Of all the arguments for retention of the British monarchy in the Australian constitution perhaps the silliest is that the Queen adds stability to our system of government. This is plainly nonsense. What does it mean? When difficult issues arise should we whistle up the Queen to arbitrate or conciliate or move into Government House and run the show until we come to our senses?
When we did have a constitutional crisis (or thought we did) in 1975 what role did the Queen play? There are two views. The first is that the Queen did not wish to be involved but preferred to leave it to her representative, governor-general Kerr, (although certain assurances were given to Kerr regarding his job should PM Whitlam attempt to have him removed).
Constitutional lawyer Professor Anne Twomey supports this view. A more disturbing view is put by history professor Jenny Hocking (The Dismissal Dossier). She believes that the Queen and her advisors, while wishing to avoid any overt role, worked hard behind the scenes to protect her interests and those of the British government.
The interests involved were certain royal prerogatives in relation to the Australian states which Whitlam had indicated a desire to have abolished. The outcome was the dismissal of a twice-elected government based on dubious "reserve powers".
Kerr was anxious to please the Queen so probably would not have dismissed the Whitlam government should she have reminded him that his primary duty was to act on the advice of his prime minister (as was hers).
On any analysis the monarchy added nothing to "stability", rather the reverse, more especially if Hocking's version is correct.
Peter Dawson, Hughes
God and homosexuals
Dr Kevin Donnelly ("Folau a victim for his views", April 11, p.20) expends hundreds of words going on about the right to "free speech" and "political correctness", seemingly the greatest Marxist threat to humankind since the Russian Revolution.
His flaw, like those who think like him, is that free speech is fine as long as it accords with their own views, while anything else is denigrated sneeringly as "political correctness"(PC).
Dr Donnelly and his likeminded cohort might try considering another definition of PC — like "polite consideration".
As for Dr Connelly's defence of Israel Folau, what the latter said in effect was that punishment, ie hell, awaits unrepentant people whose genetic make-up is slightly different from his.
Thus, Folau's loving God designs people in different ways and then threatens punishment for some of them, because some others don't approve of that part of God's design and further, that God is on their side.
A little contradictory and very un-compassionate don't you think?
Eric Hunter, Cook
Dual event champions
There is a wonderful precedent for Lauren Wells in attempting two events so close together at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. She is attempting the 400m hurdles closely followed by the long jump.
In 1967 at the world University Games in Japan, local masters athlete Graham Taylor was competing in the long jump for Australia when he skipped a couple of rounds to run in the 4x200m relay. After finishing his leg of the relay he jogged across the field and completed his final jump – a personal best and a silver medal resulted.
It was at these same Games that Ralph Doubell first came to prominence by winning the 800m. He then went on to win Olympic Gold in Mexico City the following year.
David Hobson, Spence
Road sense needed
The more police blitzes, the road toll gets worse. Drivers need to take more responsibility. Motorists need to slow down then fewer mistakes will be made. Show courtesy to other drivers, merge slowly and carefully and let semis pass as they have time schedules to meet and need to keep momentum to climb the hills. Do the common sense things to reduce road rage.
The authorities need to change procedures of holding up traffic at accident scenes and law courts requiring roads to be measured long after an accident needs to be streamlined. Better is the American system of videoing accident scenes, then roads could be opened much sooner and traffic kept moving. Why do we need motor vehicles capable of doing 200km/h, when speed limits are 110km/h maximum, except the Northern Territory? It's time serious consideration is given to the way we do things.
Jay Nauss, Glen Aplin
SA recycles to the fore
I would like to answer your editorial question (April 11, p.14) "Is recycling a feel-good exercise?" with a resounding "no" and an entreaty that the ACT and the rest of Australia look to South Australia where very successful legislation for a deposit on containers was brought down 41 years ago.
A visit to SA over those years reveals a beautifully clean state without the litter which bedevils the rest of Australia.
Don Dunstan stood up to the manufacturers who were not happy. The people of SA are happy because landfill was slowed, rivers and coasts are in better health and for years they have led the nation with a return rate of 79.9 per cent and their containers make up just 2.9 per cent of all litter.
