Making Canberra's sex trade safer

As the CEO of the adults-only industry association, the Eros Association, and as president of the Australian Sex Party, I've seen my fair share of brothels. I've talked to more sex workers than Giulia Jones and Vicki Dunne ever have. When working for the Workers in Sex Employment group in Canberra in the 1980s, I reckon I inspected more brothels than the entire ACT Regulatory Services department.

Despite the lie that Giulia Jones keeps perpetrating in the media, sex workers had extensive STI training back then and they still do. Why else would there still be not one confirmed case of HIV transmission from sex worker to client in Australia?

I doubt that Ms Jones (''Let's get real over sex trade'', Times2, April 21, p4) has spoken to a single sex worker in the ACT to back up her prudish and paternalistic viewpoints about how downtrodden and victimised ACT sex workers are. She only speaks to feminist academics who have an ideological view on sex work that it is degrading and demeaning.

If she is serious about genuinely representing real feminist perspectives on sex work, then she should read the work of the Swedish feminist Petra Ostergren, who will tell her that the Nordic model of regulating sex work is not a model at all but a transparent ban on sex work that does as much harm to sex workers by criminalising clients as it does by criminalising themselves. More people are ''trafficked'' in the building, farming and hospitality industries in Australia than in the sex industry.

The cases of women being taken for a ride by pimps and middle men and ripped off for half of their $100,000 annual income via a ''contract racket'', would cease if the federal government were to issue 427 visas for overseas sex workers and allow them to come and work here legally and above board. If Giulia Jones really has the welfare of overseas sex workers at the fore then she would be far better off lobbying her federal counterparts to stop this awful discrimination which results in the ''contract system'' in the first place.

Honestly if Giulia wants to ensure that ACT sex workers are not exploited then she needs to ensure that the industry is not pushed underground where it is not open for inspection by police and other government officials.


Fiona Patten, CEO, Eros Foundation

Bowing to the royals

With Posh and Becks soon to go home, a Fairfax-Nielsen poll shows support for an Australian republic has fallen to 42 per cent (''Republican push lacks clout'', Times2, April 22, p1). Worse still, it's reported 60 per cent of 18-24 year-old Australians support the current role of the British monarchy here, apparently happy to keep clutching onto Pommy apron strings stretched halfway across the world.

Even worse, when the ABC asked a young Australian couple on the street whether they support an Australian republic or current formal ties to the British monarchy, they had no idea what was being talked about.

To ignorant young adult Australians lacking the national pride and confidence to demand Australia break decisively from its colonial past and stand by itself in the world, the trio currently on tour are idolised essentially as famous for being famous, like Paris Hilton before them.

Apparently that's enough.

Manson MacGregor, Amaroo

Republican challenge

In response to George Williams' pessimistic view (''Republican push lacks clout'', Times2, April 22, p1), there is an alternative that would spark a wave of renewal. That is, an Australian head of state directly elected by voters aged 16 years plus. Political democracy is in deep decline. The young nation fears the ''no'' generation's fog of despair. But that spark of the alternative would clear the way for their democratic empowerment. That is the real challenge for the ARM.

Bryan Lobascher, Chapman

Calling out evil

Jenna Price's article ''Coalition shows holiday horrors aren't limited to roads'' (Times2, April 22, p5) is the best I've read since Crispin Hull's widely lauded piece last December (''Australians all let us regret for we are devoid of integrity,'' Forum, December 7, 2013).

She highlights three extraordinary government statements deliberately released over the long Easter weekend to minimise public attention - the most immediate of which is the appalling decision of Assistant Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash to deny a visa to Lisa Le, thereby separating Lisa's Australian-born infant son from his father David Nguyen.

Price points the blame at us all for being apathetic, too caught up in our holiday plans to angrily protest such injustice. She's dead right about this of course, but I think there is also another mental process at work. This is our disbelief that our government could act with such callous, premeditated, evil intent.

When I first heard of Cash's perfidy last Friday I was enraged, yet I told myself the injustice was so bad it could not possibly be left to stand beyond the weekend. Surely, I surmised, the Prime Minister and other senior ministers would bring Cash into line, if not because of the injustice of her actions but because they would anticipate the backlash for such a disgusting, immoral - and surely illegal - decision. Price asks us to throw off one of this nation's most enduring and comforting fantasies: ''She'll be right, mate''. She won't be right mate unless we tell the criminals passing as government ministers we will no longer tolerate such abuse of the public trust. But we also have to get over this fantasy that our governments are just mendacious, corrupt and stupid. The bastardry of such decisions needs to be called out for what it is - evil.

