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I have been listening to 666 breakfast for many years starting in the days of Chris Neilson. I began listening to Ross Solly from his first day, and I soon warmed to the program because I found him to be witty, intelligent and compassionate.

I've also been reading The Canberra Times since about 1960 and I well remember when your columnist, Ian Warden, started writing for the paper. In those days he wrote humorous articles which weren't at the cruel expense of individuals. If it hadn't been for Ross' photo, I wouldn't have given his article (''There's no escaping the voice, even in Perth'', Gang-gang, February 7, p12) a second glance.

Ross' farewell was attended by Canberrans from all walks of life. I wonder how many will turn up if, and when, your celebrated columnist decides to throw in his poisonous pen. Perhaps he could let his anonymous Perth contributor know that there is an ''off'' button on his radio.

Patricia Worthy, Calwell

 

Nazi parody not new

The complaint about the Fringe Festival cabaret performance featuring a person in a Nazi uniform ("Hitler cabaret defended by Fringe director", February 10, p2) misses the point about the use of ridicule and satire.

Something as horrendous as Nazism has been addressed through comedy and satire many times.

The popular and Oscar winning movie and stage show Cabaret was set in Berlin during the rise of the Nazi party and includes an MC in drag performing a kick-line routine with cabaret girls — which then becomes a Nazi goose-step; and the MC singing If You Could See Her to a person dressed as a gorilla with the line "if you could see her through my eyes she wouldn’t look Jewish at all".

Jewish writer-director-actor Mel Brooks is most famous for the movie and stage show The Producers featuring the song Springtime For Hitler; and for the song To be or not to be where he is dressed as Hitler doing a Nazi-inspired rap routine along with dancing girls dressed as Nazis.

In the Oscar-winning film Life is Beautiful  Roberto Benigni plays a father who uses humour to protect his son in a concentration camp.

Hogan’s Heroes was a TV comedy about a German prisoner of war camp. Seinfeld had the Soup Nazi episode.

My husband is Jewish and he would be the first to say that we should never forget and never again, but that humour, ridicule and satire is a very important way to deal with horror and tragedy.

 Amanda Bresnan, Curtin


Costs of war

The best way to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder is not to fight wars (''Invisible wounds,'' February 8). Wars we enter for political reasons rather than for national survival make the costs of war particularly hard to bear. Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan were political wars, paying insurance premiums on the American alliance. The political calculations lying beneath the decisions to enter these wars were then buried beneath reports of the professionalism and dedication of the men and women who fought them.

If we required a debate and vote in Parliament before we went to war we might pay more regard to the inevitable human costs. We might also be less influenced by the romantic ''Anzac tradition of arms'', which encourages us to fight wars because we think we are good at fighting, not because we have thought too much about the pros and cons of a particular war.

David Stephens, Bruce

Dry festival

I agree with responsible drinking. I also agree with Jorian Gardner (''Festival boss slams early drink licence law'', February 8, p5). After being entertained by the Fringe Festival 2014, and consuming some tasty multicultural food, a cleansing ale, cider or wine would have washed it down a treat. Sadly it was after 10pm and despite being a sober adult I was unable to buy a drink from the festival stalls. Let's not over-regulate such events to remove the enjoyment. There were plenty of police and food inspectors on duty who could have responded appropriately to anyone ruining the fun for others.

Edward Corbitt, Farrer

Dam a green elephant

ACTEW's David Hohnke (Letters, February 10) objects to our $400 million lower Cotter Dam being lumped in with the Northbourne tram as sad-joke, green-elephant infrastructure. Apparently it will collect lots of new water (Letters, February 10).

It collects overflow from the Corin and Bendora dams? How often do they overflow? Very rarely. If they were routinely overflowing we wouldn't have needed more capacity.

It captures the ''lucrative'' rainfall in the lower Cotter basin? That's not a basin. That's a valley, with no significant tributaries. If it's so ''lucrative'', how come they built both earlier dams w-a-y upstream?

No. Hohnke knows most water in our new $400 million dam will have been deliberately released from dams upstream: to perversely maintain, as a gold-plated, babbling outdoor aquarium, a stretch of river which routinely dried to a chain of pools in every big drought for millennia past.

Michael Jordan, Gowrie

States' interests eroded

Venerable but gloomy Tony Powell (Letters, January 31) misses his autocratic, well-funded, set-and-forget National Capital Development Commission, claiming post-self-government Canberra can never measure up to Washington DC.

