Letter to the editor

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So the Coalition has instigated a royal commission into union governance and corruption. Fair enough. There has been some interesting matters come out of this so far, and hopefully frameworks will be put in place to safeguard unionists' interests (and assets) in the future. But, in the main, these matters affect only a small number of trade unionists and the financial impacts are very low.

On the other hand, the Coalition does not appoint a royal commission into the (acknowledged) fraudulent practices of the investment advisory arms of the Commonwealth Bank and other significant financial institutions, but instead seeks to water down the regulations and lessen the protections to the investing public.

These matters affect many more people than the number of trade unionists referred to above, with the losses totalling in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Nor does the Coalition appoint a royal commission into the profit shifting/transfer pricing tax practices of major corporate bodies (think Apple, Google, Glencore Xstrata and many others). These latter matters affect every Australian, at a cost of many billions of dollars to the public purse.

It is an Australian tradition to support your ''mates'', but the Coalition is on a path too far. Unless, and very soon, the Coalition starts to become a government for all Australians, and not just for its ''mates'', it is suggested that the Australian public will be lining up with baseball bats at the next election, with the Coalition's name clearly stamped on them.

Rob King, Melba

What reform?

Outgoing Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson might well be right to criticise the federal opposition for opposing the federal budget based on ''vague notions of fairness'' (''Treasury head targets ALP's 'fairness' claim,'' canberratimes.com.au, July 1).

Fortunately the average taxpayer does not need the help of politicians to recognise the fundamental inequity reflected in the budget, which continues to splurge our nation's wealth on those who least need it, while depriving the youngest, oldest, weakest and poorest.

Dr Parkinson's suggestion that those opposed to the budget are ''opposed to reform'' is entirely disingenuous. It's not ''reform'' that is opposed, but rather abuse in the guise of reform.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

Not God's to give

Alan Shroot in his reply (Letters, July 3) to my earlier letter raises the furphy of the missing definite article in the English (but not the French) version of UN Resolution 242. It is correct that the English version did not explicitly require Israel to withdraw its armed forces from all of the territories it occupied in the 1967 war. This ambiguity was inserted at the behest of the United States with the aim of allowing the Israelis some wiggle room in the determination of its boundaries in any peace negotiations and is one of what is now a very long list of instances where the United States has not been an honest broker in attempts to resolve the conflict.

While Israel claims it has a right to occupy East Jerusalem, I can think of no legal or moral justification for this claim. Certainly the fact that one's ancestors lived there two millennia ago should count for nought.

There is, of course, the religious justification some Israeli Jews have advanced - that East Jerusalem is part of that Greater Israel given to the Jews by God. My response to them is that East Jerusalem was not God's to give in the first place.

Justin McCarthy, Chapman

Common tactic

Eric Hunter (Letters, July 3) has gone for the messenger and has ignored the message, so let me put it again.

He was outraged by the Coalition's use of the Senate, in 1975, to refuse to pass Labor's money bills in order to force that government to face the people at an early election. Why was he not similarly outraged when, between 1950 and 1970, Labor made 170 attempts to use the Senate to refuse to pass Coalition money bills in order to force those governments to face the people at early elections?

David Smith, Mawson

Railroaded

The Capital Metro website promotes light rail because ''people tend to use buses to get from one stop to another, whereas light rail passengers tend to hop on and off at multiple locations''. How does a light rail that has only five stops between Antill Street and the city (''Natives firmly planted as best option for light rail'', July 2, p1) provide better ''hop on and off'' services than the bus service, which has about 12 stops over the same distance? Express public transport services from Gungahlin to the city that have few or no stops in Northbourne Avenue make sense - but they are not ''hop on and off travelators''.

Michael Plummer, Watson

I was very disappointed to see that the Tuggeranong Community Council's recent motion opposing the light rail project warranted such a small article (''Tuggeranong votes against light rail'', July 4, p6). I invite the public to visit the TCC's website (www.tuggcc.com) to get the full content of the motion passed at Tuesday night's meeting.

Eric Traise, president, TCC

Cold comfort

Tessa Morris-Suzuki (''Japan unwinds war apology'', Times2, June 30, p1) criticises the recent moves by the Japanese government to undermine the credibility of the 1993 Kono declaration in which it apologised to sex slaves, so called ''comfort women''. While she says that ''sexual violence in war is not a problem unique to Japan'', in her view, Japan's ''comfort station'' system was ''remarkable for its size - tens of thousands of women were recruited'' and this justifies particular condemnation. But does it?

How can Morris-Suzuki even speak of tens of thousands of recruitments to this system being ''remarkable'' when one contemplates the horrific multiple rape and violence of up to 2 million German women and girls in occupied Germany in 1945-46? Or for that matter what happened to Japanese women and girls in Allied occupied Japan from 1945-1950?

