Letters to the editor

Too hard to defend Marist Brothers

The revelations about the Marist Brothers in last week's Canberra Times during the royal commission hearing into child sex abuse have been shocking and disturbing. To think a Catholic organisation such as the Marist brothers can continue to run a school beggars belief. The Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn and Catholic education office should strip the Marist Brothers of running the school here at Pearce in the Woden Valley.

Apparently the current principal has written to the school community asking families ''to pray'' for those who were abused under the care of the Marist brothers just two decades ago.

This is insulting to say the least; and why only now when they tried to cover up the abuse instead of calling the police and moved these former brothers on to other schools which continued to abuse children.

While I would never send my children to a Catholic or religious school, I am personally affected by having close friends who currently teach and send their children to Marist. What I find difficult to comprehend are the lengths to which they go to defend the school. Otherwise they do their best to ignore it by saying, ''It happened in the past, it won't happen again!''

Martin Miller, Chifley


Clear-cut cruelty

As the ACT Chief Police Officer would know, any member of the public caught on video mistreating an animal (''Cop capsicum sprayed my dog'', June 21, p1) would be arrested and charged, or summonsed, and have to appear before a court of law. It is the courts that decide appropriate sentences for criminal acts, not the ACT Chief Police Officer. There is no requirement for an internal investigation by the professional standards unit. The video evidence is clear. The police officer crossed that line. He broke the law.

P.J. Carthy, McKellar

The AFP has given a particularly tepid response to the AFP member who has demonstrably carried out cruel treatment by capsicum spraying a chained up a dog (''Cop capsicum sprayed my dog'', June 21, p1). He has been taken off ''frontline duties''! One would think the member should be suspended from the AFP. What is the RSPCA doing?

Vic Adams, Reid

Energetic ignorance

Greg Jackson (Letters, June 23) hit on something that annoys me. People who write articles that mention power when they mean energy (or vice-versa) or mix up their units, as far as I am concerned, are just showing their ignorance of the topic, and their lack of scientific or engineering knowledge. If one is aware of these errors it is amazing how often it occurs. This ignorance is not confined to newspapers. When the Electricity Feed-in (Renewable Energy Premium) Bill 2008 was presented to the ACT Assembly, the feed-in tariffs were defined in terms of kWh, not kW; for example: ''The tariff rate paid will be paid at the premium rate if the total capacity of the generators is not more than 10kWh''. No mention was made of the time over which this 10kWh was to be generated. The lack of knowledge of the difference between power and energy is not a pedantic point; it is crucial to managing energy costs.

Norm Johnston, Monash

Better off red

I wouldn't be too concerned about having bin lids changing to symbolic red (''Great red lid mystery recycled'', June 23, p5). The colour represents the ACT government's budget bottom line.

Given the amount of rates we now pay as a tax and projected to rise in the future just to cover future debt and Andrew Barr's (and his mates') shopping list, we must eventually be awarded gold-coloured lids.

When we are awarded these wonderful lids we should be grateful and comforted to know that we have done our bit by unselfishly allowing our costs to be increased and at the same time accepting the fact that we have not received one extra service.

It would, however, be more comforting if the Labor Party stuck to its historical principles and gave some real thought to those who live behind the bins. I can hardly wait.

John Whitty, Hawker

Who's the pest?

While I do not condone any damage to public property, I speak in defence of kangaroos presently being killed in Canberra nature parks but also for the huge number killed in many parts of Australia for dog food and their skins, tails and body parts (eg scrotums) sold in tourist shops.

Fertile land on the outskirts of all our cities is being eaten away for housing developments, roads etc. The same goes for our bush capital Canberra. These gentle soft-footed kangaroos are so often land-locked, their familiar territory taken away and they are seen by developers/town planners as a nuisance. I do not know the answer to the problem but perhaps a stop to small acre holdings and the subsequent dams being built close to Canberra could be one way.

The kangaroo is featured on our coat of arms, every overseas visitor wants to see kangaroos in the wild and most zoos in the world value them as a drawcard. Let's not forget that introduced animals - sheep, cattle and horses - are what trample and destroy our vegetation.

Jill Mail, Holder

In my letter (June 21) I asked Frankie Seymour, a well-known member of the local animal liberation community, to provide some scientifically based, non-emotive reasons why the cull should not proceed. Her reply was published in The Canberra Times on June 23 and asks that Mr Iglesias ''put up or shut up''.

