PM's risky business

We should be wary of what Messrs Abbott and Barr wished for, on our behalf, on their trips to China, Canada, the US and Singapore: more ''foreign investment''. Foreign investment equals foreign ownership, equals absentee owners, and they have earned a bad reputation for centuries.

If they ''invest'' here it will be for their advantage, not ours. The influx of cash Messrs Abbott and Barr seek may bring a warm rush of economic blood while those gentlemen are in power, but the overseas dividends and interest we must consequently pay in perpetuity, and our loss of autonomy, will be a high cost long after they have claimed their superannuation.

More self-reliance and economic diversification would serve us better than appealing for foreign money.

And let's hope our national leaders noted Hillary Clinton's timely warning against us becoming over-reliant on China.

Hugh Dakin, Griffith

Time to act at ANU

The Canberra Times has opened the lid on a ''toxic culture of bullying at the ANU'' and in the School of Politics and International Relations in particular (''Toxic bullying claims at ANU'', June 14, p1). It is obvious that people's lives have already been damaged. Presumably they are still being damaged. The academic reputation of the ANU is in free-fall. Its reputation as a safe and enjoyable place to work is long gone. Yet the vice-chancellor refuses to comment or to act. Even the ABC has been strangely silent.


If the vice-chancellor refuses to do anything, will the chancellor, Gareth Evans, intervene to change this toxic culture? What are managers for, after all, if not to stop this kind of behaviour? Or perhaps they are happy just receiving their generous salary packages and hoping the media attention will go away.

J. Ward, Farrer

Light rail propaganda

I believe The Canberra Times should do better than to publish, repeatedly, what may be ''puff photos'' or propaganda material possibly provided by the Capital Metro Agency. These include many images of iconic ''trams'' travelling, independently, beneath picturesque trees, with no signs of the many gantries and cables necessary to supply their power. You published an image two weeks ago of a similar ''light rail vehicle'' surging east from the Civic Centre into what seemed to be Constitution Avenue with a geographically impossible vista south to Parliament House and across a conveniently absent lake.

In the article ''Natives firmly planted as best option for light rail'' (July 2, p1) we see, possibly from the same Canberra Metro propaganda agency, a huge front-page ''artist's impression'' of the transportation wonder. We read, with new interest, that it will terminate at Alinga Street. I invite readers to look at, and not through the eyes of the Metro's artist, the tiny city ''block'' between Alinga Street and Rudd Street/Bunda Street, at any time of day, let alone at any peak hour.

Please spare us any more of this print-ready propaganda.

Michael Moore, Kaleen

On Wednesday night, along with about 100 people, I attended the Woden Valley Community Council lecture by three Capital Metro public servants about Canberra light rail.

Their stock standard motherhood statements, spin doctoring and buzz words were delivered with genial aplomb. However, when questioned from the floor by the well-behaved crowd, they refused to provide any meaningful evidence or statistics for their collective assertions about passenger loads, cost benefit ratios, planning designs or running costs. The highlight of the night was the presentation slides that revealed stark designs of platforms and trams with few people around or on-board the 12 tram services per hour.

The room was unconvinced at the conclusion of a rather limited question-and-answer session. The minister should upload to the Capital Metro website all the inconvenient facts, not just pretty pictures and bland meaningless statements so that people can make an informed decision before the next ACT election whether they should fund more Action buses or an expensive, unnecessary light rail.

Julian Fitzgerald, Farrer

Sport's dual standards

Les Hegedus (Letters, July 2) is right. The decline in, and double standards, that apply to the ''stars'' of sport , politics, business and religion have not been applied in the Carney instance.

Why, because the inexcusable could not be immediately overlooked given his poor track record. But a sporting body in either the NRL or another code will take up the challenge. The win-at-all-costs attitude will take care of that.

A more appropriate attitude would be zero tolerance to these instances and the application of decency in behaviour. The crime is in being caught, not the offence, is now the norm.

Ken Stokes, Wanniassa

Extracting the urine

H. M. Kowalik (Letters, July 3) tells us that eminent people such as the former prime minister of India used to imbibe in their own urine, and thousands of Hindu holy men still do. I doubt that the brew was delivered on tap a la Carney style, and why the need to advertise it? Three strikes and you're out, sunshine.

A. Wallensky, Broulee, NSW

Greed closes school

I'm writing in response to the decision by the Archbishop for Canberra and Goulburn to close Mt Carmel Secondary School and turn his back on the Yass community. Families are so disillusioned with the Catholic Education Office that they are turning their back on the Catholic system and choosing alternative education options.

