Cyclists' turn to stop

Leon Arundell says road rules require that cyclists on roadside paths give way to all cross-turning traffic except oncoming traffic (''Cyclists, drivers get six degrees of separation'', April 19, p1). He wants that rule changed to absolve cyclists from responsibility for their own welfare.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Shane Rattenbury, is testing rumble strips in a bid to slow the soaring cyclist road toll.

But, surely, having the slowest participants with the most to lose at intersections do the stopping makes excellent sense.

And, in particular, forcing that responsibility on cyclists before they sail across freeway off-ramps is critical to their survival as well as the survival of other freeway users.

Cuthbert Douglas, Bonython

The article (''Cyclists, drivers get six degrees of separation'', April 19, p1) '' suggests that there are efforts by bicyclists to be given right of way over vehicles turning left. This move is clearly not well thought out and potentially fatal to cyclists.


Cyclists cannot be compared to pedestrians who, since they are progressing at walking speed, are visible to a driver for a length of time. The same cannot be said for cyclists, many of whom pass on the inside of left-turning vehicles at considerable speed.

To grant a cyclist who is approaching from behind and quite able to see the turning vehicle's turning indicator the right to pass on the inside is ludicrous and quite irresponsible. Furthermore, such a rule may even be subject to a claim for damages at some future date when some tragedy occurs and the rule is challenged in court.

Paul O'Connor, Hawker

O'Farrell's last straw

It wasn't really that ''a hand-written note, a throwback to old- fashioned courtesies, had brought down a premier'' (''O'Farrell Grange a lethal cocktail'', Forum, April 19, P1, 4).

It wasn't even that he failed to declare it on his gift list or was associated with Eddie Obeid's Liberal front-man Nick Di Girolamo. He told a lie about it. That was the last straw.

It's not even all that difficult to work out why he would tell such an idiotic, insupportable lie. Barry O'Farrell, Liberal saviour from the totally discredited Labor government, entered as a steel-shod warhorse. He trampled over sensibilities and expectations alike.

He's simply doing a Rudd/Gillard two-step, enabling his handsome young replacement, Mike Baird, to pirouette onto centre stage. It's all showbiz and these are the stars pulling the big bucks, and that's just their wages.

Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor

Wran praise on CSIRO

The Neville Wran obituary (''Premier who revived Labor, a man of mystery'', April 21, p6), failed to mention his chairmanship of CSIRO from December 1986 to December 1991.

During this time CSIRO was under considerable pressure from a number of senior Labor ministers to drastically curtail its research effort and reduce the budget. The tough line taken by Wran, working behind the scenes with then ministers John Button and Barry Jones, and, I might add, Coalition shadow ministers, resulted in the impact on CSIRO being considerably less than it would have been had he not been chairman.

I believe his efforts ensured that a great Australian institution survived at a time when its future was in some doubt.

Peter Langhorne, Narrabundah

Overtime winners

According to organiser Dave Smith (''Push to increase PS work hours'', April 19, p1), Professionals Australia members are working unpaid overtime to keep up with the workload.

In which case the push by the various government departments to increase the traditional 7.5-hour working day in return for annual pay rises can only result in a win-win for both parties. The employers benefit because they gain additional work hours and the employees benefit because they will now be working fewer unpaid hours.

Mario Stivala, Spence

Holiday surcharge

Like most, I find the surcharges which various businesses in the hospitality industry seem to charge on public holidays rather annoying. But what I find particularly frustrating and misleading is when you only find out about the surcharge after you get the bill. If a restaurant wants to charge customers more just because its a public holiday, they should make an effort to inform their customers.

Matthew Graham, Jerrabomberra

Royally exorbitant

I'm all for Joe Hockey telling the pensioners, the disabled and the unemployed that the age of entitlement is over. So how much is the current royal tour costing?

Stephen Matthews, Chisholm

Shame over science

How come our politicians are so full of themselves that they are ready to sacrifice the future of this country in return for their seats in the Parliament?

In this day and age the sciences sector provides the most important services.

Everything we have today, everything that we rely upon to have a better life, be it through health, leisure, technology, travel … is due to science.

Instead of doing everything in their power to save science spending, this government is going to sacrifice it so as to save something like $150 million, which is what this government is spending on spin doctors - spin doctors being people whose only job is to make sure that our politicians do not say something stupid (as if they would).

Can you see the balance? Can you understand it? Sacrificing science in the name of politics. The future of this country and its children has been sacrificed in the name of vanity and greed. How unfortunate it is that shame cannot kill politicians.

