In defending Labor's cuts to the public service, Andrew Leigh (Letters, August 20) warns of the dangers of a Liberal government and its even greater public service cuts.
In doing this, Leigh is practising lesser ''evilism''. Labor is bad, he says, but the Liberals are worse. The only problem is I don't want to vote for evil. There are other problems. This attempt to differentiate Labor from the Liberals on the basis that they are nice neoliberals actually shifts the ground of the debate to accepting neoliberalism as an appropriate guide for action.
It lays the ground for Abbott's ideas to become acceptable.
Second it is not that clear that the lesser ''evilists'' are always that. Barack Obama for example has extended and deepened George Bush's foreign policy evil.
In Australia the Hawke Labor government, through the Accord, managed to cut workers' real wages, something the more confrontational Margaret Thatcher in Britain could not achieve. Thus sometimes the nice neoliberals are, through the co-option of societal forces like unions, better able to achieve neoliberal outcomes for capital than the rabid fruitcake faction can.
Let's move beyond this fake ''they'll be worse than us'' debate. Labor is just another party of neoliberalism and its years of attacks on workers, the poor and refugees have opened the door for Abbott to do the same.
John Passant, Kambah
Is Dr Andrew Leigh (Letters, August 20) suggesting lower house prices would be a bad result for Canberra?
Tell that to new home seekers who are not able to wallow in the troughs of the gross salaries paid to excessive numbers of public servants deemed to perform at SES levels. For instance, what does Health and Ageing Department secretary Jane Halton do for $9150 a week that she'd not do for half that, or ACTEW director Mark Sullivan do to earn $16,400 per week, being a third more than the Prime Minister's income, that wouldn't be done as well by someone for less than half that stipend?
He was even prepared to do the same job for $140,000 less per year but had his offer rejected by the Chief Minister who, herself, is on less than a third of Sullivan's income. The federal bloating of senior staff and their incomes is used by Canberra's municipal clerks to demand commensurate flow-ons. Should any reduction in the numbers of Commonwealth public servants lead to a lowering of house prices, thousands of Canberrans would rejoice. If, as a consequence, the ACT government itself revisited the need for so many SES numbers and the exorbitant bonuses paid for doing nothing more than what they were initially employed to do, then all ACT dwellers could hope - even optimistically - that their local rates and taxes might remain temporarily static if not reduced.
John Murray, Fadden
Just another Abbott
Tony Abbott's proposed paid parental leave scheme is more than merely ill-advised and grossly unfair. It is an attempt to engineer social change in that it supports the production of PLU's (''people like us''). It would seem, judging by the lack of genuine support in the LNP, that this is revealing of Tony Abbott's own ideology. That this hare-brained scheme could see the light of day is a warning.
Terry Werner, Farrer
Just because a woman earns some whizzy bang money in some whizzy bang job, for example in advertising, does not mean she has better genes than another woman who is paid a lowly wage to be a preschool teacher, for example.
This Abbott scheme will use taxpayer money which could be used in many ways where support is needed rather than wanted. It gives a handout to the better-off. Why should we foot that bill?
M. Castello, Griffith
Further to Bryan Furnass' letter (August 21), what appears to be missing from the Coalition's paid parental leave policy is a sunset clause. It should only apply to the first and second pregnancies, or one if the first produces twins. The same principle should apply to family payments, at least from now on. (We don't want to discriminate against children already born.) By all means support people to have one or two children, but the world cannot afford for them to have more than replacement numbers (two per couple). This country is overpopulated; the world is overpopulated. We have to stabilise our numbers as soon as possible and try and live within national and global respective biocapacities.
Jenny Goldie, national president, Sustainable Population Australia
Missing the point
The debate between Chris Bowen and Joe Hockey on ABC TV on Monday showed neither understands the root cause of the malaise in the Australian economy. We are attempting to run a first-world welfare state whilst encouraging third-world population growth rates. Labor claims to have created nearly a million jobs. This is just as well because after their period of office we have more than 2 million new mouths to feed. Then again, the growth in the economy is supposed to be 2.5 per cent. However, this translates into a measly 0.7 per cent per head of population. If we could have had a stable population in the past decade, there would be no need for Gonski, the elective surgery waiting lists would be shorter and, maybe, our transport system would not be quite such a joke.
High population growth rates may have been appropriate in the post-war period and, no doubt, babies are desirable and migrants provide valuable input but today population growth is a luxury - not a necessity.
Nick Ware, O'Connor
Interest on Islamic loans
Mr Neil Porter (Letters, August 22) believes that interest is not paid on loans in Islamic countries. Wrong. Interest is indeed paid; as I have seen at close quarters, Islamic banks have found cunning ways around Koranic proscription to make their money.
G.S. McKergow, Forbes Creek, NSW
It amounts to killing
Dr Philip Nitschke (''The cost of living when a dying wish is denied'', Times2, August 16, p5) must know that assisted suicide, so-called euthanasia, does not long stay voluntary. He must be aware of the ample statistics from the Netherlands and Belgium that show it soon degenerates into involuntary killing.
Has Dr Nitschke not thought that licensing doctors and other medical professionals to kill can only degrade that noble and respected profession?
Dr Nitschke may not believe in the Christian God of love and mercy. He seems to want to replace him with a god of money and convenience.
Jacqueline Donohue, Cook
Point 1: Combining euthanasia and finance in the same sentence is too disgusting to spend time on. Point 2: Someone else's pain may be unbearable for an observer but acceptable under the sufferer's own terms. Point 3: From family experience I can assure you that ending every day with the wish not to ''wake up in the morning'' is no guarantee that the information and equipment provided will ever be used.
Barbara Malpass, Sutton, NSW
The editorial ''Good health advice not being digested'' (Times2, August 20, p2) raised the eternal issue of ''damned statistics'' by writing of the ''baby boomers, those aged 55-64''. It seems the author didn't let that fact get in the way of a good story.
