Letters to the Editor
The ACT government's recent venture to legislate for same-sex marriage is puzzling. Why didn't they bring down the legislation when Labor was in charge of the federal government.
Why did they use the defence in the High Court that the ACT's ''marriage'' was different from the federal ''marriage'' (if the legislation had been approved by the High Court the ACT's ''marriage'' would be no different from its civil union and hence unacceptable to the Australian Marriage Equality lobby)?
Why was the legal advice that the wording of the legislation was poor, and would be challenged, ignored? Why was the civil union legislation cancelled?
If the responses to the above questions are inadequate it can only be assumed that the ACT government's objective was political (to embarrass the Abbott government) in which case the Labor and Greens members in the Legislative Assembly should pay for the High Court challenge costs (not the taxpayer) and also any costs incurred from the 30-plus couples, married under the aborted same-sex marriage legislation, suing the government.
Ed Dobson, Hughes
Bias claim skewed
One reason why I read The Canberra Times is because it is still our local newspaper. It keeps me in touch with what is happening in this great town of ours. It does reflect Canberra and the people who live here. As it should.
Frank Scargill (Letters, December 18) confuses that with political bias. He believes that stating the obvious, in regard to the Murdoch press who have publicly declared their anti-Labor stance, is political bias.
The presentation of a view, contrary to one's own, is not bias, political or otherwise. Noting hypocrisy is not political bias.
If Scargill and his ilk believe The Canberra Times is politically biased to the left, then perhaps they should read the Sydney Telegraph and Piers Akerman or Andrew Bolt.
They won't find any facts to upset their political sensibilities there.
Patrick O'Hara, Isaacs
It's difficult to know what planet Frank Scargill comes from when he pooh-poohs Jack Wiles' (Letters, December 16) concern about ''the disgraceful bias and conduct of the Murdoch press''.
To all but the most rabid of conservatives, this has been plain to see in the ridiculous columns of The Daily Telegraph and The Australian.
Equally, those who perceive a bias in The Canberra Times and the ABC are the same people who expect the same sort of scandalous reporting as we get from News Corp.
If The Canberra Times has published ''deriding comment against the government'' this is only proper, since the performance of the newly elected government can only be characterised by chaos, dishonesty and incompetence.
T.J. Marks, Holt
I have to agree with Jack Wiles and totally disagree with Frank Scargill.
It seems that bias is truly in the eye of the beholder. And the reason for more anti-government letters in The Canberra Times in the past three months is because people can't believe some of the awful things the Abbott regime is doing and feel compelled to voice their objections.
Barbara Godfrey, Lyneham
A hollow Christmas
John Falzon (Lucky country? For some yes, but not all'', Times2, December 18, p5) describes well Santa's difficulty negotiating chimneys soot-clogged by effluent from the affluent.
However, he remains blind to a fundamental hurdle: escalating difficulty, across the developing world, of adequately nurturing, educating and fostering the development and direction of children to adulthood; children more numerous than the resources required; placing them in a catch-22 position regarding social/economic advancement for their societies.
Forty years of evidence shows that economic development is enabled by fertility stabilisation at rates that are acceptable to women wherever they are; only if that is facilitated by governments. Unfortunately, the agreement made by every UN nation on family planning in 1994 at the Cairo Conference on Population and Development has not been upheld.
It's an uphill battle, putting fingers in escalating leaks out of the dyke of increasing human needs.
In Australia, such needy as these, appear in very small numbers among our annual 400,000 (or thereabouts) increase, and our political direction is to further concentrate that trickle-down from the rich before releasing it upon the poor.
Colin Samundsett, Farrer
Charity and results
It's the season to be jolly - and Christian, hence the giving trees and seasonal appeals (I counted six different groups in one print media edition alone).
I agree with John Falzon, though I would like evidence of positive results.
A Christmas meal and gifts for the children eases everyone's conscience, but how many homeless have been accommodated, how many regulars don't show up any more for the free lunch, how many women don't present with another baby in tow and do the same people do the rounds of all of the charities?
It is not an annual exercise in handing out Yuletide goodies but using long-term aid to help people climb out of poverty and challenge the culture of dependency.
Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla
I don't recall a time with such relentlessly miserable news as every part of the country is winding back.
The chainsaws are out, and nowhere is safe. Made in Australia no longer matters as long as it's Mined in Australia.
