Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Today's cars are festooned with fancy gadgets but not built to last

Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Today's cars are festooned with fancy gadgets but not built to last

Car manufacturers, governments and safe motoring campaigners continually preach us on how much safer, better presented and attractive new cars are. Sometimes they overstep their mark by claiming old vehicles are a death trap.

There is no denying that in a number of ways new cars are considerably safer, easier to drive and, in rare cases, not so ugly. However, the buck stops here.

The fitting of unnecessary electronic devices comes at the expense of reliability as new cars soon become nothing more than a glorified and unwanted piece of junk when they inevitably begin to deteriorate and become costly to repair.

Gadgets such as electric mirrors, central locking, electric-opening fuel cap covers, etc, etc, etc are simply money-making toys. Furthermore most new cars are not by any means attractive – that design art disappeared in the early 1980s when plastic began shaping them into elongated Easter eggs.

While older vehicles are generally harder to drive they are much more reliable and pose less maintenance concerns.


My mid 1990s car has numerous malfunctions, including hard to close windows, boot/bonnet lids not staying open, engine not turning over using the starter when hot, engine stalling due to "possibly distributor/coil overheating".

My three "outdated" 50-year-old cars do not have such silly electronic and cheaply made kickbacks.

The lack of intense cabin strength and durability is another downfall.

Apart from intrusion bars welded to flimsy body panels and energy absorbing frontal structures the entire monocoque is built with far less emphasis on rigidity.

This can be demonstrated by raising a front corner of the car to a fair height clear off the ground.

Chances are the corresponding front door will not open.

Michael Catanzariti, Florey

Money money money

The letter by Mark Francis headed "Over-the-top approach on speed" (Letters, March 10) reminded me of two activities that the ACT government has made something of a habit.

The first is the practice of parking speed-camera vans in places that look to me more like attempting to raise a maximum of revenue rather than to minimise road accidents. A recent example: a speed van parked at 9.30pm on the median strip of Commonwealth Avenue between the bridge and City Hill.

The second is parking tickets. The most egregious example that I know of was reported by Glenn Rosevear (Letters, March 6). According to Mr Rosevear, "at least 500 cars" parked on grassed areas near the National Library during last Saturday's (March 3) Enlighten show were adorned with brown parking-fine envelopes.

It seems that our government has gone to considerable lengths to promote this event but has provided no indication as to where spectators could legally park their cars outside the Library, Treasury and Questacon car parks.

It looks to me awfully like a trap was set to extract revenue, in this case, at least $57,000 at $114 per ticket, from unwary and uninformed spectators.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Caught short

It is disturbing reading "CFMEU fined $58k for inciting staff to wear shorts" (March 10, p15).

Disturbing because the maximum penalty was imposed for a workplace decision that each individual worker probably should have been able to make themselves. I can only conclude that the union could not afford expensive legal representation or that the Fair Work Act is undemocratic.

There are advantages and disadvantages with wearing shorts, short sleeved shirts and sunscreen on construction sites, just as there are advantages and disadvantages for wearing long trousers, long sleeved shirt, gloves and less sunscreen.

For government authorities and construction companies to have "blanket" rules for required work wear whatever the conditions is irresponsible.

I have 45 years of construction experience and I find it quite unhealthy, in hot weather, to be forced to wear long pants, long-sleeved shirt and gloves so that I'm allowed to work on a construction site where there is no dangerous activity occurring.

Australians have quite strong views on what they see as lack of individual rights in China. Perhaps they need to look at their own backyard first.

John Skurr, Deakin

Save the pool

"On thin ice" (March 12, p1) reports on the dour future of the Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre.

Whilst the need for a new, international standard, icerink is unquestionable, so too should be the need to keep its wonderful, outdoor 50-metre swimming pool.

Many of us who have swum there faithfully for more than 30 years are very concerned the pool will go the way of the nearby pitch-and-putt course and the bowling green.