G. Coquillette, Spence

Questions of freedom

In recalling his early years as one of the leaders of the anti-Vietnam war demonstrators, it is hard not to come to the conclusion that Jack Waterford is quite proud to have been the subject of attention of ASIO (''Smashing the state'', Forum, April 19, p1).

Compare Waterford's situation with that of the demonstrator who is being dragged by his neck by a plain-clothes policeman, for expressing his support for the deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi (''Egypt plans tougher line in bid to halt terrorism'', April 19, p18).

Frankly, life is nothing but a lottery when one's right to freedom of opinion depends entirely on which country one is living in.

Sam Nona, Burradoo

Sad day for Australian media should the ABC be privatised

In her article in Times 2 of April 16, Julie Novak advocated privatising the ABC to achieve budget savings and, at the same time, address ''the more pressing concerns about the distorting effect of a government-owned broadcaster in an increasingly competitive media market''.

As someone who relies on the ABC for news, current affairs, information and entertainment, I believe it would be a sad day for Australia if Ms Novak's wish were to come true.

For as long as I can remember, the ABC has been a leader in Australia for quality news and public affairs broadcasting. In contrast commercial news bulletins and current affairs programs are generally parochial and/or somewhat shallow when it comes to world events. Ms Novak seems to believe that because it is government funded, the ABC enjoys an unfair advantage over commercial broadcasters and this would be removed by selling off the ABC.

The ABC's charter requires it to provide comprehensive and accurate news and current affairs services as well as services to specific audiences across the community e.g. religious programs, rural programs, and other programs to special interest groups.

Commercial broadcasters understandably allocate their resources to programs which they consider will attract the largest audiences such as major sporting events where, incidentally, they usually outbid the ABC for exclusive coverage. At the same time they prefer to leave children's programs and programs such as Q&A and Foreign Correspondent to the ABC because of their limited capacity to attract sponsorship.

In this ''ideal'' competitive world commercial broadcasters are quite at liberty to divert some of the millions spent on covering football, cricket, tennis, car racing and the Olympic and Commonwealth Games to improve the quality of their news and current affairs and thus compete more effectively with the ABC.

The Murdoch empire has long complained of crowding out by government broadcasters as well as what it sees as the ABC's bias and competitive advantage. For starters, News Corp would no doubt like to get its hands on the Australia Network now the ABC has won coverage in China. To experience mindless bias I suggest Ms Novak tune into The Bolt Report on Channel Ten and Alan Jones or Ray Hadley on 2CC.

ABC TV and radio perform a valuable public service in times of flood and bushfire, as well as serving the remote parts of Australia. I can't imagine any commercial broadcaster emulating these services or wanting to produce an informative show like The Checkout. I can only hope Clive Palmer can keep his promise to stop Tony Abbott from selling the ABC to News Corp.

John House, Flynn

Prolonging climate debate

George Brandis sees himself as a defender of freedom of speech ('''Mediaeval' tactics in climate debate'', p6, April 19). I strongly suspect that he is prolonging the climate debate to delay decisive action on climate change because that suits big business.

The question is not what Voltaire might say but the more prosaic question posed in a 1960s TV ad - ''Which twin has the Tony?'' The answer is, ''Both of them.'' When Gina has hold of one of Abbott's ears and Clive the other, what can Tony do but obediently avoid tackling global warming?

Actually he could follow Crispin Hull's excellent advice and ''govern in the best interests of all … and tell the rich and powerful sectional interests to go jump'' (''Get rid of coal, it's going to be the next asbestos'', Forum p2, April 19). However we wouldn't expect that kind of vision or courage from Abbott. We were warned he would sell anything for power, and those things include our health, environment, scientific knowledge, our jobs and support for the unemployed, our working conditions, accurate information, our ABC and our reputation as a caring, fair nation.

Rosemary Walters, Palmerston

Despite his claim that he ''believes in man-made climate change'' George Brandis accuses advocates of action on climate change of being ''mediaeval and ignorant'' in their arguments ('''Mediaeval' tactics in climate debate'', April 19, p6).

If Senator Brandis really does ''believe in'' human-induced global warming, he would know the arguments and evidence offered by the sceptics and deniers are misleading and/or highly selective, if not simply untrue. He should also know the most outspoken ''climate change deniers'' are paid for their utterances by, for example, fossil fuel and mining companies.

