Desperately seeking distraction and diversion from this dismal election campaign, I discovered another unique thing about former prime minister Julia Gillard. Not only was Ms Gillard Australia's first female prime minister, but she was also the only prime minister with a trisyllabic first name. There were two Williams but both were known as Billy (Hughes and McMahon). I presume Chris Watson was a Christopher but perhaps he was christened Chris?
I've sought further distraction by indulging wild fantasies about my ideal election campaign. First, if I never see the results of another opinion poll again it will be too soon. Can't we ban them? Also, let's put an end to the farcical situation whereby the major parties ''launch'' their campaigns at the tail end of the campaign so they can travel around the countryside at taxpayer expense. The Labor launch on Sunday, for all the positive press it received, was a sad spectacle in the context of its seemingly inevitable defeat.
The negativity is the biggest turn-off. Like the townspeople in the story of the little boy who cried wolf, I have heard so much about the big bad bogeyman Mr Abbott that I am wondering whether he can really be that bad. I want to hear a positive vision of Australia's future. But for our current crop of leaders, I suspect it's more about the power and their pension.
Heather Crawford, Evatt
A Greens ban
The Senate is a ''house of review'', but it seems I have been labouring under the misapprehension that it also a ''state's House'' as a guardian of state/territory views - rather than primarily to function as a maker or blocker of legislation as if it were akin to the House of Representatives.
Greens Leader Christine Milne, in advance of the Australian people voting for which party they want to form government, has the temerity to tell us that irrespective of who we choose, she and her Greens will thumb their collective noses at us to block legislation and in essence, from a very small base, trumpet that she and they once again intend to call the shots - just like they have done for the past three years! At least she has confirmed the Greens disregard for the vast majority of Australians, who should in turn return the ''compliment''!
Len Goodman, Flynn
Feeling the heat
So the Bureau of Meteorology says that last year had the hottest average ever recorded. OMG. Maybe it's true: global warming is happening! Never mind we've been told this by the whole of the reputable scientific community - there's nothing like evidence you experience. Maybe it will remind people in time that the carbon tax is not the evil invention Tony Abbott wants people to think. It's not invented by the ALP to maliciously torture Australians.
It's actually a sensible attempt to do something about the problem of global warming and its cause, carbon pollution. Please, people. Think about it. Remember the bureau is not party political. It is a rational, helpful body which isn't trying to fool anybody for its own political purposes. In fact it's a good, useful and truthful body (well, sometimes its predictions are wrong but that's OK, this is the record of what has actually, historically, happened).
We are in desperate need of good, useful and truthful things at the moment. Nothing else will stop the mindless chanting of frenzied mantras.
Marion Barker, O'Connor
Here are the words of Tony Abbott in response to a question by journalist, Michelle Grattan, published on The Conversation on September 3 about whether Australians care less than previously about climate change.
Grattan quotes Abbott as saying: ''I think people are very passionate about the environment. I regard myself as a committed conservationist. I think people are less anxious about climate change, for three reasons. First, I think they're more conscious of the fact that the argument among the experts is not quite the one-way street that it might have seemed four or five years ago. Second, the drought, which was a fairly severe drought, has well and truly broken in most of Australia anyway. And third, Copenhagen changed any idea that there was some international consensus on how to deal with climate change.''
This is not exactly a repeat of ''climate change is crap'' but not the language of a new climate change believer either. Yes, the drought has broken and we have seen the first of the violent flooding and extreme heat waves predicted by climate science, but only someone in denial of anthropogenic climate change would derive comfort from the breaking of the drought.
In these last days of the campaign we urgently need to hear from both Abbott and Rudd, a clear statement of their planned response to what remains the greatest intergenerational moral challenge of our time and which neither man has adequately addressed in the campaign so far.
Bob Douglas, Aranda
Mark Hearn's ill-informed ''discussion'' of workplace relations (''Few answers to IR worries'', Times2, September 5, p4) suggests his speciality is histrionics rather than history. The Coalition announced its workplace relations policy in 38 pages of detail some four months ago. It can be viewed at http://www.liberal.org.au/improving-fair-work-laws.
Labor still has not announced its policy.
Bill Shorten and I discussed workplace relations in a nationally televised debate on the ABC. It was Bill Shorten that opted for only one debate - I wonder why?
As to ''right of entry'', we are pledging to implement that which Labor promised in 2007 - hardly radical. And it's the same with good-faith bargaining - again, hardly radical. As to harsher penalties for union crooks, the Coalition's policy has been supported by the AWU's Paul Howes and former ACTU president Simon Crean.
The lack of a workplace relations debate this election might just be because Labor has been desperate to avoid the issues by not releasing a policy.
Senator Eric Abetz, shadow minister for workplace relations
Make your vote count after election
The election campaign is almost over and the nationwide mood for change is unmistakeable. We are on the brink of a new era with a new prime minister and a new determination to repair the terrible damage to our economy and national psyche caused by six years of dysfunctional chaos, reckless spending and false priorities.
Here in the ACT we can choose to be part of this exciting new era or stick our heads in the sand and pretend that the rest of the country doesn't exist. We need a voice in the new government to ensure that we are not ignored and that there are people to stand up for Canberra when hard decisions are being made. Voting for fringe parties in the Senate and returning the same old candidates in the lower house will hurt everybody in this territory.
Labor and the unions have been complaining about proposed job cuts by the Liberals. Not a word about Labor doing the same thing over the past six years. The fact is that the budget deficit and overseas debt under Labor is now so high that whoever wins government will have to cut jobs. The Liberals are just a bit more honest about it. When we vote we have to consider what the coming years will bring and decide to be a part of that future. We need strong voices in the new government and not be saddled with irrelevant local members whinging on the sidelines and being ignored while the rest of the country is on the field playing the main game.
