As a retired secondary school teacher I am becoming increasingly concerned about claims by medical experts (though I don't question their medical credentials), and other prominent members of the community, that schools are safe from COVID-19.
Anyone who is familiar with the physical and organisational exigencies of schools will know social distancing is impossible since the majority of classrooms and staff rooms are far too small.
When I occupied my last staff room I could easily have touched two other members of staff at their desks without leaving my own chair. Some desks were jammed together so tightly that staff were facing each other without any form of barrier.
Secondary school students generally move classrooms at the end of each lesson, necessitating cleaning of the furniture between classes. The teachers' desks that I experienced were decades old and so pitted and scratched that thorough disinfecting would have been impossible.
Even if students are unlikely to contract or spread the virus, large schools have more than 100 adults (teachers, teachers' aides, office staff, janitors, etc), all vulnerable to infection, and thence spreading it to others outside the school community.
The Australian Education Union is justified in its concern for its members. When the decision is made to resume classroom teaching and learning let's not kid ourselves that school are safe places.
Meg McKone, Canberra
Heritage at risk
I'm writing about the remains of the convict hut in which my great, great grandfather, Martin Pike, a bonded Irish convict, resided with his family whilst he worked in penal servitude at Tuggeranong Homestead.
My understanding is the foundation ruins are within the boundaries of the site of Tuggeranong Homestead as defined today.
It would seem appropriate for the ACT government to preserve this particular convict site within the broader homestead site. As a convict site, it is a rare example of this heritage site within the context of the ACT.
A similar site, Crinigan's Hut in Amaroo, has been subject to archaeological excavation, and is now part of the Canberra Tracks program.
As a similar site, but in the Brindabella electorate, it would seem appropriate for Pike's Hut to be subject to similar efforts given the Territory is also in an election year.
I have written to the ACT Minister for Heritage, Mr Gentleman as the site also falls within his electorate of Brindabella.
Rohan Goyne, Evatt
Well may Wayne Hitches, director of the redevelopment at the Australian War Memorial, say (Letters, May 8) that they are looking forward to demonstrating to the federal Public Works Committee (PWC) the importance of this project.
No doubt they are looking forward to moving on to a smaller audience, in the form of a government-controlled committee, having utterly failed to demonstrate the importance of the project to most people thus far.
Hitches has still not produced evidence to back up astonishing claims of public support for the project (Letters, April 24). The tactic seems to be to eventually bury any figures about "consultation" in a much longer document which few people will read. The whole process has been a disgrace.
It's time for the AWM management to stop telling us what's important in commemorating the memory of our war dead, whose memory does not belong to a redevelopment team, and start listening.
There is one point of agreement with Hitches however: readers should make a submission to the PWC by June 17. Material that might be helpful is available on the Honest History website; look for "Inside track for War Memorial expansion".
Sue Wareham, president, Medical Association for Prevention of War
Not just the old
The Canberra Times editorial of May 8 ("Acton project a tale of two city visions") rolled out old chestnuts about the community opposed to the west basin redevelopment being aged, and Andrew Barr having to provide for accommodating a growing population.
Surely the growing population of young apartment dwellers in the city needs a recreation park? The Lake Burley Griffin Guardians have never objected to high-rise apartment blocks elsewhere in the city, only on our precious lakeside parkland. Yes, the guardians are mostly retirees in the older age group, and many will die before west basin is finally turned into a Kingston foreshore sibling, but we have children and grandchildren.
Has there been any real consultation with the younger generation on what they want? When I questioned my son (younger than Andrew Barr) on the views of his friends on the west basin development his response was "they are proud of what the guardians are trying to do to save the Lake and parkland".
Juliet Ramsay, Moruya, NSW
Not just a promenade
I refer to your article, "Consultation opened on lake boardwalk plans" (May 6, page 9), telling us that feedback is sought on a proposal to build a long, wide boardwalk between Commonwealth Avenue bridge and Acton Peninsula.
This promenade is part of the government's plans to "transform" the so-called "Acton Waterfront" precinct, which "one day" might include up to 2000 apartments.
A promenade is one thing. Thousands of apartments are quite another. How can we, the public, comment meaningfully on this proposal without knowing the details and implications of the full plan?
A host of questions flood to mind. How many apartments are to be constructed? How many people are to be housed? The space is small. Are the buildings, therefore, to be high?
Are there plans for traffic in and out of the precinct which adjoins busy roads? Where will residents park? And what of parking for Canberrans using the public park?
As for the boardwalk itself, is it worth $38 million to make room to cram it, a park, and 2000 apartments into a tiny space? Do we want yet another lakeside concrete boardwalk or would a park with natural walkways be more environmentally and people friendly?
Gwendolyn Jamieson AO, Deakin
Feedback call flawed
The call for public feedback on the "Acton Waterfront" by the NCA must be treated with caution.
