Date: September 4 2013
Letters to the Editor
On Monday, with the temperature reaching 25 degrees - 10 degrees Celsius higher than the average Canberra maximum for September - I listened to Tony Abbott at the National Press Club reiterate his promise to get rid of the carbon tax.
While keeping to that promise, however, he broke another, namely, to meet the 5 per cent reduction in emissions. He said he would not release any more money to achieve the target, knowing full well he will need $4 billion from somewhere to achieve it. This on the day when the Bureau of Meteorology announces it was the hottest 12 months on record, with the hottest day, month and season.
To make it even worse, the rest of Abbott's speech was largely devoted to how they would spend money on roads.
It seemed not to matter that we are at a critical juncture where funding for rail, light rail and other public transport is sorely needed because of both rising oil prices and climate change.
And then there was all that support for the coal industry and how it was essential for the economy. Well yes, but should we export all the coal we plan to export then we will destroy the environment on which the economy ultimately depends. But I doubt he or the room full of Liberals would understand.
Jenny Goldie, president, Climate Action Monaro
In their report, ''Climate boils over to notch nation's hottest year on record'' (September 2, p3), Tim Colebatch and Peter Hannam observe that during this election campaign Tony Abbot has never mentioned climate change, and Kevin Rudd rarely mentions it. The Liberal and Labor parties have yet to learn the facts of life.
A non-negotiable requirement for our continuing life on earth is that we live in a more sustainable way.
The good news is that we can solve many of the problems that we have created. If we fail to act with sufficient foresight and urgency to reduce our demands on the environment, we - and our children and grandchildren - will be forced to do so by unpleasant and potentially catastrophic consequences.
Colebatch and Hannam say the Greens are the only party to raise climate change as an issue in this election. This is not surprising. For the Greens this is core business. The relationship between humans and their natural environment is central to their thinking. They have an enviable track record and will continue to hold other parties to account in tomorrow's parliament.
David Teather, Reid
Another US blind spot
A case can be made for a measured military response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, though as Sue Wareham has pointed out responding to war with more war almost always only causes more suffering.
However, the outrage being expressed by the US government reveals the usual Western blind spot.
The most widespread use of chemical weapons since World War I was by the United States in south-east Asia, and thousands continue to suffer from the effects of the indiscriminate use of Agent Orange and other chemical defoliants that were knowingly implemented against human beings, not just foliage. That doesn't make Assad's actions any less criminal, but the American administration should be cautious about claiming the moral high ground.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who won a Silver Star and a Bronze Star in Vietnam, knows what it's like to be hit with Agent Orange and to suffer the lifelong consequences. He became head of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War after serving in Vietnam and was one of the most eloquent and admired of that war's opponents. For Kerry now to be leading the push to punish the people of Syria because its leadership has committed crimes similar to those of the United States in Vietnam is the kind of diplomatic myopia that can be seen as ironic at best and hypocritical at worst.
Steve Ellis, Hackett
It's never simple
After reading about Dr Philip Nitschke's motivation and approach to people's right to die in the manner of their choosing(''The right to die: it's time to talk'', Forum, August 31, p5), I am even more convinced that his approach does nothing to advance the conversation about this important matter.
His reported statements seem to confirm the views expressed to me by voluntary euthanasia proponents I met while recently in Belgium, who told me that, in their opinion, he behaved like a zealot when visiting their country and that they would refuse to deal with him again. Even members of Exit in Switzerland, an organisation he helped to establish, must sometimes seriously question his current modus operandi.
Euthanasia is not a matter for overly simplistic solutions like a ''peaceful pill'' or gas-filled bags. Rather I believe, it is a subject best advanced by calm and considered discussion, and certainly not emotional headline-grabbing sensationalism.
Mary Porter, Member for Ginninderra
Clara Curtis (Letters, September 2) keeps selectively reporting data from a 2010 report of physician-assisted deaths in Flanders, Belgium. Clara claims that in ''nearly half of the euthanasia deaths in Flanders in 2007'' that nurses administered the lethal dose. That is misleading. I assume that she is referring to the cases where there was no ''explicit patient request''.
In 53 per cent of those cases there was nurse involvement.
But, of that, 17 per cent was ''physician and nurse''. Nurses alone or nurses together with a relative accounted for only a third (35 per cent) of administrations - not half as Clara implies.
