Silence speaks plenty

The response of the vice-chancellor of the ANU to the disturbing accounts of bullying and a toxic culture (''Toxic bullying claims at ANU'', June 14, p1) at the university is telling. His silence speaks volumes.

He has not committed himself to investigating the concerns. Nor has he appeared to commit himself to ensuring a safe workplace for people at the ANU. We can only conclude from this that he sees bullying as a normal and legitimate part of management culture at the ANU.

D. Lopez, Downer

Go on, Maurice

Christopher Keating, a respected American physicist who has taught at the University of South Dakota and the US Naval Academy and is the author of the very useful Undeniable: dialogues on global warming, is offering a public prize of $10,000 to anyone who can disprove mainstream climate science and provide verifiable evidence that anthropogenic global warming is not real. Details are available at:

At the same time Maurice Newman uses the access to the media that is afforded by his wealth and power to repeat claims that the scientific case is collapsing - with the kind of childish overconfidence that can only come from wilful ignorance.

Newman does at least have undeniable expertise in making money, so I am looking forward to his successful submission to Keating's challenge. Unless, of course, he is unable to back his words with evidence?


Felix MacNeill, Dickson

Beyond coal

If John Hewson (''Hockey should clean up his act: Hewson'', June 23, p3) is so concerned about climate change, apart from coalmines, why doesn't he challenge Hockey to inhale the numbing fumes around CSG wells or drink of the flammable propane-infused water from adjacent water bores; to sniff the sulphur-infused methane emissions from cattle yards; or breathe in the busy traffic zones of urban areas - sites of a huge proportion of Australia's carbon emissions and fine particulate matter.

I am afraid that the ''dinosaur hunting'' Hewson clearly displays the selective obsession with coalmines a tad in sync with proponents of wind farms.

George Papadopoulos, Yass

Let's not forget …

Rod Olsen (Letters, June 24) has nailed some of the nonsense in Gary Humphries' warmongering column. Another point though: given that Humphries is chairman of the government's Anzac Centenary Public Fund ($100 million-plus of corporate donations promised) no doubt we will see money being channelled towards building more and better memorials to previous noble Australian military adventures overseas.

We might even see revived the silly proposal to build in Anzac Parade memorials to the two world wars. Humphries supported that plan. Fortunately, another superannuated Coalition politician, Brendan Nelson, director of the memorial, opposed it, as did his council. I know who I'd back in that prospective skirmish.

David Stephens, Bruce

Danger alert

Perhaps the question that should be asked ('Cop capsicum sprayed my dog', June 21, p1), apart from why the police were conducting a raid, is why a bull mastiff cross is being kept in a small suburban backyard. These dogs are vicious and dangerous and have no place in a suburban backyard. Instead of the hysterical response we are seeing from the AFP, Tammy Ven Dange and Justen Storay's lawyer, some intelligent investigation and consideration of the prohibition of keeping such dangerous dogs in a suburban setting would be a better use of their time.

Michael and Christine O'Loughlin, Griffith

Third time lucky?

First it took three years to charge David Eastman, and another three years to find him guilty in 1995 and send him to prison. Then it took another 17 years to re-examine the case - the Martin inquiry (which heard all parties involved and seemed to amount to a retrial), which took another two years to report to the ACT Supreme Court, which is now to decide Eastman's fate.

So 25 years have passed since the killing of which Eastman was accused. And now we find ('Court allows DPP to fight Eastman release', June 24, p1) that the Supreme Court, in making its decision, is to take into account, not only the Martin report, but further submissions by the Director of Public Prosecutions - and presumably, in fairness, Eastman's lawyers. Again, to a layman this seems like a second retrial - even though the Martin report said that, after so long a time, a further re-trial would be ''neither feasible nor fair''.

Surely there's something wrong with the ACT's legal system.

R.S. Gilbert, Braddon

Travelling backwards

My sympathy is with Paul Bowler (Letters, June 24), and the present infrequent and inefficient ACTION timetable.

In the years leading up to self-government, I commuted by bus to work in the fledging ''interstate coach station'', the Jolimont Centre. The present ACTION timetable provides half the frequency of services than those in 1988 - with a ratepayer subsidy of $118 millions (up 7.7 per cent in the year). In the meantime, interstate coach services have almost doubled in frequency, reliability and patronage (with no subsidies).

