Waste in Woden

The fact that two large buildings in Woden have been empty for the past year and that people are sleeping outside is a scandalous state of affairs in modern society. Where is our sense of values? Mick Gentleman (''Woden heart needs love'', Forum, August 23, pB1) is to be commended for his suggestion that these buildings be used for accommodation. It is unthinkable that they be demolished to satisfy some dream of ''improved'' real estate. It would be an appalling … waste of resources at a time when increasing numbers have no work or no home to shelter in. Shame on us.

Derek Wrigley, Mawson

ACT's existence absurd

The article ''Character of our capital city should go back to the people'', by Zed Seselja (Forum, August 23, pB9) was badly titled. Obviously ''our'' and ''people'' referred to all Australians, but the article argued the opposite: that much of responsibility for Canberra's character should be taken from the federal government and given to Canberra's citizens. I agree with most of the argument presented. However, that argument was like putting a sticking plaster on a major wound.

The major problem with Canberra's governance is the absurd existence of the ACT. For all practical purposes, Canberra is a city within NSW; it should be governed in the same fashion that Newcastle, Goulburn, Queanbeyan, and Yass are governed. The ACT was merely a project office set up to facilitate the creation of a capital city; its task is completed, and it should be abolished immediately.

As immediate abolition is unlikely, I recommend as an interim move that when the size of the assembly is increased, it be divided into two chambers: a Canberra city council, and a territorial government, each with its own public service, with each chamber elected separately. This would highlight the cost and inefficiency of unnecessarily duplicating functions of the NSW government. It would also allow elected members to concentrate on their own areas of responsibility. Separate elections would permit voters to provide more detailed advice to politicians. I challenge all readers to put forward any argument to support the current unique governance of Canberra.

Bob Salmond, Melba


Carbon conflict

How does one reconcile the conflicts between the ACT government's programs? On one hand programs are introduced to reduce carbon pollution generated by ACT energy use, to inhibit global warming; on the other they encourage population growth that results in urban, commercial, industrial, agriculture, infrastructure and mining sprawl, causing the destruction of fields, bushland and forests - nature's tools for absorbing carbon. In addition, population growth results in higher energy demand and an average rise of more than 2 degrees areas where nature has been destroyed.

Ed Dobson, Hughes

The life of Eastman

Howard Carew (Letters, August 25) says ''To my memory, David Eastman has had only one criminal conviction in a reasonably well run life''. I suggest that Carew refresh his memory by reading an article by Damien Murphy (''David Eastman released after 19 years in jail'',, August 22) which says when referring to Eastman's trial ''The most serious charge Mr Eastman faces is murder, but there are also six charges of threatening to kill, 128 charges of making harassing or menacing phone calls , 11 charges of assault and one of assault occasioning actual bodily harm … He has been charged with assaulting police on three occasions''.

Hardly the stuff on which ''a reasonably well run life'' is based.

Roger Terry, Kingston

Jane Clifton-Bassett (Letters, August 26) referred to my letter of June 3 expressing concern as to the investigation and arrest of David Eastman. I restrained myself at the time not to mention that in addition to the now discredited forensic officers evidence, the principle failure was that the investigation and arrest of Eastman was conducted by former ACT police officers who had little if any knowledge of organised crime activities outside of the ACT and, unfortunately, did not want to know.

P. J. Carthy, McKellar

Public versus private

Meg Wilson (Letters, August 22) usefully asks why public school funding isn't sufficient to render private schools redundant. My question to her is: what lobbying has she done to bring about that laudable outcome?

Such activity would have been far more positive than making the throw-away, evidence-free claim that public schools are full of student and teacher bullies, and therefore not fit to educate her children. Wilson's attempt to disown the cliched reasons as to why families choose wealthy private schools is undermined by her obvious captivity to the biggest cliche of all: that private schools educate a better class of human. One can try to dress these things up as best as one can, but the attempt is inevitably rather transparent.

Glenn Fowler, secretary, Australian Education Union, ACT Branch

School funding

Michael Lucas (Letters, August 25) would do well to collect some facts before he pretends to understand independent school funding. Every school in Australia, whether public or independent, receives exactly the same amount of money per student from the government.

If independent schools are perceived to be rich based on their facilities, it's because the parents pay fees to provide these extra facilities. No money is ''siphoned off'' for independent schools - they get the same amount per student and it's up to parents to provide the rest. If Michael Lucas chooses to donate money to his local government school, no doubt extra facilities would be provided there too.

