I am surprised to read about Ryan Hemsley’s complaint about the proposed development in Coombs (‘‘Going Gungahlin?’’, October 3, p.1).
Is this the same Ryan Hemsley from Wright who 12 months ago (Letters, ‘Anti-Development Groups Are Just Putting Their Interests First’, October 4, 2017) said opponents of the West Basin development, such as the Lake Guardians, were NIMBY activists?
Hemsley bemoaned the constant opposition to development, and dismissed their fears on the type of development to be created at the lake.
He believed that opponents of the (city to the lake) project ‘‘conjure exaggerated imagery of towering skyscrapers ...’’.
He continued: ‘‘Canberra has been held hostage to the whims of small anti-development groups for too long’’.
Now Hemsley is starting his own anti-development group. For his own backyard.
We learn he has created the ‘‘Save Molonglo’’ social media group, to protect the over development of his suburb.
His major gripe (among others) is quite simply he does not know what the final building will look like.
Perhaps he is conjuring exaggerated imagery of towering skyscrapers.
The double standard is breathtaking.
Ryan, I am wondering why your opposition to development is more virtuous than those looking to protect the public spaces around the city?
I, for one, would love to see a seven storey building in your backyard.
An application which follows due process is fine in my book.
Civic selfishness must stop, right Ryan?
Jimmy Jack, Holder
Your readers Kent Fitch, Leon Arundell (Letters, September 29) and Mike Quirk (October 2) highlight significant shortcomings in the current transport planning regime in Canberra.
There can be no doubt that a massive amount of money is being wasted on light rail when far cheaper options are available.
I, too, heard the interview with Professor Peter Newman referred to by Kent Fitch. Newman was formerly a strong advocate of light rail but now asserts that the so-called trackless tram is a far better and cheaper option.
Why can’t the government be honest and now admit that any extension to the light rail network would be a big mistake?
It can hardly make them any more unpopular with informed taxpayers on this issue.
Cost recovery and bus patronage of the Canberra bus system is also an ongoing concern; the light rail service to Gungahlin can only make this worse.
Graham Johnson, Weetangera
Learning my mistakes
Once again, the outright failure of an ACT Government service (‘‘Floriade flouted laws’’ October 4, p1) is framed in terms of ‘‘a learning experience’’ by the government.
Like the broken ACT health system and the failures of the Land Development Agency, it’s as if basic management and procurement were something new to this government.
The expectation that we should consign these matters as reckless follies of the past and instead focus on the exciting new reforms they have led to is both facile and insulting.
And yet most Canberrans will glumly sit by and stare as we know, from experience, that no one will really be held accountable and the money will never be recovered.
How have we got to this sad state of affairs?
Simon Cobcroft, Lyneham
Smuggling an issue
Australian Border Force should be given credit for successfully combating a current surge in smuggling native lizards out of Australia.
Smugglers have accounts on social media, using Facebook and Instagram sites to advertise lists of what’s wanted and possible prices.
End buyers are thought to be private collectors and zoos where thousands of dollars can be paid for lizards stuffed in socks in cereal and chip boxes with legs taped.
Be on the alert everyone for any part of this cruel destructive trade.
Helen Dowland, Woodville, SA
Sweet and sour
When regulation, media, and uncertain science meet, confusion is inevitable.
Honey! The leaps of faith that convert a scientific possibility into first a scandal, and then strict regulations is now well under way.
The research uses the words ‘‘likely’’ or ‘‘potential’’ to describe lab findings; the headline in The Canberra Times shouts ‘‘Fake honey scandal widens to Australian-sourced brands’’ (October 3, p4).
I await with interest the response of the ACCC if it expands its inquiry to include Australian-sourced honey.
The headline misses two important points:
1. Four out of five Australian honeys tested by Macquarie University were pure.
2. The tests weren’t the ones that isolated rice and corn syrup adulteration in honeys sourced from overseas.
The test used then, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is more definitive than the C3 and C4 tests used in the research that lead to the above headline.
The more recent research from Macquarie University admitted there was room for uncertainties — it was not all black and white conclusions.