Baby boomers are now aged 52-67. They were born over the 15 years after 1945. Folks fornicated with fervour following the rigours of war. The government definition says, ''With the end of World War II in 1945 Australia's servicemen and women returned … Nine months later saw the start of a population revolution … between 1946-1961 … People born during this period became known as baby boomers.'' (Australia.gov.au)
Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
Middle of nowhere
I refer to the article ''Five missing in capsize'' (August 21, p5). Initially the area is referred to as ''believed to be Australian waters'' and later as ''first reported boat crisis in Australian waters''. I can assure the writers and the editor that 120 nautical miles (222 kilometres) north of Christmas Island is not Australian waters.
This is not the first time I have seen tragedies such as these reported as being ''off Christmas Island''. This is lazy and emotive reporting and does nothing to convey the vast expanse of ocean. It is designed to make the reader feel that Australia could have done more to save them considering ''how close'' it is to one of our islands.
It would be just as accurate to report the capsize as being off Jakarta. In reality it is the middle of bloody nowhere.
T.J. Farquahar, Ainslie
Public servants plus
The issue in your editorial ''Performance pay is here to stay'' (Times2, August 21, p2) is concerning. Of equal concern is your suggestion that public servants experience less job stress. Perhaps you have missed your own newspaper's recent reports on the high levels of stress-related injury and illness in the public service.
The suggestion of lower job stress is often a veiled reference that public servants don't work long hours. This is far from true; it would be good if you included some data about public servants' hours. Our survey of 13,000 female public servants shows that nearly three in five regularly work additional hours, and almost one in five are doing an extra 10 hours a week.
Dr Kristin van Barneveld, deputy secretary, Community and Public Sector Union
I am delighted with The Canberra Times' scrutiny of Palerang Council, and in particular the issue of Bungendore's heritage and character (''Villagers vow to fight on to save cottages'', canberratimes.com.au, August 21). Please continue the vital role of the fourth estate in keeping politicians honest.
However, the situation is a little more complex than ''out-of-town councillors'' not sharing ''village residents' affection for the village's heritage''. Some Bungendore councillors still need convincing, and this ''out-of-town'' councillor's record on the threatened cottages, and heritage generally, speaks for itself.
Peter Marshall, councillor, Palerang Council, Captains Flat, NSW
Pie in your eye
The headline ''If voters care to be informed, proof will be in the pudding'' (Times2, August 19, p2) contained the phrase, ''The proof is in the pudding''. This is a common but nonsensical rendition of the actual aphorism, ''the proof of the pudding is in the eating''. Proof in this sense means ''test'', not ''demonstrably true''.
The same error is frequently made in the phrase ''it's the exception that proves the rule''. It does not mean that if you find an exception, the rule must therefore be true. That is stupid. It means that if you have established a rule, as in ''no shirt, no service'' then the rule will be tested to see if it is enforceable when some shirtless, but muscular and threatening person demands a beer.
George Beaton, Greenway
Number of problems
I see no concern for alarm regarding fish numbers for recreational fishing (''Anglers upset as bag limits set to be halved'', August 21, p3). I see a recreational fisherman as a man like my dad. He would set off in the morning, fish most of the day and bring home enough to feed a family of six for two days. His catch would be within the new guidelines.
I have happy memories of dad fishing off the beach at Bondi, sometimes with a fire of driftwood, or off the wharf at Rose Bay, and many other places now overrun with people.
I look at the current bag limits and ask, what kind of recreational fisherman wants so many fish? And what are they doing with them? How many times a week do they fish to the limits?
Until we know this we won't know what is fair for recreational fisherman and the fish. Maybe we need a new definition for a recreational fisherman.
Gail Suttor, Narrabundah
TO THE POINT
Full marks to David Pope for his brilliant cartoon reminding us that ''denial'' is not just a river flowing through Egypt (Times2, August 21, p 1). I remember a marvellous piece of graffiti in the University of Sydney which misquoted a great philosopher with the words ''I am, therefore I think''. Someone wrote underneath it ''Is this putting decart before dehorse?''
Robert Willson, Deakin
PRAISE FOR CALVARY
I wrote a letter on August 12 (unpublished), in which I commended ambulance officers and the staff of Calvary Hospital. Since then the CT has featured special reports highly critical of that hospital.
For my part I am grateful to Calvary for the excellent care and consideration the staff have extended to my wife. You might like to publish this letter, in the interest of balance.
J. V. Monaghan, O'Connor
THE BEST MEDICINE
What a cheerful start to the day is occasioned by reading those letter writers who include delightful touches of humor in their epistles. Len Bowen and Roy Darling (Letters, August 16) provided examples. For all our sakes: more please.
Roy Dyett, Braddon
So our political leaders are Mr Udd and Mr Rabbit, or that's how it sounds oftentimes.
John Milne, Chapman
FIBRE OPTIC FOR RICH
The Coalition is applying market forces to its national broadband network. If I want fibre optic cable to my house because I want the faster speed I will have to pay to connect my house to the Coalition's network node on the corner of the street. It will cost thousands of dollars. The rich will have fibre optic, the rest of us the old copper wire.
John Brudenall, Reid
Roy Darling (Letters, August 21) does himself a great disservice trying to discredit Andrew Leigh and the Labor Party using the fallacious argument that the actions of three individuals justify condemning Leigh and the whole party. His petty criticism will not convince anyone because his premise is basically wrong.
John Rodriguez, Florey
Tony Abbott is to pay for his parental leave scheme by denying self-funded retirees franking credits on their investments. The man that ceaselessly rabbited on about the unfair great big carbon tax is now launching a great big raid on retirees' incomes.
Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld