I had reason last week to run my practised eye over the Land Development Agency's Canberra Brickworks and Environs Strategy. It didn't take long to conclude that, from a town planning, urban design and social and environmental standpoint, it is a "monstrosity" of a scheme. It is a throwback to the kind of subdivision layouts that cheap developers favoured prior to the introduction of statutory zoning in the mid-20th century, commonly known as "slicing and dicing" within an encompassing gridiron pattern of principal streets, the aim of which was to produce as many narrow-fronted allotments and dwelling units as possible in order to minimise development costs and maximise profits.
This latest strategic plan bears no resemblance to any aspect of existing Yarralumla and the accompanying consultant reports have been interpreted in such a way as to justify its inept layout, rather than aiming to produce a built environment that is reflective to some degree of what already exists.
The residents of Yarralumla had better take notice of this proposed development, as it will progressively have seriously adverse impacts on your quality of life. The National Capital Authority, for its part, should arise from its 20-year slumber and do something, not only about the transmogrification from Dunrossil Drive into so-called Park Street, but also the visual and functional alienation of what is part of the "hills and valley" system that is a major aspect of the National Capital Plan.
Tony Powell, Griffith
Light rail figures
Mick Gentleman, Minister for Planning, defends his appointment of David Flannery to the position of chairman of the Heritage Council (Letters, March 10), and states Mr Flannery was appointed on merit. He further states that research on light rail indicates more than 50per cent of the community supports light rail.
I don't know who does his research for him, but I suggest it is confined to a close-knit portion of the community, as the real number who support light rail is more likely to be 10per cent, at best 20per cent of our community. It is hard to believe that just a few people in power can waste such an enormous amount of public money.
Rod Frazer, Garran
Too small for rail
Simon Corbell ("Taxpayers pick up $11k tab for for cardboard tram", March 6, p2) claims that lots of cities of Canberra's size and density are adopting light rail. I've looked into this, and couldn't find any evidence in support of the claim. When I asked Capital Metro about it at a public forum once, they were also unable to name a single city which fit the criteria. Most cities with light rail have metropolitan areas with a significantly larger population. Yes, it is true that there are smaller cities with tram networks, but their population densities are many times greater than Canberra's.
In addition, most of these smaller cities are in Europe, with tram networks that have been operating for 100 years or more. Unlike in Canberra, their light rail infrastructure doesn't have to be built from scratch.
Why aren't other cities similar to Canberra in population and density embracing light rail? Is it because they haven't seen the light? Or could it be that they've listened to reason and financial probity, instead of vague utopian visions and politicians with balance of power and a light rail obsession?
Max Kwiatkowski, Holder
I'm afraid John May (Letters, March 6) is under-informed: the Barton Highway is the busiest commuter corridor in NSW outside of Sydney, with in excess of 12,000 vehicles crossing the ACT border each day: 9000 of them starting the trip at Yass.
It also has the second-worst accident record in the state. This is a road that cried out for duplication long before the Federal Highway ever was.
As for John's trip to Melbourne, the road/s he desires already exist (either via Piccadilly Circus or Adaminaby): John should remember that the road less-travelled is usually less-travelled for a good reason.
Mark Raymond, Manton, NSW
Reviewing a review
I thank Mr Michelson (Letters, March 10) for his observation that "as well as being informative, readable and accurate, books must be enjoyable for everyone". As one who has long argued that there are only two types of history, good and bad, and certainly not academic and "the other", I could not agree more.
My review of Tim Fischer's latest recent advocacy on behalf of John Monash assessed his book on those grounds exactly. Having read Mr Michelson's letter and my review of Fischer's book again, I find nothing to make me change my assessment of it.
(Dr) Jeffrey Grey, Jerrabomberra, NSW
Thank goodness the Canberra Times is in the business of writing editorials like the one today ("Search for MH370 must continue", Times2, March 10, p2) and not charged with investigating deaths. Otherwise, every potential murder would be investigated as an accident and every clear piece of evidence pointing to deliberate sabotage and murder would be dismissed as unfathomably "mysterious". There is no point in continuing to investigate MH370 as an accident. Treating it as such will continue to take investigators up the garden path which has been laid for it by the perpetrators of the crime. Investigators need to ask the questions good detectives ask when investigating any murder: who had the means and the motive?
