Comment

Letters to the Editor

Public housing plan

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The article "Tenants cause $9k damage each day" (December 28, p1) made me see red!

The social experiment of providing government subsidised housing to ingrates has not worked. You only have to observe the burnt-out car wrecks near the Red Hill Shops (a blot in an otherwise beautiful suburb) to see that. And don't get me started on the fetid Northbourne Flats and the Stuart Street flats, as well as other horrors around Canberra.

I suggest to ACT Housing and Community Services executive director David Matthews there should be a "three strikes and you are out" policy to people lucky enough to get taxpayer subsidised housing.

If the tenants create a disturbance, persist living in filthy conditions and don't keep their front and back yards tidy, they should be given three warnings and if at the third warning things have not improved, give them one month's notice to get out.

Any small children living in squalor should be taken into care until the parent/s can prove they are capable of being parents.

Before the bleeding hearts brigade gets on its soapbox – perhaps they would like to provide a room for such people if they disagree with this suggestion.

Judy Diamond, Narrabundah

It's an inn for crims

Jon Stanhope ("Indigenous jail rates are a stain on Canberra", Forum, December 26, p1) as being concerned that the ACT is imprisoning Canberrans at a faster rate than any other jurisdiction around Australia. The article also says the ACT has the highest proportion of prisoners previously imprisoned.

Perhaps if Mr Stanhope had built a prison more like Pentridge and less like the Holiday Inn, people wouldn't be coming back to stay. The sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, is constantly criticised by human rights handwringers like Stanhope for his incarceration practices. He says; "It's jail. It's not supposed to be nice. If you don't like it, don't come back." He keeps getting elected.

R. Strudwick, Bonython

Find prison basher

The April beating of Aboriginal Steven Freeman in the Alexander Machonochie Centre ("New call for justice in prisoner bashing case", December 28, p1) was a despicable act, showing that racism and injustice against our indigenous Australians still persists.

The fact that the CCTV camera was turned away suggests premeditated, encouraged and condoned action by someone in charge. Until the culprit is brought to justice, the good reputation of the other prison officers at the centre remains under a cloud.

Susan MacDougall, Scullin

A bob for the Brumbies

Writing as I do from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, it is disappointing to read that Stephen Moore is to part with the Brumbies. For the thousands of Canberrans who have supported him every inch of the way over the past decade, it is devastating to read that he will be wearing an opposition team's jersey in Canberra after this season, and just for the sake, so we are lead to believe, of an extra "bob" or two.

Most Canberra supporters, Ithink, would have few qualms with him linking with a European or Asian venture, but for the Queensland Reds, that's another story. Let's face it, also, that he's not the player for the Brumbies or the country since the serious injury sustained in his first test for Australia as captain. Around the paddock, his confidence appears to have gone. Let's hope he has a big season for the Brumbies in 2016 to prove to us all that he is worth that extra "bob".

D. Wilkey, Kambah

Community benefits

Paul Feldman (Letters, December 26) says that, instead of letting the Federal Golf Club develop some of its unused land, the government should "resume that part of the lease and sell the land" – so that the community, not the club, benefits.

Apparently he doesn't realise that, by letting the club develop the land, the government gets precisely as much as if it resumed the land and sold it.

That's because the lease variation charge – previously called a change-of-use charge – gives the government an amount equal to the value of the land as development land, in other words, what it could expect to get if it resumed the land and sold it to a developer! That's the very purpose of the charge.

R.S. Gilbert, Braddon

Airport parking a trap

On Wednesday, December 23, my father and I went to Canberra Airport to pick-up my 98-year-old grandmother who had just arrived from Melbourne. On arriving at the airport we discovered there is no longer a free parking period in the undercover parking outside the airport doors; therefore, we chose to use the only available free parking, for 10 minutes, behind the larger parking complex. We arrived on time and waited two to three minutes before the helpful Virgin staff wheeled my grandma into the terminal.

My grandma, who uses a walker, then proceeded on the long walk back to the car. By the time she was seated and the bags and walker loaded, we arrived at the exit gate after 20 minutes and were required to pay $2. To me, this was a bit rough.

How were we expected to make it to the car in under 10 minutes? I doubt an able-bodied person would be able to make the same trip in under 10 minutes. I pressed the buzzer and explained the situation to the unapologetic guard who answered the phone; I was told I simply needed to pay. Come on, Canberra Airport, this is really a bit rough.

Why has the free parking been removed from the closer parking complex?

And if it must be removed, why is disabled parking not provided free of charge and closer to the terminal?