When is the Archbishop going to listen to his own leader, Pope Francis, and heed his advice to help people, help communities, help children - rather than feed the greed of his advisers?

Mt Carmel school has a rich 160-year history and the CEO only ''managed'' it for the last 20 years after the Mercy Sisters handed it over. The Catholic Education Office has destroyed a school in 20 years - this seems ridiculous when Yass is a fast-growing town and a steering committee proved that the school is in fact financially viable. Why are we being lied to? Where is the accountability? When is the Catholic Education Office and the Archbishop going to take responsibility and be accountable for their incompetency?

Will the Catholic Education Office start closing small Catholic Canberra schools at a whim to support the new ''super schools'' where financial viability rather than educational outcomes feed their greed?

Ruth E. Alsford, Higgins

Federation review holds hope of better deal for taxpayers

I congratulate the Abbott government on its terms of reference in the recently announced federation white paper. The deterioration of Australia's federal foundations is too often overlooked by federal governments playing political games at the expense of states and territories, and ultimately the taxpayers.

It is we who end up paying for the duplication in service provision and administration between state or territory and federal departments.

Territory and state governments are in a far better position to know how to manage service provision than overreaching national governments - the best way to manage education and health in the ACT is unlikely to fit in a West Australian context. The white paper's consideration of ''equity, efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery'' and ''fiscal sustainability at both Commonwealth and state levels'' shows that the Coalition is serious about shrinking the size of government and getting a better deal for the taxpayers.

C. Reside, Reid

Collective punishment

Following the recent charging of a West Bank Palestinian with the murder in April of an Israeli policeman, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced he had directed the Israeli Defence Force to seek an order for the demolition of the defendant's home.

This is despite the fact the defendant has yet to be tried.

The announcement in effect revives the policy of punitive home demolitions adopted by the Israeli authorities during the second intifada between 2001 and early 2005 when about 650 homes were demolished. Based on the results of applications for demolition orders during that period, it is almost certain a demolition order in this case will be granted and it is unlikely any appeal to the Israeli High Court against the order would be successful.

Given that nearly 100 per cent of prosecutions involving Palestinians heard by the military courts in the occupied territories end in a conviction (a success rate prosecutors in any other part of the Western world can only dream about), it can be expected the defendant in due course will be convicted and sentenced to a long term of imprisonment.

Accordingly, it will not be the defendant but the 13 people who currently live in the home, eight of whom are children, who will be punished by being rendered homeless. But of course that is the whole purpose of the policy of punitive home demolitions. By punishing the innocent it is hoped others will be deterred from engaging in criminal activity.

The policy of punitive home demolitions clearly constitutes a breach of the prohibitions in the Fourth Geneva Convention against destroying property in an occupied territory and collective punishment. Although Israel is a party to that convention, its position is that the convention has no application to the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

While there is overwhelming authority to the effect that Israel's position is simply untenable, be that as it may, the policy is unquestionably immoral.

Justin McCarthy, Chapman

The bodies of three missing ultra- Zionist youths were found near Hebron in Occupied Palestine. By coincidence on ABC 2 there was a Louis Theroux documentary called Ultra Zionists filmed near Hebron which showed the types of people that are involved in the Zionist settler movement.

These people illegally occupy Palestinian land, destroy their olive and fruit trees, and harass and sometimes kill Palestinians indiscriminately. Since the youths went missing, the Israelis have killed seven Palestinians and arrested hundreds, but none of them were the two alleged suspects. The ''settlers'' of which the youths were a part don't hold much sympathy with fair-minded Australians who want to see the oppression of the Palestinians ended, be it peacefully or violently.

Adrian Jackson, Middle Park, Vic

Drone argument off target

John Blaxland (''Drones are here to stay, but so are the consequences'', Times2, June 30, p5) makes a rather strange choice of Dresden as an instance of the ''collateral damage'' from mass bombing raids . Dresden was destroyed and tens of thousands of civilians were killed quite intentionally, not as an accidental outcome of an imperfect technology.

The idea that drone attacks can be justified on the grounds that they are ''less bad'' than mass bombing is in any case rather spurious - in most cases where drones have been used (such as north-west Pakistan) mass bombing would not have been possible, for either political or military reasons.

