Letters to the Editor
License article

Trams cost more to run

It is necessary to correct the assertions by Kevin Cox (Letters, February 9).

First, the International Institute of Transportation Engineers has published comparative operating costs between buses and light rail for 25 cities which have both. The results show that no light rail service has operating costs less than buses, some are twice as expensive and the average light rail service is 54per cent more expensive to operate than equivalent bus services. Second, the proposed Gungahlin light rail is planned to have its own right of way, whereas buses use existing rights of way, so light rail uses more land not less. Third, autonomous vehicles are certainly not best-suited just "for local short-distance travel along non-congested roads" but are a real challenge to light rail. The opposition to the current Gungahlin light rail project comes from we who know that the project is uneconomic and because the ACT government have ignored all previous mass transit studies in Canberra which have shown that Gungahlin is not the right place to start a network, that light rail is not the best mass transit Mode and that the timing is not yet ripe.

We have not opposed sensible "densification of Canberra" but oppose this being included as a benefit to the light rail project I am sure we would also like to see " a low-cost, high-value, integrated transport system for Canberra" but the proposed Gungahlin light rail project does not achieve this.

Bob Nairn, Hawker

Head buried in sand

Kevin Cox's letter on light rail (February 9) was full of assertions that ranged from questionable to unbelievable.

The one that caused me the most bemusement was: "One light rail service is the equivalent of six lanes of road transport".


In short you could close down Northbourne Avenue and other main roads when you build light rail throughout Canberra.

The most important reason why light rail should not be built is that it is very probable that in a decade electric buses will be on Australian roads. In two or three decades they will be the most revolutionary factor to improve transport we have seen since the introduction of heavy rail. Electric buses, two of which are being tested in Australia now, can run all day on a single charge and recharge on cheap electricity at night. They have the potential to run on electronic rails. Additionally smaller driverless buses could be dialled up for feeder transport to main road buses.

There is a different world approaching as far as transport is concerned and sadly the ACT government has its head firmly buried in the sand.

Howard Carew, Isaacs

Shame in monarchy

Father Robert Willson has had two letters in these pages in recent days.

In the first of these, he rightly praises the Rev John Dunmore Lang for his courageous protest in response to the Myall Creek massacre of Aboriginal people, in NSW in the late 1830s. Father Wilson might not be aware that this moral stand is one of the reasons why the Rev Lang was honoured in Canberra, about a decade ago, with the area near Reconciliation Place, in the heart of the Parliamentary Zone, being named John Dunmore Lang Place. Lang was, on many issues, well ahead of his laggard colonial community – especially, his outspoken and articulate stand on the republic issue. In his second letter Father Wilson suggests that the fact that Australia's state and territory leaders have backed an Australian republic might backfire.

Lang, one of this country's most significant "founding fathers", would flatly disagree with him. To have, as our head of state in the 21st century, the monarch of another country, is deeply humiliating. It shames an otherwise confident nation.

David Headon, Melba

Beyond belief

On February 4, Greens MP Adam Bandt asked the Prime Minister whether the Australian government would allow about 90 children of asylum seekers to remain in Australia instead of being sent to the Nauru detention centre ("Doctors hold fears for well-being of children on Nauru", February 5, p4).

Malcolm Turnbull replied that adopting the Greens' suggestion could lead to "thousands of deaths at sea". Does he really believe that allowing about 90 children (or even a further 177 adults) to remain in Australia would result in thousands of deaths at sea? Or has he repeated the absurd claim that any sign of compassion towards asylum seekers will lead to thousands of deaths at sea so many times that he says it without thinking? Perhaps Waleed Aly ("Nauru tests our integrity", February 5, Times2, p1) is correct when he says that "eventually our lawmaking won't be able to outrun our lying".

Charles Body, Kaleen

Chance to reassess

The number of boat arrivals has diminished, and this gives the government a great opportunity. It can abandon the offshore detention of asylum seekers which has proved so costly in human and financial terms, and bring the people still in Manus and Nauru to Australia for assessment of their refugee status.

It can also negotiate (with the help of UNHCR) an orderly regional processing arrangement with Malaysia and Indonesia, the places where most asylum seekers first arrive. It is no longer acceptable to compromise our country's reputation for fairness by attempting to justify the indefensible.

