Dire predictions portray ACT as a giant welfare state
In the lead-up to the federal election, Gai Brodtmann and her colleagues have foreshadowed economic catastrophe for the ACT if the Coalition implements its planned cuts to the public service (''Brodtmann fires up for PS'', February 6, p1). Leaving aside Labor's hypocrisy in chastising the Coalition for something they too have been doing for the past six years, if these predictions are correct it would merely show the ACT is a giant welfare state, heavily or totally reliant on taxpayer funds to drive our economic prosperity.
Is it not time federal and local governments got serious about diversifying Canberra's industries, offering our self-congratulatory ''highly educated'' workforce a career besides the public service or university sector? That way we can avoid these tired, monotonous discussions about the conservative federal government boogie man cutting taxpayer-funded jobs that we feel we have a right to have.
Gordon Williams, Watson
As both a constituent of Gai Brodtmann and a public servant, I could not disagree more with her address to the House of Representatives on Tuesday night.
While I enjoy my job and living in Canberra, private-sector taxpayers in the rest of the country do not owe a living to me or any other public servant. Any federal government, whether Labor or Coalition, should allocate funding to the public service based on genuine need, not on the basis of maintaining a particular number of employees.
Further, as very little of the Commonwealth's limited responsibility for service delivery requires staff in Canberra, no particular reason exists for maintaining employees in Canberra if they can be more efficiently employed elsewhere in the country.
Stephen Jones, Bonython
Good on Gai Brodtmann and Gary Humphries for sticking up for Canberra against the promised slash and burn of the public service after the next election.
Unfortunately, however, it will make absolutely no difference. Australians outside Canberra couldn't care less what happens here. The slashing of the public service, and beating up on Canberra generally, is a vote winner with the rest of Australia. Where else in Australia could an employer cut 12,000-plus jobs without a massive outcry and no signs of support or sympathy to those affected?
C. Thomas, Deakin
Tougher than grass
As a Kingston business owner, I have a 10-year association with Green Square. In the months after the initial redevelopment about 10 years ago, it was re-grassed on a regular basis but never adequately watered and always died within weeks.
The current vegetation has overcome this cycle of death and it now looks OK, even if people can't picnic on the ''grass'' - they rarely did anyway (''Call to reinstate grass to revive Kingston's Green Square'', February 6, p3). The businesses that provided diversity have closed because rents are much too high for a centre that has always been a poor cousin to Manuka. Kingston rents are $700-plus per square metre while in other similar shopping precincts such as Dickson, Mawson and Jamison they are $400-$450 for shops of 100-150 square metres.
Adam Visser, Kingston
Roger Terry (Letters, February 6) thinks that Tony Abbott's sterling efforts in helping indigenous people are somehow brought into question by his failure to acknowledge the traditional owners prior to speaking at the Press Club recently.
Mr Terry should know that this is not an indigenous custom, it is a patronising initiative by white people that makes most sensible people cringe. If there is one positive in an Abbott-led government, it would be the quiet disappearance of this politically correct nonsense.
H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW
Climate is changing at speed the world is slow to grasp
Nicholas Stuart (''Climate change is the existential crisis with us right now'', February 5, p9) has it exactly right in his description of climate change as an existential crisis. We humans have faced other crises of our own creation before this. The life-shattering forces of war and the morally overwhelming phenomena of slavery and genocide come to mind. But these, all-encompassing and inescapable though they may be, have always played out on a planetary stage that has changed its shape slowly, if at all. The climate crisis, rendering our feeble political systems incompetent and impotent, is a threat of an entirely different nature.
War, slavery and injustice transpire on a historical time scale of decades and centuries, while climatic processes have taken place over millennia, over eons. Now, climatic transformations are happening with the speed of war.
With our wasteful consumer economies and our fossil fuel addictions, we have unwittingly an auto-immune response from the natural environment upon which our lives depend. Our species' continued survival hinges on how rapidly we can understand these facts and their implications.
Warren Senders, West Medford, Massachusetts, USA
Nicholas Stuart is spot on about climate change. It seems we are like the little pigs in the fairy story, in particular the one who builds his home of straw. Some of us are uneasy, and reckon our house should be built of something less flimsy, just in case. But those in charge of the building insist that more expensive construction is not necessary on such a lovely sunny day. Talk of a big bad wolf is simply scaremongering.
