There has apparently been some confusion about the identification of cane toads, with some people mistaking eastern banjo frogs for the dangerous invasive pest ("Native frog confusing locals on lookout for cane toads", October 25, p4 & p5).
There are several features that distinguish the cane toad from the eastern banjo frog. The cane toad has prominent bulges (the poison glands) on its shoulders; the banjo frog has prominent glands on its legs.
The male cane toad's call is a very tedious guttural vibration or trill, whereas the banjo frog's call is a more musical "bonk", rather like a banjo string being plucked.
Most tellingly, the cane toad's skin is dry and rough, whereas the eastern banjo frog's is moist and smooth.
I imagine, though that most people will be reluctant to perform the necessary feel test.
We must persist with identifying cane toads and ridding the Canberra region of this destructive pest.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
We have recently requested from Project Wing (a Alphabet/Google company) that they share the feedback they are receiving from residents on the drone delivery trial in Bonython.
This trial has been facilitated and assisted by the ACT government and by the federal government.
These governments have advised that we should not give feedback to them, but direct it to Project Wing.
However, Project Wing have advised us that they will not share the feedback but will give "a summary" at the end of the trial — whenever that is.
Not only will they not share the feedback with us but will not be sharing with government!
Where is the transparency and good governance with this?
Is that how trials are normally run, with a company given a great amount of government assistance assessing, self-reporting and ultimately judging the success of a trial?
Should not a proper and thorough audit be done on this trial to ensure that veracity of the results and that government assistance has been appropriate and worthwhile?
Where are the good government, open government principles?
Nev Sheather, Bonython. Against Drones, Bonython
Teacher librarians plea
There has been much discussion about NAPLAN lately and the Grattan report has shown that ACT school students are falling behind in comparison to students in states like NSW and Queensland ('Our kids are falling behind', opinion piece, canberratimes.com.au, October 22) and "The ACT is the worst performer in NAPLAN — and it's getting worse", canberratimes.com.au, October 23).
One simple, evidence-based idea to improve the teaching and learning in ACT schools is to have qualified library staff in all school libraries.
Queensland and NSW require qualified teacher librarians in their school libraries.
ACT schools do not have this requirement and qualified library staff have been in sharp decline in the last 10 years.
That seems like some pretty simple maths to me. Put qualified staff back into ACT school libraries.
Amy Byrne, Gordon. Australian Education Union member
Renters' rights unfair
The ACT government is introducing new laws to give renters greater rights including allowing them to have pets, to make simple modifications without landlords' consent, and to limit a landlord's ability to increase rentals beyond the " basic CPI threshold".
What then about the protection of landlords' rights?
Are they to be allowed to increase bonds to cover for the repair of damaged walls or floor coverings caused by animals urinating throughout the home, or to repair walls that have been butchered by various methods of the attempted fixing of furniture and/or televisions?
And what good news it would be if the proposed legislation also introduced concurrent laws stopping the ACT government from increasing rates beyond the basic CPI threshold.
Pigs might fly.
Lud Kerec, Forde
Give us shelter
It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town, when they see the streets and roads crowded with homeless beggars importuning every passerby for alms.
Less gloomy, but in its own way a little sad, is the minister responsible for the upkeep of this town's sometimes neglected concrete bus shelters, declaring that artwork - however glorious — is a way to preserve said shelters "forever in a sense" ("Canberra's iconic bus shelters hitch a ride", canberratimes.com.au, October 24).
I do, therefore, offer it to public consideration, a proposal to ensure each shelter is retained — in actuality — through their relocation and refurbishment such that they may serve a dual purpose.
When the buses run they can be "Elemental shelters for passengers of the Australian Capital Territory internal omnibus network". At other times, "pop-up" little houses for those unfortunates who otherwise dwell in that state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners expiating their sins before going to heaven (also known as limbo or the ACT Housing Waiting List).
With sufficient care, this proposal could address the needs, budget and site for the client, as well as the community needs and requirements, to be synthesised into a "useful human and enjoyable enclosure of space".
These were the ingredients for successful architecture as put forward by Clement George Cummings, FRAIA — designer of the Series I Standard Public Bus Shelter.
Alternatively, the current inmates of the ACT Assembly could actually develop more sensible proposals to address the issues of poverty and homelessness for the lesser well-off, in this incredibly wealthy city. I am not holding my breath.
R. Karlleo, Fisher
How did the National Portrait Gallery go about selecting people for its 20/20 exhibition? Five members of the NPG's board are identified as company directors. Can that be why the gallery selected two banking executives? Should inclusion of captains of industry have been balanced by portraits of people from other walks of public life such as refugee advocates, trade union leaders, environmentalists, and peace activists?
E. Willheim, Forrest
How's this for coincidence, a visit by the grandson of the reigning British monarch 114 years to the day since Britain annexed the Fiji islands (Today in History, Private Capital, CT p14, October 25)?
Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
Fine balance needed on roads
The report on the assessment of cycling laws ("Cycling rules to be adopted permanently", October 25, p4) demonstrates a serious problem in improving road safety.
It is about the rights of one group with the responsibilities thrust on another group.
The one and 1.5-metre clearance rules are an example. Normal people ensure that they do not hit a cyclist, even the most aggressive "hoons" avoid hitting them simply because of the real deterrents following a collision – a damaged vehicle, piles of paperwork and a prosecution.
