Letters to the Editor

Terrorised into haste



Jacinta Carroll  ("Justice outpaced by terror", Times2, March 28, p1) wants to speed up review and to query the role of coronial inquests.

Apparently, Carroll believes nothing happens about political violence until a coroner reports. But action on all sorts of deaths subject to a coroner's inquest happens far quicker. Police investigation, WorkSafe inquiries and so on all happen and are acted on – and the evidence they gather feeds into the considered processes of any inquests, royal commissions, and so on that may happen later.

Political violence is nasty and causes much concern. It is also infrequent. We have yet to see another hijacked plane flown into a building since 9/11; we have seen rather more car bombs since the Oklahoma bombing; but we have many more deaths in, say, building work (increased by the introduction of the former BICC and its notorious powers) to investigate.

But Carroll's piece didn't identify any case where normal process caused special peril in reviewing political terror, compared with any other review by inquest. Established processes make coronial review as thorough, as considered, and as public as its recommendations that inform the public need to be. Perhaps, for all inquests, those processes can be made quicker: if we think more resources for inquests are needed.

Ignore unfounded demands for ill-considered haste or exclusion of normal inquest processes. The terror  industry consists more of our secret police and our counter-terrorism pundits than it does of actual political violence in Australia.

 Christopher Hood, Queanbeyan,  NSW


Confidentiality key

It appears from your article "Former Burch staffer angry at police probe" (March 23, p1) that Maria Hawthorne takes offence at police objecting to her allegedly passing on confidential information to whomever she chooses. 

As a professional political staffer, Ms Hawthorne should appreciate that many a person (staffers and ministers) has been brought down by doing things that, while not illegal, were clearly inappropriate. Such outcomes are certainly not unprecedented.

This is not, as she claims, a case of Chief Lammers "taking her down" or "deciding who can be a minister", but rather a very reasonable response to someone accused of improperly releasing sensitive material. 

If Ms Hawthorne doesn't understand how to correctly manage sensitive information and police operational details, then I suggest she was not in the correct role as a political staffer.

 Kym MacMillan, O'Malley 

Gentleman's next job

It was very gratifying to read of the role of the ACT Minister for Planning and Land Management, Mick Gentleman, in the protection of the Albert Hall ("Fight for city's hall succeeds", Forum, March 26, p5). What is going to be the  minister's role in the protection of Manuka Pool and the surrounding areas, with the serious threat to the area's landscape by the proposed development of Manuka Oval by GWS and Grocon?

 It's not just the heritage listing of Manuka Pool and nearby buildings that need protecting; it's also the landscape that includes Telopea Park, the  walking and cycling tracks, and a suburban environment that, if Grocon has its way, will end up looking like Kingston Foreshore and worse. The developers have indicated in discussions with both community groups and Manuka Traders in recent weeks that they intend to secure some of the pool lawn areas to use for a running track and to give runners access to Manuka – what about existing pool users, particularly families who use this lawn area? 

Would it not be appropriate for a management plan to be developed for this whole area, involving community consultation and both Kingston and Manuka Traders, before an out-of-town commercial operation starts making statements about their plans for our public space?

 I hope Mr Gentleman will help protect the landscape of the inner south, as he protected the Albert Hall. 

 Rosemary Hollow,  Kingston 

Architectural tosh

Walter Burley Griffin, the brilliant architect and designer of the capital, didn't receive a commission for a single building here. Clearly, he was prevented from doing so, such was the attitude of the "empire loyalists" running Canberra then. 

One of them, powerful English architect, Sir John Sulman (he wanted Griffin's Civic at Kingston) reluctantly but paternalistically gave us the Sydney and Melbourne buildings in an unresolved mixture of Spanish Mission and Australian-country-town-verandahed-pub styles (the latter alone might have been OK, had the existing confusing parallel footpaths been resolved). And the interfering loyalists forced on us a sad reproduction of a late-18th-century English assembly room (you can almost see Mr Darcy glowering in the corner), cringingly named after London's Albert Hall – oh no  ("Fight for city's hall succeeds",   Forum, March 26 p5). 

Meanwhile, Melbourne embraced Griffin, where he produced Newman College and the Capitol Theatre, full of contemporary creativity, forward looking. The history and uses of the Albert Hall and the twin Civic flummeries may be of "heritage", even urban-design interest, but architecturally? Other important buildings of the era, like Old Parliament House and the current Archives building do have a legitimate architectural style. 

The hall and the Sydney and Melbourne buildings don't even function all that well. Maybe it's time to find new relevant uses for their sites, and replace them with expressions of the true spirit of Canberra, in exciting contemporary architecture.

