Your article on local staff quitting the post in Jakarta (''DFAT Jakarta stampede threatens AusAID work'', July 3, p1) is somewhat over-egged! Some years ago, completing an AusAID-funded project in Jakarta, I rented a room in the Utan Kayu neighbourhood from a local staffer employed by AusAID. Locally employed AusAID staff not just in Jakarta but regional centres including Bali, were then - and probably still are - until the reported exodus reported by an unnamed officer, greatly outnumbering local staff employed to assist with consular/administrative matters at post.
Wastage was rife. There were consignments of Tamiflu bought at taxpayers' expense rotting in warehouses, because appropriate checks and balances had not been considered in AusAID's haste to ''protect'' the populace against swine flu. Much of the miscommunication, I was assured, occurred because Australian-based AusAID officers appeared - to their locally employed staff at least - to be linguistically challenged.
Unlike Dutch, American and Japanese NGOs, none spoke Bahasa Indonesia at that time. In short, there was much over-servicing and over-employment of AusAID locally employed staff (who also appeared to be paid far more than their counterparts in other missions).
Reported cost-cutting measures are timely and taxpayers should be thankful.
Christina Faulk, Swinger Hill
Defence of women
Instead of wasting $370,000 on public relations advice from private consultants (''Defence calls in spin doctor reinforcements'', July 4, 1), the money - including the $6.4 million to be trimmed from Defence PR over the four-year forward estimates period - should be spent in compensating women cadets assaulted by their fellow defence personnel.
Every time a ''join Defence Force'' ad (targeting young women) comes on late at night, I want to throw something at the TV. Sure, join the force and be raped by your colleagues! Great future for women!
Elsie M. Garcia, Weston Creek
Irwin Ross of Concerned Citizens of Canberra fears Boko Haram and the Boston Marathon bombings as a result of the Gunghalin mosque being authorised to go ahead (''Gungahlin mosque opponents lose court battle'', July 5, p1). Will he also be advocating the closure of all Buddhist temples in Canberra. After all, the Buddhists in Burma are torching, killing and driving into refugee camps the Rohingya Muslims. In Sri Lanka, the Buddhists are burning Christian churches and mosques. Would Mr Ross have argued for a prohibition on Catholic churches in Canberra during the bombing campaign of the IRA in England?
Mr Ross and his group need to stop the hyperbole and start practising Christian tolerance and understanding.
Neil Davis, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
If ever anyone doubted that Canberra can produce intense sunshine, observe the latest unsuccessful legal protest against the building of a mosque in Gungahlin. There are sunburnt necks by the score in this town!
Greg Simmons, Lyons
Islam is a very confusing deity. The ACT Supreme Court rejected the challenge opposing the construction of a new mosque in that bastion of whingers, Gungahlin, because it did not see any correlation between followers of that deity kidnapping and raping hundreds of young girls nor that the warring warriors (ISIL) of that deity murdering followers of the same deity, posed a threat to our insular society.
There was also a report of an Australian ''freedom fighter'' claiming that his Allah has called for the torture and murder of other ''followers of Allah''. Perhaps there is more than one Allah. Perhaps the Canberra Muslim Community group could clarify this?
L. Christie, Canberra City
Justice for Israel trio
Gwenyth Bray's comment (Letters, July 7) regarding the condemnation of violence relating to the Israeli murder of an Arab boy is valid. But Israeli society abhors such behaviour and will prosecute the murderers.
The difference is that the Palestinian murderers of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali will be made into poster boys for jihad.
And Israelis will not be seen dancing in the streets celebrating the murder of an innocent child.
Ilana Cohen, Modi'in, Israel
Adrian Jackson (Letters, July 4) seems to suggest that the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and murdered deserved it because they were ''ultra-Zionists''.
He arrives at this disturbingly immoral position by describing some acts perpetrated by a small minority of extremist settlers and then suggesting that this is true of all settlers including the murdered teenagers.
Bill Arnold, Chifley
Don't condemn Israel
Justin McCarthy (Letters, July 4) condemns Israel for demolishing the homes of terrorists. The problem for Israel is that the terrorist organisations motivate Palestinians to carry out acts of terrorism, including suicide bombings, by promising their families will be well paid, while the Palestinian Authority pays a monthly amount far above the average wage to the families of Palestinians who are prisoners in Israeli jails.
It's easy for McCarthy to cast aspersions on the steps Israel takes to protect its citizens, but when the terrorists aren't afraid to be imprisoned or to die, and are recruited with promises of riches for their families, it's hard to see a better way for Israel to deter them.
