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We, as a country, are better off than we have ever been before, yet this Coalition government is obsessed with attacking the most vulnerable, whether they be refugees seeking asylum or those who are the most financially disadvantaged. We are currently wasting billions of dollars locking up already traumatised people (refugees). The most human and beneficial way to deal with this situation is the way we did with the Vietnamese in the past.

We can provide an approach that we can be proud of, not something that makes us look like the Nazis in Europe. The money saved can be given to those who really need it, rather that some multinational company that cannot even ensure these refugees are safe. We are failing not only our obligation under international conventions but ourselves as a nation. Is this really the Anzac spirit? We are truly capable of a more humane approach to this situation.

Do we want to allow ourselves to be driven by fear and mean-spiritedness? Would we prefer to be an example of what a country can be or simply another one of the mindless populace who allow politicians to control us with fear? Refugees are no threat to us. Many of us are related to, or know people who have been, refugees in the past. Let's aspire to be a world leader in human rights, rather than an inward looking country.

Martin Male, Red Hill

I find the treatment we are handing out to asylum seekers in my name is inappropriate, hateful, uncaring and definitely not in my name. Just because our current government has decided to treat them worse than livestock doesn't make it right. These are people like you and I - mothers, fathers, children. All would fit into our society without a single backward glance. Not to mention the rest of the world is looking at us like we are hillbilly rednecks without a shred of decency. It's past time we lifted our game in regards to asylum seekers and refugees and show the planet we have a heart.

Bill Hall, Page

How much longer must we be shamed, disgusted and appalled by the government's treatment of refugees and the billions of dollars being expended on keeping them locked up on Nauru and Manus Island? How much longer will we have to put up with the ghastly media campaign to denigrate and vilify these traumatised children, women and men, who just need our help and compassion? This must stop. We could be doing so much to assist them, but instead blame is heaped on them. No more, please.

Anna Saxon, Lyneham

 

Chaplains survive

During the 2004 budget session, Peter Costello advised families they should have three children - one for mum, one for dad and one for the country. If families got busy following Mr Costello's encouragement, their kids would now be in primary school. I wonder how those parents feel knowing that this current Coalition government is attacking the future of those very same kids?

School kids bonus - gone. Needs-based education funding - destroyed. Increased health risks because the GP co-payment is likely to lead to a decline in vaccination rates. The prospect of crippling debt should they want a university degree. Reduced unemployment safety net if they can't find a job. A threat to the funding of a royal commission set up to recommend protection for kids in institutions..

But, hey, if the kids want to talk to someone about their concerns, there's plenty of money for religion-based school chaplaincy services.

Jill Peterson, Dunlop

 

Waste of concern

Jack Waterford (''Fiddling with budget figures'', Times 2, May 28, p1) could also have mentioned the strange disappearance of two important numbers from annual budget analysis. These are estimated revenue ($385.8 billion in 2014-15) and estimated payments ($412.5 billion in 2014-15), which can be found listed side by side on the very last page of the very last appendix of the budget overview paper. These numbers remind us that, as government blowhards and spinmeisters come and go, first, the government sector accounts for around a quarter of our mixed economy, as it has done for more than 30 years, and, secondly, the size of these aggregates, deficits and surpluses of a few billion dollars are hardly worth the printers' ink and confected concern that is lavished upon them.

David Stephens, Bruce

 

Disinfect system

Why is it possible for political bastardry to be perpetrated on the unsuspecting public who vote for one party, and later find that once their candidate is elected, he/she has suddenly decided to sit with the other side, or become an independent?

Martin Hamilton-Smith has just shown he is totally untrustworthy and should resign from the South Australian Parliament. When are we going to change the electoral laws to make this sort of traitorous behaviour impossible. Our whole electoral system needs disinfecting.

Patricia M. Smith,

Mount Martha, Vic

 

That makes three

Well done, Chris Williams and R.C. Warn (Letters, May 29), for sticking your heads above the parapet in defence of freedom of speech. I had begun to think I was the only person in the region who thought that this most fundamental of all our freedoms was important enough to defend. However, in a town replete with political operatives, academics, the press gallery (no less), not to forget our highly educated public servants, are three lonely voices the best we can do? Where the bloody hell are you?

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

 

Tax inequality

I fully support the comments made by the Chief Minister (Letters, May 28) about the need for a discussion about tax reform, including a focus on the impact on low and fixed-income households and fairness.

