The Canberra Times is to be congratulated for two excellent articles "Time to target the boozing" (Times2, January 14, p1) and "ACT has role, trendsetting says frontline EDspecialist" (January 15, p9) which focus on the sickening one-punch alcohol fuelled attacks on young men.
Canberrans drink more and at riskier levels than the national average. The emergency departments of our hospitals deal with 18 people a day as a result of alcohol, and one-third of all arrivals after 2am are caused by alcohol. Every month ACT police handle 95 drink and drug driving offences and 85 alcohol-related offences.
The cost to our ACT community involves not just money, which amounts to many millions of dollars, but there is amoral cost, as we struggle to come to terms with the senseless and sickening scenes of alcohol-fuelled scrapping.
The victim is maimed for life and the perpetrator is marked for life, all in the name of the liberty to get drunk in licensed venues in Civic up to 5am. Our long-serving Attorney-General is reported to be sanguine about the present position, although reform has been considered since September 2013, with proposed reduction of early-morning and late-night trading hours of licensed venues and bottle shops along the lines of NSW legislation. If no action is taken on this matter before October 2016 by our tired ACT government, we will be able to show our disapproval at the ballot box.
Howard Bradbury, Campbell
Sentences fail victims
Arguments put forward by Lorana Bartels ("Tougher laws are not an antidote to violence", Times2, January 13, p5) that tougher sentencing laws are not needed to deal with one-punch offences are not convincing.
One argument is that the maximum penalties for recklessly/intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm (13 and 20 years) are adequate. Bartels provides data on penalties imposed in the ACT for these offences, but this data is not helpful, as it does not isolate one-punch attacks.
A search indicates sentences have been minimal, even though victims have been permanently disabled and magistrates recognise that it is well known that a punch can cause serious injury or death. The argument that laws need to be evidence-based and effective as a deterrent is academic.
Sentencing should reflect community standards, with the crime fitting into the hierarchy of offences. The sentence given to a 16-year-old American teenager who killed baseball player Chris Lane by shooting him in the back reflects community standards. This crime shows the same amoral and psychopathic traits as a one-punch attack: ie, the attack is from behind, random, unprovoked and to relieve boredom. It is good fortune if the crime does not result in death. The sentence of life without parole was imposed, even though it was claimed there was no intention to kill.
A further argument is that mandatory laws lead to court delays and disadvantage victims. Given the number of random one-punch attacks that a court has to deal with, this argument is also not convincing. It is easy to criticise jurisdictions taking strong action on these attacks as grandstanding. Governments are more likely to be responding to community outrage, including anger at minimal sentences that courts have imposed.
It cannot be beyond the capability of drafters to provide laws or guidelines that are tough and targeted to the crime, but also provide discretion to deal with exceptional mitigating circumstances.
Robyn Vincent, Mckellar
I hope I never need to have any professional dealings with Professor Ian Hickie, the psychiatrist and mental health campaigner who tells us people are wanting to check out "because of myths and negative stereotypes about ageing, pain relief, hospitals and how the health system treats elderly people" ("Marked increase in elderly exploring 'rational suicide', January 18, p5).
I have a friend dying in hospital, and the pain is not controllable even with the best of care. My parent spent years in a nursing home when the standard of care was better than it is now, and it was still awful. These are not myths and negative stereotypes. They are a horrible reality. We don't treat dogs and cats like that. We demand better for them – a quick, painless switching off of the lights.
Why demand people stay alive when they don't want to? What on earth is the point? What is so good about just being alive? Why does anyone think staying alive at all costs is a good outcome?
If Professor Hickie wants to stay alive until science has done allit can at whatever cost, that should be his choice, but it's not mine. I wish the Professor Hickies of this world would stop trying to lay down the law about what everyone else does with their lives and deaths.
Gabriel Brown (Ms), Murrumbateman, NSW
Is there a bias in favour of the owners of dangerous dogs ("Dog attack survivor not told of DAS decisions", January 14, p3)? The owner of the dog that attacked and almost killed one of my dogs (March 2015) and then went on to attack another dog minutes later wasn't even fined by the ranger/DAS for failure to contain his dog. I am still chasing the owner of the dog for the reimbursement of vet fees.
I hope that the owners of the dogs in the article mentioned above and all other dangerous dogs who roam and attack are ashamed.
Perhaps community service cleaning out the cages and yards at the pound might be in order, although I doubt that the staff at the pound would want such irresponsible people in their facility.
