Federal Politics


Canberra Airport too small, too high, to serve Sydney

In all the dummy-spitting that is going on over the proposed Tralee development, I wonder if we could perhaps get some facts instead of the bunkum spread by vested interests?

The main runway at the airport is about 3300 metres long, which compares with Sydney at close to 4000m. The Canberra runway is also 600m higher than Sydney's. Both these factors affect the size of aircraft and the loading of aircraft.

Sydney can doubtless dispatch fully laden aircraft when Canberra cannot. On YouTube is a clip of a Ukrainian freighter using every last inch of the Canberra runway to get airborne, with appropriate background commentary. (To view, Google ''Plane uses all of Canberra Airport's runway YouTube''.) Is this what is planned for freight operations here?

There seems to be little chance to extend the main runway at Canberra, so what we have to offer is what we have. Someone might explain what limits that sets on operations.

Then there is the way the airport operates. In my years of flying in and out of Canberra, the norm has been to take off to the north, landing from the south, with one or two exceptions.

So the really noisy area is to the north of the airport, not the south. Except, of course, in the buildings on the airport itself, which are subject to much more noise than anywhere else.


Canberra is no substitute for a second airport closer to Sydney. Melbourne has four airports (Tullamarine, Essendon, Avalon and, for charters, Moorabbin) and is talking about a fifth airport. Badgerys Creek is shovel ready; it just needs a bit of leadership at the federal level to make it happen. But Agonising Anthony doesn't have much of that.

Paul Blair, Holder

Caroline Wilkie (''Tralee plan an airport killer'', November 7, p17) warns that recently approved development at Tralee South could kill off plans for expanded development of Canberra Airport into a big, 24-hour air-transport hub, servicing Sydney.

And we Canberrans are supposed to be concerned about that? Why, exactly? Seems to me that curbing such delusions of grandeur on the part of the owners of Canberra Airport is a good thing. The airport is too central - too close to residential development, past, present and future - to allow massive expansion and associated plans by its owners for increased 24-hour aircraft noise to proceed unchecked.

If Sydney needs a big, new, 24-hour-a-day air-transport hub, let it be built elsewhere. Perhaps out near Collector. Not in the middle of Canberra/Queanbeyan, with flight paths dictating these growing cities' development options into the future.

Cuthbert Douglas, Bonython

Cap the cabinet

The reason cited by the Chief Minister for expanding the ACT executive (''Labor moves to expand cabinet'', November 5, p1) is questionable. An increase in the population indicates a need to expand front-line services, but that should not automatically lead to an increase in the number of ministers. While it is next to impossible for mere mortals to gain access to an ACT minister, it is not due to the electorate workload because that task is already handled by staffers. Methinks the planned expansion has a purely political objective and, on that basis alone, should be rejected.

The only valid reason for expanding the number of ministers is an increase in the scope or functions of government and, until the Chief Minister can produce that evidence, her plan should be shelved. Moreover, if it is good enough for shareholders to vote on directors' remuneration then it should be good enough for the electorate to vote on ministers' remuneration. It is time for Canberra's citizens to regain control of the management of their city-state.

James Elsbury, Campbell

Off with their heads

Barack Obama's strategy of reaching across party lines will be rebuffed by the crypto-fascist right of the Republican Party - as presumably he knows. As soon as this happens he needs to use it as the signal to go after the many Bushes (George W., Jeb, Marvin) and Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and other accomplices to account for their crimes against humanity and the American people.

He should start by declaring a new investigation into the September 11 attacks, which it is now clear was an inside job to justify invading Iraq and Afghanistan, massive military expenditures and to cover up colossal corporate extortion and fraud.

Jeb Bush's vote-rigging and electoral frauds in multiple elections in Florida should also be entered on his sheet. He needs to be in prison, not running for the 2016 election.

Chris Williams, Griffith

Keep Attunga for all

The National Capital Authority (''No room for new Lodge on Ridge'', November 3, p1) should explain its claim in the background it provides to Draft Amendment 78 - Stirling Ridge and Attunga Point that the Official Establishments Trust ''considers Stirling Park and Attunga Point as possible future sites for the Prime Minister's residence''.

How can this be correct when, in its first annual report, for the 1979-80 year, the trust said that ''Stirling Ridge was the more suitable [site] and that Attunga Point should be released for public purposes''?

The authority says on its website that its claim is based on a note on the National Capital Plan and that this note ''reflects work'' undertaken by the trust and National Capital Development Commission in the early 1980s and that ''no active consideration of a location for this purpose has occurred since that time''.

This indicates that the NCA has not consulted the trust on the matter.

It is true that at one stage NCDC did favour Attunga Point, but after studies of both possible sites it changed its stance in favour of Stirling Ridge. These studies were requested by the trust, with NCDC reporting its findings in March 1980.

The NCA has also ignored former prime minister Malcolm Fraser's belief Attunga Point should remain open to the people and not be built on. In a map on its website the NCA shows the whole of Attunga Point devoted to the site, thus nullifying his view Attunga Point should ''remain available to the public as free, open space giving access to the lake''.

Graeme Barrow, Hackett

Science v slogans

There are few things as useful as an H. Ronald letter (November 7) for illuminating the phoney ''debate'' about climate change.

On the one hand, we have the painstaking research and measured judgement of thousands of first-class scientists, well typified by our own Tony McMichael, though it is troubling that more and more of these scientists are becoming increasingly worried by the evidence and frustrated by our lack of effective action.

