Letters to the Editor: Dangerous and foolish to judge Joyce

What a disgraceful selective outrage of moralistic values we see over Barnaby Joyce's marriage breakdown and his repartnering.

Where is the decency of "a fair go mate!"

Many of the moralistic bellowers have themselves had broken marriages and others unexposed affairs. Let's see what troubled waters evolve for the accusers in future years, those who shout the loudest often fall the hardest – being judgmental is a very dangerous and foolish act.

There were 46,604 divorces granted in 2016, maybe you could be one of them in future years. Where was the same press outrage over members of the ALP when they had affairs and broken marriages?

It disgraces a nation to see such little tolerance and the press flogging of a decent man who in tough times needs support to overcome a sad event.

We express our best wishes for the happiness of future years for both Barnaby, his wife and family, and his new partner who is soon to be a mother and give Australia a beautiful new citizen.


The sun will always rise even after the worst storm.

G. J. May, Forestdale, Qld

Patronage exposed

Australians should be grateful to Barnaby Joyce. He has exposed, in one king hit, one of the giant flaws in our political system.

From now on, no minister should be permitted to exercise patronage by appointing their own staff.

All ministerial staff should be appointed as independent public servants, whose duty is to the country not to a political party or an individual. Their advice should be impartial.

If politicians want political advice, they can pay for it from their own pockets.

The appointment of political "advisers" has given rise to a cadre of obnoxious, sycophantic, little bullies, who throw their weight around in the name of "the minister" and distort the objective advice reaching the minister from the real public service.

This corrupts the formation of public policy.

Ministerial offices have become kindergartens for the next generation of political aspirants, thus perpetuating the cycle and ensuring a never-ending supply of B-grade politicians who may know politics but have no real-life experience.

This action should be complemented by removing from all ministers the power to appoint permanent heads and other senior public servants, including heads of the ABC, CSIRO.

This should be conducted by an impartial process or panel in the national interest, based on merit – not on the political or personal interest of ministers or governments.

Political patronage is poison to the system of democracy.

It can be set to rights at the stroke of a pen.

Julian Cribb, Franklin

Sympathy undeserved

Jenna Price is onto something when she expresses concern about lack of transparency when political staffers are hired ("Secrecy needs to stop", February 13, p.16).

The Barnaby Joyce affair brings into relief the fallout when his mistress moved offices several times, in order to obfuscate the deputy PM's transgressions. Nonetheless, Ms Price's observation that Vikki Campion was a "... poor bloody woman, ... who didn't ask for (the subsequent coverage)" is pure bollocks.

Ms Campion allowed herself to fall pregnant to a man married to another woman.

As a journalist she was better placed than members of most other trades to look outside the square. She had to have known that her behaviour would not avoid eventual scrutiny in her particular place of employment.

Moreover, she had to have been fully aware that a family was going to be hurt grievously by her actions, and the Coalition imperilled.

By all means Ms Price go into bat for those with minimal resources, and for those who are unfairly maligned. Barnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion aren't worth it.

Patrick Jones, Griffith

Restore respect

Above average performance is expected from those who thrust themselves toward our highest offices. But how many times must journalists explain for sordid ministers the purposes of Codes of Conduct?

By grossly exceeding a fair quota of dumb decisions, pork barrelling Baa-naby has vaporised respect for the office of deputy prime minister. The Deputy contends his departure remains subject to his personal priorities. It is past time for our PM and Parliament to assert some standards and restore a little respect by putting our neglected national interests first.

Don Burns, Mawson

Comforts warranted

The article "The Archbishop, the Mansion, and the Beach House" (February 13, p.9) is perhaps a little harsh on Archbishop Hart. Jesus himself would have had a"fit for purpose" five-bedroom mansion in Nazareth, as well as a suitable airconditioned holiday property in nearby Capernaum, with sweeping views over the Sea of Galilee, to get away from it all from time to time. I'm sure he would have.

