I have always wondered how Harry Seidler attained such fame and attracted such unqualified admiration from the cognoscenti ("The architect, the family, their house and the heritage stoush", January 5, p1). And judging by the photograph, I think that even his bow tie is ready-made.
He seems to me to have been a very mediocre architect but a very good self-publicist. All the buildings of his that I have seen strike me as rather ugly, stark angular structures which do not fit into their surroundings at all, and are without any aesthetic appeal. And from the purely practical point of view, those big square windows, single glazed of course, seemed particularly inappropriate for the Canberra climate.
Evidently the Heritage Commission seems to have surrendered to the Seidler mystique, in the defence of which we are treated to some fine examples of spinbabble: "[The home] demonstrates [Seidler's] adoption of Bauhaus design principles ... important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of modernist [sic] architecture ... important contribution to our sense of place and identity ... our built heritage encompasses many Modernist buildings that contribute to the character of our streetscapes and suburbs".
Whatever all that means.
Alan N. Cowan, Yarralumla
Extensions a pity but ...
The Bowden house has long been regarded as an icon worthy of the great Harry Seidler. It seems to be a pity that it has nevertheless been hugely extended, apparently by descendants of the original owner.
It should remain on the Heritage Register.
Chris Smith, Kingston
That a private residence not even in view of the public, let alone open to public access, can have restrictions placed on it is utterly absurd. The house is triple its original size covered in solar panels and cannot be viewed from the road. While I can see some merit in preserving the facade of historic buildings in public places how would my wellbeing, or that of anyone else, be reduced if the building was totally redeveloped and if it was of such critical importance why did the council wait so long? This is like an episode from Utopia. Or more likely Kafka.
John Coochey, Chisholm
Blaming the kids
Frustration infuses so much of the media reporting of defiant young music festival-goers. How many deaths before they get the message? Warnings from ambos, warnings from the cops, warnings from the organisers, warnings from the pollies scared of blame. Just don't pop a pill! Don't you get it that the reason they're illegal is because they're dangerous?
In contrast are the frustrated tweets of Dr David Caldicott, sick of being asked the same question about how pill testing saves lives: "There is a small group of Australians who find the concept very, very difficult. Without crayons, it really can't be made much simpler."
Of course you don't die if you don't do drugs so ban, ban, ban but not music festivals because that would hurt tourism, so blame defiant, disobedient, thick kids after something transcendental: I've never experienced reality like I have at a music festival. It's like a circus, a wonderland, a place for unconventional souls.
Bill Bush, president, Families and friends for drug law reform
Too little too late?
As a retiree, I have more time to contemplate and watch in disbelief as human inaction on the number of threats to our beautiful planet increase at an alarming rate.
Climate change is already causing havoc right across the globe, for example in Sweden and as far north as the Arctic Circle, unprecedented forest fires raged in 2018.
If that doesn't ring alarm bells, then what will it take for governments to take this seriously.
Add to this the overpopulation of the planet, the destruction of forests, the loss of biodiversity, the acidification of the oceans, the rapidly increasing ice melt in both hemispheres, and you end up with a very depressing and sorry future.
What madness is at play in Australia, when people have been arrested and threatened with jail terms for daring to protest the loading of coal onto ships in Newcastle. Or when students demonstrating for action on climate change are criticised and vilified by our federal government.
Unfortunately, the rise of right-wing governments in many countries leads me to believe that the human race is turning its collective back on the threats that will impact future generations.
Will it be a case of too little, too late.
My greatest wish is that there is a profound change of direction right across the globe to address the critical issues facing the planet as we head into 2019.
Rick Godfrey, Lyneham
India just too good
On Test cricket, Australia have found India tough simply because they are better at all facets of the game.
It has little to do with the absence of David Warner and Steve Smith I believe.
On the ball tampering issue, cricket "supporters" and commentators should get off the backs of two of the three transgressors.
They paid dearly for their "sins", in many ways, especially psychologically, and we should welcome them back with forgiveness.
Their penalty was far too harsh compared to previous misgivings in cricket, and indeed in a host of other sports.
