Letters to the Editor


The headline ''Fossil fuel lobby clouding the issue'' (Letters, March 4) perpetuates the simplistic dichotomy used by the Greens - namely, coalmines or wind farms, take your pick. Senator Nick Xenophon, a politician on the left of the spectrum, has criticised the use of wind energy, not just on health grounds but also because wind energy does not ''stack up'' on economic grounds.

For example, he recently labelled the decision to approve the Ceres wind turbine project in South Australia as ''reckless'' and an ''economic kick in the guts'' for South Australian consumers.

He says that approval of the project will guarantee that South Australians have the highest power prices in the country for many years to come and will choke off investment in other baseload renewables like geothermal and tidal, which are far more reliable.

Casting the debate in simplistic terms certainly ''clouds out'' a more thorough understanding of the much wider range of issues involved.

Murray May, Cook

William Gray (Letters, March 4) attempts to perpetuate the myth that wind power is dependent upon back-up from baseload (coal-fired) power stations ''which continue chugging away even if its windy''. Reality is the opposite.

In South Australia, where wind supplies 27 per cent of electricity and solar 4 per cent, the two coal-fired power stations are now closed for half the year and it is just a matter of time before they are closed permanently.

Furthermore, our computer simulations at UNSW show that it would be possible to operate the National Electricity Market on 100 per cent renewable energy, without any baseload power stations. The latter are inflexible and just get in the way.

Dr Mark Diesendorf, deputy director, Institute of Environmental Studies, University of NSW

Robyn Lewis (Letters, March 2) argues that envy seems to be the reason why people get sick around wind farms. However, in a Polish veterinary study done by Mikolajczak et al, 2013, it was found that geese 50 metres from wind turbines gained 10 per cent less weight and had higher levels of the stress parameter cortisol than their more fortunate cousins who were located 500metres away from the turbines. The authors felt that even at 500metres distance, comfort and wellbeing of the geese continued to be affected, and suggest the factors at play are physiological.

As I haven't studied goose psychology, I will keep an open mind about the envious goose.

George Papadopoulos, Yass, NSW

Law change not for Bolt

Journalism lecturer Jenna Price makes up more claims about me (''We are all Matilda, betrayed by Tony Abbott'', Times2, March 4, p5).

Price is wrong to claim the Abbott government's proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act are ''mainly to appease the Coalition's biggest fan, Andrew Bolt''. The calls for reform actually come from a wide coalition of lawyers, free-speech campaigners, conservatives and think tanks.

Price is wrong to claim I ''did not enjoy one bit being told in 2011 to pay money to the people he described as 'professional' Aborigines''. No order was made for compensation and none was given. I fought to defend my free speech, not my wallet.

Price is also wrong to claim ''the changes to 18C [of the RDA] would allow people to say whatever the hell they please''. Laws against defamation and incitement to violence would remain. So would our biggest and safest sanction against racist abuse - public opinion.

Andrew Bolt, Southbank, Vic

Cate's award too late

Although the Academy Awards ceremony can be dismissed as ''junk television'', nevertheless I wanted to watch Cate Blanchett receive her award for best actress in a leading role. Her performance in Blue Jasmine was a tour de force and the award well deserved. WIN Television, however, broadcast the Awards from 10pm to 1.30am on Monday night. I had to wait until past 1am to see Cate. Once upon a time we could watch the ceremony at more civilised hours, starting at 8pm and finishing before mid-night. Just who is the programmer at WIN? Someone who hates the film industry?

Jenny Goldie, Michelago, NSW

Greens' tramway folly

Manson MacGregor ( Letters, March 4) asks why the government is to spend $1 billion on a tramway to solve a non-problem. The answer, of course, is that this is the astronomical price demanded by the Greens that we all have to pay to keep ACT Labor in power.

Infrastructure Australia has refused to even part fund this project and as far as I know, other than Shane Rattenbury's glib statement that every dollar spent on light rail results is a $2.40 economic boost, there has been no professional cost/benefit analysis carried out to justify the continuing expenditure on this folly.

Geoff Nickols, Griffith

No exceptions to 242

Athol Morris (Letters, March 4) resorts to misleadingly selective quotations and long discredited arguments in an attempt to prove that international law and Security Council Resolution 242 do not mean what they say.

But there is a very good reason why the Security Council (like the UN General Assembly and the International Court of Justice), in 1967 and subsequent years, could not legitimise Israel's expansion of its territory by military conquest. If you make an exception to the rule that such conquest is illegal, you invite war on a dozen frontiers, including that between Russia and the Ukraine and between China and its neighbours in the South China Sea. That would be bad for the security of all nations, including Australia's.

