Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: ‘Cuckoo’ in our nest now jostling for even more space
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Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: ‘Cuckoo’ in our nest now jostling for even more space

If it's not enough to be overdeveloped and upsetting Canberra's orderly planning and growth, Canberra Airport is about to deal another blow to our town centres, with its latest proposal for another 25,000 square metres of net lettable office space at Majura (notice in The Canberra Times, February 12, p46).

It's questionable whether such development, and others there, fit with the airport's lease.

The ACT has already been forced to spend millions on infrastructure to try to service this "cuckoo" in our nest, while the Commonwealth apparently couldn't care less.

The airport can't be regarded as a "town centre" — Tuggeranong's Anketell Street doesn't have jets screaming down it. If the airport owners can do it, the ACT government must actively and competitively pursue the prospective tenants of the new office space with a better (and quieter) rental offer in say, the more convenient Woden Town Centre, where a stunning refurbishment and efficiency upgrade of the ACT's Callum Offices comes to mind, among other possibilities.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah

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Pollies out of touch

If the Deputy Prime Minister's behaviour has demonstrated anything, it's that self-interest will unite all politicians when it comes to defending their privileged position in our so-called democratic society ("Barnaby Joyce's career hangs in the balance", The Canberra Times, February 11).

Echoing the views of those from all sides of politics, up and down the country, the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party, Tanya Plibersek, today demonstrated just how far out of touch our political class is with the electorate when she claimed that "I don't think he needs to account for his personal behaviour, his relationships, to the public".

Really Tanya?

You really don't think that the character and integrity of politicians should be the concern of the Australian people?

You really don't believe that the electorate should be concerned about the ethical and moral values of our political leaders?

No wonder so many Australians have lost faith in our system of government.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

A matter of integrity

Well done Jenna Price for looking at Mr Joyce's long history of integrity ("Barnaby Joyce's other betrayal", canberratimes.com.au, February 10).

It might also be useful for journalists to see what Mr Joyce had to say, and the tone in which he said it, when one, Peter Slipper left the Coalition to become Speaker for the Gillard government.

I seem to recall there were questions about Slipper's relationship with some bloke called Ashby, and Slipper's expenses. I am sure the opposition in that case claimed it was all a private matter for Mr Slipper, and they didn't hound him at all…

The longer they hold this private matters line, the sooner Joyce is toast.

We should never forget, he is the Deputy PM, and is regularly in charge when Malcolm is away. Therefore he deserves every bit of scrutiny about his judgment.

Pity the voters of New England didn't know all about this before their recent experience of democracy.

Ian McKenzie, Canterbury, Vic

Paying out for Barnaby

Do we taxpayers have to cover the cost of Barnaby's paternity leave?

Linus Cole, Palmerston

Fiji still a police state?

Is Fiji still a police state over a decade after the 2006 military coup?

I though Fiji was returned to democracy following the 2014 democratic elections.

I ask the question because the news of the police interrogation of media people – for publishing that magistrate Andrew See's contract has not been renewed just weeks after the orders he made in relation to the ATS industrial dispute – has all the hallmarks of a police state.

In a police state the police act as the henchmen of the political power holders.

It is no secret that the power holders took a diametrically different stance on the ATS crisis to that subsequently taken by magistrate See.

They took the view that the workers were at fault and had to be punished for their misconduct.

The magistrate took a more enlightened view, keeping the broader industrial relations and national economic and public interest in mind.

That apparently did not sit well with the mob in power in Fiji.

Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

Citizens' jury discord

Dr Ron Levy, Associate Professor ANU law school, (Letters, February 12) fended off criticisms of his review of the pilot ACT citizens' jury as reported in, "Australian National University report casts doubt on CTP citizen's jury" (canberratimes.com.au, February 6).

He wrote, "In general, the [review] was far from critical ... citizens' juries are an excellent idea and they should continue."

This is at variance with Katie Burgess's understanding: "A new report has cast doubt on the impartiality of the ACT's first citizens' jury, recommending fundamental changes if the exercise... ever happens again."

She quoted Dr Levy's disagreement with Mr Barr's earlier assertion the expert summaries presented would "give the jury some information on which to base their initial deliberations".

