In 2008-09 the Immigration Department announced that a Monument to Immigration would be built which would preserve Australia's history. This would be in the form of a bridge built over Lake Burley Griffin and the names of those who migrated to Australia would be placed on the handrail. There was a fee of $110 to submit a name. It appears that the bridge was too costly so land was allocated to be called Immigration Place adjacent to 1926 East Block occupied by the National Archives of Australia and facing Kings Ave. For this site a competition was announced and a winner notified on March 21, 2015. ("No progress but Immigration Place still 'on the agenda', canberratimes.com.au, November 3)
Since that date there has been no further information available and all contact numbers that I have appear to be obsolete. I have been watching the site each year but as it is nine years since our daughters registered their father's name I feel more news of this development should have been forthcoming.
The chairman of Immigration Bridge was L.G. O'Donnell, the vice-chairman, Graham French.
My query is: what has happened to the project; what has happened to the money; and why has there been no information?
Although I'm from Western Australia there would be many people from the eastern states who have forgotten that they contributed to the monument.
Frances Wieg, Warwick, WA
Recent letters to the CT on the benefits and risks associated with pill testing at music festivals all miss the main point: it is a basic fact of illegal drug production that consumer safety is not the aim of the manufacturer.
It is also a self-evident truth that prohibition of recreational drugs, be they ecstasy, alcohol or tobacco, has never in human experience worked.
The answer is for recreational drugs, such as MDMA, to be treated in the same way as alcohol — regulated and taxed. Consider the facts. It is estimated that illicit drug use costs the Australian economy $8.2 billion annually through crime, productivity losses and healthcare costs and, despite the Commonwealth spending in excess of $1.6 billion annually on illicit drug programs, more than 400 deaths annually are attributed to illicit drug use. It is estimated that 15 per cent of Australians use illegal recreation drugs, spending more than $6 billion annually. Whichever way you look at it, recreational drug use is costing us more than $15 billion a year.
If recreational drug use were regulated, specifically with pills containing not more than 80mg of active ingredient per pill, some estimates have the cost of medicinally safe bulk production at less than $2 per pill, compared with the $15-$20 cost of a pill at a music festival. If each pill carried a $1 tax that would generate over $300 million a year that could be used in the health budget to generate new R&D; into life-threatening conditions.
Legalising the inevitable would free up some $4 billion of consumer expenditure annually, save an estimated $5 billion annually through crime reduction, productivity gains and healthcare savings, and reduce the number of drug-related deaths significantly.
What we are doing now is never going to work: what have we got to lose by trying something different?
Roger Dace, Reid
Information being given to our kids on pill testing puts them in danger ("Pill testing does save lives", Forum, p12, Jan 5). After saying "No drug is safe and the only way to truly protect yourself is not to take it in the first place" columnist Wendy Squires then comments: "Should you still want to imbibe only take half [a pill]. Fake take the whole if you feel pressured and palm the rest. Wait to see how it affects you and those around you before considering taking more."
That is a totally uninformed and highly dangerous statement. In The Canberra Times of the same day (Promoters in new rush for pill testing, p2) Gino Vumbaca of the new Pill Testing Australia consortium stated "... they know what we're offering will reduce harm, it certainly won't increase harm".
But neither is credible because a Daily Telegraph article (Pill test death waiver revealed, Jan 5, p7) reported "The testing capabilities are so limited that revellers would be required to sign a death waiver, which includes a warning that tests cannot accurately determine drug purity levels or give any indication of safety."
Infrared spectroscopy testing equipment is about as accurate as a guided missile system – without the system. Later the article reports "Mr Vumbaca said he had been given extensive legal advice to include the warnings on the waiver because of the limitations of testing information ... we are not a laboratory and we have one piece of equipment ... the test gives you an indication of purity but you can't tell the exact amount."
Then it states that the waiver would release everyone in testing from "any liability for personal injury or death suffered ... in any way from the services".
Does the word everyone include promoters?
Would such waivers withstand litigation from any responsibility for loss of young lives in a pre-acknowledged life-risking situation?
