Being cruel to be kind

Dianne Thompson (''Kosciuszko wild horses should be culled, says activist,'' July 26) says The Man from Snowy River ''was penned when people accepted cruelty to horses''.

People obviously still do, with the culling methods advocated by Thompson and Peter Cochran involving either trapping the horses then trucking them considerable distances for euthanasia, or shooting them from the air, after which they drag themselves around the hills for several weeks before dying.

I don't know what the answer is, but I wish people wouldn't pretend we are not being cruel to animals when we are.

Michael McCarthy, Deakin

Renewables snuff jobs

Bryan Furnass (CT, Letters, July 26) has again indulged in unsubstantiated scaremongering. There have been a huge number of predictions of climate-change doom in five years or so, and they've all failed to eventuate, haven't they? But that doesn't stop the doomsayers from making new ones.

There is no way to accurately foretell future climate. Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agrees that computer climate models have no skill at such predictions (IPCC TAR P774). So what does Bryan use to predict climate catastrophe? A crystal ball?


China, the world's biggest emitter of CO2, is embarking on a project to reduce pollution in its big cities, which will increase its emissions by one-eighth (''China's new fuel plan to boost carbon levels'', CT, World, p10, July 26).

When you consider that each year China's emissions are increasing by more than Australia's total annual emissions and they have just decided to increase that rate by one-eighth, what global effect was our carbon tax having? Unnoticeable.

Studies around the globe have shown that renewable energy results in a net decrease in jobs. The jobs that renewables produce are short term - just the construction phase. They result in other long-term jobs being lost because of the resulting high price for electricity.

Either way, Australia is a net sequester of CO2. We don't need to do any more. In fact, with any luck the government will rescind the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, thereby improving the economy immensely.

J. McKerral, Batemans Bay

Potty parenting

I read ''Teachers asked to toilet train'' (CT, p7, July 27) and continue to wonder what has happened to parental responsibility for raising their own children.

Do the schools really have to do it all in some cases, and should we as a community be expected to take collective responsibility for parental failings? I say no.

Viv Pearce, president of the ACT Council of P&C Associations, doesn't help with views such as ''we have lots of disadvantaged groups and it's a bit rich of the government to blame parents when this is a problem for all of us''.

If parents can't manage the basic parenting task of toilet training, perhaps they shouldn't be having children at all.

C. Thomas, Deakin

Community service

Mario Stivala's comment about the demise of the so-called ''age of entitlement'' (Letters, July 26) is little more than political sloganism, but it's his comments regarding the Abbott government's determination to send many tertiary students into massive debt that deserve a response.

Mario apparently ''doesn't see why individuals seeking a university education should be funded by the government''.

I suspect it's Mario's politics that led him to that view because the enormous value of tertiary education to society seems fairly obvious (the CSIRO and the John Curtin School of Medical Research being two local cases in point), even as most, but not all, individuals reap personal rewards for their degrees.

Many who go into human service industries - think nurses, social and childcare workers, teachers etc - are relatively poorly paid. Others don't find employment in their chosen field and are forced to apply their training to other less satisfying or less well-paid fields.

Most tertiary-educated workers will of course pay their share of tax, and probably more via our (partly) progressive income tax system, enabling the less well off to enjoy government benefits and standards of living that might not be otherwise available.

In short, students should contribute where possible to the cost of their degrees, but the notion that a university education primarily benefits the graduates themselves is complete bunkum.

Jon Stirzaker, Latham

Imbalance of power

The Maritime Powers Act 2013 seemed to have escaped public attention until the government raised it in High Court proceedings to justify the detention of occupants in a boat the navy intercepted outside territorial waters but in the so-called ''contiguous zone''.

The Act, by s. 72 (4), gives the government a truly remarkable power - to send people so detained anywhere it chooses, theoretically even to Gaza or North Korea.

Whether there are, as claimed in the current case, any limits on the power will be a matter for the High Court. But as I understand it, the claimants do not assert that the provision is unconstitutional.

I find this rather odd as it is difficult to see what head of constitutional power can support the provision. It seems to fall outside the only three possible contenders: immigration, external affairs, or defence.

Aside from that question, it is a matter of grave concern that the Parliament has given such wide-ranging and seemingly unfettered power to the government of the day.

I suspect that most Australians would feel deeply unhappy about the implications of this draconian law.