Dr Levy wrote, "the close involvement of expert decision makers in the jury's deliberative stages risked undermining the autonomy of jurors".

Possibly he has found his assessment of citizens' juries runs counter to the aims of the politico-academic cabal which espouses the "participatory democracy" mentioned by Dr Peter Shergold in 2010 ("A place for the people's voices to be heard", Forum, March 27, p6).

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

Fed Cup incredible

For those people who phoned into ABC666 last Thursday stating that they would not attend the Fed Cup because there was no shade – well, without a shadow of doubt, you missed an incredible event.

This was an extremely well-organised event, lots of volunteers to provide assistance, more than sufficient free sun cream, water and a big thanks to ACTION buses for providing transport, the buses arrived within five minutes of the end of the day's play.

Of course the performance by both teams was amazing, but it was great to see our Australian team win.

Very few of us get to watch live tennis on grass with world-class players, if we do not support these events, they might not come back.

Like ourselves, we met lots of people from out of Canberra who had come to the event, Yass, Young and others from Sydney. Thanks Canberra, it was an amazing weekend.

Margaret Tuckwell and Dawn McIntosh, Braidwood

Curse my safe driving!

In response to Mr Exon (Letters, February 11), I am probably one of those who "leaves too much gap" while stopped at traffic lights, causing the delay in his rush to get down the road.

Yes, I do leave a "car's width" of space between me and the car ahead. This is a safety action.

If I am very close to the vehicle ahead, and am rear-ended which then pushes me into the vehicle ahead, not only is the driver of the vehicle which hit me charged with negligent driving for having been too close to me, I am also charged as I was too close to the one in front of me.

Keep calm, Mr Exon, and take the time to smell the roses and listen to the birds on your way down the road.

A larger problem on our roads are the cars which do not stay in the appropriate lane when making right or left turns at intersections.

The correct lane turnings are marked very clearly in the ACT Road Rules Handbook, that "you must keep in the equivalent lane as you turn from one road into another".

J. Wilson, Duffy

Molan a worry either way

Even though new senator Jim Molan spent 40 years of his pre-parliamentary career as an honourable, courageous soldier (I make no judgment here about the value of war), he's now in Parliament, and subject to public review and ridicule (sadly!) as are all parliamentarians.

It strikes me that if Molan was clever enough to be a highly reputable warrior, I believe he's smart enough to know about Britain First, the video, and the incorrect assertions behind the video. Or he should be clever enough to sense a misleading, explosive video, or to recognise the need to "research" before twerping.

Frankly, if Molan's not cluey enough to know Britain First or understand the impact of the video, or willing to invest time investigating before twerping, I don't want him making decisions for me or for Australia's future!

Judy Bamberger, O'Connor

Full story on US envoy

The proposed ambassador from the USA to Australia is Admiral Harry B. Harris. Fergus Hunter and Esther Han discuss his Asia-Pacific military command background (Canberra Times, February 11, p10).

What about his other history?

He was the commander of the Guantanamo Bay prison when three prisoners died. He called suicide by indefinite prisoners facing no charges and no hope "an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us", widely reported at the time.

In fact, the three prisoners most likely died under torture ("enhanced interrogation"), according to the investigation by Seton Hall University School of Law's centre for policy and research and according to the 2010 further work of Harper's Magazine.

Torturing people to death under the guise of interrogation, like the policy instituted during his command of force-feeding prisoners, is certainly asymmetrical. So is suicide by those imprisoned in Kafkaesque circumstances. I have trouble interpreting any of this as warfare, though.

Christopher Hood, Queanbeyan

Church wealth obscene

The report about the Fairfax Media investigation into the enormous wealth of the Catholic Church ("Church's massive wealth revealed", February 12, p.11) conservatively put the value of the church's property assets at about a gobsmacking $30billion, roughly on a par with that of the Westfield group's properties.

That this is an underestimate could be no better illustrated than by the revelation that the Archdiocese of Sydney, for example, valued its properties at historic cost, "often in the 1800s and early 1900s".

Those properties, which include the magnificent St Mary's Cathedral in its prime inner-city location, must now be worth many times what was paid for them.

Yet, when it came time for compensating victims of child sexual abuse, the church cried poor.

