Comment

Roo science fiction

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Just returned to the region and picked up your article ''Cost of roo cull protest vandalism tops $50,000'' (September 22, p2).

Have police arrested or courts charged anyone for these crimes? Accusations ''believed'' or ''understood to be'' the case by someone in the government is not the way the legal system or journalism should work in our democracy.

We just saw how well that style of reporting worked for trying ''terrorists'' in the media. We saw embarrassing mistakes and unverified hysteria. Regarding the ACT car vandalism, according to CCTV footage it may have been a lone animal activist or then again it may have been an ''agent provocateur'' out to discredit activists. Either way, it has worked marvellously for the government's position.

The September 22 story states that the ACT Administrative Appeals Tribunal this year threw out the anti-cull case because if found a ''solid scientific basis''. I have followed this program closely for four years. The public record shows that the ''science'' proving need or benefit is pretty well non-existent. Verifiable.

I have heard from leading ACT officials that they haven't obtained evaluation data on this killing program. That is not science nor is it acceptable process with taxpayer money.

The ACT kangaroo kill now costs taxpayers at least $350,000 annually, not counting legal challenges and vandalism. It was never intended to become a default activity, according to public documents and conservation groups. Why it has become an annual ritual, is a better question for ACT taxpayers.

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Maria Taylor, Bywong, NSW

Corbell's rego blunder

Simon Corbell seems confused about the previous system of obtaining a car registration sticker (''Sticking point for car rego'', September 28, p6).

His quoted reason for their abolition of spending less time at a shopfront to collect the label is just not correct.

They were posted out attached to the registration papers, probably at very little cost, and served as a visual reminder of when the rego was due and proof that the car was registered. Perhaps he could provide another reason for their demise, as the peak motoring body, the NRMA, and certainly those who have been fined for unregistered vehicles, don't think it was a good idea. I for one will be obtaining an alternative sticker from the NRMA.

Steven Hurren, Macquarie

Barnaby's Aussie satire

I write to applaud Barnaby Joyce's magnificent satire on Australian values (''Australia is me and I am it'', canberratimes.com.au, September 27.) I'll confess that he had me fooled initially into thinking it was genuine, but then I realised the references to a cultural ''melting pot'', ensuring ''the other guy has a fair go'', ''empathy, empathy'', and the idea that Australians worry about bad things, ''generally not because it hurts them, but that they are worried that it hurts you'' were all written the same day that Mr Joyce's government had signed a deal to pay one of the region's poorest and most corrupt regimes to take folks seeking asylum in Australia. The penny dropped!

His reference to beaches we can ''all go to without paying'' is obviously meant to invoke the unsaid, ''unless we're locked up along with our children despite having broken no law''; his ''I don't want Australia to harden'' scarcely needs the omitted ''except towards the world's most desperate''; and his closing phrase, ''you are not better than me nor worse'' hints very clearly at the missing clause ''unless you are fleeing for your life and come here by sea expecting humanitarian treatment, in which case you are so much worse than me that my government will subject you to physical and emotional abuse the likes of which have not been seen on this continent in many generations.''

Bravo, Mr Joyce! A splendid and timely jest!

Martin Richardson, Aranda

Julia shames journos

I only had to read the first sentence of your editorial on Julia Gillard's autobiography My Story (''A memoir right out of the Labor canon'', Forum, September 27, pB9) to understand that you really will never forgive her for being so much better than most of the journalists in this entire country and for telling you not to write crap - it couldn't be that hard. Some will never learn.

In contrast, I have only just started the book but am impressed by the fact that she does not resile from admitting that she may have been mistaken about some things. This is something I have yet to read from some journalists who promoted Abbott so much and never asked some pretty important questions - even though it was blindingly obvious that a lot of his promises were not meant to be taken seriously. You can sense some backtracking now - but never honest - OMG we should have done better!

If you believe that the story is of no interest to the average Australian, why the editorial? Surely there are a lot more current and contentious issues to address?

By the way, I note the deprecating quotes around ''education ambassador'': her proper title is Chairman, Global Partnership for Education. Look it up - you may even be impressed. You were right about one thing: there are more heroes on the progressive side than the conservative side of politics.

Linda Leavitt, Calwell

Prison needles rife

''No needles in prison'' says the CPSU sign outside the ACT jail (''Prison protest after needle clause stalls talks'', September 26, p2).

