Letters / 19 years… too long for any party to be in power

Share Canberra's trusted news:

LEN GOODMAN leads the burst of election letters and reporter DANIELLE NOHRA’s interview with AWM’s new chief Matt Anderson has caused a flurry of critical opinion.

HOW exciting, Minister Chris Steel’s electrifying announcement about having an electric bus fleet by 2037! (“Seven Days”, CN, September 17). 

It’s almost as exhilarating as yet another assurance by the Chief Minister that Canberra has the best health system in Australia and the umpteenth set of grand plans for the Canberra Hospital – and the list goes on. Promises, promises galore being dusted off as catch ups. I’ve often wondered what Labor’s tired old catchphrase about being “progressive” really means. 

Perhaps it’s an almanac of everything “still in progress” after nearly 20 years – and now they want us to “steel” ourselves to make it 23! 

Put simply – it is too long for any party to be in power. It suggests a tired, born-to-rule arrogant lethargy, lack of interest in transparency and constituency opinion. 

Dare we hope that Canberrans might vote based on facts rather than ideological allegiances, slick hype and the same old, same old we-know-best fixation?

Len Goodman, Belconnen

Minister for bungled policies

CONGRATULATIONS to Toni Hassan on her opinion piece, “Is Embedded Big Data Stalking Schoolchildren?” (CN, September 17).

With two primary school-aged children it’s long been a concern of mine how much screen time they are consuming at school and it’s great to read of others with a like mind. 

I lament at the discreditable comments by Labor’s Yvette Berry in relation to the Liberals’ policy of bringing learning “back to basics”, facetiously suggesting that “we might as well get out the chalkboard and throw away Chromebooks”. 

Indeed, Canberrans should have little faith in any statement that breaches Yvette’s mouth; one only needs to look at her history of bungled policies and the cold reality that she has presided over a portfolio (Education) that continues to fail our children, particularly in relation to learning outcomes. 

I suppose we should expect that Berry knows better than Sydney Grammar’s principal, who said that laptops were not necessary in class and that more traditional teaching methods were more effective. 

This is an obvious example of the age-old mantra that the Labor Party knows what’s best for us… but that’s a letter for another day. 

Michael Stachow, Giralang

Barr’s unsolicited email

I NOTICED that Chief Minister Andrew Barr was scathing in his Twitter attacks on Binary Australia. 

I have not heard of this organisation, but I think it’s a bit much for him to complain about the calls when he or his office sent out requests for financial contributions to help attack the ACT Liberal Party’s policies. I was very surprised to see his unsolicited email to me.

Elizabeth Cox, via email

Everyone’s got a vote!

A BRIEF summary of Canberrans’ voting intentions for the upcoming ACT election: masochists will be voting for the Labor Party, optimists will favour the Liberals, the Greens are the dreamers’ choice and the gamblers will try their luck with the independents. 

The few realists left will be voting with their feet and taking steps to emigrate to NZ!

Mario Stivala, Belconnen

Advice to the ambitious

HERE’S another political limerick, this one offering advice to the ambitious candidate: 

If it’s politics to which you aspire

Not the backbench but something much higher

Then credentials, or none

You won’t come undone

Just ensure you’re a plausible liar

David Lander, via email


RESPONSE to Danielle Nohra’s interview last week with new War Memorial director Matt Anderson has been uniformly critical of the plans to expand the memorial.

No the whole story…

SADLY, Matt Anderson is not telling the whole story here. The AWM needs to tell more and new stories, but given the techniques and technologies available, he doesn’t need more space to do it. 

The AWM has huge amounts of space available to reorganise and re-prioritise its displays to emphasise recent conflicts, if that’s what it wants to do. 

Mr Anderson has been saddled with the unenviable job of selling the unsellable – that is, to plead that the AWM “needs” $498 million at a time when other cultural institutions are denied even operating expenses (eg the National Museum having just had to shed 12 positions) and when the economy and society are reeling from the effects of the 2019-20 bushfires and the covid-related depression. 

And he wants to demolish a perfectly good, 18-year-old building! This is an unconscionable platform, and not one a responsible government should countenance.

I am a military historian, a former member of the AWM staff and a member of the Heritage Alliance, which is dedicated to saving the AWM from grievously damaging itself by these unnecessary and destructive changes.

Prof Peter Stanley, via email

Tell the stories, but…

THE AWM should indeed tell human stories related to war service. Why then is the AWM management planning to spend vast sums on floor space to distract our attention to weaponry rather than the impacts of war? 

And where are the human stories of the veterans’ suicides, the questions about why they are happening, and the stories of the terrible impacts on veterans’ families for decades after wars finish?

The AWM continues the ridiculous claim that their proposal – which they speak of as a done deal, despite the ongoing processes that will decide whether the project proceeds or not – has the support of most Australians. They ignore every bit of evidence of strong opposition, and report only the answers to their own highly leading questions.

Sue Wareham, president, Medical Association for Prevention of War

Recycling familiar arguments… 

MR Anderson repeats and recycles arguments made familiar by the former Director, Dr Brendan Nelson. Two points he fails to confront, however: 

  1. Every cultural institution in the world has to make hard decisions about how much of its collection can be on display at any one time; very few can display more than 5-10 per cent of their collection; to cover recent conflicts, the memorial could repurpose the rarely visited Colonial Conflicts area on its lower floor and use the extensive AWM building at Mitchell; 
  2. As journalist Jack Waterford wrote, the memorial is primarily about commemorating the service and sacrifice of volunteer soldiers, sailors and airmen and women, not about “telling the stories” of professional ADF members in the last couple of decades; the story-telling function is one for regimental museums and military theme parks, which is what the memorial will look increasingly like if the current plans come to fruition. 

David Stephens, convener, Heritage Guardians

Buildings are important, too…

MR Anderson seems to imply that the AWM site and buildings aren’t as important as what is in them. That is a very simplistic view of what constitutes the memorial. 

Who would want the unique qualities of that extraordinary site damaged by an ill-considered development plan – but that is what is proposed. This is simply, heritage vandalism. In any case, the additional space can be achieved without the irreversible damage to the heritage site that this development proposal represents. 

As for Anzac Hall – it is suitable for adaptive re-use. Mr Anderson doesn’t seem to know there are existing costed and engineered plans that show that. 

Mr Anderson needs to stop the rhetoric and get on with achieving what we all want – the best outcome for veterans, the memorial, and Australian architecture and heritage.

Stewart Mitchell, former AWM head of buildings, services and heritage


Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep citynews.com.au free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Previous articleElection 2020 / Libs ahead and Barr’s on the nose everywhere
Next articleBecause of the virus… it’s all dot-dot-dot for kids

Leave a Reply