertising which truly promotes the positive features.

Sue Salthouse, Canberra Citizen of the Year 2015

Not far apart

I would not quibble with Father Robert Willson's response (Letters, January 27) to my letter about Australia Day tantrums, indeed some of his subtle asides suggest to me that we are not far apart on the subject, perhaps more a matter of emphasise. His reflection on the hanging of seven white convicts for the massacre of 28 aborigines in 1838 against popular sentiment says a great deal about the British authorities at the time, certainly not the response of marauding, murderous invaders.

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra

Try a sugar levy

The science appears to be pointing to excessive amounts of sugar in processed food, soft drinks and juices as the culprit for the rise in heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many other diseases, as well as obesity. In spite of these sugar caused diseases we are living longer.

Unfortunately living longer whilst diseased is blowing out health costs beyond what the public purse can manage.

One solution worth considering would be to place a levy on foods based on their sugar content, maybe 1¢ per gram of sugar contained in each 100 grams of food.

It could be legislated that the revenue raised from such a levy would go directly to fund the health system unlike raising taxes via the GST, which the politicians could spend wherever took their fancy.

Bill Burdin, Monash

UN may be best hope

It's frightening that the USA may have Trump and Palin in the White House. Does it highlight again the need for multilateral nuclear disarmament and a stronger peace process administered by the UN? Peace movements, with or without Mr Garrett, are still calling for complete nuclear disarmament as the only certain way to avoid annihilation of life on earth, or put it back 500million years or so, and the fact that it hasn't happened yet doesn't make me feel any safer. Strengthening the UN may still be our best hope, I'd like to know if anybody has any better ideas.

Matt Ford, Crookwell NSW

Indigenous rights

David Morrison is a splendid selection as Australian of the Year for 2016 and his aims as stated in his acceptance speech are most laudable. That he wants "a conversation" on Australia becoming a republic is relevant but not important.

General Morrison would do far better to devote that energy to pursuing constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians.

N. Bailey, Nicholls

Stop being divisive

M. Silex (Letters, January 28) and fellow travellers continue to try to divide Canberra. They think that Gungahlin residents do not deserve good modern public transport.

Gungahlin has twice the density of population of Tuggeranong, Woden and Weston Creek but residents pay the same taxes. Gungahlin density is the same as European cities such as Rotterdam and Copenhagen. Light rail is a sound investment and will return its cost many times over.

Instead of whingeing, M. Silex and others like him could start to lobby for extra services in their areas. Get the self-driving car trial going around Tuggeranong. Agitate for higher density of population in Erindale to make light rail viable.

Lobby for a heavy rail system suggested by Can the Tram. Work towards allowing Canberra residents to invest in Canberra infrastructure. Stop trying to divide Canberra.

Kevin Cox, Ngunnawal

Not a distraction

Kevin Connor (Letters, january 29) seems to think that those who favour an Australian head of state can only concern themselves with one issue at a time. I can assure him that most republicans would be equally as concerned with the issues he mentions, and probably a number of others besides, while still promoting the idea that in 2016 Australia should have an Australian as its head of state. It is not, as he simplistically suggests a "distraction" from other issues, but an issue which can be dealt with at the same time. The fact is that there will always be other issues that need to be addressed and the effect of Connor's argument is that any individual issue shouldn't be dealt with because it is a "distraction" from the rest.

As for his tired old cliché about Australia being "a republic in all but name" and his irrelevant excursion into the history of the English Civil War, as though that had anything to do with it, the salient and inescapable fact is that Australia's head of state is an English Queen who sits on the throne of the United Kingdom, and has absolutely no relevance to Australia in the 21st century. This means of course that Australia is not a republic in name or in fact.

As for changing the flag, the removal of the foreign flag from the dominant position (heraldically speaking) in the top left hand corner of our flag will surely inevitably follow the creation of an Australian republic.

Richard Moss, Chisholm

Just what is the role?

Australian of the Year, Australia Day and all it entails with its attendant discussion on national identity and reconciliation et al has been celebrated for another year. It does however beg the smaller question of what is the role of the Australian of the Year for the next 12 months?

Is it as the national conscience? Is it as the representative of the people? Is it reward and recognition for the Australian who has contributed to Australian society over the last 12 months or over his/her lifetime? Surely, all these positions are filled already.

David Morrison set out a clear agenda for his tenure including slightly controversially Australia's road to a republic.

As the former professional head of the army, David Morrison could have been expected to bang the drum for the ANZACs or national security but instead chooses to advocate on the broader worthy cause of domestic violence in society. Perhaps this is the role of the Australian of the Year. An ambassador raising awareness of the ills of Australian society. Morrison is now the incumbent and is smart enough to figure it out himself. It probably needs the rest of us to discuss around the dinner table and break-out rooms and decide what we want from the Australian of the Year in the future.

Anthony John, Ainslie

A good start, but ...

I commend Minister Rattenbury's plans for training at the Maconochie Centre in a bakery and laundromat. That is a good start but mechanics, carpentry, electronics etc would be more attractive for macho young men.

The cost of capital funding and providing teachers could be reduced by donations from trade organisations ( who would benefit from an increased number of tradespeople) and unions, and some mentors from Mens Sheds and other retirees might volunteer their services.