Is there a prime minister, premier or member of any political party or parent that could even conceive of accepting such a deadly concept?
C. Parrett, Drug Watch International, Barton
PPPs must go
PPP's (Public Private Partnerships) have been used for the delivery of our new Cotter Dam, our new courts, and our tram.
They can be typified by "might is right" uncompetitiveness; expedient but poor design and siting decisions; potential conflicts of interest in the engagement of design professionals; serious cost and time overruns; quality problems; impenetrable legals; spurious claims of extra costs for "remote construction activity factors"; sub-contractors carrying the can; costly post-construction arrangements in the B.O.O.T. (Build, Own, Operate, and Transfer) format.
Time for PPPs to go.
J. Kershaw, Kambah
Our cricket problem
Greg Jackson's support for David Warner and Steve Smith but not Bancroft (Letters, January 7), had me singing Meat Loaf's Two Out of Three Ain't Bad for the rest of the day. However, I do think the absence of Smith and Warner has more than a little to do with India's dominance.
Jeff Bradley, Isaacs
'Drift' a sprint
There's been no "drift" to a "surveillance state", it's been a sprint ("A makeover before May?", Forum, January 5, p1/3). Australia was once "the social laboratory of the world", creating the "working man's paradise". What happened?
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan, NSW
Checks open to abuse
Are our fears to be realised about flaws in the certification process for light rail? ("White elephant: fears light rail won't be certified", January 6, p.1).
It would seem that the ongoing light rail project fiasco, under the stewardship of Canberra Metro, including the latest about the underground electrical cabling possibly not meeting industry standards, is supposedly subject to the existing Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate's contract and regulatory framework.
I wonder if this is what Andrew Barr's government and Minister Meegan Fitzharris want us to believe? That is, that the overall regulatory functions of Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate seem to have robust systems that are able to detect flaws in the processes employed to implement and complete major infrastructure projects such as the light rail project.
What the ACT government and bureaucracy fail to recognise is the notion of "independence" and how critical it is, rather than thinking that "self-assessment" is an efficient and effective mechanism, in the interest of completing major infrastructure projects in a timely fashion, and thereby meeting project milestones.
It seems obvious to me the light rail project has failed miserably to stick to timelines and adhere to industry standards.
The "self-assessment" mechanism is open to abuse by contractors and subcontractors, who may have developed a "mateship" camaraderie with the bodies responsible for scrutinising work standards.
We need an independent audit by the ACT Auditor-General that would focus on the planning and implementation phases of the project. These are two of the four stages of an evaluation process.
The other two phases, such as the completion evaluation, dissemination and reporting of the project, would also provide the taxpayers of the ACT with an assurance that there is going to be independent scrutiny.
If the Barr government and Canberra Metro fail to act, then Canberra taxpayers are going to be burdened with imposts through rate rises and other penalties for quite some time. After all, the Canberra Metro has a 20-year term contract, in the order of some $700 million, which has to be fulfilled by the government and paid for by us.
Thomas Natera, Ngunnawal
Regardless of the merits of the current decision regarding the Harry Seidler House in Northcote Street (January 5, p1), I am pleased to see the interest being displayed in Canberra's mid-century architecture.
This decision stands in marked contrast with the ACT Heritage Council decision last year to reject the registration of the early-Seventies Churchill House on Northbourne Avenue.
This seems to have been because there are larger and less constrained Brutalist buildings in Canberra and that there is little community interest in this style.
This decision will facilitate one of the most criticised aspects of Canberra – its dullness. Much of our building has been done in short time periods, resulting in a built environment that often lacks the interest that a diversity of buildings from a range of time periods produces.
The entrance to Canberra is in some danger of ending up as a five-kilometre canyon of early-21st century, eight to 15-storey apartments. The maintenance of some older, interesting buildings, such as this one by Robin Boyd, would help to alleviate this. Hopefully, some of these buildings will survive.
