Federal Politics


Pursuit of Gillard a prosecution in search of a crime

Watching a program about the Clintons on television this week, I was taken by the similarity between Hillary Clinton's Whitewater ordeal and the AWU carry-on. In particular, after long and expensive ''investigations'' by prosecutor Kenneth Starr, no substantive evidence against Clinton was found.

The process was summed up as ''a prosecution in search of a crime, rather than a crime in search of prosecution''. Clinton was acting solely as an advising lawyer to the alleged defrauder, and the self-confessed miscreant involved her only after he was to be prosecuted.

Am I watching too much TV, or should I be concerned that the loyal opposition in Australia not only appears to have no policies or constructive criticisms to present, but also can't mount an original strategy?

More importantly, is question time being used to turn Parliament into a Star(r) chamber, rather than the opportunity to ask questions of government I would like answered?

Malcolm Turnbull seems to me to be the only one able to do this, albeit against his better judgment.

K.N. Bell, Kambah


Citizens forgotten

I returned to the drudgery of suburban life after an eight-month cycling tour in the northern hemisphere and tuned back into the radio and TV airways to find things hadn't changed much on the political front. Those who followed this week's proceedings in federal Parliament must have been left wondering who is running our wonderful country.

The two major parties slogged it out over matters having no relevance to the welfare of Australians.

John Sandilands, Garran

Wrong vote cast

The significance of the UN vote on recognising Palestine as a non-member observer state is states have territory and borders. The contention Palestine is not a state comes from a wish to weaken its hand in negotiations over its borders with Israel. The contention is dubious because Israel is a state and therefore has borders of its own (the internationally recognised 1948 Blue Line).

To legitimise the proposition that states can extend their territory beyond their borders by military conquest would be an incentive to war in many parts of the world and against the interests of all countries, including Australia. Also including Israel, even if its present government rates that interest as secondary to its ambition to extend Israel's borders at the expense of Palestine and Syria.

For Australia to have abstained was better than voting no; but in our own interest we should have voted yes.

It has nothing to do with whether we like or dislike Jews or Arabs.

Ron Walker, Campbell

Israel is in breach

I disagree with Alan Shroot's assessment (Letters, November 26) of the article by Seumas Milne on the Gaza crisis, which I found to be a clear and reasoned explanation of the unjust situation the Palestinians have been subjected to for generations.

Do Israeli government supporters such as Shroot, Bill Arnold, Vic Adams and Ron Forrester (Letters, November 24) stop to consider that Israel is violating the Geneva Conventions on a daily basis by the collective punishment of Palestinians under siege in Gaza and under occupation in the West Bank?

Israel does not take responsibility for providing services to Palestinians under occupation as required by international law, but instead demolishes house, divides communities with the infernal wall (illegal, according to the International Court of Justice), steals more and more land through settlements and kills and wounds Palestinians with impunity.

Attacks on Israeli civilians cannot be justified, but do the Israelis expect Palestinians will not resist the appalling conditions and impoverisation Israel's occupation forces on them?

Kathryn Kelly, Chifley

Thank the feminists

It's sad that in her first speech to the Legislative Assembly, the opposition's new shadow women's minister, Giulia Jones, has chosen to attack women whom she imagines do not share her views and to perpetuate outdated and negative stereotypes about feminism (''Giulia with a G rejects 'nagging' feminism'' November 28, p4).

It's thanks to the women's movement Mrs Jones is able to vote, sit in the Assembly, earn her own income, be paid the same as her male colleagues, be legally recognised as part owner of her home and have legal rights to her children.

Free to live her own life as she chooses, she is living the feminist vision, apparently without realising it.

Patricia Saunders, Chapman

I was dismayed to read that new MLA Giulia Jones rejects ''the constant nagging of an older-style feminist public debate''. It's not clear why she thinks such debate ''tries to make women feel bad for not achieving something that they want'', and fails to explain why being blocked from such achievement is not something actually worth feeling bad about.

With all due humility I would counter this by saying it's at least partly because of us ''old-style nagging'' feminists that she can boast of having a life better than her grandmother, and I, for one, will go on nagging until every woman everywhere can say the same.

Rev. J.R. Huggett, Bruce

As an old feminist, who lives in Canberra where fences are frowned upon, I don't have a picket fence but I do have an exquisitely perfumed climbing rose, Blossomtime. I congratulate Giulia Jones on being able to contribute to the purchase of her house, combine a career and motherhood and even become a political representative. That's what we wanted, we old feminists, for women to have choices. I really don't know why we keep getting such a bad rap.

