Rail plan provides little light at end of the tunnel
According to the ACT Government's ''Our City Our Community'' brochure the Gungahlin light rail transit (LRT) is going ahead at a cost of $614 million despite the alternative bus rapid transit (BRT) costing only $276 million.
Unlike any other city Canberra is comprised of five town centres (six including Queanbeyan); three industrial areas; and three separate employment hubs. Commuter transport is needed to and from any one of these to any other. Because of this peculiar demographic, it is logical that properly designed roads will, due to their flexibility, be the only economical way to transport people to where they need to go. Roads are flexible and adaptable, fixed track is not.
The true cost of the LRT must include the damage to infrastructure, the massive disruptions and delays that the project will inflict on the community, and the destruction of Northbourne Avenue. The everlasting disruption to traffic along the adjacent and cross streets must also be considered. These costs would not be incurred with the BRT. Introducing the BRT would also allow for more than Gungahlin to benefit for the cost proposed. This inflexible Capital Metro will undoubtedly be a costly failure.
Murray Upton, Belconnen
Regarding the King's Highway ''upgrades'' (''Braidwood poplars will go in Kings Hwy upgrade'', March 6, p2) I couldn't help but notice there was no mention of point-to-point speed cameras. If the NSW government is serious about slowing down drivers presumably two sets of point-to-point cameras - between Bungendore and Braidwood, and then Braidwood to the coast, could be an effective speed control device? One only has to travel on Hindmarsh Drive to see the careful monitoring of speed by almost all drivers.
Hopefully a ''midpoint check'' on each sector could be installed to warn drivers that they are likely to be booked if they keep travelling at their current average speed. A signboard with the car registration number and an ''over'' message would suffice.
It won't prevent ''suicidal overtaking'' but could generally moderate speeding on the highway.
Malcolm Pateson, Greenleigh, NSW
ACT's great climate
Canberra's climate is the best I have lived in, and I have lived in cities all round the world. Hot and dry in summer (which is easier to handle rather than hot and humid), and a lovely winter with the majority of days being sunny and cold. No floods or cyclones to worry about. Spring and autumn are equally delicious.
Compared to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide this is a far more liveable environment (''ACT very liveable, except for climate and housing'', March 5, p3). Canberra has among the highest number of cloudless sunny days in winter of the cities in Australia and is great for building passive solar houses to keep you warm.
Dave Roberts, Dickson
Dirty diesel risks
With the news the diesel exhaust is carcinogenic comes the recollection of motoring through tunnels, the air thick with smoke belching from the top of nearly every heavy vehicle and the obvious failure of the tunnel ventilation system to cope.
The fault lies clearly with inadequate maintenance of the diesel engines, which, it's hard to believe, are favoured for their superior efficiency through the use of higher compression ratios than petrol burners. But the smoke is unburnt carbon containing the cancer-causing nano-particles, pointing unerringly to poor maintenance of the fuel metering and injection systems and, ironically, to the loss of efficiency.
Traffic authorities should detect and punish the owners of vehicles that spew thick smoke, not just in tunnels, by combining the public health concern with the need to burn diesel fuel efficiently.
P. Glover, Canberra City
I watched the Leigh Sales interview of Professor Tim Flannery on the ABC last night, which presumably was meant to tease out Flannery's recent claims that the extreme weather we have been experiencing is the result of climate change. It's telling how soft Sales is with fellow travellers compared with for example, her somewhat excitable demolition of Tony Abbott last year.
Flannery has a well-known propensity to exaggerate, and his form in making dud predictions is legend, which qualifies him to be grilled mercilessly by Sales. Instead the interview was remarkable in what it left out.
While Sales did lamely mention the IPCC's acknowledgement that the Earth has not warmed for some time, surely a first for the ABC, the obvious question she failed to ask Flannery was ''You have made predictions that failed to materialise, most notable that a number of Australian cities would by now have run out of water, why should we believe you now?''
H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW
Betsy Dixon (Letters, March 5) was surprised to learn that convicts were transported to American colonies. Most general histories of the US mention penal transportation. It has been estimated about 50,000 convicts were transported before the revolution. Some were sold as slaves, many as indentured servants. Daniel Defoe's 1722 novel Moll Flanders gives a fictional account of the fate of just such an indentured servant who ''makes good'' in Maryland.