Maybe it's more about effective parliamentary representation these days. Deliberately and appropriately, the constitution makes the national capital the responsibility of the federal Parliament (not the government). States' interests have clearly been eroded by party-political prevalence.

The ACT has just two senators. Tasmania, with a similar population, has 12. Many poor or inadequate decisions have been taken over the last 25 years.

An examination of the committee and voting records shows that increased ACT Senate representation could have ameliorated the problem. It won't be easy to achieve, but we need at least say, eight, preferably non-major-party ACT senators. (A referendum wouldn't be required, a 1973 act having provided for ACT and NT Senate representation.)

Jack Kershaw, Kambah

Unions must be subjected to scrutiny

There is only so long you can kick the problem down the road, whether it's dealing with paying off your mortgage or credit card; paying off the national debt; getting the balance right with industrial relations in negotiating penalty rates and other perks; or unwinding ridiculous red tape that strangles initiative and entrepreneurship. Eventually the chooks come home to roost.

Why are journalists so surprised over the recent revelations in the building industry. Remember Norm Gallagher in the Victorian building industry and the rorts on the docks that contributed to gross inefficiency in comparison to other ports worldwide. You can go back further to the slow death of rail freight.

I listened to Dean Hall from the CFMEU on local radio complaining that some of his members are being victimised because they had to undertake random drug tests, and at the same time boasting how employees in his union undertake training courses in occupational health and safety. I know of one relatively small builder who last year spent $40,000 on ''training courses''.

In the 1990s I attended a lecture by the former head of the main union that constructed Parliament House. When asked if the building was built on time and on budget he proudly replied: ''Most definitely, my time and my budget.''

Why shouldn't unions be subject to the same scrutiny as companies?

Brendan Ryan, O'Malley

Assumption a bad policy

The Abbott government is refusing to investigate serious claims of abuse to refugees. It's to be hoped the claims can be explained, but it is simply not good enough to state they couldn't possibly be true. It was only months ago that allegations of abuse in the armed forces were certainly found to be true. This abuse happened to colleagues.

How can it be assumed that nothing could happen to refugees?

Not only is the government operating in secrecy and without any accountability, it is now bullying and threatening our free press and especially our publicly funded ABC. There seems to be a clear agenda to discredit the ABC, both to gag its capacity to present facts that are unpleasant to the government and to pave the way to reducing its funding and range of services.. There is no need to criticise the Murdoch press, which long ago gave up any pretence of being a creditable news service. Its function is disinformation and to advance its own agenda.

Australia, now is the time to be concerned.

Lyn Farrand, Kambah

Naval inquiry needed

In defending the navy over the burnt hands issue Defence Minister David Johnston, in calling for an inquiry into the ABC over its reporting of abuse allegations, said: ''I have discussed this matter with senior command [and] they have assured me that there is no substance to these allegations.''

His statement reminded me very much of the response of senior church figures to allegations of rape by clergymen over many decades. When it came to weighing up accounts from powerless children against denials of the men wearing God's uniform, the words of the children were dismissed and they were often punished further for speaking out. We now know that the clergy, like all humans, are fallible and capable of serious transgressions.

We have another group of powerless people (asylum seekers) making claims of mistreatment against another group of authority figures, naval personnel. Mr Johnston not only is prepared to take the word of the navy as gospel before the evidence is examined by an independent body, but slams the ABC for ''maliciously maligning'' our brave boys and girls in blue. Like the minister, I hope that the navy has treated all asylum seekers impeccably.

Unlike Mr Johnston, however, I will only be convinced of the facts when the claims and counter-claims are impartially tested. It is difficult for any media outlet to report both sides of Operation Sovereign Borders impartially when the government refuses to divulge routine details (such as number of boats turned around, numbers, sexes and ages of asylum seekers, etc) or release video footage that may assure the electorate our armed forces are indeed acting humanely in carrying out the difficult task the Abbott government has assigned them.

Mike Reddy, Lyons

Chipping away at deals

Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott are telling Australians that the day of the handout is over and it's time for industries to stand on their own. In order to be fair, this edict will have to be applied across the board. I wonder if the native forest woodchipping industry, which has received many hundreds of millions of taxpayers' dollars to prop it up over the years, will have its entitlements cut.

Lois Katz, Tathra, NSW

Handouts, still, for some

Treasurer Joe Hockey has said there will be no more government handouts; he has announced the end of the ''age of entitlement''. Except for friends of the Liberal/National coalition, of course.

