Letters to the Editor

Take the lead from NZ

According to Pricewaterhouse-Coopers ("Marriage plebiscite considered too costly", March 14, p4) possible social division and financial cost is reason enough for not holding a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

This is a variation on the tired, age-old, "not the right-time" excuse that stymies progress thinking everywhere.

It's another way of people not dealing with issues that are seen as just too difficult.

It is also cowardly.

So what if the vote causes a bit of social tension? Who cares if the government has to invest some money on an important social and cultural matter?

If we can't have these important discussions because we're scared to confront issues, we are showing disrespect to all of our citizens for whom those issues are significant.


Australia could take the lead from New Zealand in dealing with social challenges. The Kiwis embrace progress and change; they make us look like the scared weird little guys at the bottom of the planet, not the forward thinking nation we like to think we are.

They don't insert their heads in a bucket of fearfulness and just hope the problem goes away.

Mark Slater, Melba

Gourd seller weeps

The current APS wage negotiations have left me amused at the incompetence of both management and the unions. The unions have managed to let their members have a wage freeze, and are happy to let that continue while they fight an ideological battle. The end game, of course, is brownie points in the struggle up the greasy pole to pre-selection for Parliament.

Management is perplexed when there is a "no" vote, and responds by saying that a further final offer after the last very ever final offer which was rejected will now be made. The gourd seller wept. The simple response to a rejected offer under industrial law is to smile sweetly and look forward to the next round of bargaining in three years' time. The efficiency dividend the minister wants is achieved.

Brian Hatch, Kings Cross, NSW

Safe Schools agenda

The last sentence of your editorial ('Homophobia a call to society to step up') on Friday, March 11, is truly extraordinary.

According to you, the claim by many parents that the Safe Schools program usurps their right to be the guardians of their children's moral development is no more than a "petty dispute" about "who should be self-appointed guardians of children's morality."

I suspect most parents don't see their status as guardians of their children's morality as "self-appointed" so much as God-given, sacred and inviolable; and I know that had anyone tried to take that right from me during my child's formative years it would have been over my dead body, and my wife's!

This clear example of cultural Marxism is all the more perplexing given the very clear evidence of the Safe School's program's insidious agenda exposed by the Australian Christian Lobby's Lyle Shelton ("Criticism of Safe Schools program is legitimate", Times2, March 11, p5).

What Andrew Barr needs to realise is that his emotional response to the critics of the program does not amount to good government – indeed he needs to better understand how his emotional investment in justice for LGBTI teens is being manipulated by the people behind the Safe Schools program whose agenda is clearly nefarious and has nothing to do with prevention of bullying.

If Barr persists in mandating this Marxist cultural agenda, it is more likely to increase bullying against LGBTI teens than reduce it.

Chris Williams, Griffith

Long wait for police

On Tuesday, I had occasion to try to contact the ACT Police.

It wasn't a very big deal – a fairly good quality car left for some days in a manner that suggested it was stolen and abandoned. Certainly not enough to warrant calling an emergency number, but still, I thought the owner might like it back, and that the police might like to assist with that.

I called the appropriate contact number according to the ACT Policing web site. I hung up after waiting for 55 minutes without an indication of where I was in the queue. I'll still try to do my civic duty in the future, but will think twice before calling that number again.

Ian Fraser, Duffy

Homeless rate too high

The release of new public housing figures ("Public housing raises $100m", March 15, p1) raised one over-riding concern. If ACT Housing and Community Services is doing so well, why do we have the second highest rate of homelessness in Australia.

Ancillary to that are four important questions.

The first is whether the new housing provided, or to be provided, is all fully public housing and how much is affordable housing.

The second question is, have they with this additional public housing, fully replaced or made provision for replacing all the ageing public housing they have or are in the process of selling since the first huge sale in 1995.

The third question that must be answered is where the money is coming from to build or buy this public housing noting that the ACT Government has already said that the money from the present huge sale of public housing and government offices is being set aside to pay for light rail. Given that the sale of these assets, which are predominantly on very valuable inner Canberra land, is going to pay for light rail, who (don't hold your breath), is going to pay for its replacement. The answer, if I might supply it for the ACT Government, is the ratepayers of Canberra.

Fourthly, with salt and pepper distribution of public housing the question is, would a single mother with child living in a public housing flat in inner Canberra, be able to cope with whatever job she has if shifted to the outskirts of Canberra.

Given all that can we expect honest answers? In my opinion not from a government addicted to the agile spin exhibited in Tuesday's article.

