The opinion piece on marriage ''Love as you choose, but leave the definition alone'' by Bev Cains (Forum, September 21, p3) makes for a great read; all you need to do is replace ''same sex marriage'' with ''interracial marriage'' and you have exactly the same argument religious bigots were using 50 years ago.
Ms Cains says we discriminate all the time and that is fine by her. I wonder what would happen if her church and her religion were being banned or her rights were being threatened?
A society is a dynamic thing. It grows, it changes and evolves. These religious fanatics would have us living 2000 years ago, selling our daughters like cattle and buying slaves with the funds: that is traditional marriage.
Doug Steley, Heyfield, Vic
I do wish religious people would refrain from arguing against same-sex marriage. I married long ago (1966) in the NSW registry office with absolutely no religious reference. All marriages are civil matters. Imams, rabbis, pastors or any other religious ministers must be registered as marriage celebrants by the state, just like the public servant who married me. Religious beliefs have nothing to do with people's right to marry. The quite large minority who wish to marry someone of the same sex should not be denied that right on grounds left over from before the separation of church and state. If there are parliamentarians who intend to take us back to the medieval period, don't vote for them in the next election.
Frank McKone, Holt
Our federal government is obliged, under international human rights law, to ensure all domestic marriage laws comply with universal obligations in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Under article 50, the government has responsibility for ensuring all state and territory laws comply with universal human rights obligations to protect marriage and family. Article 23 of the ICCPR guarantees protection by the state for the family as ''the natural and fundamental group unit of society''; and ''the right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family''. The non-discrimination clause relating to marriage omits: ''sex or other status'' extending only to ''race, nationality or religion''.
Restricting this right ''to marry and to found a family'' to men and women was recognised at the time of negotiation as an essential part of the entitlement of the family to ''protection by society and the state''.
The UN Human Rights Committee has ruled: ''Article 23, paragraph 2, of the covenant is the only substantive provision in the covenant which defines a right by using the term 'men and women', rather than 'every human being', 'everyone' and 'all persons'. Use of the term 'men and women' … has been consistently and uniformly understood as indicating that the treaty obligation of states parties stemming from article 23, paragraph 2, of the covenant is to recognise as marriage only the union between a man and a woman wishing to marry each other.''
In the event of the introduction of state or territory laws that tamper with these protections, the federal parliament has a constitutional external powers authority (and duty) to enact a general overriding law restoring marriage and family obligations originally promised in article 23.
Rita Joseph, Hackett
Pope takes liberties
Your cartoonist ''Pope'' (''Love is the Air'', Forum, September 21, p8) takes liberty with Pope Francis' recent interview with Jesuit journalists (www.thinkingfaith .org/articles/20130919-1.htm).
Pope Francis did not depart from the traditional teaching of the church on marriage.
He was asked what he thought the church most needed at this moment in history.
He nominated the ability to heal wounds, comparing it to a field hospital after a battle. In such a situation, he said, seriously injured patients should not be asked about cholesterol or blood sugar. Urgent wounds need to be healed, and then the lesser matters can be discussed.
It is apparent he sees the hurts inherited in our culture and sees a need for closeness. Using colourful language Pope Francis urges the clergy to acquire the ''smell of their sheep''.
Audrey Smith, Farrer
Ban sale of deadly traps
Regarding the opera house type of yabby trap (''Retailers targeted over illegal yabby traps to curb wildlife toll'', September 20, p3), my understanding is these traps are illegal if used in any public waters in either NSW or the ACT, precisely for the reason that they are a danger to air-breathing animals.
They can only be used on private farm dams. Why then are they still openly sold in both NSW and the ACT?
Surely the respective governments should make the sale of these devices illegal?
Cliff Peady, Bywong, NSW
Pitfalls of quotation
Robert Willson (Letters, September 21) objects to Doug Thompson's unsightly adaptation of the Roman poet Horace and quotes 18th century Oxford scholar Martin Routh: ''Verify your quotations''. What Routh actually said (in private conversation rather than to students) was: ''You will find it a very good practice always to verify your references, sir''. Mr Willson might take to heart another bit of Horace : ''Mutato nomine de te/ Fabula narratur'', which roughly translates as ''change the name and the tale applies to you''.
Robert Dingley, Queanbeyan, NSW
ALP keeps on mangling
Aspiring ALP leader Anthony Albanese seems to be carrying on his old mate Kev's tradition of scrambling aphorisms. At least twice on Insiders on Sunday, Albo referred to ''drawing a line under the sand''. A bit difficult I would think and yet one more example, albeit one of the more minor ones, where the ALP has difficulty in communicating clearly. Still, he's not the only one who takes a slippery bite of an adage and lets it dribble through their teeth. Other public orators have in recent days suggest that ''the proof is in the pudding''. It ain't you know: it's in the eating.