Chris Williams, Griffith

City Plan concerns

Where has Catherine Carter, executive director of the Property Council, been for the past 2½ years (''Seize this opportunity to revive heart of Canberra'', Times2, April 21, p4)? Not in Canberra, it seems. Somehow she has got the idea that Canberrans have told the ACT government ''unequivocally'' to ''just get on with'' putting the city plan into effect. She is wrong. Hundreds of Reid and Braddon residents, and many from other suburbs, have put countless hours into trying to persuade the relevant directorates to listen to them, and to improve the plans for high-rise apartments that are to replace the ABC flats. Why? We want the new buildings to fit better alongside the existing residential precincts. The evidence of our concern, in more than 170 submissions, is on the government's website for her to see for herself.

Elizabeth Teather, Reid

Cutting costs? Not when PM is having kittens over plug-in

The Abbott government is demanding that the public service reduce numbers and save costs. I would suggest that it might start with those from PM&C who spent however long it took to write ''137 pages of correspondence relating to the Stop Tony Meow request'' and then took an additional 36.19 hours to decide whether it could be released under FOI (''Curiosity over the Abbott kittens'', April 23, p3).

Despite the inherent wastefulness of penning such correspondence in the first place, needing an additional 36.19 hours to cogitate upon its release is either dilatory or stupefyingly incompetent. In either case, the budget could benefit from no longer paying those salaries.

I'm willing to bet they're also at the targeted EL/SES level.

P. Johnston, Ainslie

Selloff short-sighted

Everyone I know understands how stupidly short-sighted it is to sell off Australian land, mines (and everything else capable of producing wealth) to foreign interests. What is wrong with our politicians? Even the ''jobs'' argument is fallacious. Think of the situation of workers in Third World countries toiling in factories manufacturing goods for foreign-owned businesses.

A.V. Peterson, Kambah

Going against the faith

Although I am not a particularly saintly Catholic practitioner, I am aware of the basic precepts of our faith. Consequently, I am intrigued and confused by the actions of the Catholic and other Christians in the cabinet. I am confused because, following attendance at recent Easter ceremonies, I am reminded that Christians believe that Christ died for the poor and underprivileged .

How then does Tony Abbott, his cabinet colleagues and Kevin Rudd, etc, many of whom make a point of being seen at Easter ceremonies, treat refugees, the poor, the handicapped? They seem to accept that locking up refugees, including children, is consistent with their religion. I cannot see it. It seems very hypocritical to me.

Stan Cronin, Watson

Up in the air

Australia has committed to buying 58 more F-35s at $180 million each. Compare this with the per-unit cost promised in May 2005: $57 million to $68 million and initial delivery promised in 2012. To date, we've received zero planes. Yet we're committing to buying more.

Delivery of our first F-35s is now promised for 2018, with planes not entering service until 2020.

Our first two F-35s should be delivered this year, costing just under $US130 million each. But problems in critical software could add more than a year to the F-35 program, impacting training on Australia's first two aircraft.

The head of the JSF program, (US Air Force) Lieutenant-General Bogdan, declared the F-35's reliability and maintainability not yet ''good enough''. Congress was told that continuing software problems could delay production further, and foreign buyer delays could cause countries like Australia to pay millions of dollars more per plane.

Our government refuses to divulge this information to us - we who pay to purchase and maintain these planes. We keep hearing ''on time, on budget, full functionality'', even though planes are late, more expensive, and as yet with limited and unreliable functionality. Especially with severe budget cuts promised, our government must be fully transparent on how these billions of taxpayer dollars are being spent.

Judy Bamberger, O'Connor

When it comes to gifts …

While a $3000 gift - say two weeks' pay - may seem enormous to your average Australian, Barry O'Farrell's mistake pales into insignificance when compared with the ''retirement gift'' Sir Robert Menzies received in 1967 from rich business ''friends'', which came in the form of a mansion in Haverbrack Avenue, Malvern, which would be worth several million in 2014 dollars.

It says something about the naivety of the Australian public and press in 1967 that the retiring Prime Minister was able to get away with only a little criticism, let alone any suggestion of legal sanction.

Chris Smith, Kingston

Tribute to another battle

As we prepare to commemorate the battle of Gallipoli next year, let's remember the thousandth anniversary of another great nation-building battle that occurs this very week.