The manufacturers should no longer control this debate.
K. Beckwith, Bruce
NEG a negative
A key feature of the ACT's 100 per cent renewable electricity target is "additionality".
Our more ambitious target is designed to have real effect and to avoid just giving other states a free ride to cancel out our emission reductions.
It seems the NEG could NEGate our efforts and should be vigorously opposed for that reason alone.
As it stands, the NEG would result in barely more emission reductions than will already occur from projects already underway.
It also would not result in sufficient emission reductions to meet Australia's interim international commitments, let alone the greater emission reductions needed to contribute our share to staying under a two degree temperature rise.
Minister Rattenbury is absolutely correct that the NEG is not nearly sufficient. Indeed, it seems to be worse than having no policy.
Peter Campbell, Cook
Abbott's clever plan
There is no doubt that Tony Abbot is a very clever fellow. His planned destabilisation of the government is set to make him leader of the opposition if the Coalition loses office at the next election. This will enable him to regain the legitimate leadership of the party with no blood on his hands, and hence become prime minister, should Labor makes a mess of it next time round.
Norman Lee, Weston
Big let-down by Virgin
John Cooper (Letters, April 10) relates his experience with Virgin.
In my case, my wife and I had a Singapore Airlines flight from Sydney to Singapore with ongoing connecting flights. We had booked and paid for a linking Virgin flight several months previously, and had confirmed our seats.
Preparing to leave for the airport on the morning of the flight, our travel agent rang to say our Virgin flight had been cancelled.
Neither our travel agent nor ourselves had been informed of the cancellation — our travel agent only found out, quite accidentally, when he was checking the flight scheduling that morning.
As a consequence, we lost our seats on our Singapore Airlines flight, again without any consultation or notification.
So, after rebooking the Singapore Airlines flight out of Sydney, Virgin put us on another flight to Sydney which they promptly "cancelled" as well. After a considerable effort on our travel agent's part, Virgin's ultimate solution was to put us on a later flight to Melbourne, with a very tight connection on a different Singapore Airlines flight.
This caused a great deal of stress for my wife and I (we are both getting on in years). The kicker was that the second Virgin Airlines flight which they said they had cancelled apparently flew anyway – I surmise the flight must have been overbooked with passengers from the first cancellation and my wife and I subsequently lost out, despite having booked months in advance.
No apologies from Virgin!
Like John, in future we will revert to the reliable bus service when we have deadlines with international flights.
Ian Prime, Nicholls
Are Canberra's endemic flight cancellations a form of "bait and switch"? Advertise more flights than you can possibly fill to harvest customers, who think that they are getting a good price at their preferred time.
Closer to the day, cancel and consolidate to the times you really intend to fly. If a customer wants to then switch to a rival airline that truly is flying at their preferred time, offer a refund of the discount fare paid months ago.
Higher prices at that late stage mean that only the truly desperate will make the switch, so you've successfully sold the customer a product they wouldn't have knowingly purchased.
Perhaps the solution is to require the cancelling airline to supply the closest alternative to what they sold you, even if that means them buying you a ticket on the rival airline.
Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra, NSW
Natural history museum
I agree wholeheartedly with the letter from Rod Holesgrove (Letters, April 11 ) concerning his proposals for new national institutions, in particular the need for a natural history museum.
Millions of years of isolation have made Australia's lands and wildlife fundamentally different from other continents.
This distinction has created and sculpted Australia and what she is today. Our natural history is unique and yet there is no national institution that tells this story of our past, our present environment and, most importantly, what we must learn for the future as climate change impacts on us.
Other countries with a far less interesting and important natural history eg Britain and America have national institutions that focus solely on this topic.
Given its significance to Australia, surely it is time to establish such an institution.
The recently announced parliamentary inquiry into Canberra's national institutions is an excellent opportunity to raise the issue of a new and innovative natural history institution.
The terms of reference state the committee will consider the process for establishing new institutions. I will certainly be making a submission making a case for a natural history museum and why it is long overdue.
