Uncharitable attack

I read with interest the story ''Gas bills set to soar just as cold snap hits hard again'' (August 7, p1), but I have three questions.

Why does a charity such as St Vincent de Paul, whose spokesperson is extensively quoted, have the need to employ a ''director of research'', presumably paid out of public contributions?

Why would they wish to criticise ActewAGL, an organisation that has contributed more to the charitable and non-profit sector in the ACT - St Vincent de Paul no doubt included - than any other organisation by far?

And why would the spokesperson not acknowledge that while our local supplier does indeed have the lion's share of the local energy market, ActewAGL consistently provides ACT consumers with the lowest utility prices in Australia?

To suggest that ''there's a bit of a gouge in there'' seems grossly unfair. As the spokesperson acknowledges, the recent sharp rise in natural gas prices Australia-wide is due to economic factors that are beyond ActewAGL's control.

Allan Williams, Forrest


Healthy achievement

Your obituary on the life of Cardinal Edward Clancy (''Cardinal for the ordinary people'', August 8, p10) was a little short on his achievements in Canberra. Sure, the flock welcomed the four churches and the school at Florey, but the cardinal's biggest achievement is in Bruce - Calvary Hospital, run by the Little Company of Mary (LCM).

The federal government had long planned a third public hospital for Canberra, but the public service argued that the Commonwealth Department of Health should run the new facility, just as it funded and operated Royal Canberra and Woden Valley hospitals for years.

The decision was made under prime minister Malcolm Fraser to proceed with construction, then the LCM put in a bid for operating rights. The public service resisted, and cabinet - with a good proportion of Catholics, including treasurer Phillip Lynch - dithered. Apparently the new treasurer, John Howard, was not convinced the LCM would be the best operator.

Very late in developments, Cardinal Clancy wrote a very personal letter to Malcolm Fraser (not a Catholic), and the LCM suddenly got over the line. That letter should still exist in the city's archives.

The LCM as operator, but not owner, of Calvary Hospital has been, on most measures, very successful at conducting the hospital's business as a lean and efficient unit.

When Royal Canberra and Woden Valley hospitals were crippled by strikes in the 1980s and 1990s, Calvary was seldom drawn into the disputes, and staff morale was always high.

Take a bow, Cardinal Clancy, for a job well done.

Bill Brown, Holt

Pell's earthly reward

On Monday, I watched the ABC's Four Corners program, which revealed further damning evidence of the Catholic Church's legal strategy over many years to protect its reputation and minimise its compensation payouts concerning child sexual abuse.

In mid-2013, I had a letter to the editor published that referred to Cardinal George Pell's combativeness about this issue and seeming lack of empathy towards the victims. His appearance before the royal commission only reinforced my view.

One Catholic priest told Four Corners: ''It's been a misguided attempt to preserve the Church's assets … the real assets of the Church are its people.''

So who was responsible for the strategy? It appears there is no one leader of the Catholic Church in Australia, however Bishop/Cardinal Pell's name cropped up in the various cases on the program, which alleged he hand-picked the lawyers and instructed them.

And what is his earthly reward for his work in this country? He has been promoted to the Vatican as ''prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy'' to sort out the Church's finances.

Let's hope he is a better accountant than social worker.

Geoff Clark, Narrabundah

Chills add to thrills

I congratulate Jack Waterford (''Wisdom in a dog of a proverb'', August 10, p17). His description of Andrew Barr's ''taxpayer funded monument to himself in the form of a football stadium'' was refreshing, and a true description of what is one of Barr's most ill-conceived and stupid ideas for Canberra's central business district.

Wasting millions on a potential white elephant that removes forever our much-loved and historic Civic pool doesn't make any sense.

Canberra already has a perfectly good stadium in Bruce, with excellent parking and good facilities. Has anyone considered that the much-discussed cold weather might actually be an advantage to Canberra teams hosting sides from the warmer climates of Sydney, Queensland and Perth? After all, union and league are cold-weather sports.

Our family has attended both codes regularly at GIO Stadium for decades, long before anyone heard of Andrew Barr. We rug up appropriately and enjoy getting behind our team. Why? Because we love watching the sport played in its preferred climate of cool to cold weather, which is perfectly suited to our existing stadium.

Attendance will not improve because of a roof, despite the government's expensive public relations exercise to sell it.

Parking in the CBD for thousands of people will be a pain. Everyone knows Canberrans attend games when their teams are winning - the weather has very little to do with it.

