Letters to the editor
Wow! I had no idea that the ACT government was so flush with funds that it would eagerly enter a high-stakes gamble with our money. The introduction of Simon Corbell's Marriage Equality Bill on Thursday has only one outcome - the resulting ACT law, when the bill is passed, will be challenged in the Federal Parliament or in the High Court.
The outcome of such a challenge is far from certain, despite the reassurances from the ACT government that it has had good legal advice. The people of the ACT have a right to know just how much of their money will be spent defending any challenge.
While there are families living on Canberra streets each night, and a three-year waiting list for public housing, it is irresponsible for the ACT government to be gambling away our money.
Andy Moore, Kambah
The attempt by Attorney-General Simon Corbell to legalise same-sex ''marriage'' is disingenuous, fraudulent and coercive. Marriage is not primarily an expression of ''love'', but the mechanism by which all human societies have attempted to provide a stable nurturing environment for the production, support and raising of children.
Same-sex couples cannot produce children, except by artificially contrived means. While they can support children, their own self-indulgent, self-serving behaviours corrupt themselves and the easily influenced, making them unsuited to the raising of children.
Restricting marriage to individuals of different-sex couples is not discriminatory, as homosexuals have always been able to marry under the same circumstances as heterosexuals.
Legalising same-sex ''marriage'' provides a legislative basis for compelling its acceptance.
In England, a court case has been initiated to force the Anglican Church to celebrate same-sex ''marriages'' even with the exemption granted by law.
In the United States, wedding suppliers refusing to be associated with same-sex weddings have been threatened with arson and murder, prosecuted and their customers harassed.
In Australia, the hatred from the blogosphere for Christians arguing the contrary is gut-wrenching.
With legislation, these Christophobes will be able to use the courts to persecute their prey.
Yet this makes Simon Corbell ''proud'' and has the support of a ''majority of Canberrans''.
Jon Kehrer, Chisholm
Why must we continue to put up with the ignorance shown by the Mickey Mouse politicians who comprise the ACT Legislative Assembly? Where do these people get the idea that same-sex marriage is supported not only by the majority of ACT residents, but also throughout Australia?
I have yet to see any definitive proof of this.
If, however, this were the case, I suggest the only way to go about possible legislation is, first, to put the matter to a plebiscite of ACT residents.
I am absolutely disgusted with the Labor faction's proposal that same-sex marriage be legislated in the ACT without any consultation with residents.
I hold these people in contempt.
P.F. McNay, Curtin
Drivers 1, Walkers 0
I raised the issue of pedestrian safety at the Athllon Drive, Mawson Drive, Beasley Street intersection with the ACT government almost a year ago to this day (''Principal warns on danger of busy road'', September 18, p6).
I did it through the Fix My Street website (Incident #120902-000002) and received a phone call a couple of days later from a territory rep.
He stated that the government was working with the school and a solution was very close.
My suggestion of a four-way, including diagonal, crossing was seen as too much of an imposition on drivers.
This problem has been left to fester for too long with the clear winner being drivers with scant regard for the safety of pedestrians.
Joe Murphy, Bonython
It's commendable that Greens MLA, Territory and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury is taking a strong stance against factory farming in the ACT. If the Animal Welfare Bill is passed it would become illegal to keep laying hens in battery cages, de-beak them, and keep pregnant sows in farrowing crates.
At the same time the irony is not lost that the ACT now does not have any commercial battery egg production facilities or commercial piggeries. It would be an easy, but shallow, victory to outlaw flagrant disregard of animal welfare standards that don't exist in the territory anyway.
Another anomaly is that Mr Rattenbury signed off on this year's cull of up to 1450 kangaroos, despite credible and empirical scientific evidence showing the existence of non-lethal alternatives, such as tranquillising and relocation, and fertility controls, that would also have been cheaper for taxpayers.
Mr Rattenbury justified the slaughter as a way of ''protecting the environment'', despite the fact that kangaroos are part of our indigenous ecosystems.
Is it that Mr Rattenbury, like the quote from George Orwell's Animal Farm, believes ''all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others''?
Jan Heald, Mt Evelyn, Vic
Once again Andrew Blakers (Letters, September 20) tells us that that renewables, wind and solar, will cost no more than fossil-fuel generated power. That is nonsense. Wind is now costing over 7.6 times as much a traditional power generation according to NSW state government data, and it is generally agreed that solar is more expensive still.
