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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Tram south should follow Griffin’s lake crossing

Walter Burley Griffin’s 1913 preliminary plan for the Federal Capital of Australia… there’s the bridge from Acton Peninsula over the lake. Map: National Library of Australia

Letter writer JACK KERSHAW sees an emerging Acton Peninsula as the logical place for light rail to cross the lake. Walter Burley Griffin’s unbuilt third bridge suggests Mr Kershaw has a point. 

New First Nations cultural elements will now supplement the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, and the expanding National Museum, on Acton Peninsula.

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The peninsula was reportedly the place of healing for First Nations people, and Griffin sited the capital’s main hospital there, with a curving carriageway crossing the lake to Parkes. 

His architectural massing designs were realised in the ’60s with the substantial former Royal Canberra Hospital complex. Its main buildings were imploded as a public event, tragically killing young Katie Bender. Some heritage-listed earlier hospital buildings remain on the northern shore. 

The Central National Area includes the Acton Peninsula. The ANU’s fine International Sculpture Park is nearby.

Given the evolution and attractions of Acton Peninsula, it clearly needs better connectivity, and ACT light rail stage 2 should include it, involving a form of Griffin’s lake crossing – saving the heritage, form and cultural landscape of Commonwealth Avenue and its bridges in the process.

Jack Kershaw, former president Canberra Community Action on Acton Inc, Kambah 

Electric buses could solve the problems

In his column “Planning pales as ideology trumps evidence” (CN June 27) Mike Quirk wrote that the ACT government has failed to justify its “prioritisation of light rail” or to model the merits of a bus rapid transport system. I suggest that is because they are too expensive or too superior, respectively, to suit its plans.

As I mentioned in earlier letters, there are several more costly construction problems facing light rail stage 2B along the planned alignment. The junction of Yarra Glen, Yamba Drive and Melrose Drive is problematic: the large concrete drain in the roundabout is prone to flash flooding in Canberra’s occasional but – with global heating – increasingly frequent, and severe rain storms.

There is also the question of passenger “catchment areas”. Planned stops along the planned rail alignment such as Albert Hall, Kings Avenue, and Carruthers Street (Deakin and Curtin) are beyond walking distance from dwellings occupied by the people most likely to use public transport – the elderly and/or infirm.

A fleet of battery-electric buses (at a fraction of the cost of light rail) could solve all these problems. Messrs Barr and Rattenbury must think again, or the Canberra Liberals most certainly will.

Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

No government estimates operating costs for 20 years 

Max Flint of Smart Transport Canberra, accuses me of gullibility insofar as costings for the light rail are concerned (letters, CN June 20). 

I clearly stated the $675m for Stage 1 was the capital cost only. In project management, there are two separate and distinct cost elements; capital cost and, for a public utility like the tram, downstream operating costs. I am well aware of this distinction and would add from experience, no government estimates operating costs for 20 years, as the bases for such are unknown and inestimable. 

Normally, government budget provisions are made up to five years with forward estimates out to 10 at best. Why? No one knows the details on such aspects as inflation, interest rates, technology developments or even offsets such as sources of government revenue that far out. Auditors are competent in analysing the past data but even they don’t have crystal balls to accurately predict the light rail operating costs for salaries, spare parts, consumables, equipment updates, power consumption, policies on fare revenue/subsidies etcetera, outside 10 years. To do so and claim accuracy is sheer folly. Ipso facto, using such estimates as evidence against the project is unprofessional and lacks credibility.

There are experts in government and contractors who are fully across such matters, and prepare proposals on options and acquisition costs for extensive and forensic consideration by committees and eventually executive government before any decision is taken. 

Anyone can express their opposition to projects (as Mr Flint has been doing with little impact for years) but if done so on alleged unaffordable costs, they have a responsibility to ensure, unlike Douglas MacKenzie’s recent forays, they are not just financial plucks from dubious sources. Personal opposition on other grounds should also be clearly justified to inform all, not just off-the-cuff thought bubbles.

Downstream operating costs are very important to government budgets and the light rail is no different to every other service provided for the public such as hospitals, schools, roads, lighting, water and sewerage. It would no doubt carefully consider all the information for every project but they are, however, rarely the determining factor for selection of a particular element of future public infrastructure.

