Shakespeare would have milked Canberra's classics
Many of the criticisms levelled at the ABC TV documentary Canberra Confidential (''Protesting too much? Capital critic cops it'', March 8, p1) completely missed the point. The program does focus on ''spooks and scandals'' stories from the past such as the Coombe-Ivanov ''affair'' and the Jim Cairns-Junie Morosi ''scandal'' but these are Canberra's classics. If Shakespeare were alive today and living in Wanniassa, these stories would form the basis of Hamlet and Macbeth. Talk about a cultural cringe …
These are towering tales of mateship, betrayal, passion, hypocrisy and clandestine relationship, all enacted at the top levels of government, and they deserve to be retold and reinterpreted for successive generations.
Historian David Headon's comments, that the program should have brought forth something new about Canberra and circumscribed a ''grand narrative'' for the city, are fair enough. We really need this. But instead of criticising the producers of the ABC, who were retelling and reinterpreting these classic tales, as their contribution to the Centenary of Canberra, he should be lobbying the commercial networks who make plenty of money from broadcasting in the national capital and asking them to step up to the plate.
Robbie Swan, Deakin West
Age columnist Martin McKenzie-Murray trotted out the cliched criticism of Canberra (''Protesting too much? Capital critic cops it'', March 8, p1). He revealed big-city neurotic myopia.
Most of the absent soul he laments reflects population. Is he nagging Geelong too? Then there's income. Melbourne got soul from its dirt-poor underclass being forced to live on top of one another. People starved in squalid hovels around crime-ridden Carlton for generations. Absolutely sure we need to synthesise that? Current ''densification'' here … reveals a government hell-bent on trying.
''Soul'' is largely filthy-chaos worship. Melbourne's and Sydney's early roads wandered around trees and gullies; filthy industry and dwellings emerged on top of one another. Fyshwick oozed up in Ainslie. Add dilapidation and advertising hoardings, liberally apply grime, junkies and homelessness then run a freeway through it: and claim desperate seediness as a virtue.
Veronica Giles, Chifley
As the well-worn adage goes, there are as many questions raised as are answered by the recent probe into Australian knowledge and action relating to ''Prisoner X''.
One of the main themes that has emerged is the more general matter of dual citizenship, and the distinct possibility that Australia may review, in some respects, its tolerant stance on this ambiguous form of nationality.
If we accept a premise that the nationality of dual citizens is ambiguous, at best, then we need to consider the security implications of this for holding senior positions in government administration and political roles at both the state and federal level.
Likewise, we may need to take a more critical view when assessing foreign diplomats who may be aligned with a nation other than the one they officially represent.
While I think it is unlikely that our engaging and popular US ambassador, Jeffrey Bleich, is a dual Israeli-American citizen, a former US ambassador in the early 1990s, Mel Sembler, apparently was an Israeli citizen when serving here.
It may be a commonsense practice, in future, to reject diplomatic nominees who have formal links to nations other than the ones they ostensibly represent. We need to be fair dinkum about things as basic as this when protecting our sovereign interests.
Ross Kelly, Monash
A murder of Labor government chappies (I hope I have used the appropriate collective noun) were sent but sadly didn't see stuff to do with Prisoner X. Sources have suggested that one blinked and another had migraine. You can't read everything, now can you?
Roy Darling, Florey
So now we learn that many more kangaroos were killed off last year than TAMS has previously disclosed - 35 per cent more (''Revealed: 407 joeys culled in pouches'', March 5, p1). How can TAMS' head of parks and conservation, Daniel Iglesias, now claim to be open and upfront with the community when he hides the fact that an additional 407 animals were killed off last year? When only random checks are made to ensure kangaroos are killed humanely, I wonder how many more in-pouch kangaroos were simply buried alive?
To justify last year's cull, TAMS claimed kangaroos had to be killed because they might starve - how ironic when they had survived a seven-year drought. It was also claimed kangaroos had to be killed to protect temperate grassland for threatened species. However, immediately after the cull, stock animals were introduced to help keep the grass in check! I can't help feel that the TAMS management of the Canberra Nature Park needs a complete overhaul.
Philip Machin, Wamboin, NSW
Sadly I read that the Women's Day awards would be cancelled this year (''Women's Day awards axing 'disappointing'', March 8, p5) . I had the honour of receiving the 1994 Canberra Woman of the Year award for my voluntary activities in the community. Sometimes this work is not without personal cost but I felt the award was a wonderful acknowledgement by my community for the work I have done. Along the way there have also been many rewards as well, especially as a leader of self-management courses for people living with chronic conditions.