Di Lucas, Lyneham

Video is not science

Judy Ryan (Letters, November 28) is again promoting the ''rice video'', which claims to show that humans have nothing to do with global warming. But right from the start, this glib video is flawed. The presenter, retired mining engineer Malcolm Roberts, states that because only 3 per cent of the world's annual CO2 emissions are from human activity, then only 3 per cent of the atmospheric stock of CO2 is caused by humans. This is confusing annual flows with long-term stocks. It ignores the longer-term build up that can occur from a small incremental addition each year.

The video is full of tendentious statements, is ideological rather than scientific, being without a single scientific reference. It is highly reminiscent of Alan Jones's never-ending, rapid-fire disinformation on global warming. That anyone takes it seriously as science is amazing.

Paul Pollard, O'Connor

Illegal obstructions

The inability - or is it refusal? - by the directorate of Territory and Municipal Services to require ACT householders to keep footpaths clear of obstructions is a disgrace to which its new minister, Shane Rattenbury, should give prompt attention.

That TAMS would even consider making a deal with residents whose hedge had overgrown a public footpath (''Hungry beast of Braddon escapes TAMS trim'', November 28, p1) reflects the low priority this directorate affords pedestrians.

Pedestrians pay rates and are entitled to unobstructed access to public footpaths as provided for by the Roads and Public Places Act. Indeed, the act says if a tree, sapling, plant, shrub or timber on any land overhangs a public place and obstructs or inconveniences passers-by, a roads and public places officer may, by written notice, require the occupier of the land to cut the vegetation. Failure to comply with a notice could result in a maximum fine of $550.

That the officer may, not must, issue such a notice is telling. For there is no evidence anyone has ever been fined for causing such an obstruction.

For most people avoiding these obstructions is a relatively minor inconvenience. But for those with limited or no sight, limited mobility, for those pushing prams and particularly for young children cycling on footpaths, refusal by householders to keep footpaths clear of their vegetation has created public safety hazards throughout Canberra.

That by years of neglect people can apparently be excused from the requirement to keep a public footpath clear is outrageous.

Graham Downie, O'Connor

As part of my plan to help save the planet for Lila, my new granddaughter, I have been using my bicycle wherever I can, instead of my car. I try to cycle on bike paths and, where these do not exist, on footpaths. So can the nice people who want to grow hedges over footpaths either trim their hedges or come to some arrangement with the council so that I can still cycle past their houses? Try as I might, at 72 I find it really difficult to cycle through hedges, and it is hard cycling alongside them on grass or gravel. If you cannot do it for Lila and me, consider your own grandchildren.

Fred Hart, Weston

Unhygienic ward

I recently spent six weeks in the Canberra Hospital and was more than pleased with my treatment during my stay in the infectious diseases unit in Ward 7A. I was attended by all the doctors of the unit and was at all times treated with respect, efficiency, competency and professionalism. The nurses on Ward 7A also were professional, competent and always respectful, friendly and warm. I was comfortable, happy and relaxed, which I believe contributed to a speedy recovery, for which I am grateful.

On the reverse, however, cleanliness on the ward was deplorable, with floors and toilet areas in the rooms rarely cleaned and disinfected. Considering it was the infectious diseases unit, I believe the lack of daily cleaning/disinfecting is of grave concern not just to the doctors and nurses but also the patients, who are the most affected.

Mary Elliott, Brogo, NSW

To the point


Has anyone from either of the two main political parties devoted even one second this week to addressing the reason they are there in the first place, and that is to represent their constituents' interests in the federal arena. I don't think so. Their antics are deplorable and deserve our utter contempt.

Janet Cossart, Stirling

Where is Guy Fawkes when you really need him?

David Briese, Pearce


Apparently no one has told Julia Gillard that ridicule is the last refuge of scoundrels who won't or cannot answer questions because, this week in Parliament, she has been heaping on the ridicule of the opposition, with all the gutter invective, sleaze and smear of her own that she can lay her tongue to. She can stonewall, rant, bluster and ridicule all she wants but it won't save her. She really must take us for mugs.

M. Silex, Greenway


I think that what David Brooks means in his article ''Missiles miss, but people can change for the better'' (November 29, p17), is that you get more with sugar than with vinegar.

Ralph Sedgley, O'Connor


Like many other Canberrans we believe high-speed rail would bring many benefits to ACT, Victoria, and NSW, and probably Queensland; and that there is appropriate technology now available to make it happen. It should pay for itself over time; I join others in hoping a commission of some sort could be set up that would identify technologies and funds, and take steps to mobilise resources. We have ''rested on the sleepers'' for too long on this matter.

Kenneth Bailey, Ainslie