And she omits reporting the fact that in only 20 per cent of the cases was a physician not present.
Clara's argument seems to be that because the Belgium law is not always strictly adhered to (in terms of who administers the lethal dose) and that - in her terms - ''people are dying without request'', then we should abandon thought of developing voluntary euthanasia protocols for the ACT.
Tomas Agostini, Weetangera
It seems Abbott's 'adult' choice is just one more for the boys
Australian voters are faced with a government that does not deserve to be re-elected and an opposition that does not deserve to replace it.
If Tony Abbott repeats his mantra about the Coalition being the ''adult'' choice, that might finally tip my vote against him. He comes across as an overgrown public schoolboy who is good at sport and walks with the swagger of entitlement.
His womenfolk are there to adorn him, but how does he use the adult woman on his frontbench, Julie Bishop?
Is she allowed to talk about events in Syria? No. She is used as a comedy warm-up to his election launch and is never heard from again, while Mr Abbott drivels on about ''baddies v baddies'' in lieu of a foreign policy.
Kevin Rudd is still flailing around, valiantly fighting to save the family farm, but trusting no one to help or advise him. Whoever we vote for, it will not be an adult in charge.
K.L. Calvert, Downer
A video about sham preference deals, made by former deputy prime minister John Anderson, is doing the rounds. Many people are saying they are so disillusioned with the two major parties that they will vote for a minor party.
However, this understandable frustration with the two main parties, without a good understanding of the preferential voting system, will result in many misplaced and wasted votes.
The corruption of our system with these ''sham preference deals'' has been gaining momentum for some years now, resulting in many spurious, yet somehow legal, election outcomes at every level. We once had one of the fairest democratic processes in the world, but this kind of corruption renders our preference system laughable.
Who will close the loopholes in our political system? Who will remove corruption from the legal and legislative systems? Who will stop the fracking? Who will ensure the safety and sourcing of our food chain? Who will genuinely educate our children in safety?
The answer is: nobody. Truthfully, I'm so fed up with Aussie politicians that, if I knew of a genuinely democratic country on the planet, I'd move there.
Anna Guy, Melba
Contract for what?
Tony Abbott says in his electoral advertising that he seeks a ''contract'' with the people of Australia. But the contract he seeks is not founded on good faith. Mr Abbott has refused to provide full disclosure of his policies in good time for fair consideration by the electors of Australia.
Many Australians will assert that in the cut and thrust of the election campaign the tactic is acceptable; perhaps commendable. They are entitled to that view.
Others consider that, by not acting in good faith, the Coalition has fundamentally undermined the legitimacy of the contract it espouses. They see it as a cunning political ploy designed to keep voters in the dark: frankly, to cheat us.
The Coalition labelled the government, in introducing the carbon tax, illegitimate. For many the legitimacy of a Coalition government has been irrevocably compromised by its failure to act in good faith with the electorate.
This fact will haunt any Coalition government.
Ken Brazel, Weston
Dads do get a look-in
Jo Hann (Letters, September 2) claims that the Coalition paid parental scheme can only be accessed by mothers. A quick scan of the policy on the Liberal Party website shows this claim is 100 per cent wrong. The Coalition's scheme allows the father to be nominated as the primary care giver and in these instances, the father receives the lesser of his actual wage or the mother's wage. No doubt Jo will be pleased to learn that Tony Abbott has ''progressive thought and gender equity'' built into the policy. Perhaps Jo Hann would care to issue an apology for the mistake and disprove my view that part of the left's platform is an inability to admit when they are wrong.
Gordon Williams, Watson
A note on votes
The article ''ALP cards favour anti-Islam party'' (September 3, p5) might have left readers with the unfortunate impression that I support an extremist party. As someone who is passionate about multiculturalism, I was disappointed that a Labor Party spokesman was the only voice in reply.
Since the seat of Fraser was created in 1974, preferences of the Labor and Liberal candidates have never been distributed. In other words, it has never mattered in Fraser how Labor voters numbered the other boxes. That's not the situation in the Senate, which I think is the main source of confusion.
In House seats without a strong third-party candidate, the major parties' preferences are irrelevant. While my preferences almost certainly won't be distributed, it's likely that some voters will make a mistake. In 2010, the number of informal votes nearly doubled, to 5171.
