Letters / More parks needed as Canberra densifies

PROSPECTIVE visitors to Henry Rolland Park should not be too deterred by columnist Paul Costigan’s statement that it is a 15-minute walk to the toilets near the West Basin boat shed (“Lovely, new park where you can’t spend a penny”, CN, May 24).

By my timing, the walk from the farther end of the park is half that.

At least Mr Costigan is open about his underlying agenda of hostility to the government’s “so-called” City to the Lake project.

I prefer to hope that the park represents a recognition that as Canberra densifies, as it will, it is important that precincts such as the Northbourne corridor have spaces set aside for small parks and green spaces such as this to maintain the amenity of the area.

Wetlands such as those in Dickson, Lyneham and Campbell are a step in this direction, but additional “micro-parks” should also be considered.

Helmut Simon, Watson

It’s all about governance

MICHAEL Moore’s column “Democracies at a crossroad” (CN, May 24) in contrasting selected aspects of US, Iranian and Chinese government behaviour reflects on the state of “democracy” in getting things done. But is “democracy” what he is actually talking about?

Government comes in many types: autocracies to democracies, and democracies themselves come in different models.

Evidence suggests that it is good governance that delivers good outcomes rather than type.

On balance though, democracy delivers good governance more often. Within democracy types, consensual models deliver better outcomes more often than majoritarian models. The UK and the US are majoritarian and the Nordic nations more consensual. Australia is in between.

We have been taught that democracy is about voting for representatives. But it isn’t really. Real democracy is about those affected by decisions making them. Or perhaps representatives you trust making them for you with your input. Wise decisions for the good of all come when all relevant interested parties can negotiate the outcome.

So Moore is actually talking about quality of governance. China shows good governance on climate change (but not human rights) while the US is showing a failure of governance at the executive level.

So governance is at a crossroads and if we want others to adopt a democratic type of governance we need to demonstrate that democracy delivers better government.

Peter Tait, O’Connor

Why do we need Reconciliation Day?

THE question needs to be asked: why do we need Reconciliation Day?

Australia has been colonised for more than 200 years. Surely there should have been integration before now – so why is there still a problem? The Maori in NZ are very well integrated in the community (whilst maintaining their heritage and culture) so why has that not happened here?

Africa was greatly criticised for its apartheid and rightly so. We are all human beings and it should not matter what race, colour or religion we are, we should all be treated as equal, yet the Aboriginal people are treated as a separate race. Aboriginal funding through ATSIC was abandoned but there is still separate funding for Aborigines and separate public service departments. Why do they need an indigenous housing policy?

Instead of treating them as a separate race, treat everyone the same, after all, we are the same. Gifts of land, buildings etcetera are given to the Aborigines and they lie idle – buildings such as Scarborough House in Woden. Scarborough House belonged to the Aboriginal Corporation for a number of years remaining derelict and going to ruin and nothing was done with it until the then Federal government did a total refurbishment on it for the then Department of Health and Ageing.

Columnist Jon Stanhope (CN, May 24) listed a number of things that the Aborigines do not get and quoted figures of how many are living in poverty.

He states that Aboriginal children in the ACT are two years behind non-Aboriginals and quoted percentages on illicit drugs. The question that needs to be asked is WHY? Is it that they are not trying, not going to school, not getting jobs or some other reason?

Vi Evans via email

A dose of laughter

MY compliments to cartoonist Paul Dorin – always good but this week gave me a real belly laugh! (Dose of Dorin, CN, May 31)

I also liked Paul Costigan’s piece on the Dickson parklands. The current developer-driven push for high rise at all cost everywhere in Canberra is creating soulless precincts and destroying the pockets like Dickson with any charm. Even Singapore have realised they need to retain some areas with character.

Cathleen Timbs, Latham

Barton Highway is a national disgrace

THE Barton Highway is not just a local issue, but a national disgrace.

Two more tragically killed and six with serious injuries in hospital, when will it ever end?

We have lost numerous friends over the years when we lived in Yass and since.

The nation’s capital has no direct link to Australia’s second city, Melbourne, except for no better than a country lane to connect Canberra to the Hume Highway. In the last few years a token improvement with a short overtaking lane.

This has been going on too long. Over 30 years ago as president of the Yass Chamber of Commerce I lobbied hard for the Barton Highway to be made a four-lane link to the Hume Highway, including a bypass for Murrumbateman. All these years later a measly $70m has been allocated for “improvements” to this “killer road”.

This is a matter for the NSW and Federal government, combined with the shilly shallying of our local government, to come together NOW!

Cedric Bryant, Watson

No mention of train travel times

THE Friends of Canberra-Sydney Rail Group is pleased with the recent announcement by Transport NSW that three potential suppliers have been identified for building new passenger trains to operate regional services in NSW and the ACT.

However, the group is concerned that no mention has been made of the critical need for improved travel times on the Canberra-Sydney services.

Increasing the train speed will require the introduction of tilt trains or sufficient upgrade of the existing track to eliminate many sharp curves that currently impede sustained fast running.

The group will continue to press for these issues to be adequately addressed.

William J. Fraser, co-convenor,

Friends of Canberra-Sydney Rail Group


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