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Canberra Today 8°/10° | Sunday, August 14, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

There’s a better way for the destructive tramline 

Commonwealth Bridge… The water-level views between the carriageways of Commonwealth Avenue Bridge will disappear if double tram lines and related paraphernalia are jammed between its carriageways, says Jack Kershaw. Photo: Paul Costigan

If we must have this tramline, then an alternative less expensive route for the Civic to Capital Hill section, that won’t need underground power, is available, says letter writer JACK KERSHAW.

THE virtually identical Commonwealth and Kings Avenue Bridges are rightly included in the recent heritage listing of Lake Burley Griffin and environs. 

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The bridges are each bifurcated to avoid ugly bulkiness, not to enable infill between their individual twin carriageways – and that attractive extant format is seen in many other locations throughout the world. 

The much-photographed water-level views between the carriageways of Commonwealth Avenue Bridge (especially looking towards Parliament House), which also contribute to the heritage listing, will disappear if double tram lines and related paraphernalia are jammed between its carriageways, as part of the Civic-Woden tram installation. Also destroyed will be the important symmetry with its Kings Avenue counterpart, notably when viewed from Capital Hill.

That tramline route is destructive in other ways as well – at City Hill, where the expensive, disruptive, and disrespectful raising of London Circuit South is involved, along with associated intrusive property development there and along Commonwealth Avenue North; and, critically on Commonwealth Avenue South, where important cultural landscapes will be destroyed – not to mention the complicated junction with State Circle. And very expensive underground power lines are required on that route.

Jack Kershaw’s lower-impact tram route.

If we must have this tramline, then an alternative less expensive route for the Civic to Capital Hill section, that won’t need underground power, is available – via Edinburgh Avenue’s open northern reserve and then straight on into the ANU; the existing Parkes Way land bridge; Acton Peninsula with its national attractions; a yacht-friendly version of Walter Burley Griffin’s missing third central lake crossing for trams, bikes, scooters, and pedestrians, from the peninsula to the narrow point of Lennox Gardens, with the potential for further recreational facilities in the nearby Flynn Place precinct; Flynn Drive; and easily on to State Circle. With the Griffin connection, that route would be acceptable under the broad terms of the above heritage listing, while offering: 

  • some opportunities for sensitive “land-value-capture” property development; 
  • unique visitor access to more key national attractions; 
  • reasonable travel times for workers (keeping in mind that, unlike primarily dormitory Gungahlin, the outer terminus of Civic light rail stage 1, Woden is already a major and growing employment centre in its own right); and 
  • convenient public transport for students.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah

Democracy is dead in the ACT

THERE have been letters published lately writing about how this arrogant government has “shrugged off” the auditor-general’s report on Light Rail Stage 2 and how it is determined to saddle future generations with the cost of the folly that light rail in Canberra is. 

Make no mistake – Light Rail Stages 1 and 2 will cost around $5 billion if not more, a debt to be paid for by at least 90 per cent of Canberrans who will rarely, if ever, ride a tram in their lifetime, with the attendant opportunity costs already being manifested across Canberra. 

But why is this government so arrogant and dismissive of criticism? Because the Labor/Greens coalition has killed democracy in the ACT. When Katy Gallagher was chief minister, after the close shave in the 2012 election, Labor unnecessarily formed a coalition with the last-standing Greens MLA. 

Labor did not have to do that to retain power – the Greens would never have co-operated with the Liberals. As a result, Labor, either through stupidity or most likely design, killed-off any semblance of democracy in the ACT, especially under the Hare-Clark system. 

To date, Labor/Greens have been in power since November 2001 and, after 2012, with no risk of ever being removed, so making the ACT a one-party, authoritarian state. 

To add insult to injury, in 2012, Labor, as a condition of coalition, agreed to the Greens’ demand for the red elephant that is light rail in Canberra. 

