Sprawl threatens Ginninderra Falls
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Sprawl threatens Ginninderra Falls

In this era of continuing population growth in Australian capital cities, it is certainly difficult to decide exactly where to build our homes ('Planning executive says ACT needs to balance infill and greenfield concerns', September 13, p9).

The Ginninderra Falls Association's concern is that the greenfield proposal for a new outer Belconnen suburb, Parkwood, which crosses the border into NSW, will come too close to the lovely Ginninderra Gorge and its falls. The whole area is definitely worthy of national park status.

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We therefore want the ACT Assembly Planning Committee to urgently conduct an inquiry into this whole development. Moreover, the National Capital Authority also has the ongoing responsibility to ensure that the adjacent Murrumbidgee River Gorge is conserved, as well as the surrounding hills and ridges, whether they are in ACT or nearby NSW.

Dr Chris Watson, president, Ginninderra Falls Association

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Fraser still resonates

Professor Frank Fenner was an outstanding Australian with an international reputation and deserves a federal electorate named after him. However, a Fenner electorate should not replace the current electorate named after the local, long-serving, beloved parliamentarian, Jim Fraser.

As Gough Whitlam said on Jim Fraser's passing in 1970: "He won an unshakeable place in the hearts of the people of Canberra by his indefatigable devotion to their welfare and their interests during 20 years as Member. Because of Canberra's unique circumstances, he had to assume responsibilities required of no other Member.

Thousands of Canberra citizens will feel his loss as a personal one."

The Historical Society deplores the proposal to lose the name of the Fraser electorate.

Julia Ryan, president, Canberra and District Historical Society

Music school discord

The Wesley Music Foundation wishes to acknowledge the great contribution that Professor Peter Tregear has made to music education and music performance during his time as head of the ANU School of Music.

Professor Tregear invested much energy and commitment into developing sound relationships across the broader Canberra music community. The Wesley Music Foundation has enjoyed a strong professional relationship with the School of Music throughout Peter's leadership. Professor Tregear's collaborative support for students, including Wesley Music Scholars, his performances here, along with support for performances by school staff and students, are evidence of this relationship and his commitment.

We share the views already expressed by the Friends of the School of Music ("School of Music supporters hit out at ANU", August 25, p5) and the Musicological Society of Australia ("ANU taken to task over mess at music school", September 11, p7). The Foundation has grave concerns for the wellbeing of the ANU School of Music, following the sad departure of Professor Tregear and other professional staff. Any further demise of tertiary music education in the national Capital can only serve to disadvantage and undermine the reputation of the ANU as one of the country's finest tertiary institutions.

We urge the university to reconsider the path that it has been taking since 2012, and to find the way to support a viable institution of excellence of which it would be proud. The Canberra community, including the Wesley Music Foundation, will continue to support the ANU School of Music as vital to the cultural life of Canberra and, indeed, the nation.

Ockert Meyer, board chairman, Wesley Music Foundation

Wind farm Capital

I live in the area adjacent to the proposed Jupiter wind farm in the Palerang local government area, part of the ACT's industrial zone, so to speak, and have an active interest in the second ACT wind energy auction.

The wind farm opposition business in the Canberra region is pretty quiet at the moment and we have many dedicated locals ready to get stuck into any opportunity.

We were looking forward to the outcome of the first auction, but the panel unfortunately chose wind farms we'd never heard of in places we vaguely knew of, like Victoria.

It would help our cause immensely if an approved but not yet developed local wind farm was chosen in the current round. In particular we'd like to champion Capital 2, being just 20 or so kilometres from the ACT.

Such a choice will offer many advantages. Canberrans will actually get to use the wind energy produced. We will be able to bring home to senior officers of the ACT and federal governments, the public sector, the judiciary and ACT commerce who have or are planning a local retirement property, that the next wind farm could be on their boundary.

We will be able to reinvigorate opposition locally. My straw poll of Bungendorians is that many of them are not aware of the visual benefits of a long line of turbines on the shores of Lake George.

A decision before summer will also allow us to reinforce to Canberrans on the way to the coast, that Palerang and surrounds will become the wind farm Capital of Australia with every ridge a future opportunity.

It will be easier to stir up Tony and Joe again.

Infigen Energy needs the business, with their share price at $0.25 as I write and having just posted a loss for the year of $303million.

We need to reawaken the community to the extremely poor community funding deal that goes with Capital II. The NSW PAC recently described it as "modest" which is PAC-speak for "a pittance".

