Catherine Carter from the Property Council of Australia knows what's best (''Seize this opportunity to revive heart of Canberra'', Times2, April 21, p5). She says we need a big CBD. Visitors demand it.
What about the oft-lamented downsides of concentration, particularly of employment? Traffic to the CBD on Northbourne Avenue? There's a walnut-sized problem getting a sledgehammer solution: a $1 billion tram, felling 1000 trees, rezoning of residential areas, the demolition of EPIC, Yowani and Thoroughbred Park, and flats for 35,000.
There's the inadequate city parking and parking for visitors to the Parliamentary Triangle; encroachment on the lake; demolition of the Sydney and Melbourne buildings(?); booze/drug-fuelled bashings in the CBD.
Who cares what visitors expect? This Canberran expects a home with a tree and room for the kids/dog to play, and employers spread sufficiently to allow parking. We happily drive to big grocers, industrial areas, cinemas, theatres, sportsgrounds in our fuel-miser car.
Not ''progressive'' enough?
Veronica Giles, Chifley
Poor Catherine Carter just does not understand Canberra. Instead of continually rubbishing this city, and telling Canberrans what they should want, she should try to determine why most love their city.
She reported ''Canberra is sometimes called 'several suburbs in search of a city'''. The suburbs aren't searching for a city; only Carter is.
She claimed ''a city without a vibrant [her favourite word] centre is a city without a heart''. Nonsense!
She worries that the ''streets are empty''. Why? Should Canberrans flock to the centre at weekends and sip lattes to ''foster a dynamic and vibrant atmosphere'' so that the centre will ''hum with vim and vitality''?
They have better things to do.
She stated ''the city centre … should be the engine room of Canberra [but] is, in reality, a provincial town centre''. Of course it is - just as the town centres of Townsville, Newcastle and Wollongong are provincial. Canberra is not a metropolis; I hope it never will be.
The engine room is, properly, the Parliamentary Triangle. The city centre is a service area.
Carter praised private-sector investment. The sector will not invest in her pet projects of ''light rail, convention centre and football stadium'' because all would be white elephants.
I recommend that The Canberra Times not publish any more of Carter's articles until next year. Meanwhile, she should research why Canberrans love their city. She might then love it, too, and stop trying to change it.
Bob Salmond, Melba
Little left for cause
After several phone calls recently from various ''charities'', I was accosted at my local shops by yet another. Is the government failing those in need so badly that private groups must step into the gap or is the sympathetic appeal and tax-favourable status of charities making them an attractive money-making prospect?
Each must have a CEO and staff, all potentially drawing salary. Add in rent, advertising and vehicles, which all drain the donated dollar before logistical costs of service delivery take most of what is left. What gets to the end recipient is widely accepted to be 5-10 per cent of the donations. Not only is the effort duplicated in many cases (e.g., heart research charities), while each organisation may be ''non-profit'', many people are making a living from the plethora of charities and foundations. The whole paradigm needs review.
Jevon Kinder, Murrumbateman, NSW
Fairfax Media's ''Shine a light'' campaign on domestic violence is an exemplary instance of harnessing the power of a major media organisation for social good. Anna Bligh's public leadership for the same cause is equally welcome (''Former Queensland premier Anna Bligh on how we can stop domestic violence'', canberratimes.com.au, April 19). Any success by either promises immeasurable benefits.
However, it would be regrettable if such efforts focused on physical violence to the exclusion of mental, emotional, sexual or other abuses, mainly against women and children, in homes across the country.
Whether or not a victim suffers physical harm, all forms of domestic abuse arise from one (most usually male) person's ingrained sense of entitlement to dominate those closest to them. Such domination deprives the victim of their personhood, with the same ripple effect of destroyed lives and relationships, often for generations. Say ''No'' to all domestic abuse.
Reverend Lance Lawton, Cooma, NSW
Wrong way, go back
While it is commendable that Territory and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury seeks to improve the separation of cyclists on road cycle lanes, the devices to be used are no more than window dressing (''New cycling separations to be installed on ACT roads'', canberratimes.com.au, April 18).
Vibralines and Riley Curbing are nowhere near enough to provide the separation needed for a greater increase in cycling participation and for the government to reach the target it suggested in 2004 of 6 per cent cycling to work by 2016.
