Federal Politics


Leaders should be judged by actions, not sex

Why is having a female PM regarded as a heavenly miracle, to be venerated and passionately defended against any real or imagined slights, especially on this letters page (eg, ''Gillard reshaping politics'', letters, March 26)? From Golda Meir, to Helen Clark, to Angela Merkel, a large number of women have been prime ministers or presidents of their countries.

When Margaret Thatcher was criticised (or praised) it was because of her actions and I cannot recall her or her supporters crying misogyny.

Indira Gandhi was assassinated because of the way she treated certain groups in the nation. Nobody claimed she was killed because she was a woman. Angela Merkel is, like Julia Gillard, a woman with no children, yet the Germans call her Mutti and keep voting for her.

The misogyny claims to counter any criticism is, to my way of thinking, demeaning to us women. This lame excuse when we, as human beings, stuff up or do not perform as well as we would like, is a crutch we should not need or want.

Meta Sterns, Yarralumla

Ageless message

Your Easter editorial (''This sacrifice made history'', March 30) reads much like an historical essay. In some respects the political and social landscape that existed at the time of the arrest, ''conviction'', crucifixion and seemingly miraculous raising of Jesus from the tomb, are not unlike the current period in which we live. People remain oppressed, nations attempt to dominate through the use of force and our faith in fellow human beings is shaken by the actions of those seeking only to satisfy their individual desires.


One thing, though, has changed. The message of that Jewish itinerant preacher and his small band of followers remains relevant thanks to the recognition that it is ageless. It continues to touch not only the lives of the billions of modern-day followers but also those who may question the very existence of God. And all this is because of that sacrifice. As John Wesley so poignantly declared as he lay dying, ''The best of all is, God is with us.''

Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW

Beautiful editorial on Easter - simple, elegant and relevant - just what many of the young need to know. Thanks.

Philip Pocock, Turner

Ian Warden says Catholic religious practices are mumbo-jumbo while Michael Jordan says the various religious beliefs of the world are a god delusion. Both throw stones at the Catholic Church for the sins of its hierarchy and its followers.

Let's face it, we are all human and we are all sinners in our own different ways, whether we have a religious belief or not. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. As Warden and Jordan are apparently two of the exceptional few of us who are not sinners, I ask them to put down their stones in a spirit of forgiveness and new hope at this time of Easter.

John Bell, Lyneham

An insulting picture

I am a lapsed Catholic and so I don't have any axe to grind about religious re-enactments. However, the picture and text (''Christ's sacrifice takes centre stage'', Page 11, March 30) is likely to be highly insulting to any practising Christian.

I am quite sure that the events and clothing that this ''re-enactment'' covers have nothing to do with the Christian peoples' belief of an event.

The picture of a person with filmy outer clothing over trousers, neat office shoes and a toothpick of a cross that could be tossed a fair distance by any capable adult has nothing in common with the event that occurred a couple of centuries ago.

He also seems to be the subject of black-robed stalkers, one of whom seems to be about to strike the ''cross'' carrier with a notebook computer bag.

If this whole thing were not pathetic, insulting and amateur, it might be a bit funny, but I don't think so.

Probyn Steer, Hawker

Flag must be an enduring design, reflecting all Australians

I agree with Paul Daley (Sunday Focus, March 31) that Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander flags have their place, just as the flags of our states, football clubs and other institutions have a role. But I believe strongly that these flags are subordinate to our national flag and I have difficulty with current practice that seems to promote the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander flags, in particular, as equal to our national flag.

I disagree with Daley that our present standard is not inclusive. For me the Southern Cross represents all of us as equals under the stars of this great southern land, whether we came 40,000 years ago, or are recently naturalised.

I see the Union flag as representing the beginnings and evolution of Australia into a modern successful nation. I think it is inevitable that we will eventually become a republic and then I suspect most will prefer to remove the Union flag from our national standard. That does not trouble me unduly.

But I worry that our new flag will not be an enduring design that properly reflects all Australians.

I would be comfortable with the simple removal of the Union flag, with minor aesthetic changes to account for the space vacated. I shudder at the thought of a flag that reflects current ephemeral progressive politics as the one described by Daley.

Indeed, the flag he promotes appears to me as a cartoonish effort that tries to do too much, yet fails miserably to represent all Australians in any meaningful way.

