Letters to the Editor
In his acceptance speech, Prime Minister Tony Abbott repeated his promise that his government would be better than the last.
''We have won the trust of the Australian people; our challenge now is to earn it and keep it.''
He has already spectacularly failed the challenge (''Abbott refuses to bend on MPs' entitlements'', October 11, p5).
By defending his dodgy claims on the public purse for expenses related to his self-indulgent participation in every possible fitness competition, he also reveals himself to be untrustworthy and a hypocrite in relation to his relentless pursuit of Peter Slipper for similar offences.
As one of the tenets of leadership is ''start as you mean to continue'', we're in big trouble.
B. Pearce, Kambah
Someone who doesn't know right from wrong, who must be told the difference between entitlement and stealing, who clearly believes themselves to be in a special class, is not fit to lead a government or a country.
The special class of people who when they want something that belongs to someone else (our money, for instance) simply put out their hand and take it is known as the criminal class.
Of course, they are compelled to justify their actions.
To predictably point at others doing the same simply shows again that they are not leaders.
Katherine Beauchamp, Ainslie
A great number of recent letters to newspapers have complained bitterly about the rorting of the public purse by some politicians and/or the unrepresentative nature of several people recently elected to the Senate.
Might I suggest that one follows the other?
Who wants to vote for political parties that appear to be unwilling or unable to discipline their members?
If we are not to end up with a fragmented Parliament, the current members need to get off their collective derrieres and pass laws that prevent abuse of the system.
If not, my tip is more and more minor parties will be elected to both houses of Parliament in the future.
C.J. Johnston, Duffy
The pollie perk which infuriates me is the ''study tour'': first-class tickets and all costs to the destination of the politician's choice.
As if that isn't bad enough, why are retiring politicians allowed to take one as a valedictory tour?
No one pretends there is any value to the taxpayer; how could there be?
So how much longer do we all have to pay for these retirement holidays?
Jennifer Saunders, Canberra City
Isn't it funny how the looney left and other easily outraged Labor supporters (Letters, October 12) can't seem to grasp the concept of democracy.
Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party won the election by an overwhelming majority.
Most Australians want him as leader. Full stop.
There's no point asking him to resign.
He has barely been in office for five minutes and already the red-lag-waving brigade believe he is an embarrassment and a failure.
Let him get on with the job. After all, it will take more than four weeks in office to clean up six years of chaos and mess.
Peter Kramaric, Jerrabomberra, NSW
Apropos the brouhaha surrounding pollies' entitlements, I have just finished reading Terry Pratchett's book Unseen Academicals, in which he discusses various forms of governance, and I quote: ''A third proposition that the city be governed by a choice of respectable members of the community who would promise not to give themselves airs, or betray the public trust at every turn, was instantly the subject of music hall jokes all over the city.''
George Beaton, Greenway
On gay marriage
Just what are homosexuals on about with all this hoo-ha about equal matrimonial rights (''ACT vows to fight for gay marriage'', October 11, p1)?
The ACT government may give marriage celebrants the right to marry homosexual couples but it cannot hope to force churches to do the same.
If I were a homosexual, I'd just stick with the present perfectly acceptable system of cohabitation. It has worked from time immemorial.
There are enough legal rules to satisfy most homosexual associations without any of the responsibilities that heterosexual associations (civil and church) generate.
A civil marriage is beholden to the state and its laws, while a church marriage has a far greater responsibility in the sense that its promises are made to God.
Remember: ''Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's.'' (Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25).
If it is a case of legalising commercial marriage celebrants to marry homosexuals, who gives a hoot? The state certainly doesn't.
But if it is a case of trying to force churches to marry homosexual couples, then they may be trying to overturn millenniums of tradition and religious law.
I don't think they would win!
Baden Williams, Lyneham
Under section 51(xxi) of the Australian constitution, the power to make laws in respect of marriage resides with the Parliament of Australia, to the exclusion of the states and territories.
Consequent to that, the federal Marriage Act (section 5) defines marriage as ''the union of a man and woman, to the exclusion of all other, voluntarily entered into for life''.
That definition applies across the land, to all citizens.
