Pedestrians blocked
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Pedestrians blocked

Your report (''Weekend bus timetable gets overhaul'', March 20, p6) accompanying a photo of Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Minister Simon Corbell walking past an ''easy access'' bus highlights the aim ''of 23 per cent of Canberrans walking, cycling or using public transport to get to work''.

Using public transport for any purpose also requires walking, but this has been made almost impossible by developers/builders occupying footpaths. For example, Lonsdale, Elouera, Bunda and Henty streets currently have large sections closed to pedestrian traffic with alternative arrangements difficult on foot and completely inaccessible to wheelchairs.

There is a simple solution used in other cities, where builders put their offices etc above the footpath on platforms shored up by steel or timber. If the government wants people to walk, they need to ensure that they have somewhere to walk.

Patrick Ryan, Turner

Consultant power

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The increased use of consultants (''Labor spending billions on advice'', March 20, p1) began before the election of the current Federal Labor government - and even before the election of the Howard Coalition government.

Many of the consultants who have surfaced in this time have in fact been former public servants (and military officers) who had taken retirement/redundancy packages and come back rebranded as consultants.

Where once their advice was ignored or under-valued as being that of a ''public servant'', they now have their advice highly regarded as that of a ''consultant''.

Mike Phoenix, Greenway

Needle points

Alex Wodak (Letters, March 19) seeks a cogent reason for opposing the prison-based needle exchange program. In my original letter (March 15), I simply condemned Jon Stanhope's comments for totally failing to assign any resources to (or indeed acknowledging) victims of crime.

As far as I am (and remain) concerned, any scale used for prioritising resources places victims of crime so far ahead of prisoners as to vault them into next week.

Insofar as prisoners being a disadvantaged section of population, available to all citizens for at least the 25 years in Wodak's letter, and longer, is that motto: ''If you can't handle the time don't do the crime''.

Michael Doyle, Fraser

Steven Hurran (Letters, March 19) doesn't understand that laws are made by man and are often changed. That is what parliaments do. If a law is found to be defective, legislation is modified to counteract the ill effects.

For example, abortion was illegal for many years but when the consequences of this law were recognised it was changed. With greater awareness things change. Illegal doesn't always remain illegal.

An unintended consequence of our prohibition drug laws has been the injection of drugs with contaminated equipment and hence laws were modified to allow for the distribution of clean injecting equipment to reduce the transmission of blood-borne viruses. The harm from not having needle and syringe programs in prison has now been recognised and laws should be modified appropriately.

M. McConnell, Higgins

Lancaster VCs

Canberra Times readers can be thankful for Bruce Haigh's call for restraint when considering posthumous awards for bravery (''Anointed heroes, warts and all'', March 20, p9). There are far too many whose achievements go unsung. Lancaster crews, scared for six or so hours on each of their 30 sorties [sometimes double that], knew the horrible attrition rate facing them.

There were no credible observers when their bomber was going down. Why not a VC for every Lancaster tail-gunner? Eighty per cent died, and if their aircraft returned intact but they were part of that statistic, surviving aircrew witnessed remains averaging 19-years-old being washed out with fire hoses.

Where will the move for recognition all end? Haigh brings appropriate detachment to bear, in my view.

Allow me some pedantry, however. Haigh's commentary on Field Marshal Thomas Blamey's World War II conduct perhaps understates the widespread contempt senior officers down to mere privates had for the man. My late father in Papua New Guinea on generals' staffs saw the communications between prime minister John Curtin and Blamey, filtered to Brigadier Arnold William Potts, Major-General Arthur Allen and Lieutenant-General Sydney Rowell, and overheard their legitimate concerns about the conduct of World War II in Australia's region. A British general's assessment of Blamey, with his countrymen's traditional understatement, viewed our most senior soldier as a ''wretched, second-rate man''. Maybe the Brit had in mind that Blamey's most notable inter-war accomplishment as chief commissioner of Victoria's police force was to leave his ID behind in a Melbourne knocking shop.

Patrick Jones, Griffith

No closures

Contrary to what is suggested in the article ''Use it or lose it, Archbishop warns ACT parishioners'' (March 20, p1), I have not the slightest intention of closing schools, churches or anything else at this stage - neither in Canberra nor in any other part of the Archdiocese. As a result of the successful Archdiocesan Assembly, attended by more than 400 Catholics from across the Archdiocese, I have asked for wide discussion about how best to reconfigure our structures to match the changed and changing facts on the ground.

Our present structures often reflect the demography of other times; what we need now and will need in the future are structures responding to the demography of this time. To suggest that I may close schools in the ACT is absurd. Canberra may have too many churches perhaps, but it certainly does not have too many Catholic schools. In fact, we plan to open a secondary college in Gungahlin next year - in response to the demography of the area. Perhaps we could have a front page story on that.

Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn

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