Letters to the editor

Inside a bigot's mind

Attorney-General George Brandis said ''people have a right to be bigots'', and the left-wing bigots had a ball on your letters pages and in general commentary.

Added to this was your deplorable online poll that asked a bigoted question: ''Do you agree with the government's decision to drop changes to race-hate laws?'' (Also published as ''racial vilification laws''.)

Those opposed to changes to section 18C (which has been temporarily dropped, in my view) must grasp the nettle and understand that a bigot is not a ''hater of all things'', just a person who is obstinate and intolerant to others that have an opposing view. How many of us are guilty of this on a daily basis - written, spoken or in thought?

This question includes those writing to The Canberra Times and those writing for The Times (and, by extension, Fairfax Media).

Do we really think that the dreadful things that are happening here and in the Middle East do not generate bigoted thinking, racial or otherwise?

Frank Scargill, Macarthur


Your editorial (''A triumph for 'middle Australia' '', Times2, August 8, p2) said ''there was no obvious evidence'' that the Racial Discrimination Act has ''inhibited debate''. That is untrue.

That section 18C has inhibited genuine revisionist historical debate on the Jewish holocaust is unquestionable.

The case of Fredrick Toben makes this plain.

Yet you print misleading articles by Tim Soutphommasane (''PM bows to public opinion'', Times2, August 7, p1) and Waheed Aly (''Recruiting for Team Aust'', Times2, August 8, p1), which perpetuate the fiction that the core issue here has something to do with Muslims.

And now you lie to your readership. That is disgraceful journalism.

Chris Williams, Griffith

Crowd-funding answer

''The wonderful world of Oz'' is an allegory for the world of money and ''the magic pudding'' is an allegory for the world of credit.

The magic pudding is our credit and the pudding thieves are those who would take it away and give us debt in return.

Credit is our promise to return funds plus a return on the use of the funds to those who give us funds to invest. Providing debt in return for our credit is how pudding thieves work.

They take a commission on providing the debt that we pay with our credit.

This commission is interest on the interest of debt.

It may surprise readers who responded to my letter (August 7) that I am opposed to light rail if it is funded by debt.

I was opposed to the funding of the Cotter Dam through debt and have made a recent submission to the industry panel on the review of the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission's pricing decision outlining how crowd-funding can reclaim our Actew credit pudding.

The mechanics of crowd funding is simple. We pre-pay our taxes and services to the government and get a discount depending on the amount of time before we use our pre-payments.

The pre-payments are transferable and they are adjusted for inflation.

They are equivalent to fixed-interest inflation adjusted annuities.

I have suggested a yearly discount of 8 per cent for Actew investments as the cost is about the same to Actew as its current debt obligations.

Crowd-funding credit gives the crowd (our community) both the use of the assets as well as the value of the credit, and hence doubles our return on investment.

Kevin Cox, Ngunnawal

Explain Brumbies' loss

It was disconcerting to read Chris Dutton's report (''Smaller stadium planned after fall in crowds for Brumbies and Raiders'', August 6, p1) that the Brumbies will ''report a loss again this year''.

We were led to believe by the government and the Brumbies that the redevelopment of its Griffith site would offer a firm-future financial platform.

In 2013, the Brumbies sold its site in Griffith for $11.4 million.

The government waived the lease variation charge of $7.5 million, provided a $5 million grant to the University of Canberra towards the Brumbies' new building, gave a special one-off $1 million grant as well as the $1.2 million annual grant and the $0.6 million payroll tax waiver.

Given this support from ratepayers, it would be appropriate for the Brumbies and/or the government to provide information on how these funds have been used - and outline a plan to return the Brumbies to the black.

David Denham, Griffith

Horrors remembered

In response to my letter, Michael Piggott asks (Letters, August 7) whether our war service, or that of a family member who was killed in war, is relevant to our opinion on the remembrance of various battles from World War I over the next four years.

The short answer is yes because we experienced war in all its horror.

We don't particularly wish to be continually reminded of each battle of World War I - and then the centenaries of the major campaigns of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan, when they are due.

These commemorations distress me because they romanticise war even though I am sure that is not the intent. As mentioned in the editorial (''100 years on, war's lessons not learnt'', Times2, August 5, p2), they give politicians the opportunity to use the occasion.

