Letters to the editor


BEN DOHERTY'S ''Work for the rag trade, or ruin'' (January 5, p17) personalises those usually subsumed among anonymous statistics. With feeling, he introduces consumers to those involved at primary stages of the conveyor belt along which material travels to become a completed garment.

The fragile thread of union, industrial, employment and OHS legislation protects Australians, ensuring that when they go to work they ''come back alive''. This article demonstrates that those hard-fought-for, taken-for-granted niceties are by no means universal.

Wife and mother-to-be Kushima Khanam, daughter Nayeem and Shafadi Rahman share the pain common to all when loved ones (husband/brother Julhaj) die. Kushima will be a single mother but without Australia's, meagre though they are, welfare safety nets to provide subsistence.

Her hardship is compounded by being ''unwell every day'' and ''need[ing] medicine'', suggestive of industry-induced illness.

Mining and garment production are similar in their mobility, exploitation of resources - human and environmental - and, on moving, leaving communities to sort out the detritus.

Completed garments, from Saipan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Burkina Faso etc are packaged, transported on foreign-crewed ships, trucked to destinations, against deadlines, and sold by ''team members''.

All those whose hands they pass through are poorly recompensed for the expertise, effort and risk involved. Sweatshops, grinding poverty and environmental devastation are rarely mentioned in the same context as over-compensated CEOs, whose profits depend on ''success'' (ruthlessness) in the ''race to the bottom'' in a marketplace unrestrained by ethics, morality or humanity.

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan


Long time waiting

THE Sunday Canberra Times article, ''Wilderness a memory but parkway progress well on track'' (January 5, p6-7) about the Majura Parkway, shows progress in the works.

However this is the exact opposite to ''progress'' on the two bridges still to be opened on Parkes Way near the ANU. If my memory serves me, work started on the extra lane for the short bridges some months before the overall widening of the road itself early last year and was still incomplete last week.

It is a dreadful bottleneck each night for home-going traffic.

Paul O'Connor, Hawker


Having it either way

HAVING been appalled by the recent steady stream of reports of alcohol-fuelled violence resulting in serious injury and even death, it was with interest that I read your leader in the Sunday Canberra Times of January 5 (''If alcohol fuels violence, cut off the supply'' p16).

I did note the use of the word ''If'' in the heading and also the ''if'', ''but'', ''probably'' and ''perhaps'' in the article, all indicating that you were having two bob either way.

Even so, I was astonished, after turning over a couple more pages, to find an eight-page advertising insert devoted entirely to alcohol.

The double standard, the hypocrisy left me with a feeling of utter contempt.

M. Fyfe, Cook


To caution is human

PITY The Canberra Times could not report the facts on traffic enforcement in a more constructive way.

The fact that the police use their discretion should be applauded, not denigrated. The usual complaint is that of revenue-raising, not, as in these cases, commonsense prevailing.

I was one of these ''offenders'' who was issued with a caution.

The effect of my being cautioned was far more effective than an ordinary (revenue-raising) fine. I am now far more cautious in my adherence to the law.

The officer concerned in my case is to be congratulated, as is ACT Policing for using discretion.

Shows a human side.

Ian Baldwin, Hughes


Keep off the grass

IF IT'S not too early for nominations for this year's best and most thoughtful opinion piece, I would like to nominate David Brooks' dissection of the fundamental issues around cannabis legalisation (''Life's triumphs don't start with a weed'', January 5, p18).

Having grown up in the US at about the same time as Brooks, I can attest to the truth of his descriptions of the social contexts and effects cannabis use. Since that time, however, two things have changed.

Evidence for the various harmful effects of cannabis use, particularly for young people, has strengthened; and Brooks' assumption that ''all of us'' were, and still are, ''trying to become more integrated, coherent and responsible people'' - a process which ''usually involves using the powers of reason, temperance and self-control'' - sadly no longer seems to be true.

Karina Morris, Weetangera



DAVID BROOKS' soft-core prohibitionist message claims sympathy and experience with the cannabis culture. He wrote: ''I smoked one day during lunch and then had to give a presentation in English class. I stumbled through … like a total loser.''

His confession of being a schoolyard doper does not impress any sense of mature perspective on the subject. He criticises the legalisation of marijuana in Colorado and advocates ''nurturing a moral ecology''.

That is the first I have heard criminalisation described as nurturing.

Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor


Record not so hot

A BIG thank you to Brian Hatch for clarifying the recent ''record'' Canberra temperature of 41.7 degrees. My wife and I visited Canberra in January 1982 and remember that the temperature reached 42 degrees.

So we were a little perplexed when January 18, 2013 was reported as Canberra's hottest day. It now appears, on this occasion, the Bureau of Meteorology's climate history only extended a little over four years, despite Canberra's being a city for 100 years, nearly 200 years of European settlement and well over 40,000 years of human settlement in the region.

This ''record'' can hardly be considered evidence for catastrophic anthropogenic climate change to all but the extreme believers.

Together with the Walgett example as further evidence of distorted climate claims, I will in future have my climate salt shaker handy for the next climate alarmist headline in your newspaper.

John Morland, Curtin


Artificially green

LIKE Colleen Perriman (Letters, January 11), I am thinking artificial green grass in Kingston's Green Square is the way to go.

To replace the green plants with grass will result in scruffy weedy brown. Just look at the corner section of grass already in the square.

Marguerite Castello, Griffith