Howard Carew, Isaacs

Doom, gloom in print

Is there any good news out there? Just this week: Mike Baird's law for seven-year sentences against protest; The Giants' Manuka Oval proposal of which we know nothing; Malcolm Turnbull's NBN disaster and on-again-off-again double dissolution; Joe Hockey's defence to the world for the indefensible CSIRO climate change cuts; George Williams on a failing presumption of innocence. Maybe one thing: Greg Hunt's claim that Australian carbon emissions have already peaked. If only you could believe it.

Eric Pozza, Red Hill

Question time a shameful exhibition  of Reps' 'disrespect and rudeness'

In this day and age when governments of all colours are continually demanding increased efficiency and productivity from members of the public, why can't we see the same demonstrated in the House of Representatives?

I sat through Question Time in the Reps on Wednesday 16 March. It was a shameful exhibition of disrespect and rudeness as they sniped at each other, avoided answering questions by waffling on and heckled endlessly. Their behaviour was a very poor example to the many school children in the public gallery, who, I am sure, do not behave as badly in their classrooms.

I call on Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten to set the House in order. Politicians need to make the best possible use of parliamentary time and set a good example of respect and tolerance to the Australian people.

Gay von Ess, Aranda

Denial frightening

On top of the shocking news that the climate has already warmed close to the two degrees expected to occur by mid-century, come disturbing reports that all Republican candidates in the coming US Presidential race are climate denialists (See Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 13 March, 2016). This makes the US Election nothing less than a referendum on the fate of civilisation: should there be one — yes or no?

Our country has first-hand experience of – and still suffers – a regime without the brains or education to understand climate science, or give a damn about the future of our children on a hot planet subject to increasing famine, war, water crises, climate shocks and refugee tsunamis. We know all about governments that are unhinged from reality.

However, America is not merely gambling with its own future, but with the future of world civilisation. Let us all hope that common sense will prevail at the ballot box. If not, Australians must consider whether we should be in alliance or even close connection with any place that votes for global climate ruin.

Julian Cribb, Franklin

All in interpretation

Your article "Stroppy Senate stands in the way of early poll" (March 16, p1) was misleadingly headlined. A more accurate heading would have read "Senate delays unnecessary double dissolution poll".

The Senate is doing nothing more than exercising its constitutional rights – which the article does mention. But it gives the impression that the Senate is in the wrong, not the Coalition government. The Turnbull government is trying to sleaze its way into clearing any elected opposition to its policies from the Senate through misrepresentations and subterfuge aimed at the minor parties – simply because the Coalition lack credible policies and the ability to negotiate.

Rory McElligott, Nicholls

Subs not the way

Professor Hugh White (" Japanese subs could sink us", Times2, March 15, p1) writes that Australia's most vital military capability will be the 12 new submarines. I could not disagree more. The sole justification put forward so far is that by 2030, 60 per cent of the world's submarines will be in our area and the best way to sink a submarine is with another submarine. I do not recall Allied submarines sinking many German or Japanese subs during World War II.

With the latest technology surface-to-surface, air-to-surface and sub-surface missiles will do a cheaper job. We do not own the ships that carry our exports; nor are they crewed by Australians and the cargo they carry is already paid for.

If foreign submarines disrupt this trade their country of origin is picking a fight with a much more powerful nation than us. What our Australian-built submarines will do is deliver a raft of South Australian politicians to Canberra who are loyal to the government that builds them there.

That's the only capability that counts.

J.P.H. Trinder, Karabar, NSW

Health cover boon

Jenna Price asks "Is it really worth having health insurance?" (Times2, March 15, p5). I pay $335 per month (family), and recently had an unexpected hospital stay. Various circumstances combined to result in my being treated by duty doctors and, after emergency, I was placed in a public ward.

As one would expect, the treatment and all aspects of medical service were faultless, and delivered by efficient and friendly carers. Here's where the value of private insurance comes in – on my first morning a hospital volunteer came around and gave me a newspaper. The second gentleman in my room asked if he could have one, and was told sorry, he was not a private patient.

I thought how lucky am I, especially as the newspaper was the tabloid that I don't normally buy, but which was full of glowing reports of how grateful I should be to have a Federal Health Minister who had fought so hard on my behalf to keep my private health contributions down. Next time I might ask for a free lemon as well.

