Federal Politics


Summernats, centenary: never the twain shall meet?

I'm with Chic Henry when he says it is ''bloody terrible'' that Summernats is not celebrated in the centenary because it suffers from Canberra snobbery (''… and a street brawl brews amid claims of a centenary snub'', January 5, p1).

For a few days a year, the Dickson Maccas, just down the road from the venue, comes alive with strange, smiling, tattooed revheads of all ages, in thongs and fantastic gleaming cars.

Early morning coffee surrounded by these fascinating characters from out of town, in colourful cars and colourful threads, is a pleasure.

Just drop the word ''carby'' or ''V8'' within their hearing, with a complimentary comment about any of the magnificent machines in the car park, and you can find yourself offered a quick spin around the block by an enthusiastic youngie or a silver-haired born-again oldie.

Summernats provides hordes of interesting and funny characters, from the boonies and the bountiful urban and regional rest of Australia.

One bloke in an Elvis T-shirt, and his sombrero-wearing missus, said to me in the car park: ''Mate. We're from Tamworth and we've been coming here for 20 years. As good as our music festival back home! Sensational!''


Where is Robyn Archer when you need her to write a poem?

''Summernats, Summernats, once every year,

Canberra, Canberra, have no fear,

Summernats, Summernats, bring good cheer,

Canberra, Canberra, nothing to fear!''

John Bell, Lyneham

Your front-page story about Summernats forgets the first rule of journalism: check your sources and the facts!

The former owner of Summernats, Chic Henry, is disappointed that it has not been ''promoted as a centenary event'', yet Summernats is clearly featured on the home page of the Canberra Centenary's official website.

It is listed in volume one of the program, which has been distributed at least to all government offices, and is also available on the website. It is also available on the searchable calendar on the website. One could say that was fair promotion as a centenary event.

Why is Henry's unsubstantiated opinion allowed to be front-page news, along with his snide, also unsubstantiated, remarks about Robyn Archer?

Lynne Audsley, Fadden

Hatred to hope

The women of India have given me the most precious gift of all: the gift of hope. I looked with awe at them as they proclaim they refuse to bow down any longer.

I thank them for their undeserved gift - to me and to all men.

I knew that the men I saw among the women were there because the women went out before them.

As a man like them, I suffer in shame.

A woman, young, full of life and love and promise for the future had suffered a dreadful thing.

Men had done it. Only men do that abominable thing.

The women of India have told the world that the most profound of all revolutions is now unstoppable.

They have proclaimed simple and lasting truths.

No man has the right to treat a woman as an inferior being.

He has no right to deprive women of an education; he has no right to send their sons to die in futile wars; he has no right to starve their children while seeking profit and to rape the Earth in pursuit of wealth.

Above all he has no right to treat a woman as a household chattel, forced to do his bid as her master.

The women of India cry out to the women of the world to unite in love and unity and to fight together for true equality.

The men will be with them.

They will have no option.

John Molony, Cook

Very poor on facts

Julie Novak's article (''Soaking the rich won't work'', January 2, p13) could be summed up in the sentence: ''If you tax rich people too much they might go offshore.'' That's it. The sum total.

There is no effort to provide any kind of scientific examination of what might be the tipping point for the rich to move or what incentives or disincentives might apply, just an ideological rant about how Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Gerard Depardieu have all earned their fortunes making things people want, therefore taxing them represents a ''political disendorsement of consumer choice''. Good grief!

Taken to its logical extent, Novak's argument might as well be for no tax on the rich at all. She doesn't even tell us what Depardieu's tax was before it went to 75 per cent. And she certainly hasn't even bothered to find out what he regards as a fair rate of tax!

Surely (please), some journalist has asked him?

Why is it that Richard Denniss, of the Australia Institute, always feels compelled to provide detailed research and analysis supporting his social commentaries but the Institute of Public Affairs can get away with this undergraduate fluff?

You should send the institute copies of the Denniss material telling them you expect similar standards of scholarship before they will be printed in future.

Chris Williams, Griffith

The buck stops …

Markus Mannheim's article on the Immigration Department review proves that some selfless public servants remain yet (''Report attacks migration failures'', January 2, p1).

Faithful to the code of conduct, and to their political masters, the review team identified a host of procedural flaws by public servants. Apparently its finding that Immigration ''failed to plan or innovate effectively because it focused on reacting to crises'' was as near as the review came to blaming erratic ministerial directives.

Ever since Amanda Vanstone was pilloried for prior scandals unearthed during her watch, Immigration has vied with Defence for the title of the fatal portfolio. One can only wish Immigration Secretary Martin Bowles, lately a deputy secretary with defence, the very best of luck.

Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor

Fossilised thinking

George Monbiot (''Action on climate change? Not in my backyard'', January 2, p13) speaks for many of us with his frustration at the continuing failure by the world's leaders to confront the issues that will determine the survivability of our species.

His opening words are chilling: ''In 2012, governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority over an immediate concern, however trivial. I believe there has been no worse year for the natural world in the past half-century.'' He concludes with the view that without mass citizen mobilisation nothing will change.

So, how should Australians mass-mobilise to protect our children's future in an election year?

I think the rallying point should be coal exports, coal gas and the urgent necessity for a renewable energy future.

Diverting our leaders from their insane determination to exploit these fossil fuels is feasible and would have huge long-term economic and social benefits. ''New jobs from the sun. Leave the fossils in the ground!''

Bob Douglas, Aranda

Newstart realities

It is incorrect to imply, as Greens senator Rachel Siewert does (''Top MPs dodge flak on benefits'' , January 4, p6), that single parents moving to Newstart Allowance will lose the pensioner concession card.

All single parents eligible for Newstart (about 74,000 at this stage) will receive a new pensioner concession card in the mail shortly, and until then may use their old card for health services, reduced-cost medicines and other concessions.

A small number of single parents who are not eligible for an income support payment will no longer have access to a pensioner concession card but may still be eligible for family assistance and other payments.

More information about the recent changes is at humanservices.gov.au.

Senator Kim Carr, federal Minister for Human Services

The editorial (January 5) refers to ''the government's unwillingness to adjust the amount (set at about $246 a week) to reflect the inevitable rises in the consumer price index''.

In reality, the Newstart Allowance increases in line with the consumer price index twice a year, on March 20 and September 20.

Newstart is not keeping up with increases in the real cost of living because it is not increased in line with a wage-based index.

It is all very well to say that people are supposed to be on Newstart for only a short time, but the current rate of $35 a day is not enough for a person to live on even for a short time, unless they have managed to find rent-free accommodation.

Annette Barbetti, Kaleen

Now for 'real Katy'

We have had at least two ''real Julias'' and now Katy Gallagher is following the trend saying she has been too consultative and promising to be more decisive and taking control of decision making (''Gallagher vows to be more decisive'', January 5, p1).

We can believe that when we see or hear of it but I won't be holding my breath as it is not as if she hasn't been in a political decision-making position for quite a few years.

But if it comes to pass and other ministers take a cue from this then we don't need an increase in Assembly members and more ministers.

Eric Hodge, Pearce

Bag fee exists

I agree with much of what Crispin Hull says in his column ''Never-ending welfare story a blight on all'' (Forum, p.2, Saturday January 5) but it's obvious he doesn't do much grocery shopping. My local IGA charges 10¢ a bag, and most other supermarkets charge 15¢. Not much intention has been converted to action, I'm afraid.

Dick Parker, Page

To the point


While driving past Dickson Pool in the middle of the day, the car park was full. With the temperature at 37 degrees, no wonder so many people were at the pool. To my amazement, three rangers were placing parking tickets on the numerous cars parked on the verge or elsewhere off-road. Give patrons more parking or have some latitude on days like this. Maybe this is how we are going to pay for the Centenary celebrations! And, no, I did not receive a ticket, I was just driving past.

David Kurthi, Ngunnawal


The ''Website plan alerts buyers to dodgy builders'' (January 5, p9) is a fantastic idea. Those good builders should have nothing to fear. This could also include builders who change the design after approval, knowing the amended design would have met community resistance. We have one near us who started building more than three years ago but is still unfinished.

Geoffrey Davidson, Braddon


I share Bruce Pollock's frustration with the calibre of our local pollies (Letters, January 4). However, he perpetuates the myth that our local government is merely a ''town council''. I don't know of other councils that are responsible for such things as education, law and order, and health. These portfolios add considerably to the complexity of government; thereby adding to the workload of our pollies.

Gordon Fyfe, Kambah


Following the killing of 20 small children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, worried parents sent orders for ''Gunshot survival clothing for kids'' (January 4, p3). This, sadly, is an acknowledgement of anticipated defeat at the hands of National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre, who will persist in dissembling the second amendment.

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan, NSW


If fish are as intelligent as they say (Letters, December 30), any self-respecting carp, returned to the lake during the recent coarse-fishing competition, surely would have enough brains - like the little fishy who swam over the dam - to go downstream and be a pest in someone else's backwater, rather than stay in the lake and run the risk of being hooked again.

Col Whittaker, Torrens


I can only assume that the men David Hobson (Letters, January 5) has been talking to who think Julia Gillard is doing a remarkable job are Wayne Swan, Greg Combet, Bill Shorten, etc. As for the difficult circumstances, they are entirely of her own making.

Mark Sproat, Barton

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