Tuggeranong in flux

Zed Seselja's foray into Tuggeranong town planning (''Tuggeranong closer to expansion'', June 5, p1) appears a bit hit and miss. The population certainly is falling (by nearly 3000 people between 2009 and 2012, according to ABS statistics), but even now Belconnen is less than 10 per cent larger.

Another large employer would help local businesses, but that does not appear feasible in this political/economic environment.

Similarly not feasible is any more large scale greenfields development. The cost of building new suburbs on the western side of the Murrumbidgee corridor would not be worth the risk of further significant falls in the ACT's population growth rate. That fell from just over 2 per cent to 1.6 per cent, for the year ending September 2013, the latest year that statistics are available.

Demographically, this is a massive decrease, but most importantly we all know it's not over. Even current plans for more Gungahlin and Molonglo suburbs may need to be seriously reconsidered, particularly with prized Lawson blocks and continuing infill soaking up demand.

And that may well be the answer for Tuggeranong. More low to medium density infill developments (of 10 to 100 dwellings) around the town centre and adjoining suburbs, maximising the use of current utilities and transport infrastructure.

Property developers would not like it, however employment opportunities for everyone else would increase. Lawson shows that there is a large demand for low density infill outside central Canberra and buyers will pay a premium for it. Go for it, Zed.


Danny Kozak, Red Hill

MPs lead busy lives

H. Burmester (Letters, June 7) claims that members of the ACT Legislative Assembly sit for only 39 days a year. I am amazed that such a silly statement could be made. Anyone who has any idea about the work commitments of the MLAs would be well aware that the actual sitting days of the Assembly comprise a very small part of their workload.

All members are either ministers or members of Assembly committees and these responsibilities require considerable time preparing for meetings or attending them. Members also have a continuous stream of constituent engagements - from meeting with people to meetings with community groups and the like. When there is time, members undertake their own research and preparation for the diverse range of activities in which they are involved. After all these commitments, members also might try to have some valuable time to spend with their families.

I despair that H. Burmester has made such ill-informed comments; perhaps H. Burmester has another agenda in displaying such ignorance about the work of the members of our Legislative Assembly.

Tim McGhie, Isabella Plains

Embrace our home

It is sad that in an era when we can communicate with tiny devices even beyond our planet, the only way we can communicate with kangaroos is through barbed wire and bullets. It is sad that 200 years on we continue to dictate what lives and dies.

When will we as a society truly arrive in this place and live as if we belong rather than as colonists fighting everything already here? Those in the future will judge us harshly for our lack of imagination and compassion.

Phil Hunt, Garran

Yass school backlash

Archbishop Christopher Prowse did not tell the whole story in the article ''Schism over Catholic school in Yass'' (June 5, p1) or on ABC Radio 666 the same morning.

He said on radio that the proposal for a year 7 to 12 Catholic school was ''an entirely new concept'' and that ''high schools take four to five years to plan''.

The parents group proposes that years 7 to 10 should continue (which is not too radical) and that years 11 and 12 should be gradually added.

The school would have more than 18 months to engage extra teachers for year 11 in 2016.

The Catholic Education Office announced in March, without discussion with the parents, that years 7 to 10 would not continue after this year.

It did not mention that Yass Catholic schooling was reviewed two years ago and the report did not suggest that the secondary school should close.

The archbishop also stated that the expected 61 students in years 7 to 10 in 2015 was ''not viable''. There is no agreed number of students needed in years 7 to 10 for ''viability'', and Mount Carmel's results in those years continue to be very satisfactory.

Peter D. Hughes, Curtin

Borrowing is better

It's wrong to criticise a government for increasing its debt (''Warning on ACTEW debt growth'', June 9, p2). In fact, increasing debt is good government, in that it's more equitable for governments to finance new infrastructure (or any capital works for that matter) by borrowing rather than by taxation.

That's because capital works are long-term projects which are going to benefit future taxpayers; it's therefore equitable that future taxpayers pay for them, by interest and principal repayments, rather than have current taxpayers bear the cost through increased taxation.

R.S. Gilbert, Braddon

Repair the road rules

If the ACT is to bring in 30km/h speed limits in school zones and one-metre clearance rules around cyclists, this should occur in an equitable manner. The school-zone restrictions should apply only during start and finish times for schools as it does in NSW, not the 8am-4pm blanket period that applies in the ACT.