After three failed attempts to stop the cull by appealing to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, the umpire in this dispute, all I can believe is the animal liberation community has no hard evidence while the scientists from the ACT government do. I will use the words of Ms Seymour to repeat my request - ''put up or shut up''. The same goes to Philip Machin whose letter was also published on June 23 and also provides no evidence. Can both writers please provide evidence of what other species benefit, or not, which is just as important, from having reasonably large numbers of kangaroos in our reserves?

Lara Drew (Letters, June 24) makes the comment that people are angered by the vandalism at the Farrer Parks and Conservation depot but no one appears to be concerned with the cull. It may come as a surprise to Ms Drew but vandalism is illegal whereas the cull has been authorised after due process.

All I wanted when I wrote my first letter was to get some facts from the animal liberation community locally so I could make up my own mind on the issue. Judging by their letters I can only assume that they have none.

K. Keevers, Kaleen

Timely to recall Australians who fought in Spain, and why

Seventy-five years ago Australian men were returning from years of fighting in Spain. Many, though not all, had fought on the side of the Republic, others had fought in the belief they were defending ''mother Church''. Even with 20/20 hindsight, it is impossible to say one side or the other held the high ground of virtue.

The one defining feature of all of them was their commitment, something shared with people presently doing the same sort of thing in the Middle East. What is the difference that is causing our government to consider barring people of commitment (right or wrong) from returning to their own country? Does the same logic lead to a possible ban on Australians who worked with Medecins Sans Frontieres or other humanitarian organisations?

I may be cynical in doubting the capacity of politicians or lawyers to actually think logically but I believe the questions must be considered.

Fredrik Limacher, Kambah

The big difference

John Richardson (Letters, June 23) claims Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop is hypocritical because she is not showing the same concern about Australians joining the Israeli defence forces as she is with those joining Islamist Jihadis in Syria and Iraq.

I am not aware of any cases where people who have served with Israeli forces have been indoctrinated to hate Western society or taught to commit terrorist acts against us or anyone else.

Bill Arnold, Chifley

Brandis tale incomplete

Thanks to Peter Hartcher for his article ''Swing and miss in contested territory'' (Times2, June 24, p2) about George Brandis and his comments re occupied East Jerusalem. Brandis has single-handedly rewritten international agreements to suit his own world view.

However, Hartcher does a disservice by not completely discussing the events that led Brandis (surely one of the most pompous and egotistical politicians we've ever seen) to try to explain what he meant.

Surely the part of the story not explained is why Brandis felt that it was justified to mention that Lee Rhiannon was a member of the Communist Party. It's hardly a secret and yet he felt the need to invoke the communist bogy as if somehow that justified his stance. Is there any depths to which this person - who is Australia's highest law-maker - won't stoop to justify his reactionary views. He is an embarrassment.

Christine Ellis, Griffith

Before the election George Brandis appeared to be one of the hopes of the opposition frontbench. Along with Malcolm Turnbull he could put together a coherent argument, unlike the slogan-laden leader and his similarly impaired lieutenants Christopher Pyne and Greg Hunt.

What a disappointment he has been. He has shown a very unattractive pettiness in pursuing ''justice '' for his pal Andrew Bolt in opposition to community values. He is now pursuing another petty vendetta against Lee Rhiannon by changing the terminology of foreign policy in regard to Jerusalem, potentially upsetting our trade and commercial relationship with Arab countries.

K.L. Calvert, Downer

Call for precautions

It is vital that public anger over the Egyptian jail sentence imposed on Peter Greste is not allowed to flow over onto Egyptian citizens in this country.

I suggest that to ensure their safety from luggage tampering, all Egyptians entering and leaving Australia should have their belongings microscopically examined by our zealous customs officers. This will obviously take time - perhaps one hour for each year to which Greste has been sentenced - but I'm sure all Egyptians will recognise that security is paramount and ignore this slight inconvenience. To ensure their personal security during the seven-hour wait, I think it would be entirely appropriate for them to be housed in tiny wire cages located in the centre of airport lounges. It is also essential that due to religious sensibilities, body searches are not carried out by drug squad officials. I'm sure that all Egyptian travellers will welcome with open arms the attentions of our wet-nosed body cavity sniffer dogs.

These measures could, of course, be rescinded if Greste is promptly released, but it will obviously take time - seven years, perhaps?

Phil O'Brien, Watson

It is disgusting that Peter Greste should be jailed for doing his duty as a journalist. But our leaders had better clear out our detention centres of people who have likewise committed no crime before they call their Egyptian counterparts to protest.

