Letters to the Editor

Changing our anthem



A problem with Waltzing Matilda as a new national anthem (Cynthia Moloney, Letters, January 28) is not just that the saga revolves around the suicide of an itinerant sheep thief, but that the alternative anthem-style lyrics ("God Bless Australia", Jack O'Hagan, 1961) might now not be inclusive enough for the more precious of our fellow citizens.

And if republicans ever find out that the music of God Bless the Prince of Wales (John Ceiriog Hughes, 1862), perhaps an even older Welsh folk tune, is pretty much the same as Advance Australia Fair (Peter Dodds McCormick, 1878), even more  bewailing is sure to arise about a supposed need to change the current anthem immediately too (constitutional system, flag, anthem, federal structure, etc) in order for us all to be somehow "mature".

Not to mention the same music also being used for the, fortunately non-sectarian lyrics, of the Irish unionist song Derry's Walls.

 Neil James, Burra, NSW

Fleet Day

Ted Doncaster's suggestion that January 26 could be renamed First Boat Day resonates with me. But I would call it Fleet Day and celebrate both the first fleet of 50,000 years ago and the second fleet of 1788, giving both similar prominence in the celebrations.

A little bit of research and some enlightened thinking will convince most people that there very likely was a first fleet landing 50,000 years ago, even though the momentous event went unrecorded.


 Peter White, Flynn

Awards disappointing

I write to express my disappointment in some of the Australian of the Year awards. I fail to see that striving to eliminate discrimination in all its forms from a work place, effective as it might seem at first glance, is anything more than being a good leader, an inherent component of any duty statement for a leader. I don't see that any success that the retired general might achieve where his predecessors failed, merits an Australian of the Year award. I feel a bit the same about the nomination of the trans-gender lady, and while I greatly admire her courage, I think that her main motivation was being true to herself, something that we should all strive for, rather than an exceptional service to the community. I see some awards and even more nominations as a ringing endorsement for political correctness, in my view a scourge. 

 Aert Driessen, McKellar

Australia Day

Perhaps the only thing about Australia Day more predictable than a tacky lamb advert, is the flurry of letters and opinion pieces bemoaning the celebrations of January 26 and this year, your contributors (Letters, January 26) did not fail to deliver. Each in their own way criticised the landing by the British colonists, as if all would have been so much better if that event had not occurred, but failing to describe what alternative they would have preferred. 

Do they naively think that this great land would have just remained untouched and the tribal Aboriginal groups would still be living today, as they had for millennium, without interference?

But most importantly they, and all the other critics of Australia Day, ignore the simple fact that no other single date in the last 40,000 years or so of history has so defined our nation and our everyday lives. Federation, ANZAC Day, Mabo etc are all important, but on a day-to-day basis, no other day so directly impacts our lives.

British colonisation determined our  language, education and legal systems, social values, democracy – we all (like it or not) live the impact of that one event.

To try to deny the importance of January 26 is to deny history. It is naive, and pointless, because quite clearly, they do not reflect the views of the majority who appear proud to celebrate both the date, and their good fortune to be part of this great nation.

 Kym MacMillan, O'Malley

Inspirational story

Accurately and succinctly put, H. Ronald (Letters, January 27). I can only add that when one surveys the social dysfunction in the Australian population's most socially dysfunctional cohort after all the money and goodwill lavished on them, then the assumption that January 26, 1788 was an invasion day that has left the locals far worse off than otherwise is a situation tragically risible with a grain of truth, with its resolution resting entirely with them. An inspirational antidote to invasion day blues for Aborigines who suffer them would be to listen to or read the Australia Day address by the Somali migrant forced to flee his benighted country as a teenager after seeing his relatives murdered, arrived here illiterate, parentless and friendless and is now a lawyer.

 Bill Deane, Chapman

Athllon Drive

Recently I wrote to ACT Minister Gentleman to point out the extreme danger posed by the low fence at the Tuggeranong Lake Dam spillway on Athllon Drive. He replied the fence is 1.1 metres high and complies with current safety standards and no deficiencies have been identified relating to the railing.

He is right that the metal railing is strong. But it is too low to prevent a terrible accident as the drop immediately on the other side is something like 10 metres.

The Athllon Drive path across the spillway is regularly used by  walkers and bike riders. It only takes someone skylarking to push a person over and send them hurtling to an awful death.

I'm not sure Minister Gentleman has  taken the time to visit the site or he would have been compelled to take some action.