David Hicks, Holt

Analogy misplaced

The LNP candidate in the byelection for the federal seat of Griffith, Dr Bill Glasson, curiously likened himself to racehorse Black Caviar in response to bookmakers suggesting he was an outsider for the seat.

The analogy is somewhat misplaced. His ALP opponent, Terri Butler, appears to have won the seat, albeit by a reduced margin, which is more akin to the mare's later performances. Dr Glasson can take solace in Black Caviar's half-brother doing reasonably well in his career, even though his non-winning performances almost equalled his wins. He retired early, and his name: All Too Hard!

Greg Simmons, Lyons

Roadworks driving me around the bend

I began the ritual commute from my home in O'Connor to a newly minted Defence office at Canberra Airport via Barry Drive, Clunies Ross Street, Parkes Way, Morshead Drive and Pialligo Avenue - a modest distance of 13.4 kilometres.

During this time - now entering its 12th year - this journey has been subject to continuous sequential roadworks somewhere along the route.

Initially work was around the airport with the reconstruction of Pialligo Avenue, then I was compelled to enjoy the advanced engineering work on deconstructing the Russell Roundabout for an overpass, then Clunies Ross Street reconstruction, widening of Barry Drive and back to Parkes Way for the bridge work at Black Mountain.

With the construction of the Majura Parkway across Morshead Drive there is still no end in sight. While forbearance is indeed an essential virtue for commuters I'm wondering if this is some kind of record? Given our record for never-ending roadworks can any Canberra Times readers challenge that on their commute!!

Colin Trinder, O'Connor

ADHD awareness

The Canberra Times is to be commended for bringing the plight of adults with ADHD into public consciousness (''ADHD patients forced interstate for treatment'', Feb 8, p6).

However one article which draws attention to these individuals' plight and the continuing problems they face is not a remedy.

Clearly the lack of professional assistance identified needs to be addressed proactively by both ACT Health and the AMA.

Otherwise this will be another ''mental wellness'' issue that briefly registers in the social consciousness and then sadly reverts to its ''business as normal'' status.

Anthony Ollevou, Hackett

TO THE POINT

GANGING UP ON WRITER

Ian Warden (''There's no escaping the voice, even in Perth'', Gang-gang, February 7, p12) ascribes vituperative criticism of Ross Solly to an anonymous correspondent. Weak effort! Well, I think Ian's journalism is pompous, self-indulgent and boring. And I'm prepared to put my name to the comment.

Len Early, Fraser

SOCHI HYPOCRISY

I have no problem with our snowboarder's lifestyle and wish her well in her Sochi competition (''Brockhoff straight bats gay questions'', Times 2, February 7, p25) however Belle is representing her country at taxpayers' expense and is a guest of Russia, the host. If the Olympic Games is to be a vehicle for protest why were we silent about China's human rights record at Beijing and will we be vocal about poverty in Brazil at Rio 2016?

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla

MONGOLIAN MISTAKE

The article ''Going places'' (Forum, February 8, p10)'' refers to the ''yurt camps of Ulaanbaatar''. Mongolians use the word ''ger'', as ''yurt'' is a Russian word, and the Mongolians are averse to anything Russian due to past colonisation - as I learned when I visited Mongolia, and was hastily corrected.

John Milne, Chapman

FLAGGING CHANGES

I don't agree with Hans Zandbergen (Letters, February 5) about an eventual change to our flag. We are all immigrants, whether we came with the First Fleet or later, and we owe it to the indigenous people of this country to include them in a proper Australian flag.

Thomas Leffers, Fisher

ABC COVERAGE

While I am reluctant to rain on Douglas Mackenzie's conspiratorial fantasies about News Corp's editorial coverage of the ABC (Letters, February 8), I feel I should point out that News Corp has no financial interest in Sky News Australia.

When it did, it indirectly controlled 13 per cent of the company. If that past interest is motivating a desire to control the Australia Network, perhaps it's simply because Sky was favoured over the ABC by two tender processes.

Stephen Jones, Bonython

LUCKY COUNTRY

In 2012 I was lucky to see Sally Pearson win the gold medal in London. On Sunday in Canberra I saw local girl Melissa Breen break the Australian women's 100m record. I was further privileged to see Pearson and Breen face off in the 100m final. How lucky we are in Canberra to see world-class athletes and not have to pay an entrance fee!

Lyn Philipson, Narrabundah

 

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