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No drawbacks from smoke-free act that is almost 18 years old

Date

My daughter turns 18 soon. She was born shortly after the Smoke-free Areas (Enclosed Public Places) Act 1994 was passed. Like other Canberrans soon to come of age, she will reach adulthood without ever having known what it was like when smoking was allowed in hospital wards and schools, restaurants and cafes; buses and taxis allowed smoking by passengers - and often crew; or a trip to the bank meant standing in a fog of smoke.

This December marks the 18th anniversary of this legislation.

Thank you to the politicians from all parties who responded to public opinion and ensured that this ground-breaking legislation was passed, despite vigorous opposition from the tobacco industry and segments of the hospitality industry.

I hope that the ACT government will see fit to start planning to mark this milestone - the first generation to reach adulthood in a (mostly) smoke-free environment. I also hope that the Legislative Assembly will take steps to return the ACT to the forefront of tobacco reform for future generations.

Terri Henderson, Holder

Jury's out

Contrary to the opinion of John Bell (Letters, April 10), I believe that there is a place for conjecture over the influence that the personality of a judge will have on decision-making by the High Court. Judgments of the court cannot avoid reflecting the personality, indeed philosophical backgrounds and track records of the justices. To pretend that decisions are only in accordance with the intention as well as the letter of the law is unreal.

There is no better example than from the way in which the US Supreme Court is at present dealing with the case in which a challenge is being made to the recently enacted Obama health legislation. Here, it seems quite clear that the eventual decision will be a majority one, and very much reflecting the public leanings, if not bias, of the individual justices. The difference in America is that these matters are the subject of open debate and analysis much along the lines of the April 7 Forum article by Jack Waterford.

E. L. Fisher, Kambah

Koombana link

I was fascinated to read that the loss of the SS Koombana is to be commemorated at Port Hedland on April 27-28 (''Fateful ship has pearler of a story'', April 7, p13). My husband's great-uncle, Robert W. Main, had been a passenger on the ship and like all the others was lost at sea. He was travelling north to find a suitable place for a mission station for Aborigines on behalf of the Presbyterian Church of Western Australia.

I have a letter of his dated April 8, 1912, in which he indicated that he was very much looking forward to going and wherein he says ''I am leaving by the Koombana for Broome on 12th inst. Will reach there about 20th and start out immediately in a lugger … '' and he hoped to be back in Perth by the middle or end of May.

The West Australian published the first report of a cyclone in the north west on March 25, 1912, but though the ship was overdue, the manager of the Adelaide Steamship Company said that there was then ''no cause for anxiety''.

A further report appeared on March 26, when the company admitted some anxiety. But by April 3 the paper reported that a stateroom door and other small wreckage had been found bear Bedout Island. The next day it was reported that the Mineroo had picked up a smoke-room settee and part of a cabin drawer as well as the bottom boards of a boat in the same area. On Friday, April 5, the company finally announced formally that the Koombana had been lost and the search was abandoned on April 8.

A memorial service for those lost was held at St George's Cathedral, Perth, on Sunday April 7, the service having been taken by the Anglican Bishop of Perth, C. O. L. Riley. Perth's mayor established a relief fund for those who had lost their breadwinners in the disaster. On April 12, The West Australian reported that a memorial concert in aid of the relatives of those who lost their lives would be held in His Majesty's Theatre, Perth, on April 21.

Finally, on the basis of ''any port in a storm'' (no pun intended), the paper published an advertisement by the AMP Society referring to the fact that seven or eight victims had been insured with the society - it was suggested that you, too, should insure so that your dependents would not be left penniless should disaster overtake them.

A notice of Main's death was published in The West Australian on April 22.

Jean Main, Page

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