Tony Abbott and his Liberal colleagues have been whingeing for months (if not the last three years since losing the last election) about how hard the business community are suffering and that our economy is a basket case. What!
Are things really that bad when the Commonwealth Bank announces a record profit of $7.8 billion and CSL a profit of $1.33 billion, an increase of 19 per cent (''Boost in CBA, CSL profits fail to lift investors' spirits'', Business Day August 15, p13)?
I can't wait for the other big banks, Wesfarmers, Woolworths, mining conglomerates, and other major companies (especially utility companies) to announce their latest profits.
Anyone prepared to guess which way their books will balance as I am and it will not be a downturn.
Australia in an economic shambles? Get real!
Jack Wiles, Gilmore
Dare to dream …
Although Aristotle incorrectly believed that the Earth is the centre of the universe, through his Nicomachean Ethics his philosophy is still universally applicable, its priorities sadly more honoured in the breach than in the performance.
In Aristotle's hierarchy of values for virtue and happiness, the ephemeral acquisition of wealth and possessions are the basest, while at the top are what he called spiritual values of truth, friendship, creativity and altruism, which are more enduring.
In his first term as prime minister in 2007 Kevin Rudd declared that climate change ''is the greatest moral challenge of our time'', subsequently following the downwards trajectory of the Coalition (which derives its name from its addiction to coal), although not quite reaching the depth of ignorance of Tony Abbott, who described climate change as ''crap''.
Australia may not be in the ''economic crisis'' which the Coalition parties claim, but together with the rest of the planet we are rapidly approaching a disastrous ecological crisis of global warming above 2 degrees, marked by extreme weather events, massive loss of biodiversity, and threats to food and water security and human survival, health and wellbeing if ''business as usual'' continues.
One of Aristotle's contemporaries declared that a nation whose leaders lack vision is doomed. Who do we choose to lead us out of the morass?
The Australian Greens is the only party which articulates the environmental situation truthfully, but is being pushed to the bottom of the preference list, as in Pope's amusing but tragic cartoon of Cinderella (Times2, August 15, p1). Perhaps true democracy can only be achieved through proportional representation, as collaboratively experienced by former Swedish MP Gosta Lynga? (Letters August 15).
PS Cinderella did eventually marry the prince.
Bryan Furnass, Hughes
… and who knows?
The Canberra Times editorial ''Chance of free kick in anti-Greens stand'' (Times2, August 15, p2), and the thought-provoking letter by Gosta Lynga (August 15) give hope that informed debate on how our federal Parliament could best function may yet emerge in this election.
David Teather, Reid
I'm impressed that the Liberal Party has had time to analyse all the policies of the 54 parties registered for the election and decide they are all better than the Greens.
Caroline Le Couteur, Downer
Well, is this it? Have we now seen rock bottom with the Abbott-Morrison announcement on how the asylum seekers already in our country are to be treated? (''Abbott hardens on boat people'', August 16, p1) Surely it is not possible that the Labor Party now will meet urgently to discuss how they can counter or ''better'' this new inhumane and unjust policy.
Over the past decade or so we have been so desensitised by a succession of political leaders and much of the media that this latest asylum seeker policy announcement will provoke little widespread concern. Many will understand it simply as a reinforcement of our already closed doors.
Would that every Australian could consider, just for a few seconds, the demoralising impact that this latest announcement will have on 32,000 individuals already living here in a precarious state.
How on earth have we arrived at this very sad point in our history?
Tim Hardy, Florey
What do we fear?
In his article ''Refugees stretched on token racks'' (Forum, July 27, p1) Jack Waterford drew the attention of readers to our long history of indifference on this issue.
Some of us now rightly condemn our forebears for the extreme callousness of the White Australia Policy, which had as its centrepiece the prevention of family re-union. The hardship this policy inflicted on families often over several decades, and the often intimidatory way in which it was enforced, are still little appreciated in the broader community. As Jack has implied, how much more harshly will we be judged by future generations for our present policies.
Our history of indifference and callousness on immigration issues goes back well before the White Australia Policy, however. It is little known that in the late 1880s the Chinese people were virtually prohibited from travelling between say Victoria and NSW, even if they were long-term residents of NSW, unless they paid a poll tax of £100, a sum of money very few could afford; in default two years in jail. Those attempting the clandestine crossing of the Murray River became in effect Australia's first boat people, hounded on both sides of the border! Despite the concerns of some white Australians at the unfairness of these restrictions, they remained in force until Federation.
