Federal Politics


Torture for a photo op

WHAT a sad photo and story on page 3 of last week's Sunday Canberra Times (''Oh my cod: the night Rob tamed 'The Hulk'''). That 30- or 40-year-old native fish, and member of a threatened species, is no ''monster'' - no ''hulk'', nor ''beast''. He was simply minding his own business until some human thought it would be fun, an adrenalin shot, ''the fight of his life'' to put a metal hook through the mouth and haul him out of the water to be posed, unable to breathe, for a photo op. When are humans going to learn to live with other species without subjecting them to pain, stress and death for entertainment and fun?

Alan Bateman, Lyneham

WHAT if that native animal Rob Paxevanos (''Oh my cod: the night Rob tamed 'The Hulk''', December 23, p3) impaled and dragged into an environment where he couldn't breathe had been a native mammal or bird instead of a native fish?

Would The Canberra Times publish a photo of the animal being held underwater? Fish are like all vertebrates with a central nervous system, they have intelligence and, most importantly, sentience. It's time we started treating them better - at least as ''well'' as we treat other animals.

Mike O'Shaughnessy, Spence

All aboard for Tassie

EVENTS continuing to be reported in The Canberra Times show just how desperate economic refugees are to escape their circumstances.


To undergo a dangerous sea voyage to Christmas Island and then take the risk of being shunted to Nauru before being allowed to settle in an Australian city providing greater economic hope must take real guts.

Now that Canberra has been declared the most expensive city in which to live in Australia and Hobart has been declared the cheapest, does this mean Canberra's economic underprivileged should undertake a sea voyage to King Island and claim refugee status to obtain assisted admission to the Apple Isle?

An intermediate sojourn at Port Arthur might be a prerequisite for doubtful cases but federal government payments similar to those paid to foreign refugees, which of course are greater than those payable to the unemployed Australian citizen, will ensure the Tasmanian unemployment stats are not affected.

I am sure, in co-operation, the state and territory governments will be able to reach a satisfactory answer to this economic refugee problem. They certainly could not do worse than the federal government.

Max Lotton, Surf Beach, NSW

Limits of prohibition

THE NEWS about a relatively small number of customs officers suspected of misconduct or corruption has set alight the media. I say relatively small because there are about 5000 customs officers all told, and 15-20 may be involved.

It has also seen the resurfacing of calls for an inquiry into prohibition of drugs and their use. No prohibiting law ever enjoys total success. Drink-driving is a good example. Several TV programs weekly show us the mortality and morbidity caused by drinking to excess, too often combined with illegal drug use. If the road trauma figures increase unacceptably from time to time we don't ask for an inquiry - we ask for more police patrols on our roads!

It may be surprising to some, but Tobacco Underground, a project of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, has reported that tobacco is the world's most widely smuggled legal substance. So much for the concept that legalisation will resolve the problems of illegal drugs and their use.

Colliss Parrett, Barton

More people, less water

THE ARTICLE by Peter Jean (''ACT gains in population stakes'', December 26, p1 & p2) and the editorial (''Bigger city'', December 27, p16) both portray the rapid growth of the ACT's population (second only to WA) as something we should be comfortable about. It was only a few years ago that we were on stage 4 water restrictions and the option of adding recycled sewage into the water supply was being debated. The Cotter Dam extension has provided water security for a population of 450,000. The current population is quoted as around 374,700 with a growth rate of 1.9 per cent. That means within 10 years, water supply will once again become an issue. Dryer years ahead are forecast so it could happen even sooner - what then?

A. Quinn, Palmerston

Keep your shirts on, boys

ON PAGE 49 of last week's Sunday Canberra Times there is a pic of Brumbies player Fotu Auelua with upper body covered and on page 50 a pic of Canberra United's Ellie Brush with upper body covered, then on page 51 a pic of Melbourne Victory's Archie Thompson with chest bare.

What is it with Australian male soccer players that they seem to feel the need to strip before a crowd at every given opportunity?

Is it a ''look at moi, look at moi'' copy-cat reaction to overseas on-pitch macho bravado, or is it in this case just a Melbourne thing? Whatever it is, real men in real footy don't need the look at moi moment, nor do real women in real soccer.

My advice to Thompson and his fellow Australian male soccer players in the new year is - keep your shirts on, boys. You are giving our real men and real women in footy an embarrassing name.

John Bell, Lyneham

Why pay for professors?

ANDREW BARR is looking for a naming sponsor for Canberra Stadium (''Centenary paves way for name deal'', December 23, p54). I have a suggestion.

Not too far away is another wasteful monolith which is keen to use its money to promote its name. The University of Canberra has sacrificed everything else on the altar of the market and making a profit - sorry, a surplus - so why not $500,000 for the naming rights to the stadium?

It could pay for it out of all the money it saves through employing casuals, sacking current permanent staff and the ongoing process of destroying academics, euphemistically called assistant professors. Of the current 178 of such beings, one dean has said about 20 will survive. UC's predicted reportable surplus for 2012 is over $12 million, so half a million paid for by job losses, wage restrictions and overworked and stressed out staff is little to pay to have the name of this ''education'' institution flashed around the rugby union and rugby league world once or twice a week for a few months. It might even attract some fee-paying students, which is just one part of the neo-liberal agenda destroying higher education in Australia.

John Passant, Kambah

Safety starts at the top

I THINK the very articulate letter of Lorenzo Whit (December 23) is extremely accurate in the assessment of safety on a construction site.

His assessment that safety is ''an industrial issue'' is true, though only to the extent that employers and employer representatives make it so.

Whit's letter says that safety often depends on the ''constant vigilance of elected union delegates''. Why are not employers being constantly vigilant? And indeed why aren't the employer representatives being constantly vigilant?

My assessment is that the employer representatives (MBA, HIA, etc) are ''the union'' for their members and they do no more than is absolutely necessary to meet regulations.

What is needed is a safety culture which should start at top management, and employees will become attuned in exactly the same way.

Geoff Barker, Flynn