Peter Downie, Banks

Light rail economics

It is disappointing to see such a well-credentialed economist, Andrew Leigh ("Leigh tells Seselja to get on board on rail" February 14, p.4), ditching economic rigour to score a partisan point.

The light rail issues put to the 2012 and 2016 ACT elections were commitments to study ahead of commitments to build.

The reasonable expectation was that adverse study outcomes would end the matter.

Despite clearly material adverse economics (before the fallacious inclusion of urban development benefits that were available anyway), the Gungahlin project was rushed prematurely to irrevocable commitment ahead of the 2016 election.

Net economic effect, around $0.5 billion burned in present value.

The economics of the mooted Woden extension – a transparently political sop to appease the south – will be worse.

While no amount of taxpayers' money is too much to sustain the Barr/Greens faction in office in the ACT, we expect better from the grown-ups in the Federal Parliament.

Bullying is not a good look, Dr Leigh.

Mike Hutchinson, Reid

Tram explained

People seem to have forgotten that up to about six weeks before the 2016 ACT election, "Stage 2" of the light rail project was expected to be from Civic to the airport.

However, ACT Labor received "intelligence" that they could be in difficulty getting enough members returned in the south and — hey presto — Stage 2 suddenly turned ninety degrees and headed to Woden instead.

Of course, that "intelligence" proved wrong and the "political" case for the Woden tram disappeared.

Hopefully, members of the Big House on the hill will ensure the disappearance of the Woden tram is permanent.

Paul E Bowler, Chapman

Discord on music cuts

The ACT government has announced it will cut funding to a number of existing arts programs at the ANU and replace them with other programs that "better align to the ACT Arts Policy" in order to "enrich the lives of the broader community".

There is an emphasis on the necessity of the new programs to focus on "participation in arts" and "provide significant opportunities for all members of the community", yet after 35years a complete cut has been made to the Music Engagement Program (MEP), an innovative philosophy of active music-making that engages many thousands of children and adults every year.

The MEP works with approximately 7000 school aged students, 40 schools, and 250 teachers per year, as well as a large number of community groups, many of which include marginalised minorities, its reach extending from Conder to Gungahlin.

The proposed new programs seem to focus on a couple of specific disadvantaged groups in the community, with only the "Community School of Rock"s designed for the whole community.

The Canberra community is to "engage with the School of Music", rather than the School of Music engaging with community, limiting participation only to those who are eligible, interested in that particular style of music, or those can afford the money or time to travel to the location.

Will a community rock school improve the health and wellbeing of nursing home residents?

Will it help migrants learn English and make a positive transition to their new community? Will it enrich and improve the lives of children with a disability?

The unique philosophy of the MEP was developed in the ACT with input from thousands of users, and has now been implemented internationally in the US, UK and NZ.

Katrina Rivera, Watson

Tin ear for benefits

The ACT government – supported, it appears, by the ANU – is cutting a program, the Music Engagement Program, that reaches over 7000 people a year in order to meet the needs of the community with what appears to be a series of rock programs that, apparently, more closely fit their policy.

The Music Engagement Program (MEP) is synonymous with community engagement. It is hard to imagine how the proposed new programs will obtain anything close to the level and depth of community engagement that occurs through the MEP.

Will the rock bands to emerge through the school continue to provide over 80 visits to nursing facilities per year to encourage senior engagement?

Or the 40+ visits to Cranleigh Special School, to mention just one school of some 40 schools involved? Or the outreach concerts that cater for over 2000 participants, students, parents, teachers?

And so on.

What a tragic lack of vision, not to mention compassion.

Dr Sally Bodkin-Allen, Invercargill, New Zealand

Solar farms beat roofs

Douglas Mackenzie, (Letters, February 10) argues that rooftop solar panels "reduce the amount of heat that can re-radiate into the environment".

This is nonsense. Refer to the law of conservation of energy (Physics 101).

Similarly, G. Bell (Letters, February 11) fails to see that rooftop solar is being subsidised through the general tariff and by inflated feed-in prices.

He also seems to imply incorrectly that rooftop solar will reduce the requisite size of the local distribution network.

