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Spy revelations should be enough to spook government

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The Mossad spy revelations (''Australia knew about Prisoner X, admits Carr'', February 14, p4) demonstrate the utter folly of the decision of the Howard government to allow national dual citizenship. Before April 4, 2002, Australian citizens who became citizens of another country lost their Australian citizenship automatically. This should be reintroduced immediately to protect Australia from infiltration by foreign spies.

The example of the Israeli takeover of the United States administration which is now dominated by dual Israeli-US nationals who have used their positions to viciously advance Israel's war interests - at the expense of the genuine interests of the US and at a cost of trillions of US dollars and the thousands of lives - should be a warning to Australia. And while the government is at it, it needs to investigate the activities of the B'nai B'rith Anti Defamation League, which was exposed in 1993 as a front for spying and was found to have received funds from Las Vegas gangster boss Moe Dalitz.

Chris Williams, Griffith

 

Bring back birds

Our suburb of Conder used to be home to many species of small bird: wren, pardelot, silver-eye, wagtail, blackbird, and others. In recent times most of these seem to have disappeared, their disappearance coinciding with an increase in the number of currawongs in the area. The currawongs first appeared in numbers after the 2003 fires, and their numbers have increased dramatically since. Magpies seem to be the only species able to withstand their onslaught. Is this a Canberra-wide phenomenon that needs to be addressed? Soon we will hear nothing but the wail of currawongs - to accompany the barking of dogs - in our suburbs.

Brian Smith, Conder

 

Jail alternatives

A very thoughtful and welcome article from Carrie Fowlie (''Jail costly way to tackle scourge'', February 12, p9). It carries a wealth of data showing that early intervention in the case of the indigenous and non-indigenous drug-afflicted is not only a golden public health principle, but brings with it substantial savings for the taxpayer.

I strongly support her suggestion that the ACT should have an adult drug and alcohol court - not a criminal one, but an administrative one similar to what they have in Sweden. To avoid the revolving door of use-rehab-use, the more successful drug-free treatments would need to be adopted in a private and/or government-funded residential rehabilitation centre. Such an initiative would not cost nearly $600 per day per prisoner - twice the national average - which is currently the case at the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

Colliss Parrett, Barton

 

Fight for forest

Many of us will share the sentiments of David Teather (Letters, February 13), although his disappointment over the Tarkine decision by Tony Burke would be more appropriately expressed as outrage. Outrage that an environment minister could ignore the recommendations of the Heritage Council regarding this Tasmanian jewel. This pristine cool-climate forest environment is one of the few such forests remaining on Earth and deserves our protection, not the ravages of the mining industry. The record of the mining industry's environmental protection has not always been good and the risk is too great to trust it this time.

Does the ALP really want a serious confrontation with conservationists in an election year? The risk is great for there are many who are dedicated to fighting for the Tarkine.

David Pfanner, Hughes

 

Unhealthy choice

I am horrified to read that our Future Fund has bought shares in a tobacco company that has published findings to demonstrate public savings through early death and cigarette tax revenue outweigh the burden of smoking-related healthcare and other costs (''Future Fund still invests in tobacco'', February 13, p6). In the same article I read that our Future Fund also holds investments in 15 tobacco manufacturers in total.

It is because of this that I am glad to be on the establishment committee of a new organisation, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility. The group hopes to draw our attention as citizens to the fact that our money, for instance in the Future Fund, might be being invested in our name in activities that are dangerous to our personal and communal future. We need to assume more responsibility for this kind of investment, and to engage with the fund or with its ''external fund managers'' about our displeasure.

Jill Sutton, Watson

 

High-rise headache

The Community Services Directorate's proposal for redeveloping the ABC Flats on Cooyong Street (DV308) has been revised and submitted to Planning Minister Simon Corbell. Mr Corbell should refer DV308 to the planning committee of the Legislative Assembly for wider consideration. Two issues of concern arise from DV308. Both are relevant to other high-rise proposals, including those in Woden and Belconnen.

The first issue is the quality of urban design. Placing two 15-storey towers at the end of Ainslie Avenue, and lining Cooyong Street with eight 10-storey blocks ignores the need to integrate new developments into the existing suburban fabric and into the distinctive Canberra landscape. The second issue concerns public consultation. In January and February last year, 137 submissions were made on DV308.

These were not NIMBY responses. Few submissions opposed the need for redevelopment. Many suggested thoughtful improvements in what was proposed. While limited improvements have been made in the latest version of DV308, much more remains to be done. If DV308 is referred to the planning committee, consideration can be given to the broader issues raised in the public submissions. The Community Services Directorate is driven by the profit motive. Much is made in the revised DV308 proposal of ''yield'' in terms of the number of apartments (1158 in all, quadrupling the current number of residents on the site). Many Canberrans oppose the degradation of the cityscape through the single-minded pursuit of profit.

