Letters to the Editor

Leaders too unfit to 'deter'

Hypocrisy doesn't come much starker than this: US President Trump issuing threats to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over his nuclear weapons, while Trump modernises his own arsenal and threatens to use it.

Trump's little echoes in Canberra insist that we need US nuclear weapons for our protection and refuse to rule out their use on our behalf. For as long as nuclear weapons have existed, their "deterrence" value has been said to keep the world peaceful and stable, regardless that the world was anything but.

Robert McNamara, US Defence Secretary during the Cuban Missile Crisis, said we came "a hair's breadth" from utter catastrophe (then).

Nuclear "deterrence" has always relied on everything working exactly to plan — no technical error, no human error, perfect intelligence and leaders being wise and rational. Enter Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, and we are back on a knife-edge.

The Australian government continues with the grotesque myth of "stable deterrence". They deserve every bit of outrage that can be thrown at them.

Sue Wareham, vice-president, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Australia, Cook


Defence funding

The observation by D J Fraser ("Vietnam Legacy", Letters, April 17) that the 1000kg bomb recently dropped in Afghanistan wasn't available during the Vietnam War, misses an important point.

Like all weapons, the MOAB underwent a long development, starting in the 1950s. In May 1970 a small number of Australian tanks were deployed to search an area in the Vietnamese Province in which the Australian Task Force was operating ... for a large metal object.

When found, it turned out to be an aluminium pallet (too big to be carried on a tank).

Having reported its location, the tanks returned to Nui Dat, the crews having no idea what they had found.

Subsequently, it was found to have been associated with one of the first 15,000lb bombs dropped by the US Air Force in the conflict. The "Daisy Cutter" had been dragged by parachute from the back of a Hercules aircraft on an aluminium pallet.

The good thing for Australian troops was that it detonated.

Unfortunately, many of the 750lb bombs dropped by the RAAF failed to explode, thereby providing a source of explosive to be used in Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) against Australian soldiers.

Such an abhorrent occurrence underscores the importance of funds allocated within the Defence budget, not only for new capital equipment, but also for the inspection and maintenance of existing stocks.

Bruce Cameron, Campbell

Religious ignorance

The Canberra Times should insist that the proper noun "God", denoting the Christian or Abrahamic god, should only be used when discussing that god.

It's disrespectful to other religions to use this word when discussing the existence of supernatural beings in general (Richard Rowe, Letters, April 18).

It implies that other gods aren't even worth mentioning.

I'm in almost complete agreement with most theists. They believe that about 99per cent of gods don't exist; I believe that 100per cent don't exist. If they applied to their own gods the same logic that they apply to others, we would agree completely.

Mike Dallwitz, Giralang

Opposing perspectives

I agree with Richard Rowe, (letters, April 18), that "many areas of human interest and experience are simply not amenable to experimentation".

He reminds us that science itself accepts non-verifiable metaphysical assumptions at its very centre, such as the unprovable premise that only material things exist.

Jonathan Sacks, in his book "The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning", argues religion and science are compatible and more than compatible. They are the two essential perspectives that allow us to see the universe in its three-dimensional depth.

The creative tension between the two is what keeps us grounded in physical reality without losing our spiritual sensibility. He says science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean.

Robert Willson, Deakin

No live virus in jab

Vaccination is the single most effective way of preventing the spread of flu in the community.

Jennifer Heywood's letter ("Beware the jab", letters, April 19) may give rise to concerns about possible adverse reactions.

The flu vaccine does not contain any live virus.

You can't get the flu from the vaccine.

Common side effects usually occur within one to two days following flu vaccination and include soreness, redness, pain and swelling at the injection site, drowsiness, tiredness, muscle aches and low grade fever.

If these side effects occur they are usually mild and go away within a few days, usually without any treatment.

Pharmacists and general practitioners are mindful of the need to ensure patients are fully informed about common side effects.

Amanda Galbraith, President, ACT Branch, The Pharmacy Guild of Australia

Mass confusion

I suffer from confusion as to what defines a "weapon of mass destruction" (WMD). According to Google the Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB) used by the US works by creating a cloud of inflammable chemicals which is ignited.

The chemicals are fatal in themselves. It seems it's OK to kill people with poison gas if you intend to incinerate them straight afterwards.

S. W. Davey, Torrens

Airport lockdown costly

Recently I was required to pick up my wife at the Canberra Airport from a flight that was due to arrive at 10.45pm.

I found, upon arrival about 20 minutes before her ETA, that both the pick-up and drop-off areas were barricaded and closed to traffic.

This was despite the Singapore Airlines flight still being on the ground and due to depart at 11.30pm.

It was an airport lockdown, the cause of much inconvenience.

Arriving passengers had to walk to the corner and be picked up by traffic, pausing to do so, near the roundabout.

I doubt this is done in the name of security or a terrorist threat.

It was to ensure all drivers attending to either pick up or drop off were diverted through the covered car park at their cost, inconvenience and unnecessary waste of time.

When I asked how a passenger planning to depart on that overseas flight was able to do so with the road closed off an hour before departure, I was told all passengers had to be at the airport two hours before departure.

I pity those running late.

P. M. Button, Cook

Rights and wrongs

Shane Rattenbury's defence of the ACT's ban on silent prayer outside abortion clinics as "potentially intimidating and harassing conduct" is nonsensical.

