Letters / Canberra was much better when it was smaller

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Happy days? Garema Place (circa 1950s).

Letter writer RIC HINGEE says he remembers how much better Canberra was when it was smaller, “but now we have a situation where population growth is contributing to climate change”.

I NOTE that in all the electioneering going on at present there has been no mention of the elephant in the room, namely population growth. 

I do not believe in the mantra “growth is good” despite being an economist, although I can well imagine that big business, developers and a cash strapped ACT government would. 

As a born and bred Canberran, I can remember how much better Canberra was when it was smaller, but now we have a situation where population growth is contributing to climate change, the highest house and rental prices in the country, desecration of our fauna and flora, our arable land going under houses, roads and parking areas and an ever increasing rise in rates, numbers of traffic lights, parking meters and stop signs together with increases in youth homelessness and decreases in green spaces and recreational areas, etcetera. 

In my view most of the problems in this world, including man-made contributions to climate change, can be traced back to uncontrolled population growth. 

We do not need a government, with a supposed Greens component, making things worse. We need smaller population growth and a willingness for the community to lower its consumption levels and expectations so as to enjoy the much simpler pleasures of the Canberra of my boyhood.

Ric Hingee, Duffy

Watch out, Yarralumla!

THE NCA has been glued to the development of West Basin since 2004 supported by a string of lacklustre federal ministers and an avaricious ACT Labor-Greens government.

And now we reach the last step in a continuum of ignoring all critical comments along with a hushed-up lake land swap – the so-called public consultation has been ticked off. 

How can we ever have confidence in this process when 75 per cent of public submissions against the foreshore development were simply dismissed with the only change by NCA being some planting of trees and installing barbecues?

Claims have been made that the West Basin development was discussed in 1992 as if that gives it credibility and justification. A lot of ghastly development ideas reach drawing boards such as for The Rocks (Sydney) but in that case community opinion saved the place.

The West Basin development has been fought on a campaign of words – careful use of barely truthful information and a complete absence of the full intentions, all presented using taxpayer money. 

But if spin is spun often enough people believe it and it masks the real blight being done to Lake Burley Griffin and to Acton Park. 

Meanwhile the spin continues, flagrantly using Griffin’s name as the planners annihilate his parkland and damage Lake Burley Griffin’s beauty and composition. 

Gone are the days of expert government planners with integrity; this is the world of “developers rule” supported by this Trump-style word power.

And after West Basin what’s next? Watch out, Yarralumla!

Juliet Ramsay, via email

Electric-bus promise

I NOTE a number of ACTION buses perambulating around our city bearing the logo “One of 40 new buses”.

All of them are fossil-fuel burning diesels, but our chief minister has announced, as an election pledge, that the ACT will move to an electric bus fleet.

What a pity that this was not done before we, at huge cost, built the inflexible tram and destroyed Northbourne Avenue.

Norm Hughes, Narrabundah

Can candidates balance a budget?

ARE there any potential ACT political candidates who can balance a budget?

A check of letterbox pamphlets and profile Googling would suggest that most ACT candidates are not interested in good economic management, but rather are idealists who are more interested in pushing particular barrows than they are in creating a strong economy coming out of COVID-19.

It is reminiscent of the global financial crisis. Oh, dear!

Rewa Bate, Coombs 

Government needs to take charge

I IMAGINE we would all thank former chief minister Jon Stanhope for the arboretum. 

It cost millions and doesn’t make a “profit”. But trees have instant appeal, and are easier to “sell” than say, trams. 

Of course, the arboretum delivers a social/environmental dividend, as should public transport, hospitals, housing, parks, and schools, etcetera. They must be developed against rigorous environmental, social and performance guidelines. 

However, somewhere along the line, the profit-driven private sector, including financiers, commercial project managers, “can-do” contractors, and developers have inveigled themselves into government works delivery methodologies, causing financial havoc, huge cost blowouts, poor design standards (especially in housing), and quality problems. 

The University Avenue vista blocking the new ACT Courts complex is a glaring example. 

Government needs to return to carrying out all such design, installation, and operational activities itself, with the help of professionals, and contractors chosen by competitive tendering. That’s how we got the arboretum.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah 

Limerick for the left

A former MLA and Assembly Speaker is moved to poetry: 

Unions and developers reign supreme

Under a government of Labor and Green

Who soak the community

With total impunity

Of rates and taxes extreme.

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla

Time to talk about the constitution

IT would provide deep relief if Australia’s troubles knew no boundaries but sadly that’s not the case. Overall our constitution has served us well, but primed by the coronavirus and its satellite problems, our nation and its people are suffering badly – and an increasing number see the constitution as an obstacle – including some, rightly or wrongly, to achieving fewer levels of government.

In my view it is past time to see in what way that which governs us can be reviewed, not simply change for change sake, but if a referendum or plebiscite shows a majority of Australians want to see a formal review of our constitution to identify how it is helping or not helping – then all governments should speak up and allow that particular consultation with the nation’s citizens.

Colliss Parrett, Barton 

This is Ngambri country!

I FULLY agree with the statement by Paul House (“Welcome to Ngambri country”, CN August 20) that Canberra was not in Ngunnawal country. Research by Harold Koch and others proved their country was the land surrounding the lower Yass River with its southern boundary well north of Canberra, approximately on a line from Gundaroo to Wee Jasper.

A major battle for ownership of land was fought at Sutton between an invading Ngunnawal band (the Yass mob in 1820 reports) and the Nyamudy/Namarigo inhabitants (the Limestone Plains mob), which the latter won. 

Ngambri was the name for the land around Sullivans Creek occupied by one of the 10 Nyamudy families. Ngunnawal people, then mixed race, did not move down from Yass until the 1920s to find work with the building of Canberra. 

It is about time the ACT government corrected the obvious error, and modified its recognition and the signs.

However, I disagree that the name Canberra was derived from Ngambri. The first European home was called Camberry Cottage on the Acton Peninsula overlooking what was then the Fish River. 

The cottage occupied by the head drover was named after Cambridge where he came from. This in error became Canberry. 

Later, when the population grew, a church was built at what is now Reid, the parish was called Canberry. However a clergyman changed it to Canberra to make it sound more classical. Let’s get our history straight.

Paul Fitzwarryne, Yarralumla

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