When a bike is in a bike lane, it is not hard to keep one metre clear. However, if two cyclists are riding abreast, the one-metre clearance zone for the rider on the outside of the bike lane cuts well inside the adjacent car lane.

The ACT should enforce a ban on riders travelling abreast. Such a measure would share the responsibility for road safety among all users.

Rory McCartney, Holder

Plea over bike logic

I can't agree with Paul Kinghorne (Letters, June 9) that the proposed removal of the requirement for cyclists to dismount and walk across pedestrian crossings is ''stupid''. It is quite the opposite.

On two occasions since the rule has come in, I've ridden up to the crossing, dismounted, started walking across - and been nearly run over by a car that had stopped at the crossing, but then started off again because the driver had logically concluded that I had dismounted to let the car through.

The ''dismount and walk'' rule is illogical and dangerous. Please, Legislative Assembly, repeal it.

Alastair Stewart, Campbell

Seems any excuse will do to avoid ADF sex abuse inquiry

Minister for Defence David Johnston is reported as saying that there should be no royal commission into sexual abuse in the ADF because victims have told him that they don't want to appear before a royal commission.

Some victims may have said that to the senator. However, he used to be a solicitor and should know that the proper investigation of crime, especially serious, endemic, concealed crime in a major public institution, which shows little sign of responding to current treatment, is not a matter for choice by victims of that crime.

For Johnston to argue against a royal commission on those grounds is revealing.

Peter Moran, Watson

Those in glass houses …

Tony Abbott's unusual elocution (as much as it might make us cringe) is hardly newsworthy, making The Canberra Times' frenzy of point scoring over the PM's latest utterances just a little over the top.

Point scoring is usually unworthy and certainly always a risky practice, as evidenced by the incorrect caption that is on the photograph immediately above the article lambasting Abbott's ''Canadia'' slip of the tongue (''The adventures of Antoine from Australie'', June 10, p4).

Clearly there was a slip of the pen when composing that caption. It refers to Abbott being ''saluted by Canadian military and police officers''.

Your well-informed readers will recognise the Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman (Mountie) in red, and to his right, a group captain from the Royal Australian Air Force in its distinctive dark blue uniform. Despite the caption's advice to the contrary, there is no sign of ''Canadian military''.

Ian Pearson, Barton

With his every action at home and abroad Tony Abbott is proving that he is not up to the job of Prime Minister.

His recent appearances on the world stage are bringing great embarrassment to Australia. It is now crystal clear why John Howard urged Malcolm Turnbull not to leave politics.

Is Turnbull undermining Abbott? He doesn't have to - that's the one job Abbott performs well.

Bettye Pearce, Kambah

Climate of ignorance

Ian Dunlop's article ''Burning science books is not the answer'' (Times2, June 2, p5) confronts readers with a startling truth that our government would like to hide. This truth is that the government is choosing to ignore scientific fact in favour of monetary gain.

While science cannot inform a politician on all things, it should be the primary source of information in regard to the environment and how it should be managed. When defence research is presented, it is trusted and utilised to form policy.

The government not only ignores high-level scientific research, it prevents the advancement of such research into climate change by shutting down entire departments. This is an outrage not only for scientists and those who want to act on climate change, but also for those who do not believe in it, as they are being prevented from accessing the facts and thus must form their decisions on watered-down politics and misleading information. And that is the biggest shame of all.

Lauren Hutchison, Richardson

Public cools on coal

It is always inspiring to read articles on climate change by economist Richard Denniss (''Hey Joe, let's think about all the minors'', Forum, June 7, p9). He gives examples of who are the losers when political priorities shift, such as this government's opposition to subsidies for renewable energy while at the same time subsidising the mining industry.

The public mood is changing and not just about the miserable budget. People are becoming more aware of the role of taxation (and the state) in creating a fair, just and safe society. They know it was taxpayers who built coal-fired power stations; now they want the government to replace them with clean energy options.

Only a deeply cynical conservative government would allow Australia, the world's leading coal exporter, to continue subsidising the coal industry. Does the Prime Minister really want us to act in isolation from the rest of the world on climate?

Lorraine Ovington, Fisher

Give Russia its due

The recent commemorations of the Normandy landings in June 1944 attracted a lot of media attention. Almost all referred to D-Day as the ''turning point of the war'', reminding us that Australians, too, played an important part in this historic event. But let's not get too carried away with military pomp and flag waving.