Chris Williams, Griffith
Attack on Medicare
What a silly sausage is Robin Fitzsimons ("Research fund must live", Times2, March 9, p4) wasting her time writing articles about the demise of the proposed GP co-payment and insisting that the government must progress the $20billion Medical Research Future Fund (promised as a quid pro quo) with all deliberate speed. Surely, she must realise that the research fund was a last-minute sop by Mr Abbott to make yet another attack on Medicare that little bit more palatable to the electorate – and was never meant seriously.
Roger Terry, Kingston
Matt Ford (Letters, March 11) is "horrified" by an assertion that I didn't make.
Matt wrongly claims that I condemned our politicians for appealing for clemency for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran when, clearly, I simply sought to highlight their hypocrisy in only condemning "judicial murder" on a selective basis.
John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW
Abbott has relinquished our right to take others to task
Tony Abbott's response to the United Nations report finding Australia in breach of our international obligations is sad but not unexpected ("UN torture report puts Abbott on attack", March 10, p5). With this attack, Abbott has succeeded in removing all credibility this nation ever had internationally on human rights issues. Any advice, expressions of concern or admonishments directed at any other nation by Australia from now will be treated with the disdain they deserve. We are in a sorry state under this "Abbott-ocracy".
W. Book, Hackett
Tony Abbott aggressively reacts to criticism by the United Nations, which dares to tell him his government is torturing asylum seekers in inhumane conditions on Manus Island. Methinks he doth protest too much.
With the Triggs report, The Forgotten Children, and the Moss report on the abuse of children on Nauru, the UN report adds critical weight to the case for ending offshore processing and mandatory detention.
The boats have not stopped. The navy has turned them around, and redirected legal asylum seekers back to Indonesia or Sri Lanka, where no protection is guaranteed, and jail awaits some.
The right to seek protection from persecution has been trashed – by Australia – and the electorate is beginning to catch on to the lies and disregard for law and decency.
Frederika E. Steen, Chapel Hill, Qld
No, Prime Minister, it's not the United Nations I'm sick of being lectured by; it's you and your pathetic hectoring of all who hold a contrary view to you.
Graeme Rankin, Holder
Waiting for axe to fall
I congratulate Michael Slocum (Letters, March 9) for his very concise statement of what is the bleeding obvious to us political watchers, that "Humble Abbott just a part of the Coalition's master plan".
It provides a certain degree of comfort that the Libs have some sense of the importance of historical precedent and that Tony is so good at following the advice of John Howard.
We can only hope the axe is blunt when it falls after the next election.
Max Lotton, Surf Beach, NSW
The problem with Islam
Ehud Yaari's superb appreciation of the need for moderate Muslims to take the fight to murderous elements in Islam in all their forms is instructive and timely ("This is a fight moderate Muslims must win", Times2, March 9, p5). Nonetheless, allow me some pedantry.
There is too much in the Koran that provides enormous scope for Islam's disaffected adherents to latch on to whatever suits their purpose, and that plainly authorises uncivilised behaviour and butchering of infidels. No Muslim of any stature can alter all this, except on pain of death. So, Cardinal George Pell, accurately described by the British weekly Economist as "short on niceties", was spot on when he said the great problem with Islam is that it cannot renovate itself.
Mr Yaari advises that the "main impediment to successfully confronting extremism has been the lack of a concerted and persuasive argument to demolish the foundations of [Taymiyyah] literature". This is the core dynamic of Saudi politics. And, it is this, in turn, which sees a liberal blogger in that country sentenced to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison for "insulting Islam".
Note also that no other faith may express itself in Saudi Arabia in any way ("Kingdom rejects rights criticism", March 9, p9). There's plenty more, of course, to which our PM alluded, but he's disingenuous when he calls on moderate imams to mean what they say about Islam's worst features. They're not allowed. And, because that is so, the problem with extremists is intractable.
Patrick Jones, Griffith
Heather Henderson (Letters, March 7) suggests that Kirribilli House was bought by the Commonwealth government in 1919 in the belief that it could be useful "as a defence against the Russians". While that was certainly the reason for the fortification of Kirribilli Point and nearby Fort Denison during the Crimean War, the acquisition of Kirribilli House in 1920 was actually prompted by public opposition to a proposed sale of the property to permit the construction of flats.
Kirribilli House's neighbour in Admiralty House was none other than his majesty's Australian vice-regal representative, the governor-general. Like his majesty's grandmother, the viceroy would presumably have been "not amused" by the developments proposed for the adjoining property.
