How is it fair that the Abbott government axed $300 million in wage increases for early childhood educators (''Pay-rise backflip a 'slap in the face for workers','' December 11, p5)?

I am an early childhood educator; I love my career. Many people, however, (our new government included) still believe that we are merely glorified babysitters. This is so far from true that it is beyond a joke.

A person's most formative years are those up to the the age of five. It is in this time that children learn to speak, listen to direction, write, count, learn differences between right and wrong.

Being an early childhood educator is difficult, it is why we need to study and get qualifications to be able to provide the best possible care for the next generation of citizens of this great nation in which we live.

So how on earth can Tony Abbott and Sussan Ley justify withdrawing that pay increase? Obviously neither cares that the salary they are on is what a Certificate III trainee would likely make over a minimum five years.

Your paper states that ''the starting wage for a university-educated early childhood teacher is $42,000 a year''. Before July 1, 2013, a Certificate III trainee over the age of 21 would be lucky to earn $27,000 a year.

I would love to see Mr Abbott and Ms Ley spend a week doing what it is that we do and then try and tell us we don't deserve a pay rise.

S. McElligott, Nicholls

Opposition to LRT

I make the following plea to the ACT government in regard to light rail transport: please learn from the City of Edinburgh's unhappy experience (i.e., 63 per cent of the residents wanted the project to be scrapped) and don't impose LRT on Canberra, as it will be far too costly and cause chaos and economic loss during the long construction phase.

It won't integrate well with the built environment and Northbourne Avenue will look barren and ugly after the trees have been cut down to make way for rail tracks and overhead wires, and it won't be as effective, versatile or environmentally sustainable as hybrid buses powered by biofuels.

Canberra already has the infrastructure for buses, so why waste money constructing an expensive track to Gungahlin? Also, what about the transport needs in other parts of Canberra? Residents in those areas won't be benefiting from the LRT, so why should they have to share the financial burden? The LRT is shaping up to be a classic case of ''Verschlimmbesserung'' - an attempt to improve things, but making them worse - as the infrastructure and loan costs are going to be so great that the ACT government will need to reduce expenditure on ACTION and other municipal services, and all of Canberra's taxpayers will end up being worse off.

As part of his duty-of-care obligations to taxpayers, the ACT's Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, Simon Corbell, should consult with Edinburgh's residents and councillors before any more resources are allocated to the LRT proposal.

Peter Sherman, Aranda

Tragedy for youth

Who exactly is responsible for the alcohol violence and tragedy of young people trying to meet and enjoy themselves in the evenings in Civic?

The people responsible are successive ACT governments and developers who are so witless and lacking in imagination, they have approved and allowed a bounty of places that sell alchohol, exploit and make money out of young people.

Is this all the ACT government has to offer young people?

May I suggest, to curtail this moral bankruptcy, the ACT government try to be creative by creating social places young people can meet and enjoy themselves: places such as Garema Place where they can swing dance or enjoy other forms of dancing. Have outdoor films in Glebe Park, and maybe, as in Sydney's Domain, a soapbox corner where people can stand up and express their opinions. Also outdoor theatre spaces where young people can play musical instruments and sing.

Binge drinking and violence did not exist in Civic when my sons and I came to live in Canberra in 1967. It has only occurred since the ACT approved of so many places to buy alchohol.

I hope other Canberrans will contribute ideas to make Civic a great place for young people to meet and socialise.

Penelope Upward, O'Connor

No glory in war

When reading John Blaxland's article ''Build legacy closer to home'' (Times2, December 9, p4) we should reflect on the impact that wars have had on our nation and the lessons we should draw from them.

Now at the age of 87, I keep remembering how the horrors of war have affected mankind and my family in particular.

From the age of 10, I recall my father, who was wounded in France during World War I, telling me how, in this war, workers fought workers at the behest of their rulers who sought greater spheres of influence.

I was in my late teens when my brother-in-law was badly wounded fighting the Japanese in PNG during World War II, while another brother-in-law, a POW, was killed by a Korean guard while working on the Thai/Burma Railway.

I was middle-aged when my young nephew was one of the last Australian soldiers to be killed in Vietnam. Such were the tragic experiences of just one family, among the millions who suffered worldwide.

Struggling over the decades to answer: War. What For? the complexity of this question was compounded when I belatedly traced the family tree of our adopted indigenous son and discovered, from other readings, that his ancestors were engaged in frontier wars against the white invaders.

