OPINION

Passengers face little protection from elements

Does the person who designed the space age structures at the new light rail stops live in Canberra? I guarantee you will never see him/her at one on a cold, sleeting, windy Canberra winter day. Based on what is visible at present and on images on Canberra Metro's website, there is no side protection from the elements and a flat open roofline to capture the wind and slanting rainfall. Not to mention minimal shade on hot days.

Just wait for the reaction of miserable commuters to this design after work on a dark sleeting winter evening.

Waiting at the light rail stops may be unpleasant in bad weather. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Waiting at the light rail stops may be unpleasant in bad weather. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The wind from the Brindabellas should fairly rattle down Northbourne Avenue now that those pesky trees providing wind protection (and shade) are gone. The minimal spacing between the new high-rise buildings should add to this wind funnelling. I'd love to see Shane Rattenbury, Andrew Barr and Meegan Fitzharris chained up there for a wet day next winter.

Time to review rates

Rates and land taxes in Canberra seem much higher than in other Australian cities and something needs to be done about it. Some options are to rein in unaffordable government spending, diversify the revenue base, and reduce government costs more generally. One of the concerns must be the size of the ACT public service, which is proportionally many times larger than it was before self-government. Relying on the bureaucracy to downsize itself is not the answer.

As we know from the federal experience, that means jobs disappear from the bottom and not from the top.

What is clearly required is an independent review of how Canberra is managed in comparison to well-run similar-sized cities in other countries.

Meanwhile, if you're a pensioner, you may be able to defer payment of your rates to give yourself more disposable income. The amount owed to the ACT government can then be recovered from the eventual sale of your property.

Geo-political issues

Several articles in The Canberra Times, November 9, ("Morrison steps up in Pacific", "Australia must tread warily with China", "No new subs until 2035") raise a number of issues related to the big picture of Australia's geo-political and strategic environment up to 2035 and beyond. For example, in relation to Australia's vital strategic oil stockpile, what contingencies are in place or being developed to ensure that the flow of oil supplies to Australia is maintained during a major conflict?

Will the entire capability of Australia's proposed defence forces and posture be able to adequately project forward, interdict and ultimately be able to successfully defend the Australian mainland from a determined hostile aggressor?

In terms of proposed soft power strategies, the Australian government needs to step up and properly fund the ABC including Radio Australia and SBS, to ensure that those types of media content which will showcase Australia in the best light are able to be broadcast to our south and mid-Pacific neighbours. The excellent historical, cultural, indigenous, natural/environmental programs of these two government-funded channels surely would be more preferable than the first-world reality television programs which are the mainstay programming of the three commercial media channels.

Finally, in pursuit of its new Monroe doctrine, Australia cannot ever again afford to engage in an action similar to the recent seabed rights challenge against Timor-Leste. Presumably the bureaucrats and ministers leading this challenge had no sense of the strategic role which Timor-Leste played during the Pacific war 1941-45.

Not a naval issue

Scott Morrison pledges to "build a large naval ship that will cruise the South Pacific and help Australia's neighbours deal with natural disasters" ("Ship to patrol Pacific amid long view on PNG", November 9, p8). What are the plans for the "large naval ship" to combat climate change and sea-level rise, which will obliterate some Island nations. The Morrison government does not have an adequate domestic climate strategy, is not taking a leading international role on climate change mitigation and has no Pacific climate plan. Labor had a very good Pacific climate policy, which was abolished by the Abbott government.

Not to worry, Morrison's naval ship will deal with this problem.

Insurance solution

The debate about proposed ACT third party insurance changes continues. Most crashes involve ordinary people doing ordinary things; they simply make an error of judgment that results in a crash. However the smaller number of bad and decisive illegal behaviour in most crashes should not be "rewarded" by being eligible for compensation.

In my view, those people who deliberately behave or participate in a considered and illegal way that results in a crash, should be excluded from any possible claim for compensation under the scheme. Such behaviours include, driving under the influence of illegal drugs, driving with high concentrations of alcohol (>0.08per cent), driving at excess speed (>15km/h above the speed limit), driving to evade police, driving without a licence, driving an unregistered vehicle and driving a stolen vehicle.