Some can make out what looks like a wolf in the distance, and by now are shouting out: ''Look behind you!'' But those in charge don't turn around, partly because they don't believe in big bad wolves, and partly because they don't want to find out they are wrong.
Harry Davis, Braddon
Nicholas Stuart needs a lie down. Satellite records began in 1979. Warming occurred for 20 years. There has been no warming in the past 15 years. Atmospheric CO2 as measured by the Pettenkopfer method from 1821 to 1961 shows higher readings at times than currently exist.
From 2000 to 2009 we were told by warmists warming meant endless drought. Now it's endless flooding. Extreme weather events have not increased in frequency. And Victoria's worst bushfire on record was in 1851, not 2009, although a larger population living close to forests led to terrible losses.
Insurers have increased premiums as more people live in areas that are dangerous. They are happy to talk up warmism as it is a great way to increase premiums and blame it on someone else. That's business.
Brian Hatch, Narrabundah
Play the ball
Dr Marjorie Curtis (Letters, February 6) asks for respect for climate sceptics, but equally those sceptical about sceptics should be able to express their views free from personal attack. Neil Porter (Letters, February 5) doubts Dr Judy Ryan's link between the quality of CSIRO's science and recent reports on staff management, and the credibility of her chosen climate change expert (letters, February 3).
His points are fair comment, and open for Dr Ryan or Dr Curtis to refute or rebut them. It seems less fair to play the man by accusing Porter of making an outrageous personal attack.
Andrew McCredie, Red Hill
Slow to connect
Faster speeds have been announced for the NBN on satellite and wireless connection. Speed is not the correct term, bandwidth perhaps is. This matters for satellite connections, because true speed combined with the distance to the satellite will result in a fraction of a second delay in any interactive use of the NBN. Video conferences, telephone calls and gaming are examples. This will make the NBN useless for gaming, or live telemedicine where a procedure is being conducted. It will also be awkward for conferencing. Rural and remote areas will continue to get a second-rate service compared with population centres.
Peter Marshall, Captains Flat, NSW
In making the intuitively appealing claim that sexual abuse reported by the NSW Ombudsman is no more prevalent among Aborigines than in other groups in society with similar substance-abuse/socio-economic profiles, Chris Ansted (Letters, February 5) forgot to examine cultural predisposition.
My sister, after living and teaching for several years in a remote Aboriginal community, used to say that some of the more difficult times for her were hearing the screams of recently pubescent girls as tribal elders claimed traditional rights to the sexual education of those of their choosing. She was apparently powerless to intervene.
Small wonder, then, that as tribal-elder structures break down, other men in such communities might seek to emulate their betters.
Funny how no one talks about such traditions when supporting traditional culture.
Cuthbert Douglas, Bonython
Save the woodland
The Arbo-Disneyland has opened with great fanfare and spin. I am grateful to Jamie Pittock (''Can't see trees for the forest'', Forum, February 2, p7) that what we see are not forests but monocultures of uniformly arranged trees, which are taken out of their natural context, much like the poor North Korean people forced to march in military parades. This is more agonising to watch, as at the same time, the will, the concern and the funds are lacking to prevent the small pockets of critically endangered and real ecological communities here in Canberra from dying a slow death. So the best the government and the many sponsors of the arboretum can do is to match dollar for dollar their investment into this multimillion-dollar, weed-propagating fantasyland, to support the protection and proper management of the grassy woodlands that are close to extinction through neglect and rampant development.
Jochen Zeil, Hackett
Develop City Hill
The arboretum is great. Now for a project that has apparently been too hard for too long - our main civic centre at City Hill (land inside London Circuit). It's time for the Gallagher government to break free from ''faceless'' Labor and business forces compelled to flog the land to property developers, and rapidly realise a civic centre befitting the territory and the national capital.
The present City Hill plan is seriously flawed (the federal standing committee on the national capital rejected it), and it has abjectly failed (a major portion of the hill sold to the private sector in 2007 shamefully [but thankfully] remains undeveloped, and other land auctions and a government office project there have collapsed). A new wide-ranging community brief is needed for the place, focusing on public events and gatherings, as well as legislative, municipal, cultural, judicial, transport, traffic, parking, and recreational uses, with major accessible landscaped public open spaces, and some appropriately placed commercial and hotel/serviced apartment buildings.
