What a sad joke was pulled at the weekend on ordinary ALP members who thought they were getting a say on the ALP leadership, only to discover, at the 11th hour, that they had been hoodwinked, yet again. If this is what the ALP calls democratic, God help it.
When one candidate can secure 59.92 per cent of 30,000-odd members' votes and still lose to a candidate who secures 63.955 per cent of the 86 parliamentarians - with a weighting of 1:351 towards the parliamentarians, most of whom were Australian Workers Union stooges and had the backing of phantoms to win their preselections - it is a farce.
Anyone who contemplated joining the ALP surely would be put off by the cunning plan to give them only 50 per cent of a say in the leadership.
When will political parties in this country become democratic? It has not happened yet, even though the mouse (shadow treasurer) announced that it had happened on Sunday.
The AWU/Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association alliance still rules the ALP. I had thought that we may actually get a party that stood up for working people.
Shaun Newman, Townsville, Queensland
The breakdown of voting figures for the Labor leadership (''Tax fight looms as Shorten anointed'', October 14, p1) certainly gives lie to Labor's claim that peace and harmony now exists within the party.
When 66 per cent of the ''common folk'', ie the public, vote one way but are then ''overwhelmed'' by mates in caucus, it does not convey the concept of equality or paying heed to constituents.
''Peace in our time'' but for how long?
Paul O'Connor, Hawker
If Tony Abbott could last a full parliamentary term in opposition with little positive to say, instead choosing to use negativity as his only form of attack, then Bill Shorten should have little trouble taking Labor to the next election. And the beauty of a Shorten-led Labor opposition is he is more than capable of highlighting Abbott's unsuitability for the top job.
D. J. Fraser, Mudgeeraba, Qld
Come clean, Greens
The results of the ACT Senate seats yet again demonstrate that the Greens have been dishonest in their claims that they were seeking to win the Liberal Senate seat when their real target was the one held by Kate Lundy.
As in previous elections, the majority of those who ''strategically'' voted Green in the Senate were those who voted Labor in the House of Representatives.
In the lower house, Labor polled a combined vote in the seats of Fraser and Canberra of 103,676 votes, the Liberals 83,612 and the Greens 32,356.
In the Senate, the respective numbers were 84,974 for Labor, 81,614 for the Liberals and 47,553 for the Greens, giving Labor 18,702 and the Liberals 1998 less votes, while the Greens polled 15,197 more votes than they did in the House of Representatives.
To expect that large numbers of voters who supported the Liberals in the lower house would then vote Green in the Senate defies credulity and it is now time for the Greens to finally come clean and admit that it is the Labor Senate seat they are really trying to win.
Ian De Landelles, Hawker
Win the war of words
I've probably upset a number of your readers by not referring to ''reprogramming'' the English language but recent changes in the use of English are worthy of some thought, even to the extent of - do people know the meaning of words today?
Three common examples: ''less'' and ''fewer''; ''international'' and ''foreign''; ''that'', ''which'' and ''who''.
In each example, the first word seems to be replacing the others, regardless of meaning.
Something for those considering our new, common English school curriculum?
David Wade, Holt
Public schools all class
Buried in the Sunday Canberra Times is a small, unattributed article (''Private is no guarantee of higher NAPLAN scores'', October 13, p5) stating that a recent Australian study has debunked the myth that ''private schooling enables children to achieve better academic results''. That's right - public schools do just as well for a child as a private school does.
The fact that your paper barely saw fit to mention this is yet another example of the systematic devaluing and dismantling of our excellent public education system.
Helen Berg, Curtin
Drinking, drug dangers
The doubt about seeds and the new drug law is a storm in a teacup (''Doubts raised over new drug law'', October 12, p1). First, it is inaccurate to report ''That [drug] approach differs to drink-driving laws, where drivers are allowed to consume a legal minimum because it does not impair their ability to drive''. I approached all state health authorities four years ago for written or verbal confirmation of this misconception and none would assert or confirm that a reading under 0.05 grams/ 100 millilitres blood was safe.
The Australian Federal Police website makes it clear. It states that at 0.05 grams concentration of alcohol, your risk of being involved in a road crash is double that of a 0.00 per cent reading. It adds that at 0.1 the risk is seven times higher than at 0.00 per cent and at 0.15 grams the risk is 25 times that of a 0.00 per cent reading. The health and safety message is don't drink and drive and don't drug and drive.
