Federal Politics


Raiders' best play is to hand back lease to Braddon

That the Braddon Club has few local members speaks more for the poor quality of the club run by the Raiders, and the rundown site, than it does about the need to replace it with more development (''Raiders' cut-price offer for prime site'', December 31, p1). How about the Raiders engage and support Braddon locals for a change, by handing back the lease so the club can be replaced with an open-access park for lunchtime touch football and soccer, as well as outdoor exercise equipment, and possibly a dog park on the boundary?

A perfect opportunity for the government to support Braddon locals and Civic workers with sorely needed public exercise space. It's time for Simon Corbell and ACT Planning and Land Authority to start valuing community amenity and health above lining the pockets of commercial entities who just happen to be football clubs who claim a community focus, but seek to make profits at the community's expense. If the Raiders no longer want the lease for the purpose it was originally granted, Braddon will happily have it back.

Caroline Salisbury, Braddon

Monotheistic trinity

Peter Robinson (Letters, December 31) makes a good point about the need to respect fundamental human rights.

In focusing on Islam as the elephant in the room, however, he overlooked the fact that there are several elephants in the room! For example, all three of the great monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) can trace their roots to a common ancestor - someone called Abraham who these days would be generally regarded as a bipolar sufferer whose dangerous psychotic episodes included an attempt to sacrifice a son to his god.

Abraham's claim that his merciful god was responsible for staying his hand proved to be a useful tool for the control of fractious social disorders.


Contemporary society, on the other hand, has more sophisticated means to enjoy a coherent moral compass which need not depend upon a ''god'' or a nebulous ''faith''.

To their credit, the great religions have helped humanity to define its moral compass through contributions to the development of legal frameworks, science and moral philosophy. Any further usefulness is difficult to perceive. Indeed, their continuing potential to divide society is concerning - the alleged pronouncements from the Lakemba mosque being a classic case in point.

Ernest Berry, Stirling

Jesus an activist

The comments by C.J. Johnston (Letters, December 29) on Jesus's saying ''Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's'' represent a widespread misunderstanding of the saying.

Jesus could not have been suggesting that there is a realm of religion, separate from the realm of politics. No distinction existed in his time between the ''religious'' and the ''political''.

Caesar's claim to rule rested on his divinity. As a good Jew, Jesus was expressing the understanding embedded in the law and the teaching of the prophets, that God's call on us to live lives of justice and compassion have priority over conflicting claims by any other authority, Caesar included.

Jesus was not a ''spiritual'' teacher distant from the politics of his time. He preached and practised a radical political option that was subversive of the economic injustice and oppression of his time. That was why he was crucified, a punishment handed out to those Rome saw as challenging its claims to empire.

If you give priority to God's claims to seek justice and love mercy, thus rendering to God what is God's, then what is left for Caesar? Not too much, I would reckon.

Doug Hynd, Stirling

America the tragic

Judy Bamberger, you poor thing! (Letters, December 28) Haven't you heard that the American Century is over, and that your patient is not only sick but is dying? As an ex-American, I grew up in a country with shared values, where the national motto was ''E Pluribus Unum'' and where we just pledged allegiance to the nation, not ''under God''.

Yes, there were bad things like anti-Semitism and poor treatment of Afro-Americans, but there was a cohesiveness then which is entirely lacking now. People who will push the nation over a fiscal cliff or who will allow their children to be massacred can't run a viable country.

So, Judy, attend! The Goetterdaemmerung is at hand! And please don't ask Australians to join you in the burning Valhalla. The very discipline of our political parties that you decry means we can put the lobbyists in their place, focus on our common goals and build a cohesive, caring society. And we certainly should not look towards yours for guidance!

John Mason, Latham

Summernats snarl

When the residents on the Inner North were informed by usual circular of the traffic arrangements and the like for the Summernats, no mention was made of Northbourne Avenue being closed on January 3. In the past this information has been included, where relevant, in the circular.

Now signs have been erected saying that Northbourne Avenue will be subject to delays on January 3 and to take alternative routes. Again, no reason stated as to why the closure (i.e. the Summernats), which in the past has been included on such signs.

Yet another attempt to downplay the level of disruption this event causes.

Liz Loomes, Downer

The Labor chorus

We all like to start the new year with a chuckle and the silly season obliged with the letters from Marian Saines and Ben Elliston (January 1).

It is always amusing to see the denizens of the Inner North continuing to burst forth with their left-wing drivel while the tide everywhere else is surging to the right. Saines heaps praise on Julia Gillard and the playing of the sexism and ''misogyny'' card. She and some of her sisters might be impressed, but Gillard has alienated every mainstream male in Australia and we will be leading the charge to bring the experiment with a female prime minister to an end and restore this country to normal at the election.

