At the time of the tragic Bangladeshi factory collapse, I remember being almost shocked by the frankness of Kmart CEO Guy Russo; he was available for interview, spoke quite candidly and at length, and advocated for careful further engagement with Bangladesh for what it means to their emergent economic development.
Even so, I was pleasantly surprised to read that Kmart (alone in Australia) will compensate the victims and families of the Rana Plaza fire (''Kmart compensates factory victims'', October 14, p5).
This is so clearly the right way to proceed, it not only reflects well on Russo and Kmart, but will also cause collars at Big W and Target to feel uncomfortably tight until they discover the guts to square up to the issue.
Ross Kelly, Monash
A shameful reflection
So Frank O'Shea (''Time for some commonsense on live exports'', Times2, October 14, p5) thinks there's nothing wrong with export of live animals for slaughter overseas and that public outcries over repeated evidence of horrendously cruel treatment of animals in Australia or abroad are a hysterical beat-up. The accompanying photograph of emaciated cattle dangling from ropes as if they were already butchered corpses during unloading contradicts him. How we treat both helpless animals and humans is a mark of our civilisation - or lack of it.
L. Wishart, Hughes
Thanks for Frank O'Shea's commonsense thoughts on so many issues, most recently the hysteria generated by animal rights groups. These activists have actively sought to discredit respected and long-established animal welfare groups such as the RSPCA and make themselves the only arbiter of standards.
The Greenpeace activists who destroyed the CSIRO experimental crop of GM wheat showed a frightening degree of ignorance.
The moral superiority of such campaigns is no help in a world which has huge problems feeding large populations in the face of climate change while at the same time battling obesity and food wastage in the prosperous sectors of the world.
K.L. Calvert, Downer
I took umbrage at much of what Frank O'Shea said about the live export trade, but was especially galled by his assertion that the Four Corners program A Bloody Business (2011) was biased. The program exposed the horrendous abuse of Australian cattle exported to Indonesia and subsequently led to a temporary ban on live exports. The program was the result of a rigorous seven-week investigation by a team of researchers and journalists headed by Sarah Ferguson. She and two of her colleagues won a 2011 Walkley Award for the program.
It would seem that Mr O'Shea either ignored or forgot that a spokesperson for Meat and Livestock Australia was interviewed at length on the program along with various other industry figures and representatives.
To dismiss the program as agitprop is at best lazy and at worst irresponsible.
Jessica Bartlett, Ngunnawal
I enjoyed Richard Begbie's article on Garrett Cotter (''Finding Garrett Cotter'', Forum, October 12, p1), as has Robert Willson, (''How many sailed with the convicts?'', Times 2, October 14, p3'') about convict transport vessel The Mangles. Her captain, John Coghill, had on retirement moved from his Berrima block to a 5600-acre property which he purchased in 1824 for 55¢/acre, near where Braidwood now stands. It is of interest to note that the Coghill family travelled to England in 1846. They remained there for four years, during which time Elizabeth, Coghill's daughter, married Robert Maddrell, to whom Bedervale passed on Coghill's death. Bedervale, a beautiful homestead designed by John Verge, is now on the national estate.
To add to this story of The Mangles and to respond to Robert Willson's question, another notable traveller on that infamous ship was the Surgeon Superintendent of Convicts, Dr Thomas Braidwood Wilson, a Royal Navy surgeon who, on retirement, was granted land in Tasmania as a reward for his services to the colony but later moved to a new property, which he called Braidwood Farm.
This name was after a most distinguished Scot, Dr Thomas Braidwood (1715-1806), who had founded the institution Deaf and Dumb Foundlings, the first of such charitable institutions in the world. He was such a hero to Wilson's father that he gave his newborn son, Thomas, the name of Braidwood for a middle name. Thus the town of Braidwood is named, indirectly, after a Scottish pioneer social welfare medico from about the 1730s. Another traveller on The Mangles.
David Nott, Barton
Price of the sugar binge
The ACT government initiative on junk food-free checkouts and regulating the sale of sugary drinks is to be applauded (''Territory to get tough on obesity'', October 14, p1).
Robert Lustig is a University of California medical expert who specialises in childhood obesity. He says the obesity epidemic is now a pandemic, a worldwide problem. This is because more of the world has switched to the Western industrial processed diet. In his assessment, ''table'' sugar (sucrose) and fructose (the sugar in fruits) are prime villains. Food companies enhance the flavour of many products by adding sugar, which is addictive. Whereas fruit contains fibre to counter the effect of fructose, fruit juices are now consumed frequently. All this sugar drives insulin production, and then metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity and so on.