Colliss Parrett, Barton
Unravel garment trade
Woolworths and Wesfarmers, who had been saying since June they intended to sign the Bangladesh fire and safety accord, will find it difficult to deny knowing the Palmal-owned, Aswad Composite Mills ''Garment factory had been tipped as unsafe'' (October 11, p6).
Balance sheets presented at AGMs will not reflect the cost incurred in Bangladeshi lives to arrive at the bottom line.
Garment workers - monthly wage $38 - live in abject poverty in slum conditions shared with vermin, pestilence and sewage, unable to afford even basic food, let alone clothing, medicine and healthcare. This contrasts grotesquely with CEOs paid millions in ''compensation'' for their dedication to prevail in the race to the bottom, which ensures those they vicariously employ subsist in conditions that the Australian RSPCA would not tolerate.
Australians cannot be unaware that so much of their haute couture originates from Western-supported, dictatorial regimes - Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka - where a few billionaires ''use'' their fellow human beings as disposable inputs.
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan
Population curbs likely to be the correct choice for all
I have only just read Malcolm King's misplaced criticism of Paul Ehrlich and the population ''control'' movement (''Population alarmists disregard human feelings'', Times2, October 11, p5). At the time of its publication, I was attending the Fenner conference with Professor Ehrlich, dealing with the interconnections between population, resource scarcity and climate change.
In supposedly ''getting it wrong'', Paul Erhlich's fault was that he did not anticipate the Green Revolution whose father, Norman Borlaug, warned in his Nobel prize acceptance speech that it had bought only a few decades of time. Population still needed to be kept in check. The signs are, however, that Ehrlich will be proved right in the end, apart from the timing. Increasing resource scarcity, particularly of oil on which so much agriculture depends, combined with climate change and its myriad effects, will have a devastating effect on food production and our ability to feed all of humanity.
Dr Martha Campbell, of the University of California at Berkeley, has cogently argued that those who rail against the population movement, as King has done, are exercising coercion against women by effectively denying them rights to contraception and the ability to control their own bodies. It is basic misogyny. In this light, it is not we in the population movement who are disregarding human feelings, but the likes of King himself.
Jenny Goldie, president, Sustainable Population Australia
If PR consultant Malcolm King had attended the Fenner conference on ''Population, Resources & Climate Change'' this week, perhaps he would not seem so ignorant on population matters as he appears to be (Times2, October 11, p5).
The conference was not about population control but population choice in a world of increasing greenhouse gas pollution and resource reduction. There is no need for contraceptive coercion. As Western women have shown, they will choose to do so given the knowledge and means to control their fertility. Unfortunately, most women in developing countries don't have that choice.
True, human ingenuity in the form of the Pill slowed the rate of population growth and development of fertilisers from fossil fuels provided more food. However, growing extra food also entailed much destruction of forests, adding to the greenhouse problem and degrading or destroying arable lands. Developments, such as genetic modification, may increase crop yields, etc, but are unlikely to produce the gains needed to meet the needs of projected population growth. King claims that those concerned with overpopulation have ''confused individual consumption with industrial rapaciousness and pollution''. In fact, most Westerners do overconsume and pollute as individuals and some as industry as well. Estimates are that if the whole of the world lived as we do we would need about five Earths to sustain us.
The only thing wrong with ''The Population Bomb'' was its timing, as future generations are likely to find out if we don't act now.
Julia Richards, Kambah
MPs caught out
So now a quarter of Tony Abbott's frontbench is embroiled in the travel expenses scandal to the sum of $16,000 to attend a wedding. These are elected members using public funds for private benefit. Tony Abbott has repaid $1700, George Brandis and Barnaby Joyce are now repaying $2350 for claiming a shock jock's wedding and then Julie Bishop, Barnaby Joyce and Teresa Gambaro together claimed $12,000 in overseas study payments to fly home from a wedding in India. Even the meagre figure of $354 for one night's accommodation is being repaid by other elected members, because they were found out.
Let's put some perspective on this. My wife is an ACT public servant. She works as a primary school teacher and loves her job. However, as a comparison with the recent travel claims by our elected members who stay in comfortable and secure accommodation, it is worlds away from the coalface. Remember how excited your child was as you waved them goodbye as they headed off on school camp? Guess how much these public servants get paid each night to accompany your child for a very excited night with their classmates. Nothing! Zero! Zip! $0! If, however, teachers take their classes out bush under canvas and not in those fancy cabins, then they are reimbursed $30 for their efforts. Is it just me or are things out of balance?
