Federal Politics


War memories at odds

AS A conscription candidate who, like Jack Waterford, did not go to Vietnam in 1966 because my birthdate marble was not drawn from the barrel, I was intrigued to read Waterford's memory of those draft-dodging days (''How I Lost My Marbles'', CT, November 2) .

I find it interesting that two ageing baby boomers have different memories of a conflict in which neither of us fired a shot on the battlefield.

Like Waterford and me, many of the eligible young men had no problem with conscription. Many had no problem going to Vietnam, either.

However, Waterford's memory that the protest movement was dominated by a hippy new left that accepted that the Vietnam conflict was communist is at odds with the shouting hippy protesters I remember on the streets in Alice Springs and Melbourne of my youth.

Unlike Waterford, I don't recall any draft dodgers being critical of the conscientious objector strategy. Rather, they embraced it wholeheartedly, without shame.

If ever there was a single issue on which all the protesting hippies were united in their screaming abuse of anyone who dared to support going to Vietnam, it was that the people were rising up as one against Yank imperialistic oppression. Also that Russian and Chinese communist involvement in the conflict was a myth, a huge lie, a reds-under-the-beds scare campaign orchestrated by the US and its [Harold] Holt Liberal government ''stooges''.


I recall them spitting on our returning soldiers as they marched up Collins Street in Melbourne.

Perhaps the hippies of Waterford's Canberra were a little more enlightened to the reality of the huge communist support for the Hanoi regime.

The new left hippy idea that the Vietnam conflict was a united nationalistic uprising is also at odds with my memory that this was a bitter battle to the death between the people of the Saigon south, including the Montagnard tribe of the jungle regions of the interior, and the different tribal people of the north.

The south Vietnamese refugees of the 1970s who are now Aussie citizens will attest to that fact.

Like Waterford, I recall that Whitlam officially ended conscription.

However, I distinctly recall that it was the previous Liberal government, not the 1972 Whitlam government that began the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam. We are a strange lot, we Baby Boomers and our conflicting memories. Generation Y must think we have lost our marbles.

John Bell, Lyneham

'60s shirker a shocker

HOW disgusting and ashamed I was to read Jack Waterford's comment that he was only 20 and couldn't vote as an excuse to avoid going to Vietnam.

Many loyal Australians of his age heeded the government's call to enlist and join other Australians and allies in the fight against communism.

But I guess being a draft dodger, a member of a left-wing student union and Draft Resisters Union probably made many of the servicemen and women of his day quite glad he wasn't sent to Vietnam with them.

They had enough enemies in the Viet Cong and NVA to contend with.

Thank goodness we have the type of men and women in the ADF today who obey and answer the country's call and not the shirkers of the '60s.

Paul Threlfall, Chisholm

Ban all toxic shipments

I AM shocked at the large number of imported food shipments which have been reported as rejected/banned from foreign countries due to bacterial and chemical contaminations (''Imports make up toxic takeaways'', Sunday Canberra Times, December 2, p7).

However, I don't understand why these foodstuff shipments have all not been banned rather than some just rejected.

If these imports were to place at risk our agricultural industries, I am sure stronger action would have occurred.

AQIS should be banning all these products for long periods and should also be placing a levy on all imported foodstuffs to cover the costs of monitoring and checking these products.

Robert Mair, Palmerston

Losing sight of the issue

IN RESPONSE to the article The Canberra Times, December 7, by Noel Towell ''Construction Chaos leaves truce in ruins''.

I believe we are losing sight of the main issue here, workplace safety!

The CFMEU is committed to ensuring, one simple message, when you go to work, you have the 'right' to return home.

Employers are ignoring the evidence that is in front of them, that we are experiencing, an unacceptable volume of accidents and fatalities.

This is due to pressure, progress and the employers ability to negate safety.

How many more fatalities are the construction industry willing to accept, before the government has no option but to intervene?

John Miller needs to accept responsibility for his actions, and more importantly his claims.

John Dunmore, Dickson

What price security

I NOTE with interest that the government is to spend $5 million to upgrade security at Canberra airport following an audit by Roger Beale (''$5m security upgrade for Canberra Airport'', December 5, p5).

This is no doubt very worthwhile although I do sometimes think there may be too many police officers and private security guards at our airports.

However, it is odd that we seem to be able to afford massive expenditure on airport security, the new ASIO headquarters and Defence's HJOC at Bungendore while not being able to afford to secure our naval and military bases.

Timothy Walsh, Garran

Oh please, Mr Swan

TREASURER Wayne Swan says the big banks shouldn't be taking their customers for a ride. They should be passing on the full interest rate cuts to their customers.

However, Swan's government hasn't passed on any of these cuts to the deeming rate for pensioners and part pensioners. Talk about hypocrisy.

He is only intent on achieving a surplus at the expense of his poorest customers.

A rise in pensions could help to improve the Australian economy because this section of the community has to spend all of what it receives to survive.

Ken Waters, Maida Vale, WA

All nuts to me

EVELYN BEAN (December 2) need only read the front page of this Sunday Canberra Times to find that vegetarianism is no guarantee of safe food. Some growers of her beloved peanuts are just as ready to put the health of their customers at risk as some meat producers.

Peanuts with pesticides anyone?

In addition the peanut plant is susceptible to the mould Aspergillus flavus which produces a dangerous carcinogenic substance called aflatoxin.

Roast beef is far safer, and tastier.

Neil Porter, Hughes

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