Federal Politics


US democratic principles don't stretch to Gaza Strip

More than 500 Hamas rockets killing three Israelis and it's a new holocaust; yet 1100 retaliatory strikes killing dozens of Palestinian civilians and it's no more than collateral road-kill. But who cares? They're only Arabs anyway and contribute little or nothing of significance to Democratic or Republican party coffers, the leaders of each having promised to maintain funding to Israel and supplying its military materiel irrespective of the outcome.

Political leaders correctly support Israel's right to protect its citizens but why can't the Palestinians expect recognition of the same right? Hamas is the closest they have to a defence body responding to the internationally recognised illegal occupation of Palestinian land and the ''surgical'' assassination of its commanders.

The US loudly promotes democracy but apparently only when elections give results it likes. Although elected by the people, Hamas was not the US choice so is therefore not legitimate. Its actions over the years of occupation echo to a minor extent those of the Irgun, Haganah and Stern gang of the 1940s that bombed, maimed and killed hundreds in their murderous and eventually successful quest for a Jewish homeland, with their leaders becoming heroic figures to Zionism.

Encouraged by ultra-Orthodox Jews who neither work for a living nor serve in the Israeli Defence Force but immerse themselves in the study of obscure and arcane texts promoting a return to a Greater Israel, the Israeli government, like its predecessors, shows little regard for international humanitarian law when it comes to self-interest and territorial expansion. As Prime Minister Netanyahu resisted previous cautionary approaches of US President Obama to military action in Gaza, his followers will hardly be trembling in their phylacteries and yarmulkes at Bob Carr's admonition to restraint.

John Murray, Fadden

Hate-filled Gazans terrorising and murdering Israelis do their people no favours; their actions bring ferocious retaliation, death, destruction. Hate-filled Israelis occupying, terrorising, and murdering Gazans do their people no favours; their policies trigger murderous actions by those they occupy, and concomitant trauma, death, and destruction on all.


To Israeli and Gazan leaders, ''What long-lasting good has come from your actions and policies? Is this really the 'better world' you want to leave for your children, and your children's children?'' I (a Jew) just returned from olive harvest in Palestine (West Bank). My Palestinian friends and I know there's a better way; our friendship and actions will lead to it.

Judy Bamberger, O'Connor

Daniel Flitton (''Gillard on a slippery slope with statement'', SMH, November 17, p14) gives new meaning to the term lopsided when he criticises Prime Minister Julia Gillard's response to the Gaza conflict.

Flitton contends that Gillard's failure to take issue with Israel's assassination of the Hamas leader, Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari, risks her being seen as willing to condone that act. Sadly, the truth is our Prime Minister and her government stand ready to condone any act or behaviour by either the US or Israel, regardless of their legality or morality.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

In an accidently live comment on the BBC Radio 4 program, Today, the British Chief Rabbi, Lord Sachs, answered a question honestly because he thought he was off the air. When asked ''what is going on in Israel and Gaza at the moment?'', He replied: ''I think it has got to do with Iran, actually.'' Well, was there ever any doubt about that, a Gaza sprat to catch an Iranian mackerel? Casualties? Who cares. Now you know.

Rex Williams, Ainslie

What is it Hamas doesn't understand about halting rocket attacks into southern Israel, so Gaza won't be attacked?

Vic Adams, Reid

Monarchy debate

In his misguided enthusiasm for the monarchy, Gary Kent (Letters, November 15) maligns me by ascribing bitterness, jealousy and radicalism to my moderate anti-monarchical position. I simply observe that he is absolutely correct in identifying symbolism as important. But the symbolism of a foreign, hereditary monarchy is clearly inimical to Australia's democratic and meritocratic development.

The symbolism of Camilla Windsor as a ''colonel in chief'' of an Australian institution is likewise at odds with national pride. The symbolism of the fealty of the military to a foreign monarchy is at odds with its role as solely a servant of this nation.

His assertion that the monarchy has ''worked well'' is flawed, unless the absence to date of a serious breakdown (other than 1975) can be misrepresented as ''working well''.

Monarchy has certainly not worked well in developing the important symbolism of Australia as a modern, independent, democratic meritocracy. Let us have symbolism that is reflective of contemporary Australia, its aspirations and its diverse cultures, rather than harking back narrowly to the obsolete and divisive Anglocentric cultures of the land of my birth.

Mike Hutchinson, Reid

Getting it right

I read Kerry Cue's article on the English language (Times2, November 7, p2) with great interest, but I found that it failed to uphold the highest standards of the English language - the very focus of the piece.