It is unfortunate then that a few years ago she implemented a rates system that does not meet these criteria. The tax dollars required to fund the services we equally call on are not collected fairly across the territory and affect many fixed-income households disproportionately. Fairness seems to be an elusive concept when it comes to revenue collection.

Steve Thomas, Yarralumla

 

Petulant party

A measure of the strength and robustness of any political party is the manner in which it deals with members who dare to have divergent views from those who would seek to control the way the organisation operates.

What are we to make then of the petulant decision of the all powerful administrative committee of the ACT branch of the Liberal Party to strip former long-serving chief minister and senator Gary Humphries of an award that would have recognised the significant contribution he has undoubtedly made to the party over more than 30 years (''Liberals revoke award for 'outspoken' Humphries'', May 29, p1).

This latest action is obviously aimed at discrediting Humphries even more than his detractors have done to date and is clear evidence that those who now control the party are determined to remove any lasting vestiges of opposition. Their actions should be condemned by all thinking rank and file Liberal Party members.

Ian De Landelles, Hawker

The Liberal Party preaches the virtue of free speech but it does not practise that. It does not allow its members to express their personal opinions. Take the case of Gary Humphries.

Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt

 

Lot of hot wind

Contrary to the assertion by George Papadopoulos (Letters, May 28), my previous letter on wind power in South Australia simply reported highlights from a paper available on the internet by Dr David Osmond and Luke Osborne, Peaking Capacity, CO2-e Emissions and Pricing in the South Australian Electricity Grid with High Wind Penetration 2005-2013. People should read it and draw their own conclusions.

Again contrary to Mr Papadopoulos, the relatively high cost of electricity in South Australia has nothing to do with the increase in wind power. Electricity prices were high in SA before wind power became a significant factor. Wholesale electricity prices in SA have not risen over recent years. Wind power may in fact have kept prices in that state below what they otherwise would have been in the absence of added wind power.

Doug Hynd, Stirling

 

Not so wicked

So, Frank Lowy's wicked Westfield shopping centre empire only pays an effective tax rate of 8¢ in the dollar, while the top 200 ASX-listed companies pay an average of 22¢ in the dollar (''Westfield short $2.6b on tax: report'', canberratimes.com.au, May 29). While some might think it's fair to single out Westfield or ''the big end of town'' for not doing enough of the ''heavy lifting'', we shouldn't overlook the fact that 60 per cent of companies and 70 per cent of mining companies pay no income tax at all.

The Abbott government justifies its bludgeoning of the youngest, oldest, poorest and weakest by arguing our entire community must share the budget burden. The numbers would suggest corporate Australia doesn't see itself as a member of our community, while the budget confirms the government shares that view.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

 

Keep in touch

It is, of course, great news to hear that the couple lost in the bush near Thredbo this week were found safe and well (''Lost couple survive freezing night'', May 29, p5). However it is somewhat surprising to read that Superintendent Rod Smith of the NSW police did not mention, when suggesting the equipment bushwalkers should carry, a personal location beacon. These small electronic devices can send a satellite message to rescue co-ordinators and alert them to an emergency situation and the exact location. Most bushwalkers I know now carry them on every trip.

Timothy Walsh, Garran

RIGHT SALES PITCH

Back in the 1960s when I worked for IBM, our top salesman was often quizzed on his success. His answer was that it is always easy to sell a good product. Could this still be true?

Ann Darbyshire, Gunning, NSW

THE BEST MEDICINE

Thanks to Bruce Haigh for his piece (''Ideology warrior Abbott's budget program a pogrom'', Times2, May 29, p5) today. When you are suffering under an oppressive regime, just having a laugh can be priceless.

S.W. Davey, Torrens

CHANGE OF THINKING

The social media campaign about responsible alcohol consumption seems to be having some success (''Savvy social media campaign puts some think into the drink'' May 28, p5) This good news and may help to reverse centuries of a culture that equates drinking with maturity and good fellowship, and sees no disgrace in being drunk.

Robert Willson, Deakin

LIGHT RAIL PLAN FLAWED

The proposal to increase the rates of properties along the route of the proposed light rail line highlights the fatal flaw in the whole concept. If money is available for public transport upgrades, invest it in the bus system in such a way that the benefits are spread across the whole of Canberra.

Michael Plummer, Watson

UNI'S BIG BENEFITS

Having spent 25 years teaching at university, I could see the good it was doing, over and over again.

Not only do the students benefit, the whole society benefits.

That being so, we should not be increasing fees.

There should be an equitable increase in taxes to raise the tertiary funds needed.

Reg Naulty, Hawker