I take it, then, that our budget-focused government will address the crippling infrastructure brought on by record levels of net migration.
There is no skills crisis, no ageing population crisis, and the last thing we need is to import more unemployment.
Rod Taylor, Giralang
I agree with Greg Cornwell (Letters, December 16) that we should reduce migration levels, which now make up about two-thirds of population growth. Let's begin by eliminating the work-wise category, which takes so many of the jobs needed by our young people.
We suffer from resultant backlogs in basic services, as well as the prospect of rising food prices and shortages. For reasons, both short-term and long-term, our current and projected population numbers are simply unsustainable.
Christopher Watson, Latham
Abbott rhetoric fails to return shine to our rustbelt economy
Tony Abbott is talking about how he will ''enshuwah'' that Victoria and South Australia move from the old manufacturing industries to the new ones. What new ones? Vehicle building? Ship building? Whitegoods? Computers? I think that the world has moved on and these industries are not coming back. For example, I remember several tyre manufacturers in Elizabeth, South Australia, in the 1960s - all gone now.
But, wait. … we can all go back to the past. Senator Eric Abetz sees the salvation of the Tasmanian economy in chopping down trees, which the state has done for a century. The Prime Minister seems to have a distaste for any of the ''sunrise'' industries associated with alternative energy technology. Australian inventors have so often been discouraged by Australian policy settings and sold their inventions to the Chinese, who sell the products back to us.
Even the production of textiles, clothing and footwear has been shipped overseas. Where does this leave us? A rustbelt economy pretending to be leading edge, and paying our workers accordingly.
Mike Phoenix, Greenway
The Abbott government has confirmed that it really does have a sense of humour by appointing Tim ''send in the water cannons'' Wilson as Human Rights Commissioner. It follows a short but hilarious tradition that started with the appointment of Joe Hockey as Treasurer. But why stop with Mr Wilson? Pauline Hanson could be Commissioner for Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.
Alan Jones would be an admirable Commissioner against Plagiarism, and Ray Hadley would add considerable experience as Commissioner against Bullying. Janet Albrechtsen could chair the Commission for Balanced Media. Fair Work Australia could be outsourced to the H.R. Nicholls Society. We may have missed the key message in the hard-nosed rhetoric before the election. This is government for the LOLs.
Tony Judge, Belconnen
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus complains that the government's appointment of Tim Wilson sends ''a strong signal about exactly the kind of blatantly political agenda [George Brandis] wishes to pursue as Attorney-General'' (''Shock at appointment of 'free speech' advocate'', December 18, p4). This, of course, is completely different to the blatantly political agenda pursued by Mr Dreyfus and his predecessors, which included plain packaging for tobacco, restrictions on poker machines, restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and support for the states' restrictions on freedom of association for bikies. Notably, the current Human Rights Commissioners did not raise an objection to any of these proposals.
If Senator Brandis's appointment of Mr Wilson is one that recognises the role of government is to protect individual liberty, and laws restricting this liberty should only be made to protect the freedom of others and not prohibit behaviour some people merely disapprove of or find offensive, it will be a welcome agenda.
Stephen Jones, Bonython
In her new job as a member of the Australian Submarine Corporation board, Sophie Mirabella ought to be at least as charming as she was in Parliament. But submariners being a tough breed, they'll survive anything.
Gordon Nevin, O'Connor
Bury death tax idea
To Bill Alcock (Letters, December 18) I say no way in the world should we be hit with a death tax. We had one years ago, and a more hated tax you would not find.
You pay tax on money when you earn it, tax on the interest when you bank it, and Mr Alcock wants the government to tax it a third time when you die? He's got to be kidding.
Start the cost-cutting at the top. Let the politicians give up some of the benefits they accrue when they retire or get kicked out. Get people like John Howard, who receives an office paid for by taxpayers, staff and free air travel, etc, on top of a huge pension, to give up some of their free cars, fuel, registration etc.
Also, what would Joe Hockey know about austerity? He is married to Melissa Babbage, a multimillionaire.
C. Feeney, Blacktown, NSW
Joe Hockey is reported as saying that ''unless the government took immediate action Australia would be in debt for more than a decade'' (''Hockey to wield the axe in horror budget'', December 18, p1).
This is even more implausible than Mr Hockey's previous rationales for cutting expenditure. Why would Australia want to be the only country in the Western world without a central government national debt?
