Bernardi stirs the pot

There is good reason for Cory Bernardi to express concern about our abortion rate (''Bernardi comments dodged by PM'', January 7, p1).

When I opposed the relaxation of laws restricting abortion in these columns in the 1970s, I was assured by people who took the opposing view that abortion would only be used for extreme cases of hardship.

Within two generations, abortion has become an event that is almost a cultural norm.

There are serious implications for public health, the most recent concern is expressed in a peer-reviewed paper published in November 2013, which concluded: ''Induced abortion is significantly associated with an increased risk of breast cancer among Chinese females, and the risk of breast cancer increases as the number of induced abortions increases.''

Our attitude to every world conflict or global threat is formed by our attitude towards human life.

While the unborn are subject to compromise, there is little hope that we will make the necessary adjustments towards aboriginals, refugees, the mentally ill and even global warming.


Les Broderick, Farrer

We are a blended family consisting of my two daughters, my wife's two sons, associated partners and seven grandchildren, plus one in utero.

At Christmas, they were all with us except our eldest grandchild, who was overseas with her partner.

It was a delightful time for us.

How anyone can think that such a lively and varied group of affectionate people is inferior beats me.

Cory Bernardi says he is concerned to restore the traditional family to the top of his own severely warped marital ladder.

Let him reflect that remarriage of widows and widowers and others with children has been an important factor in social stability and the proper care of children for much of human history.

David Townsend, Curtin

I read with some interest and dismay the article about Cory Bernardi's latest ideas.

He seems to display a radical sense of religious right when he hops on his high horse to promote his highly contentious ideals.

This latest statement about abortion (the ''death industry''), step-parents, same-sex couples, and single parents is obviously meant to provoke a reaction from the community.

If I didn't know better I'd almost suggest that what Bernardi has done is seditious in nature by creating ill-will or hostility between different groups so as to threaten the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth.

I look forward to not hearing from Bernardi for some time as he is locked up under the powers of these archaic Howard-era laws.

Joe Murphy, Bonython

Being kept in the dark

Bryan Furnass says ammonia is an alternative to fossil fuels (Letters, January 8).

Ammonia is carbon-free, but it is made from natural gas with carbon-dioxide as a by-product.

Iceland uses compressed hydrogen to fuel buses. Canberra could do the same.

The only by-product from using compressed hydrogen is H2O: water vapour.

By using geo-thermal and hydro power, Iceland has near-zero CO2 emissions.

All that stops us doing the same is the Coalition has rich coal and oil donors.

Hence, Prime Minister Tony Abbott sacked the Climate Commission for telling us the truth.

Australia has entered the Dark Ages, in which ignorance reigns supreme. Perhaps we should nail garlic to our doors to stop climate plague.

Graham Macafee, Latham

Agreeing to agree

After reflecting on the words of Jennifer Bradley's letter (January 8), it struck me that, in principle, we may have more in common than Bradley would care to admit.

For example, I wholeheartedly agree that the taxpayer-funded ABC should not support any government and should strive to be even-handed and fair in its political and social content.

The gender of a prime minister is of no material importance unless of course that prime minister makes it an issue.

The office of governor-general is designed to be apolitical to ensure that it is above the political fray and we rely on the office bearer to respect that convention to avoid the sort of discussion we are having now.

The left-right dichotomy has become too polarised, to the point that opposing views cannot be shared without rancour.

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Views on veterans

The newly elected member for Eden Monaro, Peter Hendy, while in his previous job, advocated that the Department of Veterans Affairs be closed and for the rate of compensation and pensions paid to former defence servicemen and women, including the disabled and the widowed, be reduced.

Hendy has not refuted these draconian measures towards our veteran community although he has been asked about them on a number of occasions.

This indicates he still holds the opinion that our returned servicemen and women, and their spouses, widows and children, should be reduced in income and status to that of welfare subsistence and have the department that cares for them closed down.

I am sure this does not sit well with the veterans who have retired in their thousands to Eden Monaro.

They were certainly quick to attack Labor and former MP Dr Mike Kelly when they didn't think they were doing enough for them. This is far worse.

Vic Adams, Reid

There is no place for politics in Ashes celebrations

Dear sir, on behalf of all Australians who are for a constitutional monarchy, I have to protest about Tony Abbott going to the celebration of the Ashes triumph.

This was a national event if ever there was one. We're told that we need the representative of foreign monarchy to give these occasions the grace and dignity they deserve. We're also told that someone chosen by ourselves will always be nothing but a politician, and that politicians will only ever pollute and pervert such occasions by grabbing all the glory for themselves.

So why was a politician allowed anywhere near this happy national event? Why do monarchists themselves never protest when it happens? Is Abbott going to apologise for the hypocrisy of what he did?

Or will he try to outdo Howard in screaming that we have to stick to our second-hand monarchy, while shoving the monarch's representative into the shadows?

G.T.W. Agnew,

Coopers Plains, Qld

Extreme tactics

Jenna Price might want to hope that no one takes up her suggestion to send sanitary products with red markings to the office of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison (''Monthly reminder could help end humiliation'', Times2, January 7, p5).

