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Subservience to US over nuclear weapons dangerous path to follow

The article by Julie Bishop and Bert Koenders, the Foreign Ministers of Australia and the Netherlands, "Australia and the Dutch, 400 years of shared history" (CT, November 2), states the two nations "work side by side in the United Nations".

The Netherlands was streets ahead of Australia at the UN last week when a resolution to start negotiating a nuclear weapons ban treaty in 2017 was passed by a strong majority.

The Australian and Dutch governments are under strong society pressure to support the banning of these horrific devices. US pressure is in the other direction. In the Netherlands, the government listened to its people and abstained; a very significant abstention that indicates a breakthrough in NATO solidarity on this issue.

Our government not only voted against the resolution but led the charge in urging others to do likewise. If Australia really is the "champion of democracy" minister Bishop believes we are, we would cease doing the dirty work of the US in upholding their nuclear weapons policy. Our subservience on this is gutless, dangerous and the antithesis of a vibrant democracy.

Sue Wareham, ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), Cook

Tram unsuitable

David Flannery's article (October 29) highlights yet again how entirely unsuited the tram is for Canberra. On the one hand, he says it needs to be a rapid transit service for people coming into the Woden terminal for Tuggeranong. Not very rapid, of course, because it can only do 70km/h when the existing express buses can do 80. Then he goes on to argue it also needs to be a bus service for the intervening suburbs and ends up with a route that would be useless for rapid transit. They can't have it both ways.

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Stan Marks, Hawker

High-rise scandal

I am sure many Canberrans aren't aware six-storey private housing to be built on West Basin will also be partly on the extensive waterfront infill, changing the area for ever.

It is scandalous plans for the waterfront boardwalk over the infill of the lake are never shown with the high-rise development behind them.

The buildings apparently can be two storeys higher than WestSide. The view west from City Hill and the north section of Commonwealth Avenue will be blocked forever.

Apparently there are plans to set up Deliberative Democracy strategies. I suggest the West Basin project be put on hold while a proper consultative process occurs..

Penny Moyes, Hughes

Behind the times

Peter D. Hughes (Letters, October 30) appears to hold James Lovelock's opinions in high regard.

While he may have invented some useful scientific instruments and popularised a holistic view of the Earth as a single organism in days of yore, Lovelock seems not to have kept current with scientific literature since at least the turn of the century.

He stated in 2007 the human population would be culled to as few as 500 million by the year 2100, all plant life in China would disappear by 2040, the Chinese would be forced to migrate to Africa, and there was no point reducing CO2 pollution because it takes 2500 square kilometres of wind farms to produce a gigawatt of electricity (it is more like 150 square kilometres). Now he believes the Earth has not warmed at all since the turn of the century and emissions trading is a giant scam. Lovelock is 96 and appears to have diminished somewhat since his prime.

James Allan, Narrabundah

Meat not an essential

Rory McElligott (Letters, October 30) makes some unsubstantiated claims in his defence of our breeding and killing animals for food. One was humans are omnivores who require animal products.

Basic research will prove while we may be habitual omnivores, we are certainly are not obligate omnivores. If we were I, and many, many others, would be either dead or very unwell.

Another is vegetables "experience things". I'd ask Rory to try a simple thought experiment. Imagine he has a live rabbit and a carrot on the table in front of him. Asked to cut up the animal or the vegetable which one would be for the chop?

And finally, that we treat these animals "as humanely as possible". I'd argue it can never be regarded as humane to kill a healthy, young animal who has the capacity to enjoy life.

M. O'Shaughnessy, Spence

Plants are not sentient beings. Although they react to external stimuli, they don't have the brain and central nervous system that sentient beings have.

Humans don't necessarily have to eat meat. They can get a balanced and tasty diet from a variety of vegetables, fruits, eggs, milk and cheese, soy products, grains, seeds, nuts, pulses and mushrooms.

Susan MacDougall, Scullin

It is sad "vegetarian" – or even worse, "vegan" – are used as terms of derision and people who speak up for the animals we raise and kill to eat are mocked.

Nothing humane happens in an abattoir.

Millions of healthy, long-lived vegans throughout the world are evidence the consumption of animals is a choice, not a necessity.

Jan Darby, Isabella Plains

Bullets work

In Brian Cooke's letter ("So David Lyonhjelm wants softer gun controls", CT, October 20), the gassing of rabbits was used as justification for the view shooting was an inappropriate method of pest control.

What Brian forgot to mention was that feral pigs, dogs, cats, deer, and so on cannot be so neatly managed using the methods he describes. Larger vertebrate animals have a tendency to be nomadic.

Finding them in conditions suitable for trapping and gassing would be nearly impossible.

Poison baits are often the first choice for these animals, but are indiscriminate in what they kill.

Shooters want to be a part of the solution to Australia's feral animal population.

Shane Bennett, Firearm Owners United, Rivett

Bravo ABC and Craig

I must congratulate the ABC management on their selection of Craig Allen as the local news reader.

His delivery is clear, professional and easy to listen to.

Ken Helm, Murrumbateman

Sinful asylum-seeker ban

It was heartening to read of 2500 people turning out on Sunday to protest against Australia's harsh policies towards asylum seekers (CT 31/10).

A previous commitment to speak to a church group prevented me from attending the rally.

But I brought it to the attention of my audience in these terms. "It shames me greatly to see both of Australia's major political parties taking such inhumane and cruel stances towards refugees and asylum seekers. Our country's part in the dreadful treatment of people in detention centres in Nauru and on Manus Island is shameful, sinful and criminal."

