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Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Disband outdated NATO and use the war money for peaceful good

President Trump has told the 28 NATO members that they must increase their defence budget.

It appears that only three countries (Greece among them!) are actually meeting the required spending. NATO was formed during the Cold War years to counteract the military threat represented by the forces of the Warsaw Pact under the leadership of the old Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union disappeared in 1991 and with it the last remnant of the Warsaw Pact. So, who is NATO defending the world against?

Let's dissolve NATO and use the money currently wasted on weapons which, thank God, are never used, to help developing countries in Africa and the Middle East. That will help promote peace around the world and reduce the flow of the illegal immigration which causes us so much heartburn.

John Rodriguez, Florey

Rod Olsen ("US, here's how to vote", Letters, May 22) is being very presumptuous in tendering advice to our American cousins on how they should conduct their presidential elections.

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While I agree with those who say that President Trump is not fit to hold that great office, we must remember that he was elected democratically (like his predecessors, Obama, Bush junior, Clinton, Bush senior, Reagan, Carter and so on) under the procedures set down in the US constitution.

So, in the case of President Trump, the fault would seem to lie in the (Republican Party) candidate selection process rather than the election system. Yes, the voting system for the president is indirect – deliberately so – and, no, we would never contemplate such a system for Australia.

As for compulsory voting, Australia is one of only about 30 countries in the world to have it – and one of only about a dozen to enforce it. On this score we are most definitely in the minority. As well as the US, Canada, the UK, India and even New Zealand do not have compulsory voting. The latter four countries seem to manage parliamentary democracy pretty well.

Do we still need or want compulsory voting in Australia?

If President Trump is impeached and replaced by Vice-President Pence the US system of government will have worked as designed.

Paul E. Bowler, Holder

US President Trump wants all 28 NATO partner countries to pay their fair share for NATO. Only five partner countries have met the target of 2 per cent of GDP: the US, the UK, Greece, Poland, and Estonia.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel argues that although they only pay 1.2 per cent of their GDP to NATO, their international development assistance program contributes significantly to global security.

That sounds like the beginnings of a commonsense plan – less military posturing, more economic assistance.

It is a pity that Dr Merkel's enlightened attitude towards international development assistance is not shared by our federal government.

Imagine where we would be now if Bush, Blair and Howard had taken economic assistance rather than military posturing into Afghanistan and Iraq.

David Bailey, Kambah

I was once in a school where a hall full of apparently adult students chatted their way through a speech by the school captain and through performances by their fellow students. And, at an ACT school, through a principal's weekly message.

These people had never heard of decorum. Today, the vast unwashed Unseemly have their own platform (social media) to insult, threaten, cajole, intimidate – no polish, no manners.

King Unseemly now rules Moronia, from where His Trumpic Majesty flings abuse at peasants, princes, potentates, popes. And what say his unseemly followers? "Give him time. He's just a bit unconventional."

Barrie Smillie, Duffy

Changing face of coal

I have the distinct impression that Dr Neville Exon (Letters, May 25) failed to properly read Ian Dunlop's article ("No rhetoric: the Adani mine will kill millions", May 19, p19).

What Dunlop said was: "...opening up a major new coal province is nothing less than a crime against humanity." That includes the Adani Carmichael mine, even if the coal is marginally better in terms of emissions when burnt.

Meanwhile, Adani has delayed a decision on the mine while the Queensland cabinet debates whether Adani gets a "royalty holiday" or not.

It is patently clear this mine is economically unviable without such subsidies. Why is it unviable? Because, as new Climate Council report Risky Business: Health, Climate and Economic Risks of the Carmichael Coalmine finds, converging global trends all point to rapidly reducing demand for coal. The cost of renewable energy is plummeting, it says, and efficient and increasingly affordable storage technologies are emerging.

Coal demand in China is dropping as it ramps up the rollout of renewables and India, home of Adani, is moving towards energy independence.

Exon's principal argument for the Adani mine was that global coal demand would continue. If China and India are indicative of such demand, it appears not to be the case.

Jenny Goldie, Michelago, NSW

"What's wrong with that?" asks ANU geologist Dr Neville Exon (Letters, May 25). But his prefix is "Leaving aside other arguments about the mine".

There's only so much carbon that can be released into the atmosphere and Adani will greatly increase the working mines for coal.

If it's allowed, I expect it will be mined or perhaps taxpayers will pay to close it before exhaustion.

Neither are good options.

I have long wondered, why is it that so many geologists argue for coal?

A geologist mate said because they work for the mining industry.

I trust they don't simply sell their souls, but they do deal with long "geological" time (billions of years) and varied climates. The problem is that civilisation doesn't.

Civilisation has aged only 10,000 years within a favourable climate.

The Earth is not threatened by climate change, just humans and their civilisation: us, our families, our cities, our wealth. And that threat is real and existential and closer than we are ready to admit.

Eric Pozza, Red Hill

Cull under code of cruelty

Many thanks to The Canberra Times for publishing "Another unnecessary kangaroo slaughter" (May 25, p19).

All of the points Maria Taylor makes in her article were made in recent submissions regarding the government's proposal to turn its Kangaroo Management Plan (KMP) into a legislative instrument.

Many of these submissions were made with full citation of sound scientific authority. The same cannot be said for the government's arguments in favour of killing kangaroos.

Worse than the government's blindness to science is its blindness to compassion. The kangaroo slaughter is conducted at a time of year when, according to the Kangaroo Management Plan itself (p10, 11), almost every mature female kangaroo has both a pouch young and a young at foot in her care. It is conducted under a code of practice which exists for the purpose of permitting acts of cruelty that would otherwise be prohibited by law.

