So, the largesse of the ACT government has been extended to another small group of our residents; those who have been disobedient in respect to our parking rules and regulations ("Fined drivers get Christmas reprieve", December 28, p.3).
As a rate-paying citizen, the quantum of the foregone revenue is concerning enough, but the principle is of greater import. Given the quoted comments from Access Canberra's acting chief operating officer Mr Simmons, who seems to contradict the action, is the ACT government going to compensate businesses in the areas in which the fines were negated?
What about the effects on prospective consumers who were denied a parking place and might have shopped but for a place to park?
I'm sure the "beneficiaries" of this "reprieve" would have been delighted, when returning to their vehicles, that they could go back and have a coffee — no need to rush or worry about a fine. Meanwhile, Joe/Joan Average continue to drive around to get a parking spot. Perhaps Joe/Joan gave up — more potential customers lost to businesses.
I ask that Mr Simmons tells us the locations of the shopping centres/car parks/kerbs where these parking fines were waived.
I don't mean to sound cynical, but is one, or more, of those locations in the Dickson precinct?
Finally, if I receive a parking fine in 2018 for an overstayed period, may I use the defence that I intend in future to ensure that I will be "parking safely and fairly", thereby absolving myself of any liability for a fine?
Greg Kennett, Rivett
Keep to the left
There has been some controversy in these pages on driving on the left side on a dual lane road.
When driving, if traffic flow is light and if required by the laws of the country, drive on the left. This leaves the right lane available for cars to turn into or overtake.
If you walk through a shopping mall, generally people will walk along the shop front nearest to their left side and the opposite direction will walk to their left side. This makes for easier movement when the mall is crowded.
In ancient times people would walk on the left to make sure that any weapon they had was more effective, if attacked.
They would shake hands with the right hand to show they were not intending harm.
With driving, it comes down to the obvious fact that if most people drive on the left when practicable why be the only idiot who blocks up a clear, right, passing lane.
There is room for individualists in society but, while driving, predictability is far preferable.
Howard Carew, Isaacs
The best option for public transport between Woden and Civic is to extend the existing bus priority lanes.
Stan Marks (Letters, 29 December) says that the Auditor-General estimated that the people of Canberra will get back 47¢ of every dollar invested in light rail.
That estimate was based on Capital Metro's unrealistic assumption that the alternative to light rail is no road or bus improvements other than those that are "already approved and planned".
Bus rapid transit is the real alternative.
The ACT government's submission to Infrastructure Australia said that stage 1 of light rail would cost $276million more than bus rapid transit, but would generate less than $44 million in extra benefits. That's a return of less than 16¢ for each extra dollar spent on light rail.
Leon Arundell, Downer
Let sense save lives
While excessive speed is a major element in many fatal road accidents and the enforcement of speed limits is an important strategy in reducing the road toll, I am concerned that the rigid enforcement of speed limits for overtaking vehicles may be actually causing some serious accidents.
Overtaking on a two-lane road is sometimes necessary if we are to avoid traffic flow being reduced to the speed of the slowest vehicle on the road. The key to safe overtaking is to minimise the time spent on the wrong side of the road and there are instances where a safe overtaking manoeuvre means exceeding the speed limit for a short time.
However, traffic police have made it abundantly clear that there is no allowance for speeding while overtaking and that speeding drivers will be prosecuted.
The result is many near-misses, and no doubt some accidents, when an overtaking driver is caught between the risk of collision and the risk of being caught speeding. In a potential accident situation, such confusion and hesitation can be fatal.
A more discretionary approach to policing overtaking speed may save lives.
Tony Judge, Woolgoolga
Stan Marks (Letters, December 29) says that I would not get a return on my money if I invest it in Light Rail.
He is wrong because he is looking at cost/benefit calculations and they have little to do with financing.
The investors in Light Rail get a guaranteed return on the money invested. I and any other Canberran should know what the investment terms are and be able to invest in Light Rail or any other infrastructure. Once the community has decided to invest in something, then community members should get the first option to invest because we are the ones left with the debt.
