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At times like this we need a few philosopher kings

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The great classical Greek philosopher Plato rejected the democracy he observed in ancient Athens, as he observed that the democratic system led to very ordinary people ruling the state. He recommended that society seek a few wise philosopher kings to rule instead. With the prospect of the trio of Tony Abbott, Senator Zed Seselja and Val Jeffery ruling us after September, we will be in desperate need to find a few philosopher kings who are ''intelligent, rational, self-controlled and who have a love of wisdom''. Where are these few who could save us from this trio that our democratic system will shortly inflict on us?

John Davenport, Farrer

 

Can we sue?

If we voted for Zed Seselja three months ago to represent the community of Brindabella in local government, can we now sue for breach of contract? I guess from his page on ACT Legislative Assembly, where he is still the member for Molonglo, that he just couldn't countenance representing Brindabella if he wasn't the boss. Ambition triumphs over community service.

Julie Kidd, Bonner

 

Let members vote

The editorial ''Transparency shortcomings'' (February 8, p18) clearly lays out the issues concerning Mr Seselja's move to replace Senator Gary Humphries in the Senate and concludes that the ACT Liberals management committee needs to reconsider its position and allow all financial party members to vote in the preselection. This is a sensible proposal and would remove any perceptions that there is something sneaky going on.

Tony Francombe, Hughes

 

Timing not right?

Nicholas Jarosz (Letters, February 8) is spot on. I would add that Senator Humphries is highly regarded for his committee work in the Senate. No disrespect is intended, but it must be noted that Zed Seselja, his rival for the No. 1 spot on the Liberals' Senate ticket, has a young family of four children who need time and devotion. Perhaps his time is not yet come?

Daniel White, Franklin

 

Wildlife pays price

This morning, I found a distressed kangaroo was in my backyard. This is not the first time. Displaced kangaroos are frequently seen dodging traffic on the Cotter Road and Streeton Drive.

Their habitat on McCubbins Rise and surrounding the RSPCA is now the scene of extensive road works and the building of McMansions.

The kangaroos and raptors in the Molonglo development are disappearing as well.

The article ''LDA's giant Molonglo sale to hit industry'' (February 7, p1) states that ''builders had to erect bigger homes to maximise yield to recoup costs of more rigorous compliance''. Hence bigger houses on smaller blocks and fewer trees and no birds. When will the ACT government stop the rapacious spreading land grab which is destroying the most valuable commodity, the environment and our unique wildlife?

Jill Mail, Holder

 

Money or the box

The ACT government has very few money-making businesses and fewer still that are sustainable and could be grown in the future if managed professionally. ACTTAB is a business with a future and selling it would be financially irresponsible (''Odds are ACTTAB to be sold'', February 9, p1). Selling, or even giving the Canberra bus service, ACTION, to an experienced commercial bus line operator, would be a responsible economic decision.

I have a seven-year-old grandson who, when offered a gift or money for his birthday, always takes the money so he can spend it. I guess he must have gone to the same school of economics as the decision-makers in the ACT government.

Les Brennan, Sunshine Bay, NSW

Move the festival

The Multicultural Festival is one of Canberra's most enjoyable events. It has been hugely popular with people of many nationalities and age groups for over 25 years, and rightly so, as it is a really lovely celebration of our cultural diversity. However, February is just too hot a month in which to hold it. Yesterday's 35 degrees meant that it was really unpleasant anywhere except in the much coveted shade.

The paved areas radiated heat and I felt very sorry for those who had to work in the information and food tents there, as well as for the traffic control officers standing for ages in the direct sunlight on hot bitumen.

Surely the festival would be much more fun if held in late autumn, usually a beautiful time in Canberra? I know this could require considerable rearrangement of events in the Canberra calendar, but with the rising temperatures it may become a necessity. Please consider it, Ms Gallagher and Ms Burch.

Charmian Lawson, Holder


Body blows

Perusing Josh Dugan and Sandor Earl's tattoo canvases (''Canberra ink: tatt's life at the Raiders'', February 9, p1) - which include the names of pop songs no one will remember in six months time, friends who they probably won't contact in five years, skulls, stars, women in big sunglasses and so on - I thought of the outfit I got married in 35 years ago. I just looked so cool. I had hair down to my waist, I wore huge platform shoes, a brown open neck shirt with massive lapels and a John Travolta Saturday Night Fever-style high-waisted white suit. Thank God all this wasn't tattooed on.

John Foulcher, Kingston

Your article ''Canberra ink: tatt's life at the Raiders'' (February 9, p1) gives front-page glamour to the short-sighted practice of disfiguring beautiful young bodies with graffiti and cliches. If one in seven Australians now has tattoos, we are in for an epidemic of regret. Young Australians, think for yourselves and cherish your healthy skin.

