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Letters to the Editor: Defence force needs to maintain skill levels

Nicholas Stuart ("A new kind of arms race looms", November 22, p20) drew attention to the recently published views of professors Dibb and Brabin-Smith from the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre.

Their article, however, gives a very different perspective on Australia's strategic outlook, to that presented by Mr Stuart.

Rather than adding value to the Defence debate, his harping about so-called "rigid military thinking" does the opposite. Why allege views on the part of senior officers, then describe them as "rubbish"?

Why berate defence planners for not, in his opinion, being able to "engage intellectually"?

Stuart demeans the army's mobile warfare capability by saying our tanks will "never be anywhere near a shot fired in anger" and new armoured vehicles will not be of any use.

The professionalism of tank crews who served in Vietnam and were on very short notice to deploy to Timor and Afghanistan is a testament to the need to maintain skill levels at a time of shortened warning times.

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Dibb and Brabin-Smith present a well-argued case for the Australian Defence Force to be able to "engage in high-intensity conflict in our own defence". Such contingencies they contend, are "credible in the shorter term". A basis for the timely expansion of the ADF, as well as improved readiness and sustainability levels, are vital; as is the funding needed to achieve them.

Bruce Cameron, Campbell

Making a difference

Dallas Stow and Peter Robinson (Letters, November 22) both criticise the parishioners of churches donating money for the "no" campaign in same-sex marriage and called it "wasteful" and unjustifiable "tax exemptions".

Dallas Stow says it was such a waste because "everyone knew it was a lost cause".

Did they? Does he have a crystal ball?

Were taxpayers and ratepayers (many pensioners) in the ACT made to pay for Mr Barr's 40 rainbow flags fluttering on flagpoles from Capital Hill across Commonwealth Bridge? Did taxpayers and pensioners through paying rates the ACT government accumulated, pay for the hundreds of rainbow flags fluttering from people's private homes?

And now Canberra taxpayers and ratepayers, some who do not agree with same-sex marriage, are going to be made to pay for a roundabout painted in rainbow colours. What next?

Every week parishioners donate money to St John's Care at Reid for the homeless and in hardship in Canberra, and it does more for these people than the government.

This is only one of the thousands of churches in Australia who do the job governments fail, supported by donations from parishioners and correctly tax free.

P. A. Upward, O'Connor

True democracy?

The demographic of the votes on same-sex marriage confounded both advocates and opponents.

Gone is the thinking that because you live in a Liberal electorate you must be a traditional conservative or if you are in a Labor electorate you must be a socialist.

Most of the western Sydney Labor electorates that voted "no" are also essentially the same Labor seats that voted "no" in the 1999 Republic referendum.

In fact, 42 out of 67 Labor electorates in 1999 voted against a republic and yet all Labor members of Parliament supported a republic then and continue to do so today.

The western Sydney Labor MPs seem to be quite adamant that their views are superior to the views of their electorate.

Of course, Labor thinks the people in their electorates don't have a choice but to vote for them. The Liberals made the same mistake, and now look at what is happening with the rise of both the Bernardi and Hanson parties.

Politicians are called politicians because they naturally engage in politics but they are also parliamentarians, which means that their priority is to govern on behalf of and for the people.

This is why on the ballot paper for lower house seats it is not the name of the political party but the name of the individual that one votes for.

The individual's loyalty is to the people who voted for him or her before that of the party.

This is called representative government but what we have is anything but.

Philip Benwell, national chair, Australian Monarchist League, Sydney

Program overreach

Doug Steley (Letters, November 18) asks which part of the Safe Schools program is objectionable? The answer in regard to the 224 pages of classroom program, school guides and student written material for the Safe Schools Coalition, is that virtually all of it is overreach.

There is so much subtle and not so subtle misinformation putting young students at risk of being sexualised and politicised.

The script is clearly meant to prematurely set in concrete sexual orientations and gender identities for same-sex attracted and gender questioning students.

It heightens anxiety and confusion for young students still forming their identities, and does not validate straight children whose gender is congruent with their birth sex.

Arthur Connor, Weston

Rinehart 'gift' not on

Barnaby Joyce accepting a $40,000 contribution from Gina Rinehart is absolutely scandalous.