John Moulis, Pearce
One thing is clear in electoral voting patterns. When the economy is ''hot'' we put in progressive governments to help spread the wealth, and when uncertainty dominates the economy the electorate turns conservative. There is no doubt that we currently face very uncertain times. For Mr Abbott this means that he can do no wrong, especially if he announces very little other than inspirational goals consistent with dealing with the insecurity of voters - reducing the deficit, cutting back the size of government, turning back the boats, promising 1 million extra jobs (despite massive public sector job cuts), etc.
Like Steven Bradbury, Mr Abbott won the Liberal leadership when the two leading contenders, Turnbull and Hockey, fell over each other, and now Gillard and Rudd have done the same in the gold medal race. Mr Abbott can coast to the line with his competition having nullified their chances of victory, and whilst the electorate is clamouring for conservative government to ensure stability and certainty, rather than progressive nation building and spending all our chips on the ''the great moral challenge of our generation''.
Adrian van Leest, Campbell
By delaying publications of the full costings of its policies until after the cessation of electronic media coverage of the election, the Coalition has shown a most arrogant and cowardly contempt for the electorate. Moreover, with all the polls indicating a landslide victory for the Coalition, what are they afraid of? Unless the costings don't match their electoral rhetoric! Heaven forbid! Surely it is reasonable to expect that the electorate and the commentariat should be given sufficient time to analyse, comment upon and achieve an informed understanding the policies of the likely in coming government before we are required to vote. As a person who is not ''rusted on'' to any party, I have formed a deep distrust of the possible motivations behind the Coalition's tactics. Is this what we can expect from the next three years? I hope not.
D. J. Taylor, Kambah
I am incensed that, even though my phone number is listed with the ''do not call'' register, I still manage to receive unsolicited phone messages from political parties. Last night on my return home from work I heard this vile diatribe: ''Vote for me - my name is Tony Abbott.'' If I want a lecture on who to vote for, or indeed what religion I should adopt, I shall ask for it, thank you. What right do these people have to call my number and pester me about their political persuasion?
Holly Berry, Bungendore, NSW
Woolies deal a step forward for farmers
It is good news to read that it appears that Woolworths has responded to widespread criticism of the way that it, along with Coles, has treated Australian farmers (Woolies in deal to source SPC fruit, BusinessDay, September 5, p13).
The agreement with SPC in the Goulburn Valley comes just in time to save the fruit farms and the jobs of thousands there.
Let's hope the next move from Woolworths, along with Coles, will be to change the way they treat dairy farmers.
It is too late, of course, to do anything for the many who have already been driven off the land by the ludicrous and disastrous pricing levels. The two competitors must signal to each other that while this has helped in the consumer wars, it has also come at a substantial cost to their reputations, and to many Australian farming communities.
Tim Hardy, Florey
To what extent do the problems of Syria and Iraq result from the imposition of their boundaries by the French and the British after World War I? How many of these problems would be solved if the two countries could unite?
The united country would need a new capital, somewhere between Damascus and Baghdad. It would have a population of some 53 million - about 23 million Sunni Muslims, about the same number of Shia Muslims, about 3 million Christians, and about 4 million others.
Both countries have suffered from nearly a century of minority rule - Iraq under the Sunnis, a mere 34 per cent of its population, Syria under the Shia Alawites, a mere 12 per cent. Democracy has given Iraq Shia majority rule but has made it impossible for the Sunnis to form government again, while in Syria the Shia minority is locked in battle with the 60 per cent Sunni majority.
A united country, with roughly equal numbers of Shia and Sunni, could well prove more stable than either country alone, since both sides would have a roughly equal chance of being elected to government.
Michael McCarthy, Deakin
TO THE POINT
A RACE TO THE LAST
After voting for many years I have come to the realisation that I am an undecided voter! As I vote below the line on the Senate ballot paper at the federal election this weekend, I am undecided who to place last on my ballot paper: Rise Up Australia or the Canberra Liberals.
Frances Corcoran, Fraser
Excuse the thoughts of a blow-in but I hear that Mr Abbott may be aiming for a double disillusion of Parliament shortly after the election. Is this what is meant by ''an immaculate misconception''?
Malcolm Gerloch, Melba
I had this disturbing vision that we had Zed Seselja as our senator, Tony Abbott as our the prime minister and John and Janette Howard were moving into Government House. Please someone tell me all this was just a nightmare.
John Davenport, Farrer
BETWEEN THE LINES
Gordon Williams (Letters, September 4) needs to actually read the Liberals' policy for paid parental leave (August 2013) before so rudely claiming falsehood, crying ''lefty'' and demanding an apology. The actual policy document clearly states and repeats that mothers are to be the recipients of their ''parental'' leave. Men are not completely left out as ''fathers will be eligible for two out of the 26 weeks for dedicated paternity leave''. Please read the policy Mr Williams and get back to me about that apology.
Jo Hann, Wanniassa
MATTER OF PRINCIPLE
I had briefly thought that the member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, was a rare example of an intelligent, principled politician. Sadly, I have been proven wrong by his decision to preference Rise Up Australia ahead of the Greens. This is far from ''irrelevant'' as he half-heartedly suggests; it matters not whether his preferences will actually be distributed - there is such a thing as symbolism and moral leadership.
He's demonstrated what he is really about, and clearly he's no different to all the other pollies. Sigh.
Scott Humphries, Curtin
Euthanasia advocates claim a right to demand that another person be legally allowed to despatch them into eternity.
They don't seem to care that the consequences of their selfishness will open the door to many other people being dispatched without their consent. It won't happen immediately but it will and does happen.
Ron Gane, Kambah
Email: letters.editor@ canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message ﬁeld, not as an attached ﬁle. Fax: 6280 2282.Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.
Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).