Canberra Times letters to the editor: Northbourne Avenue about to get clogged

Apartment/unit residents in Northbourne Avenue beware.

There will be a multitude of new apartment residents in the Northbourne Avenue corridor in the next few years.

Many will continue to drive to work (beyond Civic) – we Canberrans do love our cars and convenience dies hard, particularly in winter. Parking for residents' vehicles will generally be underground.

Northbourne Avenue is also likely to be reduced to two (congested) lanes each way in a sector near London Circuit. Has anybody thought how difficult it may be to exit underground car parks during peak hour?

I foresee significant delays for those attempting to enter the road from their residences.

I predict increased vehicle congestion, not less, as a result of light rail and the partial narrowing of Northbourne.

This may impact traffic flows reaching back over the whole inner north of the city. Unforeseen consequences indeed.

John Mungoven, Stirling

Treeless avenue?

Bob Salmond is quite right about most of the points that he raises concerning the degradation of Northbourne Avenue by the light rail project and the planned replacement of many of the low-rise buildings flanking the avenue by tall ones (Letters, March 8).

However, he has overlooked a very important one: its trees.

An avenue is, by definition, a broad thoroughfare lined by trees, usually in two rows. Northbourne Avenue had the added asset of having a further four rows of trees, along with the grass, along its median strip.

Most well-known avenues also present a tree-lined vista, either to one landmark structure or between two of them.

Perhaps the best-known and loved example is the Avenue des Champs Elysees in Paris, with the Place de la Concorde at one end and the Arc de Triomphe at the other. It is flanked by buildings generally no taller than six storeys.

Northbourne Avenue has a potential advantage over the Avenue des Champs Elysees: its median strip. If the landscaping of this strip were to be handled sensitively, with low to medium-height trees and grassed areas softening the effect of the rail track, it could be something Canberrans could be proud of.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Gallery latest to suffer

In the four years since its "opening" by Kevin Rudd in 2013, Canberra's $1 billion new spooks HQ in Russell was long unoccupiable due to flooding and the same astonishingly substandard construction as most of the new lakeside apartments across the water from it.

New art exhibition venues both in Commonwealth Place on the Parkes waterfront and next to the ACT Legislative Assembly soon had water penetration issues, one requiring closure for repairs. And who can forget the new Museum of Australia's spectacular roof failure after a hailstorm-downpour last decade?

Now the outrage of the National Portrait Gallery's building, at the tender age of 10, having to close for six whole months so as to be ripped apart, expensively and once again on the public purse, to fix leaks and – even more incredibly, apparently – substandard floors.

Its director claims this is the inevitable fate of wildly popular art venues worn to pieces by patrons, and indeed proud evidence of the NPG's success (quoting figures of 1400 visitors a day, or 200 an hour, or about three a minute), seems to presume we're all morons and have never heard of all the famous, perfectly waterproof and solid-floored galleries across the world, from the Pompidou Centre (1977) to the Prado (1819). And indeed the NGA next door (1982), built at a time before self-regulation by industry pirates.

A more pressing royal commission than the one we had into the CFMEU would examine the apparent incompetence and fraud in residential and commercial building design, materials and techniques which deregulation has permitted since the 1990s.

This is the same industry which funds parties, and disproportionately, the Coalition.

Alex Mattea, Kingston

Pirate builders run riot

What is wrong with building standards these days? The National Portrait Gallery is to be closed for six months for repairs only 10 years after construction all at taxpayers' expense.

Major repairs are being made to Parliament House 30years after opening.

One hears of shoddy apartment construction all around Australia. My in-law's weatherboard house in Adelaide, and my father's house in Sydney, both built in the 19th century, have never been closed for repairs.

Something is amiss.

Rod Holesgrove, O'Connor

Bill pay 'protection'

It was such a delight when I could go online and simply pay my utilities bill with ActewAGL without having to work out some forgotten username and password designed to protect me from some nefarious character seeking to hack into my account and, well, pay my utilities bill for me.