I would urge all those who care about our environment, our heritage and our future to make a submission. Hopefully the committee, environment ministers and shadow ministers and their advisers will recognise this glaring deficiency from the suite of national institutions and rectify this omission before I become a fossil.
Phil Creaser, McKellar
Learning from Cartier
A shame Pamela Collett (Letters, April 11) did not to renew her art gallery membership because of the Cartier exhibition before she had seen it.
I decided to become a member after I had seen it.
You don't need to approve of the rich who commissioned Cartier (or even know who they are) to enjoy the exhibition.
The items were made by artisans, working meticulously with the earth's stones and minerals to show their beauty.
I am taking my granddaughter. I hope she will enjoy it.
It will also stimulate questions, perhaps about those huge diamonds given to monarchs by the countries they conquered.
Gina Fairley's wider review in Visual Arts Hub, calls it "more than bling in boxes", and covers the interesting historical context well.
History has happened. Disapproval of historical state or church oppression and ostentation doesn't make us avert our eyes from the Hermitage, the Sistine Chapel, nor to block our ears from hymns.
Susan Lindsay, Garran
Cyclist v pedestrian
Gary Klintworth sees red on the issues of pedestrian rights and access to Red Hill (Letters, April7).
Notwithstanding the fact that there are several other routes with which pedestrians may ascend the local prominence that are both more scenic and far less treacherous than the narrow, winding roadway, heseems to have overlooked themitigating factor that formed the basis of the cyclist's successful appeal against being burdened with the lion's share of responsibility for the collision between himself and the pedestrian. This was the fact that she was walking in the middle of the road and had beenalerted to the recklessness of doing so just prior to theaccident.
James Allan, Narrabundah
TO THE POINT
SPEED BUMP FOR REPAIRS
Who thought up this new law on slowing to 40km/h past emergency vehicles?
So if you are travelling on a multi-lane freeway at the legal speed of 110km/h you have to suddenly slam your brakes on to come down to 40km/h. Watch the number of rear-enders skyrocket.
Are they going to have extra police on hand with radar to catch those that only slow to 45km/h and to cope with all the accidents? They will make a fortune.
Panelbeaters will be rubbing their hands.
Eddie Boyd, Spence
RAIL TOUGH ON GUMS
So Brittle Gums will be planted along the Northbourne Avenue light rail corridor to replace the former treescape.
Good luck to their roots when they try to work their way through what is now a very heavily compacted and destructed soil structure. Brittle indeed.
John Mungoven, Stirling
TRUMP RETURNS TO TPP
So Donald Trump pulled out of the TPP.
Donald then tried to muscle China and win a trade war with them.
Donald lost! Quelle Surprise!
Now, Donald says he will condescend to consider rejoining the TPP.
Of course Turnbull will encourage him. Watch out, Australia, the price of your pharmaceuticals are about to go through the roof!
E.R. Moffat, Weston
A QUESTION FOR JOYCE
Barnaby Joyce has told PM Turnbull via a Sky News interview, "The first thing you've got to be with the electorate is truthful." Well apart from asking Barnaby how would he know, clearly this was not the case when former PM Tony Abbott misled the electorate on television just prior to the 2013 election.
Ted Tregillgas, Flynn
TURNBULL WINS IN POLLS
The Liberal party has lost 30 polls in a row, not Malcolm Turnbull.
On the other hand Bill Shorten has lost about the same number of polls in terms of preferred PM to Malcolm Turnbull.
If Bill Shorten is still at the helm of the ALP at the next election, then the Liberals, with Malcolm Turnbull, still have a real chance of winning, with Tony Abbott it would be zero.
Dave Roberts, Belconnen
Seems ironic the ACT government Attorney-General announced another magistrate is to be appointed, given ACT magistrates appear to be protected people who must retire at 65. Surprising the government policy of encouraging the workforce to continue to work until 70 doesn't apply to all. Perhaps maintaining experienced magistrates would improve efficiency.
A. McDonald, Goulburn