The highest form of a "citizen jury" is an election – at local, state and federal levels. The second-highest form is a referendum, the result of which is supposed to be binding. The third highest is a plebiscite, the result of which is non-binding.
Here in the ACT, in the late 1980s, we citizens voted in two referendums on a proposal for self-government. In both cases we voted "no", but the prime minister of the day knew better than we and self-government was imposed on us.
Now Chief Minister Barr wants to introduce "citizen juries" into the decision-making process of his government. Can we have, as soon as possible, a "citizen jury" to consider the question of sacking the Legislative Assembly and replacing it with a more representative and capable city council?
Paul E. Bowler, Holder
I agree with Peter Fogarty's comments on bushwalking in Namadgi wilderness area (Letters, April 28).
I have just returned from a climb up Mount Bimberi and was fortunate to have clear tracks to follow for much of the hike. However, in many areas the regrowth that was visible near our track (from recent bushfires) would have been almost impossible to push through and would have provided significant navigation challenges.
A few carefully selected tracks in this wonderful area would still present a walking challenge but would allow more people to enjoy it.
David Hobson, Spence
Rage on monstrous
Stan Marks (Letters, April 26) continues to maintain the rage about the monstrous (in both senses) cost of the tram, and rightly so.
Of all the possible ways to provide community benefit by such massive expenditure, this would rank near the top as the stupidest, particular given its appalling cost-benefit ratio.
Perhaps only poor, doe-eyed Shane Rattenbury believed that this was just a transport project. In contrast, the eyes of Andrew Barr must have lit up with the knowledge that it was really a Trojan horse for its true purpose, a giant land redevelopment project.
Decrying the tram might be a lost cause, but the next battle will be to forestall the otherwise inevitable creation of a canyon of concrete mediocrity lining Northbourne Avenue akin to that now blotting Kingston Foreshore.
At least Jon Stanhope gave us public art for some visual interest before the philistines regained control.
David Jenkins, Casey
A thousand thanks to you, Stan Marks ("Billion dollar headache", April 27, p15) and your fellow anti-light-rail Electras.
Your Straussian wailing and teeth gnashing is music to my ears as I watch my favourite project spreading its steel wings from Gungahlin to Civic. However, you should not hold your breath as you wait for your Liberal Orestes to destroy the object of your hatred. Alistair Coe is far too clever to attack a winner.
John Mason, Latham
In respect of the article about planning contracts being let for Stage2 of the tram, readers need to know that all of these millions to be spent on planning for Stage 2 are in addition to the costs of ACT public servants administering the project and in addition to any costs for construction and operation of Stage2.
While we do not have any idea yet as to the total of these preliminary costs, an indication can be inferred from what preliminaries to Stage1 has cost and is costing taxpayers.
That figure approaches $150million for public servants and consultancy contracts (over FY2013-19; $137 million cited in government budgets and forward estimates), in addition to any construction contract (official cost $937 million but actual cost at least $1.3 billion, over 23 years). Stage2 will cost much more than Stage1 and will also be far less economic. Stage2 was an election sop to Woden Valley voters, nothing more.
M. Flint, Erindale
Why are we waiting?
Many years ago, every chemist shop in Australia had a penny-in-the-slot weighing machine with the message "your doctor says weigh yourself daily".
What happened to them all? If the medical profession is still of that opinion then surely the machines should all be resurrected as dollar machines .
Everyone aged over, say, 15, would weigh themselves each day and the budget deficit would disappear in a comparatively short time without any need to increase taxes or reduce government spending.
Come on, everyone! Balance yourself and balance the budget. Pull your weight for the good of the country.
Ken Maher, Ainslie
Fly like an eagle
It is good that findings of a study of the little eagle will guide future management and development plans in the ACT (CT, "Now, little eagle flies into charted territory", April 27, p22). Does this mean that Stage8 of the Ginninderry Development, which will destroy the eagle's nesting tree, will be cancelled, or that a ludicrous 100-metre buffer zone will be left around it? If I were the eagle, I would not bother returning to the ACT after this destruction or intrusion on privacy.
Dave Kelly, Aranda
Lease was housing fix
Housing affordability should never have been a problem in Canberra, designed from the beginning to prevent land speculation and housing affordability problems. This is why we have the leasehold system here.
All the government needs to do is announce that at the end of the lease it will need to be renewed at market rates.
There will be some people who will complain about having paid $1,000,000 for a house and they will have to buy it again in a decade or two. Everyone in Canberra is told by their lawyer when they buy a house that it is leasehold and what that means.
Mark Ellis, Crestwood NSW
None so incapable
In my 49 years in Australia, I have never seen a prime minister as disappointing as our current one. He promised so much but is delivering so little. Not even Billy McMahon stooped to such depths to survive, and he also had virtually the entire Liberal Party against him.
Malcolm Turnbull, why don't you just go and let Scott Morrison complete the debacle. At least he may be able to explain to us that there are such things as good governments and bad governments and then take us to the ballots.
John Rodriguez, Florey
Arms industry intrusion
Thank you to, Harry Davis (Letters, April 27) for reminding us that wars are not inevitable but are the result of deliberate policies.
Here's one of many deliberate policies made in Canberra that conditions us to accept wars as inevitable. The Australian War Memorial accepts sponsorship from weapons makers, the very people who thrive on armed conflict and its preparation, whose profits depend on it.
BAE Systems Australia, Boeing Australia, Lockheed Martin, ADI Ltd, Thales Australia, Raytheon Australia and others help finance the AWM in its mission of assisting Australians to "remember, interpret and understand the Australian experience of war". But whose experience? For the weapons industry, war is a boom time, sanitised as patriotism and glory; for them, the WWI notion of a "war to end all wars" is anathema.
