Letters to the Editor

Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Disabling foe within

I was puzzled by Malcolm Turnbull's enthusiasm for the proposed foreign influence laws until I heard of the Catholic Church's submission to the parliamentary joint committee for intelligence and security over the Church's concern that the broad scope of the laws would make every Catholic a foreign agent.

Which led me to Tony Abbott, which led me to Section 44 of the constitution, which led me to conclude that Tony would have to resign from Parliament.

A master stroke, Malcolm, a master stroke.

Dallas Stow, O'Connor

Fascism rears head

Adam Gartrell has drawn attention to a hidden clause in the government's bill on foreign donations ("Donations crackdown to hit campaigners", January 29, p4) that strikes at the very base of a free society, such as we still have in Australia.

Its purpose is to muzzle GetUp! and other free associations of people who wish to influence the most serious issues facing Australia today: climate change and misuse of resources.


It is outrageous that we should be obliged to make a statuary declaration that we are not agents of a foreign power if our annual donation exceeds $250, and be threatened with 10 years' imprisonment if we don't comply.

Never in the 59 years that I have lived here did I think such a fascist law would be enacted in Australia or that I would face imprisonment for breaking it.

Hugh Tyndale-Biscoe AM, Hackett

National v foreign

"Foreign" donations to political parties are, in this country, a very thorny question. An even more interesting question is that of "national" donations.

Malcolm Turnbull bought himself the job of prime minister with the biggest donation to a political party, the Liberal Party, of $1.5 million in 2017.

Why has there been no public discussion on corruption on such so-called "national" donations as there has for "foreign" ones?

There doesn't appear to be much difference between receiving a donation for favour and giving a donation for favour?

E. R. Moffat, Weston

Of dogs and flame

Twenty-five politicians in this town and numerous public servants yet none appear to read the letters page of The Canberra Times.

Have none noted the complaints of dogs wandering off leads and the uncut grass in the suburbs? Must I now carry a club when I go for a walk to ward off stray dogs, and a bucket of water in case of grass fires.

Never mind we will soon have a new tram to adore, albeit to most of us it will be of little use.

C. J. Johnston, Duffy

Facts on referendum

Penny Bowen (Letters, February 2) asks what was the 1967 referendum all about.

The referendum, under the Holt government, did two things.

It gave the Commonwealth government the power to include Indigenous people in future law-making. Up till then, only the states had that power, which led to inconsistent and often discriminatory state law.

The referendum also gave the Commonwealth the power to include Indigenous people in the Australian census.

Indigenous voting rights had been enshrined in law by the Menzies government five years earlier in 1962 when the Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended. There was no referendum required to do this.

Maria Pellegrino, Gungahlin

Doesn't add up

Matt Byrne says that "Smartphones are ... the main way that Australians access the internet (84 per cent versus 69per cent for laptops)" ("The Labor Party hasn't kept up with the times, and Australians have moved on", January 31).

If he means, as he seems to, that the main way of access is smartphones for 84 per cent and laptops for 69 per cent, then he should revise the latter figure to no more than 16 per cent (or the former to no more than 31 per cent). But perhaps he means that 69 per cent access the internet by smartphone and laptop, and another 15 per cent by smartphone only.

Should we just move on from Matt Byrne? But perhaps he can clarify.

Michael McCarthy, Deakin

Lip service

Last Tuesday evening, with nothing better to do, since there was no live football or cricket on either Foxtel or the "free to air" television I sat back to watch the ABC's consumer affairs program The Checkout.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show, or, at least, I did right up until the show was whisked off the air with the compere still continuing to address his audience.

The sound was turned off and immediately replaced by the opening credits of the next scheduled program, Catalyst.

The ABC thus effectively pulled the plug on The Checkout by "pulling" this final but interesting feature of the program.

The ABC should have shown a little more common sense by allowing The Checkout compere to complete his session of the program, before rolling the credits for the following scheduled program.

The unfortunate compere appeared to complete it (well, sort of) by mouthing the words to the audience

And this would have been quite acceptable if one was competent in lip reading or mind reading, which, sadly, I am not.