This action is no different to that of the man who was charged in June with using a postal service to cause menace for sending packages containing a (harmless) white powder to members of the ACT Legislative Assembly.

Price's article is evidence that some associated with or influenced by the ''Destroy the Joint'' movement could be stupid enough to send used sanitary products, something that authorities seeing red will need to allow for.

Price admits that used sanitary products pose a health risk.

She presents no evidence that Morrison will not act to correct this deplorable situation without the menace that she and her organisation are inciting.

John Bromhead, Rivett

Positive impact

Any event that attracts the numbers Summernats does will bring some people the community would rather went elsewhere.

That said, I wonder if the positive economic impact on Canberra and district is fully appreciated and what economically viable alternative might be suggested for this time of year?

Perhaps the event could be likened to cicadas: it's noisy and occasionally annoying but it's over quickly and it reminds us of summer.

No, I do not own a street car and I'm yet to attend the festival.

David Grierson, Ngunnawal

Young voice pleases

Congratulations for publishing Brandon Jack's piece, ''Moral sense being skewed by a violent culture'' (Times2, January 7, p5).

It was good a young person was given the opportunity to have their thoughts articulated in such a forum.

It should also provide some comfort and remind many older members of the community, who are bewildered by what appears to be growing acts of random and premeditated violence, that there are many terrific young people in our midst who are also aghast and searching for answers.

Importantly, they are thinking about the solutions.

As Jack's article points out, external influences beyond just good parenting and families shape culture and individual behaviour more than ever.

Developing the cultural and moral boundaries many (probably most) are seeking is a very big task but one that should not be seen as insurmountable lest we have lost.

It is a task that must be shared by all: no exceptions.

John Miller, Campbell

Bradfield just did his job

I expected some hyperbole from Professor Frank Zumbo about high-speed rail below the header ''Air-rail links not pie in the sky'' (Times2, January 7, p1).

The second sentence was: ''Not since Dr J.J.C. Bradfield gave us the Sydney Harbour Bridge have we had a truly visionary transport planner.''

Admittedly, some sources describe him as the ''father of the bridge''. But ''visionary'' is a bit much.

Bradfield was a public servant who produced, as directed, and with staff, plans using designs already implemented overseas.

He was chief engineer for metropolitan railway construction in the NSW Public Works Department.

In 1915, he submitted a report to electrify the suburban railways and build a city underground railway and the bridge.

He finished a draft design by 1916, essentially a copy of New York's Hell Gate Bridge, which was completed the same year.

The construction of Hell Gate began in 1912 after some years of planning.

By 1913, Harold Bell Lasseter, of Lasseter's Reef fame, who had returned five years earlier from New York State, had already submitted a design for an arch bridge over Sydney Harbour.

To whom it was submitted is not recorded in the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry by Gerald Walsh, previously of the Australian Defence Force Academy.

Zumbo, having mentioned Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane, concentrated on high-speed rail to the proposed Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek.

How a metropolitan high-speed-rail system could develop into an interstate freight-handling system is left as a mere acorn of a vision.

Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor



I think we should be careful about equating Cory Bernardi's views with Christianity (Letters, January 7). Jesus would have been the last to judge a family just because its configuration was different to that of most families. I think he'd have thought that protecting the rights and conditions of workers was a good way to support families, too.

Monica Pflaum, Curtin


Memo to Felicity Chivas (Letters, January 7), Cory Bernardi et al: IVF babies are made with human sperm. What's more, once born they are remarkably human-like. They have even been known to go on to attend school, university, have jobs and even make babies of their own. Remarkable.

Mark Slater, Melba


In old western movies, cattle rustlers were occasionally lynched to discourage copycat behaviour. It's interesting to see our own wild west adopting a similar approach to shark attacks. Hook a few and hang 'em high; that'll learn the varmints.

Peter Edsor, Bungendore


The primary and only role of lifeboats is to save lives, not put them in greater danger (''Abbott's lifeboat solution'', January 8, p1). It is astonishing that our government does not recognise this axiomatic fact.

Jon Jovanovic, Lenah Valley, Tas


Amanda Vanstone suggests ''Drug abuse in aged care system points to scandal'' (Times2, January 6, p4), but quoted experiential examples are mere mild symptoms of a more significant malignant malaise that afflicts this whole industry. Politicians cower in fear before aged-care lobbyists, who, in turn, dread an unmasking royal commission.

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan


I do not know if this will help Hugh Jorgahan (Letters, January 7) but I have a picture of Saint Fiacre, patron saint of gardeners, in my yard and we have been picking tomatoes since January 3.

Eric French, Higgins


To the list provided by Colin Glover (Letters, January 6), I can add two more. The only ''flying'' Canberra in Australia is a TT.18 ''English Electric Canberraz'', serial no. WJ680 at the Temora Aviation Museum. I wonder what would tempt the museum to bring her home for an occasional visit? Another is on static display at the RAAF Wagga Wagga base.

Bill Arnold, Chifley