Letters to the Editor

Book reveals immature behaviour by politicians

    I'd say that I'm like most Australians – I loathed Tony Abbott, but thought of him merely as a particularly vile and irrational version of John Howard. So the more of Niki Savva's book I read, the more shocked I am at Abbott and Credlin's immaturity. The leadership of the nation was in the hands of two little kids from primary school.

After Malcolm Turnbull's leadership coup, Jack Waterford wrote of feeling that the adults were back in charge. How right he was.

If the Mad Monk thinks he can make a comeback from this, then he needs treatment. 

  G.T.W. Agnew, Coopers Plains Qld 

 First the mob piled onto George Pell as the easy target of their outrage, never mind that he has not been  found guilty of anything but he is after all aloof, conservative and lacking in empathy, he must be guilty. 

Now the same mob pile onto Peta Credlin and Tony Abbott for completely unsubstantiated smears that they were having an affair. Don't worry about families or reputations, some of the mud always sticks and the insatiable mob will move on. Who's next? 


 H. Ronald,  Jerrabomberra, NSW    

Safe Schools 

 Andrew Barr says  ("Barr in heartfelt support for value of Safe Schools program", March 10, p1) that some of my comments regarding the Safe Schools Coalition were "horrific".

Given that Canberra Times reporter Kirsten Lawson apparently failed to ask him to provide examples of these "horrific" comments, I challenge Mr Barr to provide exact quotes of mine that any reasonable person would deem to be "horrific" about Safe Schools.

He is pushing an agenda in attacking me and, like most on the political left, he is cavalier with the facts.

My concerns about Safe Schools reflect concerns of parents across the nation who have contacted me. Mr Barr undermines his own credibility by making such outlandish accusations about my views – and the views of so many Australians.

 Cory Bernardi, Liberal  Senator for South Australia  

 Dirty deals

   Frank Marris (Letters, March 8) is upset at my pointing out (Letters, March 5)  that in the 2013 Senate elections, Ricky Muir got more first preference votes than three members of the LNP, who were also elected.

  The point of view was put by Frank that the preferences which elected the LNP senators were all quite kosher and above board, but yet somehow he has formed the view that the preferences which elected Ricky Muir are not. 

To give a further example, the Liberal Party as a whole received only 7.28 per cent of the first preference votes, but yet gained 20 per cent of the Senate seats. The Liberal party senators were elected on the basis of preference deals the Liberal party made with other parties, in exactly the same way that Ricky Muir was elected on the basis of preference deals he did with other parties.

 Frank appears to be putting a very Orwellian argument: "LNP preferences good, all other preferences bad". 

 I will agree that the Senate voting system does need changing. But do not change the system by a short-term dirty deal between the LNP and Greens ramming the changes through, without sufficient public discussion, just before an election, and in the hope or expectation that this will advantage themselves politically in the next electoral cycle. 

 R. King, Melba  


  Your editorial "New avenues in the debate on euthanasia" (Times2, March 9, p2) ) was too shallow and vacillating for my liking. The argument that palliative care can relieve nearly all pain symptoms is specious. Pain is only part of it. For some terminally ill people there is also the  vomiting, the diarrhoea, the constipation, the urge to urinate that cannot be relieved, and the restraints to prevent the catheter from being yanked out of the penis (suffering I have observed in just one case).

 The risks that pressure will be brought to bear on those who do not favour assisted dying can be addressed. Advance care plans, made well in advance, or registers, come to mind. As for "playing God", well, the believers should apply their principles to themselves but allow others full sovereignty over their own bodies.

 Kate Muir, Campbell 

Traffic woes

   Another day, another unnecessarily extended delay in traffic on Morshead Drive, as the entrenched desultory pace of ACT road construction continues. Clearly, as with all major ACT road construction, the completed project must have no economic value such that delay reduces benefits. 

Equally, it appears that the community costs of delay and inconvenience caused by fragmented construction practices are to be wholly subordinated to the convenience of contractors. Or is the prime purpose of the Territory's tardy construction program the prolongation of employment for members of the CFMEU? 

Meanwhile, the lengthy and dysfunctional Constitution Avenue "upgrade" saga also continues, with the apparent aim of remaining unfinished by the time it starts all over again for the putative tram extension. 

 Mike Hutchinson, Reid 

 I went from Braddon to Gungahlin on Thursday morning   at 8.15am. I encountered  long lines of cars on Flemington Road from Northbourne Avenue on the single lane all the way to Harrison.

Not good enough. So how about a dual lane road all the way for a start or may that jeopardise the light rail justification? How about a bus lane only trial all the way to the city or may that jeopardise also by providing a short/medium/long term solution for a fraction of the cost? How about a trial of battery buses? Leaving on return at 9.05am there were no traffic lines at all.