You fail to consider the fact that with the low capacity factor of wind and solar the installed generating capacity must be many times greater. And as capital investment is the main component of the wholesale unit, the cost of electricity will be very high. The propaganda on this subject is astounding.
By the way, why are all of these subsidies, and the carbon tax needed, if renewables are so cheap?
J. McKerral, Batemans Bay, NSW
Slashers and wreckers thrive in changed political climate
I kept waiting in vain for Labor to run an election theme that it was the party for building Australia arrayed against the Liberals, whose primary impulse is to wreck and abolish. Sure enough, the Liberals have reverted to type in a nanosecond upon obtaining government, and the slashing, the destroying and the nasty, vindictive political knifings have started. Start as you mean to go on? And no, slapping down a bit of bitumen around the joint doesn't constitute building a nation in 2013.
The cynicism and hollowness of the new government's actions can be seen by the abolition of the Climate Commission saving a mere $580,000 in 2013-14 while the payouts to the sacked departmental heads will cost $2 million.
So much for the ''budget emergency''. It's one thing inexplicably to want to prevent the market pricing of carbon pollution but quite another to obstruct the dissemination and discussion of the underpinning climate science.
But then, this government has shown already that it cares nothing for science as a whole, so I suspect we're going to see much more of a belief-based approach not impeded by facts in many areas.
A British pundit once posited that the battle between labour and conservative political forces could be characterised as the idiots versus the crooks, respectively. Seen through that lens, a lot of the past six years starts to make surprising sense. It just depends whether you would prefer well-meaning fools or ''calm and methodical'', but venal and mendacious, savants. Who can do the most damage?
David Jenkins, Turner
Drink your words, Tim
On February 11, 2007, Tim Flannery said: ''Even the rain that falls isn't actually going to fill our dams.'' Sydney's combined storage then was 33.9 per cent. This month, it was 93.6 per cent.
The ACT's combined storage in February 2007 was 30 per cent of 207 gigalitres; on 19 September, 2013, it was 67 per cent of 278 gigalitres, or 93 per cent of 2007 capacity.
(Note: the enlargement of the Cotter Dam has only recently been completed but it is already at 27 per cent of capacity.) Tim Flannery's qualifications are in palaeontology. His salary as climate commissioner (part-time) was $180,000 a year. The true cost of his failed prophesies in terms of lost opportunities (eg, delayed construction of new dams), and increased cost of electricity is unknown.
D. Zivkovic, Aranda
Leisure to rethink
The ALP now has an opportunity to consider (or reconsider) its policies generally. I suppose it is too much to hope that they will reconsider their stand on asylum seekers. They have a good period of time to revise their policy and re-educate the public.
The current policy has been driven by politics and takes no account of morality, decency, facts, truth or world circumstances. Australians have been fed a diet of partial truths and politically convenient information leading to widespread misunderstanding.
It is time a major Australian political party recognised the reality of the situation and took a moral stand. I suppose that is unlikely; Australian political parties do not put morality and long-term considerations ahead of short-term political opportunism.
Simon Rose, Downer
Sackings a bit hasty
So much for the ''purposeful, methodical, calm and conscientious'' approach promised to us by our new Prime Minister. The sacking of three senior departmental heads (''PM starts with PS shake-up'', September 19, p1) may strike fear into the hearts of public servants - it also strikes fear into my heart. This must signal goodbye to any suggestion of a frank and fearless public service, so essential for the smooth and competent running of the country. It would take a brave public servant indeed to come out on the ''wrong'' side of the current government.
It also signals the end of a ''fair go'' at least as far as the public service is concerned. These three people were sacked on the first day of the new government. They did not have the opportunity to display incompetence justifying their removal; there is no explanation offered by the Prime Minister as to why he took this step, so one can only conclude that they were guilty of having values or a philosophy objected to by Mr Abbott.
This naked and autocratic display of power does not sit well with our Australian values as far as I am concerned. As a fellow human being I can't help wondering what effect this will have on them and their families - I hope their years of service provide them with a decent removal package. (A disclaimer. I do not know the people involved and have never been in the Commonwealth Public Service).