Rattenbury suggested that it would be too costly to implement greater separation measures citywide but ACT Roads can fund road upgrades of more than $100 million each year and Capital Metro can fund a 13km light rail line at a total cost of $600 million. The new John Gorton Drive in Molonglo and the recently upgraded stage 1 of Cotter Road have only cycle lanes, despite representations from me to install international best practice methods for cycling infrastructure on these roads.
Because of the traffic volumes and high speeds on these roads, greater separation is needed. The cycle infrastructure on the Gungahlin Drive Extension, for instance, should have concrete or raised metal kerb barriers like the median barriers that are there to separate the bidirectional vehicle lanes. Even the much-hyped Majura Parkway will have only cycle lanes (breakdown areas) on a 100km/h freight road. Absolutely ridiculous, considering that nearly 50 cyclists lost their lives nationally last year, many the victims of motor vehicles on high-speed, high-volume roads.
Lets hope that the recommendations from the inquiry into vulnerable road users will suggest that we follow international best practice for cycling infrastructure and that the ACT government and the local cycling advocacy group Pedal Power will fully support these measures.
Martin Miller, Chifley
Misinformation does not count as an alternative view
Senator George Brandis is correct in his assertion that the climate change debate has been reduced to a medieval belief system. He is also correct in his view that an alternate view is acceptable. What he fails to admit to is the extent to which those on his side of politics have traded in the kind of misinformation bandied about as an alternative view.
In other areas of ''settled'' science we do still allow those who hold an alternate view. For example, there are still those who believe that their god created the world some 4062 years ago, or whatever the number is that they assert. As a society we allow them their faith-based view, but as a society we do not allow vital policy to formulated on the basis of such baseless opposition to ''settled'' science, as much as some in his party have tried in the recent past.
For a senator looking to secure yet another term in the upper house, playing on the ill-informed may make good politics. For the future of our grandchildren's children there is little to recommend his and his party's response.
David Grant, Murrumbateman, NSW
Death of science
Of course one must respect the immediate family's grief with the passing of Neville Wran (aka Nifty Nev) and of course the Labor Party will portray him as a saint to that eternal Creator known as ''politics'' - but there are many who will remember him for other more earthly reasons. There are probably few left in CSIRO who remember his appointment, together with his Communist Party mate, Laurie Carmichael, the beginnings of ''managerial science'' and the death of real science. A less likely appointment to head a scientific research body could not be imagined.
It was the beginning of a half-arsed attempt to run CSIRO like a commercial company. It didn't succeed then and it hasn't succeeded since. In spite of this there have been, and probably still will be, an occasional spark of real investigative science - but if it has anything to do with the environment, then forget it. After all we only have to find ways of living with environmental change, don't we?
Baden Williams, Lyneham
The health costs of coal
In his article ''Coal: Stop burning it, this is the next asbestos'' (Forum, April 19, p2), Crispin Hull claims that ''there are no immediate health dangers in using coal''. In 2009, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering published a report called ''The hidden costs of electricity: externalities of power Generation in Australia''. The authors estimated the national health burden of coal-fired electricity generation at $2.6 billion per year. This amounts to a subsidy to coal-fired electricity of around 1.3 cents per kilowatt hour.
Ben Elliston, Hawker
Impartiality is vital
I don't want to obsess over the issue of public servants and free speech, but I was disappointed that even your Public Sector Informant editor Markus Manheim doesn't seem to understand the principles involved. He writes (''Even impartial servants deserve their freedom of tweets'', Forum, April 19, p7) that if the Australian Public Service Commissioner were consistent on the issue of restrictions on activism by public servants, he should ban them from joining political parties.
But at least one public service agency, the Australian Electoral Commission, does just that. It's a condition of employment there, and its website makes it clear that any employee who joins a political party faces instant dismissal. This condition has been in place for decades.
That's because it's understood that people who work at the commission have to be, and be seen to be, completely politically neutral.
Basically, in an apolitical and impartial service, public servants, as citizen commentators and activists, should avoid saying and doing things about issues that they are also responsible for in their professional capacities.
Christopher Oates, Stirling
Easter is about faith
Your invitation for the former bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Pat Power, to pen the Easter editorial (''Easter, and the feast of hope'', Forum, April 19, p6) is an interesting move for a mainstream masthead. The practice of having non-editorial individuals write editorials, particularly on seasonal occasion such us Easter and Christmas, whilst not unusual in itself, has in the past mostly been anonymous. For many years it was a widely held belief that the Reverend (later Dr Sir) Alan Walker, a well-known Methodist theologian, penned the Sydney Morning Herald's Easter and Christmas editorials.
