Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Deciduous tree may be salvation of parched and dying landscape
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Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Deciduous tree may be salvation of parched and dying landscape

When a rainforest is burnt enough, it becomes forest. When forest is burnt enough it becomes woodland. When woodland is burnt enough, it becomes savannah. When savannah is burnt enough, it becomes desert.

This is what has happened to our land. I realise that burning in this present age is necessary, to prevent huge bushfires, but the only way to change the environment and make it truly greener and less conflagratory, is to plant green deciduous trees.

They improve the soil, provide browsing for stock, raise the water table, provide shade in summer and light in winter, provide protection from fires (as they are fire retardant), are a source of homes and food for many Australian birds and mammals.

The Curtin horse paddocks have the best bird life of anywhere around Canberra and have a thriving deciduous tree and shrub population.

An added benefit of these trees is that many don't drop limbs causing death and injury the way eucalypts commonly do.

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Look under a gum tree and what you will often find (without the complex interaction of other plants and microbes, to break down the eucalypt poison) is dead dry bark and dirt.

Plantations of eucalypts, poison water downstream, (killing fish, frogs, tortoises and platypus) unless they have a stable, rich, ecosystem interacting with them.

Deciduous trees planting is an important action that will salvage our dying Australian landscape well as proper water management.

Margot Sirr, Gowrie

Forward march

Crispin Hull ("Poor government stands in the way of good governance", Forum, January 20, p2) suggests that the major change since 1901, relevant to the constitutional dual citizenship issue, lies in the levels of first and second-generation Australians.

Not so. The enumerated percentages were broadly similar. The key differences are the Anglocentric domination in 1901, that then the United Kingdom was not a foreign power, and that loyalty to Australia was thought inseparable from loyalty to theUK.

Now fewer Australians – whether of first, second or subsequent generations – have a cultural relationship to the UK or its Crown. When voters endorsed the 1901 Federation, women were excluded, except in SA and WA; Indigenous Australians were uncounted, and excluded almost everywhere.

That 1901 Anglocentricity, and the sexist and racist voting exclusions, must call into question the contemporary moral authority of the 1901 constitution.

The independent multicultural character of modern Australia surely invalidates it. The legal negation of "terra nullius" as a founding basis for the governance of the Commonwealth and its preceding colonies should have been a further nail in the coffin.

While parliamentarians should owe sole loyalty to Australia, that is still less important than their obligation, on assuming office, to swear allegiance to a culturally irrelevant foreign monarch who is constitutionally deemed to govern the nation, albeit through agents and advisers formally acting on her behalf – not ours.

Mike Hutchinson, Canberra

Foreign object

Heather and Ian Warfield are right to be concerned about a proposed, bulky, two-storey boarding house on the corner of Chuculba Crescent and William Slim Drive, Giralang (Letters, January 19).

It will be a veritable "foreign object" in more ways than one, in a valued suburban environment. It's allegedly for students; in that location? Better for the government to negotiate a land swap with the developer, perhaps for a suitable block of land close to, say, the University of Canberra and Lake Ginninderra College.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah

From trash to cash

No ifs or buts, the result of the NSW government's delayed and imperfect cash-for-cans, scheme, has largely cleared the streets and gutters in some parts of Sydney from cans and plastic bottles, but this only shows up the large number of discarded cigarette butts, packets and single-use plastic cups that are left behind.

Clearly, the next step should be a container deposit and refund barcode on cigarette packets and butts, with refunds available through the limited existing network of NSW bar code-reading "trash for cash" machines.

Garry P. Dalrymple, Earlwood, NSW

Imperial forces

Reading your "Road to Remembrance" articles (January 22, pp8-9) I was reminded of a recent article on the lack of "diversity" in the Australian army.

I have no problems with diversity, but I believe that a more fundamental issue is whether an army can effectively fight. Will diversity enhance that capacity?

Back to "Remembrance": it would seem that Michael Grealy ("Soldiers honoured for 'greatest courage"') is another of those who think that the middle initial in AIF stands for Infantry.

As most (I hope) could tell him, it stands for Imperial.

The misapprehension rather stands out in an article devoted to artillerymen.

G. S. McKergow, Forbes Creek, NSW

Sing the body electric

It doesn't happen every day, but I agree with Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg (rather than with Liberal MP Craig Kelly) on the issue of carbon dioxide emissions due (indirectly) to electric cars versus those from petrol-driven cars ("Minister defies critics on cars", January 23, p8).

Mr Kelly compares a Tesla electric car with a Toyota Corolla, which, as pointed out by Behyad Jafari, is a somewhat lopsided comparison because the Tesla model currently available in Australia is a high-performance car, which the Corolla is not.

Kelly's claims may be valid in Victoria, which has the dirtiest coal-fired power stations in the country. However, they are questionable elsewhere, where coal-fired power is "cleaner", and especially in those states, and the ACT, where renewable energy is becoming a greater part of the mix.

Electric vehicles will be further favoured by the gradual phasing out of old and unreliable coal-fired power stations and, in time, gas-fired plants – Alan Finkel's "decarbonised electricity grid". Domestic rooftop solar will tip the scales even further in favour of electric vehicles when recharged at the owner's home.