Andrew Barr, leave our CBD alone, your government hasn't done the best job so far. Stop wasting taxpayers' money on projects that only serve to upset and annoy the majority while appeasing the few.

Alison Chapple, Macquarie

Gammy hypocrisy

If Gammy, the baby at the centre of the surrogacy controversy, had been aborted (along with the other 100,000-odd unwanted Australian babies each year) as his alleged biological mother apparently condoned (60 Minutes, August 10), no one other than those directly involved, let alone the tens of thousands now clamouring for justice on Gammy's behalf, would have been any the wiser. We are indeed a hypocritical lot.

D.N. Callaghan, Kingston

Gen Y up to oldie trick

The light rail survey must have been conducted among Gen Y. They obviously want us oldies to pay for it before we fall off the twig.

They already complain that they will have too many of us to support in our dotage, presumably using ''their'' infrastructure.

Michael F. Buggy, Torrens

Proposal to rename Haig Park ignorant

The efforts of the Braddon Forum to change the name of Haig Park (''Residents push to remove Haig's name from park'', August 11, p1) is another example of a protest based on sheer ignorance. By their own admission they have no historical expertise on the subject.

Professor Peter Stanley is quite right in rejecting their case. The ''lions led by donkeys'' school of thought has long been discredited by serious academic study of the Great War, and several recent biographies show Douglas Haig has been badly maligned by the likes of Alan Clark and Denis Winter, and popular mythology. Interestingly, more than a million British ex-servicemen who fought under him lined the streets for his funeral cortege to pay their respects.

Perhaps the Braddon Forum might like to read widely about the man, and the Great War, before progressing further in their ill-conceived quest.

Chris Roberts, Curtin

To rename Haig Park would be a travesty (''Residents push to remove Haig's name from park'', August 11, p1). As German historian Fritz Fischer pointed out, World War I was a ''grab for world power''. It had to be, and was, defeated. Haig did as much as any single man to achieve this and in August 1918 used the Australians and Canadians as the spearhead in his final advance to victory.

The present proposal can only be seen as in line with leftist agitation to trash our cultural icons, rewrite our history, force innocent people to apologise for crimes they did not commit and denigrate our Diggers as victims rather than the victors they were.

Peter Edgar, Garran

If we are unhappy with the Haig Park appellation, and thank you to the residents for highlighting the horrors of war planning, it follows that Blamey Crescent, Campbell and others are under a cloud.

Matthew Ford, Kambah

Outlawing offensive language attacks fundamental freedoms

I fear we are at risk of losing something important now that the government has abandoned its free speech proposals. We are left with Australia claiming to believe in free speech but legislating a list of things Australians can't say. Isn't that an obvious contradiction?

You can try arguing that all right-minded people agree some things are so offensive that no one should say them. However, while we would all agree that saying things that give offence can be inappropriate, it doesn't follow that there should be a law against it.

History is full of societies that outlawed views that offended them and punished those who uttered them (think of Galileo, and maybe Peter Greste in our own time). However, with hindsight, most of those societies look pretty foolish and I can't think of any reason why ours will look better.

And who gets to decide which views are sufficiently offensive and which are not? Again, history is full of the wrong people getting to make those calls.

Different views enrich our society. That we might be offended by some seems to me like a small price to pay to avoid becoming the sort of society that burns books or heretics.

Greg Pinder, Charnwood

PM follows US lead

Rhys Stanley (Letters, August 11) questions why the Prime Minister does not seem to have responded to the humanitarian crisis in Palestine. I am surprised because the answer is simple. It is because America has not asked Australia to do so.

Geoff Barker, Flynn

Small steps in Iraq

I envy the editor his space to make more plain a vexed matter, but even the editor (''We helped break it, we must own it'', Times2, August 11, p2) has lacked room to propose practical solutions for Iraq and surrounds. We know the sorry history, but what is to come?

I suggest the West has to behave less like it arbitrarily wishes to build a many-roomed democratic mansion, and more like a pioneer who starts with a log cabin first. Get a central bit stable, and more stability will come. That could be the role of a Kurd state. A bit of strong leadership is now required, inside and outside of Kurdish influence. It is worth mentioning that Saladin was originally a Kurd, even if like Saddam he came from Tikrit. Some arms for the Kurds please, Mr America. Mesopotamia and surrounds is where human civilisation was born, and should be a park rather than a battleground.