Max Flint, co-ordinator, Smart Canberra Transport

In defence of letter-writing Greg

VISITING American Herman Safransky (”Why ‘sanctimonious’ greens are dangerous”, Letters, CN May 12) sees fit to bag/tag letter writer Greg Cornwell as suffering from chromophobia, with an imagined symptom of causing an” inability to speak or formulate coherent sentences in letters to the editor”. He trusts we have sternly rebuked Greg. Hell, no, we support him!

Good luck and welcome to Australia, Herman. I hope you enjoy the cultural experience and, yes, we do speak English – it’s actually a non-American like, like, like, language. Have a nice day!

John Lawrence via email

Worrying for future of Lonsdale Street

IF the Braddon United Retailers and Traders (BURT) really does speak for the vendors of Braddon, they show an embarrassing lack of imagination (“Parking plans ‘death blow’ to Braddon businesses”, CN May 5).

Obviously, with less parking on Lonsdale Street it will become more difficult to collect my new mattress, washing machine and TV set from the many big-box stores. Oh, wait a minute: they don’t exist. 

Rather, Lonsdale Street is full of restaurants and boutique stores selling mostly tiny goods; precisely the sort of street that one might think would benefit from higher foot traffic, from higher numbers of people lingering, walking, browsing and passing through.

If BURT thinks that the sort of person who wants to spend time on Lonsdale Street is put off by a 200-metre walk from one of the many available parking spaces, or that the lure of free parking and the shiny lights of Big W too great for us to resist, then I truly do worry for the future of this potentially lovely little street.

John Noble, Braddon

About the powerful owl and others

BELATEDLY, I have just looked through the March 24 issue of “City News” and am responding to the article by “Canberra Matters” columnist Paul Costigan (“Of lost owls and trees and government neglect”). 

While the general intent of the article has some merit, some of the information content is dubious. 

Firstly, about tawny frogmouths: they are predatory nocturnal birds, but frogmouths are certainly not owls, so the name “tawny frogmouth owls” is a bit of a nonsense. 

There is a kind of suggestion by association in the context of the article that tawny frogmouths require tree hollows for nesting. That is wrong. They build a rather flimsy stick nest on branches and they never use tree hollows. They have no particular need that the tree they use must be old. They are common and not endangered. A main threat to them are collisions with cars. 

About the powerful owl. They mainly are an inhabitant of forests. They need very large trees with hollows for breeding and a supply of mainly possums, for food. Urban environment is rather marginal for them, so the tree-related activities we do in the suburbs of Canberra probably have very little real impact on that species. 

In the last about 30 years there have only been two properly documented occurrences of a powerful owl in suburban Canberra. One at the botanic gardens and one near the bowls club in Turner. 

So the phrasing about bringing back the powerful owl to Canberra is a little nonsensical, as the only records of the species are these two, which are in recent history. They have never been established here. 

The gang-gang cockatoo is still doing quite well locally. To investigate its status is beyond the scope of the space devoted to Mr Costigan’s article or this response. It has been subject to special attention, both by a survey of the Canberra Ornithologists Group and there was a special forum devoted to them on April 1 in Downer.

I am the author of the study and book about the Canberra Ornithologists Group’s long running garden bird survey project.

Philip Veerman, Kambah 

Not that straightforward

ROBERT Brown (Letters, CN May 17) cites two possible developments leading to a clean-energy grid that illustrate the uncertainties and massive costs associated with our future electricity supply.

On the contrary, we have just had an election markedly influenced by misinformation emanating from the political parties of the left and their allied independents that this is all straightforward, cheap and can even happen by 2030.

For example, to scale rooftop solar beyond local capacity requires upgrading the distribution grid, by far the most expensive part of the entire grid.

Both Robert Brown and Dr Douglas Mackenzie (Letters, CN April 21) cite the Sun Cable project, the latter incorrectly claiming that Mike Cannon-Brookes and “Twiggy” Forrest have invested $30 billion in Sun Cable. That won’t happen until the 24-hour cycle energy storage requirements are proven and economic. There are doubts that lithium-ion battery technology can deliver.

Meanwhile, during the recent election campaign no mention was made of the billions that have been committed by the Morrison government to Snowy Hydro 2 and the Marinus cable across Bass Strait. These projects are laying the groundwork for whatever form the solution for clean energy takes.

