Comment

Letters to the Editor

Do more for refugees

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Thanks to Innes Willox for his compassionate assessment of refugees ("Syrian refugees just want a fresh start", Times2, February 17), especially as it was based on visiting the camps in Lebanon and Turkey.

Eleven million Syrians forced to flee is only part of the humanitarian challenges. Last year, more than 140,000 Afghans fled their country, becoming part of this displaced tide seeking a better life.

The Australian government can do much more for refugees, in Australia, Nauru, Syria or those from Afghanistan. For those who've come across the seas, we've boundless plains to share. Justice for refugees and asylum seekers.

Peter Graves, Curtin

Hands off Manuka Oval

The private consortium proposal led by Greater Western Sydney Giants to make commercial property developments around Manuka Oval represents an opportunistic land grab. The trade-off for this for an extra 4750 stadium seats is a joke.

The Manuka Oval precinct is not blessed with a lot of available land. It is an oval and any further development of the area needs to be towards stand-alone stadium.

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The Giants' claim that it is a second-grade facility is rubbish. It will become a second-grade facility if it is surrounded by apartments, hotels and retail buildings. To my knowledge, no other major sporting stadium in Australia has taken this path.

If the ACT government wants to further develop the seating capacity of the ground it can be financed by other means.

The user-pays model comes to mind. All patrons at Manuka Oval could be levied an additional user ticket charge of, say, a dollar until sufficient funds are raised for the next stage of seating development.

Brian Brocklebank, Bruce

Better way to tax firms

There is a lot of sound and fury about company tax and a host of hotly contested claims about its efficacy, appropriateness and impact on economic growth. However, has anyone given any thought as to why we need company tax at all?

A company is essentially owned by a collection of individuals and institutions and tasked with pursuing economic activity on behalf of those groups. Profits are either returned to the owners through dividends or capital gains so, instead of taxing the company, why not levy the appropriate tax on the owners when profits are either disbursed or realised through the sale of the shares?

Such a policy would deliver a massive simplification of the tax system, stop the accounting chicanery that companies are wont to indulge in, and help ensure that commercial decisions are made on solid financial grounds rather than being influenced by taxation considerations. In the case of foreign share owners simply impose a flat tax of 15 per cent on their dividends or capital gains.

For the multinationals – the masters of chicanery and loath to pay any tax – forget the forensic auditing and blind alleys of Antigua and Bermuda, and impose a 15 per cent tax on their revenue. This should suffice, and if they don't like it they can take their business elsewhere.

Wayne Ralph Hawker

Storing nuclear waste

Bruce A. Peterson (Letters, February 17) neglects a current problem: several decades of waste from the ANSTO nuclear reactors is stored on-site at Lucas Heights, in Australia's largest city. This should be buried deep in one of Australia's many salt pans, which are self-sealing and geologically stable on the scale of millions of years. Mr Peterson and I would both agree, however, on the insanity of importing additional nuclear waste for profit.

Michael Barry, Torrens

Derail the tram plan

Patrick O'Hara's suggestion that hysteria surrounds the tram proposal (Letters, February 16) is curious as is his question as to the motivation of those opposed to the proposal.

To summarise for him: it is a politically motivated project being undertaken without serious consideration of the alternatives. It is ridiculously expensive and will divert money from things that actually matter and needs that ought to be met. It will do little real good as its patrons will almost all be people who now use buses. It will lead to the degradation of Gungahlin bus services, as the government tries to force people onto the tram.

It will reduce the level of service along Northbourne Avenue for cars, both during the construction period of several years and later during operation as extra lights etc are implemented to give the tram priority.

It is true that the proposal is likely to result in the defection of a considerable number of long-time Labor supporters to the Liberals at the next election but that is a different issue. This is something I and others will do with regret but a Liberal government will cancel the tram and save us from a disaster.

Stan Marks Hawker

Respect for criminals

Ross Gittins describes the growth of the Australian incarceration industry which resembles the British colonial transportation of convicts for minor offences, while the disproportionate imprisonment of Aborigines displays persistent racist attitudes (Prisoner stats tell a sad tale, 17 February, Times 2, p.1). A more humane approach to punishment is found in Sweden, where emphasis is placed on open prisons, whose main aims are rehabilitation and education, resulting in falls in crime rates and the closure of several prisons over recent decades.