Louisa Murphy, Gordon
I refer Janet Reynolds (Letters, January 18) to opal.com.au/en/about-opal/opal_for_senior_pensioners, where it is explained that NSW travellers on an age pension concession must reapply for an Opal card every 12 months, but interstate holders of an age pension Opal card must reapply for a new Opal Card every 60 days. One cannot extend the length of validity of a concession Opal Card.
The reasons given for this rule are not well considered. ACT holders of a concession Opal card should not be treated differently from their NSW counterparts. Perhaps Andrew Barr or Simon Corbell should take this up with Mike Baird, as NSW is discriminating against ACT residents.
T.A. Brimson, Dunlop
Cheaper imported cars increasing problems and high costs elsewhere
Ian Porter's article on the car industry ("Biggest car crash costs much", Times2, January 13, p4) contained much food for thought, especially in terms of longer term employment opportunities and manufacturing capability in Australia.
Flat-earth economists in government seem hell bent on destroying both just to give us cheaper, consumable cars. Another fatal flaw of cheaper imported cars not mentioned in the article is that everyone can now afford one, if not two, and our cities are becoming impossible to live in as cars fill every available space.
Streets are parked out, roads are grid-locked, and freeways are anything but. The infrastructure and productivity costs must be astronomical.
Malcolm Robertson, Chapman
Adding to dole queue
The report on the public service outsourcing work to India ("Public service ready to send work to India", January 18, p1) would have left many wondering what kind of world we are entering into.
We have the best educated proportion of young people entering the work force ever. Every public service job vacancy has a flood of applicants and yet we are sending work overseas to save money.
The public service is not alone. Accounting firms, banks, and many other high end firms are outsourcing to take advantage of the lower wages.
The end result will be that many eligible young people will find unemployment a reality. The real wealth of Australia is in its people having disposable incomes that can pay through taxes the costs of running our country. The financial cost of having a university graduate living out his or her days on the dole is enormous. The misery of young people without a future inevitably leads to a high social cost.
At present Australia's problem is not finding people to fill high-tech jobs. Rather it is finding high-tech jobs for young people to establish a career in.
Howard Carew, Isaacs
Richard Denniss ("Activity' is not prosperity", Forum, January 16, p6) highlights the burden shared by the dwindling number of taxpayers we have who keep the country functioning. He mentions, in passing, the money we didn't spend on factories, public transport or educating our kids, and that our future is determined, not by the size of the things we build, but the future usefulness of the things we invest in.
China's problems aren't a plus for Australia because of our lazy attitude in not adding value to exports and just looking for easy dollars. Under a former Labor government, we were going to become the clever nation providing the world with innovative ways to manage the future but we weren't up to it.
Harking back to the Dennis article, the money we failed to invest on manufacturing, particularly the sectors that were in the vanguard of renewable energy, makes me question the wisdom of political representatives.
Les Brennan, Sunshine Bay, NSW
Gun reforms rate
The firearm-death study referred to by Peter Moran (Letters, January 15) is contradicted by the majority of reputable studies. In particular, a study by the ANU's Andrew Leigh (now Member for Fraser) and Wilfrid Laurier University's Christine Neill found that the firearm homicide rate fell by 59 per cent, and the firearm suicide rate by 65 per cent, in the decade immediately following the 1996-97 firearm reforms. Further study by the pair concluded that the National Firearms Agreement has been responsible for saving, on average, at least 200 lives per year. In short, the gun reforms have been massively successful in saving lives.
Christopher White, Belconnen
Age of entitlement
In her piece "Retired public servants should be grateful for benefits" ( Times2, January 15, p5) , Laura Ingram said 'Baby boomers, particularly those in government super schemes, lived in the age of entitlement, and need to start accepting that it's over.' That set me thinking as to what I've been entitled to over the years and what I'm entitled to now compared to Laura.
Laura's probably in her early-to-mid twenties.
When I was 20, while entitled to be conscripted to fight in a conflict whether I believed in it or not, I was not entitled to vote or to drink. I was entitled to pay university fees upfront and to pay for my own medical expenses (universal medical care didn't exist). The first home buyer's grant didn't exist, and child support was a pittance (sole mothers weren't recognised). Youth allowance didn't exist, and neither did Newstart allowance, AUSTUDY, rent assistance, or Family Tax Benefits. Paid parental leave didn't exist. Female public servants had to resign if they got married.
