Comment

Letters to the Editor

Safe to say hypocrisy

How is it that the Chief Minister can call people "Neanderthals" ("Barr in heartfelt support for value of Safe Schools program", March 10, p1) and yet, at the same time, complain about the purported insults of others? That's hypocrisy.

Are his arguments so bankrupt that he has to regress to name-calling? It's the same thing as branding "homophobes" those people who have a moral objection, an opinion against, not an irrational fear of, homosexuality. Only homosexuals and their sympathisers seem entitled to an opinion and, certainly, to expressing it. Contrary opinions are insulted and litigiously silenced – free speech doesn't exist in such a world.

Are parents – those who invest time, energy, income and loving concern in the raising of children – permitted any influence, or does the Labor LGBTI Party presume to own the children of the ACT?

J. Coleman, Chisholm

What really matters

A cobbled-together confusion of salacious factoids, irrelevant de-contextualised data and quotes from the ever-embarrassing George Christensen isn't going to lead any rational adult to the silly conclusion that marriage – presumably only as Lyle Shelton ("Criticism of Safe Schools program is legitimate", Times2, March 11, p5) defines it – is what is important to children, when the great majority of us understand that what really matters to kids is good, loving parenting supported by quality education in an open and tolerant society that calibrates its moral compass to something more intelligent than the application of medieval hermeneutics to Iron Age texts.

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Felix MacNeill, Dickson

An easy safeguard

Your editorial "Taking new avenues in the euthanasia debate" (Times2, March 9, p2) mentioned the argument that voluntary euthanasia would "open the way for families to dispatch elderly relatives" and that this "could never truly be controlled". It could be controlled by allowing people to make an irrevocable declaration that they do not want to avail themselves of voluntary euthanasia, thus protecting themselves from murderous doctors in cahoots with scheming relatives.

Mike Dallwitz, Giralang

The right to choose

I have a dear friend in what is a truly "first-rate" palliative care facility. She is dying with "first-rate" pain and slowly. There is no hope. She wakes periodically and cries because she is still alive. She has asked to go. She wants to go. She is ready to go.

Mrs Bev Cains (Letters,March 10) says we do not need "a bunch of busy-body euthanasia advocates" here in the ACT, knocking on doors. Why not? They might balance out the bunch of busybody advocates who insist on prolonging my friend's abject suffering?

Where are her rights? They are not represented by Right to Life.

Janet Quartermaine, Flynn

It would seem that Bev Cains has more hide than a bull elephant. Not only does she call those advocating for a "good death" (the literal translation of euthanasia) "busy-bodies", she then goes on to lambast the term "dying with dignity" as a euphemism for "assisted suicide".

Firstly, the epithet "busybody" more properly belongs to the right-to-lifers, as they are the ones trying to impose their will on the actions of others. Were assisted suicide (see, I'm happy to use that term) to become legal, it won't become compulsory, so Mrs Cains can take it, or leave it, the same as everyone else. Currently, we all have no option but to toe Mrs Cains' line. In my book, that makes Mrs Cain the "busy-body".

As far as the euphemism game is concerned, "right to life" and "first-rate palliative care" are themselves euphemisms for "being forced to undergo far more pain than would be legal to inflict on a beloved pet, because modern medicine is good enough to keep you alive, but not good enough for you to enjoy the experience" and "because my god said".

The hypocrisy is as galling as it is bleedingly obvious.

Mark Raymond, Manton, NSW

Not the answer

The problem with judges is that they often only see life through the lens of the criminal justice system ("Judge urges ACT to use 'smart justice' and adopt drug court", March 9, p2). Californian judge Peggy Hora may think it "smart justice" but it is still a costly one-eyed view.

More and more thoughtful people, including police commissioners, are realising law enforcement cannot solve our drug problem and, in fact, makes matters worse.

A national drug summit held recently at Parliament House in Canberra, attended by many experts in the field from law enforcement to drug policy researchers, health professionals, politicians and economists were of the opinion that law enforcement is very expensive with little or no positive outcomes.

The summit ranked law enforcement a mere "one" for effectiveness, but health and social treatment a top-of-the-scale five. The declaration at the end of the summit stated in part "Putting health and community safety first requires a fundamental broadening of illicit drug policy in Australia away from failed punitive enforcement to proven health and social interventions".

B. McConnell, Giralang

Evidence of meddling

The ACT government has flagged restrictions on e-cigarettes equivalent to those on tobacco ("Territory to clamp down on e-cigs", March 10, p1).

Evidence that e-cigarettes without nicotine pose a health risk? None. Evidence that this will assist smokers quit? None – if anything, quite the reverse. Evidence that this is just another example of the ACT government's Canberragrad mentality after so many examples before it? Overwhelming.