David Purnell, Florey

Damn lies and statistics

The recent articles on incomes by Canberra suburb are a perfect example of damn lies and statistics. Statistics without background information create perceptions that do not reflect reality. While Page may reflect average Australian income your article failed to mention that Page is privileged to share its community with three very large aged care facilities – one independent living and the other two combining residential care and independent living.

This fact results in consistently unusual statistics in this suburb including average income and age. To simply publish such statistics and isolate specific suburbs without a background on the reason for such statistical outcomes is somewhat misleading.

Statistics such as those related to income also fail to identify the incredible richness of a community and neighbourhood. Money cannot buy the supportive caring, diverse and amazing community in which I live. I do not want my community to be judged, as it will, by statistics that do not reflect its richness or the reality of its composition and diversity.

J.Nesbitt, Page

Greyhound grant is a slap in the face for animal welfare workers

I was surprised to learn the ACT government paid a grant of some $1m to the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club, particularly after the scandal of high-level cruelty to animals revealed by the RSPCA. The government ministers involved in the process appeared unconcerned that greyhound racing is not confined within state and territory borders; dogs registered with the relevant bodies controlling the sport can be trained and entered in races outside their home state or territory, in the same way as are horses.

Despite the possibility of dogs from outside the ACT being trained to inflict torture and death on unfortunate bait animals, our government, without any investigation, enriched the club's budget by six figures. For comparison, how much was granted to the RSPCA to assist it to carry out its thankless, at times overwhelming task of cleaning up the aftermath of cruelty and neglect towards animals, including greyhounds? It would be most interesting to see the lists of grant recipients, and the amounts paid to each, over the last 10 years.

R B Gunn, Campbell

Driverless car savings

Kevin Cox's argument for synergies between driverless cars and rail makes great sense for high-density cities (Letters, February 9). Indeed Singapore, Tokyo and London are just three cities planning for this inevitability.

However, Canberra is blessed with excellent road infrastructure. By efficiently utilising this existing capacity, a managed fleet of electric driverless cars has been modelled to double average vehicle occupancy and hence halve vehicle traffic on high-demand routes in peak periods, dramatically reducing congestion and pollution whilst providing very cheap on-demand, door-to-door mobility, all day and night. This approach saves $1.8billion over 20 years, the projected all-up capital and "availability" costs of the single tram line, which should be put to good use in our hospitals, schools and public housing.

Kent Fitch, Nicholls

Chinese takeaway

Barnaby Joyce is right to be wary of China buying up the farm. China is buying up arable land, water resources all over the world and, just recently, one of the biggest seed and pesticide companies. Once we have sold off all our arable land you can guarantee that the food grown will feed China, not Australia, and we'll starve or be forced to grow food in our diminishing backyards.

David Roberts, Dickson

The perils of prizes

No prizes were ever awarded at the school I attended. When the school's founder was questioned about this, her response was clear: "It seems to me that prizes are unfair, because the best workers and the most deserving often do not win them; that they are unnecessary, because people will work without them and the best work is not done for prizes; that they are injurious because they appeal to a wrong motive, and though they may be apparently effective, actually the unseen results will have to be reckoned with later." This sentiment could well be applied to the Australian of the Year awards.

Throughout Australia, volunteers work countless unpaid hours to serve their fellow man in a myriad ways. Likewise, many people in paid employment constantly work above and beyond their contractual hours to provide services that make the lives of others easier or less stressful.

Most of these people would never receive, and probably would never seek, any recognition. In many cases they have provided inspiration to others.

It seems rather than provide inspiration, the Australian of the Year award has become divisive and political. Do we really need it?

Virginia Berger, Barton

Energy revolution

Don Aitkin's article ("Feeling good about illusions", Times2, February 8) takes no account of the radical changes occurring in monetary policy. The USA and most of the world's central banks are printing money at zero or near zero interest. Currently governments distribute money through banks. The banks charge interest. Sooner or later governments will realise bank interest is an unnecessary cost on new money.

Communities can then remove the cost of interest and build long-lasting renewable energy infrastructure.

Energy from fossil fuel will then be expensive compared to renewables. Zero interest money makes battery storage a viable way to store energy. This removes Aitken's worry about intermittent supplies.

This scenario is likely as the world is awash in debt. Debt will either default or it will be absorbed through inflation. Alternatively the holders of debt can invest it to build real assets. Building real assets is a better alternative than default or inflation. Pioneering renewable energy construction gives the ACT an advantage for the coming change.