We should have robust discussions on what infrastructure to build, but once decided we need to fund it ourselves.
The way government contracts work is that the builders of Light Rail have a fixed price and the government will pay for the Light Rail plus the interest on the debt. The total interest on the debt is much higher than the initial cost, so the Light Rail financiers are guaranteed a handsome return.
We the members of the community could get that interest through high-value annuity payments rather than give it to financiers.
The history of money shows that communities who fund infrastructure from internal sources are always better off.
We should eliminate all external government debt, but not by austerity methods. Instead, we borrow from ourselves and give savers in our communities high returns on infrastructure loan investments.
Kevin Cox, Ngunnawal
Those Kingston Foreshore businesses who expect support during the cold winter months should reconsider closing over the Christmas/New Year period. The number of tourists wandering around reading "Sorry, we're closed" notices does the city a disservice. Canberra is no longer a sleepy regional backwater that shuts down over the summer holidays. Businesses that stayed open, were packed and traded strongly.
Nick Brodie, Potts Point
Name already taken
I was puzzled to learn that the new office complex to be built next to the House of Assembly is to be called Constitution Place.
We already have a feature of that name on the eastern side of the Senate Rose Gardens, next to Old Parliament House.
The notice there reads: "This parkland has been named Constitution Place as a lasting tribute to the historic Constitutional Convention which took place in Canberra in February 1998 to consider whether our present constitution should be changed to provide for a republican form of government.
In naming this place the Prime Minister said: 'I think it is an appropriate way to mark this famous event in Australia's history … an event that has ... demonstrated the great moderation, the great civility, and the unerring decency of all the Australian people. Constitution Place will become an area for reflecting on one of the world's most enduring systems of government.'
The Convention agreed that Australians should decide between the existing system and a specific republican model at a referendum in 1999."
A small plaque there reads "Constitution Place: This plaque was unveiled by The Hon John Howard MP, Prime Minister of Australia on 13 February 1998 to commemorate the Constitutional Convention held in Canberra from 2 to 13 February 1998."
This existing place should be respected, and I think our Chief Minister should intervene and require the developers of the new complex to reconsider their choice of name.
Sandy Paine, Griffith
Bank fails, again
It appears the Commonwealth Bank has again broken the law, this time by allegedly falsifying information given to the Commonwealth Privacy Commissioner in relation to someone accessing an employee's personnel details.
Once again it was an administrative error.
This seems the be the Commonwealth's standard excuse when it gets caught out.
Funny, it's always someone else's fault.
The only other thing you can guarantee is that not one senior manager or member of the board of directors will be held accountable.
Roger Laws, Bonython
Alan Barron (Letters, December 30) decries the use of renewable energy instead of energy derived from fossil fuels, writing: "Renewables just don't cut it."
In fact, renewable energy can nowadays more than hold its own with fossil-fuel energy.
It is cheaper to supply energy from a new solar or wind farm, with battery or, for example, pumped hydro storage, than it is to establish a new coal-fired plant.
There is the added bonus that the hazards of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, carrying poisonous metals such as arsenic, mercury and lead, are avoided.
Mr Barron makes the Malcolm Roberts-like assertion that the warming effects of carbon dioxide have "not been proven by empirical science".
Many highly knowledgeable people disagree, including the CEO of BHP (a coal miner), Andrew Mackenzie, and the chiefs of big banks and insurance companies. The US Defence Department, the CIA and several big oil and gas companies disagree.
If Mr Barron would like to see some empirical scientific evidence, he would do well to have a good look at the NASA web page https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/ and the links to "Causes", "Effects", "Scientific Consensus" and "Vital Signs".
Carbon dioxide may be only 3 per cent of total greenhouse gases, but it is a powerful one. Methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas, is being released in increasing quantities into the atmosphere as the Earth warms, and this is indeed something to be concerned about.
