The problems with the City to Lake project ("Cloud on City to Lake pool plans", November 7, p1) appear to stem from sheer, utter incompetence on behalf of the ACT government's Planning Directorate. This project, which has already had a string of changes and downgradings to the stadium, convention centre, the Olympic Pool, the lowering of Parkes Way, and now the axing of the "recreational pool" is finally to be reviewed.
It was clearly yet another of the ACT government's ill-conceived "thought bubbles".
Malcolm Snow, the City Renewal Authority's chief executive, states that "it would be inappropriate to pursue the current master plan", and the ACT government had asked the authority to "come forward with some clear revitalisation strategies". He has also advised that his board had "expressed the desire to re-examine some of the basic assumptions behind the West Basin" and whether the government could actually receive the expected financial returns.
The ACT government must be congratulated on this move and take the opportunity to entirely scrap the West Basin extension into Lake Burley Griffin, rid the area of housing, and convert the entire area into an accessible city park that our citizens can enjoy; hopefully with a pool. This would indeed revitalise the area.
Murray Upton, Belconnen
I might share Professor Clive Hamilton's concerns regarding free speech if he didn't appear so ready to abuse the privilege ("Free speech fears after book critical of China is pulled from publication", November 13, p6).
According to The Canberra Times, Dr Hamilton's publisher, Allen & Unwin, declined to publish his latest book due to "fear of legal action from the Chinese government or its proxies". Stretching credulity, Dr Hamilton would have the world believe that Allen & Unwin's commercial decision is tantamount to a foreign power stopping publication of his work.
John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW
Due respect for 'no's'
Whenever Parliament considers legislation to permit same-sex marriage, the position of those who wish to have no part in any such ceremonies will be raised. Bakers, florists, chauffeurs and others — not just priests and ministers — may have religious beliefs or conscientious objections to being involved and their concerns should be respected.
A simple solution is to require any business to advertise the fact that it does not wish to be linked with same-sex marriages. A phrase such as Traditional Marriages Only (or TMO for short) would be included in all of their advertisements and signs. This would avoid embarrassment on both sides. Those wanting a same-sex ceremony would know to avoid such businesses and would not face the humiliation of being turned away. Those conducting such businesses would not have to inquire about the sex of those involved in a wedding or face the delicate problem of saying "no" to a potential customer. If these businesses discovered they were involved in a same-sex wedding after contracts had been signed, having TMO in their advertisements and signs would allow them to opt out.
People have the right to have their religious and conscientious views respected but they do not have the right to exercise them surreptitiously. Other religious and conscientious exemptions granted by the community — such as exemptions from tax for churches, or military service for pacifists — are tested by government or the judiciary on a case-by-case basis and exercised in full public view.
Hugh Smith, Deakin
It's not about hate
The result of the (ridiculous, poorly conceived, obtuse, parliamentary responsibility-advocating) marriage postal survey will be published on Wednesday.
Throughout the campaign, supporting the "no" side has been routinely equated with hate. Allegedly, the only people that could consider voting "no" must hate the LGBTIQ community and everything about them. If the result is "yes", the hurt of this hate will start to fade. In the (unlikely) event the result is "no", this hurt will be felt quadruple.
I want to state, as clearly as possible, that supporting "no" does not mean hate. If the result is "no", it doesn't mean the community hates you. It doesn't mean "no" voters think gay people are second-class or sub-human. It doesn't mean we think they're incapable of loving each other, or of loving children. It doesn't mean we think transgender people are making it up, or that gay people could choose to feel a different way. It doesn't mean we think homosexuality is the defining aspect of their humanity, eclipsing all else. It especially does not mean that we think the LGTBQI-ness of children is relevant to anything, let alone their worth as human beings. Our view means nothing hateful.
All our view means is we have a different view about the purposes of marriage; a view which makes homosexual unions and marriage mutually exclusive (despite how much we might prefer otherwise). That's it.
Whatever the outcome, please take us at our word: we don't hate you.
Christopher Budd, Turner
Soccer's own goal
The Australian soccer team has flown home on a hired jet at the cost of about $1 million whilst its opposition is flying economy. As an occasional flyer I know "cattle class" is crowded and uncomfortable although I think first class on a normal flight would be OK.
If this million dollars was simply spent on buying thousands of soccer balls and putting them in city squares with a note saying "take one and enjoy playing with it" I think that would be of more benefit to Australians and the soccer game itself.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic
Lest we forget: the German cemetery is a moving place too
Mark Dapin's article on the Australian War Graves director, Ken Corke ("Lest sabre-rattlers forget: 60,000 dead, November 11, Forum p2) reminded me of a visit to Normandy in 2012.
On the way to visit Pointe Du Hoc, Omaha Beach and the nearby American cemetery, someone suggested we go to see the German cemetery near La Cambe. I was ambivalent but it proved to be the most moving place I have ever been. Looking again at the photos of that place today has made me feel cold on a warm day. So many teenagers, so many others without a full name or age, presumably rushed into the Nazis' army. I wonder how many of them thought like Ken Corke; "I felt like they'd want us to do something that I probably may not agree with."
If you ever go to that part of Normandy, please visit both the American and German cemeteries, notice the contrast, walk among the graves, read the inscriptions, stand still and silent. Contemplate not so much the futility of war, because Hitler started a war that had to be fought, but think of the consequences of wars for individuals and their loved ones, imagine the youngest person you love being there.
I especially want leaders considering armed conflict to take that pilgrimage. To ask themselves is this fight really necessary or in my innermost soul do I really know that I and some of my advisers want to go down in history as "wartime leaders".
John F. Simmons, Kambah
Whingeing wears thin
Another week, another whinge from the DPP's office about resources ("Plea to offload cases", November 11, p2). Full marks to Chief Magistrate Walker for rejecting DPP assistant director Drumgold's bid to delay 27 hearings scheduled for November-December.