Under the ACT Marriage Equality Bill 2013, ''marriage'' means ''(a) the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life; but (b) does not include a marriage within the meaning of the [federal] Marriage Act 1961''.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell assures us that this act (which it will be when the bill is passed by the Assembly) does not conflict with the federal act and the constitution.
The ACT bill purports to add a second definition of the term ''marriage'', which conflicts directly with the provisions of the federal act, the primacy and exclusivity of which devolves from s.51(xxi) of the constitution.
If, indeed, the ACT government is serious about promoting the cause of same-sex marriages, it should direct its efforts (and our taxes) to securing an amendment to the federal act.
Paul Bowler, Holder
Degrees of need
While I am happy for Jan Kruger (''Time for families to reach out, says disability advocate'', October 9, p6) that her disabled son can integrate into the community, he does seem to be at the lower end of the disability spectrum. My daughter would be the happiest woman alive if she could just hear her daughter call her ''mum'', as she is at the top end of the spectrum.
The general public mainly think of mentally disabled people as being slow, although having a general comprehension of life.
There are many others who need our care and support, like my granddaughter, who is an adult but for all intents and purposes just like a two-year-old child.
The parents of these high-end disability people really do need a night off now and then.
Lynda Whittard, Bruce
Slowing population growth of real benefit to the planet
Malcolm King fails to mention where we are dramatically wrong in accommodating the world's growing population (''Population alarmists disregard human feelings'', Times2, October 11, p5) . It is not so much the ever-increasing amount of scarce arable land we are using to produce food.
Much more worrying is the fact that other species on our planet are being wiped out to gain productive land for us to utilise.
Whatever the species of life is, it also has a right to exist in the usual Darwinian way. That is, your population rises and falls according to good seasons and bad.
Humans distort this scenario. The developed societies keep people alive in cases where they should have died years earlier. In underdeveloped countries, children as young as 10 are virtually worked to an early and miserable death.
King may be right in saying we can continue to feed the world's human population for the foreseeable future. The question is: what happens to the other beautiful, essential creatures that inhabit the same world? What happens to our forests and seas?
Howard Carew, Isaacs
I was concerned about the bona fides of Malcolm King when I noticed he is a public relations man.
Then he tried to brand the ''population control movement'' as Nazis; not upfront, mind you, just by labelling the goal as ''Lebensraum'', then going on to trot out stock denigratory phrases like ''zero-population growth'', ''a form of totalitarianism'' and, worst of all, ''winding back capitalism'' (that's the real sin). That's when I knew for sure that he is a right-wing propagandist. He just hasn't the guts or the honesty to say it straight out. Does he think the planet can support an infinite number of humans? I doubt it. But definitely more than any particular number that a person might come up with from time to time. Very scientific.
S.W. Davey, Torrens
What about Stanhope?
I am totally opposed to the reported bent of Michaela Banerji's tweets, which I have not read (''Immigration worker loses job after critical Twitter comments'', September 28, p3).
I am also horrified by her sacking.
If her dismissal is valid, Jon Stanhope should also be sacked for his clear, personal and public denunciation of the nation's immigration policies, particularly given the high-profile role he holds in implementing those policies as Christmas Island administrator (''Stanhope hits out at 'odious' ALP policy'', October 11, p4).
Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor
When fear is essential
Graham Macafee's criticism of his church as a promoter of ignorance and fear in the 1950s is perplexing (Letters, October 8). It is perplexing on the score of ignorance because so many of the alumni of his and similar Catholic schools have excelled in academic, judicial, political and other fields, while his own prolific contributions to the letters pages indicate a clear and well-informed mind.
For many members, probably most, of any society, fear is a secondary but essential element in the maintenance of good order.
How many assaults, thefts, broken speed limits, tax evasions, etc, would occur in the secular world if the fear of punishment were removed?
The church understood this.
Those who strive to conform to a group's rules have nothing to fear.
In this context, it is interesting to consider Jenna Price's justified concern (''Law needs to catch up with crimes against consent'', Times2, October 8, p5) about revenge porn and online violence towards women.
Although threats may have been overdone sometimes in the 1950s, it is a pity that a bit of hellfire cannot be presented now to deter offenders in this and related areas.
This is increasingly unlikely as Christian influence wanes.
Eric French, Higgins
Spreading gun culture
The ACT government is to be applauded for taking strong action to discourage the use of guns (''Reward offered to get weapons off the streets'', October 10, p8).