It seems to me that the electric vehicle has a very favourable future.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Failure to protect

The ACT government may talk the talk when it comes to child protection but it certainly isn't walking the walk, as your recent article shows ("ACT tops harm reports", January 24, p1).

M. Moore, Bonython

Referendum's myth

It is vital that discussion of matters affecting Australian Indigenous people be based on truth. Recent letters to the Times repeat a common misunderstanding about the purpose of the 1967 referendum.

For example, Susan Macdougall wrote yesterday that the referendum led to the inclusion of Aboriginal people in the census.

Since 1911 and throughout the 20thcentury, Aboriginal people have been counted in the census. For example, the 1911 official census report shows that 29,446 Aboriginal people were counted.

The effect of the 1967 referendum was to change the way in which seats in the House of Representatives were allocated between the states.

For more details go to Sawer's The Australian Constitution (Third Edition by Guy Aitken & Robert Orr, published by The Australian Government Solicitor, Chapter 11).

The most important effect was to give Aboriginal Australians access to federalfunding.

The Commonwealth government was more able than the states to fund measures to improve the living conditions of Aboriginal people.

As a person who voted "yes" in 1967, I affirm that this was the main reason for my vote.

Fred Bennett AM, Bonner

Genocide history

Jenna Price ("Day of atonement needed", Comment, January23, p.13) tells us that January26, 1788 is "a day when genocidebegan".

Utter emotional bollocks, Jenna, and as an academic you should know better.

Governor Phillip's instructions from GeorgeIII included the following: "You are to endeavour, by every possible means, to open an intercourse with the natives, and to conciliate their affections, enjoining all our subjects to live in amity and kindness with them. And if any of our subjects shall wantonly destroy them, or give them any unnecessary interruption in the exercise of their several occupations, it is our will and pleasure that you do cause such offenders to be brought to punishment according to the degree of theoffence."

You also might usefully check the definition of genocide – the sainted Gough agreed it was "The deliberate extermination of a people or nation".

Bill Deane, Chapman

Saturation of days

We already have NAIDOC Week in July, Sorry Day in May, Mabo Day in June and now Reconciliation Day coming up in the ACT, also in May.

I think we have reached saturation point on the calendar for Indigenous recognition and judging by the lack of widespread interest, I sense that few Australians have any commitment or even knowledge of these days.

Despite this, Jenna Price wants yet another day to signal her virtue at the expense of the one day set aside to celebrate our achievements as a nation that we all now enjoy ("Day ofatonement needed", January23, p.13).

Is this a classic case of not seeing the wood for the trees?

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Follow New Zealand

For a commemorative day, Australia needs one like Waitangi Day in New Zealand, which celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Following the Uluru statement, Aborigines called on the government for a consultative body to be created to advise Parliament.

Although rejected by the weak Turnbull government, if such a body came about this would be a good day, as both the first nations and the invaders would bejoined.

Germaine Greer has even called for Australia to have an upper house of Aborigines only. The first nations must be brought into the political polity.

Paul Knobel, Crestwood

Suburban pride

Many Canberra residents will be sympathetic to Phillip Harris' complaints (Letters, January19) about the rundown condition of his home suburb of Holt.

But there are two sides to thatcoin.

More than a century ago, my paternal grandmother lived in the notorious Glasgow slum known as The Gorbals.

Despite the appalling conditions, she washed the grime off her stoop every morning, as did all herneighbours.

Late last century I lived in an inner suburb of Sydney and, following my grandmother's example, I swept the footpath and cleaned the gutter in front of our terraced house almost every Saturday for 15years.

Not a single neighbour followed my example.

How affluence has changedus.

If every resident of Holt maintained and cleaned the nature strip, footpath and gutter in front of their own property and took an interest in their nearest patch of park or bush, then Phillip Harris might have less to complain about.

Alan Robertson, Campbell

Police wisdom

Not long ago we learnt that more than a quarter of ACT inmates were on methadone ("Methadone territory", December9, p.1).

Increasing numbers on methadone are an accepted indicator of more first-time users of opioids, often heroin andcocaine.

Recently I read where Mike Gallacher, a retired former NSW police minister, was calling for tougher new rules on repeat dangerous driver offenders.

It seems all jurisdictions should have been listening to his words, because during his time in office the road toll fell to its lowest in 20years.

However, this reminded me of a Chinese saying: "A wise man pointed to the moon, and the fool looked at his finger."

Despite protestations of adequacy one thing is certain, we desperately need lots more cops on the beat (are there any left?) and more police cars on ourroads.

If we can spend $700million or more on a tram, we can spend 2per cent of that to enable people to avoid unlawful death long enough to use it.

Colliss Parrett, Barton

Walk, don't ride

Further to Stephen Petersen's letter (January22), pedestrian crossings were intended for pedestrians (derived from the Latin term pedester for "going on foot").

If cyclists wish to utilise pedestrian crossings then walk like the rest of us pedestrians, don't ride!

D. Connolly, Holder

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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