Government House has to do what every other government department, agency and institution does when faced with funding pressures ("Governor-General's office in call for funding boost" December 31, p4), tighten the belt and prioritise activities to live with the level of funding provided by the government. The statistics quoted highlight the main targets but perhaps the Official Secretary could borrow the Governor-General's limo while he's out of town on one of his official engagements and visit our national cultural and heritage institutions in Canberra and ask them how they've done it. Slash activities and cut staffing readily spring to mind.
The Governor-General knows only so well from his time as Chief of Army and Chief of the Defence Force that there's nothing like an efficiency dividend to highlight waste and improve efficiency, so let him impose one on his activities to balance the budget. Governor-General- designate General David Hurley will no doubt be happy to follow this process in the footsteps of his predecessor ... again.
John Gillies, Lyneham
April Fool's joke? No
Re: "Governor-General's office in call for funding boost" (December 31, p4). I had to check it wasn't April 1. The vast majority of the Governor-General's $15 million expenditure is discretionary, ie optional. He could do with three or four fewer staff than the 80, starting with the most senior person in charge of the finances, who clearly isn't doing their job. One less overseas trip, one or three functions fewer, or maybe a pay cut for the GG, and we could easily see an annual reduction in costs and no drop in "services". I helped businesses get out of trouble for years and would happily review the GG's office for real "efficiency dividends" — pro bono, but he might not like the result.
Steve Blume, Chapman
Trees really matter ...
In New York for Christmas I find myself reading once again E.B. White's perceptive, funny and nostalgic short book, This is New York. It eloquently spells out what lasts and what matters in our memories and relationship with a city (any city) we know and in which we feel at home. Whilst reading the book I have read the CT online and in particular seen the letters regarding the tree in Manuka that a developer wants removed.
Compare the attitude of the developer and what seems to be support from the Barr government for the destruction of the tree with the final paragraph in White's book.
"... there is an old willow tree that presides over an interior garden. It is a battered tree, long suffering and much climbed, held together by strands of wire but beloved of those who know it. In a way it symbolises the city: life under difficulties, growth against odds, sap-rise in the middle of concrete, and the steady reaching for the sun. Whenever I look at it nowadays, and feel the cold shadow of the planes, I think: 'This must be saved, this particular thing, this very tree.' If it were to go, all would go – this city, this mischievous and marvellous monument which not to look upon would be like death."
The power of the prose is in the last sentence with its reversed verb "not to look upon". Not to look upon the tree in Manuka in the future will leave many people feeling bereft at the destruction of a beloved symbol in their city. For all the smart talk of creating a sustainable city, the Barr government and its agencies need to understand that safeguarding intangible aspects of the city should be part of the equation.
Professor Ken Taylor, Aranda
... it's a scapegoat
Karin Fisher (Letters, December 28) doesn't seem able to see the wood for the (Manuka) tree. As pointed out by Derek Wrigley (Letters, December 26), the tree is not the real issue; it is just the scapegoat for rapacious development.
Ms Fisher complains that the tree's trunk is "barely visible from the street". She should look again – the hoarding that blocks the view has been erected by the developer.
As for bronchial problems caused by London plane trees, it would be good to see some evidence before making such a claim, Ms Fisher. Respiratory maladies can be caused by a large range of different factors, including emissions from vehicular traffic, dust, and pollen in general. And why propose cutting down a large tree because it is bigger than other trees along the street?
The smaller ones could be encouraged to catch up by growing faster. Should the taller buildings in the area also be reduced in size to match the lower ones? Or perhaps a tidier look could be encouraged by banning tall people from Franklin Street.
The real issue is that the ACT government has deliberately amended tree protection legislation in order to favour a particular developer's pecuniary interest. Those fooled by a deceptive focus on a particular tree, rather than the broader principle of proper governance, do their fellow citizens a gross disservice.
Maria Greene, Curtin
Our missing ABC
In response to Monday's letter from B. Middleton, of Fisher, I too, have had the same issues with my ABC disappearing at the first sign of grey clouds.
I found a solution by phoning the ABC technical department, who kindly gave me this advice. Phone Win TV (Regional) on 0242234199.
Apparently someone there, who minds the controls between cups of tea, presses a button or twiddles a knob and gets us back into line again. Try it? Best of luck.