I'm passionate about reducing informality. My 2010 book Disconnected documented the rise in informal voting, I've spoken several times in parliament about reducing informality, and Sunday's Canberra Times contained an article about my concern about reducing informality in Fraser. In 2013, I want the informal vote to fall.
Labor voters in Fraser should number the other boxes any way they want - my How-to-Vote card merely suggests the easiest option, which is to number the boxes straight down, then start again at the top.
The key is: if you want to vote Labor in Fraser, please don't make a mistake. Lastly, the article wrongly describes me as the member for the southside seat of Canberra, but I'll leave it to another day to take umbrage with that error.
Andrew Leigh MP, Federal Member for Fraser
Adaptable housing for changing times
In ''Builders accuse ACT govt of fee gouging'' (September 2, p3), the Master Builders Association of the ACT and the Property Council of Australia's ACT branch indicate that they are reluctant to embrace the needs of the ACT's ageing population and integrate universal housing guidelines into future housing.
Canberrans have often spoken out about the need for good design to be integrated into new developments and the redevelopment of the city's inner suburbs.
Instead we are generally served up poor-quality housing stock that will not be around in 10 years or so. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between.
The challenge for the property and building sectors is not to oppose change but to bring something positive to the table.
They should be taking the initiative, on behalf of their members, to bring about innovative and well-designed housing that delivers universal housing, addresses the increasingly serious climate change issues, as well as the population's health.
This more positive approach would be most welcomed and would be much better for these organisations than being continually represented in the media as a bunch of whingeing NIMBYs.
Paul Costigan, Dickson
Jail is not the answer
I worked in NSW jails for 11 years and quickly learnt that long-term incarceration was not the answer for most crimes.
We have a long way to go as a mature society if the only punishment for the woman convicted of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy (''Teacher jailed over sex with 15-year-old'', September 3, p6) is to lock her up, at great financial cost to society.
As indicated in the article, she was going through a painful marital breakdown at the time of the offence.
She lost her teaching career forever. She also pleaded guilty and was genuinely remorseful for her actions.
A community rehabilitation program would be a more preferable alternative for both this person and society. She runs the risk of being harmed by her incarceration experience.
Geoffrey Ballard, Campbell
TO THE POINT
SYRIA SOLUTION, NO SEX
There is a simple solution for the fighting in Syria. The women there might adopt the expedient envisioned by the Greek playwright Aristophanes, and refuse sex to all combatants until they throw away their arms. Women of Syria, use your power!
Reg Naulty, Hawker
VISIONS OF BRITISH PM
By not supporting the US attack on Syria, will David Cameron now be seen as the PM who turned the UK into Stilton-cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys?
Peter Harris, Evatt
SHUT OUT EQUALLY
The ACT government and the Land Development Agency treat us equally. Whether it is Uriarra, Yarralumla, Griffith or Symonston they announce sites and major projects with absolutely no consultation.
Colin Swan, Symonston
READ ALL ABOUT IT
While brushing up on the Coalition's Direct Action climate policy, I was amused to discover that Direct Action was, until recently, the newspaper of the Revolutionary Socialist Party in Australia. Nice to see the Coalition paying homage to the breakaway Leninists.
Ben Elliston, Hawker
RUDD WINS THINKERS
Kevin Rudd's performance on the ABC's Q&A will win him the vote of every thinking Australian. Unfortunately he needs a majority.
Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld
DRONES MAY DRONE ON
Gee, I wanted a drone and I hear that Tony Abbott has changed his mind and is not going to buy any. Still, if the opinion polls are to be believed, come September 7, I'll have a government full of them!
Frances Corcoran, Fraser
OUR PLANET, OUR FAULT
Humanity is in a mess. The planet is in a mess: so to help me look after the planet for my new granddaughter, I would seek your help this weekend. (1) plant a tree; (2) ride your bike instead of going for a drive; (3) apologise to your grandchildren for the mess we are leaving them (Per capita we Australians have made a bigger mess than people in almost all other nations); and (4) vote Green.
Fred Hart, Weston
WINNING PARTY TO RULE
Very few of us will cast a vote for Rudd or Abbott. We will be voting for a party to govern. If you want Abbott, keep in mind you will also get Bishop, Bishop, Mirabella, Robb, Pyne, O'Dwyer, Abetz, and Morrison.
Rick Mecklenburgh, Seven Mile Beach, Tasmania
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