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Legal victor must now do right thing by quadriplegic

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I daresay that the ACT government is pleased that the $8 million damages award to Jonathan Crowley was lost on appeal, but it can only be regarded as an ongoing tragedy for Jonathan and his family.

Regardless of the legal merits of the claim, this is still a family which has been devastated, emotionally and financially, since the police shooting in 2001. When his parents are no longer able to assist, how is Jonathan going to cope?

A continued legal battle serves no one's interests, so can I ask the Chief Minister to consider making an act of grace payment to Jonathan? It is Christmas, after all.

Catherine Rossiter, Royalla

The next most logical and natural step in the Crowley matter (''Family devastated as $8m in damages denied'', December 18, p1) is, of course, an appeal to the High Court. For any party to be denied this avenue because of lack of financial means is in itself a gross injustice.

While this whole set of tragic and unfortunate circumstances has been carefully weighed in the most competent and adept forums available so far, this final phase begs meaningful attention and affirmative action in the interests of all the parties to achieve the most positive outcome, which should and must be available to all. One would hopefully believe that decisive action by any number of interested and involved elements, including the commonwealth and the territory, the legal fraternity and, indeed, we the community as a whole, will prevail.

We are truly blessed to live in one of the most free, fair, just, and equitable countries in the world. Now is the time for us all to come forward and actively support, in whatever way we can, the Crowley family in its quest for a final and fair outcome.

Paul Jones, Curtin

The first sentence of Wednesday's first editorial (''Sober reality of law and justice'', December 19, p16), ''No one is advised to approach the law or the legal system in the belief that justice will be done'', is a depressing statement of reality, exemplified by the decision of the ACT Court of Appeal in the Crowley case. The really galling part of this case is that after taking 11 years to get a decision, that decision now seems to have resulted from a difference of opinion between the trial judge and the three Court of Appeal judges on an basic issue, i.e. did the defendants have a duty of care to Jonathan Crowley.

I'm not sure how much, if any, black-letter law is involved here. However, I feel pretty certain that in the court of public opinion the Appeal Court got it horribly wrong.

The ACT government must now accept its share of blame for this sad mess for it was a party principal to the overturning of the original judgment. Its legal situation might now have been determined, however, it has a moral obligation to repair some of the damage. A first step would be to meet all the legal expenses of the Crowley family.

In addition, action should be taken urgently to make proper provision for the future long term care of Jonathan Crowley. All this could of course be done on a ''without prejudice'' basis. Finally it might just be in the interests of the reputation of the AFP if the federal government also made a significant, without prejudice of course, contribution.

E.L. Fisher, Kambah

The reversal by the appeal court of Justice Penfold's decision is manifestly unfair. Its decision the police owed no duty of care to Crowley is bizarre.

I have lived in Canberra for 50 years and all the police I have known in that time have felt keenly a duty of care for their fellow citizens. A recent decision in America's Supreme Court upheld the principle that law enforcement had a duty of care to protect individuals. I have no doubt that our High Court would also uphold that as a basic human right for all Australians.

This would mean no officer would have the right to injure or kill a citizen unless for self protection or to protect others from physical harm.

I imagine most of us feel the ACT government should make a compensation payment to Crowley to enable him and his carer family to survive financially.

Howard Carew, Isaacs

The wine is fine

Sometimes restaurants can be afflicted by demanding, unreasonable often undignified behaviour by the occasional uninformed customer. This unfairness manifests to an even greater extent, however, when the reviewer blames the restaurant for a problem caused by his own inexperience.

Some red wines can happily complement certain fish dishes and more elegant fare.

Many of Courgette's softer aged red wines have been specifically selected for this very purpose.

Why on earth then (with all these other options available) would Bryan Martin (''Layers of complexity'', Food and Wine, December 5, p6) choose a young Italian barbera to complement John Dory fillet with a herbal beurre blanc sauce and Avruga ''caviar''? The Avruga alone would be a no-no with many red wines, much less an Italian barbera. For example, it can strip the fruit from a red wine, making the tannins appear harder and sometimes gives a tinny, thin taste to some red wines.

Mr Martin should know this. Instead, he chooses to blame the wine and the restaurant.

The wine is fine and is from a very ripe, rich vintage (2007) in Italy. It comes from the de Forville wine company, which has been turning out value-for-money wines since 1860. In fact, a highly respected and successful Canberra Italian restaurant has already served, by the glass, several hundred bottles.

In a review of another restaurant, Mr Martin very strangely described a certain youthful and vibrant, almost current vintage Great Southern riesling as too old. A little time later, wine writer and judge Chris Shanahan reviewed the wine in glowing terms.