V. Lauf, Bungendore NSW
Solving reception issue
B. Middleton, of Fisher, writes of issues receiving ABC TV in Weston Creek (Letters, December 31). As someone involved in maintaining TV broadcasts for a commercial network, I concur with ABC's advice that the issue is likely due to the receiving antenna.
Black Mountain Tower is a high-powered site and comfortably sends a signal as far as Braidwood, feeding local repeater sites in the process. If the signal was regularly dropping out in Weston Creek, ABC technicians would receive a deluge of alarms from repeater sites much further out. Further, the day of the week of the issue is irrelevant as modern-day transmitter sites do not require staff on site to constantly perform adjustments. They are managed remotely from 24/7 national control centres with occasional maintenance visits.
Water and insects in an antenna system can reduce its ability to receive on specific frequencies, affecting one channel but not others. Loose and damaged cables can do the same. ABC also has a repeater site on Mount Taylor which shares frequencies with Tuggeranong Hill, and the signal from this could be poor where the signals overlap in Fisher, so ensuring you are receiving on VHF 8 from Black Mountain (not UHF 41 from Taylor) will help. A local antenna technician can assist with all of this.
Samuel Gordon-Stewart, Reid
Vegan article off point
Elizabeth Farrelly's article, "Pros and cons of a vegan life" (December 29, Forum p12) is annoyingly sloppy and inaccurate. She is really arguing the pros and cons of a plant-based diet – not veganism. Her statement, "There are three main arguments for veganism: planetary health, personal health and cruelty" shows that.
Veganism is not about any of those things; it is the simple acceptance that non-human animals are not here for our use and the decision to alter our behaviour to fit with that moral stance. Our diet is just one aspect of our behaviour that veganism changes.
But even if we accept that she is only discussing a plant-based diet, her arguments are shoddy. Her dismissal of the health benefits of a plant-based diet mentions red meat only and contains no logic – let alone science. She says we eat too much red meat but that doesn't mean we should eat none because most things that are good in small doses are bad in large ones. Seriously?
Then she equates the killing of animals to the "killing" of plants, arguing that the, "chopping-and-frying of a potato that could still generate shoots may come to seem as cruel as doing it to a kitten".
I'd ask her to put a kitten and potato side by side, arm herself with a knife and seriously reconsider that proposition.
One more indication that Farrelly has shot from the hip is her statement that cattle are "methane-farting ruminants".
In fact, around 90 per cent of the methane produced by cows comes from their mouths, not the other end from whence this article has apparently emanated.
Mike O'Shaughnessy, Spence
Regenerate the planet
Elizabeth Farrelly is always worth reading but her article was exceptional.
It went way beyond mere opinion and showed an in-depth scientific understanding of the issue. Veganism is often thrown up as the solution to the various environmental problems facing the planet yet regenerative grazing appears to provide far more answers, particularly with respect to climate change.
Yes, we do need to reduce methane emissions from burping cows and sheep, but some feed additives, such as tannins and seaweed, can help in this respect. By inhibiting the micro-organisms that produce methane in the rumen, these additives can reduce methane emissions.
I laughed when Farrelly wrote: "Remember the vast clouds of methane from several billion new human bean eaters," but there's more to that than perhaps she would care to admit. Human activities are the cause of climate change and, the more of us there are, the greater the problem.
Shifting the economy away from fossil fuels to renewable energy is imperative but in itself will not be enough – we simply have to stop growing in numbers and in resource use.
Jenny Goldie, Cooma, NSW
It is not surprising that Australia have batting issues especially when you see who the batting coach is. Graeme Hick was touted as the next great thing in English cricket. We had to wait for seven years until he was eligible to play. Oh boy we were excited! The press built him up and we believed the spin.
End result – 65 Tests with an average of just over 31; over 100 ODIs average, 37.
How can you have someone with those poor stats as batting coach? Surely the likes of Michael Clarke or Ricky Ponting are a better option? Or are they too busy forging lucrative media careers?
Ian Jannaway, Monash
Interviews not new
I can't understand the furore that erupted following the recent interviews given by banned cricketers Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith. To me nothing was disclosed that we weren't already aware. David Warner hatched the plan, Bancroft was the chosen bunny to carry out the evil deed and Smith in a deplorable show of leadership didn't want to know about it.