Despite the statement in the article that Manuka honey had ‘‘failed’’ the tests, the research paper states: ‘‘Manuka honey is prone to failing the C-4 sugar test ... as it can present ‘‘false-positive’’ results for sugar adulteration’’.
The science is confusing and relies on the assumptions behind the tests themselves.
New regulations are clearly needed to test Australian-sourced honey as well as honey from overseas.
If we are to have safe, authentic honey, more definitive research is needed too, and more reasoned reporting to ensure that the reputation of all Australian honey is not destroyed beyond repair in the interim.
Jennifer Heywood, Spence
Congratulations to whoever put the brightly coloured deckchairs around the fountain outside the Canberra Centre.
They looked great and were totally functional as people relaxed in them.
They brightened up activity around the pond immensely.
I think they may have also added a few per cent to the sale price of the apartments just constructed beside them.
The bad news is that someone has apparently nicked them.
This offers a great opportunity for Chief Minister Barr to show some much needed initiative in the matter and contact Commissioner Gordon and his sidekick, Chief O’Hara, to raise the Batphone and implore the Caped Crusaders into action to track down the fiends who nicked them and bring them home.
Sure deckchairs may be a little cheaper than light rail but it is totally debatable which infrastructure provides the greater social benefit.
Wayne Grant, Swinger Hill
Drones whining, intrusive torture
Not everyone in Bonython is enamoured by the delivery of items via drones, with the noise a particular irritation.
Our Community Action Group, Bonython Against Drones, now has 130 Facebook members and many more residents who have emailed and contacted us.
That is a large group in a small area. All are upset, angry and confused that they have to suffer these very noisy drones flying over their heads up to 50 times a day — and the Project Wing company plans to expand.
Many of these residents take every opportunity to leave their houses on the drone days, especially the weekends.
They have been driven out of their own homes by the drones.
Yet we have received a handful of emails from people who say they have a right to have a coffee or cough medicine drone-delivered.
Don’t these people realise they live in a community, don’t they care that so many of their neighbours are so upset?
We have been told of elderly ladies who will not leave their houses and young children who will not go into the backyard when the drones are flying.
I could tell of many more stories residents are telling us.
Yet drone delivery recipients seem not to care about this at all.
Why are so many of us subject to this whining, intrusive torture and why are are other residents so uncaring?
Nev Sheather, Bonython
The cost of smoking
Thank you Canberra Times for your editorial (October 2, p14) calling the ACT government’s threatened expansion to smoke-free public areas a smokescreen for the problems in our health system.
I do take issue though with your comment about costs to the community associated with smoking.
Although I have been a smoker for almost 60 years, I have never been hospitalised for a smoking-related condition and the taxes I have paid on cigarettes would more than cover any costs I may incur in the future.
Your suggestion to increase funding for treatment is right on target.
Some years ago, I stopped smoking for five months while I was overseas.
On my return to Australia, I was constantly suffering withdrawal symptoms as a result of frequent reminders from anti-smoking and nicotine substitute commercials, the latter telling me that it was too hard to stop smoking and I should use this product to help me.
Needing someone to talk me out of going back to smoking and in line with the suggestion to seek help to quit, I dialled the number on the screen for the QuitLine.
I was greeted by a recorded message telling me to call in business hours Monday to Friday.
I hope the QuitLine at least is now available 24 hours.
The one product that I think may help me quit is e-cigarettes with nicotine. These have been banned for sale in Australia although they are legal in most other countries including the UK, the US and New Zealand.
Currently, the cheapest carton of cigarettes I can find is over $190.
The duty-free price is $50. Is it any wonder otherwise law-abiding people are turning to black market sources for cigarettes. I would join them if I knew where to go.
Tania Bradley, Belconnen
Persecution must stop
Minister Fitzharris has obviously hitched a ride on the anti-smoker prohibitionist bandwagon, proof of extremist lifestyle control public health cultist views.
Smokers have already been exiled from anywhere anyone might like to consume tobacco; now the minister seeks to impose yet more intolerant controls.
It is a lie of omission for the minister to fail to state the dose and duration of exposure to outdoors tobacco smoke claimed to cause illness or disease.
