Federal Politics


People's verdict is in: House's reputation is in tatters

I had to laugh when Justice Steven Rares tossed out the case against Peter Slipper as a ''scandalous political attack and an abuse of process''.

Well may Ashby's solicitor be slammed for making scandalous and irrelevant allegations under privilege in the court. And well may Nicola Roxon now threaten a government inquiry against the opposition. This is the Attorney-General who settled with Ashby in anticipation of Slipper losing the case.

However, we the public, have witnessed scandalous, irrelevant and vitriolic allegations hurled across the floor of the federal Parliament every day for months under parliamentary privilege for political advantage.

We judged Slipper and the politicians on all sides involved in this case a long time ago. The people should tell the politicians ''enough is enough!'' This whole tacky affair is a blight on our parliamentary reputation. There are far too many and far more important affairs of state demanding the Parliament's attention for the politicians to spend any further time on an issue that demeans us all.

John Bell, Lyneham

The court reached the obvious conclusion. The Slipper affair was a conspiracy. Whether the court managed to correctly imply the nature of the conspiracy remains to be seen. One wonders when it started. Was it before or after his appointment as speaker? Was he a party to it? What was the objective?


Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor

Let's hope the media isn't even-handed in its assessment of the Slipper ruling. Only the Coalition is accountable for its ultimately unjust, pernicious and fruitless pursuit of Slipper and its exploitation of James Ashby and Karen Doane to achieve its ends. Tony Abbott, George Brandis and Mal Brough, among others, have abused legal process simply to sabotage a duly elected Parliament in order to get into government. They won't resign but should.

None is equipped for public office.

Mark Slater, Melba

The court threw out the Slipper sexual harassment case because the accuser was politically motivated, the court's judgment made no mention of Slipper's emails and text messages which caused him to resign as speaker. Does the precedent mean that the HSU and AWU rorts and the Obeid Rum Corp will not come before the courts because their accusers are politically motivated?

One big step forward, or backwards, for political correctness?

Ed Dobson, Hughes

Guilty of injustice

The inordinate delays in delivering judgments by several judges of the ACT Supreme Court are most reprehensible. The latest concerns a man held in custody awaiting a verdict from his trial held in 2011 before a judge sitting without a jury. The judge has not delivered a verdict and this week adjourned the matter again, when the man's lawyers sought bail for their client citing, no doubt, the injustice of the never-ending story.

Even if one has no sympathy for an accused person in the criminal justice system, what of the child complainants? This matter, according to reports, relates to a charge of an act of indecency on an 11-year-old. How can that child and his or her family possibly get on with their lives and begin the process of healing when there is not even a decision about guilt? This delayed judgment comes at the end of a list of many others.

A judicial appointment is a serious and much-honoured appointment. Accordingly, the community pays handsomely to have the best people for the job. When is the Attorney-General going to tap dilatory judges on the shoulder and say, ''The emperor's got no clothes''?

Jennifer Saunders, barrister and solicitor, Canberra City

Prank is not satire

Peter Grabosky (Letters, December 12) may wish to check his definition of satire. Stealing an identity and breaching privacy of a patient is not satire. Nor is it a time to ridicule the royal family. His final sentence makes sense.

James Fulton, Kambah

Tap the super vote

ACT Greens Senate candidate Simon Sheikh said he had been involved in many issues-based campaigns in Canberra aimed at improving the lives of the local people (''Sheikh anointed to snatch ACT Senate seat'', December 7, p7''). But he has failed to mention a single one. Commonwealth superannuation pensioners (former Commonwealth public servants and former Defence Force personnel) have their superannuation pensions indexed to the consumer price index, an indexation tool abandoned more than a decade ago for other government-funded pensions.

If he is genuinely interested in issues-based campaigns in Canberra, Sheikh should become a leading advocate for fairer indexation of Commonwealth and Defence superannuants' pensions. Indeed he could achieve this, to help his election prospects, by getting Greens leader Christine Milne, whom he seems particularly close to, to force the hand of the ALP minority government to bring about the change just as the Greens forced the hand of the Gillard government to change its carbon tax policy, and introduce a carbon tax, which it duly did.

John Milne, Chapman

Spare carp the pain

It's good to see Shane Jasprizza (''What to do with carp unclear'', December 11, p2) finally come clean on his attitude to carp and the environment they are damaging. Earlier this year he lauded the annual kill-fest (the Carp-Out) as an example of him and his fellow anglers protecting ''our vulnerable native species'', claiming it helped ''remove noxious pests''. Now he has admitted that the Carp-Out has more to do with the fun of catching and killing than pest control, and that all he wants to do is catch fish - so much so that if he hooks ''a whopper carp'' he'd release it in the hope of putting it through the stress and pain of being caught again.