Elliston tries vainly to resurrect the tired old subject of climate change - a debate being played out solely in The Canberra Times when the rest of the country, and the world, have long since moved on and are more interested in actual issues that affect our standard of living, such as the economic crisis and the fiscal cliff.

John Moulis, Pearce

Indefensible facts

Your perceptive Saturday editorial (''At war with our defence'', Forum, December 29, p4) on defence still missed two key points. Severe under-investment in the ADF (and DFAT) is yet another symptom of much deeper problems besetting our short-term-focused, ideology-free, personality-centred political culture.

This is not a party political issue. Much detailed criticism is coming from within the parliamentary caucus and the wider ALP. Particularly from those with the most strategic security and defence experience, across all party factions and from both Gillard and Rudd supporters.

After the destructive polarisation of the Vietnam era, two generations of Labor thinkers worked hard to restore community confidence that the ALP could be trusted with national security. And that adequate investment in our common defence was both a core Labor value and a major responsibility of any government. They are naturally angry their work is being trashed for perceived short-term personal advantage - at the cost of serious damage to Labor's long-term political and national governance credibility. With grim irony, that the critics include some of the most conscientious parliamentarians and loyal party members is the only thing that has stopped their fury becoming more public in a minority government.

Finally, your judgment that Stephen Smith's responses to last year's ADFA incident were ''cack-handed'' is not just confined to what you term the ''military''.

Anyone who understands the principles of civil control of the military, administrative law and natural justice grasps that ''cack-handed'' is the type of severe understatement that not only continues to prevent resolution of the underlying issues but exacerbates them by confusing the public.

Even within the ADF the outrage at Smith's ''studied lack of interest'', as you describe it, is widespread across all ranks and both genders.

More widely, a continuing online debate among defence experts rating the records of the 19 defence ministers since the mid-1960s has him in the bottom 25 percentile. That is well below every Labor defence minister bar one, and where three of the rated top five ministers are Labor, including the first two.

Neil James, executive director, Australia Defence Association

Climate of denial

After a short rest, Brian Hatch (Letters, December 28) is clearly having another denialist episode. It is always instructive to see how the facts are distorted to suit his denial of reality. Mr Hatch states that the climate has not warmed in the past 15 years. This is untrue.

The temperature records of the atmosphere and the ocean together clearly demonstrate that the climate is warming. He also states that CO2 was higher in the 1820s, 1850s and 1940s. This is also untrue.

What Mr Hatch should have said was that in the centre of some cities in Europe, CO2 was higher than modern background levels at those times. Fortunately, climate scientists (real ones) are not daft enough to take measurements in the middle of cities. On a brighter note, Mr Hatch is correct when he states the Pettenkofer method is ignored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This is because the Pettenkofer method has been shown to overestimate concentration of CO2 by as much as 50 per cent.

John Laurie, Weston

To the point


The kids are finally old enough to stay up and watch the Sydney fireworks on TV. So difficult explaining to them a paid promotion for Kylie Minogue was the substitute program.

Linus Cole, Palmerston


Jim Molan (''Former general turns firepower on Smith'', December 29, p2) has a right to his opinions. However, I would say without hesitation that Stephen Smith's response to the ADF's dysfunctional handling of complaints by its female members was spot on. Smith's ongoing delving into the long-established inefficiency of many of its defence procurements is also spot on. Noting that Molan held a senior position when a lot of these abuses were ongoing, I have more respect for Smith's judgment.

Howard Carew, Isaacs


I think Ian Warden (''It's back - with not one but many un-Australians of the Year '', Forum, December 29, p2) may have to revise his definition of ''un-Australian''. It is my perception that the lies of shock jocks and politicians have been so effective in influencing listeners and constituents that one may well argue ''un-Australian'' might now include such traits as truthful, law-abiding and generous. Therefore, if he, similarly, comes around to that view, Mr Warden may consider, in future, giving ''Australian of the Year'' awards to those who satisfy his dishonourable criteria.

Gordon Fyfe, Kambah


Rather than ''Call for lower speed limit for truck trial'' (December 31, p6), there should be a call for civil disobedience to prevent these behemoths. With anthropogenic warming incontrovertible fact, a carbon tax, diminishing global resources, high truck crash rates, increased road surface damage and a rail line between Sydney and Melbourne, why this crazy idea?

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan, NSW


To the insightful Athllon Drive sign, ''People Die on ACT Roads'', should be added, ''People Steal on ACT Roads'', as two street signs in Perry Drive, Chapman, have disappeared.

John Milne, Chapman


Tony Abbott's opening shot in the lead-up to the election with his mention of the 16 Howard-era members on his team who are ready to take over where they left off under Howard certainly didn't fill me with hope for the future. Someone should point out to Abbott that going back to the Howard era is not taking the country forward.

D.J. Fraser, Mudgeeraba, Qld