It is generally accepted practice that when one wishes to discuss the English language one makes an effort not to make any mistakes oneself. Unfortunately, Ms Cue hasn't managed to do this in her article.

Rule five, as presented in the article, says that having ''the Drunks' Word-a -Day Calender. That's enough''. This is a perfectly legitimate sentence but Ms Cue has used the word ''calender'' instead of the correct ''calendar''.

''Calender'' is a verb that means, the Macquarie Dictionary says, ''a machine in which cloth, paper or the like is smoothed, glazed, etc., by pressing between revolving cylinders''.

Perhaps Ms Cue is referring to a need to push drunkards through large rollers to flatten them out, which would have made for much more interesting reading than some linguistic investigation into the words for being drunk.

Jasper Lindell, Weston

Rays on the roof

Stephanie Anderson (''Revolutionary home moves with the times'', November 15, p1) has certainly reported on a revolutionary type of solar installation for the ''revolutionary home''.

Where can I buy these solar cells? Sadly, someone seems to have mixed up their units. A couple of quick checks show that the output probably should have been only 10.5kW or 10,500W - not the stupendous 10,500kW reported. The maximum solar radiation incident on the Earth's surface is 1kW, in round figures. So at the very most 700kW or so would hit the 704 square metre block, much less than 10,500kW.

In addition, commercial solar cells are only about 12 per cent efficient at converting solar radiation to electricity. To generate 10.5kW requires at least 87 sq m of roof area, quite reasonable for a local home. It is still larger than the 3kW to 5kW of solar cells that appear to be a typical domestic installation here, but homes are often limited by their existing shape (often half the roof is pitched in the wrong direction), and by cost considerations.

As an engineer I am interested to know why the choice appears to have been made to use photovoltaic electricity to heat water, rather than a direct solar water heater. I am also intrigued how the connections to electricity, water, sewer and stormwater are made to the rotating structure, or is the wet stuff limited to a non-rotating core?

Mike Johnson, Chapman

Cue Keating

Having not heard from Paul Keating for a while, I wondered when he might spew forth again (Keating blasts Asia relations'', November 15, p1).

First, he completely misreads Asia with his Sinophile tilt, which is not shared in Asia at all. Most of Asia wants the US and India to be counterweights to China and this is the official and stated view of a number of ambassadors in Canberra. Second, while he has a valid point about refugee and live animal export issues affecting relationships with Malaysia and Indonesia, relations with these countries have never been better.

It is odd for Keating to assail Labor, and the Howard government, for managing relations with their friends and allies quite well. What his comments do reflect is that successive governments, since he left office, have managed relations better than he did, and that reflects poorly on him.

M. Gordon, Flynn

Of worms and cans

''Confidential''. A wonderful word, is it not? Priests hearing confidential confessions; lawyers receiving clients' confidential admissions of crimes; journalists receiving confidential information from criminals; police receiving confidential information of crimes committed, and politicians receiving insider information on coal deposits. The list is endless.

Will the royal commission pursue lawyers, journalists, police officers and politicians on confidentiality as assiduously as it will doubtless pursue confidentiality in the confessional?

Of course it won't. Nonetheless, I sense those worms a-wriggling in their unopened cans. Joh Bjelke-Petersen once said that a government should not call for an inquiry unless it knows the answers; what worms are in the can. I wonder if the PM was listening?

John Bell, Lyneham

Lost in translation

If aristocracy is regarded not as a legitimate aristocracy (rule by the best) but rather as a plutocracy (rule by the wealthy), saying that the new general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, is ''a son of the communist aristocracy'' (''All power to China's new kings, Xi and Li'', November 16, p1) may be lost, and litigious, in Mandarin translation.

Noelle Roux, Chifley

You can take it on trust, monogamy is both alive and well

As I read Stuart Jeffries' article (''Is monogamy dead?'', Times2, November 14, p4-5), it appeared very well argued, and to be honest, in this day and age, seems to have a ring of truth. However, as I consider the many people I have watched first hand go through devastating marriage breakdowns due to adultery, I do not believe the emotions felt are purely because we have been conditioned to a wrong expectation of monogamy.

The article seems to miss two significant issues, one being that for a truly fulfilling sexual relationship, particularly from the woman's perspective, there has to be a deep level of trust. If the partner is either known to be in another sexual relationship or ''found out'', that trust can be undermined.

Second, when another person is included in a relationship, it can produce a power imbalance. This happens in adulterous relationships and polygamous relationships. Often, one person is left feeling used, abused or inadequate.