The two most probable causes of a contact (near or real) are "eyes see but brain did not register" by a driver or a direction change by a cyclist.
Neither of these scenarios are affected by the legislation so it is no surprise that the crash rate is unchanged.
The 60 per cent increase in crashes involving cyclists riding across pedestrian crossings is not surprising; simple arithmetic demonstrates the near impossibility of a car stopping in time when a cyclist rides onto the crossing at three times walking pace (the official limit of 10 km/h) or faster.
The report ignores the real problem – the incongruity of allowing someone to use a crossing on wheels at three times normal pedestrian pace and typically recommends raised crossings at vast expense and demands that other road users have even more restrictions placed on them.
The sensible thing is to do what every other jurisdiction in the world does – forbid cyclists to ride across a pedestrian crossing.
Michael Lane, St Ives, NSW
No one should be surprised that the ACT government will adopt permanently road rules intended to protect cyclists despite a study saying more testing is required to prove they actually increase safety ("Cycling rules to be adopted permanently", p4, October 25).
Many of us have, long ago, given up expecting this government to make evidence-based decisions.
Gordon Fyfe, Kambah
Finally, promise kept
It's taken 17 years but thanks to the tenacity of cycling organisations and many individual cyclists, ACT Labor and the Greens are finally honouring their 2001 election promise to permanently scrap the dumbest law ever enacted in the ACT.
With the right to cycle on crossings without dismounting now permanently restored for the first time since it was removed without justification by the previous Liberal government in 1999, the reversal of the illogical and universally ignored "crossing rule" is a wonderful example of political parties finally being forced to implement their election promises, no matter how long it takes.
Now it's time for Labor and the Greens to implement their (temporarily) broken 2007 election promise to fit bike-carrying racks on 100 per cent of Canberra buses.
They prefer at present to pretend that commitment was never made, but, just as with the "crossing rule" promise, voters who cycle have long memories and will never allow them to forget it.
Terry George, Kingston
Opaque language a loss
Recently I heard someone, who could be described as a "health professional", say of a person who had died: "The patient had injuries incompatible with life." It seems nowadays that no one simply dies, or even passes away; they are in a state of unaliveness.
As a society we do ourselves a disservice in allowing evasive and opaque language to take hold in public discourse.
It is one reason why politicians elude accountability for their acts and omissions.
A. Whiddett, Forrest
Palmer could make mark
It's good to see that Clive Palmer's dream of building Titanic II is going ahead. I can only hope that it is coal-powered, so as to leave an indelible mark on the ports that it visits on its cruise schedule. Mr Palmer should give some attention to the naming the ship's boats, or pinnaces. The Angus Taylor, Matt Canavan, Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce would be excellent choices to name the boats.
Peter Harris, Belconnen
Privatisation of government functions and utilities leads to, and is arguably designed for, obstruction of transparency.
It is ideal camouflage for impropriety and criminality ("Ex-judge will assess Icon immunity claim", October 23, p2).
It is ridiculous that an ACT MLA cannot access details in a major contract of a company totally owned by the ACT.
G. Wilson, Macgregor
Suffering in the depths
Nicole Hasham's article on the federal government's thrashing around over energy policy ("Competition chief learnt of controversial energy plan when he 'read about it in the newspaper"', canberratimes.com.au, October 25) reveals the depth of confusion into which we have sunk since Australia's energy system was privatised.
Here's a suggestion; instead of ever more complex and convoluted "solutions", why don't we just admit that privatisation was a huge mistake, and renationalise the whole thing?
G. Soames, Curtin
The United Nations General Assembly voted last Tuesday by an overwhelming majority to grant the long-suffering Palestinian Authority nearly all of the rights and privileges tendered a member state, without officially voting to approve membership for the entity as a state. The resolution was opposed only by the US, Israel and, yes, Australia, maintaining our decades-long ongoing status as the subservient little US lapdog.
Rex Williams, Springwood, NSW
The sexual abuse inquiry instigated by Julia Gillard is probably one of the most significant of this generation.
It was shameful at the time that Paul Kelly in The Australian described it as a "a serial exercise in populist politics and policy ignorance" (The Australian, November 17, 2012). As editor-at-large then and now, he must be highly embarrassed and ashamed by the success of the National Apology.
Ray Armstrong, Tweed Heads South, NSW
I marvel at what it needs to get the world's attention. Countless innocent people, including schoolchildren on buses dismembered, a Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital bombed: it was still business as usual with the Saudis.
Let's not forget that most of the 9/11 killers were Saudi. One gruesome murder was all it finally took to expose the evils of this regime, and even the Donald mutters disapproving words.
Bob Gardiner, Isabella Plains
Stagnant wages angst
Jessica Irvine claims that the vast majority of us are sharing the benefits of a solid economy and that the fruits of growth have been shared widely ("Wealthy, yes, but wise?", October 25, p20).
But we are no longer sharing. She totally ignores the problem of stagnant wages.
The labour share of GDP has consistently fallen for some years now, which means nearly all the fruits of growth are now being appropriated by capital.
Conservative governments talk about incentives to work, but these seem restricted to CEOs.
It is a trifle naive of Irvine to wonder why working people are dissatisfied and why the debate is bitter.
David Roth, Kambah
Photo deja vu
Why does the photo of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greeting the son of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi remind me of the 1990 photo of Saddam Hussein greeting five-year-old British hostage Stuart Lockwood?
Tony Falla, Ngunnawal
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