Seam picking of the cricket ball, and rubbing hair oil or half-chewed lollies on etc. are nothing new. These are far more effective ways in cheating at bowling successfully than using sandpaper on one side of the pill.
I recall a well-known cricketer actually biting at the cricket ball, and England "earned" a default Test win over Pakistan through one such ball-tampering issue.
I was disgusted at the thrust of Bancroft's recent interview. Bad timing, vindictive, and it is clear that Bancroft is a rather weak character. Holding to his upbringing and principles is garbage — a clear red herring.
However, he has served his initial sentence, but perhaps his ill-timed outburst and finger-pointing needs a second penalty.
I would not have him back in the Test team now, certainly not ahead of Warner and Smith.
Greg Jackson, Kambah
Prakash move absurd
The federal government's move to strip Australian citizenship from terrorist Neil Prakash is absurd.
Rather than extraditing him to Australia and gaining valuable information about ISIS network and tactics, we are letting him loose.
He may continue recruiting for ISIS and exploiting vulnerable youth against Western countries.
Such an approach from government may encourage future terrorists as they may think they are not going to be trialled under Australian jurisdictions.
Usman Mahmood, South Bowenfels, NSW
Policy punishes public
What kind of perverse policy did the Abbott government implement to financially reward the ACT government for selling off public assets to private sector profiteers?
Just as importantly, what kind of perverse territory government sells off thousands of public housing properties to help cover the high cost of its light rail build and to help make local property developers even richer?
Many of our most vulnerable residents have been kicked out of their homes and kicked out of their communities by a chief minister focused on the wellbeing of his inner north electorate, not the wellbeing of Canberra's poorest residents.
J Smith, Kambah
Crispin Hull's clear analysis of the dangers if Brexit goes ahead ("Two great setbacks to democracy could be reversed in 2019", January 5, Forum p2) creates a mystery of its own. Given the facts, the lies told, the great economic and indeed political cost of abandoning Europe, the risk of Scotland voting for independence and all the other dangers Crispin mentions, why the intransigence about a second referendum? Prime Minister May says the narrow 52-48 vote was "the decision of the British people" and firmly rules out a second referendum, even though a second referendum would almost certainly reveal that the decision of the British people would today be different.
More surprising is the Labour position, recently made clear.
If, as seems likely, there will be a general election soon as a result of this crisis, the Labour position on a second referendum will be identical to the Conservatives. A strange, tragic conundrum.
Harry Davis, Campbell
Crispin Hull calls the Brexit vote "undemocratic". He doesn't quite make clear in what way it was undemocratic, other than that it resulted in Mr Hull's side losing.
Attempting to justify himself, he refers to the lack of necessary information, lies (that would be the lies of the Brexiteers, not the Remainers), the fact that no one could predict the economic results, a con-trick by the hard-right and "the Russians and Cambridge Analytica using social media to play on people's xenophobic fears".
This tedious recital of second-hand conspiracy theories does Mr Hull no credit, and typifies the condescending snobbery and contempt of the losers towards the majority.
Do "lack of necessary information and lies" never feature in elections in our own superior democracy?
Alan N. Cowan, Yarralumla
City in state of decay
I cannot agree with Ian Warden's comments in his article ("It's time to let capital picturesquely decay", January 5, Panorama p2) as there are numerous locations all over the city where the commencement of decay is obvious.
Look at weeds growing out of gutters, trees growing out of bridges, footpaths breaking up, weed-infested roundabouts, decaying parks for a start.
Have a drive along Canberra's main entry called Weedbourne Avenue. View the new light rail area and it can be seen to be already decaying even before a light rail vehicle has traversed its rails.
Weeds are taller and larger, and soon will be more prolific than the planted grasses. Whilst these signs of decay would probably not draw the tourists like a tour of a decaying six-storey building, they all show signs that the city is in a gentle state of decay that could soon become ruinous.
Barry Peffer, Nicholls
Merit in merit
I gave a sardonic smile when I read the first paragraph of Jenna Price's latest rant against men ("Why Libs women say there's no problem', January 4, p19).