Anglers treat all fish, ''pests'' or not, as if they are unfeeling objects - when they are actually sentient, feeling animals capable of pain and suffering. There needs to be a humane solution found for the carp problem, but anglers should have no part in it.

Alan Bateman, Lyneham

It's getting hot now

H. Ronald (Letters, December 10) thinks that climate modelling is too imprecise to justify action to mitigate global warming - after all, its predictions range from very, very bad for the world through to catastrophic. Instead, Ronald wants us to adapt and rely on something infinitely more speculative than climate modelling: ''expected exponential advance of science''. So ignore the best range of figures science has at the moment because we'll discover something in the future. Thank goodness we don't apply this weird logic to problems in the real world.

Adaptation to global warming, without mitigation efforts, will prove to be the most colossal waste of resources in the end, because without mitigation the problem will just get worse and worse, and in the end overwhelm futile adaptation. Serious problems have to be dealt with at their root cause, not pandered to.

Ronald claims there has been no warming in the past 16 years. This is nonsense; the world is far warmer now than in 1995, as illustrated by the extremely hot year of 1998 (for the 1990s), which has now been exceeded by two years in the noughties, and where cool La Nina years lately are much hotter than the average for the 1990s. In only 13 years the extremely hot 1998 has become the new normal.

Paul Pollard, O'Connor

Clean up slaughter

Tuesday night's ABC 7.30 showed us all another example of a country where slaughterhouse practices are barbaric, inefficient and not cost effective, never mind cruel. The Department of Agriculture and the Australian Meat and Livestock Corp have once again failed Australian animals, Australian meat producers and the greater Australian public, who are appalled.

I maintain that the solution is simple. Legislate to refuse permission to export livestock to any country where the slaughterhouse facilities do not conform with the standards espoused by Temple Grandin. These standards are in place in by far the majority of facilities in the United States.

Is it ignorance or just pig-headedness that doesn't incline the AMLC and Agriculture Department to consult the world's leading authority on the humane, stressless and efficient methods of slaughtering animals.

Michael Plane, Gundaroo, NSW

AWU saga goes on

I can only assume that T. Marks (Letters, December 11) draws all his news and opinion from the ABC, most likelyInsiders, if he thinks I am flogging a dead horse in questioning our Prime Minister's actions in the AWU scandal. For starters it is likely that Julia Gillard intervened in writing to ensure the entity set up for her boyfriend was incorporated despite not being what it was purported to be and I have little doubt that her correspondence will emerge at some time.

Gillard most certainly failed to alert the authorities when it was clear there were irregularities with the finances of the entity she referred to as a slush fund. Gillard's defence that she did not know is simply not credible if one examines the timeline of events in the AWU scandal. Of course there are vast sums of money still unaccounted for and, for good measure, a recent opinion poll on the issue had 60 per cent of respondents either believing she lied or was not telling the whole truth.

With apologies to Mark Twain, I think rumours of the AWU affair being dead are greatly exaggerated.

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Simply not credible

Robert Willson (Letters, December 10) assured Ian Warden that most of those kneeling in St Paul's aren't constrained by any belief in Genesis. Because, when Anglicans inevitably find that bit of the fairy story eyebrow-raising, they just drop it. They unilaterally decide God created evolution. What Willson failed to concede, in highlighting the infinite diversity of home-crafted belief in an increasingly hands-off God, is that a sizeable group of the dwindling Anglican flock find the whole belief-in-a-controlling-God thing eyebrow-raising in its entirety.

They're closet atheists, there for the theatre and the Ten Commandments.

And they pray to …? Meanwhile, most Catholics up the road at St Christopher's defy papal edict by, among other things, routine use of contraception.

Adrian Dunlop, Campbell

We must set real deterrents to combat antisocial behaviour

Any study of antisocial behaviour is severely deficient if it concentrates solely on the influence of alcohol (''Pre-loaded drinkers hit streets'', December 11, p1).

The effects of drugs, a mixture of alcohol and drugs and retribution must also be considered.

A change to the hours of operation and increases to the price of alcohol will have an effect on everyone, not just those involved in antisocial behaviour.

It is punishing the innocent as well as the guilty.

I believe the only way to stamp out antisocial behaviour is to set the punishment at a level that will act as a deterrent, and to enforce that deterrent.

Nowhere in the report was any mention made of the need to ensure people are made responsible for their actions. It is not fashionable in today's society to make a person responsible for their actions; it is always the fault of someone or something else. If any person is involved in antisocial behaviour they must be made responsible for what they have done.