John Mellors, Mawson

Capital gains tax

Taxing capital gains at 50 per cent is not a "concession", as you stated in your editorial ("A nation of real estate speculators", Times2, March 2, p2). Actually, it yields the government more tax than the former practice of taxing capital gains 100per cent and allowing for inflation.

For example, someone buying a $500,000 property and selling it 10 years later after its value had increased by 2.5 per cent a year (a reasonable assumption, that being the Reserve Bank's inflation target rate), would pay $31,509 tax, at a marginal rate of 45 per cent, with the so-called 50per cent "concession" – whereas under the old system of taxing capital gains 100 per cent and allowing for inflation, he/she would pay nil tax.

R. S. Gilbert, Braddon

 

From envy of all to an embarrassment

I fondly remember as a kid travelling to Canberra from country NSW, noticing almost immediately a transition from bumps, noise and potholes, to smooth fresh tarmac as soon as the car crossed the border into the ACT.

Now, I'm almost certain it's the opposite. The quality of roads in the ACT has become a joke, most notably with the poster child of the local government's cost-cutting measures: the "chip seal" or "spray seal" surface.

I can almost forgive it's use on quiet residential cul-de-sacs and back streets, but it has slowly worked it's way to major thoroughfares, and even highways, with the recent spray of the Monaro between Isabella Drive and Mugga Lane.

The ACT government may boast of the reduced cost that "chip seal" promises, but what about the cost of damage from gravel flung into the air by passing vehicles? Not to mention the potential cost of someone's life if a motorcycle was to lose traction around a bend resealed with this stuff.

ACT roads used to be the envy of the country, now they are an embarrassment and quite frankly, a hazard, all for the sake of penny pinching.

Colin Tucker, Richardson

Unfair to Sharapova

Maria Sharapova's use of the drug meldonium has seen the flight of her big sponsors in deals that will cost her hundreds of millions of dollars, and likely see the end of her career. This is despite the fact her use of that drug was legal until the World Anti-doping Agency decided it wasn't from January1. Even now, the question of whether it is actually performance-enhancing is highly questionable.

The extreme prejudice of the sponsors' actions and the viciousness of those now accusing Sharapova of being a 10-year drug cheat raise suspicions. Where is the outrage from these critics at the obvious long-term use by some of very high-profile women tennis players of performance-enhancing steroids?

Chris Williams, Griffith

 

Why are we so willing to follow the US into ill-conceived conflicts?

I refer to David Wroe's article "United States talking to Turnbull government about stepping up presence of B-1 bomber war planes" (canberra times.com.au, March 8).

It is difficult to avoid forming the impression that the US political system persists in producing too many presidential candidates whose wisdom and integrity are highly questionable.

Recent weeks have seen casual comments from leading candidates hinting at the prospect of carpet bombing and glowing sands. Given the possibility that one of them eventually assumes the role of commander-in-chief, would Australia be wise to continue its star-struck embrace of our great and powerful friend?

Do we really want Australia to be perceived as a launching pad for offensive operations? Will US forces visiting our shores bring nuclear weapons with them? Will Australians be consulted about these prospects, or will we be simply led along, as in the past?

It is not reassuring to note that successive Australian governments have cheerfully followed the US into ill-conceived conflicts abroad.

It is even more disturbing that since the Vietnam War, both governments and oppositions have been too eager to join in these ventures.

It is sobering, indeed, to contemplate that the pretexts for more than one of Australia's military operations were crafted from erroneous or misinterpreted intelligence and fuelled by inflated rhetoric from Washington.

If China's neighbours are so anxious about its rise, let them host US bases. If Australian military forces want to train with their US counterparts, let them go to Guam.

Peter Grabosky, Forrest

This is not freedom

If Neil James (Letters, March 10) thinks we still have "our strategic freedom of action as a nation", he must be living on a different planet.

If we had our strategic freedom, we would not have fought in Iraq or Afghanistan; we would not be involved in a Sunni/Shiite conflict in Iraq and Syria and we would not be taking a provocative role in the South China Sea about territory to which we lay no claim. We are just following instructions from Washington. So much for our strategic freedom of action.

David Denham, Griffith

Due a knighthood

Both Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin say they won't comment on Niki Savva's book, but then proceed to do so – but with the mantras that became so tiresome: we stopped the boats, axed the taxes, etc. But, of course, no response to what was already known about the Abbott/Credlin "government": the lack of access by ministers, control of their staff appointments, the stupid "captain's picks", and the disastrous 2014 budget.