She criticised two female Liberal MPs for defending "the Coalition's merit-based system of choosing candidates" for Parliament. Sardonic because the feminists usually moan that, if things in business, the professions etc. were merit based, then more women would get up and become chief executives, etc.
This time, we have the queen of feminists moaning that the Liberal Party does have a merit-based system of selecting candidates.
You just can't win.
Stan Marks, Hawker
Shorten no answer
Jan Gulliver (Letters, January 5) opines that Australia would have been "progressive" and "fairer" had Julia Gillard remained in government and blames Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin and Kevin Rudd for the "current" mess. And therefore, hopes for an early election and change in government.
However, what she conveniently forgets is the active role that Bill Shorten (potentially the "new government") had in the destabilisation of both the Gillard and Rudd governments.
If not for his interference, where might we be now?
Sharon Bishop, Palmerston
Better uses for our land
In answer to Jim Derrick's (Letters, January 5) comments on my letter (January 3), it is an intriguing fact that, when objectively analysed, animal rights issues and environmental issues always end up being on the same side.
Derrick asks what would be wrong with harvesting kangaroos on resumed livestock pastures provided this is done at sustainable levels. The answer, leaving aside the ethical issues, is that no one since European settlement has yet determined a sustainable way of harvesting kangaroos.
In fact, even without the wildlife extinctions attributable to habitat loss, human hunting everywhere on Earth since the Age of Exploration and the Industrial Revolution has been nothing short of catastrophic.
Derrick notes that some of Australia's livestock pastureland is not suitable for cropping.
The same observation obviously does not apply to the vast tracts of land that are currently used exclusively to grow crops to feed livestock. Crops from that land alone would easily take up the shortfall in food for human consumption left by ending animal agriculture.
The rest of the resumed land could be revegetated as wildlife habitat and greenhouse gas sinks.
The most degraded land could be used for solar and wind farms.
Frankie Seymour, Queanbeyan
TO THE POINT
COLES PRICE SPIKE
I came home from the coast on Friday.
Petrol at Mogo was 119.90¢ and petrol at Coles Lathlain Street, Belconnen was 144.40¢.
Coles should be ashamed.
Where has its "Down, down, down" got to?
Des Pain, Belconnen
How can it be unlawful to burn tyres in your backyard but it is lawful to burn them if they are on the wheels of cars at a public event?
Same pollution, same carcinogens – why not the same law?
Gerry Gillespie, Queanbeyan
Great to see that our well-promoted educational and cultural city of Canberra has now become the burnout capital of the world.
David Grantham, Melba
THE CAPITALIST FACE
Years ago the ACT Liberal government began selling off public housing to tenants to the outrage of the Labor opposition.
Now the ACT Labor government I hear is doing the same, at great benefit to its rates revenue, of course. Ah, socialism with a capitalist face.
Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla
RESOLUTION'S BAD NAME
The reputation of the new year's resolution is tainted by the bad name of its sibling, the political promise.
M.F. Horton, Adelaide, SA
FIX UP THE FLAG
Perhaps our Chief Minister could spare some money from his pet projects and have the badly torn flag flying from City Hill repaired or replaced.
Louisa Murphy, Gordon
VEGANISM ABOUT JUSTICE
In a nutshell, veganism is all about justice.
Robbing our fellow sentient beings of their precious lives, for something as frivolous and unnecessary as taste bud pleasure, is simply unfair.
Jenny Moxham, Monbulk, VIC
Eric Hunter (Letters, January 4), has proven that both his long-term memory and his filing system(s) are far superior to mine!
I stand corrected regarding his assumed political leanings.
Mario Stivala, Spence
CRICKET MADE FUN AGAIN
Thank you to Tim Paine and the current Australian cricket team for making it a pleasure to watch Australia play cricket again.
For too many years the Australian cricketers showed no respect to their opposition with cringeworthy and cowardly sledging.
Sadly it has taken the vile act of cheating and the banning of three players, one of them captain Steve Smith no less, to bring back a sense of fair play, not a win at any cost attitude.
Gail McAlpine, Griffith
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