Sue Schreiner, Red Hill
Hear us roar, Tony
The community group behind the election of Cathy McGowan was driven mainly by one thing common to all parts of rural and regional Australia - a total lack of attention by all governments to infrastructure needs.
And the principal unsatisfied need identified by that group was the national broadband network (NBN), Tony Abbot's pet hate. In what was a notional National Party seat, even conservative locked-on rural voters recognised that country voters must have effective communications for their communities to be sustainable, be it roads, rail or their modern equivalent, the NBN. A need not recognised by the sitting member, who constantly engaged in virulent abrasive criticism of the NBN in all media, for base political purposes.
Raised in the country, I remain convinced the NBN can rejuvenate rural communities, offering relatively stress-free living for those businesses that can use high-quality broadband to operate anywhere. With those businesses come shops and schools.
Be careful, Tony. The potential of the NBN is popular in the bush, where the Telstra copper sold by John Howard is even more deteriorated than it is in the cities.
W.A. Brown, Holt
Opinions differ over merits of gap year
The article ''Mind the gap (year): education experts warn students'' (canberratimes. com.au, September 2) offered a number of opinions in relation to the benefits of a gap year between school and university.
In particular, concerns about interrupting study were offered as possible implications.
However, a recent study based on the experience and grades of more than 900 students over two years on just this topic found the opposite effect of a gap year. The study, reported on the Conversation website (theconversation.com/study-links-a-gap-year-to-better-university-grades), found that ''when used constructively, gap years helped students gain skills, better grades and did not slow down their academic momentum''.
Here's to informed decision-making over opinion.
Philip Roberts, assistant professor (Curriculum and Pedagogy), Faculty of Education, Science, Technology and Mathematics, University of Canberra
Habitats up in smoke
Denis Wilson (Letters, September 19 ) pointed out the plight of the NSW listed threatened species , the gang- gang cockatoo. It has inexcusably been given no protections under the flawed NSW Private Native Forestry Act.
Many readers may also be surprised to know that logging of existing breeding and foraging habitat for this cockatoo is currently being approved for nothing better than commercial scale firewood. Homes for gang- gangs are literally going up in smoke in NSW.
Forestry networks that support such commercial firewood logging have publicly stated their intent to use this legislation to ''open up over 1.2 million hectares of native forests to supply Sydney and Canberra with 800,000 tonnes of firewood annually ''.
Those in Canberra can be comforted by the knowledge that while fewer of these charismatic cockatoos may be coming down to Canberra during the winter months, lots of firewood will be.
Mark Selmes, Taralga, NSW
TO THE POINT
I went to see a presentation by Dr Philip Nitschke at the Australian National University last week. What a man. His conviction to people is fantastic. We could all learn from him. He certainly puts our pollies to shame in the honesty and sincerity areas.
Peter Clark, Bywong, NSW
The car parking area in front of the Farrer shops has just had a million-dollar-plus taxpayer-funded makeover. It beggars belief a project of this magnitude provides fewer car parking spaces, no improved access for the disabled and elderly, and no new walking surfaces to the shops. Our bloated bureaucracy needs a reality check particularly in the current economic climate.
John Hosking, Farrer
John Moulis (Letters, September 17) has forgotten the alliance between the Liberal Party and the National Party. Without National Party support the Liberals would struggle to win government. How is this different from the Labor Party getting support from the Greens?
Fred Hart, Weston
Thanks to Frank O'Shea for his memories of school in Ireland (''Five decades on, a trip down memory lane hits home'', Times2, September 19).
It takes me back to my days at Blackrock College, Dublin - a time of fun, innocence and some sadness. You will have to wait for the book (if I live long enough).
Can we have more of Frank? How about a series of such memories from other locals?
Stan Cronin, Watson
Anyone who is surprised that Tim Flannery was sacked was clearly not paying attention. The real surprise is that this purveyor of dud predictions on climate change was retained on the public teat for so long.
H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW
So, Tony Abbott promised not to raise the GST, but is being called upon to do so. How convenient!
Gary Frances, Red Hill
John Kilcullen (Letters, September 19) needs to watch more parliamentary ''debate'' if he thinks Michaelia Cash's YouTube effort was extraordinary. Her performance was middle of the road in parliamentary terms. Why they are not as embarrassed by their behaviour as those viewing is a mystery.
Jevon Kinder, Murrumbateman, NSW