Daniel Muller, Pearce

Green debate muddied

Felix MacNeill (Letters, December 29) misses the point of my earlier letters, deliberately, I suspect. His point, in his earlier letter, was that all the electricity used in the ACT was from green sources; mine is not that there is no "green" electricity but the simple and obvious point that, once into the grid along with electricity from other sources, electricity from green sources cannot be separated out.

As he suggests, the whole country does benefit from green power. But that is an acknowledgement that, as the same electricity goes to all places on the grid and most of it is not from green sources, the electricity used in the ACT is not all from green sources either. Especially on a windless night, when neither solar nor wind generators can work.

Stan Marks, Hawker

Taxis lead Uber in security

The more serious point made by Phil O'Brien (Letters, December 21) is that safety devices for all transport drivers and passengers shouldbe mandatory.

Uber may think that having adatabase with the driver and passenger information will provide protection. It will not.

Passengers and drivers have been known to do highly irrational and dangerous things, such as a drunk grabbing the wheel, punching the driver, throwing alcohol over a driver, starting sexual intercourse, etc. None of these things are confined to taxis. They can happen to Uber drivers as well.

Uber cars do not have the same sophistication as taxis – the security features such as screens, cameras, emergency contacts that will allow the driver to immediately take preventive action and know help is coming.

The simple test of the necessity of safety measures isto compare the speed with which police and ambulances respond to attacks on taxis with those on Uber drivers or passengers. (Note that taxi drivers will be radioed by base, and will come to the aid of a fellow taxi driver who is in danger.) Then add the speed and easeof process in collecting evidence (video camera, base transcripts, injuries) for theDirector of Public Prosecutions.

So in answer to Mr O'Brien, please ensure that Uber drivers and their cars have thesame emergency and security features as taxis.

As a disclosure, I drive taxis on an extremely ad-hoc basis.

Luke Lake, Kambah

Sales to die for

According to the Australian Retailers Association ("Shoppers smash records," December 28, p9), my fellow Australians spent $2.5 billion on Boxing Day. It figures. There does not seem to be much else to live, care and die for.

Jochen Zeil, Hackett

Turnbull should care for poor every day

Malcolm Turnbull asked us to care for the poor on Christmas Day. He should help them in the new year, too, by keeping penalty rates. If people are decent enough to work on public holidays, weekends and at night, they need and deserve those penalty rates.

The federal government could make itself useful by providing subsidies to employers to help pay penalty rates, thus keeping people employed.

New coal mines will increase global warming, thus harming the Great Barrier Reef. Reef-related businesses keep 67,000 employees off unemployment benefits. The government should steer fossil fuel companies towards modern renewable energy rather than subsidising them in dying business models. A carbon price was a revenue-raising way of doing this and we sure could use that revenue now! Thanks for nothing, Tony Abbott!

Caring about the poor involves increasing our foreign aid instead of letting situations deteriorate until people flee their homelands in desperation. And we should stop secretly torturing the poor in detention centres.

And what about farmers forced by drought or bushfires to sell off their stock? We city dwellers don't get lower wages during those weather events so we should help farmers in bad times by paying higher, not lower, prices.

Helping the poor involves a sense of fairness, practical decisions and ultimately voting out a government which only cares for the poor on Christmas Day.

Rosemary Walters, Palmerston

IS actions not new

Watching videos of Islamic State militants destroying ancient artefacts in museums and blowing up ancient temples in Iraq and Syria, I was reminded of iconoclasm during the English Reformation which resulted in the destruction or defacing of an enormous amount of the medieval artistic works of England.

The execution by IS of Ethiopian Christians and others of the "wrong" faith or sect reminded me of the sack of Beziers during the Albigensian Crusade when a crusader army commanded by a Papal legate massacred upward of 20,000 Cathars and others.

And the execution by IS militants of a number of homosexuals by throwing them from the roof of a building reminded me of an article by Dr Mark Thompson, of the Moore Theological College, in which he stated that his "holy" texts "indicate that there is something profoundly wrong with homosexual behaviour" that is "grossly offensive to God".

At this time of year I remind myself that Christianity is no longer able to exercise anything like the temporal power it had in the high Middle Ages.

Justin McCarthy, Chapman

Tax ideas misguided

I refer to the article "Companies have tax questions to answer" (Times2, December 28, p5). What a load of frogs' droppings. Mr Passant's paradigm of working-class taxpayers has long vanished and the thought that there is a ruling class in Australia is kept alive only by himself and other sandal-wearing, muesli-chewing, bike-riding pedestrians.

