A tax on wealthy clubs, that will fix sport's problems
Football, money and drugs: what a recipe for disaster. After ASADA's recent findings that Cronulla's football team members had engaged in illicit drug taking the board promptly sacks the coach and several associates, leaving them stunned and bewildered. We know nothing, they say. How could they?
I recently Googled a leading AFL club and discovered it employs no fewer than 29 staff in its football department alone, including head coach, four assistants, development coach, development welfare coach, high performance coach, conditioning coach, sports scientist, physiotherapist, performance psychologist, sports dietitian, players development manager, etc. Is all of this really necessary to maintain a competitive football team? Why not a cap on support staff too?
We recently read of the standing down of Ben Barba, one of the game's most exciting talents, unable to get his head around the fame and fortune thrust upon him so early in life - and he's not Robinson Crusoe. Much of the exorbitant player payments should be placed in trust and given back on retirement when hopefully it will be utilised more responsibly.
Canberra Raiders fans will no doubt be elated at Josh Papali's about-face, initially the lure of the dollar from Parramatta too good to knock back. Then all of a sudden the Raiders up the ante with a third-party top-up. Clubs lucky enough to nurture cashed-up sponsors and benefactors surely make a mockery of the salary cap.
There was a time when one could identify with one's team of choice by its jumper. Not any more; they now change them every year and even throw in extras for special occasions.
They brought in the mining tax and now there is a suggestion that they tax further the profits of the big banks. Why not a tax on our apparently over-resourced football clubs?
Tony May, Pearce
Blame the dog
The Aussie cricket team is in disarray after four players were suspended for not submitting their ''homework''. If the coach were more aware of educational thinking, he would know that homework is on the verge of being abolished in primary schools. Will our cricketers be able to use ''the dog ate my homework'' as an excuse?
Anne Bowen, Macquarie
Before I get stood down as a supporter, I'd better give my three points on how the Australian cricket side can improve: 1. Get rid of the coach. 2. Get rid of the selectors. 3. Get rid of the board. The farce is not just on the field.
David Briese, Pearce
Make it annual
The shore of Lake Burley Griffin must be one of the most beautiful and most under-utilised public spaces in Australia. The stretch, commonly known as Commonwealth Park, with its small ponds populated by myriad fauna and flora, is particularly attractive because, despite this profligacy, it has a quiet and unassuming beauty that captivates the visitor. It has tranquillity.
It has taken 100 years but we have finally seen the lake bursting to the seams with all sorts of people, families, children, seniors and a veritable rainbow of multicultural faces. People on bikes, roller skaters, tricycles, wheelchairs, running, walking and even being dragged by their loved dogs. And everybody seemed to be having a great time. I just hope we don't have to wait another 100 years to see people enjoying the sheer pleasure of being there. Let's have a ''Canberra Birthday by the Lake'' every March 11 to complement Canberra's Floriade.
John Rodriguez, Florey
Just after the fireworks started at Regatta Point on Monday night, the couple down from us pulled out a joint. Sterile? Not a chance.
Gordon Edwards, Page
Congratulations Canberra. What a way to celebrate Canberra's first 100 years. What a way to start the next century.
Ian Pearson, Barton
Edge of empire
Bruce Haigh, in his article ''Australia still struggles with concept of a fair go'' (March 4, p9) says that Australia was ''founded as a penal colony'' and that ''there were no expectations on the part of Britain that it would amount to much more''. While a common view, this shows no knowledge of Britain's imperial development.
At the time, England had been in the empire-building business (mostly very successfully) for 200 years.
The British elite knew well the advantage of conquering strategic points, and foreign lands, for resources and for settling British people where the climate was moderate. More immediately, they were in global competition with the French. Hence, for instance, the sending of James Cook on his Pacific voyages, and the endorsement of his annexation of two-thirds of Australia in 1770. They knew exactly what they were doing: establishing one more area for successful British settlement. Free settlers were allowed from the start. The problem with Botany Bay was how to get sufficient (cheap) labour to a place four times further from Britain than North America.
Rather than Botany Bay being a solution to a convict problem, convicts were a solution to a Botany Bay problem. And they knew from their long experience in North America that convicts turned into successful British settlers. The idea that Britain was only seeking to solve one middle-order problem, of how to house a few thousand convicts, by sending them at immense expense to the other end of the Earth, is unbelievable.
Given the long-term British imperial project, clearly the American war of independence was not the cause of settlement in Australia. Rather, settlement was probably delayed because of the immense cost of that war. A key figure, Joseph Banks, campaigned for a penal colony, not because he was interested in prison problems, but because it was a first step in expanding British dominion in Australia.
