Vision needed to ensure landscape not lost

Vision needed to ensure landscape not lost

In the interview with visiting urbanist Professor Greg Clark (‘‘Work on branding’’, May 24, p3) he makes the point ‘‘there’s a design ethic in the heart of Canberra that gives it a distinctive look and feel and sense of place. So as Canberra grows, it needs to figure out how it can retain that.’’

Precisely and it is a point repeatedly made by local commentators on our city’s future.

A common theme running through public comments is the importance of open space and associated tree planting to the distinctive and much loved sense of the city as Canberra, city in the landscape.
It has been a distinctive theme through various visionary phases of planning and open space development: Griffin, Weston, Sulman, NCDC, Pryor.

We need the landscape ethos of the city to be reimagined and applied rather than ignored.
This is particularly so in new medium and high-density developments where regrettably we have an approach driven solely by land economics.


Interestingly Ben Ponton the Chief Planner mentioned the role of landscape when he reflected that, in terms of increased residential densities, it is not necessarily the height of buildings that is the real problem, but how the buildings relate to the landscape, and the people in the landscape.

Critical to this image is Canberra’s landscape ethos right down to spaces between buildings. Where are today’s visionaries?

Professor Ken Taylor, Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies, ANU

Hang heads in shame

Ground Control to Archbishop Philip Wilson! Some of us were sentient beings in the 1970s and were very much aware of sexual abuse of minors being a big, bad crime, both moral and civil.

I am offended by the bishop, and others in media interviews, making the outlandish assertion that it was not considered as such. Clearly it was only within the church that it was considered a mere misdemeanour. Hang your heads in shame.

Robin Trinca, Narooma, NSW

AWM’s role changed

Dr Sue Wareham’s understanding of the AWM (Letters, May 21) casts doubt over her capacity to understand the quantum shift that has further raised it to international iconic status over the past 25 years.

No, Dr Wareham, the basic function of the Memorial is not only ‘‘the commemoration of our war dead’’ as you would have it.

That said, it certainly does commemorate sacrifices and heroic deeds of Australia’s service men and women with dignity, solemnity and the gratitude of our nation.

The AWM does not glorify war. It brings to life the spirit of our nation and challenges today’s and future generations to stand tall in recognition of selfless past and current deeds, and to remember that freedom does not come without effort and cost.

This trend gained strength 25 years ago when recommendations of an AWM advisory committee, of which I was a member, turned the focus towards national spirit, on attracting younger Australians and to establish a foundation to raise much needed funds from the corporate sector as well as setting up the ‘‘AWM Friends’’.

The intent was to enable personal and corporate involvement with the AWM.

Dr Wareham might do well to ask why attendance at the Anzac dawn service has since grown from 5000 to 50,000 and why the number of visitors surpasses that to all other national institutions.

Dr Wareham made her claims about the AWM being a source of entertainment in her capacity as a founding member of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize-recognised ICAN (International Association Against Nuclear Weapons).

I was, for the record, a willing signatory to ICAN’’s submission as an officer of the Order of Australia.

Len Goodman, Belconnen

Concern? Really?

It is reassuring to learn of corporate Australia’s concern for ‘‘6 million mum-and-dad investors’’ should company tax legislation not be implemented (Election fears over stalled tax policy,, May 23).

Australians will view their bleeding heart sentiment with cynicism, emanating as it does from a source regarding tax as optional.

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan

Federal ICAC needed

Federal MP Andrew Hastie has used parliamentary privilege to claim a Chinese-Australian businessman linked to the Chinese Communist Party funded the alleged bribery of a past president of the UN General Assembly. The same person has donated millions to Australian political parties and universities.

Noting that the businessman is suing media outlets for defamation, Mr Hastie sees a threat to press freedom with the potential to undermine our democracy. Press freedom is certainly vital, but this matter also strengthens the national security case for a Federal Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The bribery case involving the UN’s John Ashe involved alleged payments to induce his support for Chinese property investments in Antigua and a project to build a UN office in Macau.