  Jack Kershaw,  Kambah

All things not equal

Again, we get this nonsense about female tennis players being worth the same as men.  

Karen Hardy ("I'm not dropping to my creaky knees for just any old man", Forum, March 26, p3) makes the point they are worth the same, while only providing 60per cent  of the entertainment. A final can be over in under 40 minutes – yet they deserve the same money? How can playing  a maximum three sets in a match be worth the same as playing five?  Sure, pay female tennis stars the same – but make them play the same game for the same time. Female golfers do this. Female surfers do this. Female athletes do this.

In saying this, I feel the female Aussie cricket team is the most underrated sports team in Australia. Karen might direct her "angst" at this, rather than supporting the overpaid screeching "stars" of the female tennis world. 

Michael Matthews, Kingston

Excitement generated by Turnbull has evaporated along with pledges

Tony Abbott is, for a change, telling the truth when he says  the Turnbull government will run this election campaign on the Abbott government's record. As a long-standing cynic, I surprised myself by admitting six months ago that perhaps I could vote for a Turnbull-led government, as it would be different to the painful circus we had endured for the previous couple of years.

Alas, it appears Turnbull really is just Abbott in a sharp suit (as befits a man worth squillions). The promise of real tax reform has gone down the gurgler – obviously, we no longer are living beyond our means, and the budget "emergency" was simply a slight case of indigestion, quickly fixed by a cut to the big-end's company tax rate.

The "exciting time" to be an Australian must have passed me by: I still haven't seen any flowering of ideas and innovation. Perhaps, my old eyes have a bad case of political glaucoma?

Anyway, for what it's worth, I can now happily vote for independents such as Senator Glenn Lazarus, and plan which LNP candidate to put last on my ballot paper. You reap what you sow, Malcolm.

 Stuart Kennedy,  Birtinya, Qld   

On the positive side

It isn't surprising that Prime Minister Turnbull is making strenuous efforts to differentiate his government from the failed and discredited government of his predecessor. Having been forced to adopt many Abbott policies, he is struggling to find genuine points of difference between the two administrations. However, he can point to one major achievement. Mr Turnbull has successfully ended the ministerial careers of both Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews – and that is a major positive for the country.

Rob Ey, Weston  

 What a comedian

Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos who appeared on the Insiders program recently, has a future as a stand-up comedian if, as is likely, his political career should soon end. He believes half of any company tax cut will end up in workers' pockets. 

Consecutive Australian governments, both Labor and Coalition, have reduced labour's share of productivity gains. The  relocation of  industries offshore and the neutering of the union movement have reduced many people's prosperity and their rights at work, and diminished their purchasing power. 

Without wanting to be an alarmist, the road back to an equitable society is becoming harder, particularly with the continued trashing of the union movement, particularly during the Abbott government's term in office.

  Les Brennan, Sunshine Bay, NSW  

Talk to farmers

If my letter (March 17) came over as a "bitter diatribe", Ian Webster (Letters, March 21) ought to hear me when I really get wound up with the stupidities of CSIRO management. Being that as it may, I still don't see where CSIRO Land and Water (whatever it is called these days) has addressed agricultural and environmental problems at a farm scale and communicated that information to individual farmers or the community at large.

 As laudable as all of the strategy-type projects Ian Webster has listed may be, these are projects  I suspect are basically contract work for various state water and environmental departments, not food-producing farmers. 

Before Easter, I listened to a report from various "climate-change" experts (including CSIRO) – not one of which was of much use at the farm scale. Ian is correct in saying  the scientists have no authority to implement strategies  they may have devised, but, in my opinion, they have a responsibility to communicate that information to individual landholders and the community at large. How else do they expect to get informed feedback? Certainly, they won't get it from "management" or the various state bureaucrats who commissioned the work in the first place.

  Baden Williams,  Lyneham  

Cult of hatred

The saints of the LGBTIQ cult have yet again vented their abusive hatred of any who aren't enslaved by its dogmas, this time in respect of the so-called Safe Schools initiative. The leader of the federal opposition, Bill Shorten, vilifies them as "bigots", as does the Victorian Minister for Education, James Merlino, while ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr characterises them as "Neanderthal conservatives", "horrific", an "outrage" and guilty of "hate speech".

Their venom is only to be expected. Their virtues of "tolerance" and "diversity" are demanded only for them and their kind, never for anyone else. Their sins of "hate speech" and "discrimination" can only ever be committed by their opponents. Their persuasive arguments are the indiscriminate use of swear words like "bigot", "Neanderthal", "fringe", "conservative" and "right-wing".