For years now the DPP has been spending millions of dollars and who-knows-how-many thousands of staff hours on his endless pursuit of David Eastman, 72, who has already spent almost 20 years in jail as the result of his invalid trial.
To add insult to injury, I have found that every single time we taxpaying members of the public have attempted to attend court proceedings concerning Mr Eastman, we have been swiftly required to leave the court without explanation.
Chris Smith, Kingston
The current mess regarding eligibility/ineligibility of members to sit in Parliament doesn't reflect well on the quality of our politicians. Perhaps we should think about more stringent testing, particularly as so many seem to be unable to follow relatively straightforward questions.
How can they deliberate on more complicated legislation and come up with accurate results? Are most of them just following the instructions given by their leaders, making a mockery of our democracy?
Audrey Guy, Ngunnawal
State powers row
Jon Stanhope and Brett Sanderson (Letters, November 11) can say what they like. Like Norfolk, Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are territories and don't exercise state powers and neither do the residents of Jervis Bay. Are they suggesting that Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) and Jervis Bay, ie all our other populated territories, be given state powers and that Norfolk Island should get them back?
Norfolk used to have all the powers of a state government and more but made such a mess of it, including near bankruptcy, that they had to be removed. The problems were myriad and well documented as both men will know.
Stan Marks, Hawker
The Canberra Times' commendable restraint in reporting Canada's refusal to participate in the final round of the Trans Pacific Partnership ("Move to salvage TPP gathers steam on APEC sidelines", November 11, p4) reflects a certain discipline. Sadly, I'm less sanguine. Canada has allowed a measly 4500-kilometre border with its southern economic behemoth to trump (pun intended) the friendship and exquisite compatibility Australia and Canada have forged and exhibited via dialogue, war and trade.
It's this last point that has become so discomforting. This is because Canada, of all Pacific Rim nations, ratted on us by skipping that final gathering of heads of government at the TPP. Canada prioritising the North America Free Trade Agreement, to the chagrin of 11 other nations, reminds me of those pesky Kiwis on the other side of the ditch who proved they could be bought; and simultaneously compromise their values. Remember the French bombing on July 10, 1985 of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour. A Greenpeace activist drowned and a French secret service agent was convicted of manslaughter and jailed. An early release was secured and voila, New Zealand dairy products found their way much more easily onto French supermarket shelves.
Watch for the commercial fallout at Australia's expense. Wellington can be bought: but, Ottawa? "Oh Canada".
Patrick Jones, Griffith
Mugs on the hill
I turn to the knowledge and wisdom of Canberra's citizens for answers to questions politicians refuse to answer.
Are Parliament House tradesfolk, such as gardeners and forklift drivers, subject to police checks and security clearances? If so, and job ads say they are, does this scrutiny apply to our legislators, those honourable folk who regularly see confidential government information, some of it marked Top Secret?
I ask as birdies that flutter around Parkes Way inform me politicians avoid these probes by claiming parliamentary privilege, well, all save those who see Five Eyes material.
And if what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, would we have avoided all the huffing and puffing about who's 'Stralian?
Rather than bothering the Rumpoles of the High Court with administrative matters and interfering with long lunches by the folk who run the political parties, surely agencies such as the AFP, ASIO, AGSVA, and Immigration, and outfits like Ancestry.com, would be ready, willing and able to tell those mugs on the hill where mum and dad or grandad and grandma came from. And save the rest of us a heap of cash in court cases and byelections.
Oh, and dissuade sceptics like me the political class are a mob of self-serving rogues and villains who couldn't run a bath.
Bill O'Connell, Chapman
TO THE POINT
NO NEED TO VOTE
The High Court is becoming so heavily involved in appointing federal parliamentarians, it may as well go the whole hog and make all selections.
M.F. Horton, Adelaide, SA
TIME FOR G-G TO ACT
The time's arrived for the Governor-General to dissolve federal parliament, on the back of citizenship doubts surrounding members of both houses and show some leadership.
Matt Ford, Crookwell
MPs' IGNORANCE SCARY
Malcolm Turnbull is starting to sound hysterical over the citizenship crises. Protection racket, really? I think most Australians would be concerned that if a politician signs any document that they do not fully understand, how can they be relied on to formulate, interpret and implement policies? High School students articulate better than this bunch.
Lyne Dobson, Waterview Heights, NSW
NBN A DISASTER
I was wrong. (Letters, October 31). The reality is worse. Now that the NBN is here I can confirm it cannot deliver the speed I signed up for. My new NBN connection has about the same speed as my old ADSL connection, and I have lost my phone line. Class action solicitor, anyone?
Bruce A. Peterson, Kambah
STOP THE PUPPETS
It's just a useless distraction when politicians and others think they make their point more by moving their hands while speaking and have people nodding in the background.
Susan MacDougall, Scullin
WASTE OF A MILLION
Malcolm Turnbull put $1,000,000 of his own money into the Coalition's election bucket to keep his job. He must be pretty annoyed at the return on investment.
Rory McElligott, Nicholls
MAN OF INDUSTRY
Bruce Cameron makes an important point (Letters, November 10), that it is sensible to maintain a skills base "as a basis for contingency planning" and to cope with unanticipated demands in an unpredictable future.
He should go tell the relics of our defunct automobile manufacturing industry.
S.W Davey, Torrens
MAKING A KILLING
Amnesia appears a constant feature of those who embark on war as a "solution" to every challenge ("Lest sabre rattlers forget: 60,000 dead", November 11, Forum p2). Encompassed by layers of impunity, obscenely profitable arms purveyors goad lackey war-mongers to rationalise war's pageantry and glorious martyrdom to kill millions, again.
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan
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