One of the things that really concerns me about the current debate on refugees are the past echoes of paranoia, fear and xenophobia from the 1880s. Now as then, we are pandering to our baser, less worthy instincts of misplaced self-preservation. Surely we can do better than this. What are we really afraid of?
Barry McGowan, ANU
In our present debate about ''stopping the boats'', the humanity is lost in the politics. The English poet, W. H. Auden, wrote about this same issue in 1939, in his poem Refugee Blues. Much of what he said still reflects sadly on the same issue today. Here are a few verses:
''Say this city has ten million souls
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes
Yet there's no place for us, my dear, yet there's no place for us.
Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you'll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there.''
There are more verses but perhaps the last one our politicians should reflect on says:
''Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying, 'They must die'.
O we were in his mind, my dear, O we were in his mind''.
What's happened to our humanity?
Julian Reynolds, Wanniassa
Buses, not trams
Buses are the logical choice for the Civic-Gungahlin route. Passengers get on and off kerbside. Bus stop bays are already established and work well. Access to trams running along with a central corridor would involve innumerable pedestrian crossings with consequent danger and interruption to traffic flow. At major intersections trams would add another dimension of difficulty and delay.
Buses should be fuelled with LNG. Even better, let's have electric trolleybuses. Today, they would embody all the features of current automotive design and, above all, they are quiet.
Overall, within reasonable cost constraints, the crucial choice must be what is best, most efficient and convenient for the passengers. Trams are not the answer for Northbourne.
Colin. P Glover, Canberra City
US never learns
The interference once again by the US and the resulting loss of life in Egypt can be sheeted home to nothing more than military hegemony by the US, Britain and Israel. Six months ago a ''democratically elected country'' according to President Obama. Now the subject of an American-supported military coup, substituting Mubarak for another general.
Just another step to follow on after their dismal history in Iraq and Afghanistan, credibility lost forever.
Rhys Stanley, via Hall, NSW
Shades of Nero
I see that Jane Halton, the secretary to the Department of Health and Ageing, has reportedly told her staff that the agency has too many bosses and that a new ''lower classification'' staffing profile is needed (''Health axe to fall on 400 jobs'', August 15, p1). This would probably be a good thing for an incoming agency head to have said, but readers should know that Ms Halton has been Secretary to DOHA for over 11 years and would (or should) have been quite aware of the progressive fattening of the top structure in her department.
Peter Moran, Watson
A pox on this issue
I am thankful that John Carmody (Letters, August 15) appears to agree that there was no chickenpox on the First Fleet.
Similarly there is no evidence for subsequent chickenpox in the early colony.
Such an event would have been viewed as a form of smallpox and therefore would have created concern for the safety of children and for any adults needing inoculation. Consequently there would have been a flurry of public activity which, due to the presence of several attentive diarists, would have been noted.
In essence, John Carmody rests his case on a vague reference to a chickenpox outbreak in 1935 in Cameroon. Resolution of this issue would be assisted if this source was properly cited or copies made available.
Christopher Warren, Aranda
To the point ...
SPEEDING LIKE SENNA
Interesting that seven drivers in the first five days of operation on our point-to-point cameras on Athllon Drive had exceeded the 80km/h limit (''Claims cameras missing the point'', August 14, p1)! I imagine they will be boasting of this achievement as it would be almost impossible to drive that section of road, with two roundabouts and average over 80km/h. Anyone who could do it in peak hours would be up there with Ayrton Senna!
Rod Frazer, Garran
If the government wants to increase revenue from the cameras, why doesn't it remove the warning signs?
R.S. Gilbert, Braddon
NOT ON THEIR WATCH
I cannot agree with Robert Willson's argument justifying Britain's continued control of Gibraltar (Letters, August 14). It is absurd. By his logic we should also be asking Britain to return the Falklands (Islas Malvinas) or the Cayman Islands or any other of the ''British Overseas Territories''. Would the British countenance such a proposition?
John Rodriguez, Florey
A ''Queensland woman who sent explicit pictures and texts to her son's 14-year-old friends has been [sentenced to] community service'' (''Indecent actions'', August 14, p6). I have never read of such a lenient sentence for any male predator. One assumes that she has been left at liberty to tend for her son.
Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor
GREENS ADD STABILITY
Last federal election when Labor and the Liberals put the Greens last on preferences we ended up with a Family First Senator being elected with less than 2 per cent of the primary vote. I did not notice Steve Fielding help deliver stable government in the last term but the Greens did.
Colin Handley, Lyneham