Thank you Dawn Waterhouse and Sally Pryor for such wonderful information about a 1947 painting of the iconic Sydney and Melbourne Buildings. ("Restoring the lost vitality of the city's heart", February 15, p6).
The neglect of these buildings is an embarrassment, especially The Sydney Building. This building is the perfect site for the likes of a world class city market such as those in Florence, Malaga, Barcelona.
The Sydney Building is at the centre of our transport hub and it is a building with heritage and character as so many sites of world famous markets display.
Plans to develop Belconnen markets will not work as a tourist attraction as it is not where visitors stay, is not central and is does not have great transport links.
These markets serve the Belconnen area very well.
Our future in developing a world famous market is in our city centre.
Jill Hanson, Fisher
The decision to make the section of light rail between Civic and Commonwealth Park wire-free is welcome news ("Rail to go wire-free despite cost fears", February 18, p5).
Since this necessitates fitting the light rail vehicles with batteries and regenerative braking systems, it is surely possible to make the light rail vehicles entirely self sufficient by adding higher-capacity batteries and roof-top solar panels.
Battery charging stations could be installed at the Civic, Woden and all future terminals. The existing overhead wires between the Gungahlin and Civic terminals could then be used to charge light rail vehicle batteries en route and as necessary.
Ideally, the battery-equipped light rail vehicles would have rubber-tyred wheels, allowing them to operate on existing (probably widened) roads, removing the need for an extra bridge across Lake Burley Griffin, and giving them almost unlimited route flexibility.
I suspect that a business case study would show that such a system would be less expensive than that currently planned.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
I was dismayed, but not surprised, to read the government has rejected the recommendation of the Thodey review of the APS that ministerial staff be subject to a formal, legislated code of conduct. ("Ministerial staff need guidance", February 18, p9).
Dismayed because I can't understand why any government would oppose any measure designed to maintain and/or improve integrity in government.
Not surprised though given that recent events have revealed that ministerial staffers provide such a rich source of plausible deniability, scapegoats and human shields for ministers for whom the doctrine of ministerial responsibility no longer has any meaning.
In the absence of a proper code of conduct for their staffers ministers will be free to continue to pull such egregious strokes as the recent sports rorts etc with a convenient place to hide.
Does anyone really believe ministerial staffers act without the knowledge and instruction of their Ministers? I add my voice again to the cry for a national integrity commission.
D J Taylor, Kambah
Mixed up confusion
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it would be "crazy" to prioritise a surplus in present circumstances, and conceded the ACT could be in deficit for years to come.
The ACT's financial statements show that expenses have exceeded revenues every year since 2012/13. With Mr Barr's "years to come" we can expect deficits every year for at least a decade.
This sits oddly with the following from the ACT government's management discussion and analysis in its financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2017.
"The ACT government's commitment is to a fiscal strategy that achieves an operating balance over time, offsetting temporary deficits with surpluses in other periods".
The merits of a balanced budget can be debated. But this is certain: it is easier, and more fun, to hand money out than to bring it in. It is also easier to leave your successor to find offsetting surpluses than to achieve them yourself.
Hugh Dakin, Griffith
Housing affordability remains at crisis levels.
Local governments, especially in inner metropolitan areas (even in say, cosseted Reid and Campbell in Canberra), need to implement a shift from "conservation" (read "maintaining and even increasing continuous shortage"), to a culture of strongly controlled redevelopment that is socially and environmentally responsible; while enabling significantly increased densities.
That means setting and enforcing better design, and spatial accommodation, standards in the face of relentless developer pressure to do the reverse.
It also means improving environmental/amenity living and recreational standards; even at the expense of the (gentrified, but often still slum-like) extant vernacular.
Density limits do need to be set for population health reasons. Pressures can be relieved through better public transport and planned decentralisation.
Jack Kershaw, Kambah
The rates shock
I certainly have sympathy with R S Baczynski (Letters, February 17) regarding the increase in ACT rates imposed by the government. It is an election year. The opportunity to throw them out is imminent.
I do believe that in order to provide equity to all retirees, including those who have never bought a home, the family home should be taken into account when determining how much pension is paid.Fred Barnes, Watson
One does need to be careful, however, comparing a home's current market value with its purchase price, especially when that interval is separated by decades.
R S Baczynski's home has increased in value by a smidgen over five per cent per annum (compound) over the 29 years he has owned it.
I do believe that in order to provide equity to all retirees, including those who have never bought a home, the family home should be taken into account when determining how much pension is paid from the public purse.
Retired homeowners can generally access the asset value of their home to generate additional retirement income. The Federal Government's Pension Loans Scheme, or commercial Reverse Mortgages can each be used to convert home equity into income.