The City Hill development must respect and reflect the character of the central national area, Capital Hill as the premier apex of the national triangle, the strong radial geometry of the City Hill layout, and a sense of arrival into the capital. A properly constituted binding design completion (as for the arboretum) based on the new brief, is required. As envisaged by Griffin, selected buildings could be designed by others in consultation with the overall design winner. Significant federal funding assistance would be appropriate.
Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Thank you for printing Michael McCarthy's letter (February 6) on using the correct pronouns according to the nominative case (subject in a sentence) or accusative case (object in the sentence). English being an SVO (Subject, Verb, Object) language, it is important to know the why, how and where of English grammar. The next step in his letter would have been to ask the reader to correct the case to check for comprehension.
For example, using ''whom'' is passe I have been told, but knowing that it should be used in the accusative case only is useful for those who want to use it correctly to impress an audience.
A bit of grammar with first cup of coffee this morning was refreshing and invigorating, linguistically speaking.
Noelle Roux, Chifley
A bright idea
On my frequent visits to the multi-storey car park at the Canberra Centre, I am always amused to see the occupied parking bays indicated by a red light. Obviously that is because visually impaired drivers can see there is a car parked in those spaces. Another instance of being over-engineered: I would have thought that it would be more effective to only mark the unoccupied spaces with a light. That way drivers could look along a row and see exactly where the vacant bays are.
Murray Moore, Lyons
Stop the snobbery
Thank you to Steve and Cherie Whan for their defence of Karabar High School. We, too, are a professional couple with a child at Karabar High. We chose to send our child there because of the excellent results and outstanding programs on offer. As such, I found the snickering comments about Queanbeyan and the school not only offensive, but the lowest form of snobbery after our children had just endured a horrifying incident (''Boy charged over alleged school stabbing'', February 6, p1).
Sadly, such things have been happening all too frequently in our school yards and the type of education system appears to be irrelevant (think back to last year when stabbings occurred at different private schools in Brisbane).
Queanbeyan has lower than average crime statistics - as reported by The Canberra Times in April last year - and a thriving and growing population. If parents think private schools have a magical protective force-field around them, think again, and be prepared to maintain your child in a culture of affluence, where the fees are just the beginning. So I suggest ACT residents try to have some compassion for these children before coming up with another derogatory ''Queanbeyan-ism''.
Carolyn Hogan, Queanbeyan, NSW
TO THE POINT
Congratulations to Graham Tuckwell (''Gasps at ANU old boy's $50m for scholarships'', February 6, p1) for providing a chance to those less well off to follow their dreams and ambitions for further education.
Dave White, Deakin
TIME TO TAKE INITIATIVE
With Australia sitting for the next two years in the UN Security Council, will we initiate some further action on UN Resolution 194 allowing ''Palestinians to return to their homes at the earliest practical date?'' This has been affirmed by universal consensus at the UN no less than 110 times? What stopped this contribution to Middle East peace? The US veto. Time to remove this anachronism.
Rhys Stanley, via Hall, NSW
My understanding of democracy is that it operates on inclusive principles but Colliss Parrett (Letters, February 5) expects that a democratic government should abrogate its mores to allow some institutions to be exclusive according to their particular whims. Exclusive institutions are by their very nature non-democratic. Should not a democracy consist of inclusive democratic institutions? Does not the inclusion of a exclusive non-democratic institution in a democracy render such democracy null and void?
Peter Snowdon, Aranda
Position Vacant: Right Wing Power Broker.
Howard Ubey, Kingston
BACK TO THE PEOPLE
What can you say? David Pope is brilliant! (Editorial cartoon, February 6, p10). Another clever cartoon for the fridge door. Let's hope that the once great Labor Party can bury the jesters who are currently in charge and resurrect itself after the election to represent its base, the working people, instead of the party hacks and power brokers who have brought it to its knees.
F. Coble, Isaacs
THE NAME GAME
Your article ''Boy charged over alleged school stabbing'' (February 6, p1) says for ''legal reasons'' the Queanbeyan high school cannot be named. This happens all too often, with no apparent justification. There are only two in Queanbeyan and the pictures with your article would readily identify which one. The ABC News on the web named the school!
Eric Hodge, Pearce
I understand this government requires recognition of traditional ownership of the land, Roger Terry (Letters, February 6), but it is not compulsory, yet, for those who see it as divisive and patronising.
Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla