What Corbell knows

So Attorney-General Simon Corbell has spoken (''Corbell indicates a pardon is unlikely'', June 2, p2). David Eastman is fortunate a way has been found to release him without the ACT government being blamed for locking him up. Because if the ACT government looked like being blamed, we'd have seen a re-run of its reaction to the Coroner's findings on the 2003 bushfire deaths: implacable, grim, expensive, die-in-a-ditch resistance and blame-shifting, to dodge compensation. Eastman would go nowhere.

Remember, this is the Simon Corbell who, battling perfectly legal airport development by the Snows, released that DFO site in Fyshwick without announcing to all bidders his intended big, value-boosting changes to its use restrictions.

That cost us ratepayers tens of millions in lost revenue. It's the same Simon Corbell who abandoned due process on suburban redevelopment. Because only he knows what's good for us.

Eastman is very fortunate.

Cuthbert Douglas, Bonython

Hats off to letter writers

The pending exoneration of David Eastman will have been due in no small measure to the united voices of a lot of people over the years. Many found voice in the letters pages of The Canberra Times. Eastman's release will be a triumph for the integrity of our justice system. When that moment arrives, it would be fitting for all letter writers to The Canberra Times to get together to raise a glass, or a latte, to a job well done.


John Bell, Heidelberg Heights, Vic

Job scheme off track

Apparently building a tram track down one Canberra road will create a lot of jobs (''Light rail to deliver 'over 300 jobs''', June 2, p1). That's the new smokescreen rationale for a project that increasing numbers of Canberra's ratepayers, especially those not living in the inner north, are coming to regard as little more than extravagant Green symbolism, given the political expediency of its genesis, its massive capital and running costs, its serious regional disruption and the minimal gains in commute times it offers.

Growing bananas in greenhouses at Pialligo could create 3000 jobs too, if enough bananas were to be grown.

That is, the test of which expensive projects should be funded should never be job creation. That decision must always be about identifying projects whose benefits exceed their costs by more than the great many alternative uses of that money. And this isn't it.

Veronica Giles, Chifley

As the current ad line for texting and driving says ''get your hand off it'' could well be used for the light rail train con by Shane Rattenbury. He still honestly expects us to believe it will only cost $600 million to build, but as we all know that is only the lead-in sucker price. This is a classic reason why people should be very careful voting for candidates who are seen as an alternative, but can have single-minded objectives.

Dave Long, Chapman

Facts and figures

The statement by a spokeswoman for the director-general of ACT Health, Dr Peggy Brown, that ''the number of VMOs and staff specialists have shown strong growth since 2010'' (''Claims specialists denied hospital jobs'', May 23, p3) is misleading to say the least. Dr Brown included the figures from Calvary Hospital, but those figures are clearly inaccurate. The figures supplied by ACT Health on March 18 stated that the number of VMOs at Calvary Hospital were 21 in 2010-11 and 130 in 2012-13, a jump of 519 per cent.

The figures provided on March 18 showed all salaried medical officers and not just staff specialists. The figures provided by ACT Health on March 26 showed that at Canberra Hospital between 2010-11 and 2012-13 the number of staff specialists increased by 9 per cent and the number of VMOs fell by 3.7 per cent. In fact, between 2011-12 and 2012-13 the number of VMOs at Canberra Hospital fell 9.8 per cent (143 to 129). This reduction in the proportion of VMOs compared to staff specialists at Canberra Hospital was brought about by advertising senior medical positions for staff specialists only; not the way to be sure appointees are the best possible available to staff public hospitals.

Peter D. Hughes, president, ACT Visiting Medical officers Association

Built like a brickworks

The Land Development Authority invited us residents to their community information session at the Yarrlumla Brickworks on May 31. What a disappointment: a quick walk around a limited part of the site with a few deliberately misleading drawings in a tent, intending to truncate the comments down to a tick-the-box response.

The urban design lacks imagination and innovation, the road layout is a copy of the grid design used in 19th century American town planning and will create all of the traffic problems they are still unable to solve.

The pretend parks and landscaping is more construction infill than world best practice. The heritage protection of the Brickworks and environs plays no part in this land grab other than as an excuse for questionable development of more substandard flats that will suffer the same construction issues as those on Kingston Foreshore.

If the LDA is in any doubt on quality and design, I invite board members to walk the Kingston Foreshore developments and make their own judgment as to how this experiment in cost control will survive the next decade.