If the skills we learn during the course can help some of our participants achieve a greater quality of life despite living with chronic conditions, then I feel my work is well done and valued. Our team of peer leaders won the 2012 ACT Volunteer of the Year Awards in the Health Category, which was a great honour for all of us. Whether women work in a voluntary or paid capacity, it is important that their extraordinary contributions are honoured.
Paula Calcino, Oxley
As the ranks of the Marxist faithful continue to dwindle towards single digits, one can't help thinking that John Passant's low-rent claim (Letters, March 7) equating the enemy within to ''racists'' (ho hum) rather than ''asylum (rent) seekers'', is because white folks no longer appear receptive to the joys of socialism and John therefore feels his only hope of avoiding irrelevance and ridicule is to encourage otherwise unnecessary immigration from less open-minded peoples from Third World countries who have no appreciation of either democracy or capitalism, as devastatingly revealed in recent youth surveys.
Chris Smith, Braddon
Club serves role
As a long-time member of the YMCA Sailing Club, the Canberra Yacht Club, a sailor on Lake Burley Griffin since 1965 and one of those who helped build the clubhouse in Yarralumla Bay in 1966, I fully support Chris Ablett's plea for commonsense (Letters, March 7) in the approach to the ''issues'' with the Yarralumla site.
Since the club was established in 1965-66, it has played a significant role in the development of sailing in Canberra largely because of the high level of input from members. I accept that there might have been a process error when the YMCA of Canberra sought to change the lease purpose clause, but in my humble view, it is a great pity that the residents of Yarralumla don't seem to want to accept the value of fostering the great work that the Y has done over the years and will no doubt continue to do if it is allowed to. If the residents value the work of the sailing club and the benefits of sailing as a sport, they should facilitate not oppose the application for change of the lease purpose clause.
Peter Forster, Curtin
Doug Hurst (Letters, February 25) and Felix MacNeill (Letters, February 26) both comment on the plateau in the trend of global warming. Hurst correctly points out that the global temperature is not simply controlled by carbon dioxide, but by many factors including the sun, ocean and volcanoes. MacNeill correctly points out that temperatures over the last 100 years have risen and plateaued and risen and plateaued. Neither explains why.
After World War II, resurgent industry fed all the products of burning fuel into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. The latter converts to sulfuric acid droplets in the upper atmosphere which reflect the sun and cool the Earth. Greenhouse warming from the increased carbon dioxide was largely balanced by that cooling. After the Geneva Convention of 1979, industry cleaned up the sulfur dioxide in its smoke and the global temperature rose again - more quickly than it had pre-war.
Over the last 10 years, China has massively increased its consumption of coal, with little cleaning of the pollutants. Upper atmosphere sulfuric acid is back, the human induced sunshade is in operation, and this has partly balanced greenhouse warming from rising carbon dioxide. (Kaufmann et al 2012, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, www.pnas.org/content/108/29/11790.full.) China is committed to cleaning its coal smoke. The temperature plateau will end and there is a mountain ahead.
Tony Eggleton, Aranda
Light rail support
In his support for bus rapid transit over light rail, Murray Upton (Letters, March 7) writes that ''roads are flexible and adaptable, fixed track is not''. Can he please explain how it is that he can construe that roads, which are structures mapped out and built using aggregate, bitumen, a lot of heavy machinery etc, are not fixed and are less flexible than steel rails? Are there moveable roads somewhere? And why should the construction of a light railway be more disruptive than building a road? Take a look at the current work along Majura Road. Furthermore, single lane, two-way roads are 7 to 10 metres wide, whereas a two-track standard gauge railway line is little more than 4 metres wide. Maybe there is more than a little light in light rail, with or without tunnels.
Ed Highley, Kambah
Rising water rates could kill off Canberra as the garden city
It seems appropriate in our city's centenary year to look at whether or not the concept of Canberra as a garden city is still relevant. The early designers, architects and planners right through to the National Capital Development Commission seemed to support the national capital as a garden city concept.
Many thousands of families spend considerable amounts of time, energy and money keeping street trees alive and healthy and keeping government-owned nature strips in good order for passers-by, some of whom may be visitors to the city.
Yet when our major government agency ACTEW and its chief executive Mark Sullivan have local media space, and this is quite frequently, we are warned of the likely return of prolonged drought conditions, pressure on services from rapid population growth and the certainty that water rates will escalate to heights beyond some householders' budget capabilities.
