Hugh White, in his article ''Foreign policy was not on Rudd's or Gillard's radar'' (Times2, October 1, p4), rather selectively listed what he thinks were the Rudd and Gillard government's failings on foreign policy. But inexplicably he missed the two elephants in the room on global relations since 2007, which have been far more important in determining Australia's place in the world.
The first was the global financial crisis, where Australia as a member of the G20 helped co-ordinate the successful global response to what was widely expected, a world depression. In fact it took a leading role, by putting in place a stimulus program that was the second-biggest in the world, as a proportion of GDP, after China, and was widely seen as a model stimulus program. Together these stimulus programs, along with other measures by governments, avoided global economic disaster.
The second was in relation to global warming, the greatest threat the human race faces. The governments of Rudd and Gillard acceded to the Kyoto Protocol, supported other global efforts, and brought in carbon pricing and a wide range of domestic measures to really begin tackling global warming.
It is actions on this that will be the real yardstick in the future of how Australia relates to the world, especially as we have the highest per capita emissions of any wealthy country. Actions on these two global issues approached the heroic and the visionary, and dwarf White's list of mostly superficial failings.
Paul Pollard, O'Connor
Cold hard facts on ice
Unfortunately for Rupert Murdoch and other climate change deniers, the glossy Arctic ice ''cherry'' they've picked is hollow. The area of Arctic sea ice was indeed greater last northern winter than during the previous one (''Clouds over climate scheme'', Times2, October 1, p4). However, NASA satellite data show that the average thickness of the ice, and therefore its volume, had continued the trend and decreased.
Tony Abbott and his Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, continue to pay lip service to action on climate change, but it is not hard to get the impression that they'd really rather just forget all about it. I'm sure Rupert Murdoch - and the fossil-fuel industry - would approve.
The Coalition's very poorly documented ''Direct Action'' policy (''plan'' is too generous a description) will achieve little, if anything, significant. The ''soil magic'' to which Andrew Leigh refers could only work if it involved a major investment in biochar and syngas technology. This is extremely unlikely to happen before 2020.
Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
PM ripe for satire
At first I thought Peter J. Adams' complaint (Letters, October 1) re Pope's cartoon of Tony Abbott's bathing costume was ''tongue in cheek''. Then I realised he was serious. Mr Adams should realise that while Mr Abbott continues to wear his skimpy bathing costume and Lycra cycling gear in public, he is fair game and brings the attention to himself.
That is unlike Julia Gillard, who always dressed with decorum and was vilified in positively pornographic cartoons if one cared to look for them. One rule for Mr Abbott and another for our first female prime minister! I suppose it depends on which side of politics one sits.
Jan Gulliver, Lyneham
Kevin Rudd had barely become PM before he apologised to the stolen generations for the unintended consequences of the misguided but generally well-intentioned racial engineering of previous generations.
Tony Abbott has barely become PM before he has apologised to Indonesia for any unintended offence given by his own rabid domestic politicking.
S.W. Davey, Torrens
Happy and glorious
We need not be surprised that portraits of the Queen are being dusted off and displayed in Parliament House in the wake of the convincing victory of the Abbott government (''Royal Portrait: aides are not amused'', October 1, p5). The Prime Minister has never made any secret of his commitment to the monarchy, and many Australians share that conviction. It will be interesting to see if the Abbott government follows the lead of New Zealand and restores knighthoods. It would be appropriate because we have retained the Victoria Cross for courage in combat.
Robert Willson, Deakin
I wonder if Ric Hingee (Letters, October 1) has ever met a ''boat person'' face-to-face, has ever listened with an open mind to that person, has ever tried to put himself in the shoes of someone fleeing for his/her life.
It doesn't appear that Mr Hingee ever asked an asylum seeker the source of the ''large sums'' of money to secure a seat on an insecure boat, or genuinely embraced the life story of an asylum seeker in their home and intermediary countries.
Given Hingee bases his views on ''the images seen on TV'' versus any first-hand experience with asylum seekers, it appears he's done none of the above.
Judy Bamberger, O'Connor
To the aid of third party
As of July 1 this year, we have some choice in who we buy Compulsory Third Party Insurance from - after years of gouging by the single provider. Isn't it amazing, then, that all four companies come in so very close to one another in price but remarkably different to that charged in other states. I struggle to understand why Canberrans accept a regime which is so unfair compared, for example, to our NSW neighbours, who pay about $200 per year less than we do. Across the ACT this must add up to in excess of $250 million, which is a huge rip-off.