(Dr) Alvin Hopper, Dickson

Two careers, one stone

One of Julia Gillard's main problems was in thinking she had the right to choose who should be leader of the Labor Party. She did not think the voters should have that say.

First she thought she should be leader, even though Kevin Rudd was a very popular choice. Pushing herself in did immense harm to the party.

Now we hear that according to Greg Combet (''I'll make you PM'', CT, July 25), she still felt she knew best.

All this when everyone was hoping she would do the right thing and stand aside for Rudd as the voters clearly wanted him back.

Sadly, by causing this division, and having members publicly destroy Rudd's character, both of their political careers were finished.

Rosalind Carew, Isaacs

Hassle of light rail will drive commuters back to their cars

Although many have written about the potential of light rail to improve our lives and attract more people to public transport, I suspect the opposite will result.

At present, there are quite a few buses from Gungahlin and suburbs in the north that take us from close to home all the way to our destination. For example, I can take a bus from Dickson shops all the way to Curtin, and there are buses from Gungahlin taking passengers directly to Barton. Although these trips may be on the slow side, many commuters now have the advantage of taking one bus all the way to their destination.

While on board, they can sit back and make phone calls, check emails, or just catch up with the news. So the bus becomes an extension of home or office. Instead of the trip being time out like a car trip, we can integrate the bus trip into our daily routine.

However, with the advent of the hugely expensive light rail, there will inevitably be pressure on local bus services not to compete with the rail service and instead of taking passengers to their destinations on the south side, simply ferry them from north-side suburbs to Northbourne Avenue, there to alight and change to the rail service. As this rail leg of the trip will terminate in Civic, many commuters will have to change yet again to another bus. What is now a relaxing, productive trip is likely to become a twice-interrupted journey, and drive many north-side commuters back to their cars.

Pauline Westwood, Dickson

Abbott, Bishop impress

I recall Tanya Plibersek and Sarah Hanson-Young publicly stating that Tony Abbott would be an embarrassment to Australia on the world stage when he attended a G20 conference. Seems to me that during the current MH17 tragedy, Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop have far and away been the most impressive foreign leaders in terms of leadership, action, resolve, diplomacy and efficiency. Can you imagine Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek in the same situation? Now that would be an embarrassment.

P. Kramaric, Jerrabomberra

Asbestos struggle just

My heart goes out to those unlucky people who own asbestos-contaminated houses. I am proud of my old union, the Builders Labourers Federation, for exposing the dangers of asbestos and forcing a reluctant government to take action, albeit limited and grudging. Some images of that time are fresh in my mind: a man as white as snow, angle-grinding an ill-fitting panel at the police complex at Weston; feeling like I was walking on the moon in the stark white expanse of the roof space at the National Library; and witnessing a rain of blue asbestos falling from a wall cavity at Narrabundah College. Just as vividly I remember the federal minister for education saying to a union delegation ''what's wrong with asbestos in schools?''

The whole thing makes me incredibly sad, such unnecessary pain and suffering in our community, and it could all have been foreseen if the government of the day cared sufficiently. In the last week, the tragedy reached me, as my own sister died from an asbestos-related disease contracted from a simple home renovation. If I have any advice for the current asbestos home owners it is to remember that the Commonwealth is wholly negligent and should pick up the tab for finally coming to terms with asbestos contamination in houses in the ACT. Don't give an inch in your fight for justice.

Peter O'Dea, former president , ACT Trades and Labour Council; former secretary, Builder's Labourers Federation, ACT Branch

Compassion for roos

Obviously it has not occurred to M. Pietersen (Letters, July 25) that it is not the anti-cull movement that demands the sympathy of all civilised Australians, it is the kangaroos themselves. They are being subjected to horrific cruelty on the basis of no scientific argument, simply because the ACT government, along with other governments around the country, wants them gone.

Additionally Pietersen seems to think that just because that same deceitful government says so, anti-cull activists have been committing acts of vandalism.

Apparently it has also not occurred to Pietersen to wonder how likely it is that a passionately non-violent movement like the animal rights movement should resort to acts of pointless vandalism. Or to consider how very likely it is that a government that lies about its reasons for killing kangaroos would lie in an effort to discredit a movement whose sole motivation is compassion.

Frankie Seymour, Queanbeyan

Threat to biodiversity

I think M. Pietersen may be jumping the gun (Letters, July 25). I don't think we should give up trying to hold the government to account over the need to kill off kangaroos because of a couple of wanton acts of vandalism against TAMS vehicles and property. The acts of vandalism are deplorable, but until the perpetrator(s) is nabbed, then it would be wrong to jump to conclusions and blame the whole anti-cull movement.