But now, in a retro experience, I find that I am "protected" from paying my electricity bill despite transcribing the account number off the bill, giving my surname and my date of birth and (deceitfully) warranting that I have read their terms and conditions.

Back to the future! Time to go off-grid.

Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Drown the roos next?

Peter Curtis (Letters, March 7), you are correct to caution me on "culinary biases".

I wrote in despair, disappointed Jenny Moxham's observation (Letters, February 23) that "fully conscious dogs are routinely blow torched (in some Asian countries), the myth being the more pain suffered by these animals, the more tender and aphrodisiac the meat" did not attract a flood of outraged letters.

Perhaps I am simply wrong; we are "part of Asia". I await the real estate advertisement – "High rise executive flats in the capital city of the Republic of Australia, thousands to choose from, right on the waterfront of Lake Burley Griffin with great views of kangaroos drowning".

Ronald Elliott, Sandringham, Victoria

Prison check a plus

Civil Liberties Australia in its recent newsletter stated the ACT is now ready for a United Nations sub committee to inspect places of detention in the ACT.

"The right to be free from torture and cruel, inhumane treatment or punishment is an absolute right in international law that cannot be limited," the ACT Minister for Justice, Shane Rattenbury, said.

Such a new measure will only enhance the rehabilitation program already in existence, bringing benefit to those incarcerated as well as encourage their custodians to seek it. In particular, it could be of immediate benefit to prisoners who have been isolated in their cells for long periods.

Keith McEwan, Gordon

The relentless criticism of the ABC as being biased by the Turnbull government and the Murdoch press does not hold up to scrutiny.

I have researched many polls and surveys and in every case the ABC, SBS and Fairfax Media score well ahead of the Murdoch press when it comes down to balance, trust and fairness.

No matter who conducts the polls, the results are the same every year – people trust the ABC more than any other news source.

Also in these polls, Fairfax Media always scores higher than The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and The Australian on fair and equitable reporting.

The government receives bad press simply because it has lost the confidence of the people.

Ray Armstrong, Tweed Heads South, NSW

Free trade a myth

President Trump's decision to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium has produced widespread concern, even from fellow Republicans, that it could lead to a trade "war" with other countries imposing retaliatory tariffs on their imports from the US.

Even if Trump overcomes the resistance from Congress, it would be premature for Australia to condemn his decision.

A key point to recognise here is that measures to protect domestic industries may involve much more than tariffs.

Most important from our viewpoint are the large subsidies provided to agricultural production in the European Union.

Accordingly, with many obstacles to free trade already in place, Trump might be seen as adding only another one of limited significance in the overall level of protection.

It may be that he is justified because the main offender (China) is subsidising its production of steel and aluminium.

The main danger arising from the Trump announcement would be if protective governments, such as China and the European Union, threatened to "retaliate" and started a war of retaliation.

This may or may not happen, but it would then open up for debate a comparison between the three about relative protective levels which could result in a more efficient outcome.

It is also possible that it would revive the merits of a world trading system with reduced protection, which the Doha round failed to achieve.

Trump could then claim that he has stirred the pot.

Des Moore, Institute for Private Enterprise, South Yarra, Victoria

Women have more sense

On reading Alan Barron's letter (March 8), in which he made the point that men are under attack in our society, I was minded to turn back to page 4 of the same issue of the CT to the public service article on that page.

In it, the author makes two interesting points, first that about 70 per cent of the employees of the Department of Human Services are women, and second, that only 46 per cent of the Senior Executive Service are women. Then follows an argument as to how we need to get even more women into the SES but I can see nothing to suggest the need to get the overall number of men up from 30 to 50 per cent even though that would seem to be a far greater inequality.

There are undoubtedly many reasons why there are more men than women at higher levels in the public service. One of them is undoubtedly that many women who are every bit as competent as their male colleagues choose to give the first priority to their families.