In the absence of such evidence, it is open to conclude the latest elitist tobacco tax and ban policies are aimed at social engineering and censoring reality, not health.
The relentless state-sanctioned persecution of smokers who choose to consume tobacco must stop.
Personal choice must be respected. Governments lack authority to inflict hard coercive lifestyle-controlling paternalism on their citizens without consent.
M. Jarratt, Weston
Benefits of being older
I’m glad I’m not 18.
I’d be old enough to fight a war and could vote. In fact I’d have to. If I could afford a smartphone I might get a job. If I got a job I’d likely be paid less than someone older working beside me unless they were a backpacker or foreign indentured labour on a special visa.
If I couldn’t (get a job) I would not be eligible for unemployment benefits like a real proper adult.
I’d be shunted into Newstart with income less than the dole, which is itself below the poverty line.
On Newstart I’d likely be forced to clock up debts to pay some teacher to teach me how to get a non-existent job.
At least I’d be old enough to bonk legally provided I had written confirmation of consent, at least if my consenting partner was a human female, that is.
Finally I’d have to suffer the indignity of some politician trying to legalise my incapacity to be responsible for the decision to numb all the pain with the odd suck on some tobacco.
I’m glad I’m not 18.
G. Wilson, Macgregor
I love a sunburnt country...
Recent letters suggesting alternatives to Advance Australia Fair show how difficult a task it is to compose a national anthem, especially in our cynical modern age, so hats off to Bob Salmond for having a go (Letters, October 2).
I do fear, however, that Dorothea Mackellar’s My Country must sound now rather like an ode to global warming.
As an aside, readers only familiar with ‘‘I love a sunburnt country...’’ (emphasis on ‘love’) as introducing a stand alone or opening verse might be interested to know that Mackellar’s original version would have the emphasis on ‘I’, contrasting with her first verse about the landscape fawned over by those who still called England ‘‘home’’.
Although (justifiably) now omitted as obsolete, the first verse of what was originally published in 1908 as Core of My Heart does make for a different poem, of historical interest.
Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra, NSW
Abbott a political ‘zombie’
Paul Keating’s bagging Malcolm Turnbull’s lack of support for the republic is the latest intervention from a former prime minister.
Kevin Rudd has occasionally displayed personal animosity but has also made some instructive contributions. John Howard has shown restraint.
But with Tony Abbott and his spiteful, almost crazed vendetta against Malcolm Turnbull, he has created a new level of animosity. He is best characterised as the ‘‘zombie’’ of Australian political leadership.
It will be interesting to see if the people of Warringah can finally put Abbott out of his political misery at the next federal election.
M. J. Anderson, Holt
TO THE POINT
GOOD POLICY, LAW
Jon Stanhope (Letters, October 5) has touched off a debate on the question of decentralisation [of political units]. Economic historian Murray N. Rothbard had a nice phrase that he used to summarise his position: universal rights, locally enforced. To maximise the chance that good policy and good law will prevail over bad, and to prevent power grabs from the top, we need decentralised political units. That way jurisdictions compete for residents, labour and capital. This protects economic and personal freedoms and private property rights.
Victor Diskordia, McKellar
MP EXPENSES NEED OVERHAUL
So Malcolm Turnbull was gifted free travel by Scott Morrison? The man has got more money than he could jump over; surely he can pay for his own air travel. Stuart Robert spent nearly $2000 a month on internet access at our expense. Australia has a problem with homelessness and some families are struggling to pay power and gas bills, let alone put food on the table. It’s time to get our priorities right. I wonder who has got the guts to overhaul MPs expenses.
Karen Leyden, Kambah
TRAVEL HANDOUT OVER TOP
PM Scott Morrison approving an annual taxpayer-funded overseas trip for the Turnbulls is unacceptable. Turnbull can easily afford to pay his own airfares, other than the standard Gold Pass conditions other prime ministers get. He deserves no special treatment in post-parliamentary life. I am happy for the government to pay a one-way, never-to-return, ticket for Tony Abbott to bugger off, however.
Rory McElligott, Nicholls