A little more care chaps and chapesses, and we might start to have more confidence in what else you have to say.
Eric Hunter, Cook
Raising GST no answer for states living beyond means
Katy Gallagher (''WA Premier will keep up fight for GST increase despite PM's rebuff'', September 21, p7) has joined the growing list of people who advocate an increase in the GST because their governments are unable to live within their means as a result of financial wastage and governmental blunders. Remember that the ''never ever'' GST was introduced, with the connivance of the Democrats, on the basis that it would be fixed at 10 per cent and that inefficient state taxes would be removed.
Now there is talk of increasing the GST even though state taxes have not been reduced but have increased.
Treasury estimates Australians pay at least 125 different taxes a year. Of these, 99 are levied by the Australian government (including 67 agricultural levies), 25 by the states and one (council rates) by local government. The exact number of taxes is difficult to determine and may be higher. Depending upon how one defines tax, there could be as many as 160 different state taxes (excluding local government rates) and 259 taxes nationally (excluding local government rates).
If all the states were to agree to remove their inefficient taxes, then an increase in the GST may be warranted. Despite government promises, this will never eventuate.
Ric Hingee, Duffy
How nasty of a Labor chief minister (Katy Gallagher) to ask for an increase in the GST. She knows that would make life harder for the people her party says it represents. To be so desperate, she must think the developers are all about to flee the ACT and deprive her of Canberra's main source of income - selling land.
Anna Nguyen, Holt
The Commonwealth Grants Commission distributes federal government taxation revenue to the states, according to what's called a horizontal revenue distribution principle - the aim being to enable all states to ''provide the same standard of service'' to all Australians, no matter what state they live in. And it does this also with the GST revenue.
But NSW is pressing for it to be distributed ''on a per capita basis'' instead (''WA Premier will keep up fight for GST increase despite PM's rebuff'', September 21, p7), which would give each state roughly the amount of tax its citizens pay and eliminate the subsidisation of some states by others.
NSW has a point. While the Commonwealth can decide how it will distribute revenue from its taxes, the GST is virtually a state tax with the Commonwealth acting as their ''collection agency''. Each state is entitled to ask that revenue collected in its state should be paid over to it.
R.S. Gilbert, Braddon
Of course the ageing GST should be reformed. Vertical fiscal imbalance handicaps the nation. The Commonwealth has most of the taxing power and, typically, spending plans to match. The states have spending obligations, as well as aspirations, that far exceed their taxing power. Every issue becomes one of demand for Commonwealth funding, rather than of the merits of the expenditure. The Commonwealth carries the political cost of taxation that the states spend to their own advantage.
State politicians should carry the accountability, and discipline, of raising taxes to fund their expenditures.
So, let the Commonwealth gradually reduce the level of GST it collects on its own authority and let it collect within and for each state or territory a supplementary level of GST set annually by that state or territory. Yes, this may lead to GST rates varying across the country. Managing the results is part of accountability.
Co-operative federalism and contrived horizontal fiscal equalisation have degenerated into divisive squabbles about revenue sharing, neglecting expenditure efficiency. Intra-federation rivalry would stimulate efficiency across the nation. Yes, a minor constitutional change is needed to allow the Commonwealth to tax differentially among the states when authorised by the affected state. This should be one of the easier changes to win, if responsible states support it. Are there any?
Mike Hutchinson, Braddon
Cracks in food bowl idea
Barnaby Joyce (''So many issues encompassed in one word: agriculture'', Times2, September 20, p4) speaks of reinvigorating Australian agriculture. He might start by exploring why our supermarkets sell the worst-quality tomatoes, strawberries and bananas in the world. Also, why Australian farmers, on average, produce the lowest grain (except for rice) yields in the world. Even Scotland, with its lousy climate, has grain yields more than three times greater than Australia. So what was all this talk, by both political parties, of Australia becoming the food bowl for the world?
Baden Williams, Lyneham
No war over memorials
It is unfortunate that a key stakeholder in the World War I and World War II memorials debate has chosen to ''absurdly'' and mischievously misrepresent the Memorial(s) Development Committee and its purpose (''Nelson hits 'absurd' war memorials proposal'', September 19, p2).
Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson is well aware that at no time past, present, or future has the MDC ever sought, nor would ever seek, to have its proposal for memorials to WWI and WWII usurp the pre-eminent commemorative role of the AWM in Anzac Day activities, nor indeed for any other important commemorative event of that era.
In the opinion of the MDC, the AWM remains ''the jewel in the Anzac Parade crown'' and will remain the pre-eminent commemorative icon to all wars, in keeping with the AWM's amended 1952 charter. This publicly declared position has previously been personally explained to Dr Nelson and his predecessors.
The MDC proposal merely seeks to redress the clear imbalance on Anzac Parade in that there are no dedicated memorials to WWI and WWII, a significant deficiency clearly recognised by the Howard and Rudd governments.
Clive Badelow, vice-chairman, Memorial(s) Development Committee
Raiders' stance on Shillington is ironic
How ironic is it that David Shillington is to be disciplined by Raiders management for his comments reported in The Canberra Times on September 20. He expressed his belief that Ricky Stewart would be able to bind the Raiders team after this ''annus horribilis'', even though Shillington personally had a preference for Andrew Dunemann as coach. The Raiders board did little to discipline Josh Dugan or Blake Ferguson for their off-field behaviours, yet come down heavily on a loyal player who is optimistic about the future and would appear to have the best interests of the team and club at heart. Was the Raiders management too scared to reprimand the errant young players because they may leave? Was Shillington correct in his opinion that Dugan and Ferguson believed they were ''bigger than the game'' and their behaviour and negative publicity made the way forward for the Raiders very difficult?
The impression gained was that a senior player was optimistic that the club could have a bright future with a coach who could bond the team and lead them to a common goal. Do the Raiders need a more comprehensive clean-out?
Ros Drover, Kaleen
No need for a university degree to determine who is making the more constructive contribution to the future of Raiders' culture. David Shillington's comments (''Shillington rekindles Dugan feud'', Sport, September 21, p2) place fans in a better informed position to understand why the team is a dispirited mess.
As with the Wallabies and O'Connor and others, leniency of management to the disrespect shown by certain players to the values of self-discipline and team morale plants the seeds of self-doubt in one's commitment and dedication and to the ultimate purpose of being awarded a team jersey, either Club or National. The aggrieved nature of the reaction to Shillington's comments and analysis (which have immediate currency) reinforces the perception of the Raiders as a ''Mom and Pop Shop'' operation.
Patrick Robertson, Rivett
TO THE POINT
BOAT SECRECY A WORRY
Does the government think the people of Australia will believe they have ''stopped the boats?'' I have read that all inquiries regarding asylum seeker boats are to be referred to the Immigration Minister. What about transparency? What else are they going to keep from us?
W. Cook, Monash
Tony Abbott is so clever. He said he would stop the boats. And all he has to do is don't tell anyone about them. Little children know, if you don't look, it didn't happen. So that is all he has to do. How can we argue?
Auriel Barlow, Dickson
We did not hear properly. He will not stop the boats. He will guide the boats, buy them, hop on and ride the boats and, all throughout, hide them!
Greg Simmons, Lyons
LYING BY SILENCE
As a young teenager, I experienced a ''retreat'' given by a Catholic priest, either a Redemptorist or a Jesuit. The one thing that I remember from his talks was his definition of a lie.
''A lie is something said, or not said, or done, or not done with the intention to deceive.'' Our Jesuit-educated PM and his ''Minister for Unofficial Immigration'' would do well to remember this definition when they withhold information about ''asylum seeker'' boat arrivals.
Brian Wilson, Curtin
LOWDOWN ON LOMBORG
Fred Hart (Letters, September 20) accuses Bjorn Lomborg of being a climate denier. This is untrue: in his article, Lomborg specifically states that he believes in anthropogenic global warming. He is concerned with mitigating the effects of global warming at the least cost (he is an economist, not a scientist, as Mr Hart says). But he does believe that we, wicked mankind, have caused a great deal of the observed warming.
Dr Marjorie Curtis, Kaleen
AN NBN RIDDLE
I wonder if many viewers of Location, Location, Location Australia recently took notice of the house buyer in Melbourne who had, as a top criterion for her new dwelling, an NBN fast internet connection. Isn't it strange that the Coalition would be so against something that the market clearly wants?
Philip Clark, Isaacs
GAY MARRIAGE CRUSADE
The editorial ''Weddings and a picnic'' (Times2, September 20, p2) mentioned that ''ACT Labor has set out on its renewed marriage equality crusade''. One wonders if it would have done so had the incoming federal government not been Liberal.
Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor
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