A glance at the Department of Humans Services list of Australian Government Allowances shows a number of allowances and payments that didn't exist when I was in my twenties raising a family. So how did these payments come into being? It was we baby boomers who changed things and brought in this wide and varied menu of financial entitlements, too late for us but great for those who followed us.
It's just possible that Laura benefited from some of these payments growing up, going to university and entering the workforce, and will continue to do so should she buy a home and/or starts a family. So I'd like her to reflect on just who was the recipient of 'the age of entitlement'. It certainly wasn't – and won't be – baby boomer me.
Dallas Stow, O'Connor
The Uniting Church in Australia was officially inaugurated on June 22, 1977, not in the 1960s as indicated in your report "Retired ministers seek government pension rethink", January 19, p3). The report states, "The Uniting Church's clergy began paying into a defined benefits super scheme when the organisation was formed in the 1960s through the merger of Australia's Presbyterian and Congregation faiths." The Uniting Church was in fact formed with the merger of the Methodist Church, the majority of Presbyterian Churches and the Congregational Union of Australia.
Graham Downie, O'Connor
Places of pilgrimage, peace and beauty
Wat Dhammadharo, where a ceremony was held to celebrate stage two of the construction of a pagoda ("Golden touch completes Lyneham's Buddhist pagoda", January 18, p2) holds a relic from Thailand's former head Buddhist monk, who died recently.
Next door to Wat Dhammadharo, at number 82 Archibald Street, is the exquisite St Volodymyr's Ukrainian Catholic Church, which holds the relics of Blessed Volodymyr Pryma and other holy martyrs. Both are designated as places of pilgrimage and are a gift to Canberra from their respective Thai and Ukrainian communities in Australia.
What a coup for Canberra!
Marta Stachurski, Red Hill
My daughter and her friend have recently moved to a new apartment in Coombs. The apartments are wired but not connected to NBN.
NBNCo cannot say when the apartments might be connected. In the interim Telstra has advised that it cannot provide a traditional phone line or, consequently, an internet connection.
Some providers suggest they can provide ADSL connections but the inability of Telstra to provide a copper connection renders this promise redundant. So much for our innovative and nimble age.
Phil Cullen, Duffy
Trumping the inability of tennis commentators to distinguish between majors and grand slams, Darren Walton has now established a new yardstick by mistaking a grand slam for a golden slam ("Djokovic eyes a record sixth Open triumph", Sport, January 18, p18).
Staying with tennis, Serena Williams claims she is "130 per cent ready" for the Australian Open. Unfortunately, the Australian Government Actuary has calculated that 131 per cent readiness is the requirement for victory.
Frank Marris, Forrest
TO THE POINT
IT'S JUST A RACKET
The allegation that professional tennis players had been offered money to throw matches ("Tennis rocked by fixing rumours", January 19, p1) surely is only one form of match-fixing. Another form is revealed in the draw for the Australian Open, in which one of the32 seeded players will not meet another of the seeded players until round three, at least. A case of money talks?
Ken McPhan, Spence
ALL BETS SHOULD BE OFF
If anyone needs a good reason to ban live sports betting, they need look no further than the latest tennis scandal. Perhaps all betting on sport should be banned.
Wal Pywell, Wanniassa
Malcolm Turnbull calls for boots onthe ground in the fight against Islamic State and concedes that Islamic terrorism does indeed have something to do with Islam.
Where have I heard that before? Couldn't be from that war-mongering Tony Abbott who was openly derided by Turnbull and Bishop for saying essentially the same thing, could it?
H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW
MURDOCH MAKES NEWS
You have to hand it to Rupert Murdoch, at 84, teaming up with the attractive and much younger Jerry Hall, 59. Rupert is to the print and electronic media what Hugh Hefner is to adult entertainment or Susan Peacock is to politics.
Adrian Jackson, Middle Park, Vic
Did Australians miss something when Malcolm Turnbull spoke of the ideas boom, innovation and disruptors ("Public service ready to send work to India", January 18, p1)?
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan, NSW
Our government's considering outsourcing the Australian Public Service to that global bastion of competence and probity, India.
I say they're not going far enough: Ipropose we outsource Parliament.
Fred Pilcher, Kaleen
I hope the ebullient governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Glenn Stevens, is happy with our new exchange rate. Something unavailable here that had a price of $US64.70 today cost $A94. With all his expenses paid and a whopping salary, he will obviously not be impacted by his cock-eyed enthusiasm for an increasingly worthless dollar, now almost aBanana Republic currency.
Alan McNeil, Weetangera
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