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Voters still in the dark over cost of Liberal's bus system proposal

A. Smith of Farrer, the Chair of the Can the Tram group, has provided in various letters some very enlightening comments on Labour's tram proposal, and is obviously a person with considerable knowledge and experience in transport systems.

As one of the uninitiated in this field, I would be grateful if he could provide some similar comment on the Liberals' bus system proposal. The Liberals transport policy document proposes many more buses, up-graded buses, duplicate roadways, state of the art bus shelters with electronic signage, electronic traffic control and monitoring systems, buses every five minutes during the day Monday to Friday and every seven minutes on weekends on major/express roads, extra services late at night and so on but no costs are given.

On their website there's a bland statement that "anticipated costs will be announced nearer to the election".

My concern is that the Liberals are promising to spend money on a wide range of improvements in health, education as well, but what does this all add up to when the bus system costs are included? How far can you really stretch savings from not proceeding with a tram? The election is only a few weeks away so it's about time for the Liberals to announce the costs of their bus system proposals so experts can give some comment on it.

Bill Bowron, Farrer

True colours on show

Weeks before the ACT election, work has begun at the intersections along Northbourne Avenue to link the rail to the city. This project which is under serious scrutiny, the development agencies dressed as planning bodies and the decisions presented as public consultation are totally destroying Canberra's uniqueness. All this shows the present government's arrogance and true colours.

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The planning control and accountability of Canberra (Kurrajong electoral area) should rest exclusively with the Parliament as stated in Chapter I Part V Section 52 of the Constitution.

Enrico Taglietti, Griffith

Promises growing

It's taken me some time to understand what the major parties are planning for the ACT election. The promises get more extravagant every day. Labor knows that even hardened Labor voters don't want any more of the Barr/Rattenbury disaster, so they won't have to deliver on promises.

Liberals will come to power and find a huge budget black hole, thereby justifying broken promises. Now if someone can only tell me which independent candidates aren't religious nutters or white supremacists, I'll know who I can vote for.

Maria Greene, Curtin

Drug review

Jennifer Heywood (CT letters October 3) wants a Federal Independent Commission Against Corruption because of codeine-related deaths.

She wants every drug to be perfectly safe — no harm at all, not even a bit of harm to one person.

Think for just a moment what that would mean. No drug is perfectly safe. Assuming that it is even possible to make a perfectly safe drug, how much would it cost?

A perfectly safe drug would probably be unaffordable, or at least prohibitively expensive for the vast majority of people.

Even governments could not afford to subsidise a mythical "perfectly safe" drug. We already have a situation where there are incredibly long delays before drugs are approved in Australia, which means that some people are denied potentially lifesaving drugs.

By how much would aiming for "perfect safety" extend the approval time? Probably forever.

What does "do no harm" really mean?

Jennifer Heywood's definition is simplistic because it ignores opportunity cost, i.e. how many people would be harmed by the quest for perfect safety? How many unnecessary deaths from cancer and heart disease, and how many lives ruined by pain and debilitating illness?

D. Zivkovic, Aranda

Rail matters

Here's a thought...

Every second breath we take comes from the oceans. (Dr Ann Jones, Off Track, RN, October 1).

These are quite distant from the ACT.

By way of analogy, so too is Gunghalin distant from areas to the south. Yet, just as we all benefit from the actions of the distant oceans, so too might those in the South of the ACT benefit from the building of the Gunghalin-Civic leg of the light rail. How? Cleaner air, less congestion in the city, a healthier population that walks to various destinations in the CBD.

While the initial construction seems costly now, to future generations, it will seem like an enlightened choice.

Tony Auhl, Narrabundah

As a reader with an ongoing interest in New South Wales issues, in spite of nearly two decades as a happy Canberran, I couldn't help noticing a short article in the Sydney Morning Herald ("Two-stage plan now for west's light rail" October 3) outlining a proposed light rail project from Westmead to Carlingford via Camelia and Strathfield.

Not the full deal linking the West to the CB, but a leg in a long term project to save Sydney from traffic congestion caused by car dependent commuting.

It made me think of what the ACT government is trying to achieve with the light rail here in Canberra, its vision of what the national capital would need, not just today but in 20, 30, years' time.

Certainly the population pressures are not here yet, but getting in key infrastructure before population screams out for it sounds like a good idea to me.

Will we have to pay for it? Of course, all amenities need to be paid for, but let's applaud vision when we see it.

Margaret Roberts, Narrabundah

Fines paid

The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia acknowledges the importance of adhering to Australia's laws, including its road rules and regulations. The Embassy values the safety of the public whilst driving on Australian roads and stresses this to all its diplomats. The Embassy wishes to advise that outstanding traffic infringements relating to the Embassy and its officials have been paid.

The Saudi Embassy, Canberra

Long live the music school

I was part of the last cohort to graduate from the ANU School of Music before the university's aggressive budget cuts in 2012. I loved my studies there; I think the school had a special way of teaching music, which is reflected in the accomplishments of its graduates.

Perhaps my own story illuminates something of that special quality — I wasn't a particularly promising student when I auditioned, but the faculty had faith in me and set me on a good path.

Since graduating I've been a finalist for the National Jazz Awards, the premier prize of its kind in Australia, and I perform internationally with innovative musicians I admire.

I never expected such exciting things from my career, and owe much of what I've accomplished to the years I spent learning from the ANU faculty.

As the university prepares to rebuild the school, I hope they do so with its former high quality in mind. It might not have made them much money, but the school's real value was always in its significant contribution to cultural capital in Australia.

Moving forward, I hope that's the measure the university chooses to assess its worth.