I realise that the planning and programming of television programs means that mistakes may be made.

However, the situation is undesirable.

Imagine the reaction if an AFL or NRL grand final with scores level and only a few seconds of the game to go and the TV station decided to run details of an upcoming program.

There would be anarchy.

Andrew Rowe, Florey

Stanch the agony

It's in the nature of humans (and other animals) to suppress competitors, by killing them if necessary. This defines the structure of history; the rest is relatively minor details.

It's no use agonising over what happened in the past, such as the British conquest of Australia, the Norman conquest of Britain, the Roman conquest of Gaul, or (presumably) the conquests of tribes of early Australian inhabitants by other tribes.

However, we can try to prevent similar things happening in the future. Good luck with that!

Mike Dallwitz, Giralang

We'd all be safer if both cyclists and drivers followed road rules

I refer to Roger Quarterman's letter to The Canberra Times on February 2 regarding cyclists failing to stop at red signals and cycling across pedestrian crossings.

On at least 20 occasions in the last month between 5.20 and 5.45pm on a week-day evening I have observed cars driving through the stop sign at the corner of Kingsford Smith Drive and Kuringa Drive.

On some of these occasions the move did not cause any danger, however, in many cases it caused oncoming traffic on Kuringa Drive to slow to avoid a collision.

Quarterman argues that the new rules being trialled in the ACT to allow cyclists to ride across pedestrian crossings are fundamentally flawed and dangerous and should not be implemented after the trial.

Does he also believe that because motorists fail to stop at a stop sign the rules governing our behaviour at stop signs should also be repealed?

Rather than repealing laws we need to enforce them more stringently. More importantly as road users we also need to anticipate that other users may not behave as they should and we should drive or cycle accordingly.

Mark Arundel, Ngunnawal

Tweak the date

The nation has moved on since governor Lachlan Macquarie nominated January 26, 1818, a public holiday to observe the founding and building of the penal colony by Arthur Phillip at Port Jackson in 1788.

The main emphasis today on Australia Day is now more on multiculturalism and diversity after the arrival of millions of post-World War II immigrants.

Australia Day is now more like other public holidays such as New Year's Day and Boxing Day when families just holiday and enjoy the outdoors.

The late January public holiday is particularly popular with families being so close to when the kids go back to school and when barbecues and cricket are all the rage in backyards and parks, fireworks at night and a sense of community and a dash of patriotism with the holding of local citizenship ceremonies in the morning.

Why not make Australia Day even more popular with families and most others by making Australia Day a permanent long weekend holiday every third Monday of January? Just like Melbourne Cup Day is the second Tuesday of every November.

Just tweak the January 26 calendar date a little for every year into the future. I don't think Arthur Phillip would mind if he were with us now.

Graham Brady, Hughes

We must remember

John Smiles (Letters, February 1) of Red Hill dismisses any negative thoughts about the effects of colonisation on First Peoples by simultaneously dismissing the French, Dutch, Spanish, Belgium etc cultures as inferior to the British and arrogantly reminding the survivors of the Frontier Wars that they should be grateful they were murdered, dispossessed and classified as non-human by the British.

His ignorance dismisses the barbaric and wilfully sadistic murders of babies, small children and the elderly as well as the constant massacres of warriors and their families which occurred until 1928 (many years after Gallipoli).

We, the descendants of the original soldiers and convicts of the penal colony of NSW and the later waves of immigrants, are not responsible for these acts of genocide but we are responsible for wilfully dismissing history and perpetrating and profiting from the structures it established without concern for our fellow Australians.

Bruce Minerds, Macarthur

Years of upheaval

John Smiles (Letters, February 1) asks the question "What if our colonisers had been other than British?" I will give the answer. They may well have been better treated – certainly no worse.

Every country the British invaded or colonised faced years of upheaval and bloodbath. Many were schooled in nothing but corruption and bribery, which many countries, especially African, still grapple with today. Some might say New Zealand is a success story for the British in that they carved out a treaty with the Maori people.