I find it hard to believe both partners will be totally accepting of others in their relationship without at some stage experiencing hurt and lack of trust.

One colleague of mine many years ago boasted that she and her husband (her third) believed in open relationships. She loved to talk about their sexual exploits and how they would meet their lovers at science conferences. I remember her excited about someone she was planning to meet at a conference we were all attending interstate. We all found it a bit ''out there''. After we returned to work, the woman's husband turned up to work in tears - his wife had decided she preferred her lover. She left her two primary school-aged boys and husband, and convinced the lover to leave his family to live with her. The husband admitted he had run off with her under similar circumstances a few years earlier.

Can you honestly convince me that these people were happier living such open relationships? What about the children? What about the spouses left feeling inadequate, hopeless?

My husband and I have been married for close to 27 years; I am married to my best friend, and our relationship gets better and better by the year. So in my experience, monogamy works very well, and those who choose to dabble inevitably cause great hurt and heartache to the very ones they claim to love.

Sita Matthews, Curtin 

Save our children

Once again I have watched a story on the news where another young person dies in a car accident. When do we say enough? Why do we let our children kill themselves in cars? We know the cause - alcohol and speed - but still we let our beautiful kids die.

If we want the statistics to change, our attitude must change.

I know that it will annoy some people but would raising the age to 21 for 0.0 blood alcohol at an RBT save lives? Would raising the actual age to purchase alcohol to 21 stop our kids dying on our roads?

Do we even need to drink alcohol at 18 years of age? Are our kids responsible enough to handle driving and drinking? Stats say no! Are our kids more valuable than the right to consume alcohol at 18? Yes!

Warren Higgins, Macgregor 

Beg to differ

Reading the typical tired old opinion of workers as expressed by K. Palmer (Letters, November 15) makes me think this person is obviously an ex-manager.

I also have a lot to do with building workers in an education role and my experience is virtually 100 per cent opposite to that of K. Palmer.

I can assure you they are all 100 per cent interested in safety.

But in a very high percentage of cases they report to me, they have the same problems with their supervisors and managers as reported by the dismissed worker, Dean Mileham (''Out of site: worker who raised safety issues loses his job'', November 15, p2) in that they get very little satisfaction raising safety issues - and are often bullied and intimidated into remaining silent for fear of losing their job.

I do agree with K. Palmer that it is necessary to change the culture. But my argument is you start with the managers and supervisors. The ''strong-arm'' tactics he talks about are with the managers. If a manager is afraid of the union, it is because that manager knows he/she is not doing the right thing.

Geoff Barker, Flynn

To the point


Surely Israel must have calculated that the killing of the Hamas commander would invite retaliation and result in deaths of its citizens. The people on both sides must be wondering how long must this costly and futile vengeance go on.

Sam Nona, Burradoo, NSW


In his article ''PM's inquiry will bite many'' (November 14, p17), Jack Waterford writes that among the things that he can ''safely predict'' is that ''half of the victims will be of the same sex as the perpetrator, but the experts will think that this is less reflective of the basic sexuality than a matter of opportunity''. Where does he get his statistics from, and is he predicting a cover-up of the facts due to the political correctness of the ''experts''?

P. Edwards, Holder


Catholic priests have caused much trouble. If the Church modernised its rules so priests could marry, like other denominations, it should help. 1 Corinthians Chp.7.v.9: ''It's better to marry than burn.'' 1 Timothy Chp.3 v.1-13: ''A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife …''

Sheila Keunen, Page


I congratulate the government for its decision to hold a royal commission into child abuse. I also congratulate them for the breadth of the investigation. However, if the recent concentration of the media on the question of the confessional is any guide, this investigation will take 20 years, not the nine years it took in Ireland, the only other country to hold such an inquiry. Most of the victims cannot wait that long. Let's stop with the logjams.

Stan Cronin, Watson


China has just announced its seven-person politburo, which is charged with governing the country's population of more than 1.3 billion people. In Canberra, there is discussion about a cabinet of six to govern the ACT with about 1.299 billion less than that. Something doesn't add up.

Brian Bell, Bonython


As if the outrageous encroachment of Christmas getting earlier each year isn't enough, the marketers have hit a new low with Christmas-themed nappies. Far be it from me to put crap on the Yuletide, the companies have done it for me.

Linus Cole, Palmerston


Is it just me or does the new Nishi complex in Acton look as though it was designed by two architects who never spoke to each other?

David Mann, Kambah

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