Apart from the talk of a sexual relationship between Abbott and Credlin, the book explores in more detail the serious defects in the way Abbott ran his government, to which he was, and still is, completely deaf. But what also astonishes me is the glaring weakness of ministers who put up with this style of government.

Finally, Credlin says she is dismayed that her own side is heading down the same path as the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years. If so, she should use her undoubted influence on Abbott to stop his insidious contribution to this path.

She says he is a decent man who only wants to make a great country even better. He deserves a knighthood then!

Eric Hodge, Pearce

Concentration camps

Even a slight familiarity with history would help the head of Immigration and Border Protection, Mike Pezzullo, understand that Australia's offshore and onshore immigration detention centres are, in fact, classic examples of concentration camps ("Department of Immigration and Border Protection uses 'allegedly' to describe experiences of Nazi Germany", canberratimes.com.au, March 9).

However, Pezzullo is not about historical truth; he is about denying the truth of history.

If we as a society were to call these detention centres what they truly are, namely concentration camps, then the reality of our brutality would become obvious. So, too, would the role of the leadership of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in managing and defending these concentration camps.

John Passant, Kambah

Private health rort

I was somewhat taken back to receive my Medibank Private health cover letter regarding its 2016 fee increase. Expecting an increase of less than 6 per cent, as the minister had announced, an actual increase of 11.9 per cent seems excessive.

I noted that last year when told of an increase of around 6 per cent, my provider had an increase of 13.4 per cent. Is this fund "having a lend of the Health Minister" by taking no notice of the approved rate increases?

While I am looking to change to another (mutual) provider, perhaps we who have private cover with Medibank Private should resign en masse and see if "people power" can send this mercenary, profit-driven company a message.

Robin Turnbull, Franklin

Statistically speaking

David Barratt (Letters, March 10) is mistaken. I've studied statistics as a prerequisite to my specialty in sedimentary petrography. I suggest David take a lesson or two in invertebrate paleontology. He'll discover corals have been resilient for millions of years. In fact, due to stress after the Permo-Triassic extinction, corals evolved to divide their septa by six rather than four. That's an exponential growth that led to coral domination of reefs rather than being bit players.

Furthermore, David's claim of warming oceans is a claptrap hypothesis spawned by alarmists to try to hide the decline in global temperatures. Measurements have disproved this idea.

Forget any meaningless meningitis analogy. The presumption that my Bureau of Meteorology query is cynical is incorrect. If the BOM can't get next week's weather right, why would you buy a forecast on weather 50 years from now from them?

Gerry Murphy, Braddon

 

TO THE POINT

NOT SO FRIVOLOUS

If Malcolm Turnbull can offer a plebiscite on the frivolous topic of gay marriage, which will impact something less than 8 per cent of the population, can he also offer one on euthanasia which will impact, directly or indirectly, almost 100 per cent?

Jevon Kinder, Murrumbateman, NSW

EXCITING TIMES

Malcolm Turnbull needs to update his rhetoric to present a cogent truth.

I am sure every Australian would understand if he were to say: "There has never been a more exciting time in history to be a wealthy Australian."

Brian Hungerford, Curtin

CHERRY PICKING

It's dispiriting when fellow Christians cherry-pick the Bible to support a particular argument.

It seems Lyle Shelton ("Criticism of Safe Schools program is legitimate", Times2, March 11, p5) has taken this approach in relation to material associated with the Safe Schools program.

Alison Jones, Duffy

SUICIDE REPORTING

The report, "Increase in suicide perplexes experts" (March 9, p1), suggests a number of possible reasons for the tragic increase in death by suicide in the community since 2001. Sexual abuse is not included among them, yet sexual abuse by in institutions is commonly presented to be a probable cause of the subsequent suicide by victims.

Why is there this difference in the assessment of suicide?

Eric French, Higgins

CYCLIST COPS ABUSE

On Thursday, while out cycling on a footpath, I signalled with my bell to a walker that I was behind her and about to overtake. Imagine my surprise when she said, "No, you should be on the road!"

The woman proceeded to abuse me and point blank refused to move to the left for me to pass.

I am a very courteous cyclist.

I tried to explain that they are shared paths but she seemed to know better.

Have the rules changed ?

Wendy Cook, Monash

BLATANT PROPAGANDA

Why are taxpayer funds being used to produce and broadcast blatant political propaganda, dressed up as "information" packages?

Examples over a period of 15 minutes on national television were a vacuous piece on Australian government "action" to upgrade infrastructure and a second one on innovation.

Incumbency has many political advantages but taxpayers should not be forced to pay for them.

Keith Croker, 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).

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