Perhaps it is time to question whether a government bureaucracy is the most effective model of managing a value-for-money, public transport system - and the auditor-general is the best hope we have for a sane and affordable future.

David Dickson, Kaleen

Spoiled for choice

Paul Bowler (Letters, June 24) makes a good point about bus service connection times at Woden Interchange. One minute is ridiculously short, and cannot be relied on.

However, there are four buses an hour from Woden to Deakin on weekdays, not one. The No. 2 departs from platform 4 every half hour, and travels via Curtin and Yarralumla, taking 22 minutes to reach Deakin. The No. 3 also departs every half hour, but from platform 14, leaving 16 minutes after the No. 2, and travels via Garran and Hughes, taking 13 minutes to reach Deakin.

So, Paul, if you miss your bus at platform 4, just go to platform 14 and take the next No. 3, and you will arrive at Deakin just seven minutes later than planned.

J. Lindsay, Curtin

Egypt deserves Australia's condemnation, not our support

The Egyptian government is deservedly being condemned for the imprisonment of Peter Greste and several other al-Jazeera journalists.

Peter Greste, however, is only one among many. Thousands of protesters and activists in Egypt have been sentenced en masse to lengthy jail terms, or to death, based on little more evidence than that provided in the Greste trial. The Egyptian government claims the crackdown is aimed at extremists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, but a number of those being thrown in jail are secular activists who helped bring democracy to Egypt by toppling the repressive Mubarak regime in the Tahrir Square protests.

By imprisoning these activists, President al-Sisi's government has made it clear their goal is not to remove extremists, but rather to eliminate all political opposition.

While the Prime Minister in his statement to Parliament on Tuesday said he would do whatever he could to secure Mr Greste's release, he also said he ''supports'' the Egyptian government's crackdown. This sort of assault on basic democratic rights should never be condoned by Australia, let alone supported. The Australian government must make it clear that Australia not only wants Peter Greste released but also to ensure that others shall not share his fate.

Joshua Smith, Gordon

Give Kurds a go

Patrick Cockburn (''Barbarians are at Iraq gate'', Times2, June 24, p1) ponders what to do about the growing mess in Iraq. Present-day Iraq, an artificial construct with a split right down the middle, is a failed state.

What about looking at those in the region who have shown that they can make accommodations with other people and religious groups? There is one group that fits the bill, has a powerful sense of identity and advantageously controls some important oil-producing real estate: the Kurds. Give them a go. That's got to be better than the endless sectarian disputes, the mistaken support for Shiite or Sunni who then go too far.

Kurdistan has a good sound, and northern Iraq is a good place on which to base such a state. Minority groups - the Yazidi come to mind - would not feel so oppressed. Westerners would be able to wander about without an armed guard.

Roy Darling, Florey

Israel misrepresented

Rhys Stanley (Letters, June 19), makes a litany of claims against Israel that are either unproven or totally lacking context. The most serious is that Israeli forces deliberately shot two young Palestinian soccer players in the legs. The Israelis say that the soccer players were shot as they were about to throw bombs at the Israelis, and a further bomb was found on them. They deny shooting either of them multiple times in cold blood, as Stanley alleges. This alleged incident was misrepresented and used as part of the Palestinian propaganda war against Israel, in this case, to try to have FIFA take action against it.

Similarly, Israel does not murder Palestinians, although it may kill them in anti-terrorist operations. Minors are taken into custody only after committing crimes, just as they are here.

Athol Morris, Forde

Help Palestinian appeal

Australia should support the Palestinian appeal to the UN to stop Israel's brutal campaign of arrests and air strikes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in Palestine (''Palestinian appeal'', June 23, p7).

The disappearance of three Israeli teenagers on the West Bank is a cause for grave concern. However, in a violent reaction by the dominant Israeli armed forces, 146 Palestinian homes were raided and 10 members of the Hamas movement have been arrested.

These latest actions by the occupying armed forces of Israel against Palestinian civilians - who over the decades have been denied sovereignty by way of a two-state solution, as Israeli continues to seize more Palestinian land, leaving only about 22 per cent of land for the dispossessed and occupied Palestinian people - must be condemned.

In fairness to the long-suffering Palestinian people, Australia must end its blinkered support for Israel and support the Palestinian appeal at the UN.