We at present observe Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and, for the Vietnam veterans, Long Tan day annually.

While these ceremonies cost some money, they are well worth the expense because we, who survived, remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice.

However, to spend billions of dollars on the World War I commemorations is an extravagance that should be spent on more productive pursuits.

Gavin O'Brien, Gilmore

Service irrelevant

Michael Piggott (Letters, August 9) is right that having a service background, either personally or in the family, should not add weight to one's opinions about war.

Statements of military credentials are often followed by bloodthirsty jingoism and the claim that only those with such credentials have the right to comment on military matters.

(Gavin O'Brien's remarks, commented upon by Piggott, were not like this.)

This claim is just as silly as saying that one has to have slept rough to be qualified to speak about homelessness or have had an abortion to express an opinion on abortion.

Indeed, the impacts of war service are often felt as much by families, at the time and after, as by those who have fired shots in anger.

David Stephens, Bruce

Abbott's costly mission to crash site a wild goose chase

Paul McGeough as good as admits that Tony Abbott's rhetoric in searching the site of MH17 has been largely illusory (''MH17 search is mission impossible'', August 9, p11).

Not one to miss a political advantage, and at some pains - in the dark shadow of his inhumane budget - to appear the caring one, Abbott recently sent hundreds of people (highly remunerated ministers, advisers, police and the like, with a variety of clothing, climatic, living-away-from-home and other allowances tacked on) far across the globe at enormous taxpayer expense, in what was a wild goose chase, and abandoned.

Will the Prime Minister shortly present the books on the cost of hunting wild geese for political advantage?

Stan Nippz, Latham

The loss of Australian lives in the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner some weeks ago was a terrible tragedy, but enough is enough.

There was no need for Tony Abbott to go flying off to Holland to thank them yet again for their help.

It looks suspiciously like more grandstanding on the international stage. It is wearing a bit thin, Prime Minister.

R. Aitchison, Waramanga

Racism's 'boy' word

Racial vilification is a two-edged sword. For example, the subtle taunt of inverted racism borne by Caucasians of the West was heard from a South African jurist.

Nomavenda Mathiane, a former colleague of the judge hearing the Oscar Pistorius case, said: ''Whoever thought that one day a black woman would be standing judge over a white boy?'' (''Trial judge: from apartheid-era jail cell to the bench'', August 9, p16). It is some time since Pistorius was a boy and, whether or not he is guilty, the word ''boy'' has a special nuance in South Africa.

Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor

Call for Islamic sanctions

The Islamic State is guilty of an orchestrated campaign of misogyny, brutality and genocide in Syria and Iraq (''Back to Iraq: US takes on militants'', August 9, p1).

Given that the West has imposed economic sanctions against Russia for having provided support for armed rebels in eastern Ukraine, when is the West going to impose sanctions against the regimes that have provided most support for the Islamic State: i.e. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey?

And will Australia follow the Netherlands' lead in banning public displays of the group's black flag?

Bruce Taggart, Aranda

Remember Palestine

There is a ''looming humanitarian crisis in Iraq'', Tony Abbott said on Saturday as he outlined aid from Australia.

Does he realise there has been a real humanitarian crisis for 60 years in a place called Palestine, the massacre over the past three weeks obviously not of any real interest for Abbott and his US-centric government?

Some genuine humanitarian aid for Palestine may not form part of the Prime Minister's plans compared to Iraq, where we have already paid a large price, but such urgent aid is the wish of 80 per cent of this country.

Rhys Stanley, Hall

Poetry for peace

Adrian Gibbs calls for arms dealers to be brought to account for the damage caused by their hideous weaponry in the recent war between Israel and Gaza (Letters, August 9).

His point resonates with the sentiments of two famous 18th and 19th-century poets.

First are the immortal words of Scottish poet Robert Burns, from his dirge Man was made to Mourn:

''Man's inhumanity to man, Makes countless thousands mourn!''

Second are the utopian lines from America's leading poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in The Arsenal at Springfield: ''Were half the power, that fills the world with terror, Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts, Given to redeem the human mind from error, There were no need of arsenals or forts.''