And as the Earth warms, sea-level rise will accelerate, threatening many more people in low-lying areas than the number allegedly disregarded in Mr Baron's scenario.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
If all democratic, patriotic, voting Australians were to adopt the New Year resolution drafted below we could have a new constitution capable of uniting instead of dividing the nation under way almost immediately, pursued during the next term of government, and adopted by referendum within a decade.
Republicans, pro-monarchists, the lot of us should join in a nationwide campaign to replace the totally failed constitution 1901 with a 21st century-relevant model, instead of relying on the 100 lobby groups seeking to change the present one clause by clause.
The suggested resolution would be: "Henceforth I will not vote for or otherwise support any political candidate or party who has not committed to support the replacement of Constitution 1901 a.s.a.p. with a democratically and patriotically drafted model which would include inter alia the clear identification of the position of Head of State, who must be nominated and adopted by referendum in Australia, and not based on any hereditary claim."
The heirs and successors' clause would be removed but one of them could still be nominated for the position and subject to referendum for adoption.
The involvement of the present 100 lobby groups will, like that of the media, be essential during the campaign for a new constitution. Monarchy supporters should be satisfied that the present Queen would be unmolested; republicans should be pleased to see the heirs and successors put in their place, but still eligible if anyone wants to nominate and vote for them; and citizens as a whole should be delighted that the nation will be free at last!
Geoff Armstrong, Monash
Alexander Downer, international man of mystery, is our own macho Mata Hari. Plying Papadopoulos with plonk, our peerless plod surpassed Trump's sky-high stiletto heels of deception to the slinky silk stockings of truth.
Michael Barry, Torrens
Big fish to fry?
Alexander Downer's fishnet stockings appear to have brushed against some big fish last year. Whether anything has been caught is still to be seen.
Peter Baskett, Murrumbateman, NSW
TO THE POINT
SOLAR POWER AN OPTION
Accompanying Alan Barron's recent letter advocating fossil fuel power for developing nations (Letters, December 30) is an aerial photo of around 200 dwellings in a squatter community in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Imagine if they all had solar panels.
Dallas Stow, O'Connor
Councils should close beach and park trouble spots on holidays like December 25, 26 and 31 and January 1 and 26 to stop drunken hooliganism. Residents will still have 360 other days to visit these places.
Adrian Jackson, Middle Park, Vic
One day the franchises which advertise burgers and rolls on television are going to be hit with serious false advertising suits. There is no way I can buy anything like that shown on the screen at one of their shops. We are becoming too accustomed to lies.
Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
Tina Tian feels awful and without hope, after Costco hacked her credit card to the tune of $201,265,20 for a $126 purchase. Costco should give her a year's worth of free fuel for the stress and inconvenience they have caused.
Matt Ford, Crookwell, NSW
NOT SO OPTIMISTIC
The transitory nature of the excitement that attends the advent of a new year brings shades of the adage that it's better to travel hopefully than to arrive.
M.F. Horton, Adelaide, SA
While the MCG pitch probably did not offer the bowlers the same level of assistance they had received in the earlier Tests, the batsmen managed to compile over 1000 runs over the five-day duration of the game.
Hopefully, this matter of the liveliness of the pitch will not be a problem for the combatants at the final Test in Sydney later this week, where the pitch, historically, favours the slow bowlers.
Andrew Rowe, Florey
MPS FAILING IN DUTIES
The Turnbull government needs to get itself working, and should give ordinary Australians a break. If ministers got on with their jobs seriously, ensuring they are legally elected, doing their ministerial jobs lawfully, stop removing entitlements from Australians on penalty rates, or benefits from authorised Centrelink recipients, and stop protecting tax evaders from paying their full taxes, we would all be better off.
Trevor Wilson, Holder
POINTING THE FINGER
I note reports of questionable work at Esque apartments. I wait with bated breath for Miranda Devine, or someone like her, to explain why the CFMEU, GetUp and Green activists are to blame.
S.W. Davey, Torrens