What is so wrong is that the government refuses to acknowledge that their kangaroo management policy may be doing more harm than good. After five years of culling, we don't have a clue as to whether it is necessary and some scientists believe the killing of too many kangaroos may actually be detrimental to the biodiversity everyone is seeking.

M. Pietersen may wish to reflect on the total cost of the government's kangaroo cull policy over the past several years - not just in dollars, but to the damage being done to the biodiversity of our nature reserves.

Philip Machin, Wamboin

Education good for all

I disagree with Mario Stivala's comment (Letters, July 26) that university education is for personal enhancement/increased salary only, and not for the good of the nation.

While Mr Stivala might be OK receiving surgery from an uneducated doctor, or driving a car built by an uneducated engineer, working in a high-rise designed by an uneducated architect, or receiving medication developed by uneducated researchers, I, for one, value the intellectual property, skills and experience amassed by the university-educated and am grateful they share their discoveries with the world.

Kylee Paulissen, Banks

A smidge too far from hospital to car

I contacted the Canberra Hospital recently complaining about the huge difficulties the elderly and disabled experienced when visiting patients. I spoke to a pleasant woman who told me the hospital had no plans to alleviate the situation.

I mentioned that the Pink Ladies voluntary group at Port Macquarie Base Hospital ran a well-patronised golf cart to and from the car park. Surely a minibus could do a round trip from the multi-storey car park to the main entrance, then National Capital Private Hospital, the maternity and children's hospital, and then oncology and ophthalmology outpatients and mental health.

With the extension of Nat Cap causing parking chaos, I have started driving to Garran shops and catching the Action bus to the hospital to visit my elderly husband, as my physical condition makes it impossible to walk the distance from the car park. Many of my friends and neighbours are in the same situation.

Janet Johnson, Rivett

Quote error

I refer to the article ''Fair Work puts brakes on Tax Office staff cuts'' (Canberra Times, July 26). Unfortunately, the article is incorrect on the basis of quotes from me.

The Fair Work Commission did not make a decision, nor did it issue any orders. The outcome from the conference at the Fair Work Commission on Friday was an agreement between the ATO and the Community and Public Sector Union for more consultation before the ATO makes a decision on restructuring the Superannuation Active Compliance work area.

I apologise to the ATO and to the commission for the incorrect information that was published on the basis of my error.

Alistair Waters, CPSU deputy national president



Graham Macafee (Letters, July 25) speculates that in a double dissolution, Tony Abbott (like John Howard) would lose his seat. Tell 'im he's dreaming. But it's a dream I share.

Bettye Pearce, Kambah


What a lovely healthy sign to see comics in Indonesia sending up their new president! Satire: the lifeblood of democracy.

Barrie Smillie, Duffy


Legal dope - another ratbag idea courtesy of the Greens. Put it on the Slight Rail. Shunt it away.

Olle Ziege, Kambah


Referring to The Canberra Times, July 26, I believe your description of Anna Meares' physical appearance was sexist and rude and poor.

Nobody, female or male, would want to be described as 90 per cent hindquarters! Did you write ''to praise her'' or belittle Anna?

Ed Harris, Bonython


If ''Macquarie addresses failings'' (BusinessDay, July 25, p11) by training - a process more associated with reflex, non-cognitive processes - are investors, present and potential, to believe this implies ethics, morals and honesty may be taught in a fashion akin to Pavlovian theory?

Albert White, Queanbeyan


I read the headline ''Location fetches an even $1m in Curtain'' (CT, July 27, p23) and wondered where that suburb is. I only know of Curtin, named after Australia's 14th prime minister.

C. McKew, Forrest


Members of our federal government continually tell us we must ''stop the boats''. Yet they stand to attention when anyone sings ''We've boundless plains to share''. It is noteworthy that these are for those who came across the seas. Which is the lie?

C. Johnston, Duffy


The Australian government has just approved a huge coal mine and railway in the Galilee Basin, Queensland, for Indian coal giant Adani. India will probably take back Mr Morrison's 157 so-called ''economic migrants''. Is this another example of Mr Abbott's ''aid for trade''?

E. Haddock, Weston


Not only have the magpies started swooping early in Canberra, their counterparts in the AFL have started wobbling earlier than normal.

Alex Wallensky, Broulee

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