Lustig has a number of strategies for tackling childhood obesity. Banning sugary drinks, including juices, is one. That leaves water and milk. Another is matching physical activity time with sedentary screen-based time. These approaches work. However, while exercise is important, it is no match for a constant binge on low-fibre food laden with sugar, which upsets the body's metabolism.
Lustig's video on the web ''Sugar: The Bitter Truth'' has been viewed almost 4 million times. He is a great communicator. I recommend his book Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease, available in the ACT public library system.
Lustig says a bottom-up revolution is required to ensure people eat the right food, which means avoiding most processed food, for example an orange rather than bottled orange juice. Food companies should also stop adding sugar to their products. Every taxpayer is paying for the huge bill for disease arising from the Western sugar binge.
Murray May, Cook
It's time for Labor to end the bickering and 'get a grip'
The Labor Party just cannot help themselves. After getting thumped at the last election, with disunity featuring highly as a cause, no sooner have they elected a new leader in what must be one of the most convoluted processes imaginable, one designed to unite the party, they are at it again, publicly squabbling and airing disunity.
When the Coalition is presenting them with so much ammunition - travelgate, fraud, stop the boats strategy being torpedoed, ''we won't impinge on Indonesian sovereignty'' - it is time for some enforced discipline. Do you want to win next time or are you going to continue bickering? Shorten, ''It's Time'' to get a grip.
L. Christie, Canberra City
I am a member of the ALP, I went to leaders meetings for Mr Albanese and Mr Shorten, watched them on Q&A, struggled over two fine men who would both draw a sharp contrast with an already disappointing PM and finally voted for Bill Shorten. Had Mr Albanese won I would have been just as happy.
This has been an engaging and an energising process for Labor. I am looking forward to Labor being an innovative, responsible and united opposition. Reports of membership discord over this result are greatly exaggerated.
Michael Lee, Gungahlin
Labor will, must resurface
Your cartoonist Alan Moir (Times2, October 14, p 1) gives us an amusing picture of newly elected Labor leader Bill Shorten repainting the good ship ALP with ''new look'' blue paint in spite of the fact that the ship is on the seabed. But while Labor, both state and federal, is passing through a difficult time and suffering the effects of internal disunity, it must and will recover.
The health of the parliamentary process in Australia depends on both a strong government and a strong opposition. The history of modern Australia cannot be understood without an awareness of the contribution of the Labor movement to our national progress. We will continue to need that movement in the future.
Robert Willson, Deakin
As always, Michael Kirby's words (''Dignity Day a reminder of those who are still denied'', Times2, October 15, p 5) are eloquent and cut to the core of the ongoing gay marriage debate in this country, more recently in the ACT with its upcoming gay marriage legislation. In particular, that gay people are told ''they are not entitled to equality of marriage rights even though this involves a legal status created by a secular parliament''. We are entitled to equality. We are born equal. Would those fundamental religious of all persuasions, so keen on telling others how we should be, please take note?
As a Quaker I bear witness to the value of equality enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Michael Kirby is a Christian.
He has no problem with gay marriage because it is an issue of equality. I urge other Christians out there in the community who believe in equality to take up your pens and write to our papers and to your members of parliament to redress the nonsense so often written by fundamental religious people scared of equality, a fundamental human right.
Geoffrey Ballard, Campbell
At the end of the article ''Finance minister met key players behind shutdown'' (BusinessDay, October 14, p7) Treasurer Joe Hockey is quoted as saying: ''America cannot default … and the frustration of a number of members of parliament in being unable to get the government to live within its means is palpable.''
Mr Hockey, if he is correctly quoted, is continuing the fallacy about government funding expounded by his Coalition predecessor, Peter Costello, who for some unknown reason compared running a national economy with managing a private suburban home mortgage.
He showed a genuine lack of understanding/ignorance of public financing in comparing the outlays of a national government in this way rather than as something akin to running a major corporation, only much, much bigger. If, at the time, he had allies in the business world, they should have confided in him a few home truths about how you grow your business: ''You borrow money to grow your infrastructure.''
The Australian government's debt is close to 20 per cent of gross domestic product - the US government has debt approaching 75 per cent of GDP. Mr Hockey is either preaching to the Coalition's rusted-on supporters or has no idea what he is talking about when you consider Australia, compared with the dire position of the US, has a AAA credit rating. There is a saying that the opposition doesn't win an election, the government loses it; so maybe Mr Abbott should keep on dreaming and, rather than make changes, work on his strategy for a third term in office.
