The Japanese government has just made several decisions regarding whaling, the main one of which is clearly in Australia's interests, despite the headline "Australia critical of Japan's plan to resume commercial whaling", (December 27, p2).
The Japanese have long been under pressure from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and worldwide opinion to stop "scientific whaling" off Antarctica, and they have done just that.
They have also withdrawn from the IWC and decided to allow Japanese whaling in their waters.
The Australian Foreign Minister and Environment Minister said the government was "extremely disappointed" by all this, but I suspect that secretly they are pleased. A huge distraction in our relationship with our good friends the Japanese has suddenly gone away.
The token Japanese whaling in Antarctica has become a symbol that Greenpeace, and the almost-piratical Sea Shepherd with their black ship flying the skull and cross-bones, have exploited to the full.
This included assailing the Australian Government to do more about it, in what are international waters by normal definitions.
Surely only national pride kept the Japanese in the Antarctic, because their aim was to catch less than 1000 small whales in the region (at vast expense). The purist conservation argument against this minuscule catch was very weak.
The catch was almost entirely the relatively little Minke whales whose numbers have been booming in Antarctica and were more than 600,000 when last I checked. The decision to hunt whales in Japanese waters, under allegedly tight environmental safeguards, allows the Japanese to pursue what they claim is a historical tradition, and must be of far less significance to us.
Neville Exon, Chapman
The Australian government has condemned Japan's "regrettable" decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and resume commercial whaling within its territorial and economic waters in accordance with IWC catch limits, while ceasing to take whales from the Antarctic Ocean/the Southern Hemisphere ("Extremely disappointed: Australia lashes Japan's decision to restart commercial whaling", canberratimes.com.au, December 27).
Since European settlement, some 24 species of birds, 27 species of mammals and marsupials and seven species of frogs have become extinct in Australia, while the latest list of 1700 threatened species includes 10 critically endangered mammals, four birds, 13 fish, seven reptiles, 15 amphibians and 37 arthropods.
Australia already holds the dubious distinction of having the worst mammal extinction rate in the world due to habitat loss.
Eastern Australia is the only deforestation region in a developed country anywhere in the world.
One would think that it would be more appropriate for our government to encourage others to follow our lead by setting a better example, rather than once again exposing our country to justified accusations of hypocrisy.
John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW
End of argument
The Japanese Government has said they will keep all their whale hunting to within the area controlled by Japan.
So isn't that acceptable to all other countries? And if not, why not?
Japan cannot prevent whales coming into their area or from leaving the area.
It cannot be all that difficult to check to ensure the Japanese word is kept.
At least it means that whale hunting will lose one of its strongest whale hunters.
That surely means the end of the arguments.
Geoff Cass, Tewantin, Qld
Michael Comfort writes that he "cannot understand how running the rivers about 300mm or so deeper has created any measurable benefits" (Letters, December 27).
From the city in which I live, I'll do my best to enlighten him with some examples.
As Mr Comfort should know, the river red gum forests, such as those along the Murray River (notably the Barmah Forest) and the lower reaches of the Murrumbidgee River, are highly prized for their very durable and water-resistant timber. That, surely, is a "measurable benefit".
River red gums need annual flooding of the forest floor for their propagation and to ensure their longer-term survival. That "300mm or so" of extra water is exactly what these trees need.
Not so directly measurable is the health of the wetlands in the lower Murray-Darling Basin, and the survival of the animal and plant life that depend on these wetlands.
Allowing the wetlands to dry up would seriously damage the regional ecology and probably affect crops such as rice and cotton grown in that region.
There are very good reasons for that extra "300mm or so" of water in the Basin's rivers.
Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
Now that China has left our waste recycling industry and local government authorities (LGAs) in the lurch by its refusal to accept baled waste for recycling we are seeking alternatives to landfill.
Our town council has resurrected the possibility of producing power and fuel from household waste.
Leo Dobes, honorary associate professor at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, considers these possibilities "need a rigorous cost-benefit analysis" ("Without analysis, waste paper risks becoming throwaway policy", canberratimes.com.au, December 27).
