Chief Minister Andrew Barr's statement that "the immediate focus should be on making the train faster and not on developing a high speed network" in reference to the future of the Canberra-Sydney rail link ("Canberra fast rail route gaining steam", November 28, p3) is superficially promising but in reality profoundly disappointing.
Mr Barr's comment "Let's bring our current 19th century service into the 20th century" shows he is aware that the present rail service is hopelessly outdated, but it should be transformed into the 21st century, not the 20th.
Even more disappointing is Mr Barr's comment that the NSW trains, along with "a range of sensible and affordable signalling and track improvements" (such as the tortuous section along the Molonglo Gorge) will in the medium term "help to develop a more favourable environment for the consideration (my emphasis) of high-speed rail".
With the road transport connection between Canberra and Sydney becoming ever more congested, emissions from both road and air transport being large and growing problems, NSW, ACT and federal government coffers in healthy states, and interest rates at record lows, now is not the time for "consideration". It is the time for acting.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
As the Inspector of Correctional Services I wish to address an issue raised in your editorial titled "No pass marks for AMC from inspector" (November 27, p18).
The view expressed in the editorial that the report on the Alexander Maconochie Centre demonstrated a level of "cognitive dissonance" between the tone of some sections and the report's actual recommendations and substance is unhelpful.
This comment seems to be directed at the report's statement that "the AMC management unit appears to be running well and good practices were observed" and the fact we made 73 recommendations for improvements at the AMC.
The management unit is a specific area within the AMC; it is a maximum security unit where detainees on segregation or separation orders reside.
The comment was not directed at the overall management on the AMC. On the contrary, a number of recommendations are directed at improving management practices. There is no dissonance between identifying good practice in some areas, and identifying room for improvement in other areas.
Where the review notes a number of areas of operational practice that were running well, no recommendations were required.
In a review of this magnitude there will always be areas of operations that align with best practice and other areas that do not. As such, in the interests of fairness and completeness, the report highlights both but the recommendations only target areas warranting change or improvement.
Neil McAllister, ACT
Inspector of Correctional
I am both a Westpac shareholder and customer.
Recently I was unfortunate in having one of my credit cards scammed. Attempted use of the card took place in the United States less than four hours after I had last used it in Canberra.
Thankfully the bank stopped the transaction as it was "out of character" and I was very grateful.
The amount involved was less than $70. I was advised by the bank that scammers initially try to use the card using small transactions to see if they are successful and, if they are, they then proceed to larger amounts.
Thankfully the bank stopped the transaction as it was "out of character".Chris Parks, Torrens
Using this as background criteria, how can more than 23 million alleged transactions, yes, 23 million transactions slip through Westpac's system?
Was it staff error, complacency or did the system and protocols fail?
Whichever, both the system and protocols are in need of urgent updating as is the board.
Shareholders should not have to wear the cost of any fines imposed on the bank and receive less than expected in their dividend payments.
To self-funded retirees these expected funds are money to live on and are critical to their financial management.
The CEO, the Board and management team all have both a responsibility and accountability to their shareholders, their staff, as well as to their own consciences.
I believe they should all be personally and directly responsible for any fines imposed on the bank as they should have put insurance cover in place to cover any such eventualities.
These people have been paid the "big bucks" to look after Westpac. They should all be replaced immediately with no payments made in cash or shares pending the results of the independent inquiry.
December's AGM should be interesting.
Chris Parks, Torrens
Mixed up confusion
I'm rather confused by the proposition put forward by Peter Carden (Letters, November 25) who began by stating that Australia's emissions in a global context are so insignificant as to make any reductions we might make irrelevant. He says we'll still have the same droughts and the same fires. I understand that.
But then he proposes that we take a moral stand and cease exporting fossil fuels altogether.
Given that this won't reduce global emissions at all, and will even likely increase them as our current customers simply switch to other (and potentially dirtier) coal suppliers, this seems a strange proposal.
Those same droughts and fires will continue but apparently Mr Carden thinks we'll all feel so much better about it as we fight those disasters.
We'll also have $25 billion less of funds each year to support the firies, farmers and out of work miners. But they'll all be able to take comfort in the fact that although nothing has changed, and those fires and droughts get even worse, that at least we have moral correctness on our side.
I'm all for taking action, but can't we at least have solutions that will actually reduce the global impact of change without sacrificing our nation for a pointless gesture which the rest of the world will ignore.
Kym MacMillan, O'Malley
To what end Josh?
The Federal government appears to have been successful in forcing Westpac's chief executive to step down over alleged breaches of money laundering laws.
Why couldn't Westpac have told the government to hit the road? In a word: fear. Business can no longer risk taking these cases to trial.