If rooftop solar were not subsidised, solar farms would be the obvious choice for this type of renewable.

Drive by a solar farm and see how panels should be mounted for optimum energy collection and maintenance.

With a price range for solar panels currently covering collection efficiencies from 14per cent to 22 per cent, how long before an installation should be replaced by more efficient panels?

Compare the economics of placing or replacing the Mugga Lane panels with distributing the same number over three thousand roof-tops. And never mind the number of people who would fall off ladders doing the seasonal cleaning maintenance.

As for other roof related maintenance, she'll be right mate, or will it?

How will living in Ginninderry be, denuded of shade trees so that rooftop solar can function on every house?

Solar farms are the answer. They eliminate vested interest in high electricity prices and they are fair to those who cannot invest such as apartment dwellers and those who reduce their use of electricity for airconditioning by having shade trees.

John L Smith, Farrer

Bigots on the march

In a speech that US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions gave in July 2017 to a closed meeting of the Alliance Defending Freedom ("ADF"), an anti-LGBTI hate group, he noted that "President Trump [promised] people of faith ... to protect them in the free exercise of their faith."

Trump boasted in his State of the Union address that his administration has "taken historic actions to protect religious liberty". He was apparently referring to the Department of Justice's legal campaign, which Sessions has orchestrated, to elevate religious "freedoms" above the civil rights protections of America's approximately 10million LGBTI citizens. That has seen the DOJ intervene in civil rights cases, including the Masterpiece Cakes matter in the Supreme Court, in support of the ADF's view that religious liberty "trumps" the civil rights protections of LGBTI people and gives believers licence to discriminate against LGBTI people in any commercial context.

On October 6, 2017, Sessions issued a guidance memo for federal employees, which sets out 20 "principles of religious liberty", the fourth of which says "Americans do not give up their freedom of religion by participating in the market- place ..."

The US government's endorsement of religious-inspired discrimination against its LGBTI citizens reduces them to under-class status.

The marriage equality survey outcome demonstrates that there is no place for such discrimination in 21st century Australia.

Bruce Taggart, Aranda



It's time for Barnaby to accept the prize of $40,000 offered by Gina Rinehart. Who knows, good friends, free accommodation in Armidale, $40k in the kick, free holidays, a parliamentary pension, a lucrative job in the business world, and things could be looking up.

John Mungoven, Stirling


Joyce's infidelity subverts his contention that same-sex marriage could not possibly measure up to the moral standards of the faithful sanctity of the union between a man and a woman and testifies to Francois de La Rochefoucauld's declaration that "hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue."

Joseph Ting, Brisbane, Qld


What's the worry about having Barnaby in charge while the PM is off to Washington next week? Send Barnaby instead, he's got lots more in common with Trump than Turnbull – they'd get on just fine.

Adrian Gibbs, Yarralumla


Dear Barnaby, please may we have our Pesticides Authority back? The country's fretting without it.

Bob Gardiner, Isabella Plains


Barnaby Joyce has the PM's full support and is determined to hang on. Game over for sure.

John Howarth, Weston


He's a joke, Joyce! (But Graham Kennedy isn't laughing).

John Royes, Bruce


Take a bow, Barnaby. You are the most famous deputy prime minister in the history of Australia. Not a bad effort for a Kiwi. Not even Jim Cairns got the press you have managed to attract.

M. Moore, Bonython


It may come as a disappointment to H. Ronald (Letters, February 13) to learn that, as a physics professor, Peter Ridd is no more qualified to lead a discussion on climate science than former One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts.

He appears to make about as much sense too.

James Allan, Narrabundah


New senator, Jim Molan, under fire from day one, exhibited the not uncommon traits of retired senior army officers who come to the public stage: weak on strategy and easily wounded.

M. F. Horton, Adelaide


I invite visiting royals, VIPs and other dignitaries to plant a street tree in Rivett, the suburb should then get grass-mowing and weed control as per the National Arboretum.

Richard England, Rivett