Ron Walker, Campbell

One death too many

It is great to see that a newbie to Canberra like Brian Whybrow (Letters, March 4) is getting into print.

Like all of us, Brian knows that both parties have been guilty of asylum-seeker deaths on their watch. For most of us, one death is one too many and we would prefer to see a more humane asylum seeker policy.

The Cardinal Pell headline was a subeditor's additive and not part of the real story, and an unfortunate part of the printed media sales pitch these days.

While Brian's letter was published in The Canberra Times, he is probably not aware any letter to News Corp that has opinions different or a little critical of that agency never get printed.

Ken Eynon, Latham

Hockey's Qantas deregulation plan a threat, not a promise

Joe Hockey proposes to free Qantas from ''the ball and chain of government regulation''. This should be seen as a threat, not a promise. A few short years ago several ineptly run companies that were freed from government regulation precipitated a global financial crisis from which the world is still recovering.

The government's proposal for Qantas brings together the same ingredients - deregulation and a recklessly run company. For all our sakes I hope the Senate engages in some protective obstruction in this case.

Tony Judge, Belconnen

Only our brilliant politicians could come up with a proposal to allow the sell-off of the profitable domestic arm of Qantas, whilst insisting that Australians must retain ownership of the unprofitable international arm of the airline (''Tony Abbott invokes memories of Hawke-Keating government to pressure Bill Shorten to support Qantas changes'', canberratimes.com.au, March 4).

Privatise the profits, socialise the losses: poor fellow my country.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

Foreign ownership of Qantas sounds un-Australian.

Annie Lang, Kambah

To me, the solution to the Qantas problem is obvious: the board MUST admit it made a terrible mistake and sack Alan Joyce forthwith. Hopefully, they would make his redundancy payment a multiple of the average dividend over the last three years. Discount this by the proportion share value has eroded under his watch. (Yes, I know, a third of nothing is nothing - very appropriate).

They should then attempt to poach John Borghetti from Virgin. Finally, if the board has any integrity, they will then resign en masse. A board selected from the street is unlikely to be worse than the current lot.

Allan Mikkelsen, Hawker

Putin still a Soviet man

When Vladimir Putin decided to use force to intervene in the Ukraine he thought it would enhance Russia's standing and power. In fact he has embarked on a disastrous course that will lead to Russia's decline.

Russia will not be able to occupy and oppress the Ukrainians. Where Russia could have had a long-term friendly relationship with the Ukraine, Putin has recklessly chosen to repress Ukraine and he will fail. He has gone down the path of putting his whole nation at risk. Sadly many are going to die and many are going to be displaced because the very Soviet man Putin does not understand the Soviet way does not work.

M. Gordon, Flynn

The present situation in the Ukraine is very dangerous indeed. But appeasement of the thug Putin now, as with Hitler in 1938, and Stalin post-war, is not the answer. Yes: international sanctions. But immediately, not later. Those who counsel waiting and talking and hoping that Putin will mellow are fooling themselves. Bullies like Putin and his kind understand only one thing: strength and resolve. To avoid a major conflict the Ukraine should be partitioned as soon as possible into western and eastern zones, as was Germany for the almost 50 years of the Cold War.

Isn't it indeed an exquisite coincidence that this, the first major threat to western freedom, comes at exactly the moment when, driven by hubris and complacency, the west's armed forces are at their lowest ebb since 1938, the time of the disgraceful and cowardly Munich Agreement for ''Peace in Our Time''?

I am reminded once more of a Cold War motto of the 1960s, that the price of freedom is constant vigilance (and strong defence forces).

R.C. Warn, Weston

Honours system impartial

I write to refute suggestions that Attorney-General George Brandis personally intervened in the selection process for conferring Australian honours in a partisan way during recent meetings of the Council for the Order of Australia (''Brandis accused of intervening to keep honours list Coalition-friendly'', March 4, p1).

Senator Brandis' attendance at one of two days of council meetings last week was in no way unusual. Indeed, it has been the norm over the last decade for parliamentary representatives to attend council meetings.

Like all council members, ex-officio members of the council are entitled to put forward their views and opinions and, in my view, it is important that all members contribute and participate in the deliberations of the council.

To assert that Senator Brandis was attempting to influence the deliberations of the council to ensure honours are skewed in favour of Coalition-friendly individuals misrepresents council discussions.

