Sir John Monash Centre deserves greater recognition
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Sir John Monash Centre deserves greater recognition

Your article "Visitor numbers low at $100 million memorial" (December 5, p10) refers to "widespread publicity" about the Australian National Memorial – the Sir John Monash Commemorative Centre – on the Somme.

As a citizen with a great admiration for the achievements of Australian troops in World War I I must disagree.

A gardener at the Australian memorial, Sir John Monash Centre, at Villers-Bretonneux in north-eastern France.

A gardener at the Australian memorial, Sir John Monash Centre, at Villers-Bretonneux in north-eastern France.

The spectacular achievements of the Australian Corps under Sir John Monash in France have always been buried under the fanfare for the sad Gallipoli debacle.

In March and April of 1918 Imperial Germany's Operation Michael was approaching war-winning success as its army closed in on the vital strategic rail-junction of Amiens.

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Its capture would open the allied armies clustered to the north and east to envelopment from behind.

My understanding is that King George V was in agonised conference with the Allied high command to decide how to approach Germany and sue for terms that would stop the war before it destroyed the Allied armies.

This was the prelude to surrender.

The news came through late in April that the Australian Corps had stopped Offensive Michael at Villers-Bretonneux.

After further victories in May and at Hamel in August the King journeyed to Monash's Corps Headquarters at Bertangles and presented him with his knighthood.

The president of France, Clemenceau, followed and expressed his astonishment and admiration at the Australian victory.

Nick Miller may be intimately familiar with the journalistic coverage given to the struggle in France in 1918 but I, as a history buff deeply interested in it and in General Monash, was deeply disappointed with the coverage I saw in the press and on TV.

It seemed a squeak in comparison to the continuous paean for Gallipoli.

There is little I can agree on with Tony Abbott but I applaud his determination to immortalise the victories of the Australian and New Zealand Corps at the Second Somme.

The superb National Monument at Villers-Bretonneux is at least as deserving of the pilgrimage of Australians as Turkey. It is more informative – and less crowded.

A. Moore, Melba

Fossil fuels' damage

I fully support Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury's efforts to see how the ACT could take court action to obtain climate-change-related damages. I also support taking action against the further exploitation of fossil fuels, which is contrary to the ACT government's aim to address climate change ("ACT seeks advice over court action", December 2, p1 & p6).

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It is outrageous – but not really unexpected – that large fossil-fuel companies such as oil giant Exxon have known for decades how their products have been increasing the risk of catastrophic global warming but concealed this fact.

Such immoral and unethical behaviour is possibly also the case with large coal-mining companies such as Adani, given its track record in its home country, India.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

A wasted warning

Merkel's warning to Russia not to block Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov will of course fall on deaf ears.

Putin knows that the West is too timid to check his aggression.

Had the West helped Ukraine fend off Russia's invasion of the Crimea in 2014, Putin would have stopped there. Many tens of thousands of Ukrainian lives would have been saved from his aggression and a peaceful existence allowed for Ukraine's economy and society to recover from Soviet-era constraints.

A blockade is an act of war. Ukraine has suffered a multitude of Russian aggressions in the last five years, often cowardly denied. There will come a time when Ukrainians will say enough is enough and an old-time war between two states will erupt. However as we know, these European wars tend to involve many more countries before they end at enormous costs.

Ukraine has asked that NATO send some ships to accompany the many merchant ships from all countries transporting goods to and from its ports on the Azov, which account for 40 per cent of its exports.

Merkel chides Ukraine to be more "sensible". When will the West learn the lessons of appeasement? Putin only understands force and several NATO ships will ensure Azov Sea operations return to the status-quo.

Better still, Germany can pull the plug on Russia's plans to build a new pipeline to Western Europe, hitting it squarely where it hurts — export revenues.

Danny Kozak, Red Hill

Adani plan flawed

The announcement that the Adani coal mine will be started on a smaller scale and self-funded is obviously intended to get the Queensland and federal government approval processes finalised urgently so that they can start work before the election next May.

It is truly bizarre that governments are still keen to see this project proceed at a time when much of Queensland is suffering heatwaves and catastrophic bushfires, when the ocean temperature is heating up again, and when international experts have advised that the world has only a few years to get onto a lower emissions pathway if we are to avoid an irrevocable change to the world's climate.

