Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Focus on a different car culture would me more appealing to all
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Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Focus on a different car culture would me more appealing to all

If the organisers of Summernats want to offer a truly inclusive, family friendly car culture fixture with wide appeal , they should swap the current machismo event for a stunning national vintage and classic car festival where crowd behaviour and values would enable the safe use of not only EPIC but our wonderful central public spaces and avenues for a different visual motoring feast, made possible by many processions, static displays and appropriate activities that are far more safe, sustainable and appealing to people of all ages, particularly women and children.

Thanks to recent media reports we know the no-tolerance policy of harassment of any Summernats patrons was a failure inside the gates and also that too many attendees roaming around the public spaces in Braddon failed to keep to themselves the nasty sexist thoughts and behaviours they brought with them to Canberra.

The much touted tourist and retail dollar should not be an excuse for the ACT government turning a blind eye and deaf ear to the annual harassment of women and the event's boosting of devaluing attitudes to their role in society.

A different car culture focus would be less likely to attract an unusually high presence of escort service providers inside and outside event surrounds.

In addition we would be spared the deleterious health and public amenity impacts such as the excessive noise and toxic fumes, smoke, and other airborne particles from shredding tyres and burnout competitions that not only envelop the crowds but also infiltrate nearby suburbs.

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Sue Dyer, Downer

Drawing the line

When the ACT Legislative Assembly meets in February it will make major decisions affecting the Woden Town Centre, the Phillip precinct and all who live and/or work in the Woden Valley.

The Assembly will be asked to either allow or reject, wholly or partially, variations to the Woden Town Centre master plan. The variations introduce building heights to the centre potentially up to 28 storeys, as well as selected sites – in the main around the perimeter of the town centre – where "marker" buildings will be permitted. In certain circumstances the "marker" buildings will be permitted up to the same height. The reason given for the "marker" buildings, believe it or not, is to assist everyone to know where the Woden Town Centre is.

The buildings of the Town Centre lie near the lowest point in the Woden Valley surrounded by hills and against the backdrop of the Brindabella Range. Neither the existing buildings nor the long-established landmark building [the Lovett Tower] disturb the skyline. The one "marker" building that has been built to date – the Sky Plaza – does not help the landscape in any way.

"Marker" buildings might serve a useful purpose in some situations but they certainly will not add anything of value to Woden. The Assembly should ensure that no further "marker" buildings are allowed in the Woden Valley, that the height of any future buildings is restricted to between seven and 12 storeys and, of these, those of 12 storeys are located near the core of the town centre.

Ian Cochran, Lyons

NBN deal clear as mud

The article, "ACT residents urged to meet deadline for NBN switch" (canberratimes.com.au, December 30) is confusing to current users of the Transact network.

Nicholls was the first suburb to have the Transact service of Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) installed during initial construction. Earlier suburbs were retrofitted with only Fibre to the Node (FTTN) with new cables installed and the old Telstra copper line abandoned.

NBN purchased Transact's FTTP network in 2013 but the FTTN network is now owned by IINET which has been upgrading the service to VDSL2, similar to the current NBN network.

The article strongly suggests that all residents will eventually be obliged to switch to NBN. The statement that services utilising "Telstra's copper phone lines will be switched off", however, implies that, since Transact FTTN properties do not use Telstra's copper lines, these properties will not inevitably need to migrate to NBN.

A clarification of this situation would be welcomed by those Canberra residents on Transact FTTN who are continually given the impression that they need to switch to NBN.

Robyn Coghlan, Hawker

Our tax train crash

While Australians have every right to be angry at the tax-avoiding ways of companies such as IKEA, Chevron, Apple, Exxon Mobil and a host of other major multinationals, they should understand that those same companies are complying with their obligations to their shareholders, while breaching no Australian laws ("IKEA's flatpacked tax bill shows it's time to put screws on beancounters", canberra times.com.au, December 30). The destruction of Australia's regulatory system, including its taxation regime, has been under way for the better part of 40 years, with senior tax officials taking up highly paid advisory roles in accounting firms to assist their clients to better "manage" their taxation obligations while, at the same time, the large accounting firms have variously assisted with the drafting of taxation legislation, advised governments on tax policy and exported personnel to plum roles in the bureaucracy.

