Federal Politics


Being realistic will not rain on Anzac Day's parade

Criticism of ''Putting Anzac Day in its place'' misses the point entirely. Recent Australian history has become unduly militarised. The proof is the federal government's $100 million-plus four-year celebration of the 100th anniversary of the eight-month long Gallipoli campaign.

Where in all this is the realisation that we had no business invading Turkey? It is the only country I know that allows descendants of those who invaded to come annually to celebrate their invasion. Far more Turks died than did Diggers.

As others have pointed out, will we have re-enactments of the returning thousands maimed as well as the re-enacted troop ships leaving? Will Japan be involved to remember their battle cruiser Ibuki guarding the first Anzac troop convoy and their other warships guarding our later troop ships?

We need to keep a sense of proportion in remembering our history. By all means pause on Anzac Day to honour those who served, including the dead. At the same time we must remember war is mud, blood, terror and an appalling waste of lives maimed or killed.

Rod Olsen, Flynn

Anyone who may be celebrating the relative decline of church attendance as a sign that ''religion'' is fading away is suffering from wishful thinking.


Anzac Day is taking on the aura of the sacred with a mythologisation of history, appeals to the ''sacrifice'' of those who were killed in war, and now General Peter Cosgrove trying to shame us into attending the dawn service in a TV ad with a glass of beer in hand. The implication of the advertisement being that it would be unAustralian and a sign of moral failing not to attend.

Christians, as followers of Jesus whose central teaching was about peace and whose practise of life was of non-violent opposition to injustice, need to take a long hard think about how we engage with Anzac Day that is taking on this character.

While we certainly need to grieve with those who leave lost family and whose lives have been profoundly damaged by war, we need to think hard about whether we can in good conscience participate in a liturgy and form of civil religion that in the end covers up the reality of the violence and destruction of war, inserts a military theme into the centre of what it is to be an Australian, and is in stark contrast to the central practices of our faith.

Doug Hynd, Stirling

Michael Jordan (Letters, April 22) has missed the point of my article about the hyperinflation of the Anzac tradition.

My difficulty is not with Anzac Day at all, provided it is commemorated in a dignified way. What concerns me is that relentless and ubiquitous Anzac commemoration over the next five years (like the travelling show just announced by the government and especially targeting young people) will reinforce an unbalanced view of our history, help embed war as a normal part of our lives, past, present and future, and devalue the significant commemorative dates in our calendar, notably April 25.

David Stephens, Bruce

Life and death

I loosely refer to the article ''CSL boss quizzed on cartel'' (April 22, p9). It makes one wonder where a profit-motivated health industry can head. I quote, ''blood plasma supply was deliberately constrained''. Why? A privatised company has to run at a profit to survive. CSL in going from government owned to a ''global healthcare giant'' has clearly made the vaccines industry more rewarding because of the efficiency a privatised company can offer as opposed to government owned and run.

However, one must clearly wonder whether being a privatised healthcare company who needs profit to survive is a dagger that can turn on the industry itself. In running a profitable company to keep providing goods and services, lives may be put at risk.

It's a hard line to walk, after all; healthcare is not just a business, it is a matter of life and death.

Hannah Weickhardt, Mandurah, WA

Stop investing in property and let someone else buy a home

Great news that Australians are shying away from investment properties (A heavy price to pay, Times2, April 18, p3). A Melbourne stockbroker once told me that he felt it immoral to invest in residential property beyond one's own home. His stand was coloured by the fact that his widowed mother and young family had been evicted from their rental property in Melbourne when he was a boy.

Australian home prices, whether for purchase or rent, are far too high. At least 20 per cent too high, says the World Bank. As the investment property owner is looking for a return on their investment, the rents charged reflect the high purchase prices. When a large number of cashed-up baby boomers compete to buy investment properties, the competition is pushing purchase prices up. Rising property prices and cost of rent thus become an insidious vicious circle, with the young first-home buyers or renters being the primary victims. People who already own a home should stand back and let those who don't have a go.

Penleigh Boyd, Reid

No first class ride

A number of articles and letters in The Canberra Times recently have addressed the issue of our government's implementation of the Gonski report on educational reform. The fundamental problem is their robbing Peter to pay Paul, and financially rorting the tertiary sector, ostensibly to better fund primary and secondary education.