It only requires feedback on the 2.8 hectares of land that is being "reclaimed" from the lake. The rest is off limits.
The current Acton Park, that has been deliberately run down by the ACT Government, occupies 10.4 hectares of land that, according to the map, will be occupied by apartment blocks.
Furthermore, according to Malcolm Snow, only "over 30 per cent" (one hectare) of the "Acton Waterfront's" 2.8 hectares will be "preserved as public space".
Canberrans lose 10.4 hectares of potential lakeside parkland in exchange for a toilet-less boardwalk. Malcolm's "place for all Canberrans" is hardly visionary.
Murray Upton Belconnen
The real heroes
John Warhurst says the PM is "portrayed, rightly, as the man in charge" ("Morrison's popularity not enough", April 30, page 16).
Albert Oberdorf thinks Morrison has had greatness thrust upon him (Letters, May 2), to the possible chagrin of Malcolm Turnbull.
Contrary to this view, it will likely eventually be found the people who formulated the path to dodging the coronavirus bullet were Daniel Andrews' and Gladys Berejiklian's senior public servants (with the exception of any who failed to prevent the disembarkation of the Ruby Princess); Dr Brendan Murphy, CMO, his state counterparts and senior colleagues; Dr Steven Kennedy and Rosemary Huxtable, the secretaries of the Treasury and Finance Departments and senior colleagues; Dr Norman Swan of the ABC; and Bill Bowtell of the Kirby Institute.
If I had only one gold medal, I'd give it to Bowtell for his early, and passionate, outrage at the initial sloth of Australia's response as our compulsive hand-shaking tourist from Hawaii bemusedly watched China build two hospitals in a week and never imagined that superior beings like ourselves could be affected.
Incidentally, how are things progressing with the small M.A.S.H. being erected on Garran Oval?
P O'Keeffe, Hughes
A worthy cause
If the ACT and NSW governments are looking for nation-building infrastructure projects, I suggest sealing the road between Canberra and Tumut. It will cut an hour off the drive from Canberra to Melbourne, reduce traffic density on the Barton and Hume Highways, provide an economic stimulus to the Tumut and Riverina regions, and open up beautiful high country to visitors and tourists.
Ron Foster, Cook
TO THE POINT
SOME ARE MORE EQUAL...
John Barilaro can spend a weekend at his Highlands retreat, Kerry Stokes can fly into Perth from Aspen without the 14-day hotel quarantine, and the rugby league is due to kick off later this month.
I'm finding it hard to agree with the PM we are all in this together.
R F Bollen, Torrens
JUST DON'T PLAY
Anti-vaxxer NRL players have the right to personal views on vaccines. They just can't play or train with the other players. End of story. Simple. Let's just move on.
Peter Haddon, Jerrabomberra
People who demand their rights never speak about the responsibilities that go with those rights.
Chris Roberts, Curtin
Mike Lawson of New Acton (Letters, May 9) calls himself a NIMBY. So he regards the Acton Waterfront and the west basin as his own backyard?
Richard Johnston, Kingston
WELL SAID ANDREW
It was refreshing to hear Andrew Constance saying "politics is stuffed in this country and some of the people in it need to have long hard look". Plain speaking has cost him, but who would disagree with him?
Ray Edmondson, Kambah
Many, including me, look forward to meeting friends and family at the club or pub, while maintaining social distancing. That's still some way off. Meanwhile, footballers can grapple with each other while sharing spit, blood, sweat and tears. C'mon Scott, Andrew, Gladys...double standards?
Nick Stevens, Cook
ACTS OF SELF-DESTRUCTION
Now more people have been exposed to the delinquent behaviour the NSW deputy premier and Nationals leader metes out to his state colleagues, it is highly likely we have been saved forever from a Barnaby Mk II banging on noisily just over our border, and creating havoc up on the hill.
Sue Dyer, Downer
BRING THE PHILHARMONIC
It's an interesting, but predictable, priority that the first people allowed to our hallowed shores are footballers from New Zealand. I wonder how they are going to socially distance? How about a bit of balance? Let's open up for orchestras to resume playing.
Susan Cowan, Yarralumla
WIDEN THE PATHS
Bill Bowron (Letters, May 7) is spot on with his recommendation to widen the shared paths around our city. Once widened, the paths should be line-marked down the centre with painted signs on either side for pedestrians and cyclists similar to Europe.
N Renfree, Hawker
IS THERE MORE?
I despair of our "sub-prime" minister, Scott Morrison, ever offering steak knives. I now mute him when he is on.
David Hutchison, Richardson
NO NEEDLES? REALLY
May I ask the "our bodies are untouchable temples" folk, particularly well known sportspeople, who baulk at needles and vaccines about their so-called "body art"? Just how are their tattoos applied?
Linus Cole, Palmerston
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