Oh, and by the way, the riesling mentioned in Mr Martin's Courgette review is from Eden Valley, not the more generic Barossa Valley and it was 2008 (not 2009, as Mr Martin indicates) that was the overly hot Barossa year.

Dan McInerney, Australian Wine Archives (Australian Wine Archives writes the wine list for Courgette)

Energy costs

Before he sooled Greg Combet onto the New South Wales government, Crispin Hull (''Sickening case of justice denied for five lost at sea'', Forum, December 15, p2) should have referred to the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, as suggested.

IPART determined that the carbon price and other green charges add $171 and $151 respectively to a seven megawatthour Country Energy electricity bill in 2012-13.

Other green charges arise because electricity retailers are required to purchase large and small-scale renewable energy certificates and comply with the NSW Energy Savers Scheme.

Distributors now have to pick up some of the cost of the state's solar bonus scheme (feed-in tariff subsidy) through an increased Climate Change Fund levy.

John Bromhead, Rivett

Military jargon

With the silly season in full swing it was inevitable we'd see a story like ''My word, here's something new on the books for 2012'' (December 19, p3). According to the Dictionary Centre at the ANU, this year's number one word is ''green-on-blue''.

I always thought that the word of the year had to be a new fashionable word which has gained general use by the average person. How many times have you heard ''green-on-blue'' pop up in normal conversation, or anywhere else for that matter?

It's not a word, it is military jargon used by a select few which cancels its eligibility for consideration as word of the year. In any case, it isn't one new word, it is three old words clumsily joined together. Until your article appeared I didn't even know what it meant.

Many of us will remember this story the next time academics cry poor or seek an increase in research grants.

John Moulis, Pearce

Future noise

Gary Chapman (Letters, November 19) did not disclose that he is general manager of Queanbeyan Council. As readers know, Queanbeyan Council has approved and pushed for rezoning the rural land at Tralee for residential purposes, even with the certain knowledge of Tralee's location under flight paths departing Canberra Airport.

My points to readers in response to Gary Chapman's letter are:

1. The 1995 flight paths are now more readily able to be flown by modern aircraft technology and are among the logical flight paths for noise-sharing because they were often flown before 1995.

2. Mr Chapman is a long-term senior staff member of Queanbeyan Council and is well aware, or should be, of the history in moving flight paths away from Queanbeyan suburbs, most recently from Googong so future residents are not subjected to aircraft noise.

3. Mr Chapman and Queanbeyan Council have been told repeatedly by Canberra Airport and others that the only way to remove flight paths from any future Tralee residents, after they complain of aircraft noise, and they will, is by aircraft noise-sharing. Canberra Airport does not support noise-sharing and therefore cannot support housing at Tralee.

That Queanbeyan Council approved and pushed for Tralee to be rezoned for housing is no surprise when the council's senior officer doesn't understand the technology of aircraft and flight paths and ''doesn't get it'' that most future residents of Tralee will complain about aircraft noise and lobby for noise-sharing, probably again with the council's help, just like the Karabar and Jerrabomberra residents did in 1995 and as Jerrabomberra residents continue to do.

Stephen Byron, managing director, Canberra Airport

PM part of problem

Prime Minister Julia Gillard parrots the indisputable fact that Australians are fed up with the standard of federal politics.

Frequent lectures about what ''all Australians'' want are no substitute, however, for walking the talk about governing for everyone.

While Tony Abbott also has his negatives, he has been a pretty effective opposition leader - despite the government running a constant gender-based personal attack culminating in the recent ramp-up over playing the misogyny card. Do the PM and her senior ministers ever look in the mirror?

Len Goodman, Flynn

Entrenched US gun culture is unlikely to change soon

Based on American history, those people waiting, hoping or praying for a change to that country's unfathomable gun-control laws have still a long time to wait.

It is about 50 years since Bob Dylan posed his question, ''How many deaths will it take 'till he knows too many people have died?'' It is almost 150 years since about 600,000 people died in the American Civil War which led to slaves being freed. But it took another 100 years for the descendants of those slaves to gain the legal right to eat and drink, travel and to be educated with whites.

Since its earliest days, what we now know as the United States of America, has had a culture of guns which, to most outsiders, defies the fundamental individual rights defined by that country's constitution. Surely it is telling that Abraham Lincoln, who largely gave his life for the individual freedom espoused by the US constitution, was the first US president assassinated by an obsessed, if not deranged, gunman.