Incentives might also be offered to prisoners by way of reductions in sentences if they reached a set target, e.g. two months reduction for completing a year of apprenticeship.

Co-operating employers could probably be found to take on released prisoners to complete their qualification.

A related issue is the difficulty released prisoners who have lost their drivers licenses have in getting to work sites. Arrangements need to be made for them to be able to drive to and from work.

The ACT should show leadership in Australia in emulating the Swedes and setting itself a target of reducing the high numbers of reoffending prisoners — even closing sections of the prison and saving the ACT government tens of millions of dollars.

John Brummell, Duffy

Simple arrogance

Senators Eric Abetz (Tasmania) and Corey Bernardi (SA) seem to be saying that should there be an overwhelming vote in the plebiscite in favour of marriage equality in the two states which elected them, they will still vote against it in Parliament .

What legal or moral basis might lead them to think they can simply override the wishes of the people with their own personal views ? This seems to be simply arrogance, perhaps reflective of Paul Keating's "unrepresentative swill " comment about the Senate. If the senators' personal principles are so offended by marriage equality that they can't carry forward the wishes of the people who democratically elected them, then they should resign.

Bill Bowron, Farrer

Dogs problem

I refer to the article concerning the dog attacks on a pregnant woman's dogs in Dunlop. (Pregnant woman too scared to walk streets of Dunlop", January 29, p2). Attacks by unrestrained dogs are not confined to the newer suburbs.

When walking our dog, it has been attacked three times by a dog that was able to get out of its backyard due to the carelessness of its owners. On other occasions, we have been approached by dogs not on leads being walked by their owners. It seems to have become a common practice for people to allow their dogs to walk off lead.

Why should we have to worry about our dog or ourselves being attacked because of irresponsible and inconsiderate dog owners and authorities that do not apply the law consistently?

Tony Wynack, Wanniassa

Danger needs to be given greater weight

On M. Connolly's comments about the dangers of large gum trees in the suburbs (Letters, January 27), the following may shed further light on the ACT government's risk assessment process. The arborists who assess trees for possible removal tend to see things in terms of whether a tree is healthy or not.

Nevertheless, I was given approval in 2013 for a large brittle gum near my carport to be removed, based on one of the criteria in the act, namely the tree's inappropriate location given its potential size and growth habit. This is a sufficient for removal of the tree.

In relation to the safety criterion in the act, approval was not obtained. This was in spite of the fact that a Work Health and Safety expert and a member of the ACT government's Tree Advisory Panel independently came to a similar judgment about the tree, namely that it represents an "unacceptable risk". I subsequently found out that the reason the safety criterion was not approved by the panel is that the tree would need to be in imminent danger of falling, or represent an urgent circumstance in relation to safety.

The way the Tree Protection Act is administered means that a tree would need to be regarded as "very high risk", not just "high risk". If the safety of people under trees was given greater weight, a more nuanced assessment of safety could occur.

Murray May, Cook

Change of heart

Yes, it's admirable that Julia Gillard now supports a charity aiding refugee children (Letters, January 28). Think how much she could have done for the refugee children in Australia's "care" while she was prime minister. Instead her government condemned them to indefinite detention in prison-like conditions which deny them their basic human rights and impede their normal physical, cognitive and psychological development. When will this child abuse end?

Eileen O'Brien, Kambah


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Bill Deane makes a good point about the Somali migrant who arrived here "penniless, parentless and friendless", and is now a lawyer, and could be a role model for our Indigenous people. Two out of three ain't bad, but as a lawyer, he'll still be friendless.

Christopher Smith, Braddon


I received a flash fridge magnet the other day from the ACT government containing wise words on recycling my waste. As I don't keep fridge magnets, I faced a dilemma ... do I put it in the recycling bin or general waste?

Julie Heffernan, Isaacs


Ice is more dangerous than ISIS to us in Australia; it renders families dysfunctional and adversely affects our ethical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual and socioeconomic stability. As ice is spreading explosively over here, urgent action against the drug rings is required from the federal, state and territorial governments.

Martinho de Souza, Giralang


Dave Morrison would make a great president if he was elected by the people. The problem with republicans is there are two types - soft republicans who want a president selected by politicians and the hard republicans, which are most of the voters, want to elect their president.

Peter Harris, Belconnen


Sorry, Evelyn Bean (Letters, January 28), but all Australian residents, including Indigenous Australians, are of migrant heritage since we all came "out of Africa".

Ken McPhan, Spence


Just like Tom Wade (Letters, January 28) I gave up on calling Centrelink with a query so I emailed the minister complaining about the wait on the phone. Within 10 minutes I had received a phoned response and was put through to the relevant area immediately.

Doug Hodgson, Pearce


Two simple road rules for all cyclists would help improve safety for all road users. Firstly, all cyclists must ride within designated bicycle lane markings. Secondly, roads that do not have dedicated bicycle lanes, cyclists must keep to the left and ride in single file.

David Connolly, Holder


I was most impressed by the Young Australians of the Year, Lucas Patchett and Nic Marchesi, and their free mobile laundry proving so helpful to the homeless.

Evelyn Bean, Ainslie

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