I may well be out of my depth in raising this matter, however, I do have the sinking feeling that the concept of Canberra as the garden city is dead in the water. Has the NCDC a view on this issue?
Alan Foskett Campbell
Canada a model
Former Senate clerk Harry Evans is a voice of reason in the Assembly size debate (''Consider a mayor for Canberra, says Evans'' March 7, p7). One of the reasons for me being involved as founding president in establishing the Community Alliance Party was to push for a community council-type approach to governing the ACT along the lines of similar councils in Canada.
It is ridiculous for a small territory such as the ACT to have the expensive trappings of statehood with our own supreme court, human rights commissioners, ombudsman, multicultural affairs office, environment commissioner and the like. With little or no income from industry, minerals, commodity, resources and agriculture, it would be cheaper to buy these services in from NSW or Victoria when required rather than have the ACT taxpayer alone supporting them.
And it is useless having a adversarial-type government system with members sitting on opposite sides of the Assembly. Better to have councillors representing their various constituencies sitting around a table in a cooperative environment. We would then have no need for yet more expensive, party-machine serving MLA's supping at the public trough.
Ric Hingee, Duffy
Brian Brocklebank's observation of the ACT government's financial support of Canberrans attending the Sydney Mardi Gras (Letters, March 7] is consistent with that government's financial support of National Condom Day. Attendees at the breakfast for the opening of the Women's Masters Golf tournament, on Valentine's Day, were presented with an artificial rose and a package of condoms advertising Canberra's centenary. Who was the politician who complained that the amount of condoms was well short of 100?
Nick Newman, Fisher
Cyclists in danger
The article ''Sabotage: rice on path injures cyclist'' (March 6, p1) highlights the danger to all single track means of transport. Steve Audsley has been seriously injured due to what could be a malicious act. Motorcyclists face this risk every day. The gravel left on the roads following road works creates an extremely slippery surface.
The Motorcycle Riders Association of ACT empathises with the challenges and hazards faced by the cyclists of the ACT region. We call upon the ACT government and municipalities to ensure that our cycle paths and roads are kept free of obstacles and hazards, such as gravel.
These hazards are not always man-made; sometimes they're the result of natural causes such as rain where washouts are deposited on the roadways and cycle paths.
It is imperative that the authorities adopt a pro-active approach before more people are injured.
Leen Parsons, president MRA ACT
To the point
HOPING FOR A MAYOR CHANGE
Harry Evans (''Consider a mayor for Canberra, says Evans'', March 7, p7) is spot on in his submission to the inquiry on the size of the Legislative Assembly. The only system that would truly work in our small city/territory is a mayor-and-council-type set-up, just as he outlines. Is there a glimmer of hope that it might come about? I fear we shouldn't hold our breath.
Merrill Moore, Macgregor
Former Senate clerk Harry Evans has hit the nail on the head in suggesting that the Legislative Assembly become more like a local council. It takes one back to the heady days when we voted ''no'' to self-government and believed that our vote counted for something. I wonder how the experts for the inquiry will fudge this one.
Lindy Rose, Adaminaby, NSW
Tim Flannery is 95 per cent correct. H. Ronald (Letters, March 7) is 95 per cent incorrect. It is therefore unsurprising that he should focus obsessively on the 5 per cent.
Felix MacNeill, Dickson
BEACH BIRTH MYTH
The National Museum's 1913 exhibition (''Snapshots of a bygone era,'' Times2, March 6, p4) reminds us that Australia was a fully functioning, multi-faceted nation before World War I, giving lie to the claim still made by many people that Australia was somehow ''born'' on the beaches of Gallipoli in April 1915.
David Stephens, Bruce
Like Brian Brocklebank (Letters, March 7) I wonder why Andrew Barr donated $5000 to the Sydney Mardi Gras when the Pegasus riding complex for the disabled struggles to stay afloat. It seems donating to a party is more important than helping those kids/adults who get enormous benefits from Pegasus. But this is a government whose priorities are flawed. No wonder I left the ACT.
V. Harris, Yass, NSW
Surely art in the public forum should be G-rated. The statue in the new section of the Canberra airport is of a gargantuan, naked woman, with little left to the imagination. Must we now travel by bus to avoid this public pornography?
Helen Morris, Bonython
LEAVE LEGEND ALONE
Though no extraordinary man, I believe that the much-loved Simpson and the humble donkey are a fitting representation of all those brave stretcher bearers who served at Gallipoli (''Simpson legend proves larger than life'', March 7, p1). Although all deserve a medal just leave us with our love of the man and his patient beast.
Evelyn Bean, Ainslie
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