It was uncomfortable to read of the private evening viewing of the James Turrell exhibition granted by the National Gallery to Deborra-Lee Furness and her mum and daughter ("Furness adds star power to Canberra exhibition",January 25, p3).
A quick check of Ticketek reveals that the Perceptual Cell is a premium Turrell ticket, and booked solid through to mid-March.
I think the Furness party could have passed almost unnoticed through the exhibition in the normal course of events.
Australia has not had a particular tradition of feting celebrities, and let's hope – not least on an Australia Day weekend – we can hold fast to our egalitarian national ethic.
And the explanation offered by gallery official Michael Baldwin didn't help much: "Clearly Deb doesn't get to Canberra too often so it was a great opportunity for her to see this exhibition."
Ross Kelly, Monash
Cycling risks insurance
Your editorial on January 25 suggested cyclists should be required to take out liability insurance. In the case decided last November, a payout of $1.7million was made by the insurers under a policy provided through Pedal Power when a cyclist was found liable for causing an accident (five years after it occurred).
This case and others illustrate what is wrong with basing our compensation mechanism on insuring people who might be sued (liability insurance) instead of insuring the people who might be injured. If no one can be sued, they will get nothing. Legal costs are high. The process is slow. People focus on avoiding liability rather than on balancing safety and risk in a reasonable way. What we need is a comprehensive no-fault scheme, like the one in New Zealand, that insures people who suffer an injury, whether it is caused by a person at fault or is a pure accident.
If it is thought necessary to provide for liability insurance for cyclists, it should be done by requiring it to be included as part of the cover of householders' liability insurance, which most householders hold, without any supplementary premiums. Any requirement for specific insurance will seriously discourage casual and occasional cycling.
James Graham, Hughes
You do the Canberra community and cyclists in particular a great disservice by amplifying anecdotes and discounting evidence in the article "Pedestrian claim puts focus on cyclist insurance" (January 25, p6), distorting the truth on road trauma and its costs.
The majority of pedestrians and, to a lesser extent, cyclists who are injured or killed are victims of motor vehicle accidents. Because of the greater lethality of motor vehicles, motorists are expected to take greater care of vulnerable road users, and this is reflected in the law.
The evasion of legal liability by negligent cyclists is minuscule compared to that of uninsured drivers. The ACT government as the nominal defendant pays the third-party personal claims of about 50 uninsured negligent (and hit and run) drivers every year, and this cost is ultimately borne by all other drivers via levies on CTP insurance premiums.
So let's not rush to bring in compulsory insurance that would cost more to administer than it would pay out, the opposite of the situation with CTP insurance. In fact, the tiny number of legal liabilities arising from uninsured negligent cyclists could be paid out by the nominal defendant with negligible additional costs for motorists and satisfying the needs of victims.
David Bastin, Nicholls
Read business case
Mr Cox ("No subsidy", Letters, January 25) obviously has not read the so-called business case for Capital Metro stage 1, made public by the government on October 31, 2014, otherwise he would know that the government's own figure for the estimated, average fare per trip is $1.01, not $5. He obviously also believes the government's figure of 20,000 fares a day in 2031.
This figure is simply not feasible with 12 operational trams, let alone on every day of the year; 15,000 fares are as many as can be expected on the best day.
Even assuming $3 per fare, as I have done, the operating subsidy will still be about $22million every year, for 30 years.
I suggest Mr Cox first read the business case then the detailed critique of the case that can be accessed on canthetram.org, before he writes another letter.
Jack really nailed it
Jack Waterford's article "Australians let us all ignore" (January 25, p17) was very good, as was the related article by Crispin Hull in The Canberra Times on January 24 ("Do we know who we are?", Forum, p2). False Australianism seems to be on the rise, but hopefully not from younger generations. Thank goodness for The Canberra Times' retention of some thinking columnists, and I would add Paul Malone.
Rod Holesgrove, O'Connor
Bravo, Jack Waterford. It's good to know I'm not alone in my revulsion for American-style public wallowing in flag worship and aggressive shows of "patriotism".
Meaningful love of country exists deeply within us, not as Southern Cross tattoos or a drunken renditions of Advance Australia Fair.
Like Jack, I'm dreading the self-indulgent and jingoistic excess likely to smack us in the face next Anzac Day and can only hope that most people look beyond the superficial and consider what being Australian should really mean.
Steve Ellis, Hackett
Well said, Jack.
I do not always agree with everything written by Jack Waterford but his Australia Day article was spot on, (January 25, p17). Add to that our gesticulating prima donna tennis players, soccer theatrics, ACT amateur government, federal senate delinquents, bending low to the British Royals, a Prime Minister and Opposition Leader you wouldn't feed, etc, which makes Jack's comment very relevant indeed.
Rex Williams, Ainslie
Any assessment of the views of the pro-growth, pro-density cheerleaders must take into account that these views are predominantly expressed by those with vested economic links to the property industry ("What will our city look like in 2060?", January 25, p18; "We must not let any more great opportunities slip through our fingers", January 25, p19).
It is pretty rich (pun intended) of these individuals to dismiss alternative views as simply the work of anti-change "nimbies" when the big-growth, high-density vision for Canberra has been challenged by respected, independent academics including Professors Jenny Stewart, Brendan Gleeson, Tony Hall, Ken Taylor, Patrick Troy and James Weirick.
There seems to be agreement that we need a knowledgeable, intelligent, and community wellbeing approach to urban planning. The disagreement seems to be about whose version should be most influential. Forgive my cynicism, but when it comes to the vision for Canberra's future, I am inclined to place more weight on the views of knowledgeable and thoughtful academics and members of the community and less on the self-serving views of those linked to the property industry.
Karina Morris, Weetangera
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