I have had my tuppence worth and politely withdraw from this discussion.

Dave Rogers, Woden

The Murrumbidgee vista where the ACT government hopes NSW will transfer to the ACT to allow for the construction of 4000 homes. Photo: Jon Stanhope

Enjoy the beautiful vista before it’s lost to housing

The ACT government is to be congratulated for the expansion of the network of walking trails between Strathnairn and the Murrumbidgee River.

The walks, which my wife Robyn and I have come to love, provide wonderful views of both the Murrumbidgee and the stunningly beautiful landscape across the river in NSW.

I do recommend, however, that if you wish to enjoy this beautiful vista you visit the area sooner rather than later. The relevant landscape includes the land that our Labor/Greens government is hoping the NSW Government will transfer to the ACT to allow for the construction of 4000 homes and it may be that before we know it the area will be a gigantic construction site.

Jon Stanhope, Bruce

Dutton leads us to damnation

Peter Dutton dares to prance and jest at our expense, deliberately and cruelly, in his quest for immediate parliamentary power and for new Band-Aids to apply to Coalition fractures (“Dutton’s nuclear build to cost up to $600 billion”, citynews.com.au June 23). 

The LNP has now chosen to preach about and promise a wondrous way forward with seven injections of nuclear power. Claiming also that this will be delivered with the Opposition’s new-found values of “trust and transparency”, the conservative renewables-hating parties are setting off down the road of nuclear conversion, targeting the vulnerable and those most easily led, while suggesting the majority are heretics because they don’t believe in pointless time-consuming political wand waving and waffle, or Morrisonian-style miracles.

Both Labor and the LNP have serious governance and duty of care responsibilities to commit to doing much more, much sooner, on emissions reduction and domestic energy reform and supply delivery, otherwise we’ll all be damned to a much poorer quality of life, if not hell on earth. 

Voters are not interested in the bickering, backpedalling, or “go slow” plodding that party machines seem to be dumping on us, according to some grand campaign plans. 

Sue Dyer, Downer 

Hey, Albo here’s how to trump Dutton

Hey, Albo, you could really trump Dutton with nuclear fusion! Why settle for outdated fission technology? 

We’ve been promised fusion for years. It is the ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything! 

And if that doesn’t work there is the even newer technology (yet to be developed) dragon-fire cheese planets built by flying mermaids, as reported by The Shovel. Now there’s a thing!

Richard Johnston, Kingston

Imagine a dog being bludgeoned…

Imagine if a cat or dog or horse was bludgeoned to death with a mallet. Quite rightly we would all be utterly appalled. It is barbaric, abhorrent, cruel and inhumane. What sort of human would do this? Quite rightly the culprit should be caught and jailed.

Now imagine a joey receiving the same treatment. What sort of a human does this? 

How is it that Canberrans are not appalled at the treatment of these innocent joeys demanding that it stop?

This “kangaroo management” is continuing over the winter months courtesy of the ACT Greens and Labor Party. This is now in its 15th year and no end in sight. 

How is it that this government and its most of its citizens are okay with such appalling animal cruelty year after year?

Jo Kirwan, via email 

Time to get a government that cares

I agree with Ian MacDougall’s article (“Leave the kangaroo culling to Mother Nature”, CN June 20). 

We all have the responsibility to look after our native animals. Shooting them and bludgeoning their joeys to death is cruel. 

And then they give themselves a pat on the back for such a great program. If they stand by it then why are the comments always turned off on Facebook when it’s mentioned? Why do people who write to them get blocked? 

I wrote to the environment minister, leader of the Greens and the chief minister and asked if they would be happy to go along on a cull and even participate. It is easier to pay someone, but they have blood on their hands. Time to vote them out and get a government that cares

Paula Gaudry, Conder

The ACT government is an ‘international embarrassment’

I read your article “Leave the Kangaroo culling to Mother Nature” written by Ian MacDougall (CN June 20) and I’m watching horrified by the annual kangaroo slaughter in Canberra reserves from overseas, from Italy. 

Kangaroos are the Australian icons loved in the world and don’t deserve this cruelty. Leave mum, fathers and joeys in peace in their own land! Reserves should be safe places.