Yet eyewitnesses report that government shooters often ignore even the minimal provisions of the code. Orphaned joeys areleft to starve. Wounded animals suffer for hours before the shooters deliver the death shot.

In 2012, one of the government burial pits revealed a kangaroo that had been shot, stabbed and bludgeoned before dying of suffocation or blood loss.

Although submissions against the slaughter outnumbered the submissions supporting the kangaroo slaughter by three to one, no changes of any significance were made in the revised version of the KMP which has now passed into law.

Robyn Soxsmith, Animal Protectors Alliance, Canberra

I was delighted to read Maria Taylor's excellent article "Another unnecessary kangaroo slaughter" in The Canberra Times.

This article speaks eloquently for thousands of residents of Canberra and surrounding NSW who are appalled by the ACT government's unrelenting war on kangaroos.

Ms Taylor's mention of the orphaned joeys who "jump in front of cars near reserves" or suffer "a slower death without their mothers to feed and guide them" brought back all the nights, May through July, for seven years, when I have witnessed this suffering firsthand.

Every year I have seen them, dozens of baffled, terrified, shivering, unweaned, orphaned joeys lining the roads surrounding the reserves after a night of slaughter.

Many are killed by speeding vehicles the same night. Most are dead from cold or hunger or shock stress after a couple of days.

With so few kangaroos left in most reserves this year, at least we can hope there will fewer young left to orphan.

Frankie Seymour, Queanbeyan, NSW

Preserve diminishing green

Canberrans will welcome Andrew Barr's promise (Comment, May 20) that his government will "make sure major decisions are underpinned by statistically sound and genuinely representative information about what the community really thinks".

This is more complicated than it sounds as Canberra is no ordinary city, it is also the nation's capital. It belongs to all Australians and not only voters in the ACT.

Consideration needs to be given to how this wider community is to be represented, particularly where decisions are made regarding designated national land.

This is the case in West Basin where public parkland is being appropriated by the ACT government for private residential and commercial development. The planning environment in West Basin has changed enormously since the City to Lake Project was first mooted in 2006.

It is time for a thorough review of plans for West Basin. This is no ordinary site, it's the city centre's interface with the lake, an important public green space for a citywhere the green space per resident diminishes by the day as apartment building proceeds apace.

Surely an "issue for a pilot project where citizens shape a complex policy" which Mr Barr promises to identify in the next year?

What odds the community will choose an exciting 21st century, world-class urban park for generations of locals, Australian and international visitors to enjoy over a private apartment development with million-dollar views for a few rich people?

Trevor Lipscombe, Campbell

Coining by the shore

The Kingston Foreshore development gobbled a chunk of Lake Burley Griffin via land reclamation to create a near useless boat harbour and a previously non-existent island now covered in multistorey apartment buildings – a nice little earner.

The West Basin development proposal announced by Chief Minister Barr will now reclaim 4.1 hectares of our lake.

This newly created 80-metre-wide lake front patch of dirt will also be given over to developers.

The boardwalk along the shoreline will sit over the water, presumably so as not to reduce the prime development acreage.

The Point Park area designated for public recreation is but a small fraction of the overall basin area.

If this development proceeds as planned I suggest it be named West Kingston, which should surely push up apartment prices, rates and taxes.

Heather Stewart, Weston

The economics of veracity

Peter Martin has pointed out the Treasurer said that the top marginal tax rate of 49.5 per cent proposed by Labor would mean working "one day for the government and one day for yourself – not a competitive way to run your economy" ("The top tax rate myth", May 25, p18).

That's no myth. The top rate only applies to income above $180,000. It's an outright lie by the Treasurer. In private enterprise such statements would be subject to the ACCC.

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

Ennui and error

I have oft been puzzled why the West Basin broadwalk is called a "boardwalk" despite there being no boards! After seeing the photograph (May 24, pp2, 3) the issue has been resolved. It is a simple spelling mistake for "boredwalk".

Peter Snowdon, Aranda

TO THE POINT

DODGING RESPONSIBILITY

I imagine George Brandis and his staff are relieved that they don't appear to have received a mention in the report on the siege of the Lindt Cafe. But, I suppose that if one dismisses a written warning from Man Monis three weeks out from the sad event then one is able to dodge any responsibility.

W. Book, Hackett

VANISHING BUSHLAND

Maria Taylor is worried about the bush capital losing its most notable inhabitants, kangaroos. My main concern is the bush capital losing its bush! As we encroach on our borders and land is consumed for development we will not have to worry about culls as there will be no bush left.

Nick Corby, Hawker

DRIVERLESS REALITY

Further to John L. Smith's letter (Letters, May 25), driverless trains are operating all over the world and driverless buses are being tested in normal traffic in Japan. A driverless tram could be easily achieved with existing technology and such trams should be used in Canberra to reduce operating costs.

John Simsons, Holt

HEAL ZONING WOUND

The Winnunga Nimmityjah health service is abandoning the proposed $12 million Bush Healing Farm because its rural zoning prevents a clinical service from being run out of it.

The government can amend the relevant precinct map to allow the necessary clinical services.

Leon Arundell, Downer

JOB FOR ACTION MAN

A quiet note to Western leaders. Tony Abbott's got spare time, send him over to North Korea to "shirtfront" Kim Jong-un.

Linus Cole, Palmerston

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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