So, what was it that justified a Commonwealth acquisition of Kirribilli House "for defence purposes"? Well, as the then acting prime minister Joseph Cook subsequently explained, speedy action was required to prevent the imminent sale of the property for flats and a plan was formulated to rehouse the naval officer in charge of Garden Island in a refurbished Kirribilli House.
However, the next governor-general found that there was insufficient room at Admiralty House for his married daughter, whose husband was on his staff, and Kirribilli House came to be used throughout the 1920s for peaceful vice-regal purposes, while the naval officer remained at Garden Island.
Frank Marris, Forrest
"What we can't do is endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have." So says Tony Abbott in regard to Aboriginal outstations. Awesome.
Next we'll see rebates and tax concessions eliminated for those choosing to live in remote communities.
Yes! The dispossession of Aboriginal people from their sacred, ancestral lands must proceed in the interests of cheap and efficient government.
If that's not what Abbott intended, he should speak only from carefully prepared scripted remarks in future.
Judy Bamberger, O'Connor
Braddon club ideal place to see friends
In the article "Club members fear land sale" (March 10, p1), John McKay is quoted as saying the Braddon Raiders club had been "terrible", that the bowling club had "dozens of aged people having a wonderful afternoon", while "the Braddon club was just pokies and booze". This appears to be the ultimate in hypocrisy and based more on him being able to travel a short distance to enjoy his bowls.
Having been a regular at the Braddon club, along with several friends, it was an ideal location for office workers, possibly younger than those who attend the bowls club, to interact, have lunch or to discuss the day after the stresses at work.
In many ways, we also had a wonderful time being there, and to many of us, it was almost "therapeutic".
Notably, the Ainslie club has indicated they will relocate the bowling greens to the Gungahlin Lakes club.
While Mr McKay's relationship with the Raiders appears irrelevant to this issue, it does raise the question of what did the Raiders provide the members of the Braddon club before it was closed down for similar reasons? Nothing, it appears.
It seems that Mr McKay is more concerned about losing a community facility close to where he lives, as opposed to the needs of the broader population working close by.
Welcome to the club, John.
David Ray, Kaleen
Merits of hydro dams
Craig Simmons ("Out of sight and out of mind", Times2, March 9, p1) has taken the usual environmentalist view of hydro dams. He fails to mention that properly managed dams provide water to keep the rivers flowing during droughts and for farm irrigation, may produce electricity, and mitigate floods during periods of high rainfall. He should explain how this can be accomplished using ground water.
J. McKerral, Batemans Bay, NSW
TO THE POINT
WE'RE NOT BUYING
So, Joe Hockey's upset because he's accused of being for sale ("'Spite' motivated articles: Hockey", March 10, p4). He shouldn't worry – no Australian I know would give two bob for him.
Peter Moran, Watson
Based on Tony Abbott's response to the UN report on the treatment of asylum seekers, he would no doubt have been a supporter of Mussolini for getting the trains to run on time ...
Nick Payne, Griffith
Don't tell me what I think, Mr Abbott. I think the Labor Party's policy on refugees is bad, but the Liberals' policy is abhorrent.
Maggie Watts, Calwell
These convicted drug smugglers in Indonesia ignored warnings and carried out their crime with no respect for their "mules". Carry out their penalty ASAP or maybe transfer them to the eight-star Alexander Maconochie motel in Canberra, where they can use their mobile phones and social media to continue their drug operations.
Micke McDevitt, Gordon
While it's understandable that drug-offending sportspersons thank their friends and acquaintances for standing by them, priorities surely call for them to apologise first to teenagers and sub-teenagers for the disgraceful example they have shown and any harm they may have caused.
Colliss Parrett, Barton
Will Christopher Pyne hold his breath until everyone agrees with him (Letters, March 10)? If only!
Graham Hannaford, Ainslie
FACTS ON LIGHT RAIL
Planning Minister Mick Gentleman writes (Letters, March 10) that: "Research on community views on light rail indicates more than half the community support light rail. Therefore, the odds are any new chair [of the Heritage Commission] would be supportive." Where can we read about how, when and by whom this research was conducted, and its results?
Ed Highley, Kambah
ECONOMY V CLIMATE
To all those, including David Pope (Editorial cartoon, Times2, March 10, p1) wailing about the lack of emphasis of climate change in the intergenerational report, if we continue to mismanage our economy with rising bad debt, what chance is there of convincing people to accept more debt to attack a problem they are not convinced is real?
H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW
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