The feminists will argue, correctly, that men should take a greater share of that work. But, until they do, the women are the carers. And, surprising as it may be, most women probably think it is more important that their children grow up emotionally healthy and well-adjusted than that they get to spend endless hours editing briefs, starting at work at 8am and going home at 9pm.

Who would want it? Perhaps the lack of women at the top levels of the public service is a credit to their common sense.

Stan Marks, Hawker

Aid priority disparity

Thanks for Pope's cartoon on International Women's Day (CT,March 8, p.19), highlighting contrasts in our aid program. This was exemplified in Dakar in February, where world leaders were asked to replenish the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). It's the only global fund dedicated solely to strengthening education systems in the world's poorest countries.

The GPE helps promote girls' education in Afghanistan – 20,010 girls are benefiting from GPE's $US55.7 million grant aimed at increasing and sustaining their access to education.

At Dakar, $US3.1 billion was sought for supporting the GPE during 2018-20. The GPE had aimed to reach 870 million children, have 19 million children complete primary school and train 1.7 million teachers.

Australia was asked to contribute $200 million, but only managed $90 million of the reduced $US2.3 billion raised. That's the financial contrast, where our aid for women's development has fallen far short of what's needed. Like the Australian government's interest?

Peter Graves, Curtin

Nobody 'under attack'

Alan Barron (Letters, March 8) asserted: "Men have given away nearly 1 million jobs to women." In my 40-plus working years, I don't recall a single instance of a male saying to me (a female): "Here – I give you my job."

I earned each position I held (and hold). Even the briefest look at objective data identify many careers where women are clearly and inappropriately under-represented; studies performed decades ago through to today demonstrate consistently that teams make higher quality decisions with mixed representations. There remain roles where women are under-represented – and where men are under-represented.

I've never been in a workplace where "men are being marginalised and their rights and status denigrated". When I see a #MeToo for men of the same gravity as for women, I could be more sympathetic to Barron's views.

Judy Bamberger, O'Connor

Thorny one for Nats

Why is it that a woman would have a better chance of leading the Taliban than the Nationals?

M. Moore, Bonython

To the point


The new Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, should demonstrate that he is "not following in anyone's footsteps" by immediately canning the costly and ill-conceived APVMA move to Armidale.

Malcolm Robertson, Chapman


Viva Tanya! (National Press Club address, March 7). Tanya Plibersek for Prime Minister!

John Rodriguez, Florey


The American President has announced he is imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. I seem to recall a great deal of government fanfare around the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement. It seems that the President is breaching that agreement. American greed Trumps ethical behaviour again.

J. Grant, Gowrie


Wow $37 million for a Molongo splash pool, Canberra's needy should find a snorkel.

Matt Ford, Crookwell, NSW


Regarding the wars in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the idea of war crimes and crimes against humanity is well-intentioned. But applying laws to the conduct of war is somewhat ridiculous since war is essentially about humans killing humans.

Rod Matthews, Fairfield, Vic


Malcolm Turnbull, Darren Lehmann and Steve Smith. Three apparent leaders defending the indefensible with regard to Michaelia Cash and David Warner.

Peter Crossing, Glengowrie, SA


Australia should be talking to Germany, Japan and South Korea about Trump's trade war. Mr Trump should be told that if he imposes trade tariffs, the allies will close his military bases. Be tough, let him know he will suffer serious retaliation. Don't weakly ask (beg on bended knee?) for exemptions.

Kenneth Griffiths, O'Connor


Douglas Mackenzie's letter on climate change's perils (Letters, March 7) uses logic, facts and common sense. He even "expects our politicians take climate change seriously". That's an oxymoron if ever I have heard one.

Pat Barling, Holder


It has been good to see the Trenery Square area being developed in Weston. But, oh dear, what were they thinking when they ordered the solid metal furniture? Bum freezing in winter, bum burning in summer and all the while screaming, "Graffiti me now!" It doesn't look convincing at present.

Stephen Mugford, Weston

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