Andrew Butler, Carlton, Vic

Numbers don't add up

There appear to be few lengths to which Labor/Greens ideologues will not go to defend their indefensible government.

John Hutchison (Letters, October 6) has wilfully misconstrued our arithmetical presentation to effectively argue black is white, as has Terry George (CT Letters, October 6).

John, a doubling is adding 100 per cent to the original figure.

Add another 50 per cent to the new figure and you've tripled the original figure.

It's called compounding. Therefore, at a doubling of our original rates, we are now at a figure that is two thirds of a tripling of that original figure.

Terry, if you seriously believe that "only" being double what we were five years ago is good news, you need to have a good look at yourself.

If Labor is returned, we can be sure that additional 50 per cent increase in our rates won't be long in coming.

Michael and Christine O'Loughlin, Griffith

The policy discussion on rates in the ACT election has been abysmal.

The ALP has refused to get out and defend the increase in rates and the reduction of other taxes as a substantial reform. Sadly the Liberal Party has not discussed the basic principles of the policy and has embarked on a policy of populist opposition.

The shift to land value taxes is more equitable than current dependence upon stamp duties. It lifts the burden off those buying and selling homes and spreads it across the community. Such taxes cannot be dodged. It improves housing affordability for the young and make it easier for older Canberrans to move it more appropriate housing as they get older.

Doug Hynd, Stirling

The Canberra Liberals are trying to scare us into voting for them because our rates are so high, and going higher.

They say it is about light rail. They are lying about both.

Light rail is budgeted to cost $735 million over the next four years. The total ACT budget over that time is estimated at $27billion. That is two cents in the dollar, roughly.

Light rail is not the reason our rates are going up, and the Libs know it.

The reasons our rates are going up is that we are replacing stamp duty revenue with rates revenue. And the fact that our land values have skyrocketed.

They may say they will spend that two cents on services. Do I know they are lying about this ? I do know, from every other Liberal government coming into power (Victoria, Queensland, federally), that they say that sort of thing beforehand — and as soon as they get in there is some feeble excuse to cut services and start sackings.

Nick Staniforth, Lyons

Don't idolise Hillary

Jenna Price thinks Hillary Clinton is being criticised for "standing by her man" ("How Hillary Clinton handled Bill Clinton's affairs shows she has the resilience for the presidency", CT Comment, October 6).

Wrong. Clinton is being criticised for belittling and threatening women who had the courage to come forward to expose her husband.

As Carl Limbacher writes in Hillary's Scheme (2003), Clinton became her husband's "enabler, facilitator or co-conspirator." Seeing Hillary's actions clearly, US feminist Andrea Dworkin declared in 1999 that: "What Hillary is doing is appalling. Being a feminist has to mean you don't use your intellect and your creativity to protect a man's exploitation of women."

But as Limbacher, hardly alone in his assessment, so rightly concludes: Hillary Clinton had "sold out her sex as part of a Faustian bargain with a predatory rapist on the chance that she might one day become president of the United states."

This is the woman that Jenna Price, and other Fairfax feministas such as Anne Summers, would have us believe is a victim and feminist icon.

Greg Ellis, Murrumbateman

Parties need shake-up

My reading of Richard Laidlaw's letter (October 5) and Professor Ross Fitzgerald's column ("PM's left-right dilemma", October 3, p16) is one of relief that some others seem to have a good handle of what is going on in federal politics.

I agree there will have to be a profound shift in the basic ideologies of both major parties. How that will happen is anyone's guess. It is all profoundly sad and depressing that Australia has come to this.

Malcolm Turnbull should tell us what he really believes in and what he could stand for, and take the consequences. It must be awful in Parliament at present. What a cesspit.

Kirsten Garrett, Redfern, NSW

TO THE POINT

DAYLIGHT SAVING

By using the words "forcing the sun to stay in the sky for an extra hour" Steve Ellis (Canberra Times, Letters, October 3) re-visits the objections of the Luddites ("the cows will go off their milk" and "the curtains will fade") when the present regime of daylight saving was proposed.

Ken McPhan, Spence

LDA REALITY

I read Don Sephton's letter on the removal of the Northbourne development from the LDA (CT letters, October 5). I noted expressions like "twin objectives", "fundamentally opposed", "opposed and irreconcilable" and "pipe dream". The reality is there are now two different LDAs. Each takes its own profit. The town council remains satisfied with what's left.

Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor

CANUTE'S WISDOM

A Smith (CT Letters, October 5) is right to slam Andrew Barr for his contempt of public opinion but, please, don't link him with Canute over the frequently misinterpreted sea-side attempt by the king to show his fawning courtiers the limits to his power.

In fact, we would be better off if we did have a leader with even a smidgeon of Canute's historically established wisdom.

Eric Hunter, Cook

POWER STORM

With the loss of power in parts of Canberra and NSW (Tuesday, October 4), will the Prime Minister and his Liberal and National Party colleagues blame the South Australian renewable energy program (windmills and solar panels) for creating the Act/NSW storm?

Jack Wiles, Gilmore

BEING RENEWABLE

There's never been a more exciting time to be a renewable Australian.

Annie Lang, Kambah

BUDGIES IN MALAYSIA

Aussie budgies seen in Malaysia - the dark side of the moon?

Peter Baskett, Murrumbateman

NOT COSTLY MISTAKES

Fancy a bank making all those mistakes and still making money.

Gary Frances, Bexley

BACK TO FUTURE

Should the comeback kid Tony Abbott roll Turnbull the temporary, will it be back to the future or deja vu all over again?

Thos Puckett, Ashgrove

TRUE REMEDY

Father Robert Willson quoting Edmund Burke: "... religion is the true remedy of superstition". Like cures like homeopathy!

Richard Dixon, Lyons

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