Paul Pollard, O'Connor
Riding the wagon
Ross Fitzgerald wonderfully exemplifies the normality of the bulk of AA members in his review of Jill Stark's book, High Sobriety (''Hitching the Wagon'', Panorama, March 9, p25). There is no missionary zeal, but simply the reality that people in trouble with alcohol and other drugs may find AA useful and if, like Ross, they are alcoholics or addicts, then AA can be a life saver for them and the people who love them. As Ross Fitzgerald makes clear, for alcoholics and addicts, AA is a wagon worth hitching up to.
Dr P. A. Smith, Mount Archer, Qld
Peter Doherty (Letters, March 9) is unlikely to get a response from Doug Hurst concerning the need for ''a better reference to the March 4, 2013, report from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre of Astrophysics'', so allow me to observe that it appears that Mr Hurst may have mistyped (or misread) ''2013'' when it should have been ''2003''. The only relevant reference that I could find was to a paper by Drs Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years in the journal Climate Research, vol. 23: 89-110, published in January 2003 (www.int-res.com/articles/cr2003/23/ c023p089.pdf). A longer version was published in the journal Energy and Environment, Vol. 14, No. 2-3/ May 2003. The history of the controversy that this engendered is to be found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soon_and_Baliunas_controversy.
The concluding sentence of the paper's abstract reads: ''Across the world, many records reveal that the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium'' - which matches Mr Hurst's claim fairly closely. Where he got the March 4 date from, I've no idea.
The Soon-Baliunas research was funded, directly and indirectly, by the American coal and petroleum industries (see the Wikipedia article for a summary).
Michael Saclier, Curtin
Look to Canada
Ric Hingee (Letters, March 11) suggests that the ACT could be better governed if we had ''a community council-type approach to governing along the lines of similar councils in Canada''. Well, Ric, rather than ''similar councils'' there is an example in Canada which is tailor-made for Canberra and the ACT - the city of Ottawa. Ottawa is the national capital of (federal) Canada, located entirely within Ontario, one of the largest Provinces (starting to see a similarity here?). The Ottawa City Council consists of a mayor (elected at large) and 23 councillors, each elected from a separate ward. The administration of the city is headed by a city manager.
Federal interests in Ottawa (national land, buildings, institutions, monuments etc) and the surrounding region are looked after by the National Capital Commission, a (federal) statutory body (sound familiar?). Provincial (ie, state) services are provided by Ontario. The system works, and it works for a population over twice the size of Canberra and the ACT! That is the system of local government we need.
Paul E. Bowler, Holder
I fully endorse Katy Gallagher's determination not to capitulate to giving Tony Abbott a speaking role in the replication of Canberra's naming ceremony on March 12. If he's really miffed, perhaps Mr Abbott could instead cycle out to his beloved Queanbeyan to perform some stunt wearing a fluoro vest in a factory where he can talk to his heart's content. While he's at it, he could also indicate his commitment, or not, to Canberra by revealing whether, unlike his adored guru John Howard, he would live full-time in the Lodge with his family should he become prime minister.
David Jenkins, Turner
Ross Peake's article entitled ''Gallagher refuses to find role for Abbott'' (March 11, p3) states that ACT officials are saying that the NSW premier had a speaking role at the time of Canberra's naming ceremony 100 years ago and that, as the ACT did not exist at the time, it was appropriate that the chief minister speak in place of the premier at Tuesday's replica event. In fact, the site of Canberra was part of federal territory surrendered to the Commonwealth by NSW on January 1, 1911, more than two years before Canberra was named.
Frank Marris, Forrest
Sifting the spin from Geocon takes debate to new heights
Damien Haas' largely excellent article ''Friction reaches new heights'' (March 8, p19) about Geocon's proposed 35-storey residential and hotel building in Belconnen correctly concluded that there was ''an urgent need for conversation between residents and government'' on development planning, and that there was a need for ''enforceable clarification'' of criteria such as height.
Unfortunately, Haas was tricked into presenting Geocon's spin as fact. The proposed tower is not ''thin''; it is as wide as a football field. It contains not just 235 residential units (121 90square metres to 140sqm), but also 168 hotel rooms (including two-bedroom suites).
It is not ''strikingly bold''. ''Bold'' indicates the developer is risking his own fortune. A better term would be ''extremely arrogant'', which accurately indicates Geocon's unethical disregard for the Belconnen community.
The building is not ''environmentally friendly''. Griffin planned a ''city in the environment''; 80 per cent of this building is above tree height. The building is more than 100 metres tall (four times higher than almost all buildings in Belconnen). The summit of Black Mountain is only 200 metres above Lake Ginninderra! The architect's claim that he ''celebrated the height'' is a good indication of his arrogance; is it true the height of buildings is directly proportional to their architects' egos?