A few extra jobs in Queensland and some more money in the coffers of governments will never be enough to offset the loss of jobs on the Great Barrier Reef, or the costs associated with addressing the impacts of more extreme weather events.

Our young people have recognised that this will be their future. Politicians and organisations which do not recognise this reality do so at their peril.

Catherine Rossiter, Fadden

Cricket bat poised

The two main Liberal Party coal lovers, anti-renewables protagonists and climate change deniers are Craig Kelly (ex-furniture salesman) and Tony Abbott (ex-boxer, journalist and concrete plant manager); two politicians who apparently know far more on these matters than the hundreds of thousand of highly qualified and respected climate and other scientists from around the world.

It is also instructive that there appears to be no one from within the "sensible centre" of the federal Liberal Party who openly challenge Kelly and Abbott's views and their anti-science stance.

It is further instructive that the PM is prepared to overrule the members of the Liberal Party in Kelly's Liberal branch, thus ensuring Kelly's candidature for the next federal election. It is to be regretted that the PM is not prepared to take similar action to protect several female Liberal members who have now lost their preselection.

As an ex-Liberal voter and donor I patiently await the next federal election, cricket bat in hand.

Rob King, Melba

Indeed, what is unique?

Andrew Barr ("Protecting the bush 'front and centre' in new planning strategy", canberratimes.com.au, December 4) has a queer notion of "what is unique about Canberra" when he states that "we need to focus instead on our CBD, our town centres and dedicated major transport corridors to accommodate more of our city's future growth".

Aren't the CBD and dedicated major transport corridors the features that dominate most cities?

As Professor Ken Taylor wrote ("Is Canberra, the famous planned city, losing its soul?", canberratimes.com.au, June 27) "in all the great cities of the world, people don't remember the buildings, they remember the spaces".

The new vista in Canberra is one blocked by shoddy high-rise buildings abutted to the pavement and to each other, and fluffy blocks in the suburbs are crammed with multi-unit dwellings where there were houses and gardens before.

Stating that "we're not going to build in Kowen Forest" Barr doesn't seem to know the difference between a hazardous pine forest and a "great natural setting".

Barr only has to look at the rising house prices and the stagnant apartment market to know what people want.

John L Smith, Farrer

Time matters

In reference to the amended light rail route from Civic to Woden.

Taking as a given that the existing bus service from Civic to Woden takes around 15 minutes, the idea that it will be replaced by a light rail service that will take about 40 minutes is beyond ridiculous. The unfinished Gungahlin — Civic light rail should make all of us aware that our city planners and ACT Government are hopelessly fixed into 19th century ideas.

The exceedingly ugly tramway under construction has spoiled Northbourne.

The idea that it should be allowed to spoil part of the parliamentary triangle is utterly abhorrent.

China has developed public transport systems that are battery driven and follow road markings rather than rails.

This is without doubt the way our city planners should be thinking.

The full cost of light rail has not yet hit ratepayers.

However it is already way over budget and if we go forward with Stage 2 our children will be paying it off through higher rates for most of the next century.

Howard Carew, Isaacs

World-first stupidity

Project Wing's drone delivery trial in Bonython is a world first ... a world first in stupidity on the part of the ACT Government.

Why is Project Wing in our patch disturbing and disrupting our lives and amenity with its outrageous noise and threatening our safety and privacy?

Why isn't Project Wing conducting such a "trial" in their own very large country — the United States of America?

Answer — because by law they are not allowed to.

It is deemed unsafe for the people at this time.

Why did the NSW Government reject Project Wing's request to conduct trials in Sydney?

Yes, indeed all residents of the ACT, the only government in the world at the present time prepared to jeopardise and threaten the safety, privacy, health and wellbeing of the constituents who elect them is your very own ACT Government.

Robyn McIntyre, Bonython

Bush legacy

It is entirely appropriate that the late George H.W. Bush be remembered for his dignity and modesty, qualities certainly lacking in the current US president.

