I am puzzled by the continuing and frequent references to the City to the Lake project.
In June, The Canberra Times revealed that engineering consultants had delivered to the government in December 2014 a report that estimated the cost of lowering and covering Parkes Way at more than $460million ("Lowering Parkes Way priced at $460m", June 22, p2).
This cost exceeds that of the Majura Parkway and the GDE combined and was noted by the consultants to have a very poor cost/benefit ratio. At this point the City to the Lake project was, using the words of a former prime minister, "dead, buried and cremated".
It would be kind to Chief Minister Andrew Barr to describe this proposed project as a thought bubble or a pipedream that he has been reluctant to let go of. If this was the case, it would be a very expensive one, with millions of dollars spent on overvalued acquisitions, numerous and ongoing studies and with the destruction of two of Canberra's best-loved institutions: the paddle boats and bike hire businesses.
To be less kind and more realistic, the City to the Lake project should be described as a smokescreen to camouflage the inappropriate development of the land surrounding City Hill and the public parklands forming the foreshore of West Basin. The epitome of this approach was the ludicrous and now abandoned swimming pool complex on the lake edge.
Nothing about the project provides a link between the city and the lake. In fact, it does quite the opposite.
The doughnut of land between Vernon Circle and London Circuit should, in a growing city, be reserved for low-rise public and community-focused buildings in a parkland setting with cafes and other facilities to encourage public use.
Our much-valued lakeside parklands should not be sold off to the highest bidders for commercial and residential development. Instead, the government should commission a management and development plan for the whole of the Lake Burley Griffin foreshores to ensure that our most valuable natural, cultural and recreational asset is preserved and developed for future generations.
My greatest fear is that the government will proceed with the piecemeal sale of blocks of the West Basin parklands in a manner reminiscent of the process that gave us such a disastrous result at Kingston Foreshore.
To do so would mean not only the loss of valued lakeside parkland but would produce an isolated pocket of housing, an upmarket Oaks Estate, racked with road traffic noise from Commonwealth Avenue and Parkes Way.
My hope is that the cost of the 150 metres of concrete boardwalk now under construction on West Basin will prove so prohibitive that the rest of this destructive plan will be abandoned.
Alan Robertson, Canberra City
Housekeeping on run
I don't object to politicians' study tours. I'm aware that some of them actually return with much broader perspectives than before they set off.
However, I have never been able to figure out why they all seem to require business class flights, four to five-star accommodation and only the most expensive restaurants to sustain themselves during their travels.
This continues regardless of the economic climate, showing a high degree of self-indulgence and arrogance across the board ("Millions go on politician study tours", December 28, p4).
There are 99,000 public servants embroiled in a dispute to achieve a reasonable pay rise denied them by the government because of a "budget crisis" created by their own spin while their managers are rewarded for their stalwart service ("Pay deals and tech wrecks dictate year", December 28, pp8-9).
Barnaby Joyce is prepared toapprove huge "bonus" payments to those under his ministerial banner who are threatening resignation rather than a move to Armidale ("Bonus plan for Armidale", December 27, p1). And foreign aid is in the doldrums because the governmentneeds to cash up tofurther support the interests ofcorporate mates, many of whomdon't pay taxes or contribute to the financial base ("Foreign aid at lowest level in eight years", December 29, p5).
From the examples of economic "management" provided by The Canberra Times last week alone, it seems the various expenditures are controlled by convention in some instances and expedience in others.
There are few families in Australia that could survive long were they to adopt the same skewed, adhoc budgeting strategy that isthe hallmark of this government.
W. Book, Hackett
Attack force NZ
New Zealand reminds me of Sweden. If you leave aside the former's sporting prowess, both nations have the solution to the all the world's problems except their own.
By the way, now that NZ is proverbially "at war" with Israel, how does the puny antipodean nation propose to wage it? They've got no fighter jets, and the navy couldn't sink my toy ships in the bathtub.
Perform a few hakas? That'll frighten the Jews and Arabs in the IDF. I recommend the RNZAF heavy-lift a bunch of Greens to the region. Let's see how that works out.
About the best the Kiwis own are fine artillery units, although I'd like to see them try lobbing shells from Rotorua.
Gerry Murphy, Braddon
Food for thought
I wonder if Jenny Moxam (Letters, December 26) can offer an alternative to "cruelly-derived seafood"? Should they be anaesthetised first? I have just read Prometheus Bedeviled by Norman Levitt, primarily about the all too common lack of acceptance of valid science when opposed to superstition (vide Charles Darwin).
In a footnote to a concern about extreme biophilia he gives as an example a fundamentalist biophiliac notion of regret about the extirpation of the smallpox virus.
Oh dear, just when I had become used to regarding the late Professor Fenner as a hero beyond reproach.
Paul Heffernan, Tumblong, NSW
A widow laments
My late husband served 29 years with the Royal Australian Navy. He died prematurely at 60. The Commonwealth accepted liability for his death and awarded me a war widow's pension.
I have just been informed that as of January 1, 2017, I shall lose that pension due to my "assets".
I would happily give them back the DVA war widow's pension if they gave me back my husband. As it is, I must merely console myself that by denying war widows their pensions the federal government will be able to make up the deficit and retain the AAA credit rating.
Kathryn Spurling, Chifley
Take it or leave it
Marilyn Quirk (Letters, December 30) says that "if recent arrivals dislike Australia so much, they are welcome to go elsewhere".
I can't help thinking the Indigenous Tasmanians would have said the same thing to the British when they invaded Tasmania.
Geoff Barker, Flynn
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).