Letters to the Editor

Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Canberra companies to boost defence exports

I write re: your editorial of January 30 ("Defence export plan a hard sell").

Maybe defence exports are not such a hard sell after all. The announcement by ASX-listed EOS states that further orders are to come.

CEA Technologies is another significant military exporter that has developed a phased array radar sold to the US Navy.

There are quite a few Canberra-based companies that have obtained smaller trial orders from overseas defence customers that are likely to lead to very significant export orders.

Examples include XTEK, which has developed a process for making significantly lighter inserts for body armour, helmets that offer higher levels of protection and lighter armour for military vehicles, and Kord Defence which has developed a central controller for use by soldiers and SWAT teams allowing the soldiers to keep their eyes on the task and hands on the trigger while communicating.

Canberra has significant potential to produce billion-dollar export orders for very high-tech equipment developed over many years by some of the smartest people in the country to enhance the capability of the Australian Defence Force and its allies.


It is great to see the government supporting the initiatives of private companies in a tangible way.

I am confident that these four Canberra companies can all "work smarter" and  the government's investment "will return significant dividend".

Uwe Boettcher, Red Hill

Short-lived pride

For a little while this week I felt proud to be Australian. It felt good to belong to a country that would choose a man like Eddie Woo to receive its local hero award. 

I was deeply moved when I heard that he advised his students not to seek their inner passion but to look around outside of themselves, to notice the areas of greatest need and to devote themselves passionately to meeting one of them.

But then I read about our new defence export strategy and my pride was short-lived. With people desperate for food, health care and shelter in places like Yemen, Bangladesh, Syria, many African countries and in Afghanistan, and often as a direct result of war, how could it be that we turn our resources and skills to selling arms and defence equipment?

I visited the exhibition called Arthur Streeton: The art of war at the national gallery this week and was touched by its beauty, including the poetry mounted on the wall to complement it. I think it's relevant here to quote Wilfred Owen's poem called Sonnet on seeing a piece of our heavy artillery brought into action. His closing lines addressed to that gun read 'But when thy spell be cast complete and whole, May God curse thee, and cut thee from our soul'. And yet we now plan to create jobs by making these things for export.

Jill Sutton, Watson

Deadly business

Most of those who have expressed concern about the planned expansion of our weapons production are worried that our weapons will fall into the hands of terrorists.

I'm more concerned that they will fall into hands of our allies who have no qualms about killing innocent civilians. Israel is one of the best friends of Australia's two major political parties.

Israel is also one of the most heavily armed small nations and would probably be a customer for some of the arms Australia will produce under the Turnbull/Pyne plan. If Israel were to repeat its massacre of 106 Lebanese civilians in the Qana shellings (1996) or the killing of 28 Lebanese civilians in the Qana airstrike (2006) it is possible that our weapons will be used to kill more Lebanese civilians many of whom have relatives in Australia.

I would much rather Australia exported things that fed people (wheat and milk), kept people warm (wool), provided power for people (coal and solar panels) than things that are designed to kill them.

Mike Reddy, Curtin

Paper beats plastic

Barrie Smillie (Letters, January 29) has got it right re stores using brown paper carry bags instead of plastic.

Last year I made purchases at a store in Sydney and received them in brown paper carrybags. They were sturdy and I was happy to have them rather than the plastic which certainly do not bode well for the environment when discarded. Hopefully this will be the way in the future – but not too far in the future, please.

D. Harding, Farrer

Urchin anguish

Concern is being expressed about the prevalence of sea-urchins along our coastline.

Are we not, as does happen, treating as a menace something that could be an asset? Along the south coast of France some towns have annual festivals for the sea-urchin, that the French in their funny way call oursin. 

Locals love them, and tourists flock to those areas in their many thousands to devour what they see as a great delicacy. 

I'm told other peoples around the Mediterranean feel the same way about it. Many seem to prefer them to oysters.

And it has been suggested that there could well be an export opportunity, to China.

So perhaps people involved in the Eurobodalla coast tourism industry could look into the possibility of holding one, or more, such events here and bringing in income from something that could be costing much money to eradicate.

Eric Wiseman, Moruya

School of thought

For Save Our Schools National convener Trevor Cobbold ("Promise to wipe out of funding for private schools", January 30, p.18) to suggest that ACT independent schools are seeking to delay or indefinitely postpone reductions in government funding to  independent schools is patently absurd.

Under the government's new funding model, ACT independent schools are transitioning either up or down to their respective Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) funding level. For those schools below the SRS, this transition will take six years.

For those schools above their SRS level, this will take 10years, and these schools will receive $159 million less in funding.

Andrew Wrigley, Executive Director Association of Independent Schools of the ACT, Deakin

With friends like these

The day that Australia's "intelligence agencies" genuinely act to defend our country's national interests against all protagonists, including our so-called "special friends" the US and Israel, is the day that I'll take them seriously ("AFP and ASIO to co-operate on China investigations",, January 30).