But there are needles in the prison. They are used, they are contaminated, they are unsafe for prison officers and for prisoners, they are already being used to inject drugs in the prison. And as one of their own CPSU members said, they are a valuable black market currency in the prison. To say also that there is no model for a needle and syringe program is another fabrication. The Moore report provided a range of options that would have increased safety for prison officers and the CPSU rejected all out of hand. And now they want a pay rise?

B. McConnell, Higgins

Vale, Tony McMichael

It is with profound sadness that I note the death of Emeritus Professor Tony McMichael. Tony, recently retired from the National Centre for Epidemiological and Population Health at ANU, was a world expert on the connections between climate and health. He worked with such august bodies as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, World Health Organisation and the World Bank. Tony was a man of great intellect, humanity and grace. He is sorely missed.

Jenny Goldie, Michelago, NSW

Security muzzle on reporters opens door to skulduggery

According to Matthew Knott's article ''Australia's new security laws explained'' (canberratimes.com.au, September 26), Australian intelligence officers may now commit crimes with impunity in the course of their work, while those journalists who publish information about secret operations face up to 10 years' imprisonment.

This is an appalling insult to our democracy. Can anyone say with a straight face that Australian public policy, especially on matters of national security, is always designed and implemented with wisdom and virtue, and free of domestic political bias? One need only look to our great and powerful friend the United States to see how the security apparatus of a democracy can be capable of outrageous conduct - conduct that would not have come to public notice were it not for a free and robust press.

How are we citizens to know what blunders and misdeeds are committed in our name? Christmas has come early for Australia's spies.

Peter Grabosky, Forrest

Faulty war assumptions

From out of nowhere, Gary Humphries attacks the Greens for hypocrisy over their opposition to the use of military force in Iraq (''Green's high ground is shaky'', Times2, September 26, p1). His assumption is that using Australian forces to attack IS as part of a UN-sanctioned alliance is both a realistic and a morally good decision.

Realistic? For all the words and lies used to justify them, where is the evidence that use of military force in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan has resulted in lasting and just peace? Given the current situation in Iraq, the irony of suggesting further warfare to solve problems produced by warfare isn't hard to see.

Moral? I search for evidence that this time around the Coalition has provided examples of ethical, humane, or even competent government that would persuade me to accept Humphries' argument. I come up with slogans, inconsistency, self-righteousness, bowing to vested interest, zealotry, impulsiveness, followed by retraction, fakery, arrogance and heartlessness.

I suppose there's a first time for everything, but from when he was opposition leader, Prime Minister Abbott has shown himself willing to do or say anything to gain and hold the leadership position. Singling out IS for military attention - however horrible they might be - while cutting foreign aid and important domestic programs in the name of an over-inflated budget deficit is a political choice, and a cynical one. Humphries tries to dress it up as a moral crusade.

But where is Australia's ''unflinching'' support for countries suffering from Ebola outbreaks, poverty, hunger and the effects of climate change? Where is the idea of contributing to the anti-IS campaign by stepping up the use of the Australian military for humanitarian aid, that might have more than just symbolic value and win us some respect?

I don't think anyone can predict what will happen in Iraq and Syria - perhaps IS really does need to be stopped by force. We should try to put the propaganda and hysteria to one side, give the problem sane consideration, and get ready to pick up the pieces.

Michael Williams, Curtin

Gary Humphries was right to identify the Greens' dreamy policy kingdom as one in which cost and consequence have no place. But his criticism of their opposition to military intervention to undo IS seemed to miss something.

Morality aside, this way they get to hold the pacifist vote, but safe (hypocritical?) in the knowledge that IS' ''mediaeval barbarity'' will be addressed by others less squeamish. And they get to look smart if it goes pear-shaped. Now that's real realpolitik.

Veronica Giles, Chifley

The criterion that Mr Humphries left out of his considerations is how effective the proposed action is likely to be. The centuries-long religious, racial and political conflicts in this region suggest that the prospects of success of any use of force, including with the participation of local Arab countries, are not high, and military analysts are already acknowledging this. And why this particular conflict? Under Mr Humphries' criteria, why weren't we involved in Sri Lanka, in the Balkans, in Rwanda?

Chris Ansted, Garran

No respecters of law

The Abbott government is meeting to decide the legal framework for military action in Iraq and Syria. That must be a great comfort for Islamic State, that well-known group of law observers.

Ian Jannaway, Monash

Corporate tax avoiders

Alarum! ''Nearly a third of companies have an average 'effective tax rate' of 10 per cent or less'' (''ASX 200 company tax avoidance bleeds Commonwealth coffers of billions a year, report finds'', canberratimes.com.au, September 29.)

