Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Accusation just not on

Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Accusation just not on

Transport Canberra's light rail madness has finally been revealed

Existing bus services such as the route 39 from Watson to Civic will terminate at the new Dickson Bus Interchange with passengers forced off the bus on to the light rail service. This is going to add a minimum of nine minutes to the journey to Civic during peak periods and up to 30 minutes in non-peak periods.

There are only 66 seats out of 207 on each light rail service, so passengers forced off their buses at Dickson will have no chance of finding a seat.

Added to this, passengers will be forced to cross over Northbourne Avenue to get to the light rail stop at Dickson and again to cross over Northbourne Avenue at Civic to go to the Canberra Centre. The elderly and disabled will be hardest hit with no shelter in wet weather and during the cold winter months, forced off a comfortable bus to cross a dangerous road on to a crowded tram.

What other northside bus services are going to terminate at Dickson just to make the passenger numbers on the light rail service look good?


Give the passengers a choice; retain the existing bus services on the northside. There will be enough passengers using the light rail from Gungahlin to make it viable instead of putting bus passengers' lives in danger.

Bill Meani, Watson

Survey says no

As Patrick O'Hara states (Letters, February 19) and was indicated irrefutably by the postal survey, the majority of Canberrans want gay marriage. However, I query how he justifies his claim that "the majority of Canberrans want light rail".

Has he done a survey? Let us remember that just 38.4 per cent of Canberrans voted Labor and 10.3 per cent voted Greens and this certainly does not represent a majority.

In my (admittedly) limited and anecdotal survey of Tuggeranong residents, even rusted-on Labor voters, light rail isn't popular.

While northerners may benefit directly and therefore think it is a great idea, the majority of southerners I have spoken to think it is a complete waste of time and (our) money.

As the tram rolls along, Canberrans are now better informed about the many everyday charges that have had to be increased to pay for it and their hip pockets are being hit. I now wonder how many are still genuine supporters of this seeming obsession of Messrs Barr and Rattenbury.

Jan Darby, Isabella Plains

Logic flawed

Patrick O'Hara from Isaacs (February 19) chastises Zed Seselja and says he just does not get it with regard to the proposed light rail extension. It is instructive that on the same day as Mr O'Hara says Zed is out of touch, three other correspondents to the paper sharply criticise the light rail project and highlight its fundamental shortcomings.

O'Hara's logic appears to be that just because voters voted for one stage of a project (nearly 18 months ago), then irrespective of cost blowouts and subsequent revelations about the dubious merits of the project, we should give the ACT government a blank cheque to waste even more money on it. The opportunity cost of this project is enormous and the taxpayers of this city, already slugged with high rates and charges will pay a heavy price for this foolhardy transport infrastructure investment. Perhaps Patrick O'Hara just doesn't get it.

Colin Lyons, Weetangera

Pachyderm abroad

Caroline Le Couteur's utterances about the need to plan for the future of Woden Town Centre, in the face of Andrew Barr's determination to encourage high-rise buildings across Canberra, omits to mention the current "elephant in the room". For eight years the Albemarle and Alexander buildings at Woden have remained vacant, derelict eyesores.

The government seems powerless to force some remedial action by the building owners.

Can Andrew Barr give assurance that his government is matching proposed developments with projected population growth so we don't end up with too many apartments? Has his government introduced tougher measures to avoid more derelict buildings sitting vacant in Woden for many years?

Bill Bowron, Farrer

Not much to love

Tom Gay's letter (February 19) concerning the problem posed by African Lovegrass in urban Canberra and surrounding farmland will be welcomed by many who have been dealing with this pest for a long time.

As a Landcare volunteer I have been pulling it up on the relatively tiny patch under our care — an efficient method, but not possible on a larger scale.

African Lovegrass is spread by the practice of mowing. Six times a year the government mows areas around housing at some considerable cost, to reduce the fire hazard to property and reduce the danger from snakes.

I have been told the reduction of the fire hazard is more apparent than real, as under extreme fire conditions wild fire will travel over closely mown grassland.