 Michael Lucas, Conder

Defending Freedom

A quick look at the Alliance Defending Freedom website says it all, another conservative Christian group intent on denying pregnant women and homosexual people the freedoms they're entitled to by law, ironically under the banner of protecting religious freedom. The concept of secular and non-secular co-existence and tolerance sadly does not seem to occur to them, and their failure to consider it highlights the weakness of their arguments.

Perhaps they should ask themselves "what would Jesus do"? Live and let live perhaps? Give same sex-marriage a chance, and see if it really tears apart society like they say they fear it will? Compare its quality, child-rearing outcomes and longevity to the high rate of failed and defective heterosexual marriages perhaps? It will be interesting to see what Tony Abbott says in his 'importance of the family' speech to the ADF, and how it compares (or not) with the more progressive approach on this and other issues taken by PM Turnbull. 

 Richard Roberts, Farrer

Republic push a distraction from discussing  more pressing issues

The clamour for the republic, ("Push for republic gets state, territory backing but dissension over timing", January 25, p1) is indicative of the end of the "silly season" for news reporting.

There are far more important things for this election year, both federal and territory for citizens of Australia to be concerned about. The economy for one. Federal government stability for another. 

We do not need diversions such as the republic to distract our politicians from the real issues that have a far higher priority.

Anyway we are already a republic in all but name. What should be happening is a reversion to our former nomenclature, namely the Commonwealth of Australia. By definition the term, "Commonwealth" is republican [and incidentally protestant] going back to the victors in the 17th century English Civil War and the Pilgrim Fathers who began the first British settlements in what is now the United States of America.

Finally, if we really are that desperate for a diversion to satisfy the ersatz nationalists, why do they not put their energies to changing the flag.

 Kevin Connor, Kaleen

Time for a change

We should become a republic immediately. The present Queen knows we appreciate how hard she has worked even if we now want our own head of state but it would be cruel to wait until Prince Charles gets the throne only to say, "Oh, you're king now. Well, we're out of here."

Let's move Australia Day to the day when we become a republic. Instead of commemorating an invasion, that day will then celebrate our new independence and maturity as a nation.

 Rosemary Walters, Palmerston

Support may backfire

The Australian Republican movement chairman, Peter FitzSimons, claims that the fact that state and territory leaders all back Australia becoming a republic is a great boost for the republican cause.

Has he considered the possibility that it may have quite the opposite effect? I can imagine many Australians thinking that if the politicians are all in favour of it then ordinary Australians cannot own it and will vote against it.

Also it is one thing to agree on the prospect of a republic but quite another to decide on the leadership model, a political head of state or a popular head of state, chosen by the people. Republicans would dearly love to remove the need for a referendum on this issue and just let the matter be decided by Parliament. But our founding fathers anticipated such ideas and locked the nation into a complex process involving a referendum.

 Father Robert Willson, Deakin

Anti-vax 'rubbish' 

I liken the anti-vaccination parents ("Keeping mum on vaccinations", January 24, p9) to the patient demanding a second opinion from the surgeon as the cleaning lady told them there's a better way to do the operation.

It appals me that the Canberra Times has given such a generous spread to this dangerous view. Such parents distrust just about the entire medical profession on vaccinations, but are willing to listen to people peddling repeatedly discredited rubbish about a "link" between vaccination and autism. Only in a fully immunised population will the one individual who isn't immunised have an advantage. The problem occurs when everyone wants to be that individual. It's also a fact that the chief peddler was denied entry into the country to run anti-vax seminars, for good reason.

In my view, the government hasn't gone far enough with its "no jab, no pay" initiative; I believe that an up-to-date record of immunisation should be mandated for school entry.

 Bob Gardiner, Isabella Plains

Re-start drug scheme

I agree completely with Ross Fitzgerald ( "Level field needed on drugs", January 25). The focus is always on law enforcement not harm reduction. When I was CEO of ADCA (Alcohol and other Drugs Council) in about 2002, I was on an ACT government task force to plan establishment of a Safe Injecting Room in Canberra. The committee of experts had almost completed our task when the initiative was cancelled. Please ACT government, show some courage and focus on evidence and re-start this initiative.

 Caroline Fitzwarryne, Yarralumla

Award 'contempt'

Well said, Kristine Klugman (Letters, January 26). The Australian of the Year Award has become the gong equivalent of Australia Day itself –  increasingly on the nose, despite the occasional meritorious appointment. The overwhelming support for Professor Gillian Triggs from thousands of Australians and the equally overwhelming contempt shown by the council by not even listing her tells us all we need to know about process and the council itself.