At what point do people say ''enough is enough'' and bombard the ACT government with requests to represent us in getting a better deal?
Terry Collis, Chisholm
Slaves in all but name
At a ''Dollar a day for the children who make league footballs'' (October 1, p8), Australian suppliers of the Summit brand are doing nicely out of people such as Ramandeep, his sister and his mother, Rani.
One year ago Sherrin and Canterbury footballs were produced at about 10 rupees each, as India's secret child workers sit and sew (Forum, September 22, 2012, p5). Samvari, Madhubala, Ruby, Laxmi, Sunali and Rupa slave to satisfy the insatiable demands of the multibillion-dollar sports ball industry.
Those who benefit from the coerced labour of unskilled, cheap, young, desperately poor children should not be permitted to take off Pontius Pilate by crying innocence. Neither should consumers, who in an age of instant access to data, may any longer claim ignorance of what is being done to provide inexpensive, disposable products.
Australians unashamedly support the big four banks' outsourcing of jobs to India, kick around those balls and wear 25 rupee-an-hour sweatshop-produced clothing. Forty garment ''factory'' workers died in Lahore, and another 289 in Karachi and 1200 at Rana Plaza, in Savar, Bangladesh, sacrificing their lives to produce clothing for 26¢ an hour.
Unfortunately, exploitation (whereby ''Human guinea pigs kept in the dark about Indian drug trials'' [January 27, p10]), represents another example of rich Westerners' preparedness to profit from the poorest of the poor, even to buying ''donor'' organs and ''renting a womb'' for surrogacy. Is it an illusion that William Wilberforce (1833) and Abraham Lincoln (1863) abolished slavery?
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan, NSW
Courts a danger zone
It is good to see John Garnaut back in journalistic harness with his realistic and damning assessment of China's mercantile practices and its judicial masquerade (''PM must not squib on China'', Times2, October 1, pp1,4). Businessmen try to get money out of China at the risk of their lives.
Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
Wind, solar power dirty
Peter Marshall (Letters, October 1) waxes long and lyrical about the dangers of nuclear power, from damage caused by mining uranium to, oddly, the proliferation of nuclear weapons. I failed to see to what he was comparing this. I doubt it was coal.
Now, if it was solar and wind, Mr Marshall has not done his homework. The production of rare earths, specifically neodymium, for wind turbines and the pollutants caused by production of solar panels has laid waste to vast areas of China where most of these are made.
I suppose when these items arrive in Captains Flat he can feel smug about being green while tracts of farmland are destroyed elsewhere. I wonder how thrilled he would be if large deposits of rare earths were discovered at Captains Flat?
Another vexing question unanswered by the pro solar and wind lobby is, what happens when the sun stops shining and the wind blowing? I imagine Captains Flat would be a dull place on a windless night. In Ainslie I need a power source that can provide baseload otherwise my pinot would not be kept at the correct temperature overnight.
T.J. Farquahar, Ainslie
C'mon, Abbott, get HPI
Tony Abbott now has the opportunity to deliver on his 2001 address to the Sydney Institute referred to by Richard Eckersley (''Deficit deeper than economy'', Times2, September 30, p1). He is quoted as saying: ''Countries, no less than individuals, need a sense of purpose and meaning.''
Eckersley points out that Australians' wellbeing has declined despite our material affluence and unsustainable over-consumption, and that it is time for a rethink about the design of our national economy.
The Prime Minister could begin the process by announcing a review of the aims, objectives and measures of progress of the Australian economic enterprise and its relationship to community wellbeing. The reviewers should examine critically the assumption that growth in GDP is a valid indicator of national wellbeing and bring together our most creative economic and social thinkers to consider alternative measures of progress as other countries are doing and have done. Realistic possibilities include the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), the Index of Gross National Happiness (GNH) and the Happy Planet Index (HPI).
Bob Douglas, Aranda
Time to scrap LDA
Although the ACT Land Development Agency, as does a business, publishes commercial accounts showing revenues, costs, ''tax equivalents'', net profits, etc (''Land agency takes $160m hit'', September 28, p1), it's hard to think of it as a business.