I was moved at the interest in preserving a nationally important industrial site when it was first raised in 1976, and saddened when Alan Maher failed to achieve his dream. All the other schemes and proposals since then had one thing in common, and that was to retain, preserve and rebirth the site as a community asset.

The latest version is nothing more than a series of flats and tenement buildings designed to achieve maximum return for the LDA in undeveloped land value.

Toni Sarri, Yarralumla

Lower tax to stimulate

The most effective way to produce economic stimulus and productive revenue generating assets (''Practicalities must come first in budget'', Editorial, Times2, June 3, p2), not just for the short term, but for the long term, is to lower taxes. There are two tax rates, one high and one low, that will produce the same revenue. The high tax rate stifles productivity. The low tax rate promotes productivity and private industry. This has been demonstrated in post-World War II Germany and Japan, and in the US under presidents Johnson and Reagan.

Bruce A. Peterson, Kambah

Time for Labor to assist our recovery from Swan's wastage

The Canberra electorate is well recognised as being among the staunchest of ALP supporters in the country. Consequently, the fact that Bob and Jacqui Gilleland (Letters, June 2) will not be voting Liberal at the next election will make little difference to results in the ACT.

What is more to the point is that it would seem that neither they nor many others in the territory truly comprehend the chaotic budgetary state inherited by the Abbott government: a national debt of more than $600 billion, a deficit of more than $120 billion and a debt servicing requirement of more than $1 billion a month. Imagine what benefits might accrue if we were shot of that requirement?

This situation has been created wholly and solely by six years of totally irresponsible and profligate wastage of taxpayers' money by then treasurer Wayne Swan and his consistent, deceitful promises of returning the budget to surplus.

It is high time that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his party acknowledged their errors while in government and now got behind the Abbott government to try to rectify the chaos they have created, instead of adopting the negative and scaremongering policies they persist in peddling.

N. Bailey, Nicholls

Merit or motives?

Maureen Hickman (Letters, June 2) says lay off the Abbott ''girls'' (sic). I would agree but, let's face it, they were first rolled out to help soften Tony Abbott's anti-female image and, I presume, they did so willingly and voluntarily.

Therefore, from the moment they stepped into the political spotlight in support of their father, they became public property. The real issue, though, is that the story is more about the motives of those who gave Frances and Louise Abbott their chances.

It is also about transparency, which surely is in the best interests of them both. And I've had enough experience in a very long public and private sector career to know, as do most people, that sometimes the best person doesn't get the prize - for a variety of reasons.

In the case of Frances' scholarship, I have always thought that scholarships were intended primarily to help bright students who otherwise could not afford tuition fees. Did Frances fit this criterion? Was there an equally bright student who could not afford the tuition who missed out? I don't know but I would like to.

Nor do we know if there were other perhaps brighter applicants who missed out on the overseas posting that Louise Abbott got.

I wish both Frances and Louise success in their chosen fields and I hope, for their sakes, they will be able to demonstrate unequivocally their achievements have been gained totally on merit.

Eric Hunter, Cook

Cicero's defence forces

Patricia Holden's letter (June 1) proves we have learnt little in the 49 years since this outrageous Taylor Caldwell misquote first appeared. It has been attributed to Cicero only by Caldwell and any number of right-wing acolytes.

Cicero would have been puzzled by it as there was no ''budget to balance, assistance to foreign lands or people living on public assistance'' in his time.

Caldwell may well have wanted to invent history to suit her own extreme right-wing agenda (she was an outspoken conservative who wrote for the John Birch Society and associated with the anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby) but I wouldn't expect anyone else to publish it without a strong disclaimer as to its origins.

Bruce Minerds, Macarthur

Cicero was never an emperor nor would he have supported an emperor. What Cicero said was: ''The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome fall.'' He did not say anything about budgets, the treasury nor public debt. Nor did he advocate work instead of living on public assistance.

Phillip Bubb, Reid

Rome at the time of Cicero was an aggressive and warlike place that invaded its neighbours, slaughtered opponents and took the survivors into slavery, while others were killed in hideous ways in the Colosseum. Crucifixion was one of the typical but by no means most horrible of their practices.

Perhaps life is like that in Albury, but I doubt it, and while Patricia Holden may relish slavery and crucifixion, I don't. I think we have learnt quite a lot, actually.