Further to his earlier contribution, Sankar Kumar Chatterjee (Letters, April 20) suggests that universities could save money by funding only economy class travel for academics, and to not allow them to travel overseas to present a 10-minute paper at a conference! That correspondent has a very imbalanced view of the operation of universities.

The vast majority of ongoing university expenditure is in staff salaries, not travel. Also, academics worth their salt do not travel overseas just to present a paper, nor do they travel first or business class. Indeed, the majority of conference participants do not present papers. They are there to learn and advance knowledge, to interact first-hand with the top international colleagues in their area of research. Further, to maximise the professional value of an overseas trip, it is usual to contact several local universities to arrange pre- and post-conference meetings, typically at the academic's personal expense.

Greg Jackson, Kambah

I am more than interested to know where Mr Chatterjee (Letters, April 20) got his information regarding academics flying first class to international conferences to ''read out a 10-minute paper''. His apparent ignorance of the workings and purposes of international conferences aside, he describes a lifestyle I am unfamiliar with, and one that would be comic if not so horribly far from the truth.

As a recently finished PhD student in research science I can attest that neither myself, my colleagues nor any of the academics I have associated with travel first class. Further, we regularly spend our own money on travel, accommodation (often budget dormitory) and food, not only for conferences but for field work, meetings, computers and other activities and materials central to our research. Indeed, if it were not for our love of our work despite this, scientific research would probably collapse, a weakness I suspect is taken advantage of.

Cuts in university money are a final insult to the already parlous state of Australia's science funding (ARC frozen and CSIRO in terminal decline) that is driving myself and fellow early career researchers to seek opportunity overseas. Needless to say, we will not be flying first class to get there.

R. Edwards, Macquarie

Flight plans

Another full page ad by Lockheed Martin (April 22, p8) to promote their F-35 joint strike fighter. If it is as good as they say it is, and it has already been sold to the Australian government and Defence, who are they trying to convince? The public, who had no say in the original decision to purchase the aircraft? Or is Lockheed Martin concerned that the increasingly informed and largely ignored criticism of their product is finally being heard and being considered? Hopefully such concerns are well founded.

A. Wilkinson, Gowrie

To the point


Another corrupt FIFA official (FIFA chief pocketed Australian donation, April 23, p5). Fancy that! How much have we wasted on ''bribes'' that just get pocketed?

C. McKew, Forrest


If Tony Abbott succeeds in having John Howard as governor-general it is to be hoped that Joe Hockey has made provision for an Admiralty House makeover and extensive use of the VIP fleet for commuting to Canberra. (''Abbott slams PM over next governor-general'', April 22, p2).

Patrick Ryan, Turner


It's noted that Tony Abbott will not proceed with Gonski when elected. A wise move as well-educated Oz citizens are unlikely to vote for the Liberals in the future. Next? Expect severe budget cuts for the ABC after September.

Byron Kaufman, Downer


The surprising and rather disquieting aspect of the recognition of same-sex marriages in the otherwise enlightened and innovative New Zealand, is that over 38 per cent of their reps felt constrained to try to retain their rights to interfere in what is manifestly the business of nobody else but those directly involved.

Hugh Gibbon, Pearce


I sent you a letter on April 17 saying that Lydia Frommer (Letters, April 17) was one of the many people who confuse ''flaunt'' with ''flout'' (''Flaunting the rules'', April 17, p16) but that there was no excuse for The Canberra Times' leaving the error uncorrected and repeating it in the headline on her letter. Now you've done it again with the heading on Ross Barrett's letter (Rules not flaunted, April 22). Please look up the meanings of ''flouted'' and ''flaunted''.

Barrie Virtue, Jerrabomberra


Perhaps the Anglican diocese of Canberra and Goulburn could use some of the funds it raises from branching out into property development (''Anglicans to build first and plant with the profits'', April 22, p1), to finish painting the 120-year-old St Luke's Church in Captains Flat, which has been in primer for years.

Peter Marshall, Captains Flat NSW


Peter Wolfe (''Spymaster reboots'', Panorama, April 20,p23) submitted an excellent review of John le Carre's new book, A Delicate Truth. It will be yet another wonderful piece of writing by this master displaying ''a brush stroke or two disclosing the dark hidden motives that govern the spy trade''. Well put, Mr Wolfe. I can't wait to read it.

Rex Williams, Ainslie

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. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).