Janet Fletcher, Narrabundah

Confabulating mums

Sue Butler's wonderful article about her mother (''One mind, many hearts'', Forum, August 23, pB3) uses the word confabulation. My elderly mum too is a master of confabulation. Some doctors in southside hospitals do not understand this word or recognise the phenomenon. Nor do they appear to comprehend the implications when this is employed by a patient describing current and past symptoms and conditions for a clinical history. A patient has the right to be heard. A patient also has the right to receive treatment on the basis of as much accurate and comprehensive information about his or her condition(s) as is possible.

Michelle Fitzgerald, Farrer

Carbon-polluting power sources hide true cost

Julie Novak's arguments (''Green subsidies must go'', Forum, August 23, pB9) might be more reasonable were she to demand ''all'' subsidies go. Singling out ''green'' energy as being expensive mendaciously ignores substantial, hidden, health, social, infrastructure and environmental costs by ensuring they are carefully equivocated from calculations.

Dirty, carbon-polluting, power sources were created by public-purse funding and continue to be featherbedded by overt and covert subsidies, plus their endangered species status protection, whereby, via their cartel status, they are sole arbiters of price determinations, bolstered by the tortuous legalese of customer contracts.

A hidden subsidy of hundreds of millions in tax has been expended, encouraging the warm and fuzzy public relations illusion that mythological clean coal is other than delusional? Carbon-polluting power generation is at the point the tobacco industry was 40 years ago.

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan, NSW

Israel has right to exist

Paul Dixon (Letters, August 18) attacks Paul Monk's article by citing Israeli revisionist historian Benny Morris. Unlike Dixon, however, Morris believes Israel does have the right to exist, and said in 2004 that they responded as necessary once they were ''attacked by the Palestinians and afterward by the Arab states''.

Dixon may not want to admit it, but there had been a significant Jewish population in the region for thousands of years, and the UN partition plan only allocated to them areas where they were in the majority.

If the Arab states only entered the war after Israel had attacked the proposed Palestinian state, as Dixon claims, why didn't Jordan and Egypt give the Palestinians a state in the West Bank and Gaza respectively, instead of occupying the areas themselves?

As for Dixon's claims the Gaza greenhouses remained intact after Israel's withdrawal, the accounts of their destruction have been written countless times; this is the first time I have seen it claimed they remained. Dixon should be congratulated for being the only one to know something that even the Palestinians themselves didn't realise.

Athol Morris, Forde

Parallels in history

Waleed Aly (''Beheading an evil message'', Times2, August 22, p1) led me to reach the same conclusion comparing ISIL's ''brutish beheading'' to the acts of the ''post-revolutionary Regime de la Terreur'' (40,000 deaths), after the fall of the monarchy in France. However, the Jacobins, who became better known in 1792 and assumed more and more power in 1793, disappeared during the revolt within the French Revolution against the excesses, which ended the Terror in 1794, when Robespierre and 21 of his closest associates were executed.

Moreover, the Jacobins had a position of charismatic authority effective in satisfying sans-culotte pleas for personal freedom and social progress. Robespierre did say that ''the first goal of society is to maintain the imprescribable rights of man'' and that ''the first one is the right to exist''.

ISIL never went from terror to terrorism; that's why James Foley ''had to be humiliated before being killed''.

Noelle Roux, Chifley

Distinction necessary

Several claims made in the article ''Muslims feel pain of association with horrors abroad'' (August 23, p4) seem to reverse objective reality.

Since the early 2000s, no respected Islamic theologian has ever queried the Australian Defence Association's use of ''Islamist'' to preserve the necessary distinction between mainstream Islamic practice, and propaganda or worse by Islamist terrorists and their apologists. To the contrary, our consistent usage of ''Islamist'' has invariably been well received by mainstream and informed Australian Muslims. As has our longstanding criticism of those who sloppily refer to Islamic or jihadi terrorism, or those referring to the terrorist organisation ''Islamic State'' without using the prefixes ''so-called'' or ''self-described''.

(Jihadi should not be used to describe terrorism undertaken because of religious bigotry rather than theologically sound beliefs about purely spiritual renewal).

But it did take a very long time for many Islamic community leaders, and indeed the community as a whole, to always condemn terrorism carried out by professed Muslims supposedly in Islam's name. Moreover, recent mutations of such denial continue to smack of blaming the victim - and even then only for their alleged words - rather than the perpetrators for their actions.