That only happened after the British declared all-out war on the Maori in 1845 and which also had the Australian Army supporting the New Zealanders. In regards to humanity British history is just as questionable as any other.

Geoff Barker, Flynn

Gratitude? Really?

(Re: 'What if' by John Smiles, February 1). I'm not an Aboriginal person, but am friends with many who are.

All are living with the consequences of a people who have had their children stolen, land taken away, relatives massacred and culture denigrated.

I am lucky enough to have not had such experiences. However, if I had, I am certain my first thought wouldn't be gratitude to the British. Better not to lecture others unless you have walked in their shoes.

Alison Shepherd, Evatt

Preferences irksome

I have been severely chastised for my flippant remarks about plastic bags (Letters, January 31), so I would like to assure your readers that I fully understand the effect plastic bags have on the environment and particularly the oceans and that I fully support all the efforts being made to keep our earth clean and healthy.

I do not resile however, from the comments I made about Shane Rattenbury and his apparent preference for plastic bags over the homeless. He and the Barr government have to accept responsibility for the all-time-high rate of homelessness, with the money that should be allocated to affordable housing going to the "white elephant", the light rail. Don't get me started on the state of Canberra or the hospitals.

Mary Robbie, Aranda

Growth fallacy

At the last federal election the Coalition bombarded us with the promise of trickle-down "jobs and growth" to be generated by the Australian public giving business a multibillion 5 per cent tax cut.

The election result was no ringing endorsement of that.

But it being a fundamental part of right politics to transfer public money into private hands, it's no surprise "jobs and growth" is back.

Today we have Minister Cormann talking up the same old rubbish economics that giving business lots of public money will somehow benefit those who give it, together with it somehow fixing the resulting increased budget deficit. Add to that deficit Turnbull's proposed middle income tax cuts and the economic challenges grow.

Even the IMF has condemned trickle down as a myth. Public money gifts to business can be spent in many ways apart from Mr Cormann's expansion and more jobs. History tells us that "Reaganomics", Ronald Reagan's 1980s economic experiments, proved that.

Those like me believing 1 + 1 always equals 2 are wondering what sort of fools Messrs Cormann and Turnbull take us for.

Vince Patulny, Kambah



I didn't know Formula One had scantily clad "grid girls" ("Supercars weighs 'brand ambassador' role", February 2, p41) but if women are not to be objectified where will the Oscars and Logies stand? Are we back to neck-to-knee swimsuits at our beaches?

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla


Australia can't manufacture cars but can make arms. Why?

Lisa Forward, Lyons


On Thursday and Friday there were three and four large semi-trailer dump trucks parked on the nature strip both sides of Torrens Street, Braddon, adjacent to Haig Park between 7 to 7.30am.

They break the gutters, the footpaths and service access covers, and destroy the grass. Can we please get some parking officers there?

Geoff Davidson, Braddon


Given the saying, "Once bitten, twice shy", you'd expect our federal politicians to be very coy indeed about adopting a national anti-corruption watchdog.

M. F. Horton, Adelaide, SA


The ABC has acted in the nation's interest by safeguarding government documents found in Fyshwick. The Coalition government might now consider acting in the nation's interest by safeguarding ABC funding.

John Sandilands, St Marys, TAS


Dear Bernard, button your lip, get your head down, find someone you can trust to help you work like a dog and you'll soon be back there. It's actions, not words that talk.

June R. Verrier, Garran


Australian Electoral Commission data on political donations (February 2) show Mr Turnbull has two roles: Prime Minister and Prime Donor to the Liberal Party.

Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, QLD


Penny Bowen (Letters, February 2) asks what exactly the 1967 referendum was about. The Wikipedia entry entitled "Australian referendum, 1967 (Aboriginals)" provides a useful commentary.

Frank Marris, Forrest


So, transparency campaigners are concerned about a "revolving door" between government and the business lobby ("A senior bureaucrat's new role has sparked 'revolving door' concerns", Canberra Times, February 1).

Given the voluminous two-way flow of people between the public and private sectors in recent years, including senior politicians, most would laugh at the suggestion there is a door; more like a super highway.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

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