It is high time that ''half'' the millions of dollars devoted by Australia to commemorating the destructive impacts of warfare by our homicidal species were devoted to the promotion of peace, ''lest we forget'' the ingredients for a peaceful world.

Bryan Furnass, Hughes

Grow up, Canberra

Wal Glennon (Letters, August 8) drew attention to the report ''Assembly to get 25 members in 2016'' (August 6, p1) because ''all parties agreed'' for reasons basically related to population growth.

Of course they would agree, wouldn't they, for whatever reason?

George Tafe (Letters, August 7) compared our population with that of Brisbane and the fact that Brisbane has a mere 27 councillors to administer a population almost six times larger than ours. Like the light rail ''no-brainer'', I suggest we wait until we grow up a bit before making such outrageous suggestions.

Better still, put these and other kite-flying proposals to a referendum for the people to decide.

P. M. Button, Cook

Melbourne rails ahead

It seems Howard Carew (Letters, August 6) has not kept himself up to date in the practical world he recommends.

Incredibly, he says the Melbourne tram system has not been extended ''since the 1950s'' due to being ''more costly'' than heavy rail or buses.

He uses this claim to underpin his view of light rail.

Two heavy-rail routes were converted and incorporated in the Melbourne system in 1987. Suburban tram routes have been extended at least six times since 1980; the most recent is less than 10 years old.

The city has also seen substantial extensions into the Docklands area since 2000.

Apparently, the Melbourne ''practical world'' is very much so.

Roger Shelton, Spence

Think small, it's the way of the Treasurer 

A long time ago, in the Dark Ages, parochial Australian states did not recognise each other's seniors cards for concession purposes.

Prime minister John Howard, in his second-last successful election, promised to fix this but never did.

The first Rudd government stitched up a deal with state governments that finally brought Australia into the 21st century on this matter.

Now, Treasurer Joe Hockey wants to undo this and take us back to the Dark Ages.

In the overall lunacy of the Hockey budget, this particular item is small beer, but it is eloquently symbolic of the petty-minded, mean-spirited, vindictive mentality that typifies that budget, in its obsessive aim to punish the innocent and reward the guilty.

Perhaps in expiation of his troglodytic Treasurer's sins, Prime Minister Tony Abbott might at least declare all of us seniors, discouraged from our interstate jaunts, as knights and dames of the realm.

Bill Egan, Aranda

To the point


Michael Bachelard's article ''Papuan police arrest French journalist'' (August 9, p12) reveals a dirty secret of brutality, assassination and human rights abuses Australia has chosen, shamefully, to ignore for decades. Kopassus' business model, protecting global ''partners'', keeps Indonesia sweet with pitiless, exploitative, US and Australian corporate interests.

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan, NSW


Tony Abbott, July 2, 2013: ''If you don't understand it, don't vote for it.'' It wasn't the first time that's been said, even in Australia. Now we, the voters, might well add (for Abbott and his hapless Attorney-General's benefit): ''You don't understand it. You can't even explain it. So kindly don't propose it.''

D. Clark, Latham


A memo to Senator George Brandis and some of his fellow old-fogey colleagues. The way this metadata issue is being defined and redefined, it won't be long before my dear old fountain pen and ink bottle start to fit the definition.

Bruce Kennedy, Melba


I blush to consider my own German name but, in the light of their recent mutually stupid statements, could senators George Brandis and Eric Abetz find themselves trapped by the stiff-necked intransigence of their Germanic backgrounds? I click my heels in disapproval!

Olle Ziege, Kambah


You never know what The Canberra Times will teach you: I always thought a flatulist played the flute (Letters, August 8).

Gordon Nevin, O'Connor


Oi, Tony ''ta-ta'' Abbott, please stay home and fix this budget emergency (''Australia asked to help in humanitarian mission'', August 10, p6).

James Walcott, Mawson


The Australian Human Rights Commission's inquiry into children in detention has revealed that children are having their medication, hearing aids, glasses and prosthetic limbs taken from them and are spending years locked in detention centres, leading to irreparable mental harm. The government has even gone so far as to cover up statistics revealing the shocking state of the children's mental health in Australian detention centres. Cruelty and the government's secrecy must be brought to an end.

Kevin McDonnell, Mulgoa, NSW

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