While he initially declared that he would spend the money on his farm, he now tells us he will decline the "gift".

If Barnaby Joyce now realises he shouldn't have accepted this money, he must also realise that his benefactor should not have offered it.

For Ms Rinehart to make the gift in public shows what little understanding she has of government.

Imagine if a similar donation had been given to the deputy prime minister of a Labor government, by an Australian trade union. Mr Joyce should be sacked and Gina Rinehart should be banned from any official contact with any Australian politician.

Patrick O'Hara, Isaacs

Embarrassing parody

Nothing could be more emblematic of the Turnbull government's impotence than its decision to cancel next week's scheduled sitting of the federal House of Representatives.

Regardless of the truth of any of the conflicting justifications being offered for the government's decision, the electorate has already decided that the childish masquerade that attempts to pass itself of as "government by adults" has long matured into an embarrassing parody.

If the PM was concerned with trying to prop up the standing of our government, he arguably should have cancelled sittings permanently.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

Revert to previous act

I have heard that the words in the previous Marriage Act had been working very well before Howard changed them. Why don't we go back to the previous words on a 24-month trial. After the trial the situation should be reviewed to see if different words are needed.

Paul Lashko, Bruce

Can we see some vision?

Please can we have Jack Kershaw as chief town planner (Letters, November 23).

He makes more sense in his letters to The Canberra Times than the entire planning department of the present regime.

The idea of apartments being built along the foreshore of West Basin is abhorrent (another Kingston Foreshore). What is wrong with replicating, in part, Brisbane's South Bank?

Prior to Expo 88 when it was developed, that part of the Brisbane River was an eyesore. It is now one of that capital's main attractions, both for visitors and residents.

The area is similar to that of West Basin being a strip of land between a main thoroughfare and the water's edge which has been used to maximum effect for recreational purposes only.

All buildings within that specific area are either restaurants, cafes or the like.

It is time to hand the control of the town planning of this city to those who have the vision and integrity to at least pay tribute to the Burley Griffin plan rather than real estate agents and hungry developers with no more interest other than a monetary one.

Patricia Watson, Red Hill

Comment considered

H. Simon (Letters, November 22) is perfectly correct in his statement that "constructive criticism of redevelopment proposals obviously has a place", but he is quite incorrect in suggesting that the spate of letters regarding the City to Lake project, and West Basin in particular , comprise "blanket opposition to development". Far from it.

This year we have seen some 39 letters written by 26 different authors and four articles published in The Canberra Times regarding this project. Not one of these has been in direct objection to the actual development per se.

Without exception they have all been rightly critical of the poor planning that has produced many serious flaws in the project; they have also, in part, been critical of the lack of proper consultation regarding details of the project.

With this amount of criticism about the project it has been welcome news to hear that the City Renewal Authority now feels that it will not pursue the current master plan and that the project is to be re-examined from a financial point of view.

We may yet see the West Basin area developed, as it should be, as continuation of the parklands on the opposite side of Commonwealth Avenue Bridge as suggested by H. Simon and the City to the Lake development completed in a sensible, economic, and sustainable fashion.

Murray Upton, Belconnen

Tweaked plan flawed

Federal Golf Club's amended housing proposal for the slopes of Red Hill is an improvement on its previous proposal, but still means that 200-plus privileged people will get to live on the slopes of Red Hill via a special arrangement with the ACT government.

The club's central claim for developing housing is that its members may not be able to afford to keep the golf course green in a possible drought and the clubhouse needs upgrading.

Well sorry, but the rest of us have no option but to pay for water and to maintain our residence — we do not get to sell off part of the backyard to pay our ongoing bills.

Furthermore, with club membership around $4000 per annum, some of us are a little sceptical about claims of inability to pay.

If the proposal is approved by the ACT government, it should be after the payment of a meaningful lease variation charge and to allow genuine public access to the whole Federal Golf Club site for walking and so forth.

Bruce Paine, Red Hill

Tram too early

We have been told the first of the "tram" cars is on its way from Spain to Canberra and will arrive before the end of the year.

We have also been told the government is pushing to have the "light rail" system up and running by late 2018.