G. Burgess, Kaleen

Hammering refugees

The old saying goes that if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So if the only implement in the Australian government's intellectual toolbox is a hammer, then asylum seekers and refugees will inevitably look like nails to H. Ronald and his heroes (Letters, July 3) to be dealt with by brute force and a fair bit of ignorance.

People with a more diverse toolkit at their disposal can imagine a system that offers alternative safer pathways for asylum seekers to reach Australia from south and south-east Asia. Expecting people to travel to UNHCR camps in the eastern Mediterranean or Africa, which seems to be the government's message, is just silly (though I realise this message has more than three words, so I may be wrongly ascribing it to them). Deterrence has the same etymological root as terrorism - a policy based on fear is not often one to be proud of.

Peter Marshall, Captains Flat, NSW

Could H. Ronald (Letters, July 3) please set out for us, so we can be as well-informed as he is, how the government is ''clearing the detention centres and returning to a generous and orderly immigration system''? I am yet to read of any generosity of heart and mind, let alone actual practice.

Marguerite Castello, Griffith

Much to chew over on dog behaviour

The report of police capsicum-spraying a tethered bull mastiff cross in a Canberra back yard recently is well-known. Superficially this act seemed despicable.

Michael and Christine O'Loughlin (Letters, June 26) raised a new perspective. They said dogs such as a bull mastiff cross should not have a place in a suburban backyard. Further, they labelled such species as vicious and dangerous. I totally disagree with both claims.

All breeds of dog are capable of being trained to be great pets, and harmless. Dogs need company. To confine them all day in a backyard by themselves, or tether them all day, is not only cruel but conducive to abnormal dog behaviour. Dog whisperer Cesar Millan, in commenting on the list of the most obnoxious (read powerful) dogs, lists the owner as the primary culprit, not the dog.

A special problem vests in well-intentioned owners who adopt from the pound or the RSPCA. Frequently such dogs come from an unkind background.

The RSPCA is aware of this, and is selective about whom they allow to adopt their pets. But some slip through, and such dogs and their owners both suffer, not to mention neighbours and others. Can't teach dogs new tricks? Retraining a dog of bad heritage can be difficult, but it is achievable.

Greg Jackson, Kambah

Where to from here?

Could the ACT Attorney General please advise if legal precedence shall apply in the ACT, regards any future cruelty to animals, following the apparent decision of the ACT Chief Police Officer not to charge a member of the police force to appear before a court of law for the ill treatment of a dog, in the backyard of a home on a chain, as recorded on CCTV?

P.J. Carthy, McKellar



Nice article on the passing of the Morris Oxford-derived Hindustan Ambassador (''India's warhorse may disappear'', June 28, p14). Although I do wonder why you chose a picture of a Fiat 1100-derived Premier Padmini to illustrate the article.

Bryce French, Weetangera


Thanks to Crispin Hull (''Carbon tax debate may have a hidden agenda'', Forum, June 28, p2) for reminding me that I am probably due for an influenza inoculation. However, I doubt that I'll get the flu from ''standing in the cold'', but by inhaling the virus in aerosol particles generously donated by an infected person sneezing or coughing in my vicinity without using a tissue or a handkerchief. However, you can get a pneumonia-like condition from breathing deeply very cold air during exertion, like running for a bus.

Colin P. Glover, Canberra City


Oh dear! What can one say about someone like Julian Robinson (Letters, July 2) who thinks that the puerile and bigoted cartoons by Mr Pope, an obvious Abbott hater, border on genius?

When is The Canberra Times going to realise that most of Pope's cartoons offend many people and do not contain a trace of erudite wit expected of political cartoonists.

M. Silex, Greenway


Douglas Mackenzie (Letters, July 2) asks whether Australians want to see the ABC and SBS die a slow and agonising death. I for one certainly do not.

As de facto left-wing sub-branches of federal Labor, I would much rather see both eradicated overnight!

Mario Stivala, Spence


Congratulations to the ACT government for the new website showing real-time information about the number of patients, etc, at each emergency department (''Live data online for that emergency'', July 2, p5).

It's a great start, but it would also be very useful to know how many staff are working at each emergency department at the time, as well as how complex are the treatment needs of patients.

Jane Craig, Holt


When do the actions of students cease being bullying and are treated as physical assault? (''Angry parents remove kids from school due to bullying claims'', June 27, p3).

Do not confuse bullying with assault, whether it be physical/sexual. Police need to be called, followed by investigations, findings and consequences to the perpetrators.

K. Downes, Melba

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