In a recent think-tank, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the levels of violence, drug-taking and self-harm in prisons brought "shame on us all".

Mr Cameron said a significant change would be to make it easier for people with criminal records to find employment in civil service jobs without making this admission until much later in the process after a chance to put their case.

Bryan Furnass, Hughes

You first, Barnaby

Barnaby Joyce really does need to think again about moving public servants from Canberra to Armidale (or wherever). If he's going to force others to move to Armidale, he should save public money by moving himself there.

After all, he simply doesn't need to be in Canberra except for the occasional Parliamentary sitting – and he can save even more public money by driving to and from Armidale. He might like to reflect on what followed the decentralisation of NSW Agriculture and Fisheries to Orange. All those newly arrived city people made sure Orange's federal electorate went straight over to the Independent Peter Andren.

Steven MacKenzie, Coopers Plains, Qld

Big is better, that's one of reasons smaller clubs are closing down

The article by Glyn Rees was the most self serving bit of twaddle I have heard for a long time ("Casino's demand for pokies will kill city clubs", Times2, February 17).

There are three reasons why small clubs are closing. The first is that people prefer the better appointed big clubs.

Secondly people, as a whole, are realising what a rip off the poker machines are. The third reason is that they are community clubs last and money making businesses first.

I could name three clubs that have closed down at least one of their members' associated small sporting clubs.

The Canberra Southern Cross has shut down both its bowls club and pitcth n' putt course

If a casino is granted the right to install poker machines I think it is very unlikely that the average person would travel from Tuggeranong or Charnwood to play them.

What is more likely is that the rival inner city clubs would have to lift their game.

Howard Carew, Isaacs

Be ashamed

ClubsACT's Glyn Rees should be ashamed admitting "community contribution" of a paltry "$125 million donations", over 10 years ("Casino's demand for pokies will kill city clubs", Times2, February 17). This would reconcile pathetically against the negative social, emotional and intellectual wounds inflicted by ClubsACT, barely legal, morally and ethically bereft, gambling business on the community they now, hypocritically, seek to defend from AQUIS Casino, an equally reprehensible undertaking.

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan, NSW

Fair go a myth

Thanks Robert Cook for drawing attention to the ANU aid survey, (Listen to aid experts, 17/2). The $11 billion cuts from Australia's aid program over the past two years are predictively reflected in the survey results. In the last 20 years Australia's aid combined with other wealthy countries has achieved the halving of the number of children dying each year, turned around diseases of TB, HIV and malaria and provided millions of girls and boys with an education.

With overall government spending increasing by 1 per cent (after inflation) in 2015-16, why is it that aid spending is reduced by 20 per cent?

The myth of Australia giving people a 'fair go' continues, but the reality is the exact opposite.

Sue Packham, Woolamai

Foreign aid concern

Thank you Robert Cook (Letters, February 17) for sharing your worries about the decimation of Australia's foreign aid budget. A cut of $11.3 billion can only be described as decimation.

How devastating that must be for our foreign aid workers and organisations, but the real impact is on the lives of so many children who will never receive the health and education benefits that were previously being delivered with our funding.

Education and health outcomes for young people will contribute greatly to the security of our region and will provide the foundations of a road towards world peace.

So how can our government decide to reduce this funding? Because they can get away with it — like Robert Cook we must show that we care.

We will not sit by and see more cuts to foreign aid from this year's budget.

Bruce Boyd, Bruce

Civic pride please

R.Wright (Letters, February 17) points to how badly and disgraceful Canberra is looking at the moment. This is not new, Canberra has been on the downturn for a number of years.

This slow neglect has resulted in a government that apparently has no civic pride making massive savings by avoiding essential municipal services, in spite of ratepayers paying over 40% higher rates. We can only blame this current Labor Government.

It is not unreasonable to ask, how can the government expect to manage the very expensive light rail system when it simply cannot keep Canberra tidy? I suggest that the labor/green assembly members take a short trip to the cities of Goulburn or Wollongong and take in some of the civic pride at a lower rating cost. This year Canberra voters must vote on results not on promises.