Not only does the pool offer a fabulous opportunity for all those who live in the area to keep fit, its two other pools for children should be a bonus for all the families living nearby.

Your article mentions the newly opened Southern Cross Club pool as a possible replacement. How can a 17-metre pool offer the same exercise benefits as a 50-metre one?

Chief Minister, please consider keeping and maintaining this facility for the many who use and love this pool.

Cathy Connor, Mawson

Outlook unpleasant

We were looking forward to viewing the flypast of the ADFA Chief of Defence Force Parade on Saturday, March 3.

When we tried to drive to the usual viewing spot on Mount Pleasant we found the road closed by security.

Given that Mount Pleasant is a good distance from the parade ground, could somebody from ADFA or other security intelligence please explain what possible risk there could be in allowing access to the Mount Pleasant lookout?

As it was, we had to settle for an obscured view of the Hornets from General Bridges' Grave (which practically overlooks the parade ground).

Bruce Boyd, Bruce

Opening floodgate

Arising from the Royal Commission into Institutional Sexual Abuse, 60,000 people will be applying for $150,000 each in compensation.

They need to show a "reasonable likelihood" of their claim being valid; a significant departure from usuaL legal standards.

The Commission heard the claims of 9000 people.

None were cross-examined.

One quarter of the cases were referred to the police.

It is not difficult to imagine a flood of such accusations.

Are we just at the beginning?

Alan N. Cowan, Yarralumla

Vision not so splendid

The Legislative Assembly needs vision, direction and a strong implementation organisation to further develop Canberra. Hopefully The Canberra Times will continue to criticise the politicised nonsense purporting to be considered decision taking.

The community is being asked by the Assembly: What do they see in the future for Canberra? A small consensus is: A bloody mess if the politicians continue in their haphazard way at the behest of business and in ignorance of their duties.

Once the development of Canberra was managed by The National Capital Development Corporation which implemented and managed development plans and the Canberra Development Board, the federal arm of Territories and Local Government, which looked after direction and administration.

The CDB used data from the ABS to get an idea of what characterised Canberra's population. It discovered Canberrans were educated with higher degrees 10 times the average in Australia. Their children were studying maths, science and higher education subjects. Canberra was knowledge based and should be developed and promoted as a knowledge-based science city and not just a base for Parliament and politicians.

The board realised knowledge is easily transportable and required good quick telecommunication and transport highways developed within the hubs of the infrastructure, including an international airport and accommodation.

The board concluded the knowledge and infrastructure had to be networked and in proximity to technology parks and with schemes to accelerate new industry.

Why is the current Assembly lacking direction? Is it a problem of management or aptitude?

George Casson, Canberra

Barr has erred

Chief Minister Andrew Barr appears to have made a potentially fatal error of judgment.

Both The Canberra Times and the ABC play a very important role in ensuring we, the citizens of Canberra, are kept fully informed of issues that affect us.

I came to Canberra to teach in 1982. I am now retired. I have seen many changes in my time living here, including the advent of self government.

Sadly self government has resulted in changes to Canberra that I find deeply troubling.

The fiasco over the Manuka Oval, the tram project, a number of murky deals involving land swaps in Dickson, the proposed infill of part of the lake shore, the poor standard of residential development, particularly in Civic and along Northbourne Avenue, are just some of the issues of concern.

I have voted Labor all my adult life. I have been a union member since commencing my working life half a century ago, as I strongly support the rights of ordinary Australians to a "fair go".

At the next territory election I will be faced with voting "informal" as I can not support any of the present political parties in the territory.

Gavin O'Brien, Gilmore

Propaganda v journalism

Andrew Barr and Donald Trump have one thing in common: they both hate journalists.

Barr thinks if we hear directly from him we will appreciate the exciting innovations of his government.

I suspect what Mr Barr really "hates" is the scrutiny journalists subject politicians to.