One can imagine Ecove Environment Corporation, a self-styled "resource management services provider", poised to resolve the situation previously created by another contractor from mainland China on which we had become dependent.
Ecove, actually a garbage recycler and power generator, contracts throughout mainland China, Taiwan and Macau.
G. Wilson, Macgregor
I have just watched the majesty of the Sydney Hobart yacht race start but was overwhelmed by anger.
Plans need to be put in place for next year to ensure that the misogynist, gender normative paradigm presented in the commentary ceases.
The vessels were all referred to as "she".
Despite this being a centuries-old tradition, in future boats should be referred to by a specified gender-neutral pronoun like "they".
A by-product of this would of course mean no longer singling out Wild Oats X crew for attention and praise simply because they are females.
All competitors are of course crew persons.
Jevon Kinder, Murrumbateman
Feral horses pose a danger to the ACT
How refreshing to see The Canberra Times publish a realistic article concerning the threat posed by feral horses travelling across the NSW-ACT border to the pristine waterways of Namadgi National Park ("Advance of wild horses poses risk to capital's water", December 28).
In November I attended the Australian Academy of Science conference "Feral Horse Impacts: The Kosciuszko Science Conference".
Twenty presentations of peer-reviewed research detailed the damage being done by uncontrolled feral horses both here and abroad to water quality and delivery, and to native flora and fauna.
Sixty to 70 years of scientific evidence in the Australian Alps documents the damage done to alpine environments by grazing stock. During the '50s and '60s this damage was recognised by governments, cattle were removed from the Kosciuszko area and expensive soil conservation measures were put in place.
As a bushwalker, I have seen the damage caused by feral horses across the country from the MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia, to the Carnarvon-Mt Moffatt area in Queensland, Guy Fawkes National Park in northern NSW and alpine National Parks in Victoria and NSW. Just two days ago (Boxing Day) I saw deposits of horse dung beneath the Ramshead, a few kilometres from the summit of Mt Kosciuszko.
As one of the speakers at the conference remarked, the Australian government needs to take a leadership role in a coordinated management approach to a Whole of the Alps Park Network to successfully manage threats to conservation in the Australian Alps.
These threats include weeds and feral animals such as deer, pigs and horses. Only one of these is protected, namely feral horses in NSW.
Meg McKone, Holt
So this is what it means when they say 'you can lead a horse to water ...' ("Advance Of Wild Horses Poses Risk To Capital's Water", December 28)
Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
A wonderful picture on the front page of The Canberra Times of December 27, 2018, showing "cars parked on the Canberra Avenue verge as Boxing Day shoppers hit Fyshwick's Canberra Outlet Centre in big numbers".
About the only thing consistent about the ACT government's parking regulations and enforcement (parking on verges for various events in and around Canberra), is that it is entirely inconsistent.
It makes a mockery of the weasel words of the Chief Minister and his minions to see that enforcement of parking regulations is clearly something that is entirely discretionary and very much appears to depend on the target audience.
P Bewley, Barton
Parking cost of a movie
I am appalled by the new parking arrangements employed by Wilson Parking Australia at the Palace Cinema in Acton.
Their costs are exorbitant; I had to pay $10 for 3 hours' parking today in order to give me time to park, get the ticket, go back and display the ticket, and then give myself time at the end of the show (approx. two hours, 20 minutes) to get back and drive out.
This $10 compares badly with my ticket, which only cost $8.50.
One is forced to use this rip-off system as the parking outside the cinema is only for two hours which is not enough to view most films.
Richard Greene, Curtin
Tower highlights cracks
It is too early to determine what is wrong with Sydney's wobbly 34-storey residential Opal Tower.
The three most likely causes for the cracks, however, are builder error, certifier error, and/or something strange happening to the foundations.
All these factors could apply to the many high-rises that are springing up on the Canberra skyline.
