Your editorial "Canberrans on a slow train to nowhere" (February 27) reminds us of the shamefully slow train service between Canberra and Sydney, which takes on average 4.25 hours.
As you also point out, only one percent of Canberra-Sydney journeys is by rail, no doubt because of the snail's pace of the train.
One of the reasons given for the reluctance of successive governments to seriously consider a Canberra-Sydney fast rail link, beginning in the Howard era, is that "they would achieve better value for money by investing in the Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong corridor where the bulk of the state's population lives".
Newcastle's population is about 440,000, and greater Wollongong's about 300,000. The population of Canberra, according to the World Population Review, is 457,330 (as at February 17, 2020) and growing at a rate of 1.29 per cent per annum. Given the potential for population growth along a Canberra-Sydney rail fast-rail corridor, the Canberra-Goulburn-Bowral-Campbelltown-Sydney conglomeration could soon rival Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong.
The NSW and ACT governments should be planning for the future and taking advantage of record-low official interest rates to build a Canberra-Sydney fast rail link as soon as possible.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
Senate was hasty
In an over hasty, emotionally charged, rush to judgement the members of the Australian Senate have sought to convert the independent the Order of Australia into a political weapon.
Echoing the Spanish Inquisition, the Senate wishes to force an Australian citizen to submit to a political dogma. This can only result in damage to the perceived independence and public standing of the Order.Fred Bennett AM, Bonner
Echoing the Spanish Inquisition, they wish to force an Australian citizen to submit to a political dogma. This can only result in damage to the perceived independence and public standing of the Order.
It is to be hoped that the Council will resist this intrusion and uphold the right to hold and freely express opinions as a bedrock value of Australian citizenship.
Fred Bennett AM, Bonner
Rail, climate neglect
It will apparently surprise Jim Coats (Cartoon disappoints, Letters, February 27) that there are two principal objects of government neglect: climate change and fast rail.
There are three once we acknowledge rail line maintenance being ignored. I consider that to be the subject of the Pope cartoon (February 25).
It is still respectful of the deceased to highlight the cause of unnecessary death; in this case neglect.
At the Federal level, our taxpayers funds are devoted to obsolete submarine technology to fight drones. At the ACT level our funds are devoted to the single most expensive political incentive payment in Australian political history, an obsolete tram chosen merely to get the Green vote merely to keep Andrew Barr in office as Chief Minister.
Shame on the Greens. Shame, double shame, on those on the government bench.
Shame on the ACT Integrity commission for not having announced an inquiry into the incentivised choice which ignored a negative business case, and the opposition of the Federal Infrastructure Australia experts, among other negatives.
Warwick Davis, Isaacs
Trust the Yanks
It is interesting to read the Ecuadorian Embassy in London was being bugged by their own outsourced, American security firm.
I wonder if all those defence offices and military bases in Australia are hurriedly reviewing their contracted security arrangements. Are those firms owned by Russian or Chinese interests?
Surely not though. They're probably all American owned. And surely the Americans wouldn't spy on little old us.
Paul Wayper, Cook
A much used footpath along Torrens Street in Braddon has been blocked for nearly two years, as has access from Ijong Street, where the two intersect. For most of this period, there has been absolutely no work in progress.
While we have no problem with the block itself and the nature strip being cordoned off, there is no logical reason for additionally blocking access to the footpath 24/7.
Instead of putting in a temporary path, those responsible have left a tiny ribbon of nature strip, sloping down to the street surface.
While a single, agile, individual could negotiate this, it cannot be used by people with strollers, bicycles, mobility scooters or shopping trolleys.
After many applications to Access Canberra, a ranger told me that the party had permission to block the footpath and I should simply cross the road.
Torrens Street is very busy at peak hours and there are no pedestrian crossings.
Not only is this a safety issue, but several dog walking Dickson neighbours have told me they no longer walk to Braddon for coffee, but choose one of the more accessible local suburbs instead.
Living in Dickson, I am surrounded by active building sites, all of which allow footpath access nearly all of the time and always after hours.
Why is this restriction of access in Torrens Street allowed to continue?
Pauline Westwood, Dickson
It is Sunday and I'm thinking that, in some ways, the local library has become our secular church. I find the display table of thought-provoking books opposite the entrance in the Dickson library rather like the "high altar" of old, decorated as it is with beautiful and recently published books.
I always stop to worship there, finding new and sustaining insights in topics which are as wide ranging as they are surprising.
This week I pondered a book about important dogs in history, one about the daily doings of a second-hand bookseller and finally one about the vital role our networks of friends play in sustaining our sanity.
After this obeisance, I move on to take my place among the inclusive, but reverent, congregation. Here the library priests have laid out a jigsaw to distract mothers with babies on their hips, a corner where parents can comfortably sit to read brilliantly illustrated stories to their kids, places where older folk can read a range of newspapers, and tables where people can help each other with languages, completion of forms or tax, or their homework.
Local libraries are places where people are kind, open-minded and eager for new ideas about how to go forward with their lives.
In short they are a microcosm of what we want our whole nation to become. I give thanks for local libraries.
Jill Sutton, Watson
Ice is melting
Unlike Dr Mackenzie (Letters, February 23) I do not have a PhD but I share his abiding interest in climate change.
I first met this phenomenon on an expedition to Greenland exactly 50 years ago. Glaciers were melting, terminal lakes were forming where there had been none previously. Pack ice behaviour was also changing.
A year later I joined an ANARE expedition to Heard Island.
My work involved a circuit of the island. It was very apparent some glaciers were melting at a significant rate.
Since my visit one small glacier, the Brown, has essentially disappeared altogether.
Others that had 20-to-30-metre high terminal icefaces pushing into the sea have retreated many hundreds of metres.
Their once majestic terminal faces are now just degraded and muddy ramps. My expeditions were two generations ago.
The best our political parties can do in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence is offer a carbon mitigation goal that is more than another generation into the future.
Ian Dillon, Garran
What a loophole
Wonderful to see that "Canberra developer Zapari has reached agreement with the ACT Planning and Land Authority to build a 140 unit complex in Coombs - on a site originally slated for 44 dwellings". (canberratimes.com.au, February 22).
This is a mere 220 per cent increase on their development rights when they purchased the block, but hey it is a much better outcome than previous applications for 212 units and 149 units, both of which ACTPLA refused.
In the latter case, ACTPLA said the development "would have an adverse impact on the neighbourhood and landscape character of the area".
With the reduction of nine units however ACTPLA says it has now "achieved an improved amenity outcome for future residents of the development". Improved over what?
"Zapari said this is a win for the industry". Too right it is, and shows a pattern of behaviour of developers continuing to push ACTPLA which in due course gives way. Don't worry about Territory Plan controls. Don't worry about all the community objections.
Advice from the National Capital Design Review Panel? Irrelevant. Complete abnegation of the terms of sale of the site and the rights of other bidders? Not our problem.
Richard Johnston, KIngston
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