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Letters / Stop the flats, stop West Basin development

Stop building the flats, stop the West Basin development, says retired architect JACK KERSHAW.

SOME believe that residential development (albeit south-facing) at West Basin (Acton foreshore) can be installed sensitively, reflecting Walter Burley Griffin’s plans. 

To achieve that, Parkes Way has to be extensively modified (at great expense, on top of the cost of current reclamation of the lake). 

However, WBG couldn’t have conceived of the modern-day function of Parkes Way (an exemplary “parkway”), in moving masses of east-west traffic with the added advantage of enabling motorists and passengers to enjoy the lake and city environments; and so, the parkway and similar roadworks to the south of City Hill, have their own heritage values, definitely worthy of preservation. 

All that, and the fact that the best laid government plans for flats at Acton Foreshore are extremely likely to be ripped up by developers and the voracious ACT Land Development Agency (as happened with architect, the late Colin Stewart’s well considered plans for Kingston Foreshore), combined with the fact that occupiers of the flats will take “ownership” of the foreshore public domain, reinforces the case for there being no such development at West Basin, including on the slopes of City Hill, and along Commonwealth Avenue.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah 

Open the process on West Basin

JACK Kershaw (Letters, CN March 25) refers to “the admirable reinstatement or installation of some of Walter Burley Griffin’s missing elements, such as his shoreline geometry…”. 

The foreshore reclamation work at West Basin is a good example of this, as was the Kingston Foreshore previously. 

Mr Kershaw clearly has reservations about the heritage listing of Lake Burley Griffin. I understand it is also the position of the National Trust (ACT) that listing the lake should proceed as part of a more broadly based nomination for the national capital.

Unfortunately, columnist Paul Costigan has charged in (CN April 1), accusing the new Minister of Environment and Heritage, Rebecca Vassarotti, of failing to support heritage listing of the lake and to oppose West Basin. Perhaps the Minister is listening to wiser, more nuanced counsel.

I do support recent calls by the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians for early public consultation on the future building proposals for West Basin, given the likelihood of the government being tempted to allow over-development of this important site. 

Let’s have an open, highly consultative process on West Basin and avoid the pitfalls of other major projects such as the Kingston Foreshore and, within that, the Kingston Arts Precinct.

Richard Johnston, Kingston

Men ‘unjustly tarred’

TO all intents and purposes, all males have now been pre-emptively  labelled as misogynists, rapists and bullies. Not all men are nasty ,

just as not all females are nasty, so it’s time to put things into perspective. 

I for one, amongst many other males, feel we have been unilaterally unjustly tarred with the same brush, and it’s time for that misrepresentation to be seen for what it is, media hype together with misandrist females.

Mario Stivala, Belconnen

It’s a men’s problem

No, in a nutshell to “Will Morrison’s new cabinet solve his ‘women’s problems’?” (citynews.com.au, March 30). 

For example, the PM waxed lyrical about the new employment minister focusing on matters such as defence, scientific and infrastructure workforce needs, but failed to acknowledge the need to tackle endemic structural labour force and upskilling issues facing women across the country. 

The Minister for Women’s announcement of a broad taskforce on women’s “equality, safety, economic security, health and wellbeing” sounds far too passive and superficial compared to what is needed. Moreover, our only federal Liberal representative still seems to show no interest in speaking out for a better deal and choices for women, or helping men, including male parliamentary staffers, address systemic and destructive gender-targeted behavioural issues. 

Too many male Coalition members seem to be taking the easy way out by hiding under the doona, despite the PM’s pronouncements. Perhaps they, too, think that a quick dose of empathy training is all that’s needed. 

Sue Dyer, Downer 

Good news into bad

HERE we go again, Jon Stanhope turning good news into bad news (“Targets missed: ACT Health gets it so wrong”, CN April 1).

I’d say it was good news, not bad news that the “percentage of emergency department presentations whose length of stay is four hours or less was 58 per cent against a target of 90 per cent”. 

It shows that our ED staff take good care of the people who present; they don’t just shove them out the door to meet some arbitrary time statistic. When it comes to good hospital care, time is not of the essence.

According to Stanhope, the Productivity Commission “reports that the increase in presentations in the ACT… is below the national average”. More good news. Let’s see the increase in presentations continue to decline. Let’s show those other jurisdictions how it’s done.

Stanhope marks down as “poor performance”, the decline in ACT government funding for the ED. On the contrary, it could be that our emergency department is more efficient than other EDs.

Hospital staff, keep up the good work, and Jon, when the percentage of the ACT Budget allocated to health and hospitals drops from 31 per cent to 25 per cent you’ll know more people are keeping themselves fitter and healthier.