As our rules on foreign political donations tighten, we can expect criminal methods will be used to compromise decision-makers. Currently, the AFP’s Fraud and Anti-Corruption Centre carries responsibility for investigating corruption in the federal sphere, but a 2016 Senate inquiry raised doubts about the AFP’s suitability for this role.

Unlike the FBI, which brought the Ashe case to court in a matter of months, the AFP has been slow to act.

A federal ICAC is needed now.

Paul Feldman, Macquarie

Destructive feral horses

Rod Griffiths has summarised the way feral horses are trampling the fragile alpine environment of Kosciuszko National Park and how the NSW Environment Minister is trampling scientific evidence and environmental legislation in order to protect them (Letters, May 23).

This illustrates a wilful form of basic scientific ignorance and biological illiteracy that surpasses belief. Why should an introduced species that is increasing so rapidly take precedence over the small iconic southern corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne corroboree) and over many of our already endangered alpine plant species? Why should an introduced animal be turning alpine bogs and fens into muddy wallows, threatening the catchments of several major rivers?

Yes, culling animals is distressing but the future of Kosciuszko National Park hangs in the balance. Do we want one giant muddy wallow with feral horses reigning supreme?

It’s a pity that Greens MPs in NSW appear to have no concept of how the natural environment should be properly protected.

Judy Kelly, Aranda

ActewAGL for who?

Later this month, we will have a smart meter installed by ActewAGL, the company using the slogan ‘‘for you’’. When the meter’s installed, our bill will have three parts; the familiar supply charge (fixed price per day) and usage charge (electricity actually consumed), and a new ‘‘demand charge’’.

This charge is intended to discourage peak (5pm to 8pm) consumption. It’s a good idea. But the charge will be set for a whole month on the basis of the highest demand reached in any of the 180 or so 30 minute periods available in that time slot for the month.

If the smart meter can register how much electricity is used each half hour, why is the demand charge seemingly calculated to maximise ActewAGL’s revenue by basing it on one single highest reading each month? It sounds more like ‘‘for us’’ than ‘‘for you’’.

Grant Battersby, Barton

Trio punished enough

I note with interest a recent media report indicating that Cricket Western Australia has decided to allow Cameron Bancroft to resume playing cricket for WA this year. This will be after the expiry of the nine month ban imposed on him by Cricket Australia following his involvement with the ball tampering scandal.

The report also suggested that the other two protagonists involved in the matter, David Warner and Steve Smith, may also be free to represent Australia once their individual bans expire.

One would hope that these three have learned their lesson, Their stoic apologies and emotional admissions of guilt together with their teary admissions that they had done the wrong thing appeared to be sincere enough and that the matter should be forgotten and the men be allowed to continue on in their chosen profession But will it? Lets face it, the majority of us consider the actions of the three players as falling within the more mischievous rather than the malicious category and that the bans handed out to date to be sufficient to dissuade others from committing similar acts in the future.

However there are many cricketing tragics in the cricket hierarchy who believe that the three should never be allowed to play cricket again at any level. Lets hope that Cricket Australia does not feel the same way when it sits down to develop the Australian squad for the Ashes tour next year.

Andrew Rowe, Florey

Young drivers penalised

I participated in the biased ‘‘Your PLates Review’’ on the ACT government ‘‘your say’’ website.

It is laughable consultation — if that is what it is.

The survey sets out a number of controversial propositions and then permits the reader to rank them in the order that the government should implement them. There is no scope to disagree with any of the propositions.

P-platers are to only have four points, be subject to night time driving bans and be subject to passenger restrictions. There was some suggestion that these limitations could apply to P-platers up to 25 years of age.

The proposals are highly discriminatory to young people.

If drivers pass the driving test then they should be qualified to drive on the roads.

For there to be a night time curfew on P-platers is outrageous. Many young people want to go out at night, also work shift work and in the hospitality industry. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to carry on with their lives without this heavy handed government intrusion?