Meanwhile, the nearby Eurobodalla Shire Council is encouraging a culture of guns by granting a five-year licence to the South Coast Hunters Club to hold a ''HuntFest'' in the community-owned sports and recreation centre in the main street of Narooma.
The festival is described as ''family friendly'' and aims to initiate children into this blood sport, regardless of the dangerous consequences.
Susan Cruttenden, Dalmeny, NSW
Not in their sites
Further to the excellent letters by Juliet Ramsay and Philip Winkworth (October 11), I was surprised to see a backhoe and geotechnical examination under way at the proposed slipway site when walking my dog at Black Mountain Peninsula.
If someone is undertaking this prelude to building, they clearly think the construction of the slipway there is a fait accompli.
Canberrans must be vigilant, as the National Capital Authority does not have a good record for protecting our lake environs, as witnessed by its initial support for the Immigration Bridge as well as the lakeshore siting of the proposed world wars memorial megaliths.
To repeat Winkworth's point: what is wrong with the temporary slipway location at Yarramundi Reach?
This obscure location south of the Lindsay Pryor Arboretum is only stumbled upon by dog walkers looking for a lost ball. With a previously operational facility already there, why would anyone seriously propose shoehorning a disruptive new slipway into the popular public park at Black Mountain Peninsula?
Only community outcry seems to have prevented previous planning disasters. One must ask who are the true custodians of the national capital if it is not the paid planners.
And, for the record, what does the ACT Architect have to say about the current imbroglio?
Penleigh Boyd, Reid
How many sailed with the convicts?
All credit to Richard Begbie for his excellent research in the story of Garrett Cotter (''Finding Garrett Cotter'', Forum, October 12, p1), the name behind the newest ACT dam.
I was particularly interested to read that Cotter was one of the convicts transported on the famous ship Mangles.
That ship was commanded at that time by Scottish-born Captain John Coghill, who made four voyages commanding the Mangles before retiring from the sea.
His home near Braidwood is the beautiful Bedervale.
What other local families have ancestors who came on the Mangles? Cotter and Coghill were only two of many ''Mangles pioneers''.
Robert Willson, Deakin
TO THE POINT
SNOUTS IN THE TROUGH
There has been much discussion about politicians' use or misuse of travel allowances, but there was hardly a voice raised when all the main political parties delayed their ''campaign launches'' until about a week before the election, so that the taxpayer would pay for the major part of their campaigning.
Beryl Richards, Curtin
How many police have raided Parliament House to investigate the expenses rorts?
John Passant, Kambah
The Prime Minister justifies spending taxpayers' money on travel to compete in sporting events as ''connecting with people'' (actually ''Liberal Party campaigning''). Does this mean that because I like to ''connect with people'', I can have my travel reimbursed? A new bike perhaps? No, better still, a new pair of budgie smugglers!
David Mann, Kambah
There's a simple solution to the funding of essential repairs to the heritage-listed John Gorton Building (''Reno eyesore: fence option for Gorton Building'', October 10, p1). Stop the politicians' travel rorts and redirect the saving for the building fund.
Jack Wiles, Gilmore
PRICE OF GAY LAW
Would the ACT government please tell taxpayers how much it is likely to cost for the government to defend its proposed same-sex marriage law in the High Court (''ACT vows to fight for gay marriage'', October 11, p1)? Will it also identify the other legislation that will possibly be in conflict with its law; for instance, births, deaths, adoption and divorce legislation? Who will pay for the High Court hearings to resolve these conflicts?
Ed Dobson, Hughes
Prime Minister Tony Abbott talks about respecting his ''mandate''. The Labor Party had a ''mandate'' to introduce an emissions-trading scheme and the Coalition opposed it. ACT Labor has a ''mandate'' to introduce gay marriage. Does Abbott only recognise a ''mandate'' when it suits him?
J. Madden, Aranda
Please explain, Barnaby Joyce (''Taking on a different animal'', Times2, October 11, p1). That is, after you have translated your efforts in The Canberra Times, the most convoluted, amazing article ever (or should I quote Joyce by saying ''not never'') published in a mainstream newspaper. All we can be thankful for, I suppose, is that he was not given the education portfolio.
N. Russell, Braddon
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