One key difference between the US and Australian experiences is that our first white settlement was founded explicitly as a penal colony.
David Roth, Kambah
I'm afraid Elizabeth (Betsy) Dixon did miss something in her history class (Letters, March 5) and full marks to US ambassador Jeffrey Bleich for picking up on a little-known link between Australia and America.
Around 120,000 convicts were shipped from England to America between 1650 and 1775.
When they arrived the balance of their sentences was sold to plantation owners. They went mainly to Virginia, Maryland and the Carolinas to work on the cotton fields, but many died, particularly from malaria.
Total convicts to NSW between 1788-1868 were more than 160,000. The shipments to America stopped after the War of Independence. This forced King George III to find a new dumping ground for his surplus convicts - one of several factors that led directly to the founding of the Botany Bay colony.
Geof Murray, Nicholls
An ill wind
Grazier Charlie Prell uses the wind industry argument that it is just a vocal minority who are opposed (''Wind farm opponents in minority: proponent'', March 4, p5). This is from someone who says it will contribute to a ''positive outcome'' from the ''income [he] gets''.
This is a common wedge tearing rural communities apart around Australia, where wind turbines are being installed.
The ''Stop these Things'' website follows the money trail in some detail, showing the corporate agenda and tactics at play, and the way in which paid hosts of wind turbines are alienating many in their communities. For example, with the planned wind farm on Yorke Peninsula, in South Australia, one person writes: ''At the moment, there is a very isolated group of 36 hosts and a very angry community of 2-300 people and growing, which will only get worse if the Ceres wind turbine project goes ahead.'' It is not uncommon at all for people who are initially pro-wind farm to later switch to being anti-wind farm, after the wind farm is installed.
In Ontario, Canada, the disaffected rural vote cost the provincial government its majority in the 2011 election, with the loss of 18 seats.
Murray May, Cook
What Charlie Prell fails to realise is that 100 pro-wind individuals went to a meeting because they were all to receive their cut out of wind developments, as opposed to 50 individuals who protested because they would see their environment and landscape ruined.
Even if a ''majority'' supposedly supported wind developments, a majority also supported figures like Hitler, Stalin, Milosevic and Iraq's Hussein at the point they got into power. It is similar with wind turbines reality will spin into the picture a little later.
It is only after we stuff the whole Southern Tablelands with hundreds of wind turbines that many will realise that we still haven't closed down one coal plant and we still wouldn't, even if we repeated the same mistake in other regions of NSW.
George Papadopoulos, Yass, NSW
After two years of inaction and procrastination brought about by the continual lobbying by Yarralumla residents to the ACT government, the YMCA Sailing Club is no closer to being able to occupy the function/training rooms and administration offices on the upper level of its Yarralumla clubhouse.
This is continuing to affect its viability and general wellbeing. Recently we celebrated our 50th anniversary as a sailing club and it was very difficult to tell life members who had toiled to build the club on a volunteer basis that they could not go upstairs and enjoy the new facilities.
It's also having an impact on the ability of the club to attract national championships to Canberra. With the 2013-14 Australian Sharpie Championships up for grabs, the club is unable to put in a proposal because of its lack of facilities. The event attracted 200 sailors in Adelaide this year, plus families.
Chris Ablett, national secretary, Australian Sharpie Sailing Association and YMCA Sailing Club member
No place for guns
The NSW government has forgotten why national parks were established in its state and other states in Australia. To jog its memory, a national park/reserve is set aside to protect the natural native environment be it animal, vegetable or mineral. Trained staff such as rangers will remove feral animals which stray into the reserve. A national park is not a place for exploitation [by] recreational shooters.
Fiona Brand, Lyneham
Fourth Estate found wanting on disaster of deregulation
The ancient Romans knew how to focus the attention of crime investigators, formulating the Latin expression ''cui prodest'' - who gains from this? The French, likewise, knew that to solve a case you just needed to find the sexual angle, or ''cherchez la femme''.
Like many other shonky aspects of modern Australia, our quality-assured, best-practice building industry - whether through in-construction highway bridge (Barton Highway, Canberra, 2010) or new-apartment balcony (Lane Cove, Sydney, last week ) collapses, sub-subcontractors that regularly die, or new apartment blocks that commonly show themselves to be unsound and unsealed from the elements - must prompt us to coin a new forensic principle: ''Follow the trail back to deregulation.''