He seems ignorant of international human rights law when he floats the idea the right to life for every human being "before as well as after birth" and the right to freedom of religion can be derogated from on the grounds it is "part of a 'rights balancing' process".

Both rights were universally guaranteed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): 6(1) Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

18(1) Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Both these rights, under Article 4(2) (ICCPR) have been universally agreed to be non-derogable rights. States party to the Covenant may not derogate from them, not even "in times of national emergency".

Mr. Rattenbury's claim that "rights should not be seen as having a clear or fixed hierarchy" belongs more properly to a dictatorship than to a responsible democratic system.

Rita Joseph, Hackett

When Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse stood in front of the ACT Health building in Civic to attend an anti-abortion prayer vigil, as did three others later who have now been brought before the ACT Magistrates Court, he solemnly believed that he was standing for the essence of the Christian Gospel ("ACT government defends abortion clinic prayer ban as 'rights balancing'," April 19, p.9).

But what he was doing instead was to intimidate vulnerable and defenceless young women whose recourse to having an abortion could have constituted one of the most difficult emotional decisions they would ever have to make.

In fact, the ACT submission by justice minister Shane Rattenbury extends far more compassion towards these women, as Jesus would have done, by arguing that freedom of religion should be curtailed to the extent that it impinges on broader human rights.

While standing for the universal sanctity of human life is a worthy goal, it loses all moral credibility once we start casting stones of condemnation towards those we self-righteously deem guilty of breaking God's holy laws.

Reverend Dr Vincent Zankin, Rivett

Blind Society future

Since its inception, the National Disability Insurance Scheme has excluded people aged over 65, but the ACT government has or will shortly withdraw funding from numerous community organisations including those that support people not covered by the scheme.

Hence the reasonable question by Paula Calcino ("Who can help?" letters April 18): "Where do I go to seek advice and guidance when our community support organisations cease to exist without funding?"

The Canberra Blind Society is planning its future on the understanding it will no longer receive money from the ACT government.

The majority of people supported by the society do not qualify under the NDIS and the board of the society is striving to continue service to all people who are blind or who have vision loss.

To this end a general meeting of the society will be held on Thursday, 11 May at 6pm Room6, the Griffin Centre.

Paula Calcino and all people with an interest in the society's future are encouraged to attend.

Meanwhile, people needing help may telephone the society on 6247 4580.

Graham Downie, secretary, CBS, O'Connor

Banish the billboards

Who is proposing allowing billboards around our city?

Is there a sub-committee for the "ugly-fication" of Canberra?

Why is this government so keen to destroy everything that makes our bush capital unique in the world?

It should be celebrated and cherished.

Visitors are amazed and delighted by our relatively unspoiled cityscape and bring greater prosperity to the city without diminishing its beauty.

We don't want to be a mini-Sydney or Melbourne.

We love our open outlooks to hills, mountains, trees and waterways.

None of these aspects will be improved by garish advertising and neon eyesores on our buildings, road sides and (perish the thought) along tram lines.

It seems anything is up for grabs if there's a buck in it.

The "billboards by stealth" attack on Manuka Oval suggests the rot has already begun.

Heather Stewart, Weston

Shape of things

Roger Quartermain (Letters, April 19) states the proposed new stadium may be related to "Mr Barr's personal interest in AFL". As I understand it, the purpose of a new stadium has explicitly been stated to be to accommodate the rectangular codes, NRL, Rugby Union and soccer, and would not be capable of accommodating AFL.

If Mr Barr indeed has a "personal interest in AFL" it clearly bears no relation to the proposal for a new stadium.

Richard Moss, Chisholm



Er, Barnaby and Fiona, as Zed says, Canberra is a regional centre.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah

Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash are hell-bent on moving as many Federal Government Departments out of Canberra and into the regions (as possible).

Perhaps they could begin with their own, by moving the headquarters of the National Party from Barton to, say, Bong Bong. Or Burrumbuttock. Or perhaps Come by Chance.

Toss Gascoigne, Campbell

The decentralisation of government departments is of immense benefit to the job poor bush.

May I suggest government considers decentralising the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and "The Lodge" to Gunning NSW. Inadequate infrastructure? No worries, build it and they will come.

John Lawrence, Flynn


Never mind "... speak English, respect our values ..." ("Malcolm Turnbull reveals tough new citizenship crackdown", Canberra Times, April 20, p.4). Will his next utterance be "Make Australia great again"?

John Rodriguez, Florey


The Government decides to introduce new citizenship requirements; all well and good, but if you don't subscribe to Australian values you can still be eligible for a permanent residency visa. What nonsense.

Roger Dace, Reid

"Australians First". It sounds like Malcolm has been Trumped by the Donald.

I thought we were independent from UK and USA but looks like we are still the lap-dogs.

David Roberts, Dickson


There are many things in the world today that can make you sad and angry.

But, one of the many things that makes me happy is passing by the big owl sculpture in Belconnen.

So, add another thing to the sad and angry list — infantile, ugly graffiti on the base of that sculpture.

Julie Gorrell, Macquarie


What would Tony do?

Come on Malcolm, how about shirt-fronting Kim Jong-un?

Nigel Thompson, Queanbeyan East, NSW


Interesting to observe the coining of a new word, "post-truthy", an adjective formed from a noun (post-truth) formed from an adjective (post-true).

Michael McCarthy, Deakin

Email: Send from the message field, not as an attached file. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).