Re Shane Rattenbury's proposal to pack and stack as many flats and businesses as possible into the Northbourne Avenue corridor (January 19).
Nothing he or the Capital Metro team says or does will ever justify turning this pleasant, green oasis into an ugly, barren canyon of tall buildings, tarmac, concrete, rails and overhead wiring to make way for outdated, traffic-disrupting "rattler" trams.
Canberra's beautiful natural environment is a major tourist attraction and I dread the prospect of this avenue becoming an ugly in-fill canyon to justify ineffective, prohibitively costly trams that only a few people will use outside of peak hours.
The only glimmer of hope in the ACT's economy at the moment is the prospect of direct international flights, so please let's have a technologically advanced transport system to complement our magnificent airport terminal, to better serve those living in and visiting our region.
Peter Sherman, Aranda
Tall buildings inefficient
Shane Rattenbury claims that the light rail program "will increase density along a quality public transport corridor" which will result in "modern energy-efficient buildings" (January 19). It would be appreciated if Mr Rattenbury disclosed the research that arrived at the "energy-efficient" conclusion. Logic would deduce that the higher the population density within a residential or commercial building, the higher the energy consumption of the individual occupants of the building. And the higher the building, the greater the energy consumption.
Ed Dobson, Hughes
Better ways than bonds
Bruce Peterson (January 17) suggests we issue bonds to finance light rail. I agree with him that the government should issue its own credit to finance capital works in the ACT but there are other ways of creating credit than bonds and there are other ways of repaying the bonds than through taxes.
The government can ensure that light rail from Gungahlin to Civic allows an extra 20,000 dwellings to be built along the corridor. The net income to the ACT government from the land sales for each dwelling is likely to be at least $100,000.
This gives $4billion in the increase in land sales, just for residential dwellings, which will pay the capital cost of light rail to Gungahlin and most of the rest of Canberra. The increase in land values for commercial buildings will be considerable and the increases in the unimproved value of existing land in Gungahlin will increase rates.
At the moment, residents cannot buy credit from the ACT government. Instead of bonds, the ACT government can allow taxpayers to prepay their rates and taxes where the prepayments earn a discount.
The ACT government could issue, to all residents, the transferable right to buy prepayments with an annual discount of 8per cent where the prepayment value increases with inflation. This costs about the same as borrowing money at 4per cent where the repayments start after 12 years and it spreads the benefits from funding infrastructure across the whole community.
Kevin Cox, Ngunnawal
Paying extra for rubbish
I agree with Felix MacNeill ( January 19) that we have a litter problem in Canberra.
As he states, we will still have the recycling bins. We will then be paying extra for the privilege of putting this rubbish into our bins unless we are able and willing to expend time and money to take them to some central depot thus negating some of the "incentive". In essence, the people who are doing the right thing would be financially penalised. I cannot foresee the deposit deterring the casual leaving of such containers in public places.
David Cook, Wanniassa
I always enjoy reading articles by Mikayla Novak from the Institute of Public Affairs. "Do not fear the machines" January19) was no exception. I do so because it is interesting to find the punch line, usually near the end, where the institute's agenda is softly floated in a sea of seemingly reasonable comment. This effort was no exception. It contains the penultimate paragraph, "If the relative importance of labouring as a source of income is in decline as a result of automation, then that suggests reforms to encourage greater capital ownership, for example by eliminating income and capital taxes."
Well no. In my opinion it does not.
Steve Thomas, Yarralumla
Uses for algorithms
Mikayla Novak's reference to "reports of complex computer algorithms used ... to write some newspaper stories" (January 19) raises interesting issues.
First, is it conceivable that these reports have themselves been written by computer algorithms? Second, can we look forward to a time when the Institute of Public Affairs uses computer algorithms to write newspaper opinion pieces, leaving its fellows and senior fellows free to engage in socially useful employment?
Barry Hindess, Reid
Enough is enough
How many people have actually been brought to book under Section 18C of the Federal Racial Discrimination Act?