But he should also be remembered for allowing his 1988 campaign to engage in the crass exploitation of racism (the Willie Horton attack ads), and for recruiting such mediocre individuals as Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme Court and Dan Quayle as Vice President.

Even less forgivable was his pardoning of six senior officials, including a former Secretary of Defense, a former National Security Advisor, and senior officers of the Central Intelligence Agency, who were facing criminal charges relating to concealing arms sales to Iran and the diversion of proceeds to right wing insurgencies in Latin America.

These pardons conveniently precluded any further legal scrutiny of Bush's possible role in the Iran-Contra scandal.

One hopes that current and future US presidents will be inspired by Bush's noble qualities, not by his shortcomings.

Peter Grabosky, Forrest

Meaningless

If there is one word I would expunge from our national vocabulary, it is the word special. It seems we cannot read an article, or listen to a news item (let alone a TV advertisement) without being confronted by this pretentious prima donna of a word, slithering lizard-like through our language, demanding attention. At best, the word special is meaningless. We have a Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), Mothers are special, fathers are special, we have the Special Olympics; our children are special (is there a parent who would say otherwise?).

A birthday is a special day; Easter is a special time of year, this week sirloin steak is on special. If all these things are special, then the word loses any hint of exclusivity, which it is presumed to personify. And by creating the 'Special Olympics' are we not creating yet another barrier to people with disability? After all, it is only a short step from being exclusive to being excluded. I have asked my family to say what they like about me at my funeral — except to say I was special. If they do, I have promised to come back and haunt them.

Ken Fraser, Kambah

Informers and criminals

Regardless of the perceived wrongs perpetrated by Victoria Police in having used a defence lawyer as an informer, very dangerous criminals were incarcerated and now may have the chance of flouting the law and being freed to continue their criminal activities.

In Premier Andrew's Victoria the law is indeed an ass.

Don Davey, Launceston, Tas

People have the power

Paris is burning over the latest fuel taxes. Time warp back to 1789 anyone?

M. Moore, Bonython

TO THE POINT

NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE

Malcolm Turnbull didn't measure up either as leader of the Republican movement, as Liberal Party opposition leader or as prime minister. The Liberal Party – and the country – finally, if belatedly, got his measure and realised that he was not fit for purpose. Let us hope that in his new self-selected role as political wrecker he will enjoy as much success as he did in his previous failed roles.

Dr Bill Anderson, Surrey Hills, Vic

FAILURE TO PROGRESS

The day the Liberals failed to elect Julie Bishop as their leader, they failed the pub test to be considered as a progressive party.

Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt

CAPITAL RIP-OFF

On the way from Sydney to Canberra on Wednesday we filled up at Speedway, Liverpool. Regular 91 petrol was priced at 115.9 a litre, and E10 113.9. Back in Canberra our local servo was charging 40 cents more a litre – after the 4 cents supermarket discount! Clearly, the big petrol companies are still playing Canberrans for mugs.

C. Williams, Forrest

TOO MUCH HARD WORK?

One could be forgiven for thinking our city is going to end up like Hong Kong with people living on top of one another in near slum conditions. Or are we simply seeing a lazy local government for whom laying down a bitumen road or digging a water main is too hard?

Michael Doyle, Fraser

TRAMS TO THE RESCUE

We don't need more beds or staff for the emergency departments, we need more trams.

Roger Smith, Scullin

VISITORS NOT INTERESTED

Re: "Visitor numbers low at $100m memorial" (December 5, p10). Not only is the Monash centre at Villers-Bretonneux an expensive testimonial to Australian boastfulness, it is also a place visitors are staying away from in droves.

David Stephens, Bruce

IS THIS THE ANSWER?

Perhaps it has become necessary to destroy the "Bush Capital" in order to save it.

Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra, NSW

HEALTH OFF THE RAILS

With the confirmation of Canberra's dismal health performance ("Condition critical for ACT patients", December 6, p.1) surely it's time to divert the funds for stage 2 Light Rail to health infrastructure and staffing.

Geoff Nickols, Griffith

DESPERATE TIMES ...

I guess the Federal Liberals' next move will be to change the rules so that a two-thirds majority of the national electorate is needed to change the government. They've got until May to get the job done.

Bruce Wright, Latham

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.

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