If anyone is being ''mediaeval and ignorant'' it is the mostly dollar-driven few who use spurious arguments and cherry-picked data to put the case for ignoring the overwhelming evidence that we risk rendering this beautiful planet uninhabitable by our supposedly smart species.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

The far right's self-appointed intellectual powerhouse and champion of free speech, Senator George Brandis (''Climate change proponents using 'mediaeval' tactics: George Brandis'', April 18), derides the ''authoritarianism'' with which some proponents of climate change exclude alternative viewpoints.

His derision dates back to a speech he delivered before the Senate on October 28, 2003, where he made the alarming accusation that ''the commonalities between contemporary green politics and old-fashioned Nazism and fascism are chilling''.

By concluding that ''the Greens are a sinister force in this country inspired by sinister ideas'', Senator Brandis likens these ''ecofascists'' to the most evil genocidal regime in human history. His conclusion not only helps to serve as a damning indictment of his own mediaeval bigotry, but of his own hypocrisy.

Reverend Dr Vincent Zankin, Rivett

Once energetic champions of freedom of expression, the Left are now reduced to either simpering apologists for censorship of our most fundamental of all freedoms, or perhaps cowed into uneasy silence. Do they really believe their new paradigm, or is this yet another example of principle being sacrificed on the altar of partisan politics?

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra

Yes, they seem a nice couple but even so

Robert Willson (Letters, April 19) is sure Australia will never be a republic. He bases this on the popularity of William and Catherine, one of the attractions being that William is the son of Diana, a loved non-royal. I wonder will he be able to say the same when Charles becomes king. As king, Charles will have to be a fully confirmed member of the Church of England. A church that refused to marry him, as he was marrying a divorcee. Will the Church of England have to again change its rules? It came about because Henry VIII needed to break from the Catholic Church, also over divorce.

Rosalind Carew, Isaacs

Gail Ford's letter, regarding the visit of the progeny of our foreign-born, hereditary head of state, is exactly right but, as I read it, I thought also of the other young couples with equally cherished children who are desperate to come to Australia. They come from countries where terror, death, persecution and poverty are common. Instead of feting them, as so many do our royal visitors , we lock them up in squalid conditions while some in the press, political leaders and the public pour abuse on them. Not the country of a Fair Go, after all?

Mary Virr, Kambah

As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George visit, it's interesting to reflect on just how resilient these descendants of middle European royal houses are, and how little relevance they have to us. William and George are the new faces of the Hanoverian royal house of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, rebadged as the Mountbatten-Windsors. It's interesting to speculate if William - if and when he becomes king - will inherit his grandfather's title of ''von Schleswig Holstein-Sonderburg-Gluecksburg''. If William harbours any territorial ambitions, the Schleswig-Holstein link could bring him into conflict with the descendants of our Tasmanian princess, Mary of Copenhagen.

Tim Menetrey, Palmerston



I have a question. Why do they call the day Jesus passed away Good Friday? One would think it might have been called Bad Friday?

Bill Hall, Page


Nice how the shops were shut so we could all go to church.

Ned Ovolny, Duffy


Congratulations to the marathon runners (''Perfect Day, Perfect Run'', April 14, P1), however, in future would someone follow to pick up the white paper cups and yellow sponges now lying around our streets.

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla


Politicians big-note themselves on Anzac Day, always ready with a wreath and a speech. But were they ever at the front?

Olle Ziege, Kambah


I reckon George Brandis' comments about climate change deniers show that, like Bob Carr, he's a master of irony. His claim to believe in climate change is further proof.

Adrian Gibbs, Yarralumla


All the talk about a budget crisis is manufactured nonsense to make this government's vicious austerity program acceptable. The target of austerity will be the poor and working class although, to give the impression of sharing the pain, the ruling class will cut back a bit on the Grange.

John Passant, Kambah


The recent controversy over the 1959 bottle of Grange encourages me to comment that this particular vintage is probably undrinkable - well past its prime. The reason? ''Sedimentary, my dear Watson!''.

Ric Longmore, Hawker


I happened to watch the Easter Sunday Mass at the Vatican featuring that remarkable celebrity - the Pope. The message from the Pope was clear, compassionate and unequivocal. It caused me to wonder how some Catholics I know of - Messrs Abbott, Joyce, Andrews, Hockey, Turnbull, Pyne, Cormann and Robb reconcile political motives so in conflict with the views offered by their religious leader.

John Dash, Spence


It's been known for 75 years that royal commissions destroy memories, yet still we pour hundreds of millions into them in the vain hope that someone will remember something.

Bryce French, Weetangera

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