Federal Politics


Suffering Labor pains

IT WAS good to read Jack Waterford's article exposing the abominable refugee policy of the past 10-plus years. (Sunday Canberra Times, November 25, p21). At least one journalist has more integrity than our gutless politicians. Is there no one among them who condemns the spin, and will stand up and say, ''There but for the grace of God, go I''? I grew up with Labor and would like to return to my roots, but where have they gone? When will Labor be the real labour again?

M. Pietersen, Kambah

WHINGEING Jack Waterford (''Leaders wallow in gutter'', Sunday Canberra Times, November 25, p21) fails to provide any solution to the asylum-seeker crisis he so craves on hearing from both the government and opposition. I would suggest he get back in the box and determine the difference between asylum seekers and queue-jumping economic migrants. In doing so he might examine and determine the real meaning of the word refugee and then look at Australia's refugee policies. Hopefully then he might turn his sympathies to the millions in refugee camps around the world awaiting selection by source countries such as ours and come up with some suggestions (which we might like to kick about) rather than just whingeing as he has done on this occasion. Just how many can Australia take before our economy and living standards drown under the stream he would have us allow to flow? All 14 million!

P. M. Button, Cook

THANK you to Jack Waterford for his article ''Leaders wallow in the gutter''. He summed up the conundrum for traditional Labor voters very well: ''Modern Labor is symbolised by Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald, Mark Arbib and Eric Roozendaal, as opposed to, say, John Curtin, Ben Chifley, Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke or Paul Keating.'' The party simply no longer has a recognisable ethical or moral basis for policymaking and its senior members are no more than John Howard clones.

Warwick McNamara


JACK Waterford's piece on the state of the nation is brilliant. As a former card-carrying member of one of the parties, and as a Catholic, I wonder what further depths we will plumb before I will be morally obliged to hand back my citizenship. For now, I refuse to believe that the voters of Australia are as craven and spineless as our political leaders assume that we are.

Nat McGahey, Bywong, NSW

Fighting words

AS A backhanded afterthought, Paul Daley wrote: ''Welcome home, Dr Nelson.'' (''Bloody chapter must be told'', November 25, p20) Rather than face the resurgence of the Aboriginal Wars battle at the Australian War Memorial, Brendan Nelson might yearn for a comfortable seat in Parliament.

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

Motorcycle black spot

TREVOR Robinson's tragic motorcycle accident (Sunday Canberra Times, November 25, p4) details how the simplest of driver errors and a mistaken split-second forward lurch into oncoming traffic ended his life as he knew it. What happened was clearly an accident that couldn't be avoided. Since moving to the coast, I have had two near misses in my car with motorcyclists. Part of the problem appears to be that the motorcyclist in each case was on a black motorbike, dressed in black with a black helmet and visor. Add to this that on both occasions it was overcast and each motorcyclist was riding down a hill on an asphalt road. Motorists are being advised to watch out for both cyclists and motorcyclists. The circumstances of Trevor Robinson's accident can be differentiated from my experiences, however I do believe motorcyclists would be safer on the road if they wore bright-coloured clothes that made them more visible to motorists.

Les Brennan, Sunshine Bay

Island's dark side

I REFER to the article by Robert Upe on Sentosa Island ''From Gina to Gaga'' (Relax, November 18, p22).

I lived on the island, then called Blakang Mati (roughly translated as ''behind the dead'') from 1962 to 1968, when it was a military base. No one could tell you how it got its name but Sentosa obviously has a better ring to it. The dark side to the island is that it had a thriving Chinese, Indian and Malay population who had lived there for generations and were forcibly shifted by the Singapore government to free up the island for development. Many of them were relocated into ugly high-rise buildings on the island proper. The following development was tacky and tasteless and much of it still remains. It would have been smarter to develop the island around the existing community, which gave the place some soul. I wonder also what has happened to the varied wildlife on the island given the Singapore government purged the Botanical Gardens of its monkeys. Maybe it's time to revert to the original name of Blakang Mati.

Richard Williams, Teneriffe, Qld

Veg and no meat

HAVING read the stomach-turning revelations of leading meat producers (''Horse burgers'', November 18, p1), I believe there is something to be said for being a vegetarian. I chose that lifestyle in 1958 and haven't regretted that decision.

Evelyn Bean, Ainslie

Hill plan in tatters

''MLAs ponder a bigger house'' (November 9, p1) raised the critical issue of the development of City Hill (land inside London Circuit), our unfinished pre-eminent civic centre. Virtually no one knows that the National Capital Authority has a new Assembly located in the hill's isolated windy south-west sector. That's a remnant of Simon Corbell's odd 2004 sketch plan ''City Hill, A Concept for the Future''. The current plan driven by business-Treasury makes most of City Hill high density commercial. It has no respect for the landscape character of the national triangle, no distinctive visual point of difference with the rest of Civic, no limit on floor space, no mandatory new large public open spaces, no effective height and massing controls, no mandatory development symmetry about the radial avenues, no workable solution to the divisive through traffic problem, no transport centre, and no safe effective integration of the hilltop park. The plan and its development program are in tatters. We need a new comprehensive community-inclusive brief for an uncompromisingly creative, responsible new plan (including optimum siting of a new Assembly and associated offices), resolution of how to handle land shamefully already in private hands, a properly constituted binding design competition (as for the Arboretum) and development befitting the national capital and the ACT.

Jack Kershaw, Friends of City Hill, Kambah

One-sided view

WHEN posted as a UN observer in Egypt and Israel, Vic Adams (Letters, November 29) must have observed a lot of trees, but could not see the forest or the horizon. There has to be some reason, however warped, behind Hamas firing rockets into Israel or they would also be firing them into their other neighbour, Egypt. And to imply Iran is supplying rockets to Hamas (the elected government of Gaza), but to fail to mention the USA in effect giving much more sophisticated weaponry to Israel is one-sided. This kind of simplistic and one-sided analysis is responsible for prolonging the conflict between Israel and its neighbours.

Peter Marshall, Captains Flat, NSW