The only likely targets are big-time media bullies. It's comparable to removing a parent's right to inflict corporal punishment on their child. If you are allowed to smack your child why should you not use the buckle end of your belt to really get your point across.
Laws cannot be written to determine matters of degree so they will appear to be black or white without attempting to distinguish shades of grey.
Public prosecutors and the judiciary must be trusted to know when enough is enough.
Denis Coen, Macquarie
Value of refunds
Drink container refunding has always been on the radar, and is now, again, seriously mooted for NSW and the ACT, joining SA and the NT, where small retailers are providing the space, the cash flow for refunds, and the ability for the system to operate.
It's endearing in Adelaide to see the social benefits of container refunds – the hunting and collecting of containers dramatically reduces council bin volumes and directly benefits those who collect and refund.
The incredible variations in pricing of the same-sized drink containers, destroys any argument that the levy increases drink price, as the only real constant is the refund value and the value to the community.
Matt Ford, Crookwell
Hoddle Street slaughter can't just be blamed on rejection
As someone closely involved with initial military assistance to the police investigation into the Hoddle Street mass murders, it remains clear to me that the Julian Knight case remains a complex one psychologically, socially and historically.
Picking any single issue as the purported cause ("Man responsible for mass murder abandoned by army", says nurse, CT, January 19, p1) seems fraught with over-simplification risks.
Attributing "rejection" or "abandonment" by the army as what drove him to shoot seven people surely misses some key facts.
First, some aspects of his family history. Second, the misbehaviour that led to his discharge from RMC Duntroon on disciplinary and overall under-performance grounds.
Third, after discharge he applied to re-enlist in his former army reserve unit (and this was still being processed at the time of the murders).
This seems to indicate the opposite of someone suffering pronounced feelings of rejection, abandonment or concern about alleged institutional bullying.
Neil James, Executive Director, Australia Defence Association
A country of diversity
J.W. Farrands just cannot accept the realities of Australia (Letters Jan 21) as a country which has, and has had for more than 200 years, a diversity of people, ethnicities, religions, lifestyles.
Why single out aspects of Islam? Why assert a halal tax? Not according to the Australian Grocery and Food Council, which explains it as a food process like that for kosher or gluten-free labelling.
Mosques not like churches? And what these days is a church style when there are myriads of styles, and there are various styles of religious centres including Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu and more.
Farrands might like to visit the Magna Carta Place near Old Parliament House to be reminded of the great values on which our governance and society is based and ponder in their fairness and inclusiveness.
Marguerite Castello, Griffith
A clash of rights
In his article "Freedom and fundamentalism clash" (CT Jan 20) Nicholas Stuart revealed that in the wake of the Paris attacks and the "Je Suis Charlie" campaign, there has been a similar "Je Suis Kouachi" campaign, expressing support for the brothers responsible for the terrorism.
The perpetrator of the Martin Place siege had been convicted for writing offensive letters to the family of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Similar behaviour has been found to be a perfectly legal exercise of free speech by the U.S. Supreme Court (Snyder v. Phelps).
I've no doubt those whining loudest about the legal limitations to the right of free speech in this country (Brandis, Abbott, Bolt etc.) would be the most outraged and vociferous if the two examples above were to go unchallenged.
As Nicholas Stuart stated in his article, "Everyone likes free speech it seems, as long as it's their speech that's protected".
Should individuals have the right to say whatever they like, regardless of the hurt and anger it promotes in others who are mere bystanders to the terrible events we've recently witnessed?
Right thinking people would surely support the view that social harmony and public safety must take precedence.
Rob Gardiner, Tuross Head NSW
Stop Canberra's growth
Kevin Cox's latest ploy in promoting trams for Canberra (Letters Jan 17) is to support "unverifiable cost assertions", and to make further unverifiable assertions on why people oppose the tram project.
He accused those opposing trams of "having other motives" which they "disguise" and asserted "people opposed to higher density of population ... argue against densification by arguing about light rail costs". I disagree.