Michael Plummer, Watson

As any psychoanalyst will tell you, the first, last and most fundamental thing you possess is your body. So, when you've got a huge car, a McMansion and all the other material things you want, you are bored and see nothing else to strive for. So, to create an interest for yourself, you have somebody cover your God-given skin with inane sketches. You are now a walking, talking piece of graffiti! People look at you in admiration, trying to find a square centimetre of undecorated flesh. Life is rich once more.

Had he been alive today, would Einstein have had tattoos? No, he was too smart for that. And he was not bored, he was busy, passionately interested in everything.

Ned Ovolny, Duffy

 

No warming?

I don't know where Brian Hatch (Letters, February 8) gets his information to state that ''there has been no warming in the past 15 years''. The US National Climatic Data Centre reveals the exact opposite. Since 1960 the average global temperature has increased by approximately 0.6 degrees and the last 15 years contain the 13 hottest years since 1880. 2010 was hottest, followed by 2005 and 2009; and the data show a continuation of the warming trend.

David Denham, Griffith

 

A fine whine

I have no sympathy for those fans angry over parking tickets (''Fans see red over parking tickets'', February 7, p3), neither is there a skerrick of pity for those whingeing last week at the PM's XI. Some have suggested that the lack of parking will inhibit Canberra's capacity to host future events at Manuka. What tosh!

The hallowed MCG, providing seating for over 100,000, does not have parking for 100,000 people. Rather people catch public transport. The cricket-attending public were well catered for with the provision of buses. Get a grip: you cannot park outside where you want; we are a large city and a large region. And, you were warned this time!

I feel for disabled people, however, and it would be good if all the able-bodied parking could be abolished for the big events like this so that those who are disabled can have easy access.

I thought the one-day match was fabulous and a terrific showcase for the nation's capital in our centenary year. Go away whingers!

Anne Cahill Lambert, Lyneham

 

True first elected

I was surprised, and pleased, to find on opening the February edition of The Public Sector Informant an article by Stephen Holt (''The ideological war over our first MP'', p20) on ''our first MP''. I felt excited as here was an article on my father, Dr Lewis Windermere Nott, who in 1949 was elected as the first ACT member of Federal Parliament.

But I was to be disappointed, as I read on, to find that the article was about another very fine man and excellent member, Jim Fraser, the second elected member for the ACT but first Labor member. My father would have been sad to note that there was only a brief mention of his name in the third last paragraph, commenting that he was an independent, perhaps implying that his election was less important than that of a member of a political party. I add a few brief notes on Lew Nott's contribution to the development of Canberra.

He lived in Canberra from 1925 until his death in 1951. He came to Canberra as federal member for Herbert, North Queensland, having defeated E. T. (Red Ted) Theodore, the premier of Queensland. At the fall of the Bruce-Page government, he lost his seat and decided to stay in our city as a GP. He became a strong advocate for a vote for the people of Canberra, and the establishment of a legislative body.

He was a member of the Advisory Council, and its chairman for 15 years, campaigning ceaselessly for the right of the people to vote. He was elected to Federal Parliament in 1949 to represent ACT.

He was a major figure in ACT life. He founded the Canberra Repertory, was a foundation member of the Horticultural Society, ran soup kitchens in the Depression and was superintendent of the Canberra Hospital for many years. He was a pioneer in many ways, especially as the first person elected to the Australian Parliament to represent the people of Canberra.

David Nott, Barton

 

Winning is not everything: sport is to enjoy

I agree with Ken Stokes (Letters, February 9) about how the community fun has gone out of sport and it is now a ruthless business. Sport should be healthy. Instead we the community sit for hours eating crisps and drinking beer, earning heart attacks or strokes, while young football players bash their heads into early onset dementia. Teaching school students to play rugby, Aussie Rules and boxing is as healthy as teaching them to smoke. Many young sport players, confused by too much money and adulation and stressed by the massive pressures upon them, get drinking and drugging problems. A simple solution is for us all to lose interest.

When someone discusses a rugby game, I say, ''So long as they all run around, have fun and get some exercise, I don't care who wins.'' I think a similar attitude to cycling and the Olympics would work wonders. How ludicrous that a young athlete apologised when she ''only'' won a silver Olympic medal! Yet that comes from our equally ludicrous attitude of counting gold medals as the measure of our participation.

What about those poor countries where the athletes have little chance of winning any medal? Should they stop participating? After all, sport without winning is now seen as a waste of time! We are no longer a sporting nation. We are a bunch of overweight victims of a skilfully organised con job. Let's disengage as spectators and play games in the park with our families and friends.

