Letters to the Editor

Integrity not packed for politicians' costly travel rorts

Coming on top of Joe Hockey's alleged abuse of travel entitlements, we now have yet another allegation of a travel rort by the Prime Minister (''Abbott visit to justify expense tab'', August 27, p4). Mankind is prone to this ''disease'' but we expect our political leaders to have more integrity. There have been quite a few additional restrictions to the travel entitlement system over the years but politicians still manage to offend.

If true about the PM (we will probably never know), the allegation is not a hanging offence but it does raise questions about his integrity and whether we want to be governed by such a man. Look at what he promised pre-election and what he has delivered. Is the man a fraud?

Geoff Clark, Narrabundah

Flying in fog

No one should be surprised at the record loss announced by Qantas given the company has a simpleton as chief executive, but one must also question the Qantas board which has continued to support him despite his underperformance from day one.

T.J. Marks, Holt

Qantas management: the latest Irish joke.


Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld

Some in the media went ballistic when Kevin Rudd said ''adios'' to Telstra's Sol Trujillo. When are we going to say ''cheerio'' to Alan Joyce?

E.R. Haddock, Weston

Time to graduate

There is a big difference between winning a debate and achieving long-term success in establishing new government policies. Joe Hockey's deficiencies in this area have recently been made clear, but such criticism could apply to the Prime Minister and much of his front bench. They appear to be trying to govern Australia using the same behaviours and attitudes they used when they were champion debaters at school.

Rather than measured and reasoned responses to the serious challenges of running a country, too many ministers exhibit a point-scoring approach to show how clever they are. It seems we are ruled by egotistical adolescents who rely on easily digested slogans to achieve short-term ''victories'' with little thought to what Australia needs to be doing over the next 30 or 50 years.

Steve Ellis, Hackett

Who pays reaper?

Malcolm Turnbull is proud of this government's decision to leave copper wiring adjacent to houses being connected to the NBN. (''Cost-benefit analysis gives big tick to Turnbull's multi-technology plan'', August 27, p4). It's a typical Abbott government decision - save costs now by pushing those costs into the future. Similarly this government won't take climate change seriously so future generations will face increasing costs.

Their mantra of ''let the markets decide'' really means ''let the richest people decide'' so Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer can dump sludge on the Great Barrier Reef. These cynical decisions serve the interests of the Coalition but not of the nation. Rosemary Walters, Palmerston

Fluffy logic

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher qualified her apology for not following up the many warnings about the residual Mr Fluffy dangers by saying ''no jurisdiction had done more to highlight and promote safety than the ACT'' (''Mr Fluffy: Gallagher was warned'', August 28, p1).

What Chief Minister failed to mention was that the ACT's efforts were funded by the Commonwealth; no other jurisdiction had as many Mr Fluffy houses as the ACT and the ''many warnings'' were received after the Mr Fluffy clean-up had ceased.

Ed Dobson, Hughes

So 34 Canberra families are sitting, for an indefinite period, in emergency accommodation after a class 1 carcinogen was detected in their previous living quarters (''Mr Fluffy: Gallagher was warned'', August 28, p1).

I bet there are more who have avoided full assessment or are clinging to grossly-flawed past reassurances, and because they cannot imagine how they'd function out of emergency accommodation, watching the value of their asset plummet.

In their immobilised confusion they should not be allowed to bet with their kids' lives.

Announce house demolition and compensation; get all homes properly checked; (immediately) get all families out of those homes in which loose asbestos is found. If the tram or the stadium or the beach precinct or the MLAs need to be postponed, so be it.

Veronica Giles, Chifley

If it looks like a cut

Simon Corbell (''Final decision on main light rail plan within two months'', August 28, p7) says Dickson ''would be the place for passengers to transfer to an east-west running bus service''. Translation: bus services from places like Kaleen and Watson direct to Civic will be dropped, and their patrons will have to take a bus to Dickson, get off, wait for the tram, reboard and continue to Civic on it. Now that's an improvement!

And Mr Corbell, please make sure that the 2014 light rail business case is not padded out like the 2012 one was, with $198 million in ''benefits'' from increased parking revenue - a revenue increase that is not generated by spending on light rail.

Michael Plummer, Watson

SA leads way

Greg Evans from the Coal Minerals Council, (Letters, August 28) argues against the Renewable Energy Target because it is allegedly a subsidy. Of course, coal power stations are heavily subsidised because they have a free licence to pollute following removal of the carbon price. Evans claims that the Australian coal industry is investing in carbon capture and storage. However, there has been no deployment of such technology in Australia and minimal deployment internationally - it can't compete on price with renewable energy.