Moreover, if we want to quote ancient Romans out of context, I'll go with Vespasian who, when asked why he did not sanction more cranes at the ports, noted that this would put people out of work, arguing: ''The poor must eat.''

Compared with Vespasian, I think we now have a government which has forgotten lessons, not failed to learn them.

Stephen Mugford,Weston

Poor Cicero, to be defamed so long after his death. Marcus Tullius Cicero was Rome's greatest orator and staunch defender of the Roman republic, murdered in 43 BC because of his resistance to autocracy.

Joan Stivala, Spence

Free speech and reality

Unlike H. Ronald (Letters, May 31), I am relieved that there are only three people in our region that do not understand that ''free speech'' is an illusion.

If our speech was completely ''free'', we would not have laws against slander and sedition, as the ''right'' to free speech would trump the damage that these ''crimes'' might cause.

Clearly, this is not the case: there are instances in which the damage caused by reckless speech requires the freedom to speak in such a manner to be curtailed.

Another such case is the vilification of others. I find comfort in the thought that it is only a tiny minority of people who fail to understand this.

Mark Raymond, Manton, NSW

Universities need new

The myopic neoconservative focus on money, mining and militarism of our present government is a living indictment of the quality and breadth of the free university education that many of its members received. It proves ''you can lead a horse to water, but …'' However it is also clear that others did benefit from their education, and wish future generations and the nation to have the same benefits.

Thus it is disappointing that most of the university managers who have discussed Christopher Pyne's potpourri of changes focus on potential fee increases. University managers should however have broader aims than merely supporting governments. They could alternatively respond to government funding cuts by making a commensurate cut in the number of university places offered until Pyne's package has been taken to an election. Such an action would focus the mind of the electorate on whether it is good to have the young mortgage the productive phase of their lives before it has even started.

Adrian Gibbs, Yarralumla

Emergency funding

You have to wonder how Minister Simon Corbell could work up the courage to announce the building of a $21 million emergency service station in Aranda (''$21m for emergency station'', June 1, p3) .

Where the hell did he pluck the $21 million figure from? It's outrageous. For $21 million you can build 60 nicely appointed three-bedroom homes.

Then Corbell has the gall to refer to the two rounds of community consultation that he ignored. The community told him not to build it opposite Canberra High School. It will muck up a very nice and well-used grassed recreation area. There's plenty of scrub land it could be built on further up Bindubi Street.

Frank Blunt, Stirling



As another minor consequence of budget cuts, my pensioners' art class at Forde Community Centre has been axed. Communities@Work has been providing a wonderful art teacher who, sadly, has now lost her job.

I shouldn't complain. After all, an impoverished country such as ours can hardly be expected to afford such little luxuries. I guess pensioners should be content to sit at home and enjoy their knitting.

Jill Payne, Oxley


I can't help feeling that this year's budget will forever be remembered as ''The Hockey Horror Show.''

L. Leckie, Ainslie


Bruce Haigh (''Ideology warrior Abbott's budget program a pogrom'', Times2, May 29, p4) needs to grow up. To claim the federal government's budget is a ''pogrom'' against Greens and Labor voters is highly inappropriate, childish and self-defeating.

Historically the word has been used to describe mobs using vicious beatings, rape and murder against groups of innocent people - often Jews.

I understand Haigh was trying to make a point about the budget, but there was absolutely no justification for trivialising the suffering of past and contemporary victims of pogroms in order to do so.

Bill Arnold, Chifley


Patricia Holden (Letters, June 2) has been too clever by half. I cannot believe that anyone capable of quoting Cicero would think that he was a Roman emperor. Or indeed that Rome had an emperor in 55BC.

Barbara Fisher, Cook


So, can I assume that Matt Meyer (Letters, June 2) is calling for the cancellation of all public transport that goes anywhere near churches, synagogues, mosques, and other worship centres? Or is he only selectively intolerant?

Tony Fletcher, Rivett


Who's this Andrew Blot? And whose is the copybook?

Ros Gordon, Ainslie


It seems Malcolm Turnbull (''More pain to come: Turnbull says ABC, SBS got off easy'', June 3, p4) shares the Coalition's contempt for the ABC and SBS whose high-quality reporting is essential to our democracy but such a threat to a shabby outfit like the present government.

And who cares if Mr Turnbull wants to be PM?

Rosemary Walters, Palmerston

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