Tracy Giurietto, Burrill Lake, NSW

Ignorance no help

If Gerry Murphy (Letters, March 14) is so clever, why can't he tell the difference between weather and climate? Far from agreeing with his cheap crack at the Bureau of Meteorology, I'm actually amazed and reassured at how consistently spot-on its weather forecasts now are, even several days in advance. Weather is a dynamic, complex system, not like looking at old rocks.

Just because one is a good lawyer wouldn't make one a good doctor; similarly being a geologist doesn't make one a climatologist.

David Jenkins, Casey

Paying the price

I share John Davenport's concerns over Federal government funding cuts to the National Library (Letters, March 15). The loss of the National Library Magazine and the cuts to the invaluable Trove site are deplorable.

John asks: "Who said Malcolm Turnbull isn't a philistine like his predecessor?" This is a fair question but we should not just blame Turnbull and Abbott. When John Howard, (remember him?) and his government left office in 2007 the national budget was in surplus. The governments led by Rudd and Gillard spent money with profligate abandon and we will pay the price for years to come.

Robert Willson, Deakin

'Shared' paths built originally for cyclists

Peter Toscan and Paul Pentony (Letters, March 16) need to be reminded that what they refer to as "shared paths" were originally built as bicycle paths in response to lobbying by cyclists (the 'Bike Paths for Canberra' campaign).

Cycling on the roads in Canberra had become dangerous and unpleasant by the early 1970s, and people were calling for the building of safe cycle paths separated from traffic, culminating in mass protest rides along Belconnen Way.

The NCDC (the planning body of the day) responded by building a pilot cycle path from Dickson to Civic in 1973, followed up by establishing its Metropolitan Cycleway Network program in 1976, a 100km network of paths that would allow people to ride without coming into contact with traffic.

This was rolled out over the whole of Canberra as it existed in the late '70s, and was subsequently extended into new areas like Tuggeranong and Gungahlin as they developed.

Since then, conditions for riding on the roads have not got that much more pleasant, and Canberrans who want to ride a bike still need their cycle paths as much as ever.

Pedestrians have always been allowed to walk on these cycle paths in the ACT, and along with all footpaths they are technically "shared paths". This has worked pretty well so far because of the low volume of both pedestrians and cyclists in most areas of Canberra, but the paths are quite narrow and some of the busier ones are now becoming congested, leading to the sort of conflict expressed by your correspondents.

Rather than attacking cyclists' behaviour and calling for the imposition of onerous new rules, their energies would be better spent lobbying for

separate bicycle and pedestrian paths to be provided side-by-side on the busiest routes, or for widening of shared paths.

Bryn Challis, Lyneham



Still no announcement from Simon Corbell on light rail's cost for 20 years of operation and maintenance, following his February 1 announcement of a "lower than earlier estimated" $698 million capital cost.

Leon Arundell, Downer


If the number of imbeciles at the wheel on ACT roads is directly proportional to the number of drivers who invariably check their iPhone at every red light, then we have a serious epidemic on our hands.

Luca Biason, Latham


The panic being stirred up by the Senate voting reforms is similar to what is being stirred up by the drive for marriage equality. The sky is not falling. The world will still be turning.

David Grills, Kambah


Voters are listening to clear, eloquent, ethical and independent voices of Ricky Muir, Glenn Lazarus, Jacqui Lambie, Tony Windsor – and others, including the Turnbull government, should be listening, too.

Annie Lang, Kambah


It seems totally ingenuous and incongruous for Liberals and Greens to share preferences, as rumoured in Victoria; something else is goin' on, and it smells like self-interest. If this disingenuous unity continues, the Libs and Greens will succeed in creating another micro-party voter – me!

Judy Bamberger, O'Connor


I smoke cigarettes, a legal vice. If the Coalition doubles down on Kevin Rudd's stupidity, ie doubling the price of smokes, I'll vote for any drover's dog to unseat them.

Gerry Murphy, Braddon


Congratulations to Pope on a brilliant cartoon (Times2, March 16, p1) depicting Environment Minister Hunt's attempt on behalf of the corporates to fool us into believing that our emissions have peaked. We expect diplomats to lie for their country but lying to your country is another matter altogether.

Ann Darbyshire, Gunning, NSW


The 57 people fined for urinating in a public space ("Wet summer", March 10, p2) must've been unlucky, as a lack of toilets forced many, many more to urinate in public. Canberra needs more clean 24/7 public toilets, with soap. The locals will be healthier and tourists will go home recommending Canberra as a pleasant place to visit.

John Skurr, Deakin

Email: 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.

Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).