Nigel Dears, Chapman
The recent bout of MPs being caught dipping into the parliamentary trough needs clarifying. Most public service employees are required to apply for out-of-pocket expenses to be reimbursed and the payment is reliant on approval after perusal of the claim being assessed against the appropriate legislation. If this is not the case for our MPs then the fix is simple: have the claims assessed for approval or denial. Such action would remove the responsibility from the MPs, thus reducing the likelihood of an offence being committed.
Bill Dobell, Sebastopol, Vic
Wrong way, turn back
The proposed changes to bus route 63 referred to by D. Barber (Letters, October 12) affect the whole of Goodwin Village and not just the ''Original'' part to which they refer. Goodwin Village, Monash, has a frontage to Cockcroft Avenue, which is much greater than its frontage to Barraclough Crescent. However, it is the time factor that is of greater concern. At present Route 63 buses are scheduled to arrive at Erindale Centre four to five minutes after leaving Goodwin Village.
The proposed changes take route 63 into and around Fadden on a circuitous route that would appear to make the journey to Erindale much longer. As Erindale Centre is the closest shopping centre for Goodwin Village residents the proposed changes are not in the best interests of all Village residents.
J. and N. Crane, Goodwin Village, Monash
'Transportation' may make a comeback
Your front-page story, ''Govt was warned of prison crowding'' (October 9) by Christopher Knaus for the first time brought some hard facts to the debate about the needed capacity of the Alexander Maconochie Centre.
The current daily average numbers of prisoners each month of 2013 showing a steady increase in nine months from 244 in January to 326 in September are startling and a matter of serious concern. These figures show that both the ACT government forecast (cited by then corrections minister Simon Corbell) and the forecast by John Walker grossly underestimated the real needs of the prison.
Walker was closer to the reality than Corbell, but even Walker's prediction of a need for 349 prison places in 2020 is short of what will be required. A total of 450 to 500 places would be closer to the mark.
There are many options that must be considered to meet this crisis, but let us hope that we do not find it necessary to return to the use of ''transportation'' of our prisoners to NSW as we did in the past.
David Biles, Curtin
Paul Bowler (Letters, October 14) states that the Australian Parliament has power to make laws with respect to marriage ''to the exclusion of the states and territories''. To borrow from Bowler's own words: ''What nonsense!''
The marriage power is what is known as a ''concurrent'' power. States and territories can make valid laws about marriage provided that they are not inconsistent with a Commonwealth law on the subject, such as the Marriage Act. The ACT attorney-general says that the proposed ACT law on same-sex marriage will not be inconsistent with the Marriage Act. The High Court will tell us whether that is correct.
Frank Marris, Forrest
TO THE POINT
TICKING THE RIGHT BOX
I see the Indian Supreme Court has legalised the placement of a further option on the Indian Ballot Paper: ''none of the above'' (''Indians to vote for 'none of the above'', October 12, p14). Please may we have this option on our ballot papers? Think of the time it will save many of us on election day.
C. J. Johnston, Duffy
L. Buckley (Letters, October 13) needs to learn the definition of ''entire population'' of Canberra. This population includes minorities such people with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the homeless, the aged, as well as gay people, which I assume was the inference in the letter. It is these minorities for which the ACT government needs to govern.
David Grills, Kambah
Regardless of the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General's views, or whether one supports gay marriage or not, the Federal government foisted self-government on the ACT on December 6, 1988. So we should be allowed to govern without federal or other legal interference.
P.M. Button, Cook
It appears some parliamentary members find it hard to learn from examples of our past. The main one is ''Those who live by the sword …''
Greg Simmons, Lyons
TIME FOR REAL AID
The UN is finally to investigate the reasons for the boat tragedies. Why do they need to ask? The glaring disparity between the poor Third World and the ever-increasing wealth of other countries is now and has always been the reason. Spread the aid to those who need it but real aid - agriculture, education and healthcare.
Rex Williams, Ainslie
QUESTION OF DUTY
Prince Frederik of Denmark, when asked about competing in ironman events, said: ''Fortunately, I can combine my passion with a duty, which is to show people through example that physical exercise is extremely important for health and to counteract obesity.'' If it is a duty for the future King of Denmark it should also be a duty when the PM of Australia undertakes high profile sporting events and leads by example.
M. Coulson, Kambah
KICKED INTO TOUCH
The Libs put the boot into Slipper, but now the shoe's on the other foot. Will he nevertheless be the sole sacrifice, with a legal bill that might see him down to his uppers?
Ed Highley, Kambah
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