If society is serious about reducing antisocial behaviour, it needs the political will to enforce zero tolerance for this type of behaviour.

Once you have accepted there is to be zero tolerance for antisocial behaviour, other actions are needed, such as providing the required policing resources and the political will to ensure the courts are effective in enforcing such a policy, to the extent of mandating penalties if necessary.

The penalties need to be a deterrent. A couple of hundred dollars will not stop some people, so maybe the penalties need to match the offenders' ability to pay and custodial sentences applied to repeat offenders.

Penalties could also include the offender becoming personally and financially responsible for the damage or harm caused by their actions: cause and effect.

If we as a society are serious about reducing antisocial behaviour of any type a new approach is needed; the current approach is not working.

Robert Knight, Bywong, NSW

A spark of concern

As the anniversary of the Canberra bushfires approaches it seems hard lessons have still not been learnt by the ACT authorities.

On September 5, I reported to ACTEW that electricity lines running along my fence line were arcing and sparks were spraying across my garden and hitting the house.

The problem is the lines run through trees on public land backing onto my block. This arcing has occurred again during high winds. Since the initial report I have contacted both ACTEW and the ACT government several times each to try to get this problem resolved.

ACTEW blames the ACT government for not being responsive to its requests for tree trimming and TAMS blames ACTEW for not providing it with a date for turning off the electricity so the trees can be trimmed.

Letters to the Chief Minister and Shane Rattenbury have failed.

I find it ironic that we are currently getting a barrage of public announcements to be bushfire-prepared but this problem is falling on deaf ears.

Do I have to wait for my house and possibly neighbours' houses to burn down or be damaged before action is taken?

Do I cancel holidays and stay home from work during predicted high winds so I can be available to call the fire brigade? What happens if it occurs in the middle of the night?

J. Scales, Kambah

Rough justice?

David Roth (Letters, December 11) is quite correct to draw attention to Captain de Groot's background and links to the New Guard, an armed fascist organisation that had planned to kidnap the premier, Jack Lang.

It was a very tense time. I do not defend de Groot's action at the Harbour Bridge opening but I find it interesting that, as in the Soviet Union, when he upset the authorities he was consigned to a lunatic asylum. Was that justified?

To suggest his action showed contempt for the legal rights of working-class voters is perhaps drawing rather a long bow, or a long cavalry sword!

Robert Willson, Deakin

To the point


Good to see Senator Cory Bernardi defending Big Brother Abbott's party line on climate change (''Sceptics stay cool on climate studies'', December 11, p4). Why then do I still suspect those he rails against may actually know more than he? Anyway, Cory should remind Gloriously Cool Leader that there once was another guy who also tried to deny nature - I think his name was Canute?

Bruno Yvanovich, Waramanga


Malcolm Mackerras (''Casting an eye on the votes'', December 10, p9) is a brave man. He now gives Abbott an 80 per cent chance as next PM, Gillard a mere 20. Well, woe betide Australia should the Budgie Smuggler win!

I think Aussie voters are smarter than that. They will look at how much better life has been under Labor and vote accordingly. The Labor win over the global financial crisis is Gillard's biggest plus.

Walter Wohl, Duntroon


Deakin researcher Peter Miller says increasing the cost of alcohol sold in liquor stores will curb the problem of pre-loaded drinkers (''Pre-loaded drinkers hit streets'', December 11, p1). Why should all responsible drinkers have to pay more to buy alcohol because of the actions of irresponsible drinkers?

I think that approach to solving the problem is totally unfair and unlikely to succeed. A better solution would be to breathalyse all patrons entering night clubs and other venues and if they are deemed to have already consumed too much alcohol, refuse entry.

G E Mapleson, Kambah


Paul Dixon (Letters, December 10) is splitting hairs even though he inadvertently supports my view that the best chance for peace in Palestine was in July 2000. If the Palestinians had accepted Ehud Barak's offer and used it to negotiate further concessions over time, then Ariel Sharon would not have been in a position to reject the deal. But my main point is that Hamas will never accept any peace deal while Israel exists. The head of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, was actually making that point around the time that Dixon was writing his letter. The opportunity was passed up in July 2000 and I fear will never return.

Ric Hingee, Duffy


Methinks they protest too much (''It wasn't our call'', December 11, p1). The radio presenters must have had concrete between the ears if they were not aware that their recording, given its content and the immediacy of the duchess's situation, would not be played at the station's Christmas party but would be broadcast to the world.

Ken McPhan, Spence

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