The RET encourages wind and solar to directly compete with coal and gas in the electricity market. This has driven down wholesale prices. Thus the overall price impact of the RET on consumers is negligible.

Most of our existing fossil fuel power stations will retire over the next few decades. The RET target of 41 TWh by 2020 drives renewable energy investment at a sufficient annual rate to reach 90 per cent renewable electricity if continued until 2040. Thus Australia has the prospect of moving to a clean electricity future at approximately zero net cost.

In July, nearly 50 per cent of South Australia's electricity came from wind and photovoltaic systems; mostly deployed as part of the RET. Importantly, the grid remains stable and carbon emissions are falling rapidly.

Professor Andrew Blakers, director, Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems, ANU

Guarding books

It is odd that Ian Jannaway's books on Islamic architecture (Letters, August 28) do not show the style of four towers around a central courtyard when it is prevalent throughout the Islamic nations, and has been for centuries. He assumes such traditional towers, or minarets, are ''guard'' towers [but] it is a library.

Marguerite Castello, Griffith

Press gets action

After publication of a Letter to the Editor regarding dangling Telstra boxes (August 18) I came home to find a technician there. All hail the power of the press! Except that said ''tech guru'' didn't have all the bits he needed so had to jury-rig it and promise to return. He was horrified when he heard how many other boxes were in the area and drove round taking photos and promising work would be done. But when they came to Erik's up the street, he got the same old runaround of ''needs a cherry picker - another two or three weeks''!

J. Hogbin, Hackett

It's pay and play

Janet Fletcher (Letters, August 27) suggests that I collect facts before I pretend to understand independent school funding. She is right. I don't understand [the] funding and why these schools receive any funding from government.

The funding that is siphoned off from a finite amount of education funding to independent schools is money that could be going to existing and new public schools. I would be happy to provide more money from my taxation to cover extra facilities in all public schools. After all I believe in a level playing field to be enjoyed by all Australians, not just extra facilities for the rich minority.

Michael Lucas, Conder

Before accusing others of getting facts wrong, perhaps Janet Fletcher (Letters, August 27) should check hers. All schools do not get the same funding per student from government. Funding is based on an extremely flawed model based on the socio economics of the area a school is located in.

So wealthy schools built in areas that are generally lower SES often get more government funding than much poorer schools. The system is wrong and Gonski was going to go some way towards fixing it. But from my point of view if you want to pay for private choice pay for all of it.

I don't want my taxes paying for private privilege.

Roseanne Byrne, Australian Education Union member, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Needless deaths

Hugh White ("Abbott's dumbing down", Times 2, August 18, p1) expressed concern that Tony Abbott appears to have recently become more willing to consider sending Australian soldiers abroad to fight in three futile wars - in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. As a consequence, many Australian solders were needlessly killed, wounded or left with lifelong psychological conditions. It is not good enough for prime ministers to have such an unfettered power.

I recommend that the Parliament amend the Defense Act to provide that Australian ground forces cannot be sent overseas in fighting without the consent of both Houses of Parliament.

Neil Preston, Amaroo

To the point


Andrew Roberts (Letters August 27) asks what position Tony Abbott would assign to Jesus in Team Australia. If Jesus arrived over the water, as apparently he once did, he would definitely be ineligible. But he would get into Team Manus or Team Nauru.

David Townsend, Curtin

If Jesus were captain, would he pick Abbott?

Michael McCarthy, Deakin

Tony Abbott would have to make him goalkeeper; after all, everyone's heard that Jesus saves!

Bob Brook, Lilli Pilli, NSW

If Tony Abbott visited the Cancer Research Centre in Melbourne so that he could justify payment of allowances, as widely reported, then surely he forfeits a position in Team Australia!

Ken Eynon, Latham


Roger Terry (Letters, August 27) states there have been 137 charges laid against David Eastman. To my knowledge not one of these charges has been before the courts.

Howard Carew, Isaacs


The government has been concerned to adjust the economy for the benefit of future generations. It is less concerned to protect the environment. Insufficient action to address the latter will have far greater consequences.

Herman van de Brug, Kaleen


Paul ''Figjam'' (f--- I'm good, just ask me) Keating, was asked to launch Gareth Evans' new book, and boy did he deliver! (''I led Hawke's government: Keating'', August 28, p5).

Alex Wallensky, Broulee, NSW

No greater love can the man have, than for himself. And Paul still gets watery eyed at the wonder of his affections.

Fred Barnes, Bruce

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