Federal Politics

Letters to the Editor

Credit where credit's due for our city's real creators

Sally Pryor quoted Lucy Quinn (''Canberra's treasure trove'', Panorama, January 12, p6) saying: ''It's generally accepted that Marion Mahony Griffin had as much to do with the design of Canberra as her more famous husband, Walter … he was a stellar architect in terms of three-dimensional imaginings, and she the gifted draftsperson.''

Her comments are seriously misleading and are not supported by town planning and architectural historians, nor by contemporary practitioners here or in the US. They give a completely false impression how Canberra, as the national capital of Australia, was actually planned, designed and constructed.

Most of what is known about the Griffins and their relationship with Canberra is to be found in Peter Harrison's posthumous 1995 book Walter Burley Griffin, landscape architect. Harrison had the advantage of being able to speak to some of the key architects and draftsmen and women who had worked in their office.

He is fulsome in his statements about Marion Griffin's architectural talents, while praising the brilliance of her drafting and its importance.

The most significant aspect of Griffin's prize-winning design is his 1911 plan showing the spatial layout of intended land uses and the accompanying report that sets out the underlying principles that guide the plan's implementation.

Canberra's development, however, owes much to the endeavours of Sir John Sulman (1849-1934), the Federal Capital Commission (1925-30) and the town planning section of the Department of the Interior (1950-75). Over and above everything else, Canberra is the 30-year creation of the National Capital Development Commission (1958-88) which planned, designed and constructed most of what people see today.


Tony Powell, Griffith

Recycling myths

I have no doubt that Professor Peter Collignon (Letters, January 11) is correct in saying there are no recycling systems that can eliminate all the viruses and drugs from waste water.

However, where is his evidence that the recycled water is dangerous?

Can he point to studies demonstrating that recycled water has caused disease in the many places in the developed world (London, Los Angeles and Berlin, for example) where water recycling is the norm?

Is there an excess of waterborne disease in Yass, which gets the benefit of Canberra's leavings? Without this evidence, his assertion that recycling is unsafe is mere hypothesis.

John Rogers, Cook

Save pitch 'n' putt

I am disgusted at the sneaky actions of the Canberra Southern Cross Club.

As a member of the club, as well as the Pitch and Putt Club, I have yet to be personally informed that the course will be closed on January 31.

Like many other members, I learned about it in The Canberra Times (''Phillip Pitch and Putt to close'', January 10, p1). There has been no information about what is then to happen to the venue.

It is a beautiful place and it is kept looking lovely by the groundsmen.

It will be such a waste, and terrible to watch it fall into disrepair before disappearing altogether.

I am a paid-up member of Pitch and Putt until the end of June 2013, so I trust that the unused portion of my fees will be repaid.

Where am I expected to play now? The club obviously doesn't care.

The announcement seems to come at a very convenient time for the club, with so many players away on holiday.

I guess it would be too much to hope for that the ACT government might actually do something to save it.

L. Buckley, Duffy

Flexible holidays

Those who celebrate Western Christmas are told to take down their decorations before January 6 or they will turn into goblins.

January 6 is the Coptic Christmas.

Our family went to Egypt over the Western Christmas holiday a few years ago and there were no celebrations while we were there.

The actual date of Jesus' birth is not known so it really does not matter what day we celebrate.

It would be a lot kinder to all concerned to combine, so employers give the public holiday to all Christians on the same day.

I vote as a Westerner that we change our date to the Coptic one.

While on this topic, it is about time employers allowed staff to take different holidays based on their religious belief so Muslims worked on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and had a day off twice a year to celebrate the two Eids. And they could work each Sunday and take each Friday off.

Religious tolerance is not enough - we need to give more practical support to allow people to practise without difficulty.

Caroline Fitzwarryne, Yarralumla

Bowing to sport

The new lights at the Manuka Oval are a monstrous blight on the Canberra streetscape and convert the village atmosphere of Manuka into something more akin to that of an industrial estate.

And it will only get worse when the lights are actually on.

Canberra Avenue is (was?) one of the key entrances into Canberra, and to Parliament House, in particular, with (until recently anyway) clear guidelines applied on design and building heights.

Manuka Oval is also of cultural significance.

The new lights have no redeeming design features whatsoever and tower ostentatiously above all other buildings in the area.

Obviously the planners and the government have once again thrown away their own guidelines for the sacred cow of sport.

When will they accept that a benefit accruing to a particular sporting code does not necessarily mean overall benefit to the community?

The Manuka Oval lights clearly fall into this category.