Australia has its proportion of obsessed and deranged individuals and indeed has been a victim of their actions. Though we clearly have far too many people with access to guns, that access and the culture which resorts to guns is significantly less than that of the US.

The genuine desire for change of US President Barack Obama in the face of his country's most recent atrocity is not questioned. But on balance it is feared many more innocent lives will be lost before the US seriously moves against the misunderstood or unintended consequences of its constitution which gives individuals the right to bear arms.

Graham Downie, O'Connor

Life in the US takes another shocking turn in respect of the safety of its citizens. Is there grim irony in the words of the closing line of the national anthem ''Land of the free, home of the brave''? Sad way to end the year.

Linus Cole, Palmerston

I thought the CT editorial ''NRA has a gun, Obama has a vision'' (December 18, p8) was excellent. It did suggest that because of the huge number of guns in the US a buyback similar to what we had in Australia is virtually impossible because of the cost. I have a solution and l am sure the Australian government would agree. Australia seems to buy out-of-date American military equipment - why not buy its rifles? They would be cheap, well maintained, readily available and we would be helping the US gun situation.

Geoff Barker, Flynn

It seems to me that, aside from the obvious need to remove assault weapons from the hands of all but the military and special police in exceptional situations, President Barack Obama should address the mental health system seriously.

This young man, from all the descriptions I have read, was in serious mental trouble. That the school psychologist, who had been employed as such during his attendance there, was one of the slain may not be insignificant.

Margaret Lee, Hawker

Violent crime falling

Chris Williams (Letters, December 18) is clutching at straws in his attempt to hold Quentin Tarantino and the ''Hollywood entertainment industry'' responsible for the Sandy Hook massacre. This line of reasoning has always been complicated by the well-known fact that Hollywood movies and American computer games are widely available in all Western countries and yet no country other than the United States experience such high levels of violence.

The biggest flaw in the argument, however, is that it directly contradicts statistics that show that in recent decades the rate of violent crime has actually declined in all Western countries at the same time that the prevalence of violent movies and games has increased. The violent crime rate was twice as high in the 1970s, for example, when violent computer games and Tarantino films were not around, than in the 2000s. It is for this reason that I am not surprised that Tarantino is ''tired'' of defending his films every time a massacre happens, because the likes of Chris Williams continue to blame him for ''corroding our moral centre'' without a shred of evidence.

Simon Leeds, Nicholls

 

To the point

READ THE SMOKE SIGNALS

Do those who insist on imposing the no-smoking ban in residential mental health treatment facilities understand the real-life situation? People are there only because they are in crisis and for some, smoking is a crutch which helps them maintain some equilibrium. In the old Psychiatric Services Unit I saw staff ration cigarettes for mental health patients who were hopeless chain smokers. Paternalistic? Yes, but sensible.

Denis Strangman, Fraser

MAKE A DIFFERENCE

The big question is why so many young people don't register or vote. Their response: ''what's my vote going to do?'' or ''politicians are all the same''. Yet some would die for their right to cast a vote. How sad that a person thinks they can't make a difference. As a baby boomer I have great faith we can bring about social change. Individuals can make a difference but unless we vote ''they'' will not know what the numbers are.

Catherine Stein, Rivett

EUTHANASIA DEBATE

Much of mankind's pain is not easily alleviated but with 82.5 per cent of respondents in favour (''Majority support for voluntary euthanasia'', December 17, p1) let's address a compassionate issue we can do something about and have a referendum.

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla

GUNNING FOR 'ARSENAL'

In view of Campbell's notable links to the military (Letters, December 18), perhaps the suburb's new public toilets should be dubbed the ''arsenal''!

Frank Cassidy, Kambah

FOLLOWING THE PM's LEAD

T. Marks (Letters, December 18) seems to have adopted the Prime Minister's approach to discussion.

Conflate the issue to support your position then strenuously deny any accusations to the contrary. May I suggest that Marks take a little time over Christmas to acquaint himself with the facts of the AWU affair, then ask himself ''if this was Tony Abbott rather than Julia Gillard would I be comfortable with his actions''.

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

OBAMA AN EMPTY VESSEL

So you reckon Obama has a vision (''NRA has a gun, Obama a vision'', Editorial, December 18, p8)! That would have to be about the most worthless thing an American president could offer the people right now. What they need is concrete action and on that score Obama is an empty vessel. I disagreed with a lot of John Howard's policies, but one thing I will say about him is that he was not an ineffectual phoney like Obama. For Howard to be a role model for Obama as you suggest, the latter would have to grow some.

Chris Williams, Griffith

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).


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