Propelling the fitness industry into the frontline of primary healthcare stands to be the most encouraging way for the government to achieve this target.

John Miller, via email

‘Obvious’ location for health centre

WEST Belconnen residents certainly want a walk-in health centre, including much-needed mental health services, and a gracious government-owned building right alongside Kippax Fair is the obvious location. 

It was built and used for this very purpose from 1975-1995! Since then, it has been mainly used by the Belconnen Community Council who have now moved out.

Tragically, the Kippax health centre is now under threat of demolition, as well as the takeover of the adjacent playing fields. A heritage application is forthcoming to register the Kippax health centre as a heritage building.

Over, now, to our Assembly representatives.

Judy and Chris Watson, Latham

Going… all the trees in front of the southern entrance and flanking the War Memorial parade ground, as well as many to the east of the main building and adjacent to the Bean Building, says the Heritage Guardians group.

A devastated landscape

TREE removal is one of the early works included in the War Memorial’s current application to the National Capital Authority (public comment closes April 30). 

The application shows that around 100 trees are in danger of the chop to clear the way for the $498 million building program at the memorial.

It is not clear why the tree massacre is designated as an early work. More importantly, it is not clear that the project justifies this wanton slaughter. The trees in the grounds of the memorial have been part of its unique ambience for decades.

Beneath all the emotive propaganda about the memorial needing to tell the stories of recent service, there remains the vision of a future memorial of massive new spaces, architectural grandiosity, boastful construction and reinforcement of an Anzac legend, larger and purer than life and than the men and women who wore the nation’s uniform.

And a vision lacking trees. The memorial for decades will be set in a devastated landscape. The fanciful architectural illustrations of the new facade of the memorial will not be realised till mid-century at the earliest.

David Stephens, convener, Heritage Guardians 

Single lane drives problems

WHO was the bright spark who decided to change Kingsford Smith Drive to a single lane from Kuringa Drive, Spence, to Spalding Street, Flynn? Obviously it wasn’t someone who lives in the area. 

The change is somewhat illogical in view of the extensive road works in Kuringa Drive to improve traffic flow and improve the turns into and out of Owen Dixon Drive, when at the same time Kingsford Smith Drive is changed to have the effect of slowing traffic and making turns from Kingsford Smith Drive into side streets more precarious.

Lorraine Lenthall, Fraser

Another prison problem

RE “Cries from the voiceless to prevent further suicide” (“Letters”, CN March 18): yet another problem with Alexander Maconochie Centre, why am I not surprised? 

The people put there are obviously people who have broken the law, but if they have mental-health issues or severe drug addiction, they should be in a hospital wing where they can be taken care of properly, not in the normal prison system. 

Those with drug addiction can be weaned off them instead of providing a needle-exchange program. 

I can understand the government may not have the funds to build a mental-health facility, but can they not have a wing in the AMC dedicated to people with mental-health issues where they are not in view of the other prisoners, male or female?

Vi Evans via email

How sweet it was… 

MICHAEL Atwell’s letter (CN April 1) and photograph of the dragless former dragway was a sad sight. It hummed in the 1970s. 

The by-passed strip of Fairbairn Avenue was perfect for driver training of ACT police. The long tarmac was made for speed braking. 

How sweet it was to master the required level of emergency stop. The strip was then surrounded by trees, so the hapless students were not subject to public scrutiny as we bungled our first attempts.

Christopher Ryan, Watson 

Dawn of the ‘New Normal’

COLUMNIST Paul Costigan and correspondents (CN April 1) bemoan the loss of Canberra’s green infrastructure and landscapes to development, and to inaction upon it from the Green Wing of the ACT government. 

No doubt this is the “New Normal” they promised us at the last election.

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla

Justice betrayed

RECENTLY, the NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman and Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor announced a change in law relating to mental illness as a defence. 

The new verdict recorded as “act proven but not criminally responsible” – came into force several days ago.

If an offender is guilty of breaking the law by illegally using drugs and then breaks the law criminally again while under the influence of the drugs, how can the law remove all criminal responsibility for either act, or even worse, both acts? 

In other words, does the commission of one criminal offence (eg where drug criminality applies) remove all responsibility for the commission of a second criminal offence? I believe the absence of satisfying answers to these questions betrays justice.

Colliss Parrett, Barton

 

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One Response to Letters / Stop the flats, stop West Basin development

Jim says: April 13, 2021 at 8:57 am

One feels a great level of desperation when suggestions have to be extended into suggesting Parkes Way now has ‘heritage’ value…… Jack you have many great ideas in your mind, but steady on the rhetoric mate! Its a road, end of story. It has zero heritage value.

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