John L Smith, Farrer

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6 Responses to There’s a better way for the destructive tramline 

V Foster says: May 24, 2022 at 8:19 am

The tram has never been a good option for Canberra and the labour/greenies is the death of democracy in Canberra. It is a toxic mix.

Patrick Keogh says: May 24, 2022 at 9:59 am

The government took the light rail proposal to multiple elections. Got a solid mandate each time. Time for you to move on.

S. Draw, K. Cab. says: May 24, 2022 at 5:18 pm

Because you say so? Or you think the mandate says-so?

To take Max Flint’s argument further; you could paint a pig red and call it a tram and Labor would still get in Canberra.

A mandate doesn’t make a bad decision good. In this case we have a classic example of an “escalating commitment to a failing proposition”. Look it up.

With regards to the mandate; sometimes it takes constituents time to understand the weight of bad decisions, being Australian constituents probably means longer still. Awareness mostly arrives when they are directly impacted:

– A poor value public transport solution: what it achieves in service, what it destroys, impacts and its expense.
– ludicrous rates.
– failed hospital system.
– degraded public schools.
– diminished gov services.
– state of roads.
– addiction to developer led housing growth as an unsustainable state of income for gov.
– low quality shit mass development
– loss/cost to other gov capital improvements that are no longer attainable.

There are more, I’m sure. Maybe you’ve not been impacted by any of them Patrick Keogh. We’ve been impacted by all 9 above.

I lay it all at the feet of the “escalating commitment to a failing proposition” currently trundling down Northbourne Ave at 19Century speeds.

Thus, your mandate argument is hollow.

Mike Quirk says: May 25, 2022 at 7:18 am

Agree. The blind commitment to light rail, a discretionary and unnecessary project, demonstrates the government’s incompetence and arrogance. Increased working from home and improved electric bus technology reinforce the stupidity of proceeding with light rail. A genuine review of Canberra’s land-use and transport strategy o is required before more money is misspent on the project

Robin Underwood says: May 24, 2022 at 10:35 pm

Patrick Keogh and his “solid mandate” obtained for the tram. Britain’s Boris Johnson similarly obtained a “solid mandate” for Brexit. Now the population is suffering from the consequences and are wondering why they ever voted for it. How did he get his “solid mandate”? Easy. Spend your money on the best advertising agency you can afford to turn out beautiful, emotional but not necessarily correct statements. In Britain it was “Freedom!” Freedom to grow crooked cucumbers and not pay the basic wage. Johnson forgot to mention that the freedom to study, work and live in Europe and free export to the European market was lost.
Here, in Canberra, the message is more homely: “The ACT Government is building light rail to Woden. We are investing in our city’s future by ensuring Canberra is a more connected, sustainable and vibrant city.” A “vibrant city” with a slow, out of date tram that will take nearly twice as long as the new electric buses between Woden and Civic? “Sustainable” when the building of the infrastructure for the tram with the necessary tracks and bridges plus importing 16 additional trains from Spain totally assembled will cause massive greenhouse gases? “Ensuring Canberra is a more connected …. city?” The authors obviously do not patronize Canberra’s buses otherwise they would know that on the R4 bus one can sit down in Tuggeranong and end up in Belconnen via Woden and Civic without getting up from one’s seat. It is the rapid buses that are connecting parts of Canberra and not the tram. Even if after a cost of many billions of dollars a tram would eventually run that route, the ride would be so slow that it is unlikely anybody would opt for it. And, of course, never tell the public the cost. The three billion dollars the short stretch from Civic to Woden is likely to cost would upset them. Better to have them ride on a virtual tram in a wonderland of neatly trimmed lawns so they forget about the years of traffic chaos ahead …

Martin Bonsey says: May 24, 2022 at 11:10 am

Jack Kershaw deserves full marks for persistence but I fear the beginning of Stage 2A will mean his superior route will not happen. There would be so many other benefits from a bridge for cyclists and pedestrians joining Lennox Gardens and the Acton Peninsular.


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