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra

Posey of bluebells

Ian Warden loves not reading the ''Taliban miserabilist'' offerings of those who write letters to The Canberra Times (Canberra, How do I love thee … Forum, March 30, p4). Strange, since their worthy contributions are much like his own - ranging from erudite to rambunctious, from thought-provoking to those prompting severe disagreement. Ian Warden should realise that our letter writers are not morbid terrorist wordsmiths but are, in like manner to his Namadgi bunyips, simply bringing a ''posey of bluebells'' to lighten his day.

Peter Crossing, Curtin

Political silence

Politicians are cocooned from reality by the censorship imposed by political staffers. Less than 20 years ago a note to a local member, federal or territory, attracted a worthwhile response: electors were treated seriously. Now, in an age of flooding emails, communication with politicians is close to non-existent. I recently emailed the Chief Minister about ward management at Canberra Hospital. No response was given to a detailed statement of patient experience. No promise was given that the complaint would be investigated and a response provided in reasonable time.

The contempt of politicians towards electors is demonstrated in the furore over the salary of a senior territory official. That the two key ministers, who appoint the board, were not aware of what was happening in the major territory service provider confirms contempt and, perhaps, incompetence.

Ian Welch, Mawson

Compo industry

Forget Comcare's most notable compensation cases (''Blitz on public service compo'' p1, March 30). Ask small businesses around Canberra to submit examples of outrageous workers' compensation claims and you'll have a bumper edition. With our legislation underlining that employees can never be at fault, compo has become more of a money-making industry than a safety net. In cases I've known first-hand, insurers are hamstrung investigating dodgy claims because it might be seen as ''entrapment'' of the employee. And if a claim is overturned because of contradictory evidence, the employee must be given eight weeks' notice of that rejection - so, even after a prolonged absence, they can take yet another two months off on full pay! What's more, the eight-week period only starts when the employee acknowledges receipt of the letter. With laws like that I'm surprised anyone works in Canberra at all. It's practically risk-free to just stay at home and sue.

Bob Thompson, Scullin

Liberal ethics

The editorial, ''Seselja facing a bigger fight'' (April 1, p8) and the article ''Feuding council prepares for vote'' (p5) highlight an apparent decline in ethical behaviour in modern society. Both Zed Seselja and Matt Watts claim their late nominations (for Senate pre-selection and president of the Belconnen Community Council, respectively) occurred because they had not decided earlier whether to nominate. Both appear to have used this to manipulate the letter of the law rather than abide by the spirit of the law. Both successfully ambushed the membership. Last week's ballot showed that Seselja might well have been pre-selected anyway, so his actions have unnecessarily damaged his reputation and that of the ACT Liberals.

Watts was a Liberal candidate for the ACT elections when he lodged his nomination for council presidency at the start of the AGM last September. As a former member of council, he was aware that the role of community councils is to facilitate community awareness and input on matters that concern them; thus it is important that councils are seen to be free of influence by political or vested interests. Had he discussed his nomination for president with the council committee before the AGM, his involvement in council might well have been welcomed. Both men have tarnished the organisations concerned.

Robyn Coghlan, Hawker

Parking inequity

Why do we have rows in public parking areas for the exclusive use of the typically private-plated cars of senior executive service public servants? We quite rightly don't have them for the partners of law firms or the executives of large companies, so why do we have them for very senior public servants? In some areas, the supply of this restricted parking typically exceeds the demand. A conspicuous example is to be found in the public car park on the eastern side of West Block in the Parliamentary Triangle.

John Burge, Curtin

Public art

I am a frequent visitor to Canberra. I appreciate the concept of public art and agree with Jon Stanhope (March 30, p1) that all major cities pride themselves on it. Although I like and dislike various pieces on display in Canberra (love the owl), I'd defy anyone in any city to like everything that is on display.

Has the vocal minority usurped this debate? Is there a silent majority who don't mind/really like it but don't say anything as they have more pressing things to do?

Brenda Montgomery, Bega, NSW

Car stealing

In her article on car thefts ( Sunday Times March 31, p6) Ewa Kretowicz asserts that the safest suburbs in Canberra are Duntroon, Russell and Lawson. This is hardly surprising; Duntroon is populated by soldiers and cadets who have guns, Russell has very few (if any) residents, and Lawson's only permanent population is a few hundred kangaroos, who have difficulty grasping the concept of the screwdriver and coathanger as car theft tools.