Athol Morris, Forde
Transport's big vision
As the plans for Canberra light rail progress, it is reassuring to read informative and impartial reporting in The Canberra Times. One day ''Trees to go'', then next ''Natives to be planted''. This keeps the correspondence active, not to say hysterical, at each fresh outrage. Trees, heritage, and the inevitable ''economics'' with figures to prove for or against at will.
I am reassured that our administration's plans to bring Canberra to adulthood continue undeterred. In the past there have been lapses where expedience won, as is evident when the corridor through Barton and Dickson, once ready for the rail to Yass, was lost; and the twin lanes of MacArthur Avenue became narrowed by trivial dwellings.
We need the big vision, otherwise the obsession with the personal car will choke us. Keep going, big planners.
Jack Palmer, Watson
Be assured, ASIC does take action on the big end of town
Your editorial ''Fiduciary duty for investors too'' (Times2, July 2, p2) attacks ASIC's enforcement record in such a fact-free way that it needs correction.
Enforcement is fundamental to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and our priorities of ensuring investors are confident and informed and market integrity maintained. It is about punishing wrongdoing and shaping the behaviour of those we regulate.
In the last three years, ASIC has completed more than 550 investigations. We have banned more than 130 people from giving financial advice and more than 220 directors from managing a company.
ASIC has completed more than 70 civil and 80 criminal cases and entered into more than 50 enforceable undertakings to address compliance failures or dodgy conduct.
We suspended or varied more than 70 Australian financial services licences and Australian credit licences and obtained over $300 million compensation for investors. These statistics show we are not reluctant to take action where warranted. Nor is ASIC hesitant to take action against ''the big end of town''. Federal Court judgments earlier this week have resulted in penalties against Newcrest Mining Limited of $1.2 million and GE Capital Finance Australia of $1.5 million. These companies are substantial, as are the penalties. A proper consideration of ASIC's enforcement record will show that there has been many actions taken against major companies and major banks, including UBS, BNP, Macquarie Bank, and the Commonwealth Bank.ASIC's continued focus on dishonest conduct, misleading statements, unconscionable conduct, misappropriation, theft and fraud has seen more than 150 enforcement outcomes achieved in the last 18 months. Last week, former WealthSure financial adviser, Brian Veitch, was sentenced to a maximum six years' jail, with four years to serve - no light sentence. ASIC also has an insider trading record that is second to none. In the last 18 months, we have been successful in 15 matters.
This is not to say that ASIC cannot do better - as our public submissions to the Senate inquiry indicated, we need to improve our communications with whistleblowers and we need to move more quickly when serious malfeasance is occurring. Australian investors and consumers deserve an efficient and well-functioning financial system, underpinned by enforcement capability and action where warranted. I am proud of the achievements of the hard-working and professional ASIC staff who strive to achieve that outcome.
Greg Tanzer, Commissioner, ASIC
ABC duo 'nobodies'
Once again, dire threats to the ABC's viability are looming (''Conservative commentators to judge top ABC, SBS jobs'', July 3, p5). The Prime Minister has already reneged on a pre-election promise not to cut ABC funding, and is now seeking to locate compliant types to ''oversee'' decisions on who should be appointed to the ABC board.
This task has recently been handled by well-respected individuals, David Gonski and Ric Smith, under the Labor government. Now, we will have a couple of nobodies for this job (no one outside readers of The Australian knows who Albrechtsen is, and who can remember what Neil Brown did?) In a typical Abbott government move, it's all so tawdry and childish. Come the next election, I will be watching the coverage on the ABC and enjoying it immensely.
Jim Douglas, Kingston
Make IPA transparent
Nick Goldie (Letters, July 2) thinks it is unnecessary for The Canberra Times to give space to Dr Julie Novak from the Institute of Public Affairs. I think otherwise. We need to know what ideas they are pouring into willing politicians' heads.
However, the Times should not give her or others from the IPA space until it makes public its sponsors so we can see who stands to gain from their attempts to manipulate society.
Steve Thomas, Yarralumla
Tamils need protection
I am shocked that there hasn't been a wider outcry over the treatment of the Tamil asylum seekers on the boats from India. If they have been returned to Sri Lanka via Sri Lankan navy ships, that is cruel and inhumane by any standards.
These people are some of the thousands who have fled Sri Lanka for Indian refugee camps because of the persecution they have suffered.
Why Australia refuses to believe the UN's criticism of ongoing persecution of Tamils in Sri Lanka, and contradict its own travel advice that Sri Lanka isn't a safe country to visit, defies reason.
Tony Abbott says Sri Lanka is a country ''at peace'', but there are dozens of countries ''at peace'' around the world that continue to persecute and torture people.