Example - news last week in Sydney that 10 people had spilled a couple of floors on to concrete when their balcony collapsed. Ask: ''I wonder if this unit block was old or new?'' On the basis of experience, with the egregious effects of deregulation in the brave new Australia, opt for ''new''. Discover from TV images that this is the case. Read newspaper reports the next day in which already inspection and certification (deregulated modern) practices are being blamed. Voila! Uncannily works every time!
Except, sadly, that builder-paid rubber-stamp ''inspection'' and certification have long ceased to be a crime and are the norm, and you will also note that not a word is ever subsequently reported in or investigated by the media, of the manifold official inquiries that are duly said to be launched at the time of each of these tragedies. Cui prodest this? The politico-industrial complex, certainly … but what of the Fourth Estate?
Alex Mattea, Kingston
Loss of two greats
I must lament the loss in the past days of two great, unassuming business people I had the privilege to encounter.
Firstly Chris Peters, for who no commendation need be made. Also James Strong, who I first came across on a flight in the late 1980s to Melbourne. James was seated down the back opposite myself; I asked him what he was doing with us mortals. His reply, ''I like to keep an eye on my product.'' That will never leave me. What a professional and decent individual.
Linus Cole, Palmerston
Time to put it right
Like Bob Salmond (Letters, March 4), I consider that our centennial year is the right time to correct the anomaly in the name of our central lake. It is embarrassing that, in purporting to honour the memory of the designer of our city, we make a mess of his name.
W.B. Griffin was the eldest child of George Walter Griffin and Estelle Melvina Griffin, nee Burley. George and Estelle named him Walter Burley Griffin. They named their next child Ralph Dustin Griffin. They did not bother with middle names for their two daughters, Genevieve Griffin and Gertrude Griffin.
The word ''Burley'' is not part of Walter's surname: it is simply his middle forename. To refer to him, as we do in the lake's name, as ''Burley Griffin'' is as stupid as referring to our former prime minister as ''Gordon Menzies''.
It seems to me that the name could easily be changed to Lake Griffin, Lake Walter Griffin or, the cumbersome, Lake Walter Burley Griffin. However, given the significant role of his wife, Marion Lucy Griffin, nee Mahony, it would certainly be apposite to recognise her contribution to the city's design by adopting the name Lake Mahony Griffin.
Peter Lawler, Calwell
Over the top
It was sobering to hear Andrew Barr announce on ABC 666 radio on Monday that the ACT Government had given $5000 to a group of people to participate in the Mardi Gras in Sydney. This is over the top!
ACT residents expect the government to govern and use scarce public funds to deliver essential services (hospitals, health services, education, housing, roads etc) and not act like Santa Claus. We should not be forced to pay for activities that are simply feel-good and provide private benefits.
Brian Brocklebank, Bruce
To the point ...
KNOW YOUR ENEMY
The real enemy within is not asylum seekers; it is politicians who dog-whistle to racists.
John Passant, Kambah
HOPE HAMAS PLAN WILL FAIL
Current Hamas leader Khalid Mishal has indicated his intent to take the mantle of power over all Palestinians on the imminent retirement of Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, PLO and Fatah. He considers the remainder of the world's nations would come to support this. As the Hamas Charter calls for the destruction of Israel, a nation recognised by the United Nations, and also the total Jewish race, one can only hope his plan fails miserably.
Vic Adams, Reid
LOOK WHO'S TALKING
I chuckled at Olle Ziege's comment (Letters, March 4) re talking to God. I recall the old adage, ''If you talk to God it is called prayer, if God talks to you it is called schizophrenia.''
Paul Melling, Latham
TIMELY TAKE ON PAPAL POLITICS
With the media focus at the moment on the election of a new Pope, I am reminded of a movie I enjoyed recently. It was titled We Have a Pope. It was made in 2011 and stars Michel Piccoli. The plot revolves around a cardinal who is elected Pope, although he had not been considered a frontrunner. At the announcement, he has a panic attack. It is a nice little movie, which will not offend anyone, but has touches of humour and would appeal to all ages.
Lorraine Buckley, Duffy
AN END TO THE COKE CRISIS
Three ways to solve the Coca-Cola crisis. First, place a refundable deposit of 20¢ on every bottle and can sold. Second, add a 20¢ tax to every bottle of soft drink sold and give the money to the hospitals. Third, stop drinking Coca-Cola.