Federal Politics


Walkers must be aware

Walkers must be aware

I TOTALLY agree with Jane Caro concerning cyclists (''Solo riders' quest for speed adds element of fear to morning walks'', CT January 13, page 2).

I am a cyclist and belong to Pedal Power. This excellent organisation advises participants on rides to sound their bells and shout down the line ''walker/cyclist, up/down'' as the case may be, and as Jane mentions in her article.

I also feel some ''freelance'' and often dangerous cyclists can be a real problem and give all of us a bad name.

I get very frustrated when cyclists don't have a bell because they're ''not cool''. On the other hand, walkers who use mobile phones or iPods on cycle paths worry me because they can't hear us.

Thanks Jane for not ''tarring all cyclists with the same brush''. PS. I wear padded lycra for comfort but I'll be wary of ladies carrying umbrellas!

Betty Hedgecoe, Hawker


Stick to the rules

THE ARTICLE by Jane Caro cries out for some balance. As a pedestrian, I never have a problem with cyclists, no matter how fast they may be going. If someone were to ask me why this is so, I would respond that I obey two cardinal rules for walking on shared paths. Firstly, I stick to the left of the path, leaving the right side for cyclists to pass or overtake without being impeded.

Secondly, on the few occasions that I am walking a dog, the dog is either off the lead or it is on a short lead on my left-hand side walking at my heel, where all dogs on leads should be. In this way my dog does not bother anyone. If I must veer on to the other side of the path for any reason, I always look behind me to ensure no one is coming up on me at speed.

On the other hand, as a cyclist, I am daily driven almost to insanity by the majority of pedestrians who are either rude, ignorant or just plain stupid when it comes to sharing the paths with other users. Pedestrians who wander all over the path, as if no one else exists, are irritating.

Pedestrians who are walking their dogs on those abominations of ''extenda'' leads (which should be outlawed), allowing the dogs to create havoc for other pedestrians and cyclists alike, are more irritating.

Pedestrians who wander all over the path with earphones on, listening to music (consequently unable to hear warning bells of approaching cyclists), are even more irritating.

The perfect storm is when you come across a group of pedestrians with their multiple dogs on extenda leads, all yakking away and all over the path who, on hearing a bell from behind, turn to see what it is (duh, it's a bike, clowns), then bash into each other as each goes in a different direction to give me room to pass.

So there would be a lot less angst if all pedestrians observed some basic rules.

Graham Bridge, Nicholls

Headphones a problem

IF BIKE riders are required to ring their bell to warn walkers and joggers sharing recreation paths, perhaps walkers and joggers should be required to stop wearing headphones so they can hear the bells.

P. J. Carthy, McKellar

Irish famine

JACK WATERFORD's recent piece, ''One up for us couch potatoes'', (January 13, Letters), was both perceptive and amusing. Like Swift in his A Modest Proposal, he shows how the Irish famine was rationalised by blaming the victims.

I would only add to Mr Waterford's analysis that the indigenous Irish grew the potato because it produced far more calories per acre than any realistic alternative at the time, and the average farm size of the native population in the 1840s was about 3 acres (1.2 hectares) of the least fertile land in the country. This situation was brought about by Cromwell's ''To Hell or to Connaught'' campaign, the anti-Catholic penal laws (which fragmented land ownership), the enclosure movement, the Ulster plantations, absentee landlordism, and rack renting.

The very small landholdings meant crop rotation was not feasible and, as any backyard veggie grower knows, planting potatoes in the same place year after year increases the likelihood of disease. This explains the catastrophic crop failures that brought about the Great (Irish) Famine.

Thus the famine was a function of a land tenure system brought about by a ferocious and ruthless campaign of dispossession. Mr Waterford has hit the nail on the head by tracing the lineage of this kind of political chicanery down to the modern day ''tough love'' merchants within Australian labour circles and elsewhere.

Brendan Cox, Richardson

Rape not random

IT NOW emerges that the Indian gang rape that has polarised that country was not a random, bestial attack. Jyoti Singh ''named her killers'' (''Victim detailed rape ordeal before death'', January 13, p14).

This raises the distinct probability that the attack was a premeditated public demonstration, a social, political and religious statement. It was a brutal honour killing.

It elevates the defence lawyer's statement that the unmarried couple should not have been on the streets at night from litigious quibbling to a manifesto. Basically, fundamental and unacceptable cultural differences are deeply embedded.

Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor

Do something about it

I WRITE in relation to the articles in the CT regarding local Aborigines in prison and somehow it is the government's fault. I would like to quote Clarence Louie, who is chief and CEO of the Osoyoos Indian Band in British Columbia.

He said ''if your life sucks, it's because you suck. Quit your sniffling. Join the real world. Go to school, or get a job.

Get off welfare. Get off your butt.'' He also says the time has come to get over it. ''No more whining about 100-year-old failed experiments.''

Rod MacDonald, special counsel, Phelps Reid Lawyers

Water security projects

WHILE I have a good deal of respect for Jon Stanhope, his aside about ACTEW's management of water security projects cannot go unchallenged. It is true the preliminary estimate of the cost of the new Cotter Dam on which ACTEW based its initial in-principle support of the project was well wide of the mark probably because of the lack of recent experience with projects of this kind in Australia.

However, this estimate was never going to be the basis for any decision to proceed with the project.

The subsequent decision to go ahead with the project was taken only after a fully defined, rigorously costed and independently reviewed estimate was developed and comprehensive governance, risk management and assurance arrangements established.

Despite the substantial increase in costs, the Cotter project was still judged to be clearly superior to other options including the water recycling project.

The fact that the project has experienced delays may be due to the dam site being inundated twice by major flooding in two years and properly subject to praise for effective management rather than criticism.

Ted Mathews, Hawker