These are all illegal activities that are the result of a considered decision by the drivers and passengers prior to taking a trip.

Hence having decided to undertake these activities, in the event of a crash they should not be "rewarded" with any compensation. It may just result in a passenger saying "stop" to the driver and avoid the crash — and could thus achieve about a 50per cent reduction in fatal crashes in the ACT. Small excesses in otherwise legal activities such as small errors of judgment over speed or over alcohol limit should still be covered by the scheme.

Rationality lacking

What I distil from Mr Bennett's letter (Letters, November 12) is that, while the ACTION bus fleet is necessary, the users are not paying enough and less than they used to. There is scope for riders to pay more as Mr Bennett implies. Taxpayers should note that the Gungahlin-Civic tram, with a projected subsidy of about $14 per passenger, will replace the rapid bus services at a subsidy of $8.60 per passenger (for ACTION network in 2017-18). The Rattenbury/Barr government thinks that's a great deal for taxpayers. Ideology trumps rationality and good city administration every time.

Outbreak of drones

Wrong solution Does our Chief Minister think that our city's vibrancy and character will be assisted by an outbreak of drones?

A case of shoot to kill

According to Dr Allan Orr, a "counter-terrorism and insurgency specialist" ("Shoot-to-injure plea by specialist", November 12, p1), federal, state and territory police forces should adopt a "shoot to injure" and not a "shoot to kill" response when confronting armed assailants.

When in most instances one has only a fraction of a second to respond, what part of a person's anatomy does he propose to target? "Shoot to kill" is part of the formal training for two very good reasons: as there is generally no time to think under such circumstances, it becomes a purely reflex reaction, generally in the chest area, which offers the largest target.

His proposal to form "commando"-style specialist response units to respond "within a few minutes" will not solve the problem. I would be very interested to find out how he would prevent anyone from driving a vehicle (with or without explosives) and deliberately mowing down pedestrians in crowded public areas. Regrettably, terrorism is here to stay, and the best we can aim for is to reduce such incidences, by increased covert surveillance, with appropriate decisive action to follow soon after.

Care and connect

I think we should all think about how it would feel to be convinced one was being chased by "unseen people with spears" ("Health system to the rescue", November 13, p18). In my humble opinion such a person is owed one-on-one care until his terrifying delusions are reliably over.

We keep hearing economists suggest it is time to move to a service economy. If we had a spare $500million, why can't we employ people to offer individualised and tender care to those who suffer from mental illness? The art of making connections with other people is the one we need to foster and in which we urgently need to invest.

How does calling a mentally ill person a "terrorist" help?

Pellegrinis is on the right track offering visitors a coffee and, no doubt, a sharing of our communal grief.

Send them back

Let's forget about putting monies on a terrorist watch. A better solution would be to change our law and have their Australian citizenship taken away from the terrorists and they are then deported back to whence they came or back to their parents' former country.

Set a precedent and Australia will be safer place.

For the do-gooders using the ol' chestnut, he/she had a mental problem and did not know what he/she was doing: how about you mob have some thought about the families injured or murdered.

Unknown soldier's story

Thank you for Sally Pryor's excellent article about the return and entombment of the unknown Australian soldier at the Australian War Memorial. (November 10, p10). I need to let you know that contrary to the front-page headline "The untold story of the unknown soldier" the story has been told in some detail. On March 12 this year Brendon Kelson delivered the Canberra and District Historical Society's Canberra Day Oration at the National Library of Australia. His oration was titled "The Return of the Unknown Australian soldier, and reflections on the Centenary of Anzac". The full text of the oration has been published in the September 2018 edition of the Canberra Historical Journal. An item of interest relating to the AWM is that the society's collection includes a remarkable heritage-listed journal compiled by two porters at the Hotel Canberra between 1926 and 1931. One of them, George Jefferis, was a reasonable artist and he drew a coloured illustration of the AWM some time in that period, clearly from the available plans as the memorial was not completed until 1941.

