The Chief Minister wants faster public transport between Canberra and Sydney ("Barr to PM: Canberra to Sydney rail improvement is a priority for ACT", November 29). His plans will cost up to $10 billion.
Public transport trains currently take more than four hours to travel between Canberra and Sydney. A full fare is $40.67. A subsidised pensioner fare is $28.25.
Public transport buses make the same trip in three-and-a-quarter hours, for a full fare of $51 or an unsubsidised pensioner fare of $49.
More people would be able to afford to travel more quickly between Canberra and Sydney if the government were to subsidise interstate bus trips in the same way that it subsidises local bus trips.
The ACT government subsidises the operating costs of local bus and light rail travel by about $1 per passenger per kilometre. A subsidy of 7c per passenger per kilometre would bring Canberra-Sydney bus concession fares into parity with Canberra-Sydney train concession fares. A subsidy of 4c per passenger per kilometre would bring full fares into parity.
Leon Arundell, Downer
A double standard
Yemen's UN representative has said October 7 "is the result of continued Israeli occupation over the course of 75 years".
Biden's "what she endured was unthinkable" empathy did not reach beyond the four-year-old to countless thousands of killed, maimed and displaced Palestinians.
Albert M White, Queanbeyan, NSW
Try the courts
The Greek government, rather than expecting the British government to respond to diplomatically nice requests for the return of the Elgin Marbles, should pursue the matter through the British legal system.
It would probably have a fair prospect of a successful action. The problem for the British government is that the British Museum would be virtually empty if it returned everything looted during the Age of Empire.
Rohan Goyne, Evatt
Train service is good
I read the article "Canberra-Sydney rail link improvements a priority" (November 29) and wondered whether Barr et al were talking about another service I wasn't aware of.
The one I know is often a couple of minutes under four hours (not much I know) but given a car trip from Woden to Central Station should take about three and a half hours with food and toilet breaks this isn't too terrible I would've thought.
It is good value when stacked up against the petrol, tolls and stress of driving.
Don't get me wrong; super-fast rail would be seriously beneficial and a whole other level of travel. But the current service is scenic, comfortable and a valuable service to regional NSW; far from "awful".
The photo of Barr looking pretty comfortable was tinged with irony.
John Illingworth, Torrens
Who is being cynical?
A M White (Letters, November 29) described photos of IDF soldiers carrying food and medical supplies into Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza as "cynicism".
Of course there are no photos of Hamas taking food or medical supplies into the hospital because that all goes straight into the Hamas military tunnels under the hospital.
Hamas has no interest in serving the people of Gaza, only in using them as shields as they conduct their terrorist activities.
Kym MacMillan, O'Malley
An express service?
While fixing the 19th century tracks will obviously be critical to a faster train service between Canberra and Sydney, the NSW government could improve the service tomorrow by reducing the number of station stops.
A limited "express" service stopping only at Goulburn and Campbelltown would likely reduce the journey by at least 30 minutes.
Mary Taylor, Phillip
Pocock to be commended
Once again Senator Pocock shows how careful consultation, intelligent consideration and determined negotiation can help create better long-term results and impacts, not just for the ACT but also the surrounding regional areas ("$50.5m water deal struck to improve ACT rivers", November 30).
An ACT Liberal senator would have just walked away from trying to improve the Murray-Darling Basin plan and associated legislation, since kowtowing to the negative unproductive party line on this environmental matter would have trumped any concern for the health of local and nearby waterways.
Sue Dyer, Downer
Gaza by the numbers
As a retired engineer I love numbers, so I thought it useful to look at the Gaza conflict.
The population of Gaza is about 2,100,000, of whom 44 per cent are 14 or younger. Israeli estimates of Hamas military strength in the Gaza Strip are 30,000 fighters, or one in 69 persons in Gaza.
A 155mm artillery shell has a blast effect over 50 meters, and at long range can expect to land within 250 metres of the intended target. Hence the shell can kill up to about 300 metres from the intended target.
Israel has fired thousands of these shells into all areas of Gaza. The fighters have mainly taken refuge within the estimated 500 kilometres of tunnels under Gaza, so the persons killed by each shell are likely to be well over 100 civilians (44 per cent children) for each fighter killed. The ratio for aerial bombs would be similar.
Given the increased support on the West Bank for Hamas as imprisoned Palestinians are freed, and the intense hatred generated within Gaza amid the utter destruction of life and property, it seems likely that the bombardment of Gaza is perversely increasing the strength of Hamas.
A ceasefire would benefit everyone.
Eugene Holzapfel, Campbell
Legislate the Voice
The recent ANU survey of 4200 people on what happened when the Voice was voted down showed that 80 per cent Australians wanted reconciliation.
The main reason given for voting "No" was to avoid division in the Australian community. The divisiveness claim was clearly untrue.
The main reason the referendum failed was the politicisation of the issue by the Opposition; no referendum is passed unless there is bi-partisan support.
Another reason was that perhaps as many as 20 per cent of voters just didn't understand the question - "if you don't know vote 'No'." The history curriculum should be revised to better inform students about the frontier wars. I would advocate a legislated Voice with representative levels from Indigenous communities to a national advisory body.
Geoff Henkel, Farrer
It's good to see conservative letter writers start to move on from decades of outright denial of climate science.
But it is frustrating that they continue to argue that Australia should not do very much (M Flint, Letters, November 11).
The argument that we hardly need to do anything since we don't contribute much to global emissions is both morally bankrupt and self-defeating.
Countries that individually contribute 2 per cent of global emissions taken together contribute about a third of global emissions. It is crucial our third is reduced, just as it is crucial the other two thirds are reduced.
If we do not demonstrate strong action every other country will be able to point to Australia and claim their own exceptionalism. "Why should we reduce our small percentage when Australia won't?"
Our failure to take the necessary steps to mitigate emissions would be used to justify the inaction of others.
Peter Campbell, Cook
Eucalypts are not loved
James Coats laments the downside of eucalyptus trees (Letters, December 1). Mr Coats is not alone. In some countries I have visited where eucalypts have been planted to provide timber they are loathed because of the large amount of precious water they consume. Worse, some locals became less friendly when they discovered that I was Australian because they associated me with the hated trees.
Gordon Fyfe, Kambah
So why bother?
It is difficult to see why Labor would be interested in doubling the number of ACT and NT Senate seats ("Senate boost is a major party stitch-up", November 29).
On the basis of Crispin Hull's analysis, Labor would be stitching itself up, because it has always held 50 per cent of those seats and that could drop to 38 per cent (or even 25 per cent) under the proposed system.
Frank Marris, Barton
Credit where it's due
The obituary of Henry Kissinger (December 1) states he led the way to diplomatic relations with China. Gough Whitlam's visit to China was in July 1971. Nixon's visit was February 1972. Apparently as Whitlam's delegation was leaving, Kissinger turned up to arrange for Nixon to visit. Give Whitlam the kudos for relations with China, not Kissinger.
Julie Lindner, Farrer
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