For real people power, take the cars off Bunda Street
Letters to the Editor
There is much to like in all three proposals for Bunda Street (''Bunda St for the people'', January 16, p1).
But why is Bunda Street being retained for traffic? Anyone who has walked, driven or ridden through the area during peak hours knows the entire area is pedestrian-intensive and that the road traffic is an impediment to the free flow of foot traffic.
There is no need for cars at all. Bunda Street should be closed to all transport except delivery vehicles and a free Civic loop tram-style bus.
Joe Murphy, Bonython
The announcement about Bunda Street in Civic is a pleasant surprise.
It is to be civilised at last. This was suggested 40 years ago by the late Geraldine Spencer in these columns and the new plans are remarkably like hers. Speeds in Bunda Street are already fairly low at busy times, so it is sensible to rationalise what is happening.
Spencer has done far better than me in her activism, including anti-smoking laws and action for public transport.
Surely a mini-park in Bunda Street can be named in her honour? Non-smoking, of course.
Brian McNamara, Lyneham
It's great to see the Civic cycle loop taking shape. The area will be a lot safer as a result.
Except for one black spot: Allara Street between Constitution Avenue and the bridge over Parkes Way.
The exits onto Allara Street from the ACT works/defence depot and from customs have stop signs but you wouldn't know it. I ride right out onto Allara Street following near-death experiences at both blind-corner exits as vehicles zoomed straight through the stop signs. That's one aspect I'd really like to see fixed.
Perhaps the organisations concerned can start by reminding their employees that the stop signs are there and that ''stop'' means ''stop''.
Dallas Stow, O'Connor
Abolish bus fares
The ACT government has just announced increases in Action bus fares, which surely will deter patrons.
As one means of increasing the usage of the bus service, why not abolish all fares? This would surely encourage more Canberrans to leave their cars at home and travel by bus.
It would also eliminate the systems and infrastructure that go with fare collection - the ticketing system, cash handling and accounting - thereby reducing overheads of running the service. and would speed up boarding.
What would it cost? The annual income from fares appears to be about $23 million, which is less than one-fifth of Action's expenditure and barely 0.5 per cent of the government's annual income. May I suggest that someone with the appropriate expertise look into the advantages and disadvantages, costs and benefits of such a proposal?
Alan Wilson, Yarralumla
Pricing policy for public sector transport usually means regular price increases due to lower patronage that resulted from the previous price increase.
To attract more patrons, adding value and amenity to what the patrons currently receive is needed.
A brainstorming session of interested parties, including bus drivers, would be a good way to start addressing the downward movement in patronage.
Issues that could be addressed include having seats wide enough to comfortably seat two people in our growing society; having a grocery and parcel delivery service on a cost recovery basis as an add-on to make it easier for people to travel by bus; and as suggested by David Walker (Letters, January 15), some free incentives for people who use buses.
Les Brennan, Sunshine Bay, NSW
As long as we learn
Our house and almost everything we owned, at 5 Renmark Street, Duffy, was lost in the fires of 2003.
We were lucky in that we were not hurt and had no pets at the time, but I have always felt great sadness for those who lost family and pets in the disaster.
We were also extremely fortunate in that we, along with those who lived in the 500-plus houses destroyed, received amazing emotional and financial support from family, friends, community, public and private enterprise, agencies such as Vinnies and the Salvos, and the government and the kind and sympathetic people at the recovery centres.
I will always feel the greatest admiration for those firefighters, police and helicopter pilots who worked in the most incredibly dangerous and frightening conditions to try to stop the fires, and appreciate the efforts made by the media and others to keep us informed about events.
I believe there was no way the fire could have been stopped, and it is upsetting to hear the continuing claims that the catastrophe could have been avoided.
It was a very hard time but thank goodness most people got through it with help.
Going on and on 10 years down the track about what might have been is not useful.
It surely is time to stop blaming individuals and officials for what was in fact a natural disaster.
The best that can be hoped for is that authorities can learn from these events, and it would seem from the terrible fires in Tasmania in which there was not one loss of life, that this is happening, which is really something.
Charmian Lawson, Holder
A foul for Allen
Graeme Allen of Basketball Australia says there is no gender discrimination against players in the WNBL (''BA decides not to act over Bibby spray'', January 16, p20).
That's good to hear, but he is quoted twice as referring to ''the girls''; no mention, of course, of ''the boys''.
To make matters worse, he also tries to duck-shove the blame over women being denied access to VIP lounges on to the carrier, Virgin Australia.
Allen should be reminded that referring to women as ''girls'', while still virtually the norm in sport, only reinforces the complaints of fine Australian sportswomen like Jess Bibby.