This left me amazed and disappointed at the apparently cynical and hypocritical attitudes of some – or perhaps all – of the church's leaders.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Dolors and sense

Keith Pantlin (Letters, February7) proposes and Bruce Taggert (Letters, February 12) seconds a new rhetorical currency: the Light Rail Dollar.

But a more useful coinage would be the Light Rail Dolor: any time you are feeling dolorous about a perceived government error or a pet project that is not being funded as generously as you would like, you can just roll it out.

The Dolor has many advantages. It is almost universally fungible, in that blaming investment in high quality modern public transport for any particular one of the ills of the world is about as reasonable as blaming it for any other. It minimises the expenditure of effort as one need never again come up with a new idea to explain the cause of any new problem. It is sustainable, being almost infinitely recyclable. And the Dolor is already beginning to burst like a tiny Bitcoin bubble among the noisy minority.

Felix MacNeill, Dickson

Reef scientist gagged

I agree that David Attenborough is everyone's favourite with spectacular photography and earnest commentary about the environment. I would be fascinated to hear him debate Professor Peter Ridd from James Cook University who has called out what he sees as sloppy science in the reporting of the health of the Barrier Reef.

Unfortunately Professor Ridd is fighting his university in the courts for straying outside the accepted position on the Barrier Reef, essentially they want him to shut up. So much for open scientific discourse in 2018.

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Lessons from Plato

Sadly, today, so many "educated; but, unlearned" so-called "intellectuals" (not to mention really dopey "clever people") do not study (let alone heed) history. I reckon Plato's The Gorgias heralds in today's looming showdown between Russia and America; with Putin cast as "Callicles the Younger" and Trump as "Callicles the Elder".

Both these alpha-males, coupled with Beijing's ultra-alpha-male South China Sea ambitions (along with North Korea's) may well produce Thomas Hobbes' "war of all against all".

Howard Hutchins, Chirnside Pk, Vic

TO THE POINT

BE THERE WITH BELLS ON

Douglas Mackenzie raises the hazard to pedestrians of silent electric vehicles (Letters, February 12). They also upset the birds. On one occasion, a Tesla slid silently into our driveway and stopped underneath a big gumtree. As the door opened and the driver emerged, he was swooped by a "vicious" magpie. This magpie is never vicious and never worries about cars and people in our driveway but there must have been something sinister about the way this big white thing appeared without the usual warning sound of an engine. Maybe they need bells.

Robyn Coghlan, Hawker

THE NEED TO DIG DEEP

So thousands of homes are blacked out by a pretty normal summer storm. Why didn't the government talk to NBN and put the power cables underground in the trenches dug for NBN? The whingers say the cables will flood, but that would be the same for NBN. Come on, I pay about a quarter of my electricity bill to paint the poles, why not put them underground and problems solved costs saved and cheaper electricity for me?

Tony Magrathea, Brisbane, Qld

COSTS NOT MENTIONED

The federal government is bragging about how much money it has recovered from chasing overpayments to the welfare system. What they are not telling you is how much it cost them to recover that much money. That is the reason previous governments have not pursued such stupidity. It costs more to recover than the amount recovered.

Ken Morehouse, Wangaratta, Vic

NO HOPE FOR TERRORISTS

Re reports new retractable security bollards are destroying ("eating") Comcars at Parliament House.

Thank goodness for that. What hope do the terrorists or a few errant protesting uni students have?

John Mungoven, Stirling

HYPOCRISY AND STUPIDITY

Barnaby Joyce deserves condemnation on two counts: 1) Hypocrisy. He was lecturing the population about the virtues of "traditional marriage" while, at the same time, trashing his own.

And 2) Stupidity. Did he really think he could keep it secret.

One might think that, for a politician, the first "goes with the territory", the second is unforgivable.

Judith Erskine, Belconnen

PURSUIT MAY BACKFIRE

The federal Labor party probably shouldn't pursue the job appointments of Barnaby Joyce's new partner in case it backfires on their own members' liaisons.

Rod Matthews, Melbourne,Vic

NO CONFIDENCE IN JOYCE

The more you see of Barnaby Joyce, the less you see of a deputy PM in whom the nation can have confidence.

M. F. Horton, Adelaide, SA

Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attached file. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).

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