There is not a cost-effective alternative to driving in these night time hours for young people.

I strongly object to blaming young people for all the ills on the roads — it’s highly unfair to penalise young drivers in this way.

Jane Grace, Amaroo

Kangaroo cull logical

Those opposed to kangaroo culling may be interested in the following.

A few decades ago, in the steppes of central Asia, the authorities were worried about wolves attacking the grass-eating flocks that the local population depended on.

So in true Soviet style, they brought in a wolf-eradication campaign, which was very successful.

The people were happy for a while, but soon the grasslands were reduced to bare earth because there were now too many herbivores for the land to sustain, and the flocks were starving. Wolves had to be hastily introduced to restore the balance.

We are in the same situation with kangaroos. We have removed the top predator that kept their numbers in balance, namely Aboriginal people and their dingos, and the result is the devastation of the local grasslands, where every blade of grass is chewed down to ground level, other creatures have no shelter and there is starvation among the kangaroos themselves.

The idea behind the culling program is to replicate the top predator. Once numbers are at a sustainable level, contraception should keep them stable and culling should no longer be necessary.

How is this more cruel than letting many of them, plus all the other grassland species, starve?

Jenny Andrews, Aranda

Electric vehicle issues

There are a few reasons why the number of electric vehicles in Australia has only grown very slowly.

EVs, which have relatively short ranges, make a lot of sense in our cities, where journeys are relatively short and there are usually plenty of recharge points.

However, they make a lot less sense in journeys outside cities.

Another problem is their cost. At present they are appreciably more expensive than their petrol of diesel-fuelled equivalents.

A further problem is their relative silence.

This increases their potential danger to pedestrians, especially those who are hard of hearing.

Let’s hope forecasts of a massive boom in demand for EVs are correct and that it includes Australia.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Speaking for a veteran

I am sure if my late father, a Rat of Tobruk and veteran of the Battle of El Alamein, was alive today he would agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Sue Wareham (Letters, May 22) and not give his time of day to what is becoming an expensive tax-funded game parlour.

Nick Corby, Hawker



If the Aboriginal embassy is an eyesore, what better solution than to give it the good-looking Lobby Restaurant?

Anne Prendergast (Letters, May 22) can still enjoy her happy memories of lovely Liberal Party breakfasts there, but in the meantime the place will be rejuvenated and given a new existence by a people who have been here 60,000 years longer than Anne has.

Michael McCarthy, Deakin


Andrew Hastie your disloyalty to your leader is commendable, what a team member! Do you have any more exiting news in there for us?

John Rodriguez, Florey


The kerfuffle caused by Bishop Curry’s homily at the royal wedding is most amusing. His message and the nervous glances and shifting in the pews of the privileged attendees made me think of the old phrase sometimes used by the country preachers of my youth: ‘‘Religion is meant to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.’’ Hopefully the Bishop’s message did just that.

Steve Ellis, Hackett


The day Australia’s First Nations receive land rights, constitutional recognition and democratic representation through a treaty is the day the Aboriginal tent embassy will have served its purpose.

Karina Harris, Deakin


How serious are we as a human race when the media, politicians and letter writers are concerned about sheep dying on transport ships going to destinations where people do not have refrigeration yet overlook that thousands of children are dying of starvation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

Bruce Hanbour, North Haven, SA


Andrew Hastie told us one of Australia’s major political donors may have been involved in the bribery of a UN official. He forgot to explain the difference between a political donation and a bribe?

Adrian Gibbs, Yarralumla


Give Tuggeranong a much needed boost, and install the mooted roofed stadium in the town centre – a destination landmark, terminating Soward Way, and addressing public-transport-connected Athllon Drive, between Reed Streets South and North.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah


Why is it that awful conditions for sheep lead to action taken to improve or ban the conditions, yet even worse conditions for humans in offshore detention lead to no change at all? If we’re not going to be cruel, surely we should at least be consistent too.

Christopher Budd, Turner

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