It is true that a large ratio of national debt to total production in a country can cause problems, but in Australia this ratio is extraordinarily low. OECD statistics show Australia has a ratio of central government debt to gross national production of about 11 per cent. This compares with 37 per cent for Canada, 44 per cent for Germany, 61 per cent for the United States and 86 per cent for Britain.
J.W. Nevile, Emeritus Professor in Economics, University of NSW
Isn't the National Disability Insurance Scheme the last notable program that came out of Kevin Rudd's 20/20 conference?
The conference that the Coalition scoffed at and that even people like me thought a little twee? This latest move of the Coalition to constrain it is no more than the continuing eradication of anything that Mr Rudd and Julia Gillard did.
They're scared of anything that might put the lie to their story of the worst government ever. What a pity they have to throw the babies out with the bathwater. They're relentless. Hands up all those who believed that they wouldn't do this, and give yourselves a pat on the back.
S.W. Davey, Torrens
Propaganda twists Croatian patriotism
It is disappointing that The Canberra Times used the headline ''Simunic out of World Cup over Nazi chants'' (Sport, December 18, p21). This is once again propaganda used to demonise not only Joe Simunic but the whole Croatian community. A community who were not so long ago labelled ''terrorists'' by the Australian media, when in fact time proved that they were freedom fighters.
Joe used the term ''Za Dom - Spremni'' (For the Homeland - Ready) at a recent World Cup play-off match. This term has its origins in Croatian history dating back to the 17th century. It was used by various Croatian leaders as a defence rally against invading Turks and then Hungarians. It was also used in literature/music and during the Croatian national revival in the 19th century. Linking it to ''Nazi salutes'' is a gross misrepresentation. Joe Simunic used the term to express his love and respect and patriotism - nothing more and nothing less.
Kresimir Spelic, McKellar
No relief for England
Members of the English Test team relieved themselves at the end of the Ashes series in England by urinating on the pitch at the final Test venue after the series was over. Thankfully for them as they participate in the Ashes series in Australia,
they are able to relieve themselves by urinating during play while batting against the fearsome Australian attack. The press has not yet revealed whether the English players may be wearing incontinence pads.
However there have been no reports from groundsmen of a repeat of their behaviour.
Peter Baskett, Murrumbateman, NSW
TO THE POINT
CLUTCHING AT STRAWS
Brian Hatch (Letters, December 19) provides some fascinating examples of climate facts. Perhaps he would also like to know that in Adelaide on Wednesday at 9am it was 32.7 degrees, against an average of 20.4. On Thursday it was predicted to be 43, against a December average of 27. These, like Mr Hatch's examples, are known as statistical outliers. To use them to try to prove an argument is known as clutching at straws.
Peter Edsor, Bungendore, NSW
READ BETWEEN LINES
When Joe Hockey says ''All Australians must make sacrifices to get the economy back on track'' it is code for ''those on welfare must make sacrifices to get the economy back on track''. When he says ''Australia is open for business'', he means tax cuts and handouts for big companies and the wealthy. Yes, Virginia, it is possible that the Abbott government will be worse than the Labor one.
David Hicks, Holt
Is it kosher? Is it halal? Is it East meets West? Or is it simply a burnt offering? Having performed dismally in Annabel Crabb's Kitchen Cabinet, Joe Hockey has leapt to the front of MHRs' culinary performances with a rendition of the politicians' old favourite and Iron Chef-winning certainty, ''cooking the books''.
J. Ellis, Weetangera
LOGIC LOST ON ME
Joe Hockey said at the National Press Club that, ''No country has ever taxed its way out of a recession.'' Can he list the countries that have increased unemployment and cut spending as a way out of a recession? Just ask Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy and France what they think of Hockey's ''Grande Plan''.
Simon Winchester, Narrabundah
When I served in submarines we were paid two shillings and sixpence a day ''submarine pay''. May I ask just how much failed MP Sophie Mirabella will receive for adding her vast submarine knowledge to the board of ASC Pty Ltd?
R. Manning-Smith, Queanbeyan, NSW
SUPPORT FOR ACT?
Sadly, about 2900 Ford and Holden employees will lose their jobs with the closure of factories in Victoria and SA. The Federal government has decided to support the local economies to the tune of $100 million to mitigate the effects of these job losses. It will be interesting to see what support is given to the ACT economy with the planned cuts of significantly more public service jobs.
Mike McGettrick, Isaacs
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