Fred Barnes, Watson
Well done Brian
Congratulations to Professor Brian Schmidt, Vice Chancellor, ANU for your welcome initiative on introducing a scholarship fund to enable those Indigenous Australians unable to afford the fees, to study at tertiary level at ANU.
Hopefully other tertiary institutions will follow your praiseworthy example.
However the "politics of envy" expressed by Bill Deane (Letters, February 12) introduced a very sour note. Shame on you Bill, you never fail to disappoint.
Juliana Maher, Canberra
It is a surprise to find Michael McCormack, of all political leaders, resisting moves to entrench leadership in the shallow minded way of the ALP and Liberals ("McCormack won't change the rules", February 17, p9).
Those moves were initiated by leaders lacking self-confidence about their positions as leaders.
Someone, either a pollie or one of the media, referred to revolving doors on the PM's office. They didn't appreciate that changes happen for a reason.
Rudd proved incapable of decision making; Abbott made silly decisions, proving himself unsuited to the top job.
Turnbull had to go because of the destabilising behavior of Abbott, just as Rudd attacked Gillard from within the parliament and Joyce now attacks McCormack.
It is not the revolving door that deserves criticism. It is the parties for tolerating such conduct from former leaders
Gillard called three leadership ballots. The challenger only contested the third.
Gillard honored her promise to leave Parliament if she lost. Gillard and Turnbull both understood Parliament works best without the ghosts of former prime ministers.
Parliament is the place for electing parliamentary party leaders. Only the Parliamentary group understands the performance they get from leaders.
Restore the leadership process to the Parliamentary party where it belongs. Congratulations Mr McCormack on an act of unexpected wisdom.
Warwick Davis, Isaacs
It is good the Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, is standing up for the equal treatment of ACT citizens with reference to our Human Rights Act ("Women, trans people face bill 'threat'", February 17, p6).
A tad inconvenient that the signature tax initiative of his government for this term of the Assembly has been the unit-title surcharge, a discriminatory tax treatment based not on any valuation basis but on the word "unit" on a title deed.
Peter Bradbury, Holt
TO THE POINT
Re: "Climate change turns off Canberra birds" (February 12, Page 5). For the first time in 20 years we have had regular visits from a very vocal pair of wrens. Also, a very loud willy wag tail has set up residence around our home. Hooray for climate change?
Lee Berry, Kambah
Liberal politician Tim Wilson also defended the sports rorts. He joins the long line up of Coalition politicians defending the indefensible since the rort was exposed. These, we are told, are all honourable leaders of the country. What a joke.
Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW
Are Labor's Joel Fitzgibbon and Kimberley Kitching trying to put the OTIS back into otiose?
Bob Bennett, Wanniassa
CALL THE AFP
Given the revelations about the Prime Minister's involvement in the sports rorts, and the Auditor-General's reporting on this matter, surely the Federal Police should be called in to investigate any potential breaches of criminal law?
David Lewis, Murrumbateman, NSW
BE AFRAID, VERY AFRAID
I am becoming increasingly nervous and very concerned with the unrest and turmoil in the National Party. I do not want to think about Barnaby Joyce being elected as leader. Just imagine a Federal Government with ScoMo as PM and Barnaby Joyce as the Deputy PM. May God have mercy upon our souls.
Phil Nicolls, Monash
PM PATRONAGE PROPOSAL
Having visited Lord Howe Island some years ago, I was saddened to hear it had been hit by Cyclone Uesi. It relies on satellites for phone and internet. People must have felt very isolated without good updates. I hope more Australians choose it as a tourist destination. Maybe the PM could holiday there next?
Paul Wayper, Cook
VOTE FOR RUSSELL
Russell Crowe please consider running for parliament. We want an MP who is intelligent, articulate, listens to farmers and scientists, understands the crisis our beautiful country is facing, and wants action.
Margaret McIver, Hughes
After the Coronavirus scare I started to worry. We do eat kangaroo meat. Could we suddenly have a new virus and start hopping instead of walking?
Mokhles k Sidden, Strathfield, NSW
Politicians entering the Senate and the House of the Representatives on the sitting days should sign an oath electronically (to save paper) that they will speak the truth, only truth and nothing but the truth.
Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt
IT'S DONE ALREADY
There has been much gnashing of teeth about the demise of Holden with Michael Attwell (Letters, February 20) saying it was "one of the blackest days" in our manufacturing history.
Holden said in 2013 it was going to cease manufacturing in Australia.
The last car built here by any company was a Holden Commodore on October 20, 2017.
Ray Blackmore, Kambah
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