On the other hand, we have aggressive muddles of slogan and insult, peppered with assertion but devoid of evidence, well typified by Ronald's verbal tantrum: eerily reminiscent of a Chinese New Year celebration, with lots of drum-banging and cracker-throwing to scare off demons. While it's possible that the technique might work with demons, there is no evidence of its efficacy against reality.

Felix MacNeill, Dickson

Sects are to blame

Robert Willson (Letters, November 6) demands evidence if anyone seeks to criticise claims that Christianity is the ''most persecuted'' belief and that ''such'' persecution is under-reported.

But oppression based on belief is not mostly about ''Christian'', ''Muslim'', ''Buddhist'' or the like. It's mostly adding a belief as a component of some wider dispute, and it's mostly one Christian sect against another, one Muslim sect against another, and so on.

Rupert Shortt has not surveyed all persecution where belief is an issue. He confines himself to persecution where the persecutor is not, and the victim is, Christian: so, say, Catholic Croat against Orthodox Serb is invisible even if he would admit belief to be involved.

Croat or Serb against Kosovar or Bosnian Muslim is no more visible to Shortt.

And as to ''most persecuted'', Shortt does not set up any plausible measures for persecution. The Muslim minority in Burma, burnt out of their ghettoes in recent weeks, might wonder what Christian group anywhere in the world is treated so ill if not by other Christians.

The project of identifying some belief or other as ''most persecuted'' provides cover for justifying persecution in that belief's name as not so bad. It's persecution for, or tagged by, belief that must be condemned and opposed everywhere.

We didn't miss out hearing about, say, anti-Christian-missionary killings in Odisha (the standard spelling of Orissa).

But Shortt attempts no serious comparison of how persecution abroad is reported where Christians are, or are not, the victims.

No one needs more evidence to disprove Shortt: he gives no or plainly wrong answers to wrong questions.

Chris Hood, Queanbeyan, NSW

Bus-ticket lottery

Doug McRae (Letters, November 5) is an optimist. The idea of free buses has been put forward often, including at meetings I attended with ACT transport people in the pre-self-government days. The buses ran at a loss, but then they do in most places. The idea of free buses was swiftly dismissed, having been proved useless elsewhere. In Canberra, so dedicated to the car, failure was inevitable.

My own idea of a lottery was dismissed, too. Every bus ticket would bear an entitlement to a place in a lottery. There were valid policy objections.

Not so in Singapore these days. Peak hour is defined by regulation. If you take a bus ride in the hour either side of the morning peak you get into a draw for a cash prize up to $S200 ($155). Let's hear it from the ''not good policy'' people.

Brian McNamara, Lyneham


NRL blocks Brumbies' Buderus coaching move

Helping to make another code better. Not while you are contracted to the NRL, Danny. I bet you are one of the players putting his hand up for an increase in the salary cap. It's a very bad look and should not be allowed under any circumstances. The NRL should put its foot down TODAY.

steve300300, Wyoming

I live in a rural area and the crowds at union games are sad. Union has become boring. They need to run the ball more, change the point system so a field goal is 1 point, penalty goal 2 points so teams have to score tries to get decent points, this garbage of kicking field goals instead of chasing tries is boring.


Lotto warning: 'friends, family, money can disappear quick'

"Get advice from an accountant, a lawyer, and a financial planner" . . . WHAT?? That's the same as getting advice from a real-estate agent, a used-car salesman, and a public servant. You'd wind up broke with a huge bill for fees and a statement that says "we did our best".

Gordon Strachan

That's why the first rule is, don't tell anyone. That way, when the money's gone into someone else's pocket, people won't know what an idiot you've been. But I agree with the rules. Don't tell anyone, don't do anything for a couple of months, and then maybe get some advice from somewhere.


Rattenbury given TAMS, Corrections in new cabinet

*sigh* A Greens member in charge of roads, well, I won't be looking forward to the increase of single-lane roads to make way for more cycle paths, more form-one lanes and watching my rego and parking costs increase in an attempt to get me and other Canberrans out of their cars . . . enough already!

Letto, CBR

God help us all. A Green in charge of fines. We'll be getting fined for everything soon enough. He'll probably even make us introduce tolls for using the Gungahlin Drive Extension and Parkes Way.

Adam Newstead

What a lovely green top you have on, Katy! Rattenbury was never going to be attorney-general after expressing his views on the trashing of the CSIRO GM experimental crop at Gungahlin last year. OMG what have we got to look forward to!

Grange, Canberra


Stop the cruelty

This week on television, I watched scenes of the utmost cruelty inflicted on live Australian animals that had been transported overseas as food.

I feel ashamed and angry as an Australian citizen whose government can authorise sending live animals overseas where their slaughter can bring about such horrific cruelty beforehand. What can be the excuse on Australia's part? I would happily join a march at Parliament House to protest against this action.

Lois Verrall, Curtin

One more chance

Barack Obama now has his date with destiny, no more excuses, he owns it. With little optimism, I sincerely hope he gets it right this time.

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Blown away

I was listening to a staunch US Republican on Wednesday night claiming that "a hurricane stole the election from us". How fascinating. Is this a modern version of "the dog ate my homework"?

Linus Cole, Palmerston

The road ahead

Let us hope the next four years give the ?e-elected American President the time to realise the country's vision. Also, in light of hurricane Sandy, the American people deserve a positive and realistic future.

John Dunmore, Dickson

Not the bomb again

At the Bali Democracy Forum on Thursday, Julia Gillard stated she would not meet the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The reason given was the well-worn old chestnut, the Iranian bomb, an Israeli fiction and cause celebre. Has the Prime Minister forgotten that she represents all Australians, not just herself, Bob Carr and the Israel lobby?

Rex Williams, Ainslie