The fact is he did know about it and could have nipped it in the bud from the start.
While on the subject of cricket, how long are our cricket selectors going to recycle the Marsh brothers, Mitch the younger in particular. With a batting average of 26 and a bowling average of 42 he clearly isn't the all-rounder our selectors claim him to be. Why not pick a specialist batsman or bowler to fill the No.6 slot?
Tony May, Pearce
Here's an easy new year resolution for all Canberrans.
Never, never, never push the front of a small shopping trolley into the rear of a larger model and lock it there, thus making it impossible for the next shopper using a larger trolley to return his to storage. I encountered four instances of this thoughtless, selfish practice in Mawson on Sunday.
Why make life difficult for others when you can take a few extra steps and return your small trolley to a line-up of the small models? Such courtesy costs nothing and should lower the collective community blood pressure considerably.
Peter S. Wilkins, Torrens
Sharpen up syntax
On behalf of Team Pedantry, a call out to our media mates. In 2019, let's try and lift our sagging syntax. For example, let's revert to "are" instead of the barbarous "is" (including "there's" ) when referring to plural objects – it's a singularly sloppy solecism; and no more blindly aping trendy PR-speak, like having a "conversation" while "going forward". Another professional plus would be to use the word that best fits the need, for example, note the difference between "regime" and "regimen" and bring them into line. And by the way, not all initialisations are natural-born acronyms. ABC cobbers, please re-set Aunty's tone and refer at least sometimes to "Australians" rather than muddle us with those who dwell in commercial "Aussie-land". News hosts, please don't greet us with "G'day" unless we meet you at the family barbecue and please, oh please, remove the irritating verbal tic that clings to myriad back-announcements like, "Jane Journo reporting there". You know the form – if location matters specify it, otherwise leave it out.
And finally, to all sports writers, while we always welcome any green and gold "clean sweep", we prefer not to be covered with a "whitewash".
Apart from that (and misplaced apostrophes), happy New Year to you all.
Eric Hunter, Cook
TO THE POINT
JUST PLAY THE GAME
I have read your paper and also watched TV during the third Test between Australia and India. A lot of criticism has been accorded to the curator of the deck. Both teams played on the same deck and India could extract more from it than Australia. It has been happening in cricket for a long time.
We should get on with the game of cricket maintaining "cricket".
Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt
WARNE'S HOME TRUTHS
In watching the Test match I recall the Shane Warne comment, which seems applicable to the Australian team, "can't bowl, can't bat".
Ken McPhan, Spence
WANTED: Batsmen prepared to play for Australia. No experience necessary. Excellent remuneration. Apply Cricket Australia.
B.J. Millar, Isabella Plains
So Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You gets a record number of plays on Spotify. It goes to show that some people have no idea of talent.
To counteract this Christmas schmaltz, may I suggest the Dropkick Murphy's The Season's Upon Us for next year.
Chris Mobbs, Hackett
SIR DAVID'S HAT-TRICK
On Sunday evening I could watch repeats of David Attenborough documentaries on three channels, on WIN, then on the ABC and on Nine, with only a little overlap. Is this by any chance a record?
John Donovan, Weston
DUTTON IS UN-BEER-ABLE
In his spray on our former prime minister, Peter Dutton (who, incidentally is unable to add up party room numbers) says "Malcolm is charming and affable but he doesn't have a political bone in his body" ("Dutton's spray at Malcolm Turnbull", canberratimes.com.au, December 30).
Rest assured, Mr Dutton, no one will ever accuse you of being charming or affable.
In fact I am sure that along with many other Australians I have you top of the list of the people I'd never have a beer with.
Mike Reddy, Curtin
OLD VALUES MISSED
What a dismal outburst from Peter Dutton slamming former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. A prime example of why many of my generation pray for a return to the Liberal Party values of Menzies, Holt and Gorton.
D. Grantham, Melba
Did an unnamed cabinet minister really describe Mr Dutton as "just an egotistical moron who lacks self-awareness"?
If so, that is highly disrespectful – a serious affront to egotistical morons everywhere.
John Howarth, Weston
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