Over the past decade and a half, more than 100 Australians of several religions have been murdered by Islamist terrorists. Yet not a single Australian Muslim has been murdered by religious bigotry, except when killed by Islamists.

The resilience and tolerance of the Australian community is to be admired, not misrepresented. Indeed, to paraphrase Dr Johnson, scattergun allegations of Islamophobia seem to have become the last refuge of scoundrels.

Neil James, executive director, Australia Defence Association

Support for litigant

Noel Towell's article ''After $60,000 physio, PS man sues for more'' (August 25, p1) covers a non- argument; Comcare uses ideologically acceptable hired gun specialists to run theoretical arguments that are usually short-sighted and counter-productive.

Their delegates understand very little medicine and even less law. Canberra is a relatively sophisticated city and most of your readers see through Comcare's self- defeating policy-driven posturing.

I'm with the injured guy and his solicitor; better to have treatment that keeps one functional, even if not curative, than go on the scrap heap.

David Lander, Belconnen

Memorial should be for all war victims

Stephen Day proposes a memorial to families affected by war (''General wants kin of fallen honoured'', August 25, p2). This idea accords with Honest History's mantra, ''not only but also''. Australia's past encompasses not only those who served and died, but also unnamed millions who bore the effects of deaths and wounds in war. In the 1940s the Australian War Memorial's plan for its Pool of Reflection included a sculpture of a mother and children exactly as General Day described, but at the heart of the memorial, not banished to the bottom of Anzac Parade. It would be fitting if the memorial were to embrace and realise that inclusive vision.

Peter Stanley, president, Honest History, Dickson

In praise of L'Orfeo

Given the recent traumatic story of the ANU School of Music, covered by your paper, it was disappointing to learn that your reviewer found the presentation of L'Orfeo last Friday evening to be merely a ''courageous production'' (''Courageous effort, and to be remembered'', August 23, p20).

That staff and students of the school collaborated with other ANU schools to present Monteverdi's pioneering 17th-century opera is a matter for praise and optimism. Under Professor Tregear's inspiration and direction the music school hopefully is emerging from its trials. Surely this innovative occasion was an ideal way for students to gain experience and for the public to appreciate the potential of such collaboration.

From where I sat, hearing was not a problem. Early music and instruments were played with feeling, while the large stage was occupied by enthusiastic participants. Above all, the digital design using the vast backdrop was both innovative and experimental … It greatly enhanced the pleasure and wonderment for the audience.

John Mulvaney, Yarralumla



ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell says one-punch assaults could be appropriately dealt with under existing legislation (''One-punch laws are 'not the answer','' August 25, p2). However despite two previous violence convictions, a one-punch attacker has escaped full-time jail (''Teen assailant given weekend detention '', August 23, p6). 'Nuff said?

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla


If I join Team Australia, will I get a track suit?

Brian Bell, Bonython

What position would captain Tony Abbott assign Jesus in Team Australia?

Andrew Roberts, Kambah


We are now being threatened with higher tax if the budget is not passed (''Tax hike threat in budget impasse'', August 25, p1). The Coalition has already abolished the carbon tax which was actually making money and helping the environment.

Does the government plan to raise the GST or personal income tax? This has not been explained at this point and I wonder if the government really knows what it is doing.

Robyn Lewis, Raglan, NSW


Insanity Streak (Times2, August 25, p11) is a very good illustration of Geoffrey's lack of interior design knowledge. For, surely, all seats in the room should face the TV.

David Sykes, Holt


Ian De Landelles (Letters, August 26) says Cardinal George Pell is a man of ''undoubted intellectual capacity''. I disagree. I think there is real doubt as to his intellectual capacity.

Geoff Barker, Flynn

Further to Ian De Landelles' comment on Catholic Church (Letters, August 26) I would add that if ever the Catholic Church is deserted by the laity, they will have only themselves to blame.

Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt


I remember David Eastman in Canberra in the 1970s; he stalked around ANU and everyone thought he was a nuisance and dangerous.

Jack Waterford (''Seeking a break from the public's judgment'', August 24, p4) was a young man then and a fine, generous person. So I am glad to hear he kept in touch with Eastman and can remind those who feared him of his essential humanity.

Thank you Jack! This is a fine thing to do.

Angela Sands, Wombarra, NSW

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