Letters to the Editor
Lacking the computer hacking skills of the Chinese, I am not privy to the internal layout of the new ASIO building. By casual observation I had thought the interrogation rooms to be behind those small soundproof windows on the Constitution Avenue side. However, now seeing the building in the searing glare of the setting sun, I think the hot seats are most likely to be on the Parkes Way western glassy side.
The ASIO building's electricity bill is no doubt a state secret but I am glad that I'm not paying the air-conditioning bill.
What's that you say? I probably am.
Penleigh Boyd, Reid
Time to nationalise
Accepting the importance of the motor car industry to successive governments, one is moved to ask whether any thought has ever been given to simply buying the Ford and GMH plants on behalf of all taxpaying Australians. Then manufacturing truly Australian vehicles made with Australian materials that run on alternative Australian fuels (LPG and NG) and initiatives (battery and solar energy) would be possible, I am sure, to achieve.
It seems to me that such outlays would be justified given the stated intentions of both companies to cease operations in our country after us having donated hundreds of millions of dollars to their coffers ever since their establishment and operation in our country. (Any further contributions should only be regarded as our deposit to purchase, otherwise they are further sheer wastes of taxpayer funds.)
Of course, I would think that if such a course were ever to be embarked upon, we would reintroduce import duties on foreign manufactured and imported vehicles once our cars begin running off our production lines.
Perhaps, in that process, some jobs just might be created as well.
P.M. Button, Cook
Not all get perks
In response to R.C. Warn of Griffith (Letters, October 11), for the whole of the last Labor government the Murdoch press conducted the witch-hunt of all times. Not a day went by without something negative being said about the Labor government, and particularly throughout the time of our first female prime minister.
The Fairfax press, including The Canberra Times, was fair-minded and published pieces and opinions from both sides of the Parliament. Being able to read The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph on my iPad as well as having The Canberra Times delivered, I have some knowledge about this period. I was a public servant, as politicians are, as a registered nurse.
During my 44 years as a nurse I worked my paid hours. However, as a nurse I had a duty of care to respond to people injured in car accidents, heart attacks etc. Hence my duties were ''all-encompassing''.
I could not claim expenses as our politicians have been able to and the Taxation Department made sure it got its fair share of my wages.
Ditto with my husband who was an AFP officer, again with a duty of care to respond to those in need. So forgive me, R.C. Warn, if I disagree with your point of view and feel this recent expose by the Fairfax press is a fair thing and not a destabilisation plot by Labor.
Jan Gulliver, Lyneham
Some of your conservative correspondents (e.g., N. Bailey, Letters, October 9) argue that Labor has shown hypocrisy in the expenses affair because of its past sins, and that this somehow excuses public subsidy for Liberal attendance at weddings, sports events and social functions.
My children used to try this sort of sophistry to excuse bad behaviour (''everyone else is doing it'') but it never got them very far. My position is simple - no public money for private events by any party.
David Roth, Kambah
This issue has been festering in the national media for two weeks and it is overwhelmingly clear that the travel allowance policy has been, and is being, abused by politicians. Yet, curiously, the PM refuses to do anything about it, despite his promise that the Coalition would be a trustworthy government.
The PM has argued, ''You don't want members of parliament to be prisoners of their offices.'' I agree, but they are on good salaries and should pay their own way on non-official business. The rules are blurred. Politicians seem to like that, funnily, but the rules need to be improved.
Allan Fels' 2011 review of the policy called for greater transparency and streamlining but was not fully implemented. It would be a good start. Nick Xenophon has some useful proposals to improve the system.
Is there something about the human condition that many people see travel allowances as a perk of office?
For the PM to be so truculent on a relatively small issue does not bode well for the nation's future.
Geoff Clark, Narrabundah
MPs justify their expense claims by saying that they're at work whenever they come into contact with the public at community events. An interesting insight into what they think their work is.
They think it is shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries with members of the public, keeping in well with the shock jocks, and being filmed delivering sound bites for the TV. Our Prime Minister thinks he is working when he attends sporting events, even though no one can talk to him about their concerns except the sporting celebrities and perhaps the media commentators.
Well, I'd like these politicians to know that I expect more from them than that. They represent us and should listen to us, not just parade themselves at sporting events, hobnob with celebrities or travel overseas to grovel to the real world leaders.