Australians should be angry, but with the long list of prime ministers and treasurers really responsible for allowing this train crash to happen and for failing the Australian people by not preventing it.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

Tussock taking over

I find it disturbing that none of the media, local instrumentalities or Landcare groups have raised the issue of serious weed infestation , particularly serrated tussock now ever more noticeable in our surrounds.

It is not only entire fields of formerly productive grazing pasture affected but much native bushland as well. A national tragedy appears to be unfolding before our very eyes. Hardly noticeable 20 years ago, serrated tussock was classed as a category 3 weed and as part of local council bylaws had to be suppressed\removed asap.

Landholders failing to do so could in some cases, be threatened with loss of property. Drastic but at least it seemed to keep a lid on the speed of the spread. Several years ago many councils relaxed the stringency of the category 3 requirements with the result that now around a million hectares of pasture (and increasing ) has been rendered useless and will remain so until tougher regulations are reintroduced.

Serrated tussock does not like competition, so well-managed thick and healthy pasture can lessen seed infestation. Any noticeable weeds can then be chipped out manually.

William Gray, Bungendore, NSW

Hydro beats battery

"Why not a battery instead of pumped hydro?" asks O'Connor (Letters, December30).

The answer is that pumped hydro costs about the same as a battery, but batteries need to be regularly replaced.

The South Australia battery cost is estimated to be $50million (the true cost is secret, in confidence – it's Labor, as O'Connor points out). The power output is 100MW, and it can produce this for only one hour. The total usable energy stored in the battery is 100MWh. All rechargeable batteries lose storage capacity on each charge-discharge cycle. The rate of loss depends upon the depth of the discharge and the rate of recharge. The lifetime of the SA battery is not more than 15 years.

Snowy 2 is estimated to cost $3.8billion to $4.5billion, about 80 times the cost of the SA battery. However, the power output would be 2000MW, 20 times that of the SA battery, and it would run for more than four hours. The total usable energy stored in Snowy 2 would be more than 8000 MWh, more than 80 times that of the SA battery.

Thus, the stored energy cost of Snowy 2 is about the same as that of the SA battery. But the SA battery will need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years, while Snowy 2 would not have to be rebuilt.

Bruce A. Peterson, Canberra

Wealth inequality

In answer to M.Moore's question – "Has any 'economist' ever wrought more harm than [Karl Marx]?" (Letters, January6) – I would respond that, while quantifying and comparing the welfare of individuals within the same household is already difficult enough, the work of Ayn Rand to legitimise self-interest and greed, its embrace by the political right in the US, and the leaders and policies they've produced, and in particular its role in creating the state of vast wealth inequality that exists there today must surely warrant a mention.

The late Christopher Hitchens said of Ayn Rand: "To justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral but evil."

Aside from the homelessness, suffering and withholding of basic services from an impoverished and entrenched underclass that a nation with a fraction of the wealth could not only afford, but would feel morally obliged to ameliorate, the negative impacts of this inequality on human capital have been a massive brake on economic growth and technological innovation.

One can speculate that without the influence of Rand, instead of squabbling over funding for climate-monitoring satellites and being unable to launch an astronaut into low-earth orbit, the US might today already be on its way to Proxima Centauri.

James Allan, Narrabundah

B-grade head of state

Recently released papers from the National Archives reveal politicians were afraid that Australian voters, if given a direct vote for an individual person of their choice for an Australian head of state, might result in securing someone who was of "questionable calibre".

I agree! Let people nominate a person of their choice, and the Parliament vote on the nominations. Otherwise we could wind up with celebrities such as a B grade movie actor like Reagan, corny TV personality Trump, another movie icon Clint Eastwood (voted town mayor), Schwarzenegger as Governor of California, Shirley Temple Black as ambassador, and so on.

Switch to Australia. We might have had a Skippy, Hogan or some adored footballer as our head of state. Oh, please!

Let elected people on our behalf do their job, and arrive at some common sense about which nominations are frivolous, as opposed to genuine individuals who have earned their keep through deeds and intellect, rather than some celebrity status or royal hereditary birthright with similar flaws as mentioned above.