During Easter week in the year 1014 the men of Erin, united (for once and very temporarily) under a strong king (another rarity in Ireland) Brian Boru, faced up to a Viking army that had gathered from all over the northern world to fight the Irish for the ownership of Dublin and of Ireland. In the aftermath, the distraught Valkyries were heard even in distant countries mourning the merciless slaughter of the Berserkers by the Irish and the annihilation of the Icelandic Burners down to the last man, at the Battle of Clontarf. Brian died in the battle, leaving Ireland in its traditional condition of kinglessness.

The mourning song of the Valkyries may be read in translation in Njal's Saga, and in The Saga of Burnt Niall, in the Penguin editions, available at all good second-hand bookshops and possibly on the internet.

Lest we forget

Aidan Moore, Melba

Long-term planning?

Clearly, Greg Rudd is right when he suggests that long-term planning should be the government's priority (''It's the structure, stupid'' Times2, April 21, p1).

But how long is a long-term plan? After all, a government's plan, no matter how well thought out, is at the mercy of events.

And there can be no better example to illustrate this point than the establishment of the European Union: Germany's aim was political integration but it failed to foresee that most of those nations that rushed to join the union would soon be begging the German taxpayer to prop up their collapsing economy.

Sam Nona, Burradoo, NSW

Rail improvements are well overdue

Tony Powell (Letters, April 21), laments the time taken between the initial planning for dramatically improved airport infrastructure in Sydney and the federal government's decision to proceed with it.

At 46 years, I suggest it's lightning fast compared with the times taken for action on rail infrastructure.

Rail travel between Sydney and Melbourne was first possible in 1883. There has been no decision to dramatically improve the infrastructure to provide better services since - that's 131 years.

Of course, that's unless you count the opening of the Victorian section of standard-gauge line in 1962 that enabled passengers to complete the journey without having to change trains at Albury, in which case it's only 52 years … and still no decision to bring Australian rail transport into the 20th century, let alone the 21st century.

G.M. King, Narrabundah

Turning dangerous

Paul O'Connor (Letters, April 22) has it spot on.

On Bunda Street, diagonally opposite the ActewAGL building, cyclists have right of way to cars turning left. If not for a particular cyclist's ability to brake suddenly, there would have been a fairly spectacular accident last week because the car driver could not/did not see the cyclist progressing down Bunda Street.

This situation is ridiculous and is going to lead to a cyclist being hospitalised at best in the not too distant future. Can this government please bring a modicum of common sense back to the table on this issue?

Andrew Sutton, Campbell



Sobering statistics indeed from the Easter long weekend; 21 drivers caught over the legal alcohol limit from a mere 2000 tests (''Drink-driver fails to learn lesson'', April 23, p8). This equates to a smidge over 1 per cent of drivers on the road over the limit at any time. That is 1 per cent of drivers not in control of their vehicle. That is scary as hell.

Joe Murphy, Bonython


Spending $12 billion on fighter jets (''Australia to splash out $12b on 58 fighter jets'', April 23, p1) and $16 million on the ACT Brumbies headquarters (''Brumbies HQ to bring players up to speed'', April 23, p3) is difficult to fathom. Priorities or madness?

Dave White, Deakin


Since the election the Abbott government has continually complained that it inherited a huge deficit and commenced to cut departmental budgets and staff. But now, like the magic pudding, $12 billion has suddenly become available to buy 58 new fighter jets. Conclusion, fighter jets are more important than people.

P.J. Carthy, McKellar

We can't afford free bulk-billed GP visits yet we can afford to spend $12 billion on fighter jets that we'll never use.

Fabio Scalia, Windsor, Vic


The enthusiastic public ado attending the present royal tour adds to indications that John Osborne was a bit harsh when he likened royalty to gold teeth in a mouth of decay.

M.F. Horton, Clarence Park, SA


In response to Bill Hall (Letters, April 22) thinking that Good Friday might have been called Bad Friday - that would have been the case if the only man in all of history who could have saved everyone from death shirked the task because of the cost to himself.

Les Broderick, Farrer


As a Vietnam veteran, I value the institutions that exist to commemorate those men and women who have given their lives for their country. But without diminishing their sacrifices and our remembrance, one must acknowledge that history has shown not all wars to have been necessary.

A special place in hell should be reserved for those politicians, many of whom never donned a uniform, who spewed patriotic platitudes as they sent our young people away to be butchered or brutalised in senseless conflicts.

Peter Grabosky, Forrest

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