Actually, I think we could do a lot for our city if we paid our local car thieves to quietly steal or, um, relocate old Excels and Pulsars to anywhere but Canberra. This would reduce unemployment and improve property values. If we could also arrange for all Magnas and Camrys to visit exotic climes it may become possible to drive in the right hand lanes of our major thoroughfares at a speed greater than 20km/h under the speed limit.

Geoff Carruthers, Macgregor

Secret geometries

I'm not sure a majority of listeners shared Jennifer Gall's enthusiasm for Vincent Plush's commissioned centenary piece, Secret Geometries (Canberra Times, March 30, p22). While it had very attractive passages, especially for winds and percussion, it seemed to lack an overall structure and thus sounded more like a string of episodes. I wonder if Jennifer went to sleep over it since she did not mention the next piece, Andr Caplet's charming arrangement of Debussy's Clair de Lune, a sheer delight. She must have woken up for Ravel's Bolero, which concluded the concert.

Hans Kuhn, Campbell

The poor rich

It came as no great surprise to hear that people earning very large incomes somehow consider themselves poor. In a camera shop I recently had a well- dressed woman complain to me how hard times were for her and her family and how difficult it was to make ends meet. I made sympathetic comments until she bitterly said ''And now I have to buy a new digital camera for our overseas holiday''. She actually believed she was poor and was doing things tough. It would seem so many of us are out of touch with reality to the point of being delusional.

Somehow we have been conned so that in the midst of unimaginable wealth we still see ourselves as poor. Perhaps as our TVs grow larger our view of the world becomes smaller and meaner. Perhaps it is as a Liberal MP once explained to me, in all seriousness: ''You must understand, rich people need more money than poor people, because the rich have more expenses.''

Doug Steley, Heyfield, Vic

Indifferent nature

I don't think it was ''nature's indifference'' that caused the loss or death of so many animals, (''A litany of pet peeves'', Panorama, March 30, p2). It seems pretty clear that it was the family's lack of care and responsibility for the animals they acquired.

Anyone taking in a companion animal has to be prepared to give him or her sufficient care and protection and, given that so many are being put down in shelters, must have them de-sexed.

Mike O'Shaughnessy, Spence

No more Dugan

Josh Dugan is an ex-Raider, and probably doesn't even live in the ACT any more, so why are his latest antics continuing to be front-page news in The Canberra Times?

Dugan is not deserving of the celebrity status that page 1 reporting inevitably brings.

Don Sephton, Greenway

To the point 


In his epistle relating to Kevin Rudd (''There's no 'I' in team'', April 1, p8), Bob Tyghe is correct in asserting there is no ''I'' in ''team''. However, I note there are five of them in ''individual brilliance''.

Chris Longhurst, Gilmore


Do ACTEW's ''honest mistakes'' include sending me a water bill for three times my actual water usage, thereby urging me to pay for my year's water in advance at double the proper rate?

Terry Werner, Farrer


Amanda Vanstone makes heavy-handed fun of Julia Gillard's disability assistance policy (''Bit by bit, PM fails to deliver'', April 1, p9) and claims Wayne Swan would benefit from listening to her (Amanda's) ''granny''. Good grief! Doesn't Barnaby Joyce already provide enough of this risibly simplistic conservative nonsense?

Ian McFarlane, Wallaga Lake, NSW


Jack Waterford deserves an ''onya'' for ''Pollies pander to culture of complaint'' (March 30, p1). Jack has devised the perfect collective noun: ''A pandering of politicians.''

Peter Baskett, Murrumbateman, NSW


I can imagine Brian Furness as an elder of the Church of Invented Epochs (Australia Agenda 21 diocese) preaching his sermon (Letters, March 27) in our equivalent of Adelaide's Rundle Street Mall.

John Bromhead, Rivett


What is being done to protect and relocate kangaroos trapped in the enclosed (by high fencing) North Weston housing development? It is readily apparent their grass feed is almost exhausted.

Norman Lee, Weston


May I suggest the ABC preface coverage of Parliament with the warning: ''Some images may distress and contain some violence and coarse language; parental guidance is advised.''

Tony Argyle, Isaacs


''I'm all right Jack'' by A. Rowell of Ainslie (Letters, March 30, p6), was superbly complemented by Pope's cartoon.

John F. Simmons, Kambah


Jennifer Gall refers (review March 30 p22) to Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony's grand vision. I think this, our centenary year, would be a good time for all Canberrans' to realise that Burley and Mahony are the given second names of Walter and Marion Griffin respectively.

Wendy Duke, Lyneham

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