Roy Darling, Florey

Western hypocrisy in Iraq

The English-speaking nations that wreaked a pretext-based hell on a previously stable Iraq from 2003 on, now have the gall to be outraged at the persecution of Christians in that country. Could we remind them that Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein's foreign minister and then his deputy PM - no less - was actually a Christian?

And in this very same week we have NATO brazenly decrying the very idea of military force (potentially in Ukraine by Russia) being used for geopolitical objectives under the guise of peacekeeping. This is the very NATO that has been doing the same under American orders for the past couple of decades, from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan.

Were there a Nobel prize for hypocrisy, it would surely be monopolised by the right-wing militarists of the West.

Alex Mattea, Kingston

Seeking a divine policy

George Williams (''Our rights, freedoms at risk'', Times2, August 11, p1) waxes lyrical about a nirvana where countries would simply do nothing to fight and indeed cut out the scourge on humanity embodied in such groups as ISIS and Hamas.

Well, here in George's nirvana, I am reminded that as the nation plunges headlong towards the first anniversary of the electorate having tossed that previous iteration of something resembling a national government into opposition, I would dearly like to receive the call that tells me that under Bill Shorten (or anybody else for that matter) Labor has reformed, and policy platforms developed.

I suspect the only call of any importance coming my way will be from a granddaughter reminding me that ''nirvana'' or not, she will be turning seven a few days after the aforementioned anniversary - and I might indeed have in place a ''policy'' to address this matter.

Michael Doyle, Fraser

ABS has job to do

Perhaps it's time the Bureau of Statistics reviewed its method of calculating unemployment figures. The bureau says the ACT's unemployment rate rose by 0.1 per cent in July (0.3 per cent nationally), and yet the ''number of ACT residents in employment increased by 200'' (''Jobless rate rises - and worse to come'', August 8, p1). There's a technical explanation for this apparent anomaly, but it's probably still confusing to tell people that unemployment is increasing but employment is also increasing!

Wouldn't it be possible, and more accurately describe the situation, to show each month the percentage of the population (or the percentage of the workforce - say, people between ages 15 and 65) who are unemployed?

R.S. Gilbert, Braddon

Abortion indefensible

I don't know if Senator Eric Abetz has got the scientific bull by the tail about a demonstrated link between breast cancer and abortion, but one fundamental fact stands unchallengeable.

Abortion is the direct killing of an innocent and unrepeatable human being mainly to make life easier for another or others, ie. murder.

To suggest that we are not human beings and have no rights until we are born, as the ACT Human Rights Act assumes, is an insult to one's intelligence. Modern science has proven that we obtain our unique human characteristics at conception and no number of emotive feminist distractions will alter this fact.

Shame on bodies like the AMA for rushing to defend the indefensible.

John Popplewell, Hackett



How refreshing to see that two of Australia's leading business identities will be speaking out against Australia's rampant population growth at the National Press Club this Wednesday.

The economic benefits of population growth flow only to the few who specialise in reaping the profits. The real costs are borne by the rest of us. Dick Smith and Graham Turner are willing to put country before profits. If only there were more like them!

Martin Tye, Broulee, NSW


A gong to Tony Abbott for abandoning section 18c of the Racial Vilification Act. The hate-speech conservative ideologues are out-trumped by realpolitik and commonsense.

Francis Bucknell, Lyons


If preferring empathy to vilification, truth to lies, knowledge to ignorance, reason to blind faith, science to religion, and liberalism to conservatism means being a bigot, Frank Scargill (Letters, August 11), by all means count me in.

Jon Stirzaker, Latham


Could Tony Abbott and his ministers please explain why they accept the science on breast cancer and abortion, but won't accept the science on global warming?

Felicity Chivas, Scullin


The past week's criticisms of ''Team Austraya'' have been ill-founded and based on the mishearing of ''I'm leading the team astray''.

Heino Lepp, Macquarie


Where is Mrs Abbott? I don't think I have seen her accompany the Prime Minister on any public appearance here or overseas, political or humanitarian. Isn't this odd?

Jennifer Saunders, Canberra City


Will a national day of mourning and the associated memorial service be held for future Australian travellers, sea or air, unfortunate enough to be the innocent victims of ever increasing international violence, or only when our country's leadership capability is rating low in the polls?

Eva Reid, Farrer


Once again at Manuka Oval on Saturday, the supply of food and refreshment was appalling. No lemonade, and the queue for the one-man-operated ice-cream truck was a mile long all day. Each time I go to this venue, the food story is always the same: sadly lacking.

Brian Higgins, Gowrie

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