Without wishing to offend any readers on this very sensitive topic of wars, I urge that when we study war's impact on our national identity we analyse the justice or otherwise of these wars and avoid glorifying war when we honour those who died bravely in battle.

Keith McEwan, Bonython

New laws defective

One can only feel sympathy for those innocent victims who became married under the ACT Marriage Equality (Same Sex) laws. Due to the Attorney-General's incompetence, and despite expert advice from some of the finest legal minds in the country, he persisted with ramming through flawed legislation. Perhaps he could do the honourable thing and personally reimburse these victims their costs. Perhaps he could also reimburse the ACT taxpayers the cost of drafting and implementing that same defective legislation.

Jim Coats, Fadden

Abbott open for business but logic not on the balance sheet

The Abbott government certainly has opened Australia for business. The question is what business? It will not be car making or supplying car makers, nor likely to be ''Australia's own airline''. Why assist childcare centres to pay staff any better, all they need is more training - who needs to pay living expenses?

Public schools are far better resourced than private schools, so redirect federal funding. Still, there is mining - tourists would much rather see huge mining machines than coral reefs. After all, how much tourism profit stays in Australia compared to foreign-owned mining companies?

Strange that government-owned airlines such as Singapore are apparently besting Qantas. The cash-strapped US government could bail out its car makers in 2008, but our government knows better.

Much better to abolish federal agencies and leave it to the states; much more efficient to have eight standards than a single national one. All this in a few months - imagine Australia in 2016.

Rod Olsen, Flynn

We need tariff protection

The federal government's trade policy significantly disadvantages Australian manufacturers and workers. That lack of protection is unfair and unreasonable. For example: 1. America imposes an import tax of 25 per cent on Australian cars, but Australia charges no import tax on American cars, even though Australia has a free trade agreement. 2. Thailand imposes an import tax of 60 per cent on Australian cars, but Australia charges no import tax on imported Thai cars, even though we just signed a free trade agreement .

Australia must offer its workers some tariff protection or the nation will face the total loss of its manufacturing industry. Once gone it cannot be recovered.

Greg Wolfe, Monash

Our industrial reef

I was sad to read that our environment minister has decided that the Great Barrier Reef needs further industrialisation (''Fears after Great Barrier Reef projects approved'', December 11, p4).

My daughter came home from kindergarten not long ago, very excited about a virtual tour she took with her class to Australia's iconic places. She asked me if, when she has learnt to swim a bit better, I could take her snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef and, of course, I said I would. I have not visited the reef for 10 years, but will never forget the time I've spent there - a place so beautiful that it seemed literally not of this world. It is something I'd love to share with my children.

We have a big country, with lots of natural assets, but only one reef. It's beyond me how it could seem like a good idea to turn a place so precious into an industrial site. I fear that my daughter will judge us very harshly when she is my age.

Saffron Zomer, Lyneham

I can't believe that the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, doesn't understand the meaning of ''World Heritage Area''. How can the dredging and dumping of 3 million cubic metres of sea floor to make way for a giant coal terminal in the Great Barrier Reef be seen as the responsible custodianship of the Australian environment. Perhaps his title should be changed to Minister for Environmental Vandalism.

And yet, he asserts that the Abbot Point and Curtis Island projects will result in an ''improvement in water quality''. Hard to believe that one, Greg.

Barbara Godfrey, Lyneham

Government has last word

Ross Gittins (''What we know is worrying'', Times2, December 11, p4) said in relation to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty that is being negotiated: ''The Parliament will have to be told the content of the done deal before it votes to ratify any treaty the government has agreed to …'' He might be thinking of the situation in the US. Unless the procedure has changed since I was secretary of the Treaties Committee, treaty actions are not ratified by a vote of the Australian Parliament.

After being tabled in Par-liament, significant treaty actions are referred to the Treaties Committee for inquiry and report. Tabling occurs after the treaty action has been signed, but normally before ratification. Ratification is the responsibility of the government alone. The government does not have to adhere to any recommendations the Treaties Committee may make. The government reserves the right to ratify a treaty action before tabling.

Sometimes legislation might be required to give effect to a treaty in Australia. If so, Parliament would get to consider the legislation. However, legislation is not always required.

