Federal Politics


Druggies? Of course

Druggies? Of course

THE SCT (February 10) cartoon depicting an elderly lawn bowler accusing a fellow player of drug taking is spot on. As 60 to 70 per cent of my City Bowling Club members are over 65, I am sure we are all on drugs - for arthritis, blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, angina and a number of ailments I have not yet heard of but may face a little later in life.

These drugs keep us going and certainly enhance our lives and our sporting prowess.

We have a vast social infrastructure feeding this drug-fuelled lifestyle: diagnosing doctors, specialists to prescribe, pharmacists to provide and a complicit government.

We have enough grumpy old men who will protest at a drop of a hat about losing an end, let alone a game without your cartoon suggesting further avenues, but I am sure that our alcohol intake will mask any drug taking.

Paddy Flynn, Page

Drawing the right line

IF GEOCON is considering developing a 35-storey apartment building complex in Belconnen (''Tower above all'', February 10, p1), then let's hope that at least it's a beautiful design (not like the bulky bog standard one in the ''artist's impression'' accompanying your article, and other mediocre towers popping up in this burg). Unlike in Woden town centre and Civic, 30 to 40 storeys might just work in Belconnen, with that design proviso, of course, and other controls on overshadowing and down draughts etc. Harry Seidler's 43-storey Horizon tower in Sydney's Darlinghurst, a masterpiece in dazzling folded concrete, could be an example to follow. Our mouse-quiet government architect should be demanding the best in design for all such buildings here.


Jack Kershaw, Kambah

THE ARTICLE on Belconnen's tower illustrates many appalling aspects of ACT town planning. When was Griffin's vision of a city in the trees replaced with procedures to inflate architects' egos and millionaire developers' bank accounts?

Why are there no absolute height limits for Belconnen Town Centre? To prevent corruption, a height limit for each block should be set before the block is leased.

When was the limit of about eight storeys (as indicated by the Immigration building) removed?

Consultation with Belconnen Community Council is not consultation with the community. I consider that while most council members are decent civic-minded citizens, the council is being used by developers as a device to avoid proper community consultation.

The Land Development Agency (not the developer) should consult with all Belconnen citizens. I recommend that it do so by placing large billboards at each entry to Belconnen Mall and by mailing details and a survey form to each Belconnen household. The billboards and details should give balanced coverage of the proposal, not just developer's spin. (For an example of spin, refer to the misleading advertisement on page 1 of ''Domain'' [February 9] that omitted to show the approved 26-storey tower adjacent to the Mall, which will obliterate half the sky shown in the photograph). LDA should convene a consultation meeting about one month after supplying information to citizens. All Belconnen members of the Legislative Assembly should attend.

Bob Salmond, Melba

Knock it down

BEFORE we debate the merits of an architectural competition to offer designs for a new ''Lodge on the Lake'' (Letters, February 10), we should carefully consider the possibility of reusing the site of the current Lodge. It is easy to accept that the current building has many disadvantages as a PM's residence but does it really have such architectural value to justify retaining it, possibly as a government home for another overpaid and underworked politician? There are many other buildings across Australia that typify the style and construction of the Lodge, and its historical connections are amply picked up through our Museum of Australian Democracy. Before politicians appropriate any more of our common land for their self-aggrandisement let's seriously consider knocking down this tribute to architectural mediocrity and replacing it with a PM's residence that better meets our nation's needs.

Roger Dace, Reid

Warnings unheeded

DEPRESSING to read about a ''Chinese threat to US power in the Pacific'' (February 16) in part because of the same old talk about opposing powers, as if the modern world were not facing a crisis caused to a considerable extent by economically barren expenditure on the military - more than $1.5 trillion a year.

Thinkers from Tom Paine onwards, including Einstein and Freud, have argued that the only solution to the threat posed by opposing military powers is a coming together of all nations in a co-operative union capable of outlawing war, exemplified in our day by the United Nations Organisation. But for all the effect of their pleas for sanity, they might as well not have spoken. The 20th century was the bloodiest on record, and with the growth in power of weaponry, the 21st century looks set to be even worse.

Harry Davis, Braddon

Federal Court wrong

IT IS PATENT nonsense to suggest that knowledge of a naturally occurring gene sequence is an invention that can be patented, and is not merely a discovery (''Cancer gene patent goes to company'', Amy Corderoy, February 16, p9). The judgment of the Federal Court is wrong and contrary to the best interests of humanity. Natural gene sequence information is discovered, not invented. Consider an analog, the firmament, another God-given source of information. Someone using a newfangled telescope discovers that observing a specific portion of the firmament produces a particular benefit to the viewer. The process of using the telescope to observe is the invention and what is found about the firmament is a discovery. People might expect to pay to use the new telescope to obtain the benefit, but no one should have to pay to enjoy the night sky, and it should be free for anyone to examine. Likewise, the commercial technique devised for the BRCA1 gene test should be patentable, but the natural sequences must be freely available to all so that anyone can try inventing better and cheaper methods for detecting the BRCA1 gene. It seems the judge was blindsided by the notion that the BRCA1 gene was ''isolated'' during testing. This is irrelevant, the information (that is, the sequence) was not changed and, anyway, ''isolation-free'' methods for determining gene sequences will probably be invented any day soon.

Adrian Gibbs, Yarralumla

In defence of Gillard

PETER HARTCHER , CT, February 16), like many other political journos, uncritically accepts the standard view that Julia Gillard betrayed Rudd, lied about the carbon tax and is guilty of a ''trail of broken promises''. This has been the narrative for so long that even otherwise good scribes such as Hartcher can't resist it. For the record, Gillard is leader because of support of her colleagues, the carbon impost is a price, not a tax, and all governments have to change gears and directions as circumstances change. The Gillard government is not perfect but it has presided over a strong economy and has achieved remarkable legislative success despite a hung parliament while introducing major reforms such as carbon pricing, NDIS, NBN, paid parental leave and rejuvenation of the Murray-Darling system. Imagine Abbott & Co trying to do all that.

Mark Slater, Melba

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