We in the West are remarkably adept at compartmentalising the violence that takes place in wars. The comfort system per se is not obviously more horrendous than the mass rape of civilians by invading armies.

Although not a justification for the system in foreign lands, it needs to be noted that when the Allied forces occupied Japan, the Japanese authorities set up a large system of prostitution facilities to minimise the incidence of rape by the occupying forces. When Douglas McArthur closed these facilities down in early 1946 the incidence of rape of Japanese women and girls rose from 40 per day to 330 per day. Over the five years of Allied occupation of Japan, that is potentially more than 500,000 Japanese rape victims. Any woman or child raped or suffering forced sex slavery needs to be acknowledged, apologised to and given compensation but if I was in the Japanese government I would be thinking that such condemnation as we have seen in the West on this issue is remarkably one-sided.

Chris Williams, Griffith

Animals grieve

John Cashman (Letters, July 3) is wrong in inferring that (non-human) animals do not show ''fear of death, or grieving over the death of another''.

Has he not seen how primates such as gorillas and orangutans react to the death of one of their group? How elephants grieve over the loss of a member of the family or the herd? How whales and dolphins respond to a distressed member of the pod? Or how cattle respond in abject terror to the smell and noise of the abattoir as they await their own fate?

Perhaps John has been overly influenced by the Old Testament. He needs to open his eyes - and his mind.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Come in peace

I am second-generation Australian and know that my grandparents came to this country for a better life for themselves and their children.

The countries from which two of them came (England and Denmark) are being systematically ruined by the influx of Muslims and their refusal to integrate. They accept all the benefits the host countries, giving no allegiance to their adopted country. Instead, they bring the hatreds, enmity and violence they claim to have fled from, yet want to inflict their repressive culture on democratic and peaceful nations.

In Australia, we are witnessing the same.

E. F. Byrne, Queanbeyan, NSW

In praise of Pope

As the debate about the underlying value - and values - of David Pope's cartoons rages, I must confess to being an avid fan. I followed Pryor's cartoons for decades with admiration for his incisiveness, and I feared the day that he hung up his quill, would his successor be able to fill his shoes? I fear no longer: Pope carries on the CT tradition of deeply penetrating wit: a wit which performs the necessary function of exposing the soft underbelly of hypocrisy and lies in political life.

I suspect that those who complain about Pope's cartoons are, in fact, merely embarrassed at being forced to realise the true nature of those for whom they voted.

Mark Raymond, Manton, NSW

Roads to ruin

The vandalism on Holt roads is complete, for now, at a conservative cost of $1 million. For two to three years Holt residents have been fed a diet of lies, misleading information and hyperbole by the politicians and Roads ACT. However, when asked repeatedly how many residents support the work, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services Shane Rattenbury is deafeningly silent!

Despite 60 per cent of survey responses opposing the proposals, and 690 people signing a petition in opposition, Mr Rattenbury's office says it is OK to ignore the majority. It seems democracy doesn't apply to outlying Holt.

Phillip Harris, Holt

TO THE POINT

GIVE KYRGIOS SOME SPACE

Let us hope that the media will allow Nick Kyrgios to live a normal life and become a respected and decent sportsman like Sedgman, Rosewall, Federer and others. It is preferable to becoming an arrogant sideshow such as McEnroe and Hewitt and others, often promoted by the media and who, over the years, have done the sport no credit.

Rhys Stanley, Hall

SNAIL MAIL FROM HOBART

It would appear that Australia Post has already introduced its new, reduced service standards. A standard letter - correctly addressed and with correct postage - postmarked Hobart, June 24, was delivered to Greenway on July 2 - that is, six working days later.

Don Sephton, Greenway

SNAPPY TOM IN THE CLEAR

Re Tom Hayes being told to stop taking photos of the new ASIO building (Letters, July 2), the guard was bluffing. There is nothing to stop anyone photographing anything from public land.

Eddie Boyd, Spence

GOING TO GUNGAHLIN

We are considering moving to Gungahlin. Once there we'll have access to the NBN as well as the new tram line to Civic. The rest of Canberra remains on hold for these services.

Bill Hall, Page

CONSERVATIVE BIAS

I am appalled by the blatantly conservative bias of the federal government's recently announced appointments to the panel overseeing the ABC and SBS board positions (''Conservative commentators to judge top ABC, SBS jobs'', July 3, p5). However, no doubt your staunchly smug (and irritatingly regular) correspondent, H. Ronald, will consider it robustly fair-minded.

Ian McFarlane, Wallaga Lake, NSW


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