Kangaroos have been perfectly suited to living on Australian land for millions of years. It is we who have stolen their land since colonisation and continue to do so as violent owners. 

Please stop this massacre now, ACT government you are an international embarrassment, and yes let Mother Nature take her course!

Paola Torti, via email

Prevent dogs chasing roos on to roads

The ACT government is keen to blame kangaroos for getting on to the roads and causing car accidents.

However, the government seems to do nothing at all about educating dog owners about keeping their dogs on a leash, preventing them from chasing kangaroos on to the road.

For example, I recently saw a dog chase a family of kangaroos towards Gungahlin Drive during peak-hour traffic.

Its owner was busy staring at his phone while walking, completely oblivious to the havoc and stress his dog was causing.

I later found a dead joey who had been hit by a car on Gungahlin Drive in the vicinity of where his dog had chased the kangaroo family.

I believe the joey lost his or her life, simply due to a negligent dog owner.

Rebecca Marks, via email

When LOL isn’t especially funny

On the matter of LOL (Clive Williams’ column on acronyms, CN June 27), in my experience LOL first appeared in a book called The House of God, which was a lighthearted look at the trials of young interns in an American public hospital who developed a shorthand method of writing patient notes, especially in the emergency department. LOL was “little old lady”, so LOL in NAD was “little old lady in no apparent distress” and GOMER was “get out of my emergency room”.

Every time I see LOL on social media I go back to the old meaning, and in fact, the subject is usually not particularly funny anyway.

Stewart Bath, via email

Writer appears to have no idea of graduate schemes

June Kirvan (CN Letters, June 25) has made the classic mistake of commenting on people she does not know. 

For example, she says I “have no knowledge of world history” when I have an ANU degree in international relations, economics and politics. Furthermore, I have worked in the Trade Commissioner Service, carried out trade promotion services both in Australia and overseas, and worked with APEC, CHOGM, ADAB, ASEAN and APEC to name just a few of the overseas organisations which encompass a broad knowledge of world history. 

I would be interested to know what Ms Kirvan’s own background is in the field of world history.

Ms Kirvan appears to have no knowledge of the Graduate Promotion Schemes run by large government departments that try to inculcate innovative thinking, civility and broad-ranging knowledge in all aspects of departmental activity.

For Ms Kirvan to imply, as she does, that my graduates would be “robots”, is an insult for which she should apologise. 

I am not the only one who has raised the issue in the media of the impact on possible employment by graduates who engage in violent demonstrations.

It has become normal for employers to check the credentials of job seekers on Google and social media platforms.

It would appear that Ms Kirvan does not have a problem with students disrupting university exams and study times, graffiting landmarks or damaging electoral offices. 

Unfortunately, it would appear that many parents take a similar laissez faire attitude to their children, which I feel is leading to the increase in youth crime, burglaries, stealing cars and trying to outrun the police. It is time for parents to take some responsibility for anti-social activity by their children.

Ric Hingee, Duffy

Pause before hitting the blame button 

I’m a little surprised that Ric Hingee (Letters, CN June 13) takes such a hard line against students who engage in activities supposedly unconnected to their courses of study. 

Does he apply his no-Gaza protest rule also to students who join university political or other activist groups? These, too, present only one side, yet have been an accepted part of university learning and, importantly, thinking processes for all of my lifetime and longer; sometimes they have also been violent. It’s what a tertiary education is supposed to be about, not just course work.

Ric will say he’s concerned about over-aggressive behaviour, but so too am I. We have to ask, however, where is such behaviour learned? Adults (nations and their leaders) endorsing violence and death through warfare hardly set a mature example for the young. 

Arguably worse, arbitrarily banning certain activities, often under spurious guises, because they make us feel uncomfortable, is directly risking the basic tenets of our democracy. History has surely provided us with sufficient deadly instances for us to take pause before we automatically hit the blame button on the symptoms rather than the cause.

Eric Hunter, Cook 

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One Response to Tram south should follow Griffin’s lake crossing

Jim says: 2 July 2024 at 9:23 am

I’d love to know what ‘cultural landscape’ a bridge contributes to. It is a bridge, and a damn ugly one at that to be perfectly honest.

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