When I heard the news that four bushfires had broken out early in the season in the surrounds of Sydney, it felt almost biblical in its awfulness. It was as if God, or fate or the universe, or maybe just the climate, was giving the Australian people a message: ''Elect a climate change denialist and you'll see what happens.''
The problem with such consequences is that they never seem to strike the right people. Tony might have used his anti-carbon tax propaganda to get elected but it's not his house that will burn. Malcolm might have sold out his principles but it's not his house that will flood in the rising sea levels (or if it did, he would just buy another).
Rupert might have made it all happen but he will never stop living in the lap of luxury, whatever happens. Poor people might have made a relatively minimal contribution to carbon pollution but they will inevitably bear the brunt of the effects of climate change. Let's just hope Tony stays in power only long enough for people to make the connection between the carbon tax, preventing global warming and the dangerous association between global warming and an increase in the number of ''natural'' disasters.
Marion Barker, O'Connor
Some of your contributors (Letters, September 12) were very quick to jump in and call the Coalition's decision to revoke Steve Bracks's appointment to New York as petty and mean-spirited. Perhaps they should first consider the fact that within the last week, Bracks was actively and publicly campaigning against the Coalition: how realistic is it to expect him to now honestly (and with any sense of credibility) represent this new government in a sensitive diplomatic post? Furthermore, if, as reported, he had already technically accepted the appointment, is it not inappropriate for a diplomat to be politically campaigning at all? The simple reality is that Bracks can have no claim to be an impartial and effective representative of the government and has disqualified himself from the role.
I should also point out that other ex-ALP appointees (Rann in London and Beazley in Washington) have been confirmed by the new government, proving that this is not a political vendetta at all.
Kym MacMillan, O'Malley
Janet Cossart (Letters, September 12) asks what revoking Steve Bracks's appointment as consul general to New York will achieve. If nothing else, the appointment without agreement of both sides of the House goes to the very heart of underscoring the absolute dearth of intellect occupying the government benches in the last six years. Coupled with that, one wonders [though not for long] why Steve Bracks himself did not insist on a public statement of bipartisan support for his appointment prior to accepting it, given the very atmosphere in which it was made.
Michael Doyle, Fraser
Firmly in the red
Much has been made in the last election about the amount of debt the incoming government will have to deal with. Debt is not always bad, it is how you manage it that is important.
Britain has had a national debt for more than 200 years, incurred for the Napoleonic wars, and at the end of World War II was just about bankrupt. But it survived.
This country is far from bankrupt, but a judicious use of precious resources would be good.
Ian Jannaway, Monash
A small concern …
When I first drove through Crace I noticed the blocks seemed smaller than the tiny blocks found in other Gungahlin suburbs. I thought the place looked like a new slum and wondered about the implications of keeping dogs in backyards of that size in regard to hygiene as well as animal welfare.
When I read the article ''Search for world's happiest suburb starts in Crace, Canberra'' (September 10, p3) about the intention of a team of University of Canberra academics to study Crace to see whether its communal design will benefit its residents' health and wellbeing, I was very surprised, as I find the idea of living so close to one's neighbours appalling. I call upon these academics to assure us the research is not being funded by a developer, the ACT government or any other body which gains financially by selling as many blocks as possible.
Rodney Campbell, Calwell
A higher calling
It has been reported that Pope Francis has been given the nickname ''The Cold Call Pope'' for his practice of personally making telephone calls without prior Vatican advice to the recipient. Is the following phone conversation apocryphal?
Pope Francis: ''Is that Tony? This is Pope Francis.''
Tony: ''Ah um, who?''
Pope Francis: ''Pope Francis.''
Tony: ''Come off it, pull the other one. Don't give me such absolute crap. Shit happens, but not with me - I'm not falling for a hoax call like the one made by some, ah um, Australian radio presenter pretending to be the Queen, inquiring about the health of the Duchess of Cambridge in hospital. Who do you think you're fooling?''
Pope Francis: ''It is Pope Francis.''
Tony: ''Will this guy ever shut up? Ah um - go to Hell!'' (slams down the phone)
Dennis Hale, Beecroft, NSW
Minister Simon Corbell is being disingenuous when he says, ''Any suggestion that there has not been consultation upfront is wrong. There has been engagement by the government and by me as minister.'' The only things that could possibly constitute ''engagement'' are: a short and hastily convened meeting with one resident (nobody else was available at such short notice) on the day of the minister's press release, at which the resident was informed the solar farm ''will be built''; and a series of unsatisfactory responses to Twitter comments, in which the minister has simply referred us to the DA process.