Elizabeth K. Teather and David Teather, Reid

 

A sporting chance

What a relief to learn that the physically demanding and sweat-inducing hobby of Graeco-Roman wrestling is to be ousted from the the Olympic Games, for in no way can it be compared to the palpitating arousement created by sports such as synchronised swimming.

It is to be hoped that those in whose petite and unblemished hands rest other decisions to include what shall be televised for immense commercial gain will take the (proverbial only) axe to that bloodied past-time of boxing, pursuant to intense lobbying from the International Tiddly-Winks Association. These are, after all, the Olympic ''Games''.

The pentathlon is also in line for the chop as it demands that its practitioners be multi-skilled athletes and therefore has no place in a society now reliant on specialists.

In its stead could be Morris dancing, if its proponents could reach an accord with their Maypole dancing opposition; at the same time as the boringly exhausting marathon, is sidelined for lesbian poetry reading, timed quilt making or even quoits for the anally retentive.

Pre-pubescent gymnasts, too, need nudging aside by pirouetting balletomanes with their exquisite arabesques and soubresauts.

John Murray, Fadden

 

Discount dilemma

I would like to ask Dave Roberts (Letters, February 14) how I can get state discounts on utilities, while having assets (including superannuation balance, vehicles, etc., but excluding one's home) of $4 million. According to my reading of the rules, you can only get state discounts on utilities if you have a Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card, Centrelink Low Income Health Care Card or Veteran's Affairs Pensioner Concession Card.

The Seniors' Health Card doesn't entitle you to these benefits.

If you own your own home, you can't get a Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card with assets above $707,750 (single) or $1,050,000 (couple).

''Beware of those who are certain'' - Dr Don Watson.

John W.R. May, Lyneham

 

Get facts straight

What is it about straight lines and the National Arboretum? Jamie Pittock (''Can't see trees for the forest'', Forum, February 2, p7) admits he has never been to the National Arboretum but nevertheless hates its straight lines. Ralph Sedgley and others (Letters, February 5 and 14) also complain about ''laser-straight grids''.

May I recommend they visit the National Arboretum, especially the Cork Oak forest at its northern boundary.

As well as being a heritage site, these trees were planted in a classic European cinquefoil pattern that results in lines or avenues radiating out from all directions once you stand in the middle - a multitude of straight lines which make a spectacular sight that is particularly popular with wedding photographers!

If an actual visit to the arboretum is not possible, why not have a look at an aerial image or photograph where it can be plainly seen that the plantings also include curves and sweeps as well as a variety of directions? There are sight lines - ''laser'' straight - to give great views along the city's Water Axis and other attractions of our city, but anyone would rightly complain if the landscape architects had denied us these views. At least the ''lovers of the bent'' must be full of praise for the Village Centre Building - not a straight beam in that spectacular curved roof!

Associate Professor Cris Brack, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University

TO THE POINT ...

QUESTION OF DEMOCRACY

Jeremy Hanson seeks to assure us that matters are decided democratically by the ACT Liberals and not by factional interests (''Hanson votes to tackle Labor'', February 12, p1). He must think we live in La La Land. The current Senate preselection battle is clearly being fought between the party's loony right and the moderate factions.

T. Marks, Holt

AND HE SHOULD KNOW

As one of the best full-forwards for Manuka AFL football club for many years, Terry Gallagher (Letters, February 13) would be one of the best people to know which end of Manuka oval is which! ABC commentators be aware, the Manuka shops are actually ''on the wing''! At least these days they actually pronounce ''Manuka'' correctly!

Steve Provins, Latham

BAN FOOTBALL BETTING

Sixty years ago my father advised me not to bet on anything that talks. To lessen the impact of drugs in sport and the associated corruption, when will administrators recommend banning betting on all forms of football?

P.J. Kelly, Braddon

FUNNY BORIS

Brilliantly insightful and funny piece by Boris Johnson on horse meat (''Taboo or not taboo: when menus are an alien concept'', February 14, p19). A very smart man is our Boris - long may we continue to read him in the CT.

Jeff Hart, Kingston

NO FLAGS AROUND HERE

We were able to wave Australian flags at Australia Day events, but if anyone thinks they will be able to get an ACT flag to stick on the car or wave at centenary celebrations, forget it. Information obtained from the ACT Assembly offices indicates that flags are not on the agenda.

Daphne Hillery, Kambah

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