Andrew Barr, Mick Gentleman and ACT Chief Planner Ben Ponton are in the front row of the Canberra high-rise cheer squad but the Opal Tower problems might give even them pause.
The examples of poor standards in the Canberra building industry are legion. The debacle that is the Elara Apartments makes a good case study.
Shoddy building, fruitless litigation and toothless regulation have combined to make the lives of some of its residents a nightmare.
Imagine if this saga played out on a 30-storey building?
Repair may be impossible, demolition expensive, and little prospect of getting redress from the developer who has probably disappeared or gone bankrupt.
The taxpayers of Canberra might end up paying to have the dangerous tower demolished. Is anyone sure that our planning and compliance processes are so water-tight that this nightmare can be prevented?
Mike Reddy, Curtin
Climate change smoke
P Wilson (Letters, December 27) says climate claims are worthless and those who make them should admit it – that is, they know their claims are bad.
He says Anak Krakatau has emitted a lot in the last three days. Beyond that he offers no reasoning.
My comments are based on my guess about what he means to imply.
All the volcanoes in the world, on land or under the sea, together emit only a fraction of human emissions.
And their overall emissions don't vary much and haven't increased over time.
The environment naturally absorbs more emissions than occur apart from the human load.
So all the increase in greenhouse gases in the environment is down to us.
Emissions for a few days, from a single volcano, don't suggest anything contrary to what is already very well known. Saying otherwise is, well, making claims that are worthless.
Christopher Hood, Queanbeyan, NSW
Emissions claim in ashes
P Wilson (Letters, December 27) mentions that Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatoa) has poured out more "gunk" into the atmosphere than a million chimneys, which humans can neither stop nor prevent.
From these observations he jumps to the conclusion that the claims of climate "evangelists" are worthless.
The idea that volcanoes emit more carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) than human activity is one of the standard myths propagated by climate change deniers and has been regularly and comprehensively debunked.
The US Energy Information Administration estimates total CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use as 29 billion tonnes per annum in 2007.
Estimates of CO2 emissions from volcanoes are in the range of 65-300 million tonnes per annum, less than 1 per cent of the emissions from fossil fuels.
John Hutchison, Coombs
Speed solution overridden
Ms Fitzharris' grandstanding regarding the proposed lowering of the speed limit in residential areas to 40 km/h, contained in the ACT government's New Transport Strategy, is a joke.
I've been complaining without success to local government politicians on all three sides, including Ms Fitzharris and Mr Rattenbury at a residents' meeting in November 2017, about motorists continually speeding in the 40 km/h zones in Giles and Eyre Streets, Kingston for a couple of years.
My solution, involving the installation of inexpensive rubber speed humps, has been effectively summarily dismissed by all concerned.
D Callaghan, Kingston
Barr news just in, again
Is Phil Nicolls the last person in Canberra to come to the realisation that Andrew Barr is arrogant? (Letters, December 27)?
Bryan Cossart, Stirling
Daily grind wears thin
At the considerable risk of bringing a storm of outrage on my head, I cannot let Frank McKone's note (Letters, December 28) go unanswered.
Frank, did you ever consider that only ACT and NT adopted the college system? The answer is simple: Federal money flowed in those halcyon days. It took rivers of money to set up, and that didn't last. Thereafter, if there was cash competition between high schools and colleges, the colleges got it every time. Lake Tuggeranong College and Calwell High were built at the same time. Lake Tugs got the slung floor in the gym.
I came to ACT in 1988 after 20 years teaching in several systems, and was appalled at what I saw. In every high school, there is a graveyard of scientific equipment that doesn't quite work. The good stuff was snatched up on the way out to the colleges.
In Victoria, I happily accepted the grind of imparting knowledge to sometimes unwilling minds (years 9-10, try it sometime), as I had the stimulus of a line of senior chemistry.
This encouraged me to keep up with my field, and supportive colleagues were an important part of this.
Such informal professional development never happened in an ACT high school.
Your pride in your work is palpable, Frank, but not all had the same exhilarating experience.
Bob Gardiner, Isabella Plains
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