 Geoff Davidson, Braddon 

Bank culture

 Australians continue to be repelled  by the clandestine goings-on and ruthless profit-making of the Commonwealth Bank's  subsidiaries in the life insurance and financial advice sectors   ("Bank must clean out its twisted culture", BusinessDay,   March 9, p7).  

 Until the people who formulate, perpetrate, propagate and oversee this socially destructive behaviour are subjected to significant pecuniary penalties, plus time behind bars to engage in introspection and contemplation of their egregious corruption, they, and their ilk, will continue to prey on a trusting society. 

 Albert M. White,  Queanbeyan, NSW Military might

 So, the United States wants to step up the presence of   long-range strike bombers in Australia to counter China's alleged "militarisation" of the South China Sea ("US wants more long-range bombers in Australia",   March 9, p4).

Of course, with the world's most powerful military capability, "militarisation" is something that the US knows plenty about. 

Just ask any of the 156 countries that "host" its more than 1000 military bases; which seems to contrast rather oddly with those evil Chinese, who have none.

Given its  propensity to see any perceived threat to its global hegemony as a nail to be hit with its military hammer, it is hardly surprising that the US is viewed as the world's biggest and most dangerous bully, and  even less surprising that Australia's fawning encouragement of its behaviour makes it such a "special friend".

 John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

In hospital

  So John Hargreaves had to wait five  days for hospital treatment ("Former Labor MLA tells of hospital 'horror story", March 9, p2). Luxury.

No nurse saw me when I recently went. I had to park at Garran shops. There were no beds or doctors. After a few days I operated on myself – prostate – using the wife's manicure set – and slept in a stairwell. I also discharged myself. Later, I was billed for two pain killers  I'd found on the floor, plus cleaning expenses. Ex-MLAs are a soft lot these days.

 John Maclean, Weetangera 

Majestic sheep

   When my husband passed me a 50cent coin on Thursday  morning, I nearly choked on my sultana bran, and checked the date on the newspaper to check that it wasn't the first of April. 

The coin depicted a miniaturised image of her majesty,   Queen of Australia, along with an image of a sheep on a shilling, presumably to commemorate the 50th year of decimal currency! Does this suggest a conspiracy by the Royal Australian Mint (check the acronym!) to replace the image of Elizabeth II with a picture of a sheep, and this is their way of testing the public's appetite for such a move? 

 Pearl Curd,  Lyneham 

Parks need care

The Editorial "Urban parks need greater consideration" (Times , p2, 8 March) lends support to Dr Andrew MacKenzie's commentary "the city has fallen into the trap of a dispersed approach to park management that is economically and ecologically unsustainable" (Times 2, p5, 7 March). 

The management of the Canberra nature parks and reserves over the last few years makes it obvious there is no strategic approach to maintaining healthy, sustaining and interesting spaces for people to enjoy. The government approach is simplistic and piecemeal.

An example: In the last few years, the government has steadfastly killed off the grass-eating kangaroo population only to then resort to "ecological grazing" by herds of cattle to keep the grass down. In other areas broad strips have been mown through thigh-high grass to reduce the risk of bushfire. And as for ramblers (should there be any) seeing wildlife in native reserves – they would be lucky to see much. Hardly an appealing experience.

Rampant urban development means open spaces are being surrounded by new suburbs, and roads and streetscapes slice through traditional wildlife corridors. Wildlife is killed off with little thought to the long-term impact in local areas. It is a difficult problem to solve. But whether a town or country park, we need a new approach.

 Philip Machin, Womboin, NSW



   It's  time  Canberrans concentrated on the disadvantages of following the "same old,  same old" voting patterns of the past. Time to look beyond the party hacks  and support candidates who  promote community interest over narrow commercial and party interests.

 Ric Hingee, Duffy 


Unless the US Republican Party soon comes up with a strong alternative to Donald J, the Last Trump could well sound in November!

 Eva Reid, Farrer 


 Here, here, to Dr Kristine Klugman (Letters, March 9). Citizens of Canberra, arise, you have got nothing to lose but your lawns!

 John Rodriguez,  Florey 


   Trudy McGowan ("Dubai next on horizon for diplomat McGowan", March 10, p4) does Australia proud, and symbolises the great work of Australia's consular staff working overseas. Diplomacy scored a gem when she decided   teaching wasn't for her. 

 John Milne, Chapman 


  In a little over one kilometre of Melrose Drive in Phillip, between Launceston and Eggleston Streets, there are now six  and shortly to be seven sets of traffic lights. Is this a record? Should someone be checking with the  Guinness people?

 Bob Budd, Curtin 


   How refreshing to hear on Thursday a real person like Tony Windsor speak on matters of real importance to Australia. We need more like him in Parliament.

 Fyfe Bygrave, Aranda 

  Barnaby Joyce, caught in a Windsor knot.

 Annie Lang,  Kambah  

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