Some good ideas, too

INEVITABLY, discussion of the budget has focused on broken promises, deficit remediation and the tribal war on the poor, but it also contains a host of other measures deserving of evaluation, including the establishment of a single border guard agency.

I don't understand why the quarantine service is apparently not to be integrated, and it would be more dignified to drop the comic-opera title proposed for the agency. But it remains a good move, with two probable benefits: greater effectiveness in our efforts to foil smugglers and to keep undesirables out; and freeing the Department of Immigration to focus on the positive (and, I would say, more important) side of its function - getting desirable people in.

Ron Walker, Campbell

Roos not so plentiful

CUTHBERT Douglas implies that kangaroos should be killed off in case they starve in the future (Letters, May 11). He may have been taken in by the spin of the ACT government, which has used this justification to cull kangaroos. Problem is, where do you stop?

What other wildlife and stock animals should be killed off just in case they are affected by a drought in the future? Kangaroos have survived over time and have coped with drought.

Cuthbert writes that during years of reasonable rainfall, kangaroo populations soar. Well, we've had a few good years but I don't see a plague of kangaroos as he implies.


In the past two years the ACT government has set a quota of kangaroos to be killed off, but the shooters have fallen short of their target. Why? Because the kangaroos are not present in the numbers expected.

It may well be the ACT government is killing off kangaroos unnecessarily. Maybe it needs to draw breath and better understand kangaroo ecology before killing off any more. It would be a shame if our bush capital and surrounds were denuded of kangaroos, based on a poor appreciation of our environment, misinformation and political spin.

Philip Machin, Wamboin, NSW

Budget beggars belief

THE BUDGET was compiled by a group of privileged, Catholic, free tertiary-educated schoolboys wishing to extend their Christian charity to their mates at the expense of the young, the sick, the elderly and the disadvantaged. This hypocritical group has ignored evidence of climate change and the need for renewable energy, but wishes to introduce the largest medical research fund, at public expense, to keep themselves alive and well as they age. It just beggars belief.

Margaret Langford, Aranda

Attacking our heart

IT IS great to live in a country where safety is more important than security. We have a xenophobic border policy combined with a military purchase almost equalling the national debt, and yet the security for our sick, uneducated, unemployed and aged is trashed along with the minuscule support we give to the poor overseas. In the 1950s and '60s, the economic mantra for economic development was the trade-off between guns and butter. In our surprisingly well-off country, we seem to be more scared of losing the wealth held by a minority of the population than of sharing it across the whole community.

With the withdrawal of federal government services and support, the desperate of the community fall to the volunteer and charity sector, which increasingly finds it difficult to meet the needs. No Joint Strike Fighter purchase or Sovereign Borders protects the desperate, the homeless, aged or sick.

Yes, we might reduce the deficit. Yes, we have no more boats landing on our shores and our skies are safe. But the heart of Australia is being attacked from within.

Denis Waters, Nicholls

Pin oak forest

I WAS intrigued by Tony Trobe's opening question in his Sunday interview column: ''Engineers Australia pin oak forest competition to 'draw out creativity''' (May 11, p20). It said: ''The Arboretum is one of my favourite buildings.''

Whether or not the Arboretum can be considered a building, Engineers Australia, by virtue of its sponsorship of the pin oak forest to commemorate its 90th anniversary in 2009, apparently has the ingress to construct a folly, or some such, of self-aggrandisement therein.

The design competition parameters include compliance with ''National Capital Plan requirements for the National Capital Open Space System (inner hills, ridges and buffers)''. This document is highly relevant to some other planning considerations in dispute.

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

Whose side are you on?

TO READ Sue Wareham's criticism of drones (Letters, May 16) you would think that, in past wars, civilians standing near military targets never got hurt. You would think that, in previous wars blanket-bombing wasn't conducted from 3000 metres. You would think that terrorists, the enemy for the foreseeable future, respect the legal niceties of warfare - especially those relating to the welfare of bystanders.

In fact, terror demands bystanders be deliberate targets and deliberately hide in their midst.

In essence, work out whose side you are on. Welcome the increasing sophistication of one of the better tools the West has developed to conduct modern, asymmetric warfare. Get over guilt, level the playing field and save a few of our boys' lives.

Focus instead on undermining virgins-for-martyrs myths, keeping open lines of dialogue between warring parties and refining the intelligence behind drone strikes to target them better.

Cuthbert Douglas, Bonython

Cost of smoking

I HAVE been reading many letters where people are whingeing about having to pay the trivial sum of $7 to visit the doctor. As I live in walking distance to the Canberra Centre, I walk there to do my shopping. I pass the ABC flats and on most occasions I see the occupants walking in and out, smoking cigarettes. These people would save a lot of money by paying their $7 to see a doctor to get help with their smoking addiction.

Anne Prendergast, Reid

Necessities, not beer

JOE Hockey, since when do we equate family money to beers and cigarettes? For most Australians, $7 can buy two or three bottles of milk, a couple of loaves of bread or a couple of kilos of fruit; and if you buy on special at a supermarket, can well be a family dinner. It can pay for a shirt or a school excursion. Just talk to young families, pensioners and disadvantaged.

Parents will take a sick child to the doctor but they might have to deny such a visit to themselves. This is not the case of how little $7 is in terms of beers or, indeed, Cuban cigars or diamond rings. It's about necessities it can buy for ordinary Australians.

Igor Skryabin, Yarralumla

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