For the majority who actually suffer war's cruelties, however, there is no glory, only tragedy. BAE Systems even has the AWM theatre named in its honour. This is the company fined after an investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office , and whose Typhoon combat aircraft are currently playing a key role in Saudi Arabia's appalling attacks in Yemen.
The irony of that company basking in the glory of those who died believing in democracy is chilling.
It's time for the weapons industry to be booted out of the AWM. They already have their reward; they should spare our war dead from their crocodile tears.
Dr Sue Wareham, Medical Association for Prevention of War (Aust), vice-president
Lest we forget
I'm sure Peter Grabosky's suggestion (Letters, April 27) would be supported by the majority of the population. It is to be hoped that Malcolm Turnbull bears this in mind when he is asked by Donald Trump to further support America in wars that we should never ever have got involved in.
He should also remember that the only two times Australia requested US military aid under the ANZUS treaty the US refused.
Murray Upton, Belconnen
Planet penalty awaits
Graham Clews (Letters, April 27) makes some good points about the Australian government's "pursuit of eternal economic growth sustained by perpetual population growth".
It is clearly impossible to have effectively infinite population and/or economic growth when the resources of this planet, including the environment that it provides for us to live in, are very obviously finite.
This, however, does not deter many or most in "big business", aided and abetted by the Right of politics, from an apparently lemming-like rush to make as much money as they can while they can: that is, until the environment turns hostile due to the resources running out, or, more likely, to global warming. The coal mining industry is just one good example of this near-sighted and greedy attitude.
We need to address these issues seriously or the planet will do it for us – with very unpleasant consequences for all of us.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
Thanks are mine
I thank Sean Allan (Letters, April 27) for his assessment of my time management in having written about metaphysical assumptions. However, I'd like to alert him to the fact that mine was the fourth such letter published, one of only two that were sensible, and that it was written after the publication of two egregious misrepresentations of science by contributors who should know better.
James Allan, Narrabundah
Science not omniscient
To support Peter Robinson (letters, April 26): Science cannot prove that something does not exist.
The book God: The Failed Hypothesis shows there is not enough evidence to satisfy science that God exists – this does not mean that God does not exist.
Trevor McPherson, Aranda
Beware the alarmists
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association has politely described the gas export controls mooted by the Prime Minister as "alarming" ("PM challenged on claims of cheap gas", CT, April 28, p4).
The petrochemical industry has held the Commonwealth cowed ever since, some decades past, the general manager of the initial North-West Shelf construction rang a lowly graded clerk in Canberra, tasked with collecting statutorily required reports, to inform the government, "I really don't think we want to tell the Australian government that."
Malcolm Turnbull will need to move far more firmly if he is to break the industry's stranglehold on the Australian economy. A divide-and-conquer strategy to place export limits on just the eastern states' frackers has already brought protest from a united industry.
Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
I hope Mr Turnbull's proclamations on securing gas security for Australia is not kite flying.
Ironic that a majority of Australians, commercial and residential, have invested in natural gas appliances and they are faced with replacing these appliances with electric, due to profligate exporting of LNG.
It's along the lines of the short story by J.G. Ballard in his percipient The Subliminal Man, indicating a future dominated by manipulated consumerism.
Matt Ford, Crookwell
Protect the plutocrat
So in addition to occupying their comfortable sinecures, and drawing generous packages, directors demand they be a protected species, above the law, which they obviously regard as sheltering the plunder of plutocrats, like themselves, from "the little people" ("Public whistleblowers should not be protected: directors", April 28, p32).
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan
TO THE POINT
HELP US, HACKERS
I note that, according to reports, hackers could be reading your smart utility meter.
Perhaps the hackers could help ActewAGL sort out their meter-reading fiasco.
Steve Anderson, Forrest
WHEN AUSSIE RULES
Thank you, Chief Minister Andrew Barr, for Friday night AFL in Canberra, promoting the city in a different light to the nation while providing entertainment to Canberrans.
Jeff Bradley, Isaacs
MAN OF VAPOUR
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's assurance of halving of domestic gas price is a lot of gas but no substance.
Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt
ROLL THEM BONES
The speed with which Andrew Barr is moving on Stage2 of the light rail project looks like a gambler on a roll with disregard for the consequences, while existing infrastructure in Canberra suburbs rapidly decays through lack of funding.
R.I. Boxall, Hawker
THE DONALD TRUMPS
Given the good quality of many of Donald Trump's appointments, it begins to seem that he is not as silly as he pretends to be – it is largely an act to impress silly voters.
Michael McCarthy, Deakin
Bureaucrats should be forced to spend a night on a speed bump.
Then they'll stop calling them cushions.
John Coleman, Chisholm
WHAT YOU WISH FOR
Dear Barnaby Joyce, in dismissing expert analysis ("Joyce dismisses expert analysis", April 28, p8), have you considered what will happen to voting trends when all these "left-leaning" Canberra public servants vote in marginal electorates?
James Walcott, Mawson
HOOKED ON GAFFE
I'm glad that AOC president John Coates has seen fit to apologise for his appalling "sheltered workshop" gaffe, but that was just one demonstration of his "worst practice" workplace behaviour.
Kate Lyttle, Weston
GOOD, BAD, UGLY
Good debt, bad debt: smoke and mirrors.
Dan Buchler, Waramanga
Who needs John Clarke when we've got Scott Morrison, who appears to be always sending himself up?
Gary Frances, Bexley, NSW
Email: email@example.com. Send from the message ﬁeld, not as an attached ﬁle. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.
Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).