(Bishop) Pat Power, Campbell

Jon Stanhope, addressing Sunday's Refugee Action Committee meeting to protest against indefinite detention, urged people to join the Labor or Liberal party and take part in preselection: "If the current members of Parliament will not change the policy, perhaps the only option is to change the members" (Canberra Times, 31 October).

Commentators speculate proposed legislation banning boat arrivals from ever coming to Australia is to prepare for announcing a third-country solution. Maybe it isn't. The Senate should refuse to pass the legislation until details of the solution have been announced.

That will be time enough.

John Kilcullen, Cook

The federal government has gone mad. There is no other way to describe it, given the proposed legislation to permanently ban asylum seekers (who have found themselves in the asylum all right) from ever coming to Australia.

Don't forget that seven of our 29 prime ministers, including Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, were boat people.

What is next? A reintroduction of the white Australia policy?

How could Malcolm Turnbull fall so completely under the influence of the bigoted and racists troglodytes who make up the extreme right?

Stopping the boats is one thing (and there are civilised ways to do it) but permanent, vindictive, exile is a step too far.

James Gralton, Garran

Australia's first honorary citizen, Raoul Wallenberg, has been officially declared dead, 71 years after his disappearance in wartime Budapest.

He was one man of courage against tyranny and oppression and the good Samaritan who saved lives.

One man who made a difference to the lives of refugees.

An inspiration still, in these times of tears, indifference and oppression.

Peter Graves, Curtin

Shame on Messrs Turnbull and Dutton for their recent criticism of Amnesty International in regard to asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru.

Now our government has sunk even lower with the proposed ban on asylum seekers held in offshore detention centres from ever coming to Australia.

Messrs Turnbull and Dutton assure us the ban will send a strong message to people smugglers, but the asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru are pawns in a disgusting game of discrimination.

They were in the wrong place at the wrong time and have spent the last three years paying for that "mistake".

In the midst of the worst humanitarian crisis the world has ever seen why are these people being punished even more?

It is not illegal to seek asylum, but it is immoral to subject innocent people to such unjust treatment.

Barbara Godfrey, Lyneham

Jon Stanhope's article about the unlucky asylum seekers, who are detained in Nauru and Manus island, must have come directly from the heart ("This policy must end", Nov 1, p12).

Stanhope asks why are these people not being accepted by Australia, when the overwhelming majority are genuine refugees?

Surely, as a Christian nation we should show more compassion for those people who are begging us to come to their rescue.

Sam Nona, Burradoo

Jon Stanhope (Comment CT p.12, November 1) has reflected bravely on the inhuman polices of his party and the government towards refugees in our name.

I was in Europe when the furore over the Four Corners program broke – for once Australia figured on CNN and the BBC international news that we all watch when we are away from home.

It is very embarrassing to watch the way our country is being portrayed over its indecent, immoral and unethical treatment of human beings who have tried to flee from persecution.

They have committed no crime. It is even a crime for concerned workers on Nauru and Manus, to tell the Australian people about the excesses.

The latest decision to permanently ban asylum seekers from ever being permitted to enter Australia has brought this country so low it is embarrassing to have to explain it to friends overseas.

It is high time the Labor Party adopted the policy of the late Honourable Malcolm Fraser, who regardless of political cost to himself and his government, organised the orderly movement of many thousands of Indochinese refugees stemming from the Second Indochinese War (Vietnam).

Gavin O'Brien, Gilmore

Church working hard

If James Gralton ("Church lost in irrelevance", CT October 29) had taken a little time to look up the website for the Catholic Church in Australia he would have found a considerable volume of information on the work of the church covering not only refugees and the environment but many other aspects of our society.

James R. Smith, Watson

TO THE POINT

TIMBER KEY

Does the ACT government not understand the simple concept that a "boardwalk" is a "broadwalk" constructed from boards? ("Government defends use of concrete for Burley Griffin 'boardwalk"', CT, October 31, P2). Do they have trouble with their 'r's?

Peter Snowdon, Aranda

PLANT HAZARD

Much of the length of the Constitution Avenue median strip has been planted with useless, clumpy tussock plants. It is now a trip hazard. How long before some pedestrian stumbles under a bus?

John Dinn, Ngunnawal

DEAL FLAWED

[Canberra Times, October 31, "Labor and Greens hammer out deal"]. What a cop out Mr Barr, now an even greener Green Labor government and please don't think that 38 per cent of 100 per cent is a number that gives you a mandate for your willy nilly agendas.

Michael Attwell, Dunlop

Good sentiments, Howard Carew (Letters, November 1) but you overlooked one thing: the Greens are not a crossbench, but have formed a coalition with Labor. The minute Shane Rattenbury signed the agreement with Labor, all chance of a crossbench evaporated.

Janet Fletcher, O'Connor

REACTIONS TELLING

Compared with the reaction of our Prime Minister and the Australian people to the tragic deaths of four people at Dreamworld, the response to the ghastly murder of the bus driver in Queensland has been mutedto say the least. I am yet againashamed to call myself an Australian.

Patricia Hagan, Waramanga

SELLING OUT

"Grim fate awaits those who speak up" (Canberra Times, Public Sector Informant, November 1). Let's not mislead ourselves here! There is an even grimmer fate that awaits those who don't; those who sell their principles by their silence.

Jennifer Heywood, Spence

BRANDIS STAYS QUIET

In all the reporting on the extraordinary Brandis brouhaha, in which the Attorney-General has required the Solicitor-General to not give advice without his say-so, I have yet to read astatement of Senator Brandis' reasons for doing so.

Sandy Paine, Griffith

ID AN ISSUE

How are we going to identify these "boat people" 20-30 years from now, Malcolm? A tattoo perhaps?

Janet Rickwood, Greenway

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.

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