Senator Brandis in no way ''politically interfered'' with deliberations of the council last week and to suggest that he did is not correct.

Members of the public can be assured that the council takes its role very seriously and makes decisions on honours and awards in an impartial and independent manner.

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, (retired), chairman of the Council for the Order of Australia

Power before wage equity

It is a real pity that Michael Williamson's childhood experiences of poverty (''Williamson in custody for union fraud'', March 4, p5) did not motivate him to bust his guts towards wage equity for his members, some of Australia's most lowly paid workers, rather than to line his own pockets and those of his girlfriend.

Members of the HSU (Health Services Union) were poorly paid when Williamson and his mates took over the union and remain poorly paid today.

Like many others in the labour movement Williamson and his acolyte Craig Thompson were never motivated by a passion for justice or equality but only by a burning desire for wealth and power and that in a nutshell is why both the trade union movement and the ALP are in such trouble today.

Al Harris, Braidwood, NSW

Wildlife sanctuary among the willows

Thank you, Peter Marshall (Letters, February 28). It was wonderful to read a reasoned defence of the willows. I was also horrified to read of the RiverSmart group's proposal to use some of the government's $85 million deal to continue removing them. Willows do preserve and define the banks of waterways. They also provide shade and shelter for wildlife, and they are not easily or quickly replaced.

Kingston foreshore for example is lined completely with cement and boulders, not a tree in sight. The willows alongside Ginninderra Creek were removed 10-15 years ago, cut off above ground level to facilitate the job the tree roots were doing in stabilising the banks. Casuarinas, the only possible replacements, were planted, however, several metres away.

The original willow roots have now decayed, and Ginninderra Creek has since widened in that section, up to the new bank created by the casuarinas. It has also shallowed and filled over with long reeds. A major impact in a local waterway. Sacred kingfishers used to fish from those willows. Some willows still remaining around Lake Burley Griffin also fill with birds day and night.

I am not alone in wholeheartedly supporting Mr Marshall's proposal to fund a proper assessment of the destructive willow-removal programs.

A. Curtis, Florey

Queanbeyan guilty

In neither of the articles ''$85m to clean our polluted waters'' (February 26, p1) and ''Smart governance crucial for waterways spending'' (February 26, p2) was there any mention of Queanbeyan's contribution to the pollution of Lake Burley Griffin by discharge of untreated sewage into the Upper Molonglo plus nutrient-rich effluent on a continuous basis.

Has the Queanbeyan City Council undertaken any measures? If there is to be a comprehensive plan, would that not be a logical starting point?

Colin P. Glover, Canberra city

To the point



It is W.A. Reid (Letters , March 4) who is a ''goose'' and ''silly'', not Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. Using such an arcane adjective as ''anserine'' to describe the good senator is simply literary pomposity. Before he puts fingers to keyboard again, Mr Reid would do well to read and absorb George Orwell's essay Politics and the English language. It's an object lesson for any writer who tries to ''impress'' rather than ''express''.

Eric Hunter, Cook


I beg to differ with W.A. Reid about Sarah Hanson-Young being anserine. A goose can be quite loud and aggressive when aroused, much like Tony Abbott, Christopher Pyne or even Julie Bishop. To me, Hanson-Young is more cervine, or deer-like.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin


Before uttering any further comments on Crimea and Ukraine on behalf of ''all Australians'', Tony Abbott should leave the hypocrisy to the US and NATO, and address the matters of Kosovo and Palestine instead. Incidentally, the deposed Ukrainian leader was duly elected, but it seems that, as with Allende in the 1970s and the West Bank and Egypt more recently, democracy is great but only if voters deliver a correct result according to America and its allies.

Alex Mattea, Kingston


Michael J. Gamble's letter (March 4) reflects primitive and draconian attitudes towards members of our community who have paid the price for their crimes and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Such an unforgiving attitude reflected in this letter cannot be condoned by a society that embraces all of us with dignity and respect even if we have made mistakes.

Bill McMahon, Lennox Head, NSW


The huge roadside directions on the left-hand side of Parkes Way between Cooyong Street and Anzac Parade urgently needs to be repainted. It is laughable, sadly, that this sign is barely readable only a few kilometres from Australia's centre of government in our capital city.

Sandra Smith, Macgregor


The truth is out - Canberra clubs support gamblers to spend more money on their poker machines. The $250 ATM withdrawal limit at machine venues is a positive step to help limit excessive financial loss by players and to be applauded, but prominent signs inviting patrons to use EFTPOS facilities to circumvent the restriction cannot be.

David Gallagher, Gordon


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