Did the corporations pay their share of the tax burden while he was assistant commissioner of the ATO?

Craig Thomas, Watson

Religion pervasive

Henk Verhoeven (Letters, December 27) took me to task when criticising the call for the return of the death penalty by an Islamic scholar and suggesting religion was vengeful but omitting to mention other vengeful despots such as Hitler or Stalin. Henk noted that loyalty to family, to "tribe" can also engender significant violence.

Henk is correct, but I, in my defence, restricted my comments to the nature of the original article. I would, however, note that loyalty to family and tribe and nation is generally geographically specific whereas religion transcends such boundaries and provides for retribution with a different motive.

Religion also has a better survival rate than the despots and the quasi-economic religion of communism.

David Williams, Watson

Bad art not abhorrent

While largely empathising with H. Ronald's opinion under the heading "Is Islam special" (Letters, December 26), I would disagree in totally objecting to the display of "blasphemous depictions" such as Andres Serrano's Piss Christ. While manifestly offensive to people of many faiths or none, its exhibition globally is surely a subliminal acceptance by its creator that neither Catholics nor Protestant sects posed any physical threat to his lifestyle but, in following the tenets of Christianity, would "turn the other cheek" to him even if some were prepared to destroy the image.

Defined as a photographer, Serrano gratified himself with an object designed to "shock and awe", even if merely achieving half of that goal. Had he wished to further mount the pantheon of what a school of ability-deprived individuals define as modern art, he could have completed a triptych by also displaying the Torah in a bowl of faeces and the Koran on a plate of pig's intestines, but that he was satisfied with Piss Christ should be proof enough of his limitations and bravura.

John Murray, Fadden

Lack of perspective

For Oxford University to bow down to the PC thought police who want all memory of Cecil Rhodes erased ("Scholars acting like cretins", Times2, December 23, p1) is a disgrace and a parody of what that great university stood for: freedom of thought, respect for the past and tolerance in the future.

Any sane person would accept that Rhodes was a man of his times, and they were very different to today. To repudiate his legacy is to rewrite history in the same way that IS is acting in regard to Babylonian and Assyrian monuments.

What's next? Because Julius Caesar killed millions of Gauls, are we to "correct" the history books by removing his name forever? Captain Phillip's landing at Kurnell upset many Indigenous citizens, so will we remove all traces of white settlement from Australia?

To the anti-Rhodes activists in England I say: grow a brain and sense of perspective. To the Oriel College hierarchy I simply say: grow some!

Stuart Kennedy, Corunna, NSW

TO THE POINT

TENANTS DEMONISED

What an unnecessary and sadly divisive headline ("Tenants cause $9k damage each day", December 28, p1). The word "some" at the start would have been more accurate and less inflammatory, but perhaps less eye catching? Sure, those people who abuse their public housing should be suitably dealt with, but why was it deemed necessary to demonise all public housing tenants?

Sue Schreiner, Red Hill

HELP NOT SOUGHT

Ron Coath (Letters, December 23) has either maliciously or ignorantly repeated a false accusation against me and my friend Tony Hodges. Tony did not work for me in London, did not approach me for a job in London, and did not seek my assistance with regard to a job in London.

Bob McMullan, Turner

SUNDAY SLOGGERS

It's OK for Senator Zed Seselja to seek to cut penalty rates for low-paid workers. After all, he has a well-paid sinecure in Parliament. Meanwhile, the Sunday workers work their butts off for a pittance in an attempt, inmany cases, to pay their way through university.

David Roberts, Dickson

DON'T TRASH THE DEPOT

When will people take responsibility for their own garbage and stop dumping it at the Greenway Recycling Depot? I would think their unhealthy, unsanitary practice of dumping household waste will only lead to the eventual closure of the depot. This would be unfair to those Tuggeranong residents who obey the rules and use the depot with respect.

Ed Harris, Bonython

PART-TIME LODGERS

Graeme Barrow (Letters, December 28) misses the point of the myth I was debunking, namely that John Howard was not the only prime minister to occupy the Lodge even part time. Typically, Labor prime ministers originally were left off the list.

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla

TAKE A SEAT

Now that we have erected fences throughout Europe to keep out the so-called refugees, I assume we will now sit back on one side of the fence and watch men, women and children die of hunger and cold. Where do I go to purchase a front-row seat?

C.J. Johnston, Duffy

QUICK CURE

Medicare could be improved immediately if our federal, state and territory MPs and senators, their extended families and senior public bureaucrats were prevented from becoming members of a private health fund.

P.R. Temple, Macquarie

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