Most military historians would agree that the turning point of World War II came some 18 months earlier at the battle of Stalingrad. The Germans never recovered from this defeat in which an entire army of 300,000 men was lost. By the time of the D-Day landings, the Russians had pushed the Nazis out of the Soviet Union and were about to enter Poland.

With the victorious Russians poised to threaten allied interests in eastern Europe, it could even be argued that D-day marked not the end of World War II, but the beginning of the Cold War to come.

Peter Ellett, Scullin

Myopic take on war

I have long been disturbed by the almost myopic emphasis on our involvement in war. Dr Lachlan Grant (''A neglected role in history'', Times2, June 6, p1) talks up our involvement in D-Day using a jingoistic focus. He argues for our significance ''with almost 5500 Australian airmen killed in the air war over Europe'' while neglecting non-Australian involvement on either side.

The bombing raid deaths of 60,000 civilians on a single night in a Hamburg firestorm is about the same as our military deaths for the whole of World War I. Surely we have the maturity to honour our own and, simultaneously, honour and remember the vast and horrific context.

Peter Robinson, Ainslie

Parking meters are government thieves

Peter Burrows (Letters, June 6) craves new coins to cope with all the $XX.99 prices, thus saving him from being constantly diddled of one cent. I noted today, on one of my increasingly rare forays into Canberra for a medical appointment, that the parking ticket dispenser required 90 cents for an hour's worth of space.

Having no 90 cent coin about my person, in went a $1 gold coin. No change, of course. In any case, no combination of coins to meet the true amount would be accepted. It's a form of theft, even if it's only 10 cents. I recall an observation that if people behaved like governments, the police would immediately be called.

G. S. McKergow, Forbes Creek, NSW

Treasurer off track

I was astounded when Andrew Barr disputed his budgeted debt position (''Hanson rejects 'magic recovery''', June 6, p6). I can only assume he does not read his own budget (Budget Papers No.3, figure 8.3.3 to be precise).

Dodgy scaling aside, it shows that between June 2012 and June 2018 the borrowing position of the ACT will expand from about $2.1 billion to $4.7 billion.

In fact this budget has a real sting in the tail, the debt doubles in two years from 2016 to 2018. To put this in long-term context, in the 12-year period to 2018, the debt has grown from about $0.8 billion to $4.7 billion. The rise is dramatic by any measure (nearly 500 per cent).

I oppose the Mickey Mouse railway, but I am sure a lot more could be done with less to boost the economy. The more Barr talks the more convinced l am he is not in charge at all.

M. Gordon, Flynn



According to our esteemed and erudite (ha ha) Prime Minister, we have a new nation called ''Canadia''. What a joke Tony Abbott is as he continues to embarrass Australia on the world stage.

Chris Bell, Pearce

Canadia? Tony Abbott must appear to the North Americans like Forrest Gump on a bicycle. I don't know what he is taking but it's not performance-enhancing.

Peter Harris, Evatt


In agreeing that the Prime Minister's delayed departure on his overseas trip last week was due to an unserviceable aircraft, the Minister for Defence displayed a similar lack of loyalty to the RAAF that his parliamentary colleagues have shown to federal public servants.

He should have noted that the civilian contractor failed to provide the RAAF with a serviceable aircraft and that appropriate contractual penalties would be invoked.

J.P.H. Trinder, Karabar, NSW


Interesting that free-to-air TV costs $10 per day in Calvary Hospital's public wards.

Steven Hurren, Macquarie


Whoever is responsible for the 3.5 per cent annualised growth in the March 2014 quarter (Letters, June 7), the source of much of it is obvious.

With Australia's population increasing at 1.8 per cent per year, as at the latest September 2013 statistics, at least half the increase comes from there.

Peter Marshall, Captains Flat, NSW


The ''anti-gravity technology'' to which Brian Bell (Letters, June 9) satirically refers has been available for many years. It's called Maglev, and is used in countries such as Germany and Japan.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin


H. Ronald suggests (Letters, June 9) there is not a scientific consensus on global warming. The reality is that there is a consensus. Even a critic of the 97 per cent consensus paper, Richard Tol acknowledges that published papers that test the causes of climate change almost unanimously find that humans played a dominant role.

Doug Hynd, Stirling


It's blatantly obvious what happened to MH370. The aliens scooped it up for research purposes into why humans are so intent on destroying each other in never-ending wars.

Lynn Nickols, Griffith

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