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Canberra Times letters: Lived example, not weasel words, the key to eliminating abusers

Whether it is the Australian Federal Police, the Defence Force, the universities, or other mostly male-dominated institutions which have harboured, and in some cases long-protected, perpetrators of the entrenched sexual, physical and emotional harassment of the people under their direction and care, the remedy has been enlightened, empathic leadership (and leadership is not to be confused with management) which exposes itself willingly to external review periodically.

The AFP, for instance, would find it salutary to scrutinise the personal ethical and professional standards, not only espoused but actually lived, by past and present very senior personnel who, frankly, should be the exemplars – or not – of what the AFP is and stands for. An organisation's culture is built, block by solid block, over time; it is not preordained by self-serving, weasel-worded mission and vision statements, regurgitated on demand. If the AFP is unable or incapable of upholding internally the fundamental laws of a civil society, what hope is there for its impartiality and integrity in upholding the laws for all?

A.Whiddett, Yarralumla

Cheaper options

The Turnbull government has been spruiking its budget stridently, as is its wont, indicating that the opposition should pass this budget sight unseen. It seem they are urging speedy passage to save the national credit rating without considering basic adjustments to government spending.

First, they should accept that it is the role of parliamentarians to take decisions that will impact on the lifestyles and life chances of some members of the community. They will choose to either spend $160million on the marriage equality plebiscite or to take a free vote in the Parliament and perform their role as expected of them by their electorates ("Free vote would ensure safe passage", August23, p8). The costs of the latter would be significantly less.

Second, they could close Manus and Nauru and save the billions of dollars they have been squandering annually by bringing the refugees to Australia, the cheaper option.

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Finally, they could adjust the corporate tax rate up instead of hitting the workers and working poor harder as they attempt to maintain the imbalance growing in our community. We can't accept the official line about budget crises on the one hand and the apparent need to squander funds on the other.

W.Book, Hackett

Praise for athletes

Now that the Rio Olympics are over I would like to congratulate our athletes, those who won medals and those who simply competed to the best of their ability.

Olympians are elite sportspeople; they are the best in the world in their various disciplines and to simply have qualified to compete is a remarkable achievement requiring skill, dedication and, above all, tremendous faith in themselves.

If there are improvements to be made in performance before the next Olympics in Tokyo, it will be achieved by the athletes and their coaches through hard work and dedication, not by the moaning Minnies, armchair sportsmen and paid commentators complaining about our "disappointing performance". It is easy to criticise sporting performance but that achieves little, except to undermine the confidence and enthusiasm of the competitor/s. What our athletes need now is encouragement and support to keep aiming higher.

Penny Bowen, Chisholm

Nub of nude selfies

When a Victorian high school cops flak for advising its female students to be wary of strutting their physical attributes and disbursing sexy photos of themselves, one needs to take a detached look at Jennifer Duke's nonsensical article "The perils of generation 'share': When schoolgirl selfies become a source of humiliation" (canberratimes.com.au, August22). This is because teenage girls, frankly, don't need their boyfriends' pressure to compromise themselves. If boys can be manipulative, girls can be air-headed.

Hence, sound advice is discredited by self-serving media which doesn't have the integrity to identify where a sensible pathway exists.

So, what's the problem with Ms Duke's epistle?

Her view is that "we need to stop asking why these girls took nude selfies".

Garbage! They should be told plainly not to do that because they're asking for trouble. Boys, and indeed girls who are inclined to betray other girls, need solid counselling. Simple as that.

Patrick Jones, Griffith

Senate recount

Malcolm Mackerras "(How the big parties feathered their Senate nests and why Hinch should play hardball with the Coalition" (Comment, August19, p18) points out how self-interest looks like again determining how the classes of short-term and long-term senators in the states will shortly be determined.

There is no sound basis for using who first gets to the 7.7per cent double dissolution quota as the criterion, because that says nothing definitive about which six candidates have greatest support. A party achieving at least 15.4per cent is in practice guaranteed two long-term places unless more than three achieve those support levels or some candidates are elected with below-the-linequotas.

Parties achieving 20per cent, 30per cent and 40per cent support respectively will usually each have two long-term senators, whereas adopting the outcome of a Section282 recount for six vacancies with only the elected senators eligible would see them receive respectively one, two and three long-term slots on the basis of a 14.3per cent quota. A party achieving majority support might have seven senators elected, but five of them to short-term positions.

If two of its down-the-order candidates managed to get below-the-line quotas, a party might turn 30per cent support into three long-term senators, one more than another with 40per cent first preferences!

While the Senate has in the past declared the recount method superior, when it comes to the crunch a whiff of opportunism seems to overwhelm earlier evidence ofthe potential for principledthinking.

Bogey Musidlak, convenor, Proportional Representation Society of Australia (ACT Branch)

Archaic West Basin plan

The ACT's government's urban renewal projects includes just the Waterfront Precinct component of the West Basin City to the Lake project. Its most distressing and damaging feature, the several blocks of six-storey high apartments, are missing from the glossy images of the wonderfully vibrant waterfront the government is using to push the project.

This fooling-the-masses approach of a West Basin waterfront without apartments could mean the government is flummoxed by the cost of bridging of Parkes Way. But most likely it is the effect of conveying the veracity of the full West Basin proposal in the light of the forthcoming election.

We must not be fooled by the government's deceit; any waterfront development at West Basin means infilling a segment of the lake to commence the appropriation of public parkland for a building estate, akin to the concreted leggo-land of Kingston Foreshore.