Unlike a business, it doesn't make (or buy) something and sell it for a profit, but is simply the entity that sells a right of occupancy of Crown land the ACT government inherited when it was created (it didn't pay for it).
The LDA's presentation as a business enterprise is misleading because it hides the real revenue the government gets from land sales. For example, the LDA's published accounts show, for 2012-13, a ''net profit'' after tax of $109 million, which leads people to think that's what the government got from land sales. Not so; the ACT government got more than double that, $276 million - the $109 million ''profit'', plus $121 million for ''selling'' land to its 100 per cent-owned LDA, plus $46 million ''tax'' (paid to the ACT Treasury, not the Australian Tax Office).
The LDA should be abolished and its activities become simply a function of a government department, as it used to be.
R.S. Gilbert, Braddon
Mind the price gap
Howard Carew (Letters, September 30) implies light rail is not a financially viable solution to Canberra's traffic problems. Likely so, but his example in support of the argument is wrong and misleading. The price of a ticket from Sydney's Central Station to the domestic airport is not $31, but rather half that. Further, the airport imposes a special fee that amounts to most of this $15.80 ticket. A comparable seven-kilometre train fare to, say, Tempe, is only $3.60.
Greg Jackson, Kambah
Environment group must clean up its act
The article ''Coca-Cola cloud over recycling lobby bid'' (September 27, p5) is very disturbing and confirms just what lengths large corporations will go to in their endeavour to protect their profits at the expense of the Australian public's interest.
Thank you to Sarah Whyte for her story as I had no idea that such a trusted environmental group could become so easily tainted.
Shame on the Keep Australia Beautiful organisation for accepting donations from a public company such as Coca-Cola that enables them to influence decisions that relate to the protection of the Australian environment.
To then partner with Coca-Cola and lobby extensively with members of Parliament, in the pursuit of profits for the beverage industry's benefit, is deplorable.
This partnership has completely dashed the credibility of the Keep Australia Beautiful organisation, and chief executive Peter McLean should be ashamed to be found lobbying against a scheme which would divert 740,000 tonnes of rubbish from landfill and see a 12 to 15 per cent drop in litter.
For the beverage industry to suggest that it could cost consumers up to $300 a year is simply rubbish.
In many parts of Europe the local supermarkets have automatic collection machines that accept most glass and plastic bottles and pay out either cash refunds or credit vouchers that are able to be redeemed at the supermarket for goods.
If this kind of scheme was replicated in Australia then yes, we may well pay a little more for our drinks but with a little bit of effort we could easily get a refund.
The drink deposit scheme has been running successfully in South Australia for years and there is no logical reason that it wouldn't work in all states of Australia as well.
Mr McLean, your organisation, by accepting the donation of $441,000 from Coca-Cola, has become a mouth piece for the beverage industry and I suggest you clean up your act and go back to doing what your organisation is supposed to do, keep Australia beautiful.
Peter Keast, Torrens
TO THE POINT
NO CRIME OR REASON
Why are members of some motorcycle gangs called outlaws? If an outlaw is a criminal, why are these people not in jail?
Michael Travis, Cook
GILLARD'S BLAME GAME
Kevin Rudd proved to be incompetent and his party dispatched him. Julia Gillard proved to be incompetent and her party dispatched her. The Australian people dispatched both. Sadly for women, Julia blamed gender issues for her incompetence.
Scott Rashleigh, Red Hill
PHONING IT IN
Is Kathryn-Magnolia Feeley (''Just the app for when you get court'', September 23, p3) kidding? I hope so. It is of great concern that someone practising in the legal profession would trivialise the accused's defences by reducing them to a smartphone app. Criminal law matters should not be taken lightly.
Ben Aulich, Canberra City
SCIENCE OF CERTAINTY
Ed Dobson's criticism (Letters, October 1) of the IPCC scientists for moving the level of certainty from 90 per cent to 95 per cent that humans are the dominant cause of global warming is unreasonable. The IPCC is careful to first establish the levels and ranges of certainty/uncertainty it is utilising, a rational approach.
Keith Hammond, Campbell
ON THE RIGHTS PATH
We all contribute financially to our country through GST, income tax, or any other levy the federal, state, territory or local councils inflict on us. Until every citizen, regardless of race, religion or sexuality, has equal rights within the law, Australia cannot claim to be a true democracy.
L. Bingham, Hackett
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