The selection committee, when it appraises local community acceptance of wind farms should heed these words in a Times article coincident with the first auction: "At Bungendore, council general manager Peter Bascomb said community support depended on location. The 110-turbine Jupiter project near Tarago was causing huge concern, but the Capital 2 project was further from houses."

Anthony Gardner, Mt Fairy, NSW

Intolerance abounds

Rosalind Bruhn (Letters, September 17) needn't look to Paris for conferences with intolerant agendas – there are plenty of such events in Australia, usually run by evangelical Christian groups. Some of our MPs and Senators hold reprehensible attitudes to women and minorities.

Peter Marshall, Captains Flat, NSW

Abbott's nemesis lurked closer to home than maligned media ranks

Outgoing prime minister Tony Abbott blamed "a febrile media culture that rewards treachery". Abbott's own culture, as evinced by his policies, was one that hurt many Australians: the poor, the sick, the female, the jobless, the students, the scientists, the clean energy technologists, the manufacturers, the defence sector, the aid workers, the refugees, the grandchildren ... the list goes on.

His inability to stand outside his own interests and identify with Australians was his downfall. Not the media, nor any other convenient scapegoat. But nobody expected him to understand that, which is why he is no longer prime minister.

Will the message be absorbed by his successors, on any side of politics? Most unlikely. To be in party politics nowadays you have to be in the grip of some kind of delusion, and in the power of certain special interests.

Julian Cribb, Franklin

Emperor exposed

The usual suspects (Letters, September 17) are in mourning for Tony Abbott. I hope we won't have any more letters from people expressing adoration for the emperor with no clothes.

Jan Gulliver, Lyneham

Thanks Stan Marks (Letters, September 17) for reminding us what kind of sad and bigoted country we were in danger of becoming under the ignorant leadership of a failed priest.

If we close our eyes for a moment, we might imagine Aboriginal Australians expressing the same views as Stan about the behaviour of the Anglo-Celtic Christians who our former PM was always so keen to recognise as the "first Australians".

While Malcolm Turnbull may or may not come to display a more balanced and open-minded attitude towards the merits of all cultures that have added value to our country, we will surely never be one nation if all we are capable of is being fearful of the differences between us, rather than being proud to accept and celebrate them.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

Joe of all trades

Rumour has it that Joe Hockey does not want to give up his role as Treasurer. I wonder why? Could it be that beneath that suave exterior there lurks a sense of entitlement? That as a member of the "A Team", he believes he should continue as Treasurer, despite his lacklustre performance?

But let's face it, Joe is a servant of the crown, and therefore subject to his government's edicts. He is certainly deserving of no more consideration than all those public servants retrenched because of the Abbott government's ideological fixations.

Unlike those unfortunate bureaucrats who were axed under his government, at least Joe can fall back on his average backbencher salary of $200,000 plus entitlements.

Based on his public remarks and statements as Treasurer, I would see him considering redundancy as a fabulous opportunity. For one, he could leave politics and find a "good" job. He could, for instance, teach university law, politics or even economics (although I feel he might struggle with the latter given the present state of our economy). He might even work in the retail or hospitality sectors; even better, he could retrain as a tradesman.

George Thompson, Narrabundah

PM change precedent

Recent excitement regarding our having five prime ministers [in eight years] seems to overlook that this is not the first time this has happened.

Between 1941 and 1945 we also had five prime ministers, Menzies, Fadden, Curtin, Forde and Chifley, and, although these were war years, the country emerged from the war in pretty good shape. Perhaps this was due to the outstanding character of at least two of the men involved.

Henry Lawrence, Belconnen

Since 1915, long periods of relative government stability, when prime ministers served an average of six or eight years, have alternated with shorter periods when the average prime ministerial term was only two years – or in one period, as short as 10 months.

The 24 years of Hughes, Bruce, Scullin and Lyons were followed by the 2.5 years of Page, Menzies and Fadden; the 24 years of Curtin, Forde, Chifley and Menzies were followed by the less than 10 years of Holt, McEwen, Gorton, McMahon and Whitlam; and the 32 years of Fraser, Hawke, Keating and Howard have now been followed by Rudd (twice), Gillard, Abbott and Turnbull in less than eight years.

Is there a law of Australian politics that after a long period of stability, instability will follow?

Michael McCarthy, Deakin

Unions oppose FTA

David Groube and Ann Kent (Letters, September 11) both have reasons to condemn the Australia-China free trade agreement, as does Bill Shorten, the ACTU and the CFMEU.

This sounds really strange as Daniel Andrews, the Labor Premier of Victoria; Jay Weatherhill, the Labor Premier of SA; John Robertson the Labor opposition leader in NSW; along with Bob Hawke, Simon Crean and Martin Ferguson, all staunch Labor members and ex-prime minister and ministers support the trade agreement.

I believe the opposition to the FTA is driven by the unions, and as Bill Shorten is in their pockets this will be always the case.

John Perkins, Cooma, NSW

Whitlam gave refuge

Robert Willson (Letters, September 14) is incorrect in asserting that Prime Minister Gough Whitlam "flatly refused" to accept refugees from South Vietnam after its government fell to forces from the North in 1975 . Following the fall of Saigon in April 1975, the Whitlam government accepted 200 refugees from the south in June of that year and a further intake of 300 was announced in July. Whitlam also commissioned a detailed study into the integration of Vietnamese refugees.

This was early days and the Vietnamese refugee crisis further escalated. To his lasting credit, Malcolm Fraser's government took in many tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees over ensuing years. Let it also be remembered that this policy received largely bipartisan support from the opposition Labor Party.

Jonathan Hayes, Hughes

How to escape when a magpie attacks you

It's magpie swooping season again. There are many suggestions on how to deal with this. But as someone who walks in the bush and cycles regularly, I find the best solution is to wear a hat/helmet and wraparound sunglasses and then ignore the magpies. If a magpie dives, don't look around, alter speed or acknowledge its existence. Amazing how they cease to be scary when one does this; even those like the very persistent one that dived me closely, often past my face, a dozen or so times as I cycled towards Queanbeyan, or the one that thumped hard into my helmet near Albert Hall.

None of them were scary, because I wore a bicycle helmet and wraparound glasses. If walking, wear a wide-brimmed sunhat, which works too. The magpie will eventually go away. I find the magpie will stop diving sooner if you don't acknowledge it. I have on occasions turned around to look after they have stopped diving, and seeing me look, the magpie has begun attacking again. No, pretend you haven't noticed them.

Julie Macklin, Narrabundah

No substance

Listening to parliamentary question time on Tuesday and Wednesday this week I despaired at the puerile and inept questions put up by this second-rate Labor opposition! They were bad enough over recent weeks but it seems now that they are so devoid of any substance and real national interest that they have descended to silly questions, plastic grins and inane laughter.

Led by the less-than-impressive Bill Shorten, they just do not get that the silent majority of Australians are sick and tired of their Parliament being used as a plaything to pander to political ineptitude, childlike behaviour and incessant interjection. Pity help Australia if they ever get hold of the reins of power.

Len Goodman, Flynn

TO THE POINT

ABBOTT'S DEPARTURE

I listened to Tony Abbott's farewell speech on ABC TV news at 12.30pm on Tuesday and appreciated his words of thankfulness and dignity in defeat. I said amen to what he had to say.

Evelyn Bean, Ainslie

By not showing up to Parliament for two days after losing his job, Tony Abbott shows that, like all bullies who don't get their own way, he's just a sook.

Jeanette Handke, Kambah

The rule of the bully boys is over, and intelligent and humanitarian government can now begin. Congratulations to Malcolm Turnbull and those who had the sense to leave the sinking ship.

Vee Saunders, Weetangera

BRANDING NO CURE

Andrew Hughes ("The new brand: Turnbull wants to represent progression, not hope", canberratimes.com.au, September 16) exhorts branding as the solution to political problems. Haven't we had enough focus groups, poll-driven policy and three-word slogans? Political branding is the poison, not the cure. If I were cruel, I might quote Laclos: "Like most intellectuals, he is intensely stupid." So I shan't.

Michael Barry, Torrens

CASH A CONCERN

Michaelia Cash is said to be likely to become Malcolm Turnbull's immigration minister. To get a sense of her political personality, search "Michaelia Cash Wong YouTube". Go full screen and turn the volume up. It's the sort of performance that brings politicians into contempt.

John Kilcullen, Cook

SAFETY THE CONCERN

Given the ACT government's commitment to fair competition, I am sure it will ensure Uber and taxis incur the same government fees. However, of equal if not greater consumer concern is that the passengers in Uber cars will have the same insurance cover and the cars will have the same safety and police clearance regulations as taxis.

Ed Dobson, Hughes

RED FLAG SUNG AGAIN

I see that the new British Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is leading or closing meetings with the singing of The Red Flag, probably the first time this has occurred since Michael ("Left") Foot was leader. As I remember it, the opening lines were: "The workers' flag is deepest red, it flutters oe'r our martyred dead." Similarly, the parody, "The working class can kiss my arse, I've got a bludger's job at last." Does anyone remember the full text?

Bert Castellari, Curtin

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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