African Lovegrass nourishes African fauna, but our cattle cannot digest it. Its uncontrolled spread presents a problem to which there is as yet no solution.

Harry Davis, Campbell

Change of direction

As a long-time proponent of light rail for Canberra I believe it would be a waste of money to construct light rail infrastructure to Woden when there are so many critics of it (the majority of whom live on the southside).

The second line should be an East-West line from the airport to a city west terminus (as near as possible to the ANU).

Unfortunately, this suggested line has to traverse "designated land" that belongs to the Commonwealth.

This is the downside to our city. The adversarial nature of politics, including the planning systems.

Kevin Connor, Kaleen

Talking rubbish

How could Adam Perry from Capital Recycling claim that moving all Canberra and Queanbeyan's garbage and some waste to Ipswich Street, Fyshwick, then on to Woodlawn mega dump is "an environmental plus for the city"?

What it entails is the moving of the environmental problems of Mugga Lane closer to the centre of the city and to nearby residents at Narabundah and Kingston. Odour, noise, litter, vermin and waste fires are common problems associated with waste transfer stations, which if possible should be located as far as possible from sensitive receptors not in the middle of a busy and popular retail precinct.

As Ipswich Street is the only avenue of access between Canberra Avenue and the Monaro Highway increased traffic congestion from 230 garbage trucks a day – 460 truck movements can be expected.

The proposal cannot be justified at the Fyshwick site when Mugga Lane has approval for another 30 years of expansion.

C. A. Russell, Canberra

Accusation just not on

At present we have in Australia a second-rate Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, supported by a third-rate academic, Clive Hamilton, ("Labor harbours a cancer that must be cut out", February 19, p18) fulminating about a major, new communist threat to Australia and fomenting a political environment in the country which begins to resemble a new McCarthyism.

And Hamilton now includes me in a defamatory accusation that I am somehow a complicit agent of the Chinese state because I have dared to point to Turnbull's monumental hypocrisy on China.

And further that I should have the temerity to challenge whether it is right to now launch an "anti-Chinese jihad" against patriotic Australian citizens of Chinese origin, remarks which Hamilton does not even render accurately in his anti-Labor polemic.

A few facts might advance the debate. In government, I legislated to ban all foreign donations to political parties. Turnbull as Liberal leader refused to pass it in the Senate. I also brought down a Defence white paper that doubled the submarine fleet, increased the surface fleet by one third, and publicly challenged the Chinese rationale for the rapid expansion of their own military. Turnbull as Liberal leader accused me of wanting a war. We also banned the Chinese firm Huawei from providing IT hardware and software to the Australian NBN. Turnbull in government tried to overturn our decision. And for the record as prime minister, I regularly incurred the wrath of various Chinese leaders by defending human rights in Tibet, arguing for the proper legal treatment of Australian citizens before Chinese courts, rejecting various Chinese foreign investment applications which did not satisfy the national interest, as well as contesting vigorously Chinese climate change policy at the Copenhagen Conference. Hamilton conveniently ignores all the above in his political diatribe.

For Hamilton to glibly conclude, therefore, that I am somehow an agent of the Chinese state, and "a cancer that needs to be cut out" is despicable, defamatory and in defiance of the long-standing public record.

There are three questions that Turnbull and his new academic acolyte must answer in the current debate on "foreign influence": why has Turnbull suddenly changed from being an apologist to being a McCarthyist; what is the evidence of China's effective official subversion of the Australian state from within, what is their success in doing so, where are the facts, where is the data, rather than simply relying on politically charged innuendo; and third, if there is a substantive new problem, then in what particular respect are our current laws, regulations and police and intelligence powers inadequate for dealing with it – except of course Turnbull's gutlessness in opposing the ban on foreign political donations back in 2009. Or are we dealing with a different agenda altogether which is in large part about a politically desperate Prime Minister wanting to rebuild his stocks within his party and the public, having lost 27 opinion polls in a row, by demonstrating how hairy-chested he can be on China, and by accusing the Labor Party of being a bunch of Chinese Communist Party Fifth Columnists on the way through. Give us a break.

Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Australia

Race to the bottom

If Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition truly believe they need to encourage business with tax cuts in the middle of the greatest jump in company profits in 14 years, what do they feel will be necessary when the going gets tough? No business tax at all? Government pays companies to produce?

We are near full employment, profits are booming and executive salaries are stratospheric yet business is wailing (and our moribund government is prepared to indulge this wailing) they need a little help to be able to pay their struggling workers a fair wage.

Reducing company taxes is a one-way street. Once you've given up that 5 per cent for a temporary fillip to encourage businesses, whether it works or not you've got nothing to play with next time. Viewed internationally it's an extraordinarily foolish race to the bottom that has no long-run benefit for anyone except the infamous 1 per cent.

There is only one decent possibility involving company tax cuts — cut the headline rate as part of reform of the whole tax system. Design these reforms to ensure simplicity, reduce evasion and increase fairness.

Julian Robinson, Narrabundah

Program a big loss

It was distressing to hear of the demise of the Music Engagement Program, an outreach program from the ANU School of Music which has proved to be much more than a program for years 1 to 6. So many benefited and participated in music-making opportunities over and above the obvious benefits to students and teachers.

I attended many concerts in the schools and the capacity-filled Llewellyn Hall. The number of children being educated and the quality of that education has been the envy of schools around the country and overseas. The benefits to the community were enormous. Just one example; the visits to nursing homes in Canberra were not only of great assistance to the residents at a time when research has proved the value to the elderly and dementia sufferers but also of great educational and social advantage to the students. In its early years when an instrumental program was run in conjunction with the MEP, many of these exceptionally trained young students later joined the pre-tertiary program at the ANU School of Music and swelled the ranks of tertiary students who pursued professional careers.

Ros Hurst, Kaleen

From tragedy to farce

Barnaby's departure reminds me of the opening to Macbeth when Malcolm reports back on the death of the Thane of Cawdor: "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it. He died as one that had been studied in his death to throw away the dearest thing he owed as 'twere a careless trifle."

The difference is Macbeth was tragedy.

The Barnaby show degenerated into farce long ago.

M. Moore, Bonython



The saddest thing about Tony Abbott is he seems to think that his utterances matter. His latest on immigration numbers is a case in point.

Jeff Hart, Kingston


The US government is too wedded to the 2nd amendment and the NRA to take away automatic and semi-automatic weapons. Here's a thought. Let them keep the guns, just ban the ammunition.

I can't remember the 2nd amendment saying anything about that.

Stephen Barnett, O'Connor


Sir Nicholas Shehadie, the former Wallabies great, Sydney mayor and SBS chairman was described at his state funeral as an "inherently decent man". Not too many of today's leaders can be described that way. And that's the tragedy of contemporary leadership.

Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW


Peter Dutton could make Australia "even safer and more secure" by simply acknowledging that the world is not after us. And that the "unlawful" migrants flocking to our coastline come mostly from countries we have just stopped bombing or are still bombing.

John Rodriguez, Florey


I was one of a number of refugee supporters (average age 50) waiting outside the Press Club to "greet" Mr Dutton before his address. The brave man had himself smuggled in to avoid us. What sort of leaders do we have?

Bob Gardiner, Isabella Plains


There seems to be a problem extending the tram line over Lake Burley Griffin, to Canberra's south. Easy, pinch an idea from Sydney and put a tunnel under the lake. If it doesn't work out, you could turn the tunnel into a carp fish trap.

Geof Murray, Ngunnawal


You can always rely on Tony Abbott to have his two bobs' worth, invariably spending it on kero.

M. F. Horton, Adelaide, SA


Never mind driverless cars. I would much rather see automatic trolley returns at supermarkets.

Glenice Taylor, Spence


Barnaby Joyce wants the entire nation to move on. Rest assured Barnaby, the feeling is mutual.

John Howarth, Weston


Scott Morrison take note. Qantas just made a massive profit and there is no mention of a pay rise for the people who actually made the profit – the workers. Your tax cuts won't work.

Ken Morehouse, Wangaratta, Vic

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