Otherwise, Mr Corbell has conducted his ''consultation'' entirely through the media. He has dismissed our concerns in comments to The Canberra Times without even meeting us. The Chief Minister appears to defend this process now. She too has responded on Twitter by referring us to the DA process, as though a 40-hectare power plant, surrounded by three-metre-high barbed-wire fencing, should be treated just like another new house.
Apparently this government thinks it is acceptable to: a) ask a developer to plan a major new power plant in secret, b) announce that it ''will be built'', and c) impose on the developer a condition that it ''must'' be located next door to 100 families - all without meeting, or hearing the views of, the 100 families whose lives will be seriously adversely affected.
David Fintan, Uriarra
Leigh Allison (Letters, September 12) perpetuates the myth that the application of call-in powers under the Planning and Development Act overrules the development application process. In fact, if I as the minister determine to consider and decide a development application myself, this occurs at the conclusion of the public consultation process and is made with the advice of the ACT Planning and Land Authority. All public notification and consultation requirements are maintained in these circumstances, and a decision must be made in accordance with the requirements of the Planning and Development Act and the Territory Plan.
The only difference between a decision made by the Planning and Land Authority and the minister is that the minster's decision cannot be reviewed by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The question as to whether or not the call-in power will be applied in relation to a solar farm at Uriarra is pre-emptive and speculative when no development application has yet been lodged and the public consultation process is not yet complete. I would encourage all Uriarra residents to engage constructively in that consultation process.
Simon Corbell, MLA, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development
Syria is saying it will accept a proposal and join the convention outlawing chemical weapons. This is a good time for other states in the region (India, Iran, Israel and Pakistan) which have, or may have, nuclear weapons to sign up and comply with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in solidarity with their Syrian neighbours. It is also a good time for the users of white phosphorus (Israel in Gaza and the US in Falluja) to destroy their stocks of this chemical weaponry.
Digby Habel, Cook
'Last chance' order
Those correspondents (Letters, September 12) decrying the disposition of the ACT Magistrate's Court in Peta Credlin's drink-driving case all have the wrong end of the stick. One of your correspondents, Doug Foskett, says he has an unblemished driving record of 40 years and asks whether he would be granted the same ''flexibility''. The answer is yes, he probably would.
Section 17 of the Crimes (Sentencing) Act sets out criteria for the court to consider when sentencing for any crime in the ACT and allows the court to dismiss the charge where it is appropriate to do so. Such a disposition, however, is still recorded on a police record and may need to be declared when asked, for the purpose of visas or jobs, for example. It is quite common to make such an order for a driver who has never been convicted over the course of a long driving history.
This legislation is not peculiar to the ACT - it appears in every jurisdiction in Australia and other British justice system countries. It is known as a ''last chance'' provision - non-conviction orders are not given twice to the same person. I don't know Peta Credlin but on the facts as published, she was an ordinary, unremarkable candidate for such an order. It does help, however, to have a specialist criminal lawyer, as Ms Credlin did, to remind the court of the provision in a suitable case.
Jennifer Saunders, barrister and solicitor, Canberra City
To the point ...
LOOK WHO'S TALKING
After the 2007 election, Tony Abbott wrote: ''[Opposition leader] Brendan Nelson is right to resist the intellectual bullying inherent in talk of 'mandates' … the elected opposition is no less entitled than the elected government to exercise judgment and to try to keep its election commitments.'' I guess your view depends on where you're looking from.
Phil Teece, Sunshine Bay, NSW
Well said, M. Collins (Letters, September 12). To use an old American political expression, a majority of Canberrans are Yellow Dog Labor voters, meaning they would vote for a yellow dog if it was Labor. They may be the most educated and affluent constituency in Australia, but that does not mean they are the smartest.
H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW
SPEAK UP, RAIDERS
I would love to see one of these young Raiders say, ''The Raiders and its fans gave me my start so I will stay loyal to the club and the fans and re-sign'', instead of ''I will leave that to my half-witted, rent-seeking manager''.
Roger Terry, Kingston
LABOR RULES FLAWED
It's a farce, claims Australia's best-known £10 Pom Senator Conroy about the ALPs new rules for leadership selection. Obviously there's a fatal flaw in a democratic process: those other than factional bosses and apparatchiks actually get a say.
Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld
GIFT OF THE GAB
So Bill Shorten has put his hand up for the top job. Unfortunately while he has the gift of the gab, Bill is a bit like a piece if string in the breeze and will run with what suits him at the time. Beware!
Peter Toscan, Amaroo