Allison Barnes, O'Connor
Same old, same old
What is all the fuss about? Nothing has changed for the house owners since the place was nominated to the ACT Heritage Register 18 years ago. For all that time, the house has been subject to the same requirements as if it was listed on the ACT Heritage Register.
This means the owners were required to obtain Heritage Council approval for all external changes, and it appears to have been given as the house is reported by a correspondent to be three times its original size. The Heritage Council would have assessed the changes as not affecting the place's heritage significance.
The restrictions imposed by heritage listing do not seem to have unduly limited renovations and extensions to the house. Entry of the house on to the ACT Heritage Register does not change the current restrictions applying. The listing is only a restriction if the owners wanted to completely demolish the place.
Nick Swain, Barton
I totally agree with Des Pain and David Grantham, (Letters, January 7).
While Summernats puts Canberra on the map and injects some revenue into local businesses, why do local residents have to put up with stench and pollution from burnouts?
Canberrans in the past have been reminded by the EPA to do their bit to support air quality by not burning rubbish or garden waste in their backyards or they risk a fine.
At the last Summernats, 126 cars simultaneously smoked their back tyres to regain the Guinness world record.
Is this Canberra's claim to fame? Minister Rattenbury is supposedly a staunch greenie, so why does he support such action?
Phil Nicolls, Monash
Put them to the Test
I have no idea what Australia's male Test cricketers get paid – probably quite a lot – but I suspect it is time some (most?) of them gave consideration to returning their pay as it is clearly being paid under false pretences.
Perhaps Cricket Australia should move to a performance-based pay system for its players, with batsmen being paid according to the number of runs scored and bowlers according to the number of wickets taken. A further step could be bonuses for catches actually held (and not dropped).
Don Sephton, Greenway
We're not so bush
Nationally, Australia's top-selling car is the charmingly rugged Toyota HiLux. Canberrans are too sophisticated for this, however. Our top picks are Mazda3s and Volkswagen Golfs. So much for the outback cred of the "bush" capital.
TO THE POINT
Unreliable representative Senator Fraser Anning's attention-seeking consorting with wannabe neo-Nazis and other far-rightists shows he is once again unable to help represent, promote and safeguard the interests of five million people in his home state without attracting serious disapprobation. He is incapable of acting in the national interest. Any federal Coalition back-room deals with him between now and the next election will only encourage more reckless behaviour.
Sue Dyer, Downer
I clearly recall the Nazi SS wearing uniforms that included the metal hat with "SS" painted on it. And the outstretched Nazi/SS right-arm salute.
To see these again in clear sight as part of the clothing/stance of the "demonstrators" makes me wonder just what they do have in mind as to the future.
If there is any possibility it means these demonstrators are likely to follow the Nazi line, then we all need to call out "God Save Australia".
Geoff Cass, Tewantin, Qld
I disagree with David Grantham (Letters, January 7). The Summernats is good for Canberra. It reminds us there is a real world with real people out there in the rest of Australia. There is also the moolah it brings.
Victor Isaacs, Downer
MONEY NO EXCUSE
It must soon be time to stop hosting Summernats. How can we care about our environment when we are pouring smoke, petrol fumes and the stench of burning rubber into the air? The money cannot make up for the damage and the waste.
Charmaine Budden, Hackett
Re Jenny Moxham's pro-vegan epistle (Letters, January 7). If we are not supposed to eat meat, why are animals made from food?
Geoff Didier, Mawson
After reading the former prime minister's oped I assume he did not consider submitting it to any of the News Corp mastheads ("It's a big year for politics, Murdoch", CT, page 2, Forum, January 5).
Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
THE THIN BLUE LINE
How would the ACT handle a protest like the St Kilda one? Victoria Police deployed more officers to this one incident than the ACT ever has on duty at one time.
Chris Emery, Reid
ACTIVISM A THREAT
Far-right activism is a danger to society. The people who first targeted Muslims are now vilifying Jews and Holocaust survivors. Let's rise above this and condemn Senator Anning's actions and the likes of him.
Dr Munawar Rana, Walkerville, SA