Despite the authorship of this year's editorial it is nevertheless welcomed in so far as a mainstream, secular newspaper still affords space for reflection of the Gospel message of the season.
Easter 2014 in Australia has passed against the background of a clamour of other noises, breaking the silence of the Easter Sunday dawn. The message of the angel that Christ has risen, seems to have been lost amid the other voices of a royal visit, an agricultural show, political upheaval in the country's most populous state and the multitude of other events. And as Pat Power rightly observes, the issue of refugees and detention.
The Easter message of the resurrection stands as a symbol of hope for many who ask the question ''how can I be sure … in a world that's constantly changing''. The mystery of Christ rising after three days may be difficult for our infinite minds to grasp as reality. Yet, for many who profess the Christian faith, they believe. Such faith is central at Easter. Renewal is at the heart of Easter, renewal not just for the Christian church not for the community at large. We can all be part of that renewal to ensure that as a nation we strive for the common good.
Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
Film archives should get a public airing
True, as suggested by Dominic Case (Letters, April 20), the National Film and Sound Archive has a wealth of its own Australian holdings to present in the national capital.
In the NFSA, unlike other national collecting institutions, virtually everything was donated by the public. To the public, the ideals of the great search of the 1980s (Nitrate Won't Wait, originated from the National Library) are what the archive stands for. In return, the NFSA should vigorously expose the range of those donations, notably with repertory showings of the 75 wonderful ''Kodak/Atlab/Deluxe'' restorations of recent years. Those programs would truly serve people visiting Canberra, especially if planned in integration with film and other organisations from outside.
Yes, where practicable a national institution should apply the highest standards of presentation, being most true to the originals. Arc is equipped to do that well. But if more of the holdings in Canberra can be brought to view by drawing on the lower grade formats, the public is well capable of viewing that way.
Yes, Australians should have access to screen products from around the world and from the earliest times. That was the original intention for the Australian Film Institute. The Cinematheque in Melbourne does a great job that way, as do the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane and the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney. In a world of various formats from multiple sources, the screen and sound culture bodies need not depend on servicing from Canberra: this is the time to organise nationally to help themselves while the NFSA does justice to its original ideals.
David Donaldson, North Adelaide, SA
TO THE POINT
I can't believe that The Canberra Times has published paparazzi pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George. This sort of invasion of privacy led to the tragic death of the duke's mother. It is no wonder that the duke is so angry. And how shameful for our city, stooping to the level of British tabloids!
Christine Healy, Phillip
LOOK WHO'S GAWKING
Surely the perfect parody (''Prince George wows Sydney as picture-perfect royals visit the zoo'', canberratimes.com.au, April 20)? Royal camp followers gawking at Kate and William gawking at George gawking at a galah! Says it all really.
John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW
PROVING A POINT
Robert Willson (Letters, April 19) continues to pepper us with proof the Australian republic is a lost cause. If he is so sure, why does he bother? ''The lad doth protest too much, methinks.'' (I know he loves a quote).
R.J. Wenholz, Holt
CASTING A LINE
The headline ''Secrets of the casting couch'' (Panorama, April 19, p10), had me hurrying to read on. I was a little disappointed to find a story on professional and, presumably, legitimate means of selecting actors. I'm wondering if your headline writer knows the meaning of ''casting couch''?
David Townsend, Curtin
NIFTY LINE FROM WRAN
Neville Wran's best campaign line was in the 1984 election '' Grow with … Wran get nicked with Greiner''. Vale Nifty.
Linus Cole, Palmerston
J. Halgren (Letters, April 21) praises those who helped clean up the mess at the Islamic Centre. However she/he omitted to say how appalling it is anyone in Australia would carry out such racist vandalism. Unfortunately she/he then differentiated between ''us'' (Christians? All Christians?) and ''them'' (Muslims? All Muslims?). It would appear ''we'' are better than ''them''. I would ask J. Halgren to carefully consider whether this is what Jesus taught his followers.
Jacqueline O'Gorman, Nicholls
Are the Royal couple, who are visiting Canberra this week, aware that people who receive a UK pension do not have their pensions indexed because they live here in Australia, but they would be indexed if they lived in the US or in European Union countries? Some of these pensioners fought in World War II for the freedom Britain enjoys today. Something to remember on Anzac Day.
Gillian Edwards, Curtin
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