The incoming Catholic archbishop for Canberra and Goulburn wants a moratorium on same-sex marriage (''Bishop calls for moratorium'', September 18, p1) because the debate is happening when heterosexual married life and family life are ''at a very fragile moment''. He then goes to say that ''we've got to look at this particular rising topic in a calm way''. Where has this man been? Several countries, within which there are millions of people who call themselves Catholic, have legislated same-sex marriage. He may look to Spain and the inspiring speech given by its then prime minister before the legislation was passed. I belong to a religious community which values same-sex marriage intrinsic in our testimonies of equality, integrity and community, and which calmly had this debate years ago. After careful discernment our community continues to accept, welcome, indeed embrace gay people and marriage for all. Does not God embrace equality? Our God is obviously very different to the archbishop's God. If heterosexual marriage is so fragile, he should be hammering on the doors of Federal Parliament for a moratorium. That is, no more heterosexual marriages until we have found out the cause of the problem and can legislate to fix it. Don't point your staff at gay people wanting to marry as if they are the problem.
I must declare my colours. My husband and I recently celebrated 17 years together. We have been married for six years. A pity we had to travel to Canada to marry, as a sign of our love and commitment to each other, before family and friends. Love, equality, integrity and community can embrace all difference. A testament to a God of justice. One day my marriage will be recognised in Australia.
Geoffrey Ballard, Campbell
Well done, Bishop Christopher Prowse, for calling for a ''reasoned debate'' on same sex marriage because ''heterosexual marriage needed protection'' Perhaps you could do us all a favour and kick the discussion off by giving us a reasoned explanation, without resort to the mystical abstractions favoured by you religious chaps, as to precisely what heterosexual marriage needs protection from, who does the protecting and exactly what harm will result, and to whom, if two people of the same sex get married.
Bill Deane, Chapman
Christopher Prowse breathes hate by associating gay marriage with infectious diseases and warfare. He calls for ''calm and reason'', and yet he ''would not be swayed by statistics showing high levels of support for same-sex marriage legislation in Canberra''. Our newly appointed archbishop has unambiguously planted his crosier in the arch-conservative camp with this destructive focus on sexual behaviour. Blind to love, he wants to keep gays under the thumb of religious bigotry. This is precisely the sort of ''pastoral care'' we can do without.
Peter Robinson, Ainslie
Robert Willson (Letters, September 16) quotes Winston Churchill on those who switch political allegiances: ''Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat.'' Without belittling Churchill's crucial role as wartime leader, it should be pointed out that he himself started as a Conservative, switched to the Liberals and then back to the Conservatives. In fact Churchill's quip about rats was a humorous self-description after he rejoined the Conservatives.
Andrew Gosling, Stirling
Robert Willson (Letters, September 16) regards Bill Shorten as a rat who has ratted twice. I neither like nor dislike Shorten or his party but I doubt the evidence is there to fit him up with so hard a term as ''rat''. When the prime movers in the parliamentary party found Kevin Rudd too difficult to work with they went looking for a better alternative and, on form displayed at the time, chose Julia Gillard. Later, when the poles indicated that Rudd would be far more successful at the next election, they switched back to him not, I suggest, because they liked him more as a person but simply because of the polls.
As I read the man, Shorten's decision to change back from Gillard to Rudd was not because of a personal preference for one over the other, but despite it.
Stuart Magee, Griffith
When Winston Churchill talked about ratting, he really knew what he was talking about. He is the rolled gold benchmark by which all political rats can be gauged. However, there is a world of difference between ratting on a political party for personal advancement and reluctantly changing the leader of one's party because a politician believes, rightly or wrongly, that such a change is in both the party's and nation's best interest. Churchill, it is worth recalling, also knew a lot about rolling party leaders, being party to several leadership coups in his long and colourful political career.
David Chadwick, Kaleen
Yet another gun massacre in the United States. This time, not at an unprotected school, but at a secure navy establishment, which had no deterrent effect whatsoever.
While the vast majority of Australians will shake their heads at such madness, we should remind ourselves that in Australia, not only do we have a pro-gun party sharing power in NSW, but now have a federal senator from the Liberal Democratic Party whose policies, listed on its website, includes guns for all for self-defence. Surely this latest event in the US destroys such arguments once and for all.