Kevin Cox, Ngunnawal

Respect the fallen

How wonderful to read the story of Patti Wilkins, a truly inspirational lady ("Boot camp granny's rise from politics to personal training", Feb 6).

Alas, I suspect I speak for many fellow members of the ex-service community in expressing my dismay that she was pictured holding her fitness class on the steps of the Australian War Memorial. I consider this very disrespectful towards the nation's war dead.

I have relatives whose name appears nowhere else and who have no grave I can visit. I would ask that the wonderful Patti please show some respect and move her classes to the oval across the road.

Cathy McCullagh, Jerrabomberra

Bumpy road rage

One cannot but notice all the road sealing going on around Canberra and the 'inconvenience' caused to the public.

Suggestion: before re-sealing a section of road, would it not be sensible for someone local (staff?) using that section of road, to drive over the section and point out the 'hills and dales' that exist and have done so since Canberra first had its road sealed?

That way they would be fixed and the end result would be a nice flat road instead of having a re-sealed road with the 'same hills and dales'.

Canberra use to be the envy of all Australians for the lovelyroads we had, but not any more.

Ken Weaver, Dunlop

Lack of interest in in climate change

Jenny Goldie (Letters Feb 8) finds it inexplicable that the Turnbull government has cut CSIRO funding. Sadly, the reason is that this foolish action is consistent with the government's accurate perception that the community has little interest in effective response to climate change. This was borne out in the Prime Minister's Sunday interview on Insiders where climate change received no mention in his review of matters of national interest.

Until some electoral significance is discerned neither the government nor the opposition will respond to the worsening threat of climate change.

Eric French, Higgins

How much destruction?

Senior ranger Mr Maconachie seems to have ceded control of the Jerrabombera Wetlands to three pairs of foxes. He feels the need for more data on the "long- term breeding impact" of foxes destroying turtle nests. How much destruction is he prepared to watch before he starts work ? Ninety-five per cent of last year's nests destroyed , only half as many nests this year – is that not enough data ?

Foxes tend to take the same hunting path every night, the pads are plain to see and not hard to set with humane traps. Shooting just requires skill and persistence. If the rangers are not willing to work nights, get up early or be marksman-trained then they do not have the tools to manage the reserve. The argument that controlling foxes would force rangers to work harder controlling rabbits is spurious. Both species should be managed – its what rangers are paid to do. If management is failing then a design solution is in order. Foxes are reluctant to cross water gaps of 3 metres or more. A good operator on a 20 tonne excavator can build dozens of fox-proof islands a week , for less than the price of a new small car .

The islands can then be burnt and turtles lay their eggs in peace.

Peter Marshall, Braidood



A car is a car is a car, driverless or not. The more cars on our roads, the worse the congestion. And where will they park themselves? Bring on the tram.

Moira Smythe, Forrest


Is Mike Pezzullo secretary of a federal department or a minister in the federal government? He can't be both.

Graeme Rankin, Holder


I am a supporter of same sex marriage but I think Tony Abbot has sold us a pup – $160 million for a non-binding "vote". Why can we not do it at the next election? It's just another stalling scam.

Catherine Stein, Rivett


The High Court's recent refugee decision is legally sound. The Coalition's refugee policy is well known. The fault lies with Labor. Where is their opposition? They've become spineless and weak. I will not be voting for you Dr Andrew Leigh MP.

Christopher Budd, Belconnen


To all the protesters calling for the Australian government to effectively open our borders and allow all refugees to settle in Australia I offer a word of warning. Be careful what you wish for. Germany in 2016 is a very different place to the Germany of 2014.

A. Pavelic, Queanbeyan


Waleed Aly nailed it. When will the government have the guts to start being innovative in a good way to end the hell of these people's lives?

Iven Spicer, Ngunnawal


In criticising grade separated (split level) intersections for buses on the Civic-Gungahlin route, David Flannery (Letters, Feb. 4) forgets you get a lot of change out of $1billion for a few fly-overs. The proposed Canberra-wide tram system will undoubtedly destroy this city's hard-fought-for broad equality in land values and public transport access.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah


The cuts to CSIRO research staff numbers have been going on for decades. When I worked for the firm many years ago, I predicted that one day CSIRO would have just one scientist and about 5000 managers and clerks to make sure the incumbent was on the job writing research grant proposals.

Ed Highley, Kambah

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