John Whitty, Hawker

School safety fears

I was disturbed to find that 23 schools in Canberra, including at least three primary schools are members of the Federal Government funded Safe Schools Coalition.

Like many parents I am all for supporting and protecting gender diverse students along with all other minority groups while furthering our childrens' quality of education. However the Safe Schools website, which children are encouraged to access, explains how to hide information from parents, encourages the children to explore external links to adult gay groups and provides details of body modification practices that are extremely dangerous for young children, such as chest binding. How is this helping our children's education?

This is simply brain washing our kids by pushing extreme sexual ideology on 10 year olds and the Australian Federal Government should be taking no part in it.

Carmel Biddle, Gordon

It seems a blind eye turned to helmet law

Are the existing cycle helmet rules policed? ("'No cycle helmet' rules change may help improve road safety" February 16). It is my observation that police might turn a blind eye to such offences, different to enforcement of motorcycle helmet rules. I'd be interested to know if there are there any records of infringements for failure to properly wear a cycle helmet and if so, how many.

Edward Corbitt, Farrer

Not a consultant?

I recently read with interest the ACT Government's proposal regarding cycling helmets, (Canberra Times, "Call for better infrastructure to help cyclists", February, 17, p 4). Specifically, the government hiring an "expert" to investigate the risks and benefits of allowing cyclists to ride without helmets in low speed environments. I assume such an expert will be outside government, probably a consultant, right? Well, I would have thought with all those ACT public Servants, there would be someone who could do such a review, especially a literature review, given the amount of research on bicycle safety and helmets. It seems the government is wasting taxpayers money yet again by not utilising what I believe is a competent, intelligent and qualified ACT public Service.

George Thompson, Narrabundah

Defence options

Hugh White is quite right to ask the question: "Can we keep on relying on the US to keep us safe?" (Times2, February 16). His short answer seems to be, "No". I think he is correct, but I'll wager the imminent Defence white paper won't even mention the problem, let alone ponder any possible options or the questions they would automatically raise, such as, what would they cost?

Since there clearly won't be any white paper reflections on the subject, perhaps Professor White could explore the options and possible costs in his next comment piece.

Eric Hunter, Cook

TO THE POINT

ROYAL MEMORY

They can't do it! It's sacrilege! At an open-vista Manuka Oval in 1954 was the only time that Queen Elizabeth II waved to me, with her little white-gloved hand.

James Walcott, Mawson

UNLOVELY GRASS

I agree with R.Wright about the uncut grass on the nature strips beside Athllon Drive (Letters February 17). Most of the growth is African lovegrass. There is nothing lovely about, it is very aggressive and can crowd out native grasses.

Trevor Shumack, Lyons

COSTLY COST CUTS

Grass on roadside reserves knee-high, formerly smooth road surfaces now bumpy after third-rate resealing, emergency departments still struggling; obviously the ACT government is saving money in order to fund the white elephant tram.

Ken McPhan, Spence

BUGGER OFF

Julie Bishop hits out at Chinese blockage of sea lanes despite recent reports that our shipping lanes seldom use China's "island belt". China's merely telling Uncle Sam to bugger off. After all, Chinese ships and planes don't harass the US coast.

Barrie Smillie, Duffyt.com

PEOPLE OF CHARACTER

There are men and women in detention on the mainland, Manus Island and Nauru who bravely refuse to take the poisoned chalice of refoulement or being sent to Cambodia. Surely this bravery is the quality of character the government should seek to include amongst its migrant intake.

Dr Anne Cawsey, Hackett

COLOURFUL IDEA

May I suggest that H.Ronald and Gary J.Wilson purchase a few colouring books? Their valiant, yet futile efforts at deciphering gender politics would be better spent on "mindful colouring".

Joyce Wu, Lyneham

SAVE A BOMB

If Scott Morrison wants to save expenditure, he could join Canada in withdrawing from the bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria, and withdraw from the Joint Strike Fighters.

David Clark, Scullin

COMPASSION REQUIRED

Innes Willox couldn't have put it more succinctly when he wrote, "Driven from their homeland by violence, these people need our help to build new lives" ("Syrian refugees just want a fresh start", Times2, February 17). People who refuse to see that need to reflect on the quality of their compassion and humanity.

Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

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