It is now over a decade since the National Capital Authority proposed the privatisation of lakeside parkland for residential development. In the interim, global warming has become a force that cannot be ignored and excessive concrete now predominates in our inner city landscape.

The resource of an urban recreation lakeside park with grassland and trees is now critical for public liveability as well as tourism. If a pause is happening to the City to the Lake project, any ACT government should take this opportunity to review the unfeasible, destructive and now archaic West Basin plan.

Juliet Ramsay, Burra, NSW, NSW

Dead wombats

Driving from Canberra to the South Coast last Saturday afternoon, I counted more than 20 dead adult wombats on the left hand side of the road between Bungendore and Braidwood, just on the left hand side of the road. Without doubt I missed seeing others. There were also many dead kangaroos.

On my return trip, I saw many more dead wombats on the left-hand side. They have no chance at night with vehicles travelling at 100km/h and more. It is a sickening site.

Clearly some of these deaths are unavoidable but if motorists would slow down, it would definitely help. It would also save lives. On my return trip on dusk and later, many motorists drove dangerously, passing on double lines, with inadequate space before oncoming vehicles and in excess of the speed limit. I did not see a police vehicle on either trip. They would have had a field day if there was one.

Why can we have a swag of police at big sporting events like cricket internationals with mostly very well behaved patrons, but rarely see police cars on many of our highways? I spent nearly 10 years driving extensively in south-west Queensland after sundown and hit one kangaroo, which survived largely unscathed because I slowed down during this period of the day. It is simple common sense.

I believe there is a compelling case to reduce the speed limit in areas with high wombat populations to 90km/h and importantly, enforce it!

Colin Lyons, Weetangera

Costly errors

The lady who had her house sold out from under her ("$540,000 payout to victim of house scam", August 23, p1) indeed appears to be an innocent victim who deserves some compensation. The CT coverage suggests gross incompetence by the lawyers engaged by the scammers, plus a fair degree of incompetence, or at least carelessness by the real estate agents and the bank.

Where did the ACT government make an error or a mistake? Not only do we have to pay her, but we have to meet her legal costs!

G. Williams, Gowrie

We have the continuing census fiasco, then $540,000 payout to a victim of identity theft which hinged on the ACT Land Titles Office transferring title on the basis of inadequate electronic identification.

Our governments need to heed these warnings. Electronic fraud and sabotage is exposing massive systemic deficiencies spanning government, defence, banking and general business.

The parallel offline systems and data verification procedures necessitated by these deficiencies destroy much of the cost and time efficiencies of electronic ICT, but are becoming essential.

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

Evidence not found

Jenna Price does journalism a disservice when she rails against the support of natural therapies by health insurers ("How the federal government funds fakes", Comment, August 23, p19). Her evidence, coming from those whose future depends on patentable pharmaceuticals, could be biased, but this does not deter her, or send her to original sources.

It's sleight of hand, not honest reporting, which allows research that shows that evidence cannot be found to tranform into Jenna's media version: There is no evidence. Considering that the investigation excluded most of the research, including some high level random controlled trials, it is not surprising that the evidence could not be found.

Jenny Heywood, Spence

Living in bubble

Important message to Canberrans from the National Australia Day council ("ACT snubbed: feds stop Australia Day concert", August 24, p1): Beware! duck and cover! Immediately cease all outdoor activities in case of inclement weather that can occur at any time.

It is far too dangerous to leave your homes until the federally funded ACT Glass Dome Project has been completed.

ACT residents are already accused of living in a bubble, removed from the "real Australia", so the government has decided to make this official. No, don't thank us: your safety is our business.

Steve Ellis, Hackett

TO THE POINT

JARRYD'S BIG HEAD

Sorry to hear that Jarryd Hayne copped a head knock in his game with the Titans at the weekend, but then again, with a head that big it could not have been avoided.

Mick McDevitt, Gordon A

ANIMAL CRUELTY

Hearing of the despair of the farmers on the recent ABC program last week was heartbreaking enough. But to see the dairy cows, which had been herded into small pens ready for sale (for slaughter), having their bodies whacked hard by one of the workers, was too much to bear.

Caroline Duggan, Weston

SPIRIT OF INQUIRY

Certainly, ridicule of the holder of an idea is offensive but ridicule of the idea itself is a different matter entirely. Dispassionate inquiry is at the very heart of human progress, John Mungoven (Letters, August 22). The world owes much to people like Galileo (recently exonerated by Rome after 400 years!) for having pushed the spirit of inquiry through the barriers of blind acceptance.

Barrie Smillie, Duffy

BUS NETWORK FUNDS

In the October 2016 election, ACT voters have opportunity to provide public transport for future generations or commit more money for making changes to the existing bus network. What people should not forget is that any additional funds allocated to improving the bus network can easily be reallocated when a more-urgent need is identified.

Ian Ruecroft, Bonner

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

The proposed non-binding plebiscite on same-sex marriage would be a complete waste of public time and money – some say over $200 million. I resent this misuse of our taxes, which would be much better spent on health and education. Let's have a free vote in Parliament as soon as possible, accept the result and move on.

Allan Williams, Forrest

POLITICAL PRE-SCHOOL

Surely anyone tempted to while away their time in the wondrous world of children can find innumerable opportunities to do so without having to attend the over-priced political pre-school in Canberra ("Mathias Cormann's wibble wobble wide of a sizzling budget insult to Bill Shorten", canberratimes.com.au, August 24)?

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

ELDERS STEP UP

Time for Indigenous elders to stop dreaming of their 40,000 years of culture and take an interest in, and the responsibility for, the behaviour of the younger members of their communities.

B. Middleton, Weston Creek

Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attached file. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

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