Rosemary Walters, Palmerston

It is hard not to agree with the sentiments expressed by Ken Stokes (Letters, February 9). All that really matters nowadays is selling the exclusive broadcast rights as that is what secures the lucrative advertising dollar. Only when the major advertisers start getting cold feet will anything really be done to ''clean up'' sports. Look what happened in the Lance Armstrong case when the money started to walk!

Sports punters, if you really want to stop the rot that Ken has highlighted in his letter, target the advertisers.

Michael Crowe, Hawker

I agree with Ken Stokes (Letters, February 9). What is required in sport is less emphasis on winning, especially at all costs, more emphasis on high performance, less prize money, more emphasis on self discipline and ethics generally.

Dave White, Deakin

 

Rugby's corruptible

Far be it for me to tell Jake White anything about rugby but I was mildly amused to read his claim that his game is virtually incorruptible (''Rugby union incorruptible, says White'', February 8, p1). His game relies heavily on scoring from penalties. Surely a goal kicker, having a bad game, and missing a few, or a couple of blatant penalties awarded to the opposition within kicking range, could look suspicious. Players earning time in the sin bin or at worst being sent off can also affect a result. So Jake should be a little careful about defending his game.

Gordon Dowd, Bruce

Jake White (''Rugby union incorruptible, says White'', February 8, p1) does not seem to be one to say silly things, until now. Rugby has got to be the easiest of the ''hard'' games to fix. Whilst ever they have three-point penalties, one crook ref is all that is needed. If the refs are honest two crook kickers and the result is guaranteed.

M.F. Buggy, Torrens

 

The case in point

Noelle Roux (Letters, February 8) points to the use of grammatical case in (most) English pronouns: I, me, mine; he, him, his; etc. She also points out that English is a subject, verb, object language. This, with the use of prepositions, means case is not necessary for a sentence's meaning to be clear, and is why case has almost disappeared from English, and other western European languages.

For instance, the meanings of ''he saw she'', or ''between he and the others'' is clear, even if they are grammatically awful. I fervently support the retention of case-altered pronouns, because they are grammatically interesting, but also because they offer flexibility to poets - ''him she loves'' has a clear meaning, whereas ''he she loves'' is quite ambiguous.

Paul Pollard, O'Connor

To the point

FIGHT FOR TARKINE

I am appalled that Environment Minister Tony Burke has decided to allow mining in the Tarkine forests against the advice of the Australian Heritage Council and without regard for the ecological values of the forest and the last healthy populations of Tasmanian devils. Even the last Coalition government didn't allow mining in the Tarkine. What does the ALP stand for?

David West, Lyneham

BATTLING MINERS

I am appalled by ill-informed criticisms about the low revenue from the ALP's mining tax. Programs had to be cut and public servants sacked so loopholes, write-offs and tax breaks could be included to help battlers like Twiggy and Gina Rinehart. That's what good old traditional Labor values are about nowadays.

Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld

WILL THESE PRAWNS PEEL?

Gina Kikos (Letters, February 5) wonders if the paint is supposed to peel off the new pedestrian bridge over Drakeford Drive at Kambah. I wonder if the paint will also peel off what someone apparently described as a giant clump of dying prawns nearby in the middle of Drakeford Drive?

Annie Lang, Kambah

FEED ME WITH GARFIELD!

I am nine years old, and I'm a big fan of Garfield! (What can I say?) I don't always get this fat cat but when I see him he always puts a smile on my face. Come on, people, this is a cartoon! So, feed me and don't stop Garfield!

Nathan Pearson, Hughes

FINES AS FUNDS FOR PARKING

$17,000 is a nice sum for the government to collect (''Fans see red over parking tickets'', February 7, p3). Will it go towards making more parking places available in the future for Manuka Oval, now that it has its nightime lights?

Elizabeth Chisholm, Red Hill

PENITENTIAL PARKERS

As someone who often has to convey small children, either walking or in a bicycle trailer, through a jungle of illegally parked cars, I should like to congratulate our enforcers of parking orthodoxy on their $17,000 auto da fe (''Fans see red over parking tickets'', February 7, p3). One small request: could unrepentant, repeat offending vehicles be adorned with the dreaded black sanbenito and delivered to the auto wrecking yard?

John Mason, Latham

EMERITA ITERUM

Gratias ago commilitones Coleman, French [Galli], Thomson et McCarthy quia eorum consideratio mei titulum. Exspectabo aeque eruditi expositionem ego recensuit.

Diane Bell, Finniss, SA

Email:  letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attached file. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail:Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.
Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Lettersmay be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).
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