Keith McEwan, Bonython

ABC, SBS betrayed

The proposals contained in the secret report to the Abbott government on further cuts to the ABC and SBS defy common sense. The ABC is one of our most trusted and treasured institutions. It belongs to the people, not to governments. It is our heritage, and should not be manipulated for party political purposes, nor cut to plug a hole in a budget deficit, nor emasculated to suit the commercial interests of powerful media corporations.

This government has broken its pre-election promise that cuts would not be made to the funding of our public broadcasters. Despite Mr Abbott's election-eve assurance to Anton Enus on SBS TV that there would be no cuts to education, health or pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS, the budget cut a significant amount from both public broadcasters . Yet now we are told to expectfurther cuts that will affect the viability of both.

Other surprise budget cuts have already caused a lot of grief to too many people. But this assault on the ABC and SBS may yet be seen as the ultimate betrayal.

Pauline Westwood, Dickson

Not-so-dumb voters

John Collet (Letters, June 23) says we Canberrans are ''the most highly educated but surely … the dumbest'' for voting en masse for one major party (Labor), which then doesn't have to treat us well, and are so ignored by the Coalition.

We are not just the most highly educated but also the wisest - we know what are the right values to support in a political party (one able to form government, at least), and also wise enough to accept that we may not benefit directly from this. It's called supporting the common good.

Gerard De Ruyter, Wanniassa

Patients prescribing a dangerous outcome

I am aware of the push for greater patient involvement in healthcare decisions. Is it really the case, however, that the balance of power has shifted to the point that, when it comes to prescribing medication, it is up to ''people to tell their GP to prescribe antibiotics only if they were really needed'' (''Most think antibiotics cure a cold'', June 24, p2)?

By all means let there be open communication about these things - but surely the only patients who have a right to tell a GP what to prescribe are those with medical degrees.

Karina Morris, Weetangera

A question of ethics

I think that Ross Gittins' article on ethics and economics (''Economists face flak over ethics'', BusinessDay, June 23, p10) was very timely. Surely ethics should permeate every aspect of our society if only to direct our efforts to something worthwhile?

I would no more want to live in a world where behaviour was determined by economic theory alone than I would like to live in Nazi Germany where some doctors thought science was beyond ethics and conducted horrendous experiments on human beings.

Economics, to me, is a tool to help us achieve the best possible life for the greatest number of people. It cannot exist in a moral vacuum.

I thought we had moved beyond social Darwinism and the survival of the fittest, but the policies of our new federal government make me wonder!

Elizabeth Dangerfield, Gundaroo, NSW



Seven minutes. That is how long it took UNESCO's World Heritage Committee to dismiss the Abbott government's bid to wind back protection of Tasmanian forests. My embarrassment and horror at the government's ''feeble'' attempt to create this ''unacceptable precedent'' in Doha will take much longer than seven minutes to diminish.

Ross Goddard, Farrer


Well, David Smith (Letters, June 24), I would describe Labor's 170 Senate activities as spectacularly unsuccessful when compared with what their opponents achieved in 1975.

Frank Marris, Forrest


(Sir) David Smith ( Letters, June 24) sees it as a reasonable rationale to use Labor precedents for the Fraser decision to block supply in 1975. Is the Governor-General's private secretary at the time overturning the old saying to suggest that ''two wrongs do make a right''?

Eric Hunter, Cook


Why does the Australian government allow our country to be occupied by US troops? Under which country's laws are US soldiers prosecuted when they rape our women and commit other crimes?

Graham Freeman, Evatt


No matter how unjust we may find the seven-year prison sentence imposed on a journalist doing his job abroad, imagine the furore in this country if our Prime Minister, Governor-General or any other official was found to be intervening in our own court decisions. Why, then, should we seek other country's leaders to do the same?

Peter Hyland, Swinger Hill


I find myself agreeing with Michael Buggy (Letters, June 24). We have many undisciplined federal public servants exercising imaginatively flawed policies and procedures. But, to take a formal complaint further we must write to the ombudsman's office. That's tantamount to asking a flightless budgie to discipline a bunch of feral cats.

Dr Judy Ryan, Lyons


I notice that the Sydney ''Festival of Dangerous Ideas'' has bowed to media outcry and banned speaker Uthman Badar who, it is claimed, has sympathies for honour killing. If this is true, it is a view that no sensible person would support, however we have missed an opportunity to destroy his arguments in a public forum which could have gone some way to challenging those who also hold this view in our community.

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

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