Geoff Nickols, Griffith
At the weekend I had the opportunity to make a return visit to the Sydney Moderns: Art for a New World exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW. This underrated and under-promoted exhibition is a brilliant exposition of the art of that vibrant interwar period. I strongly recommend it to Canberrans, particularly those with a Sydney childhood, as such an exhibition is unlikely to be assembled again in our lifetimes.
Alan Robertson, Aranda
Omission speaks volumes about 'value' of scientists
The shameful omission of a ministry for science in the new Abbott ministries is to be deplored and must be protested. As reported in The Canberra Times (''Scientists query shift'', September 17, p1) there has been a minister for science since 1931.
On Monday morning in Ottawa the Canadian Minister for Science, Greg Rickford, was interviewed on radio and repeatedly asked if it was true that government scientists had been forbidden to use the word ''carbon'' in any reports. The evasiveness of the response was astounding. As a result I attended a rally of scientists outside the Canadian Parliament.
Some hundreds of scientists took part with placards such as ''Death of Science Based Decision Making'', and ''Let Scientists Speak''. There were 18 similar rallies across Canada.
It is time for Australian scientists, to follow the Canadian example.
Christopher Dorman, Aranda
What is it with our country? For years we have been starving our scientists of funds, yet they continue to produce remarkable results. The education sector frequently bemoans the small number of students who take up the sciences.
Is it any wonder? No matter what your political persuasion, surely we must see the omission from the new cabinet of ''a dedicated science minister for the first time in more than 80 years'' as a disgrace for any developed country. It would be interesting to know the number of science graduates who remain in Australia compared to those who have taken refuge in countries where their skills are respected and valued.
Maureen Blackmore, Pearce
Twisting climate facts
H. Ronald claims (Letters, September 17) ''the IPCC has confirmed that there has been no increase in global temperatures for almost two decades''. This is nonsense. He can't quote an IPCC document for this made-up statement because there isn't one.
The scientific (as opposed to the political) position on this was stated in July by the head of the World Meteorological Organisation (a co-sponsor of the IPCC).
He said ''there had been no 'pause' in global warming since the mid-1990s as some have claimed. There's no plateau. If you filter out the very short-term variability, the last decade has been the warmest by a significant margin''. Who knows what the next IPCC Assessment Report will say when it is released on September 27, after governmental representatives, such as those from Saudi Arabia, have had a go at the summary, trying to water down what the scientists have to say. But even then, there won't be nonsense statements about ''no temperature increases since the mid-1990s''.
Paul Pollard, O'Connor
H. Ronald joins other climate sceptics in blatantly misquoting reputable scientific bodies and publications to assert that temperature change is not occurring.
The IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report 2007 states: ''Since IPCC's first report in 1990, assessed projections have suggested global average temperature increases between about 0.15 and 0.3 degrees per decade for 1990 to 2005. This can now be compared with observed values of about 0.2 degrees per decade, strengthening confidence in near-term projections.''
G. Williams, Gowrie
If your house is at risk of burning down, a prudent response is to reduce the risk and explain to the children how you're making the house safer. H. Ronald would prefer to take no action and reassure children by pretending that no risk exists.
Is this a fair analogy? Start the research that J. McKerral recommends (Letters, September 17) by reading Professor Tony Eggleton's recent book, A Short Introduction to Climate Change. In One World, Professor Peter Singer explained why tackling climate change needs international co-operation.
Yet Ronald wants to opt out, implying that Australia's greenhouse gas emissions are so small that stopping them would make no difference. What a myopic view! We have the means, and it's in our interest, to do much more than this.
David Teather, Reid
Knowing her place
Wonder why Tony Abbott has only one woman in his cabinet? From Abbott's unintentionally revealing political biography Battlelines: ''One of the strengths of the Howard government was that its senior members left their ideological typecasting at the cabinet cloakroom. Amanda Vanstone could be relied on to provide a 'woman's perspective' if necessary but otherwise brought a practical common sense to the consideration of political problems.'' (Battlelines, p45.)
Yes, you read that right. Abbott believed Vanstone could be relied on to provide ''practical common sense'' when she/wasn't/providing the ''woman's perspective''. Julie Bishop will doubtless be called upon to perform a similar role in Abbott's cabinet of channelling the emotional, impractical ''women's perspective'' when necessary. Otherwise, the deliberations will be left to men of ''practical common sense''. The man is sexist to his core and always has been. I'm endlessly amused at ACT Liberals who pretend that he isn't in the most progressive town in the country, but of course they know what he's like.