John Brown, Belconnen

What Hockey should do

It seems strange that John Hewson, the man who lost the unloseable election, is dictating to the government what it should do (''Hockey should clean up his act: Hewson'', June 23, p3). If Joe Hockey has any sense he will treat Hewson's gratuitous advice with the contempt it deserves.

The Coalition has a mandate to remove the carbon tax and Hewson, if still a Liberal supporter, should direct his remarks to supporting the policies on which it was elected.

N. Bailey, Nicholls

Display of stupidity

What's the point of question time in Parliament? Without exception, all the questions from the government side are Dorothy Dixers. Every question from the opposition is a statement of the government's failures, deceit and lies. The opposition knows it will never get a direct answer to any of its questions, so why ask them? In the meantime there is shouting, abuse, mayhem and a general rabble overseen by a blatantly biased and partisan so-called Speaker. This juvenile stupidity has the effect of bringing discredit on the Parliament and disgusting a frustrated community. The only reasonable questions come from the minor parties and independents, as the government doesn't want to offend them and loose their potential votes. What a joke this Parliament has become.

Chris Lathbury, Fadden

Singapore no model for Canberra transit

So Andrew Barr has made a brief visit to Singapore, looked at that city's mass rapid-transit rail network and thereupon concluded that it ''could be a model for the ACT'' (''Singapore transport a model for ACT: Barr'', June 23, p1).

How absurd can you get? Is the Treasurer really unaware that Singapore is an ultra-high-density, high-rise city with virtually no room to expand? Canberra is precisely the opposite: a city primarily comprised of low-density housing designed on a human scale with easy and fast communication by road. The contrast could hardly be greater. To suggest that Singapore's mass-transit system could serve as a model for the ACT is bordering on the farcical.

It only goes to show once again the extreme lengths to which Barr and his fellow-proponents of the uneconomic and unwarranted Gungahlin light rail scheme are prepared to go in their increasingly desperate attempts to justify it.

Peter Trickett, Fraser

Asbestos ignored

The MRT may be good for Singapore however, the Gungahlin tram is consistently shown, on a near weekly basis it seems, to be a failure for the ACT. Andrew Barr needs to forget about playing trains in Singapore and get back to the ACT and the major social crisis facing his community - that of asbestos in family homes.

The ACT government is yet to demonstrate it really is in the game on this issue, and anger in the community about inaction continues to mount. Katy Gallagher needs to demonstrate leadership and get her government on the main line and focused, instead of continually failing its constituents by throwing out red herrings in the shape of tram line spin and ''debate'' on a republic.

Michael Doyle, Fraser



Who in their right mind will travel to Egypt as a tourist from now on when you can be imprisoned for carrying a camera and audio as part of your job or hobby? Poor Peter Greste.

Byron Kaufman, Dickson

The sole qualification to be an Egyptian judge is the ability to read out a verdict written for you by the current dictator.

Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld


Has Caroline Le Couteur (Letters, June 23) solved the light rail debate with her suggestion to ''take the bus''? We only need to persuade Murrays to run between Gungahlin and Civic at their current pricing of 13¢/km, which would beat the pants off ACTION's best price of 21¢/km.

The left lanes of Northbourne Avenue should be designated as bus lanes to avoid buses being delayed in traffic.

A wonderful, cheap and innovative solution from an ACT Green!

Chris Emery, Reid


Thank you, Shane Rattenbury (''Light rail has a strong foundation in the territory, Forum, June 21, p9) for your very prompt reply to my query. You have just proved the old adage that ''if you ask a stupid question you will get a stupid reply'' - a whole 800-word ideological one!

Baden Williams, Lyneham


My letter of June 23 had a few errors that slipped through. One, my 10 raised to the power 12 (10 superior 12) was printed as 1012. It should have been 10 raised to the power of nine anyway. Second, kbs and Mbs should have read kbps and Mbps.

Greg Jackson, Kambah


Where did Greg Jackson (Letters, June 23) get those 470 GB DVDs? I heard that there are plans to develop a 200 GB but that is still some time off.

David Fuller, Duffy


Will Senator George Brandis now move to change the status signs of public toilets from ''Free/Occupied'' to ''Free/Disputed''?

Chris Klootwijk, Macarthur


It must be a race to empty the bins and get back to the depot. Whoosh … Bang … Crash. Such fun. A bit like ten-pin bowling really.

Our garbo almost had a perfect score this morning … five out of six down. Whoosh … Bang … Crash.

More new Lego red lids on the way?

Susan Liebke, Stirling

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