I oppose the Gungahlin to Civic tram project only because it is very clearly not financially viable. If it were, the private sector would fight to own it.
The government is attempting to disguise the non-viability by having a private-public partnership so that massive losses to be eventually borne by Canberra's residents will not be obvious now to some naive residents.
In Letters Jan 19 Shane Rattenbury wrote "A key value of light rail is that it will increase density".
Why do they want density? Their ultimate goal is to increase population.
This increase would cause many problems as Rattenbury identifies: "citizens grumpy and stuck in traffic", "ever-expanding villages sprawl", "destroying once-beautiful surrounds".
The simple solution is prevention of such problems by stopping Canberra's growth. Do not build a convention centre and its accompanying hotels. Do not increase the number of non-resident students at Canberra's universities.
Bob Salmond, Melba
Speed humps create burnout launchpad
Residents of Richardson have had to deal with the installation of six traffic calmers (speed humps) on Clift Crescent, in an attempt by TAMS to slow speeding traffic.
By TAMS own figures, over 85 per cent of traffic on Clift Crescent was compliant to the speed limit, prior to the installation of these traffic calmers, so the vast majority of road users are now being penalised for the actions of a few.
I will concede that traffic has slowed on Clift Crescent, unless the vehicle is a motorbike, truck, bus, SUV, off road vehicle or a vehicle driven by someone who has realised that the faster you go over these traffic calmers, the less effective they are.
What these traffic calmers have been very effective in however, is facilitating burnouts.
A look at any of the installations will show that they are being used as launch pads by some drivers, with some burnouts measuring in excess of 70 metres and in some cases, multiple examples of that distance.
So TAMS has, sort of but not quite, stopped one type of anti-social driving (speeding) and replaced it with another (burnouts).
Despite the evidence that these traffic calmers have failed to curb anti-social driving habits, they are scheduled to be installed in Kiddle Crescent and Baskerville Street.
I suggest residents of those streets take a drive along Clift Crescent and see what the result to your streets will be.
A better solution is to have speed cameras installed or
increase police presence in the area.
Alan Dalling, Richardson
TO THE POINT
MAKE CATS WEAR BELLS
If cats are the problem that our government seems to think they are, and that case hasn't been proven, why not mandate that cats wear bells? That would be cheaper and simpler and be as cost-effective to enforce as the proposal to permanently shut cats in.
Greg Baker Giralang
LEAVE IT TO NATURE
We all know cats will sometimes kill birds. We also know birds kill worms, butterflies and other insects that propagate the soil and distribute seeds. Should we put all cats and birds in cages or continue to rely on mother nature who, to date, continues to cope despite human intervention?
P J Carthy, McKellar
We don't care how good a cricketer you are. You are ruining for everyone what was once considered a reasonable reputation for being good at one's craft without resorting to juvenile playground nonsense. In the interest of fair play, stop it David Warner. You are bigger than that.
Greg Simmons, Lyons
QUESTION OF SAFETY
If PNG is so safe for those "ungrateful asylum seekers", why is the Australian High Commission behind high gates and fences with barbed wire along the top? Why are Australians told not to walk the streets of Port Moresby at night?
E. R. Haddock, Weston
Mark Dawson (Letters, January 19) did an excellent job of expressing my views on homeopathy. Sadly, he missed the sledge-hammer subtlety of my letter.
Tony Abbott, it is reported, claims that Australia has made representations for clemency for two Australians facing a firing squad in Indonesia. Indonesia, it is reported, says that Australia has done no such thing.
Peter Moran, Watson
I am sad to say a final goodbye to Mark Juddery. I first came across Mark in his school days when his creative energy was invested in making his unique Dr Who magazine. Intelligent, creative, outside the mainstream, a person of integrity and humour, he will be missed by many.
Kathleen Calvert, Downer
Some cars are already driverless. They wander everywhere as a coffee or a sandwich goes down at the wheel or a mobile is attended to. Where are the cops?
Charlotte Beaupipe, Dickson
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).