Jason Stokes, Oaks Estate
Not only has half the population been reduced to one voice in 20 of his cabinet, our new Prime Minister has chosen to further reduce his chances of being informed by not even having a science minister.
On top of this, two articles ''How business lobbyists block reform'' by Ross Gittins (BusinessDay, September 16, p8) and ''Banking boom takes an easy ride on the taxpayers guarantee'' by Michael West (BusinessDay, September 16, p8) describe how big industry and big banks influence the way our ''democracy'' functions. A dismal day indeed.
Andrea Leuning, Lyneham
Gang-gang left off protected species list
The gang-gang cockatoo has been left off the list of species given ''protections'' under the NSW Private Native Forestry Code of Practice. That is despite the fact that it is listed under NSW legislation as a threatened species. Protections are meaningless under this NSW PNF Code of Practice. It is left up to the landowner or contractor to identify them. These are the people who benefit from the logging operation - a clear conflict of interest. It is inexcusable that the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage would leave gang-gangs completely off the list of species requiring protections. By contrast, other threatened species are granted such protections. As the gang-gang is the ACT faunal emblem, Canberrans deserves to be made aware of the deficiencies with this NSW legislation. Threatened species of birds do not recognise territorial/state boundaries. If NSW forestry practices fail to protect these birds, Canberra could lose its favourite birds.
Denis Wilson, Robertson, NSW
Not getting the picture
I went to watch my nine-year-old nephew play in the local rugby league grand final at Canberra Stadium on Saturday. As I normally do when watching my nephews, I took my camera. Within seconds of taking my camera out, I was approached by an official stating that photography with anything other than an iPhone was prohibited at Canberra Stadium. I thought this was weird as I was there two weekends before at the rugby union finals (for my other nephew), took multiple photos, and nobody batted an eyelid.
I originally thought it may have been to stop those that may simply want to take photos of young children, but that didn't align with the union finals two weeks prior. Then I opened the program, and found a flyer for a professional photographer, from whom one could buy photos (for about $30) of one's child from the final.
No photography at art exhibitions I get, but your son's or daughter's sports final? Straight-out profiteering means my nephew, my brother and his family now have no photos of that match. What right does Canberra Stadium have to enforce these rules?
My nephew's team, lost by the way. But that's not the point.
Guy Adams, Harrison
TO THE POINT
MAN UP OVER MINISTRY
Chris Bowen says there are more women in the Afghanistan parliament than the Australian ministry. Bowen should realise people are selected on experience and ability, not simply on sexuality. I believe the PM has selected people he knows he can rely on to do their job and did not cave in to those who say there should be an equal distribution of hims and hers.
Trevor Willis, Hughes
Perhaps when Tony Abbott appointed only one lady to cabinet he remembered the experience of the Labor Party which elected a seemingly well-qualified lady to the top job; and we all know the outcome of that decision.
Ken McPhan, Spence
CASH ON HAND
One of the talented women ''knocking on the door'' for admission to Mr Abbott's cabinet is Michaelia Cash. He has appointed her Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women. Readers may be interested to see her in action on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0ujoga3li0
John Kilcullen, Macquarie
EXCEPTION TO THE RULE
People seem to be so confused about what constitutes ''dignity'' in the Federal Parliament. It is there when those born to rule are in charge, and not when supposed representatives of the workers are. Very simple.
Gary Frances, Red Hill
COUP DE NO GRACE
John Moulis (Letters, September 17) says when the Howard government was defeated, ''the right took it on the chin with grace and dignity''. Was he referring to the Liberal politicians who stood in front of signs saying ''Ditch the Witch'', and ''Juliar'', or did he mean the shock jock who said Gillard's father died of shame?
David Roth, Kambah
COUNTING THE COSTA
At $865 million to refloat and scrap, the Costa Concordia has become Costa Lotmora.
Linus Cole, Palmerston
My average unimproved land value is up by 21 per cent in five years and 32 per cent over past decade; rates nearly double and triple these increases, respectively. Reason to improve government efficiency or to increase the unimproved land value calculations to improve rate payers' value for money?
Alan Coleman, Curtin
Hear, hear to Chris Mobbs, (Letters, September 13). He says it so well. He should be chief ministerial advisor!
Stephen Medza, Downer
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