Paul McMahon, Isaacs

Justice in government

Patrick O'Hara (Letters, December 10) did not exhibit the objectivity shown by Crispin Hull in his referenced article (''Australians … we are devoid of integrity'', Forum, December 7. p2). Hull at least acknowledged that ''the malfeasance has infected both sides of politics''. O'Hara cites his experience as a ''nasho'' in Vietnam as ''another example of a shameful political decision by government (sic right wing)''.

Does he not recall the shameful behaviour of the left of politics in the following years during which our returned servicemen were treated more like traitors than men who had served their country?

If both sides of politics have quarantined ethics whenever an important advantage was to be gained, there can be only one conclusion: the ethical problem is with the wider population. How many of us are prepared to give up an advantage, or accept an outcome that we would rather not have happen, for moral rather than practical reasons?

We can rightly demand justice from government as its first responsibility, but we cannot expect government to attend to the moral obligations placed in us by God and elaborated by Yahweh, Christ or Allah.

Les Broderick, Farrer

Humans must learn to live with sharks

Instead of indiscriminately killing sharks because they stray into ''our'' part of the sea, or because they're more than three metres long, and because they're doing what comes naturally (''Shaken WA declares killing zones for sharks,'' December 11, p3), the WA authorities should be looking at the behaviour of surfers and swimmers.

For a start, wearing a black or dark-coloured wetsuit is asking for trouble: to a shark, you're probably a seal - its favourite food. Swimming alone too far out, or paddling a surfboard, especially if you're kicking vigorously, signals to a shark that there's a fish or other prey in trouble at the surface: a likely easy meal. At the very least, the shark will be curious, and, having only one way to ''check things out'', the shark may take an exploratory bite. In the case of a large shark, a ''nibble'' can easily be fatal to a surfer or swimmer.

We are intruders into the sharks' domain, one that they and their ancestors have been the masters of for more than 400 million years. If we're wise, we'll learn how to live with the ocean's most important predator.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Debating gay nuptials

Roger Quarterman (Letters, December 9) laments the alleged social divisiveness of the same-sex marriage debate. Many, however, consider it to be a constructive social debate people are entitled to have in a democratic society like ours. Regardless, it could be easily avoided if the nasty, red-necked, bigoted, right-wing fundamentalists he mentions were to simply become nice, progressive, fair-minded, middle-of-the-road moderates and respect the rights of others. Oh, and after several days now of same-sex marriage being legal in the ACT, I can report for the benefit of any angst-ridden readers out there (and my wife) that I have not yet had the urge to marry another bloke, just because I can!

Richard Roberts, Farrer




That's it, folks. Holden's decision to stop making cars in Australia ends the postwar dream that one day we would become an important industrialised nation. Most of our other manufacturing has long gone. A lot of the blame for that lies with the free-trade policies of our governments since 1980. What lies ahead for us? Hard times for many, I am sorry to predict.

Ray Aitchison, Waramanga

Poor old South Australia. What with the demise of Holden cars and their extension of the moratorium on growing genetically modified crops (as recently announced by their Minister for Tourism), the state will be truly GM-free.

J. Ellis, Weetangera

So many bemoaning General Motors' exit from Australia - too few of them to have bought a Holden!

Ian Pearson, Barton

Tony Abbott says he is not going to mince his words over GM's departure. Of course not, that's Christopher Pyne's job!

Gary Frances, Bexley, NSW

Australia without Holden is like a pub with no beer.

G. Coquillette, Spence

Australia, O! Australia, reduced now, to football, meat pies and kangaroos.

Annie Lang, Kambah


I noticed the PM the other day travelling to the airport in his chauffeur-driven Holden. (Well done, PM.) But not more than a foot away was the PM's security detail in a BMW. Why are we paying for an imported vehicle worth well over $100,000 when our car industry is going down the drain?

Now they have the audacity to cut funding to the War Memorial. Our fallen must be turning in their graves.

Quentin Roberts, Harrison


Barack Obama praised Nelson Mandela as the great liberator of the 20th century, then with British PM David Cameron attracted criticism for a happy selfie with Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

It was almost reassuring to see that not all present were completely subjected to a level of charismatic attraction that should always be a warning to civilisations.

Noelle Roux, Chifley


It was a sad day for ACT women on Wednesday - the doors of the Women's Information and Referral Centre in Civic closed. This valued and vital service provided unsurpassed service to the women of Canberra for over 35 years. Vale WiRC.

Joan Palmer, Phillip


Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attached file. Fax: 6280 2282.Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).