Les Brennan, Sunshine Bay, NSW
Food for thought
Jenny Goldie and Julia Richards responded with vigour (Letters, October 15) to criticism of Paul Ehrlich, producing the time-honoured response that if we wait long enough, food scarcity will threaten the existence of our species. Let us remember Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb in 1968. It contained a message that our gut reaction tells us must be true, a Malthusian reaction to increased population must drain natural resources down to a dire level.
Well after 55 years, the FAO Statistical Yearbook tells us ''global per capita food supply rose from about 2200 kcal (calories)/day in the early 1960s to over 2800 kcal/day by 2009''. So the message gets pushed further out in time. If the ''bomb'' does not affect us in our lifetime, it will in future generations. A simple search will demonstrate it is not the lack of food that is the problem but low incomes, expensive fuel and distribution blockages limit the Third World's lift out of poverty. These problems can and are being tackled with positive intelligence and humanity, not inflexible gloominess. Remember, it is us, the greedy First World that will guide this outcome on behalf of the poor.
Keith Minto, Holt
A case of separating the hay from the oats
It is well known that most Australians, as opposed to the ''bronzed Anzac'' image, live in cities. Certainly, they seem not to know the difference between hay and oats, as seen by the constant referral to oat stacks as haystacks, notably by Ian Warden (''Hail a local giant of haystackery'', October 14, p8).
Hay is grass cut by a mower and usually pressed into oblong or circular bales by machines. Oats are commonly cut by a reaper and binder into sheaves that are then formed arduously by hand into stooks, aligned pointing northwards. Finally, when dry, the sheaves are built into stacks.
One of my tasks as a youth, or ''crow'', was to stand at the end of a long ladder several metres above the ground, catching the oat sheaves as they were thrown from a dray and handing them to the stacker, being careful not to stick the fork into him. People were just expected to be careful and I recall that no accidents such as falling ever happened.
S.R. Taylor, Pearce
Hands off parkland
As a long-time resident of this city who likes to walk and cycle around Lake Burley Griffin, I am distressed to learn that an industrial service facility is proposed for the parkland recreation area of Black Mountain Peninsula, a place that has always been a popular family gathering spot.
The lake shore offers alternative locations away from intensive recreational use for such a facility where the activity and associated noise would create minimal disturbance.
The western side of Black Mountain Peninsula is a delightful landscape, full of waterbirds. This peninsula park is not the right site for a ferry-servicing facility that will no doubt be enlarged in the future.
Cynthia Breheny, Campbell
TO THE POINT
APOLOGY IN ORDER
In view of the revelations on the ADFA Skype scandal, Neil James, Commodore Bruce Kafer, Major-General John Cantwell, and others, owe former minister for defence Stephen Smith a public apology.
David Groube, Guerilla Bay, NSW
REEKS OF MP HYPOCRISY
Though Peter Slipper may not see a difference between the use of Cabcharge vouchers to visit wineries, and other MPs attending weddings and other events, I can. Admittedly, it is not a huge difference, and there is a strong whiff of hypocrisy. Let the courts decide if his actions were criminal. Perhaps the Federal Police or the Australian Taxation Office may then switch their sights to the others.
Peter Marshall, Captains Flat, NSW
While in opposition, Tony Abbott used every dirty trick in the book to have Slipper removed and if that meant denying Slipper the opportunity to repay his travel claims, while Abbott would later repay his ones, so be it. Abbott is not just a hypocrite, he is unfit to hold public office. The Federal Police should have investigated him and others as they did with Slipper.
Adam Bonner, Brogo, NSW
I would like to know what wedding presents were given at the various wedding events that our politicians have recently attended. What were they? How much did they cost? And, who paid for them? Was it us?
Tony Argyle, Isaacs
MEMORY IS SHORT
I would like to visit the reality that Peter Kramaric (Letters, October 14) lives in.
Mark Raymond, Manton, NSW
Peter Kramaric (Letters, October 14) demands recognition of the Coalition having won the recent election. He seems to forget that the abominable no man absolutely refused to recognise that a Labor-Greens-independent coalition won the previous election. He also believes that the previous six years were ''chaos and mess''. Where was he during the 11 hopeless years of the supremely incompetent Howard government?
T. J. Marks, Holt
CASE OF PERSPECTIVE
Bill Shorten has stated that he is quite happy with the procedure for electing ALP Leadership. As one of the ''faceless men'' brigade one has to wonder how satisfied he would have been had he lost the ballot. Mr Albanese's time at the top might have been short lived had Shorten perceived that things were not going the way he wanted.
N. Bailey, Nicholls
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