Like all abusive cults, their leaders seek to control and manipulate, claim superiority and persecution, suppress dissent and denounce opposition, and require rigid adherence and harsh discipline of their supposed inferiors.

Unfortunately, this is not an exaggeration, but the reality of this modern war of religion, which, like those of the past, will produce many martyrs.

 Jon Kehrer, Woden 

Turnbull's trickery

Malcolm Turnbull is trying to fool the media and Australia with more climate-change non-action trickery. His recent announcement of a "new" Clean Energy Innovation Fund (CEIF) of $1billion a year is a complete sleight of hand  ("New deal: $1b fund for clean energy", March 23, p1). The $1billion is not new money at all, but taken from the existing $10billion allocated to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

At the same time, he is stripping $1.3billion from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency,  so there is an actual cut in government renewable energy funding. Moreover, the government is trying to kill off ARENA (no new directors have been appointed) and limit its ability to invest in innovative technology.

Turnbull's real colours are showing – he is not just beholden to the LNP right wing but, in his own way, is cutting back action on climate change. He is a fraud.

Rod Holesgrove, O'Connor


Sympathy for taxis turns to frustration

When Uber came to Canberra, we felt sympathy for the taxi companies in Canberra who would have to compete in an uneven environment.

So, recently, when we needed to go to the airport, we booked the local taxi company online the evening before our plane trip. Almost immediately we received an email confirming our booking and with instructions on tracking the taxi the following morning.

The next morning the booked time came and went, sowe rang the taxi company and were told that the job had been dispatched. Another five minutes came and went and we rang again to be told that there was no taxi in our area but we were on the list.

At this point and with images of missing our plane, we decided to ring a friend who lives two blocks away, and see ifshe was able to drive us. Luckily for us she obliged. As we were almost at the airport, we received a phone call asking if we still wanted the taxi. This was about 25 minutes after thetime we had requested it.

The local taxi company takes bookings and confirms the booking, but this appears to mean nothing. No wonder so many people have changed toUber.

S.M. Duke, Ainslie

Driven dotty

At a loose end in Civic? Treat yourself to a ride on ACTION's No. 81 bus. You'll get to see some amazing sights and it won't cost you an arm and a leg.

The tourists I shared the trip with were obviously impressed by the driver's warmth and courtesy as he eased the bus along to the National Zoo and Aquarium, the Arboretum, Black Mountain Tower and theAustralian National Botanic Gardens. 

It wasn't the driver's fault that about half the windows were covered with stippled advertising imagery, but it wasenough to drive a photographer dotty!

V.R. Condon, Narrabundah 



 Everybody knows that to be a good "local" politician, one must have a global view. That's why Tony Abbott is in London, right? 

 G. Thompson, Narrabundah   


 I have a new dog that won't stop barking and am thinking of calling it Tony.  Would that be regarded as a politically inappropriate "dog whistle"?

 Chris Edwards, Burra, NSW


  With far more killed in the Pakistan bombing than in Belgium, let us now see the amount of media interest this generates. Three days maximum would be my guess. Such is the reality of the privileged "West" versus the insignificantly regarded "Rest".

 Rex Williams,  Ainslie 


Am I the only one who thinks, where federal politics is concerned, that the reinvented Scott Morrison is not a "compromise" far-right candidate to settle the troops?

Malcolm Turnbull, you could have said no.

Linus Cole, Palmerston


  The key to good politics and government is finding the right pace for change: too fast and you alienate the conservatives; too slow and you frustrate the progressives.

I think Malcolm Turnbull is doing reasonably well so far.

 Michael McCarthy, Deakin


  In the morning it now takes me 25 minutes to travel about 1.5km  from Nudurr Drive to the Barton Highway. My vote goes to the party who can deliver a long-term fix without delay.

 Karl Schaffarczyk, Crace  


  Tongue in cheek, Mike Dallwitz (Letters, March 28), poses the idea that access to an afterlife may depend on being mummified. So it's from ashes to ashes, mummy to mummy.

 Peter Baskett, Murrumbateman, NSW


 When a politician says  "we have no plans to privatise defence housing", he means that there are no plans at the moment – even if there are thoughts or intentions. 

 Rod Matthews, Fairfield, Vic


  Recently SA Liberal Senator  Cory Bernardi said his new movement within the party would represent a  "silent majority". However, how would  Bernardi know what their views were if they are silent? It must be the Adelaide water he is drinking.

 Adrian Jackson, Middle Park, Vic

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