The royal commissions into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse and the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory came about because of shocking abuse brought to light by journalists in the traditional media.

The electorate were made aware of the wrongdoings in the live meat export trade and the Murray-Darling basin by journalists.

Eddie Obeid, Joe Tripodi, and Ian Macdonald would probably still be in power in the NSW ALP had not investigative reporters blown the whistle.

None of these came to light via what Mr Barr calls "the communications area of government".

In the age of the internet where billions of words are electronically published every day, the electorate, more than ever, needs journalists to sift through the dross and publish the verifiable facts. That's the difference between propaganda and journalism.

Mike Reddy, Curtin

Pleas in vain

The Chief Minister has questioned the credibility of the news media.

He has a great point. I have been trying to get the news media to investigate my allegations a federal minister stole from me.

Also, for over three months, I have been asking Mr Barr to do something about a school road safety issue.

From what I have observed there are a number of schools with badly placed "speed humps".

It would have taken less than half a day to inspect the schools I nominated and to prepare a short response to me. To date nothing. These examples demonstrate why Mr Barr is right to hold mainstream news media in contempt.

The media no longer do their job - to hold our political leaders to account.

Roger Laws, Bonython

Brave new world

When Andrew Barr discovers a brave new way of communicating with Canberrans under 34 can he explain why public housing is being removed and not replaced in the city centre; how much will they be burdened with repaying the capital investment and operating costs of the light rail; and, what will be the true cost benefit of the high-rise apartments and buildings so eagerly encouraged by his government.

I will then ask my children to explain it to me.

Peter Claughton, Farrer

Barr must go

Your exposure of our Chief Minister's behaviour over the years is very welcome. His claim that change "has to happen" if "the word of the Chief Minister is anything" says it all.

From my point of view, his word cannot and never could be trusted. Whenever he has directly sought the people's opinion he has ignored them. Only articles in The Canberra Times have provoked any action.

What does have to happen is the departure of Mr Barr and his government before this city is totally ruined.

Murray Upton, Belconnen



Are any phone booths left in Canberra? I would like to hire one for a meeting of the Andrew Barr fan club.

Maria Greene, Curtin.


If Barr hates journalists, whatever does he think of those who want an ACT ICAC?

Adrian Gibbs, Yarralumla


Andrew Barr doesn't realise this is Canberra, not Beijing. The sooner he is gone, the better.

Murray May, Cook


I was about to cancel my subscription to the Canberra Times. I will now renew it.

Terry Curtin, Bruce


Hail Xi Jing-barr, Chief Minister for life of the ACT.

C. Rule, Gilmore


Is Andrew Barr planning to establish an Orwellian Ministry of Truth? Ignorance is strength Chief Minister.

Gordon Williams, Watson


There is no clearer sign a leader has been too long in the job than when he says he intends to bypass the local press and shows contempt for the over-60s.

Jacqueline Elliott, Deakin


Barr is concerned older Canberrans, presumably aged over 34 years, have a disproportionate say. He is fast approaching his 45th birthday. It seems he is having a disproportionate say and may be approaching his use-by date.

Peter Snowdon, Aranda


So Barr "hates journalists and is over mainstream media". Well diddums, Andrew. Even as a long-term Labor voter – I still have my "It's Time" T-shirt, – I can't understand how your government was re-elected in 2016.

Janet Cossart, Stirling


Barr's criticism of traditional media and input from older Canberrans is curious given this is Seniors Week. In about 15 years, when Mr Barr becomes one of those whingeing 60-year-olds, I trust he will erase all his relevant knowledge, experiences and concerns for this wonderful city and sit quietly in the corner of a dark room.

Tony White, Amaroo


I read the Canberra Times, I listen to the ABC News, I pay my tax, I pay my rates, I am over 60. I vote.

Pauline May Lyneham


Is this a sad case of relevance deprivation Andrew?

M. Moore, Bonython

Email: 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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