Golly, what does that say about the 60 per cent of Australian companies and 70 per cent of mining companies that pay no income tax at all?

It seems clear that corporate Australia has been exempted from doing any heavy lifting for the country from which they derive their profits.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

Costly refugee scheme

Could Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey or Scott Morrison explain to the citizens of Australia what has happened to the ''budget crisis'' that we supposedly face? Currently, it seems that Australian detention centres cost around $3.5 billion a year, and now we are to send refugees to a country which is one of the poorest and most corrupt in the world. How much will this cost us?

In the 1970s and 1980s, Australia accepted about 12,000 refugees from Indochina. These refugees lived in the community and have made a major contribution. The Liberal government of the time largely processed the refugees in Malaysia and other countries to prevent further loss of life at sea. Why can't the current Liberal government do the same?

Maggie Watts, Calwell

Medibank Private: Hard to swallow

I watched with disbelief Finance Minister Matthias Gormann's cynical, pious platitudes in announcing the preregistration of interest in shares in the Medibank Private float on Sunday.

As a long-standing Medibank Private member, I am appalled at the government's grab of the funds that member contributions have built up over the years. Matthias Gormann was careful to avoid any real reference to the unfairness to Medibank Private members but instead concentrated his ''smoke and mirrors'' on the benefits to taxpayers i.e. his government's budget bottom line.

As far as I am aware, successive governments have not contributed much, if any, to the capital and reserves of Medibank Private and have indeed taken substantial dividends arising from the deliberate policy of non competition with the other private health funds.

It looks like, after having paid substantially to build up the capital and reserves and dividend payments of Medibank Private over the years, I will now have to repeat the dose in meeting the dividends targets of its new owners.

How can this possibly result in cheaper private heath insurance when any real potential competition continues to be negated by money grabs, feather bedding and lack of consumer protection in the private healthcare market?

John Popplewell, Hackett

Room to rectify

Given the circumstances, I have always allowed a lot of room when passing cyclists.

Up here in Queensland it's now law that when passing cyclists, drivers must allow them a 1 metre clearance in speed zones of less than 80km/h and 1.5 metres where it's above 80.

We are also allowed to cross double lines to do this, where safe to do so! However, in Queensland it is still legal for bike riders to ride two abreast at all times and on all roads, irrespective of their speed limits. Some logic, hey!

John Collet, Redlynch, Qld

TO THE POINT

IDEAL FOR TRIAL

With Canberra's proposed trams years away, the British test-run of the Google car might be suitable for Canberra. Cheaper, flat land, good roads, in lanes, backyards, for aged, children, and disabled people. Door to door. This innovation could perhaps replace taxis and small buses in Canberra, as early as next year.

Greg Zeng, Braddon

LEFT MISGUIDED

Crispin Hull's diatribe ''Benefiting from threats'' (Forum, September 27, p2) is typical of the current take by the left on the terrorist threat, and the government response. He dismisses the threat as ''exaggerated fear'', while at the same time expounds the alarmist views on the mythology of anthropogenic global warming .

Owen Reid, Dunlop

TABLE TALK ON MENU

I was delighted to read Catriona Jackson describing the ''good acoustics'' in her review of the Plaka (''Moreish Mediterranean'', Food & Wine, September 24, p7) supplement last Wednesday. The importance of being able to communicate in a restaurant for all diners, whether hearing impaired or not, should not be underestimated. Well done Catriona and keep making these comments - we like to hear them!

Haydn Daw, chairman, Better Hearing Australia Canberra, Bruce

REALITY CHECK

Gary Humphries' article ''Greens' high ground is shaky'' (Times2, September 26, p1) should be compulsory reading for all Australians. Although the article mainly refers to the Greens' attitude to the ISIS threat, at a local level, the Gungahlin Light Rail proposal is another reflection of the Greens' ''dreamy kingdom in which costs and consequences have no place''.

Geoff Nickols, Griffith

DESPAIR ALL ROUND

Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison are intelligent people and clever politicians. As ministers they are briefed by knowledgeable people, and they know exactly what they are doing. In choosing Cambodia as a destination for people seeking refuge in our country, they will probably be able to create an even greater level of human despair than they have achieved so far. They may do so in Australia's name, they don't do it in mine.

John Dargavel, Florey

SCIENTISTS RIGHT

It seems those precious petals, to use Minister Ian Macfarlane's sneering description of scientists, do have grounds for complaint (''Government science funding reaches 30-year low'', September 29, p3)

Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld

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