Peter J. Cook, Forrest

Tuggeranong right

The rugby league's no longer suitable, nor appropriately located venue, Northbourne Oval in Braddon, should become a much-needed public park for the heavily densified inner north and Civic.

(The ACT Heritage Council wants the place to remain a traditional sports oval, but there are others in nearby Turner and Reid.)

The turgid issue of ''betterment'' wouldn't technically apply in the change of use from an enclosed oval to a park.

So, the ACT government and the rugby league would have to agree on reasonable compensation for the latter as it faces massive changes in the ways its widely popular game is professionally played and viewed in larger urban environments, i.e. in large, new rectangular, openable-roofed, day-night stadiums.

Resultant outlay by government could well be recovered by the overdue rezoning of cosseted Reid, and parts of Campbell, Ainslie, and O'Connor, so as to permit and encourage three-storey townhouses there.

The city would gain a beautiful park, the inner north would be more evenly, equitably, and appropriately densified for a fuller range of households, and the rugby league could become a serious player in the development of such a stadium for Canberra.

Because the north already has the athletics and AFL-suitable Bruce Stadium (which could be roofed), the suggested new rectangular rugby, soccer etc stadium should be located in or close to highly attractive and accessible Tuggeranong town centre.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah

Politics US-style

I groaned reading about the Americanisation of Australian politics (''Politics … now it's personal'', Forum, January 12, p2).

Yes, it seems clear that in this election year, we long-suffering voters will be bombarded with the ''whole box'' of presidential style campaigning; no doubt including the very worst of the personal attack ads.

Sadly, our media won't provide much relief as they too, have drunk too much of the ''Kool-Aid'' during their coverage of last year's US campaign. Notable was the ABC's blanket coverage of the Republican candidate's pre-selection race for the White House.

The term ''pork barrel politics'' has already been enthusiastically embraced without much thought by our political hacks, but why the need for ''inside Canberra's beltway''? Where exactly is this beltway? If anywhere, wouldn't ''inside State circle'' be more correct?

What next? Perhaps we'll be soon reading about the bright young staffers working away in the Capital's West Wing? Reporting to rival ABC News 24's ''Capital Hill''.

Michael Crowe, Hawker

Ulterior motives

Tony Abbott arouses Bill Deane's cynicism when he advertises his efforts in assisting charities, teaching Aboriginal children and fighting bushfires (Letters, January 12).

On the other hand, I get a chuckle seeing Julia Gillard running around in her yellow hard hat on building sites, unveiling plaques commemorating BER projects and telling anyone who will listen that Abbott is a misogynist.

It is not so much that I am cynical but rather that I sigh with resignation that all prime ministers and aspiring prime ministers place themselves in the public spotlight to win the mug punter's vote, whether it is Deane's or Bell's.

Isn't that the way of all politicians?

John Bell, Lyneham

To the point


R.S. Gilbert implies that people should conduct a survey before publicly expressing an opinion (Letters, January 14). Maybe Gilbert can advise how many people he consults before writing each letter he submits to the editor.

R. I. Boxall, Hawker


In response to Jorian Gardner's article on the lack of visibility of Canberra's birthday celebrations (''This is a 100th? I can't see oomph, razzmatazz, fizz ...'', Forum, January 12, p9), how about painting birthday cakes on the sides of Action buses and having free bus rides for the year?

Bea Duncan, Barton


The editorial (January 10) opened with a classic understatement: ''The protest against censorship that is unfolding at a weekly newspaper in China is in its early stages.'' I hope somebody has told the protesters that they have embarked upon a never-ending quest. It is the nature of government to seek to extend its power, to repress and to regress. Our courts, newspapers and streets remain full of human rights, transparency, accountability and freedom of the press confrontations. The censor stands ever in the wings.

Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor


If the Americans are bringing their guys home from Afghanistan, when are Aussies coming home?

Phylli Ives, Torrens


Where were all the strident spokespeople asserting that the current heatwave is proof of climate change last year, when we did not record one summer's day above 35 degrees?

George Beaton, Greenway


Is the ABC so short of money that it has to foist repetitious episodes of QI on viewers almost every night? Frankly, if that is all it can offer then it would be better if it played music to fill in the time before they can screen programs with violence or ''adult themes''.

E. L. Fisher, Kambah


Will all those people who have complained so long, so loudly and so angrily that they were not given adequate warning of the 2003 fires, please take note. There are bushfires burning to the north-west of Canberra and elsewhere in NSW. An adverse change in the weather could move these fires rapidly towards Canberra, posing a real threat to property on that side of the city. At the speed at which we have recently seen some fires moving, it could take less than two hours. Be prepared!

Roger Quarterman, Campbell

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