The developer explained ''solar-friendly'' merely meant that all units faced partly north - because southern facing units were less valuable!
The building is monstrously unacceptable. A solution is to split it into four 8-storey blocks, compatible with other buildings in the town centre.
Bob Salmond, Melba
Yes, we all want a sustainable Canberra, and no, we don't want tall high-rise buildings. So how? I'm neither a planner nor an architect, and therefore no expert, but share many Canberrans' concern at the rush to ever higher structures visible beyond the hills and blocking views of the mountains. Yes, we need greater density but surely this is not the only solution. Other Australian cities, however, do not provide a solution that maintains our garden city/bush capital sense of place. But some overseas cities I know have a greater density, vibrant lifestyle, rapid transport, yet maintain a human scale. Paris is an example, where the height restriction, 37 metres, is six to eight stories depending on ceiling height. Surely such shorter apartment blocks clustered around town and suburb centres, and along some key thoroughfares, would ensure more frequent buses and light rail, and get us out of our cars, as many of us wish to do! Similarly, instead of bigger and bigger houses on smaller and smaller blocks, leaving only tiny paved surrounds, surely three-storey apartments could cut the built footprint resulting in a shared garden, trees, birds, spaces to play, and maintain and sustain the Canberra we know and love.
Marilyn Truscott, Waramanga
Leases must expire
In his excellent article (''Time for a new lease on life'', Forum, March 9, p7) , Christopher Erskine explains why Canberra is ''a freehold city in all but name'', and why the leasehold system is redundant, quite unnecessary for planning purposes because of the Territory Plan, inequitable and should be scrapped. He doesn't exactly say this but obviously thinks our ''de facto freehold'' system should be formalised. However, if that's thought impossible under the constitution (although I believe it is possible, by a repeal of a 1913 Act), conversion from 99 to 999-year leases would go close to being the same thing
Erskine asks ''Is there any point in keeping the leasehold system?'' The logical and equitable answer is ''no''; but almost certainly the reason governments retain it is because it lets them impose an inequitable tax called the lease variation charge when a lessee wants to redevelop his property for multi-residential housing. I say inequitable because homeowners have already paid freehold prices for their land, and should, therefore, have the same rights as freeholders, which includes redeveloping their land without paying the government a second time. (There's no equivalent tax in the states).
It really is time this inequitable tax was scrapped and the way opened to also scrap leasehold tenure.
R.S. Gilbert, Braddon
To the point ...
TIME TO LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott suggests that he's ''certainly said some things which [he] wouldn't say now'' and that he'd ''like to think that [he's] grown''. I look forward to Abbott's demonstrating his sincerity by leading by example and calling to order his Coalition colleagues - regardless of what others do. Then he will demonstrate clearly that he has ''changed [and] grown'' enough to be considered seriously as an effective prime ministerial candidate.
Judy Bamberger, O'Connor
STATUE NOT PORNOGRAPHIC
I'm fairly certain that so-called pornographic statue of a woman at Canberra Airport, as referred to by Helen Morris (Letters, March 11, p8), is anything but. I find it sad that people still have such an unhealthy and uptight view of the human body. A naked body is not pornographic, nor is a naked sculpture. If it was, will someone please cover Michelangelo's statue of David and the multitude of naked cherubs that adorn churches worldwide.
Larry Appley, Palmerston
SUGGESTIONS FOR NEW POPE
I think I am a reasonable Catholic and therefore cannot expect the impossible from our new Pope. As a result, what about the near impossible? First, what about married priests and women priests? Imagine a priestly husband and wife team. Second, an all-out crusade to stamp out assaults, coupled with comprehensive reparation for victims. Third, scaling down some mortal sins, such as ignoring Friday penance, to serious venial sins, so fewer Catholics will go to hell.
Reg Dyett, Braddon
SOME DAIRY FACTS
M. Davis (Letters, March 7, p18) displays the common ''townies'' misconceptions about the milk industry. Very few producers, i.e. dairy farmers, skim off the cream; this is done at a milk factory and the skim milk is used to make cheese. Some of the skim milk might be added to whole milk to achieve the ''only 2 per cent fat'' claim (unless in recent years there has been a change in a cow's diet, milk which comes fresh from the cow has about 2.4 per cent fat).
Ken McPhan, Spence
Martin Laverty, Catholic Health Australia chief executive, doesn't compromise his position by dreamily stating ''people are healthier if they can stay away from hospitals'' (March 11, p9), knowing that purveyors of unhealthy choices aggressively resist legislative restrictions to purvey their poison to eager, affluenza-bedazzled, insatiable Western consumers, en route to hospital!
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan, NSW