Why has delivery of the tram cars been arranged for so early in the process? What's going to happen to them over the approximately nine months (or more) between delivery and going in to service?

Are they going to sit in a warehouse somewhere gathering dust (and rust?) and all the while incurring lease charges on their storage (ultimately payable by the taxpayer)?

Surely delivery in the middle of 2018 would have been a more sensible — and cost-effective — option?

Don Sephton, Greenway

Where do our rates go?

I agree with R. Wright (Letters, November 22): "Why are we paying rates?"

You should see the Belconnen area, especially Macgregor, where the grass is that long I don't take my young granddaughters walking in the parks because I'm frightened I might lose them.

I took them down to John Knight Park the other day and there is not much difference except the lake around the edges look and smell like a sewage farm. They have put up signs warning parents that snakes have been seen in the area, "take care".

I wonder why?

Errol Good, Macgregor

Turkeys in peril

A massacre is about to take place in the United States. A colossal massacre which will take the lives of 45 million individuals. Will horror and outrage ensue following this carnage and bloodshed?

Not at all. On the contrary, this massacre will be joyfully embraced by the majority of Americans because it is the turkey massacre that takes place at Thanksgiving.

How on earth did a celebration intended to give thanks for the rain that ended a drought and saved the harvest, degenerate into this bloodbath?

Let us not forget that in a very short time, here in Australia, there will be another turkey massacre and the reason for it will be just as nonsensical. The unfortunate turkeys herewill be massacred to celebrate the birth of the "Prince of Peace".

Jenny Moxham, Monbulk, Victoria

Memorial glitz not on

According to the Australian War Memorial's Business Plan 2015-2016, "The purpose of the Australian War Memorial is to commemorate the sacrifice of those Australians who have died in war or on operational service".

I, therefore, find it sad and distasteful that Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting was allowed to put on a glitzy event there on Tuesday night.

I don't think such events should be allowed.

Felicity Chivas, Scullin

TO THE POINT

The Canberra Times wants to hear from you in short bursts. Email 50 or fewer words to letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au.

SEEING RAINBOWS

Everybody knows a rainbow is red on the outside and blue on the inside because blue (light) bends (refracts) best. Is this an anti-rainbow roundabout?

John Trueman, Downer

SLACKING OFF

A Google search has told me average number of sitting days a year in comparable Houses of Parliament to ours. New Zealand 90, Canada 125 and Britain 100. Australia is 70. MPs and Senators could enhance their productivity by meeting more often to deal with the business of the nation.

David Purnell, Florey

SIGNING UP

Nice to see the magical Blake Austin wants to "ink" a new deal with the Mighty Raiders (November 23). He certainly has plenty of it.

James Mahoney, McKellar

FIGURING THINGS OUT

Doug Hodgson's recollections of GST and cakes are a bit stale (Letters, November 21). The issue wasn't "how GST was calculated in the various ingredients", but how much wholesale sales tax had been embodied in the various ingredients. It was that complexity of the WST that made it hard to estimate the impact of changing to the much simpler GST.

Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra, NSW

NOT SITTING PRETTY

The government is straddled across a political barbed wire fence entirely of its own making: on one side slow death by byelection and on the other, death by general election.

Peter Funnell, Farrer

NO DEMOCRACY

If there was ever a time we needed Sir John Kerr, it's now. A government that cancels Parliament to prevent elected members from introducing and passing legislation should have its charter to govern withdrawn and should be forced to seek from the people of Australia, via an election, permission to govern our country.

Mark Hartmann, Hawker

DOWNWARD SLIDE

Political flux, scandal, resignations, not sure who is in charge, dubious pretenders to the lead job, floundering economic conditions ahead, population disillusioned. And I thought Zimbabwe had problems.

Linus Cole, Palmerston

AWARDS BOUNTY

As Gina Rinehart now sees herself as a philanthropist, she should extend her awards to other outstanding ministers. The humanitarian award to Dutton, aviation award to Bronwyn, elocution award to Michaelia, team player award to Mr Rabbit. You get the drift.

Maria Greene, Curtin

FAMILY TIES

When a candidate nominates they should declare where their parents were born, and show the Electoral Commission evidence of the actioning of any required renunciations.

Richard Levingston, Evatt