Greg Simmons, Lyons

Think of the children

I have a wish to protect the tens of thousands more Australian children who will, in 2018, be exposed to one of the greatest health risks of their lives: family separation.

As family law firms race to re-open in time for the usual aftermath of Christmas Past – a spike in divorce inquiries – science can already tell us the future: the trauma experienced by many children during family separation (especially those exposed to our slow, unaffordable and adversarial family court system) will significantly increase their lifelong risk of mental and physical illness, and of teenage self-harm and suicide.

We need a paradigm shift: to recognise that family separation is, most importantly, a child health and welfare issue, not a legal issue.

And we need a fresh approach that offers much earlier, health-focused support to vulnerable children, and gives parents the practical help and emotional support they need long before they meet a lawyer or find themselves in a courtroom.

Why? Because it's 2018.

David Curl, CEO, For Kids Sake, Alice Springs, NT

Mow our grass

I am dismayed at how we, who live in Tuggeranong, are being treated.

As tax/ratepayers we are entitled to the same services as the rest of the ACT. I feel that we are being neglected in the services provided, mainly in the state of public land maintenance.

For nearly two weeks now I have been concerned with the height of the grass (weeds) on our public land, particularly onroundabouts, some of which are dangerous, due to not having a clear view of approaching traffic.

The public grass areas around Woden, Civic and South Canberra appear to have been mowed. But not Tuggeranong. We are treated like the poor relations.

Cannot even get a train like Gungahlin. Forty years ago, this would not have happened.

Before we had local government, our public areas were always beautifully kept.

They should still be that way for the entire ACT, not just the main tourist attractions.

I rang Canberra Access, only to be told that they are closed until next week but they would pass on the complaint for me.

Not that I expect much to happen – it took me more than three months of phone calls to have our street trees pruned!

Janet Bogner, Isabella Plains

TO THE POINT

JUDICIAL REFORM NEEDED

Not only in Victoria, but across the country, career criminals and recidivists rack up pages of criminal records with apparent impunity. A simple way to prevent this is to lock them up and don't let them out. The courts and judiciary, with the odd exception, rarely apply the maximum penalty. Therefore the only alternative is mandatory sentences. But then we need politicians with the will to enact the necessary legislation.

Owen Reid, Dunlop

HAS TRUMP CROSSED LINE?

Is Mr Trump aware that it is often said it is a fine line between genius and insanity?

Don Sephton, Greenway

TROTTING OUT NONSENSE

A "very stable genius" indeed. What do you find in a stable? In the US they call it horse dung.

Barrie Smillie, Duffy

US LOSING GRIP ON POWER

Donald Trump's chaotic and erratic presidency is handing global leadership to a publicly measured China, and a similarly expansionist Russia.

Rod Matthews, Fairfield, Vic

TIME TO CUT COLONIAL TIES

Neil James ("Westminster system", Letters, January 6) is quite comfortable with the network of colonial conventions and constitution that still tie Australian governments to ultimate rule by a foreign monarch. Our colonial confusion and vulnerability if abandoned in a world crisis is simply ignored. Only republican constitutional reform according to Labor's pledge can dissolve this untenable situation.

Bryan Lobascher, Chifley

MADNESS TO PLAY IN HEAT

I was reminded of Noel Coward's lyrics "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun" when I read that England cricket captain Joe Root was in hospital with severe dehydration. Seriously, nobody should play cricket in temperatures over 50 degrees, as apparently they were in the middle of the field. Why wasn't the match postponed or played at night?

Felicity Chivas, Scullin

POPE HITS THE TARGET

More power to David Pope, for his two recent cartoons skewering Dutton for his "sensitive" race comments.

If he keeps it up they may have to swap their black uniforms for white sheets.

Bob Gardiner, Isabella Plains

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

I continue to laugh as I watch a driver put his/her flashers on in the middle of the turn; they seem to think it is there to help turn the wheels.

They seem to have forgotten that the indicators are there to indicate what they are about to do; not to tell people what they are actually already doing.

Norman Lee, Weston

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