The real question on pay

The recent article "Drop in the gender pay gap, but it's not all good news" (canberratimes.com.au, November 13) as is now custom, completely distorts the real question, which is, what is the difference in pay rates? Not the difference in earnings because men continue to work longer hours which, in blue collar attracts penalty rates and in white collar attracts promotion. Actual pay rates (as opposed to earnings) show women trailing by a mere 4per cent. Incidentally, according to ABS data, based on personal diaries men still work longer hours when paid and unpaid hours are summed.

Walk the bushfire talk

Yesterday the ACT government sent me an email with a glossy attachment containing an article exalting me to "Be Bushfire Ready" and giving advice on how to prepare my home. In the article I am advised to "Make sure you trim any overhanging trees and shrubs".

I get this advice every year, and every year I wonder when the ACT government intends to come and prune the two large gum trees that overhang my house (so much so that they are in contact with the roof) that I have complained about on multiple occasions over the years.

Tackling school violence

That many instances of violence in ACT schools involve "students with complex needs" ("Fear in the classroom", November 8, p1) is code for co-occurring mental health and substance use. One should add parents with complex needs as well. Frustration that sparks senseless acts of violence is generally borne of alienation and marginalisation, hence school violence will not be effectively addressed unless all contributing factors are on the table.

An Australian Education Union speaker at a forum we organised 17 years ago commented that the "experience of the AEU ... throughout Australia [is] that the question of substance abuse among young people is of growing concern."

The recent Australia21 report points out drug laws are tearing apart Australia's social fabric. Their role in school violence and the perpetuation and intensification of disadvantage down generations demands our attention.

TO THE POINT

MAKE UNIONS PAY

For many years union business has been carried out in the Commonwealth public service departments on the taxpayers' dime. I believe it is about time this practice is stopped and the servicing of union members was done by union officials at union expense and in their own time.

Dick Ashby, Numurkah, VIC

SHAME ON PRIME MINISTER

Shame on you, Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia. Instead of being statesman-like and reasoned, you are fanning the flames of racism and bigotry with your comments on the tragedy in Melbourne last Friday. MrTrump does this also to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Shame on you both.

Jan Gulliver, Lyneham

DIVIDE AND CONQUER

It seems to be the flavour of the month to rule by dividing society against itself, and rule by fear and subterfuge ("Muslims 'must work closer with police"', November12, p4). Politicians seek empire-building opportunities by mendaciously conflating mental health with terrorism to aggregate state power for subversion.

Albert M.White, Queanbeyan

PLAYING THE FEAR CARD

Scott Morrison's response to the shocking stabbings in Melbourne is to play the fear card of a Islamic radical let loose on the Australian public. I wonder what his response might be to the overwhelming number of criminals in our prison systems who are from a Christian culture?

John Sandilands, St Marys, Tasmania

PROMOTE THE POSITIVE

A kind, generous 74-year-old died trying to help a stranger. A homeless man stepped up to help police and to help protect others. We need to hear more about heroism and less about terrorism Weneed leaders to unite the community, not divide it.

Doug Steley, Heyfield, VIC

CHANGE OF TUNE

I find it deliciously ironic that Malcolm Turnbull, the prime minister who raged at the ABC chairman of the board about the ABC's bias and poor reporting, chose the ABC to present his case for his achievements while PM. I'm amazed that no one has mentioned this since his appearance last week on the special Q&A session.

Merrie Carling, Gungahlin

GERMAN REVOLUTION

Every year, I look forward to reading a considered article in the mainstream media examining or even just mentioning the role of the German revolution in hastening the end of "the war to end all wars". Every year, I am disappointed, although not surprised. After all, which capitalist outlet wants to publish material that suggests that a workers' uprising may have helped end the bloodshed that "the band of hostile brothers" imposed on the Western world?

John Passant, Kambah

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