I sincerely hope that this government will be taken to the International Court of Justice and convicted of failing in its obligations to asylum seekers that it signed up to under the UN Refugee Convention.
Clare Conway, Ainslie
Scott Morrison has managed to reach a lower level of morality than any previous Labor or Liberal minister.
Gifting Sir Lanka's murderous government gun boats to control refugees was horrific enough.
Forcing navy personnel to be accomplices to the disgraceful and murderous practice of returning refugees to obvious abuse makes it even worse.
What has happened to us Australia? We are no longer the brave heroes of Suvla. We have become the frightened children of rumour and innuendo.
Gerry Gillespie, Queanbeyan, NSW
The ''Case of the disappearing boats'' (Forum, July 5, p4) proves that this government is prostituting Australia's moral authority by conspiring with a war-crime saturated Sri Lankan regime which has total disregard for human rights. He who sups with the devil must use a long spoon!
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan, NSW
Congratulations, Jane Timbrell (Letters, July 7). Couldn't have said it better myself.
E.R. Haddock, Weston
Barr dropped ball on spending priorities
It seems the local government is keen on keeping ACT sporting bodies on side, judging by the amount of money former sports minister Andrew Barr allocated over his eight years in the job (''Barr sees infrastructure as legacy'', July 6, p46).
What would that amount of money ($165 million) have done for the likes of hospital waiting lists and especially the number of people desperately waiting on government housing, with a waiting list well in excess of four years? Perhaps the minister would gain greater support if he looked at addressing the problems that many people face in health and housing.
Geoff Thomson, Page
''Minister against the Environment'' would be a better title for Greg Hunt. He almost danced when Clive Palmer said he would repeal the carbon price. He will be grinning soon (''Senate set to kiss carbon price goodbye'', July 7, p6).
''From 2011 to 2013, carbon emissions from electricity supply, the major source of carbon pollution in Australia, reduced by 7 per cent, due both to the carbon price and growth in renewable energy. Renewable energy in Australia grew by around 30 per cent from 2012.'' theguardian.com/environment/southern-crossroads/2014/may/26/carbon-price-abolish-tony-abbott-australia.
Mr Hunt has promised power bills will fall and we know how reliable Coalition promises are. We will pay more flood levies, higher insurance premiums against fire and more support money to farmers battling longer droughts as the pollution blanket warms our world, intensifying weather. Harsher fires are destroying tree seeds they used to open. It's strange during an ''economic crisis'' that this government refuses the billions of dollars the carbon price brings in. Australia needs the money to participate in the green economy.
Rosemary Walters, Palmerston
TO THE POINT
If the Commonwealth Bank and ASIC were trade unions, the Abbott government would be jumping at the opportunity to hold a royal commission.
Patricia Saunders, Chapman
Poor Mario Stivala (Letters, July 4), who calls for the immediate ''eradication'' of the ABC and SBS, thereby confessing that he can get all the intellectual stimulation he needs from commercial television and radio.
I'm so sorry to hear that, Mario.
Ian Fraser, Duffy
Due to construction along Constitution Avenue, buses have been diverted via Blamey Crescent in Campbell. None of these buses are permitted to drop off or pick up passengers along the diversion. How daft is that?
Robert Irwin, Queanbeyan, NSW
Great to see the National Capital Authority now has an expert design review panel (''Design experts to help review ACT projects'', July 3, p7). For optimum communication, its meeting place should have a public gallery.
Jack Kershaw, Kambah
I look forward to M. Silex (Letters, July 4) providing an equally condemnatory commentary the next time David Pope presents a scathing cartoon about one of Labor's blunders.
Eric Hunter, Cook
Is no one taking your editorial cartoonist David Pope to task for his cartoon making fun of minister Senator Matthias Cormann's Belgian-German ancestry (Times2, July 2, p1)? Have the so-called human rights and discrimination commissions even pricked up their ears that Pope has overstepped the mark with his racist mockery: a new low for him?
Greg O'Regan, Farrer
E.F. Byrne (Letters, July 5) offers a series of sweeping and derogatory generalisations about Muslims. Would you feel equally comfortable publishing a letter that offered a series of sweeping and derogatory generalisations about Jews?
(Dr) William Maley, Reid
NITSCHKE NO HELP
Every day, people, alone and afraid, face their demons and decide living is too painful. To say society should have no role in offering a lifeline but rather instead offer them the means to die, is unforgivable. Philip Nitschke (''Nitschke under fire over suspect suicide'', July 5, p8) could have set this debate back a decade by his polarising behaviour.
Mary Porter, MLA, Canberra City
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