Added to this, to have the question of ''sanctioning'' her for her complaints about travel discrimination not dismissed immediately shows that Basketball Australia has still a way to go before it can claim its women athletes are on a totally even footing with their male counterparts.
Eric Hunter, Cook
The heading ''PM backs right to reject 'sinners''' (January 16, p1) is either mischievous or ill-informed.
As I understand it, Christian organisations believe all people are sinners.
However, some people are sorry for their sin, seek forgiveness, resolve to try to sin no more, and accept Jesus as their Lord and saviour.
These people (sinners) would be welcome to work in Christian organisations.
(Of course, depending on the nature of the work of an individual organisation, this may not even be a requirement.)
It would be a silly and counterproductive thing for someone to join an organisation whose beliefs they didn't share.
It would be like someone joining a footy team and insisting that they be allowed to play basketball if they so desire.
The heading used makes some Christian organisations appear bigoted, whereas the reality is that allowing people to join an organisation when they don't agree with the beliefs of that organisation could, ultimately, make it impossible for the organisation to function.
Gordon Fyfe, Kambah
Why does the PM Julia Gillard believe that religious institutions deserve a special ''freedom'' within the proposed bill of rights that will allow them to discriminate when everyone else has to toe the line?
Discrimination is rampant, no more so than in the various churches that dot the landscape.
The bill of rights is about people and should reflect our multicultural and secular way of life.
Joe Murphy, Bonython
The letter from Damon Adams, of LEAP (January 16), was breathtaking in both its arrogance and its politically motivated misdirection.
He suggests the Alexander Maconochie Centre be run in terms of rehabilitation and not as a prison.
He goes further to suggest that if the management of the prison does not want it to be human rights-compliant, then it should change its name to reflect it being a prison.
I would suggest that a very high number of inmates at the jail are recidivists, for whom rehabilitation is an occupation to be undertaken in jail before they can be released to reoffend.
I am sick and tired of hearing about human rights for prisoners; they do not respect the human rights of those whom they offend against, nor of the wider community.
A jail should be a jail, despite its name.
Ian Jannaway, Monash
Africans must act
The French government's claim that insurgents in Mali will be defeated within a few weeks (''French win Mali battle but rebels still threat'', January 15, p7) takes one back to 2001, when the US was equally confident that its toppling of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan had taken care of a bunch of renegades.
Sadly, the survival of the Taliban has meant that these insurgents now believe that they, too, have a chance of winning the war.
To halt the collapse of Mali and the spread of Islamist rebels, it is largely the duty of the African nations to come to Mali's rescue.
Sam Nona, Burradoo, NSW
To the point
SPOT-ON FOR SATIRE
Pope, you are brilliant. No, not the one in Rome; the satirist behind the cartoon ''media release'' (January 16). Let's hope its conniving targets see it, too.
Barrie Smillie, Duffy
COUCH POTATOES RULE
Jack Kershaw's suggestion that Northbourne Oval behind the Braddon Club be converted to a park (Letters, January 15) will likely be well received by our local council. It will save on grounds maintenance. Possibly, the heritage-listed keeper's cottage beside the oval could be surreptitiously bulldozed along with the club. That would be a saving, too. It is not as though schools and amateur sports clubs could use the resource. Couch potatoes rule, as Kershaw implies. I doubt his snide mockery of the rugby league's need for compensation due to ''massive changes in the ways its widely popular game is professionally played and viewed in larger urban environments'' can pierce our council's complacency.
Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
CLEAN OUT THE STABLE
During the hustings, US President Barack Obama said Iraq's invasion was ''a dumb war'', drawing his party and people around him. Obama's administration retained the incumbent neocons, hawks, oil men and Wall Street apologists. It's not that the ''President's men are flawed'' (January 15, p9) but Obama, as his failure to cleanse George W. Bush's Augean stable.
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan, NSW
WORDS OF WISDOM
Liverpool University researchers have discovered the mental stimulus of great literature (''Bard lights up the brain when self-help guides are dark'' January 14, p3). I was taught as a child the value of learning passages of classical poetry by heart and I know the mental therapy to be gained in this way. But in this age of smartphones and other electronic gadgets, how many of us would ever open a volume of Shakespeare or Wordsworth and read what they have given to the world? This week, in a shopping mall, young people twice walked into me because they were glued to text messages.
Robert Willson, Deakin
CENTENARY LACKS SPARKLE
Jorian Gardner (''This is a 100th? I can't see oomph, razzmatazz, fizz …, January 12, p9) is right to say the start of our centenary year has lacked a spark. I, too, find only events listed that happen every year, nothing special. We seem to have missed an opportunity to tell the 100-year story of Canberrans and to reflect on: why we were born or came to live here; how people have made Canberra what it is; and how it has changed.
Philip Pellatt, Scullin
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