Australian political culture has created a third and far more insidious type of property. It is called commercial property. It includes all private and public property used for exchange in a free market.
This form of property is subject to a variety of civil, criminal, national security, banking, privacy, employment and discrimination laws. Business must carry out the government's edicts, regulations and laws.
The enforcers are not concerned about child exploitation, terrorism, social justice, privacy or victims' rights. Their goal is to increase government revenue and remove capital and property owners' legal rights, replacing them with civil rights which trump all considerations of private property.
Our advanced technological age provides opportunities for spying and surveillance that even the most enthusiastic East German intelligence operative could not of dreamed of.
We are witnessing the creation of a new class system comprised of the watched (law abiding Australian citizens) and the watchers (government officials and interests connected to the national security state).
Victor Diskordia, McKellar
A timely warning
Tuesday's report (Algae poisoning sparks warning to territory pet owners", November 26, p3) of dog poisoning from the animal swimming in Lake Ginninderra is a salutary reminder of the dangers from toxic blue-green algae in our recreational lakes.
These organisms can be poisonous to people as well as to pets.
The dog injury showed neurotoxin in the water from a blue-green alga which can mix into the surface waters-causing the green tinge to Lake Ginninderra seen this week.
Others prefer warmer water, some form scums which we can expect later in the summer.
These form liver poisons, and are possibly carcinogenic.
Both groups of blue-green algae depend on nutrients for growth.
At the water entry to Lake Ginninderra from Eastern Valley Way the water is black.
This shows that it lacks oxygen, which allows phosphorus and ammonia to be released, both stimulating blue-green algal growth.
This can be prevented. The aeration of the black water with fountains, cascades, or air diffusers under the pond will prevent nutrient release.
Under the road the gross pollution trap feeding this pond needs cleaning.
Similar issues occur in Lake Tuggeranong and Lake Burley Griffin due to nutrients flowing into these lakes from creeks and the Molonglo River.
We treasure our lakes, let us keep them fit for our use.
Ian Falconer, Aranda
To the point
Will anyone tell us how much of the billions of dollars the Federal government had crowed about claiming back (from Robodebt) will now have to be repaid? Blind Freddy could have told them averaging annual income over fortnightly periods was not only "ill-advised" but would obviously give false figures on which to base so-called debt. It's another government fiasco. How good is that? Not good enough.
Peter Dahler, Calwell
The PM's contact with the NSW Police Commissioner for a quick chat is only marginally better than calling Brian Houston for clues about how to keep Angus Taylor anointed and cemented in his job ("PM says nothing wrong in calling the cops", canberratimes.com.au, November 28).
Sue Dyer, Downer
VALUE FOR MONEY?
A few years ago we were told it was necessary to pay vast salaries so we could attract top management talent from overseas. In the years since then I've noticed that many of the disgraced CEOs of banks and telecommunication companies have had American or New Zealand accents. Do we really want to attract such people?
John May, Lyneham
Finally, a PM who honours his election promises. They were, in case you've forgotten: climate change inaction and denial; support for coal fired electricity generation and the mocking of alternatives, plus no policy to decarbonise the transport sector. Other pledges included to underfund the NDIS, continue to roll out the dumbed down NBN, no increases for Newstart, the repeal of medevac laws and good old fashioned union bashing. We've got just what we voted for. Better times ahead.
Roger Bollen, Torrens
TAKE HIM AWAY
Recently I received a call from the tax office. The conversation ranged beyond their immediate issue and into the realm of fantasy jargon. It finished with the comment. "Sir, In 2002 you did not submit a taxation return" My thoughtless response may have included the words. "Send me to jail". I may have been a bit hasty. "Robotax" could be coming for those who have recycled their paperwork.
Howard Ubey, Kingston
NO CHRISTMAS BILL
As Christmas approaches Australians should feel safe in the able hands of our leader Scott Morrison.
D Fraser, Currumbin, Qld
END THE BARBARITY
The Victorian Labor government will soon announce its decision on the future of duck shooting in Victoria. The time of allocating a "season" for killing water birds for fun, has passed. Now is the age of ecology and respect. Carpe diem, Dan. Carpe diem.
Victorian Advocates for Animals,
North Carlton, Victoria
NO CHANCE ALEX
Alex Mattea (Letters, November 25) asks whether there will be a discount on our parking and speeding fines in future, as is expected to be given to Westpac for it's money-laundering offences? Good try, but the difference is the public actually know when they exceed parking or speeding limits, whereas Westpac wouldn't have a clue that they were offending.
Peter Baskett, Murrumbateman, NSW
If, as is apparently the case, it is easy to get drugs into the AMC simply by tossing them over the fence, that clearly indicates that the design and or operation of perimeter security is inadequate. Simple.
Roger Quarterman, Campbell
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