Until then, they are surely nothing more than a paid public relations outfit for the "five eyes" club and convenient servants of our political masters who traffic in, and benefit from, keeping the populace in constant fear.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

Nothing done on dogs

After speaking to Domestic Animal Services on Wednesday (yet again) about an antisocial person who walks his pit-bull unleashed down to Civic every morning at the same time, putting at risk children and the elderly not to mention other animals, it appears that nothing has changed.

This is despite all the fluff the ACT government put out about cracking down on people risking the lives of others by not following the rules covering pet ownership in the ACT after the tragic death last year.

They simply do nothing about people blatantly breaching the leash laws except make excuses about why they can't.

I was basically told that unless I knew his name and address they would do nothing.

In fact they didn't even have the time to take my report over the phone, I would have to send it by email.

The implication is that private citizens have to put their own safety at risk to somehow find out this information.

The fact that this person (the dog owner) has threatened me with death for mentioning the issue to him previously is ignored because it seems it's just too hard for the rangers to act on public complaints where the public hasn't already done their work for them.

Despite the fact that this isn't even the first report, the person at DAS stated that "we can't act on hearsay, and we don't have the resources to actually check ourselves so just send us an email".

Anthony V. Adams, Reid

Demented nanny state

So the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, believes the ban on over the counter codeine sales will save up to 100lives annually as it is addictive and dangerous. What of the cost to people who need the pain relief and cannot afford to see a doctor? And the added cost to the health budget with the Medicare rebate. What next? Prescription-only tobacco and alcohol, both of which are addictive and dangerous. How many lives are lost each year to abuse of these substances? And the cost to the health system. Should they be prescription only? How many lives are lost each year to tobacco/alcohol abuse? It appears the government picks only easy targets for political gain.

Phillip Nicolls, Monash

You're gold, ambos

Last week my family needed assistance from the ACT Ambulance Service and the emergency department of Canberra Hospital. I would like to publicly say a big thank you to all staff at the Ambulance Service and the staff within the emergency department of our hospital. Many times complaints are made about attention or lack thereof, but last week when it was needed my family was given all the attention they needed for the condition they presented with at the time of their admission. Members of the wider Canberra community need to be aware that we have wonderful people to help when it is needed most.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you did for me and my family member.

Neredah Crane, Monash 

Well judged

As an occasional critic of our courts, I support Chief Justice Helen Murrell's remarks ("Topjudge calls for better explanations", Jan 30, P6) over "lenient" sentences. Her judicial colleagues and the media should heed her comments and provide the public with more detailed information when sentencing.

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla

Foreign aid fail

As a supporter of the Australian chapter of a global anti-poverty organisation, I have always marvelled at the availability of our federal MPs – and their courtesy – to discuss the foreign aid program.

Abject poverty affects just under a billion people globally. Wealthy governments – like Australia – work under the United Nations banner, along with hundreds of advocacy groups, to eliminate poverty by 2030. We share the goal, the knowledge and the financial resources to this end.

Limiting overseas financial donations to this cause is counter-productive. Furthermore, silencing these advocacy groups – and not the multinational corporations or their groups like the Minerals Council of Australia – is discriminatory. Why?

To muzzle public opinion that doesn't match the ideology of the current government?


Sue Packham, Woolamai, Vic

Kicks them when down

The rule of law, concepts of democracy and our shared sense of fairness have been challenged by recent revelations that Scott Morrison, in his role as Immigration Minister, blocked the legitimate entitlements afforded under both Australian and international law, to refugees already adjudged eligible to be granted permanent residence in Australia.

His "ends justify the means" approach reflects the well-worn path history ascribes to dictators. 

Let's not bother to name them,  yet a clear pattern, which may be characterised mildly as thuggish, callous and unprincipled, is blindingly obvious. The then minister's surreptitious actions, clearly sanctioned at the time, and recently lauded by the PM, now bring even greater discredit to Australia's image internationally.

Dr Philip H Nicholls LLB, ​Sakhon, Nakon, Thailand

Deal with snake threat

My sympathy to the lady who lost her dog to snake bite in Lake Ginninderra (Letters, January 30), but nothing will be done by our local government until a child is bitten and dies.

Then the MLAs will all file out of their airconditioned offices and condemn such a tragedy and set up a committee of inquiry.

How many people have written to The Canberra Times complaining about the long grass not being mowed, the lakes looking and smelling like rubbish tips, the water not being safe and the parks and playing areas in disrepair?

I don't think anyone from Parks and Gardens have been around our area in years. My wife and I frequent John Knight regularly, walking around the path of the lake and stopping off at the local cafe at the seniors complex and they even have a sign outside the cafe "Beware of Snakes".

The government needs to start putting some money back into the community and less on stupid projects and getting our parks, paths, and open spaces back to a reasonable standard.

Errol Good, Macgregor

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