If I have a concern about government policy, I don't want to go and watch Tony Abbott in an ironman contest on the off chance that I might be able to pull him aside to listen to me.
I write letters (or emails) to MPs and I expect them to answer. But what happens when I do that?
Abbott gets his staff to send a standard letter, ignoring every detail of what I said and every question I asked. Kate Lundy takes 105 days and numerous phone calls to reply to a simple question with a cobbled-together piece of propaganda containing gross mistakes. Obviously they're too busy with their ''community events''.
I think it's not just a review of the rules we need but also some more guidelines of how politicians should spend their time.
Howard Silcock, Narrabundah
Call to ACTION
J.J. Daly of Rivett (Letters, October 9) is not alone in being dissatisfied with ACTION's proposed route changes affecting residents of an aged care village.
Similar changes are proposed by ACTION to route 63 that currently travels through Monash via Barraclough Crescent. The proposed changes will force elderly residents of the original part of Goodwin Retirement Village (which fronts onto Barraclough Crescent) to walk much further to catch a bus.
ACTION claims that no longer servicing the two bus stops on Barraclough Crescent, which would probably cut travel times only by two to three minutes, will make for a more frequent and direct service between Tuggeranong and Woden bus interchanges.
The nearest stops will then be only on Clive Steele Avenue (several hundred metres away) and Cockcroft Avenue (a similar distance).
Not a big walk if you are young, fit and healthy but it is for senior citizens (most of whom have mobility issues).
ACTION's lack of consideration of retirement village residents is inexcusable These members of the community who can't walk long distances and have no other means of transport are being treated as second-class citizens by a government-run authority that is subsidised by all ACT taxpayers (including the elderly) to the tune of $100 million a year.
D. Barber, Monash
Watch the rocks
Clive Palmer with the Senate balance of power is like a dinosaur skippering the Titanic.
Rod Matthews, Fairfield, Vic
Pity poor Gina
Isn't it time we got our values right? Someone recently described Gina Rinehart as the world's richest woman.
There are billions of women who are richer than her. These are women who have a loving, caring relationship with their children and whose friends genuinely care about them for who they are, not for the money they have. I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't have any desire to swap places with her.
Rich people don't make money; they get rich by taking money off other people and seem to pay for it in happiness.
Audrey Guy, Ngunnawal
Professor John Warhurst displayed a wry sense of humour in writing, ''Before we can confidently say that on both sides of politics it is impossible to be both a powerbroker and a political lobbyist, the working definitions of both have to be broadened considerably.'' (''Lobbyists and powerbrokers in danger of overlap'', Times2, October 10, p4).
The joke is that a powerbroker who is a party member, who might also be a politician who accepts a commission as a lobbyist, is essentially accepting a bribe.
GaryJ. Wilson, Macgregor
To the point
OPEN FOR BUSINESS
By golly we're lucky to have Barnaby Joyce. Five minutes in government and already he's a fountain of wisdom of what it takes to be a cabinet minister. Reading his latest offering in Friday's Canberra Times, I'm reminded of Adlai Stevenson's dictum that a politician is a statesman who approaches every question with an open mouth.
Geoff Pryor, Narrabundah
NOT WRITTEN DOWN, YET
A number of letter writers in today's (October 11) Canberra Times are worried about the effect of Tony Abbott's ''apologies'' to world leaders. It's OK. They're bound to remember that what he says is seldom ''gospel truth'' so it won't bother them at all.
Maria Greene, Curtin
IF YOU BELIEVE THAT
John Miller (''Have faith'' - Letters) suggests that the only people who have ''a sure knowledge of the way'' (I assume that ''the way'' means ethical behaviour), ''a richness in relationships'' and ''an enduring joy of life despite hardship'' are those who embrace ''the guiding presence of a holy spirit''. Is John kidding us or himself?
Barrie Smillie, Duffy
WHAT ELSE ON THE BILL?
What next? As ''The rorting rules are unchanged, and politicians' behaviour is much the same'' (CT, October 9, p5), taxpayers may find they've been paying for toothbrushes, replacing light bulbs, comics, pay TV pornographic films, cleaning duck ponds and moats. Watch this space!
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan
DOES IT FIT?
How does Mr Abbott reconcile his religious beliefs with his shoddy behaviour. He should resign NOW. He's shown he's completely unsuitable for public office.
R. Manning-Smith, Queanbeyan West