 Fred Pilcher, Kaleen

Tacit 'admission'

I fully subscribe to the views expressed by Dr Kristine Klugman (Letters, January 26).

Obviously, the council could not possibly have nominated Professor Gillian Triggs, as it would have been an unspoken admission of our mistreatment of children in detention an the failure of our whole asylum seekers immigration policies. Not to mention the neglect of our own aboriginal children.

 John Rodriguez, Florey

Australia 'lapdog'

So now it's Saudi Arabia threatening Iran right after the US-controlled UN removed crippling sanctions one day then re-imposed them the next. In the case of the US attitude to Iran, the US does what they are told by Israel and its well-entrenched US-based Israeli fifth column; in the case of arrogant Israel, situation normal and acting like a self-described "mad dog" (their words) against any country that is independent, motivated and intelligent.

Then finally, Saudi Arabia who are "Sunni" and Iran is "Shia". So that's the Middle East in a nutshell. Nothing to do with us of course, Mr Obama, but your tame Australian lapdog will tag along and up our military numbers, yet again. Just whistle. We always do what we are told, but against who is fast becoming the question? 

 Rex Williams, Ainslie

Attacks victim says too many stay silent 

I have been reading with some bemusement the recent articles about coward's punch assaults and domestic violence initiatives. I have been assaulted twice in the last five years in Civic in daylight while my fellow Canberrans looked on.

On the occasion I was attacked in the Civic bus interchange I was treated like a problem by ACTION staff when I asked for the police to be called and in fact when the police arrived they seemed more interested in interrogating me. 

My fellow Canberrans (more than 50 in the general vicinity being a weekday morning) all claimed to have not seen anything. It was a similar situation when I was attacked at the Canberra centre except on this occasion the police decided I should be charged with fighting in a public place — a charge I defended myself and had thrown out of court.

Anyone who stands by and witnesses a crime and then lies and claims not to have seen anything really has no right to Australian citizenship, a basic regard for the law being a central tenet. There seems to be a be a blind spot in Australia for male on male violence; having domestic violence initiatives seems to me like a piecemeal approach when the issue is really violence in the Australian community as a whole.

Or it could be that Canberrans just have little regard for anyone they see as "other" economically?

 Anthony V. Adams, Reid

Expel the cheats

ANU vice-chancellor Margaret Harding sounds like my mum when she warns of dire consequences for students who may cheat ("Academics say cheating is easier than unis realise", January 25, p2).

Only one ethical response should exist for a student who cheats — expulsion. We don't need a mommy scold.  Imagine if the core subject is aeronautical avionics. Would you board a plane whose software is designed by an intellectual cheat?

 Gerry Murphy, Braddon



If betting lies at the heart of the current tennis corruption scandal, why are there ads for betting companies during the breaks in the televised coverage of the Australian Open? Surely such ads should be banned.

 Jenny Goldie, Michelago, NSW


The artist's impression of the light rail omits light poles, traffic lights, an intersection, North and south bound roads and their nature strips.

 Glenys Hammer, Narrabundah


I fully agree with Dr Kristine Klugman (Letters, January 11) on Professor Gillian Triggs. Dr Triggs has showed professionalism, determination, courage and dignity in handling her job. I salute her.

 Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt


H. Ronald, (Letters, January 27) wants "plain speaking" on Indigenous disadvantage. OK, putting it plainly, I suggest patronising arrogance and smug superficiality (such as that persistently demonstrated by H. Ronald) crucially obstruct Indigenous solutions of any kind.

 Ian McFarlane, Wallaga Lake, NSW 


If ever the Australia Day Council needed reassurance their decision not to grant Catherine McGregor the prestigious position of Australian of the Year they just need to review her huge dummy spit and spiteful attack on them and David Morrison.

McGregor's apology is too little too late.

 L Christie, Canberra City


What a pleasure to watch the young Canadian Milos Raonic in action. No on-court histrionics, no umpire confrontations, just getting on playing the game. He smilingly and politely but firmly backhands the raft of inane questions in post-match  interviews. There's a role model for the likes of young master Krygios.

 Eric Hunter, Cook


T.J. Farquahar (Letters, January 28) tells how much a railway line between Vientiane and the Chinese border will cost to build compared to the cost of the light rail line in Canberra. I wonder if the writer could give us a quick estimate of the cost of labour on each?

 Roger Terry, Kingston


When Hawaii decides to delete from the territory flag a reminder of its British connection, that is when, Michael Lucas (Letters, January 28), it might be appropriate to delete the Union Jack from the Australian flag.

 Ken McPhan, Spence

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