Challenging the silences - but are pollies listening?
Julian Cribb (''So what if the well runs dry?'', March 15, p23) seems to be a visible conscience of our political leaders who refuse to contemplate Australia's future beyond the next election. Thank goodness, someone whose opinion can get media space dares to challenge the silences.
Food and fuel security are real issues, but ignored by the three major parties. They are just two of the many resource/environment/social issues hiding around the future corner. What will force our pollies to create what I'll call a ''future frame'' within which proposed policies can be fitted and judged?
While population-driven economic growth seems to work (primarily making money for business), it will remain the mantra for existing and prospective governments, despite the obvious reality that growth cannot continue indefinitely. Growth and its environment - there is a physical link between the two, dictating growth's limits. We can ignore that and continue as is and accept the economic/social/environmental consequences as we approach that limit. Or we can anticipate it and look for alternatives delivering short-term pain but long-term sustainability.
Either way there will be pain. The question is, which pain will be greatest?
Vince Patulny, Kambah
Thanks for Julian Cribb's article on Australia's energy security. The recent report by Air Vice-Marshal John Blackburn (ret'd) on Australia's liquid fuel security is a timely wake-up call. It highlights our dependence on imported fuels and graphically shows how this makes us vulnerable to a major disruption in overseas supplies.
National policies need to recognise the important role of alternate fuels such as biofuels, but also liquid and compressed gases. For the light vehicle transport sector, Australia has abundant indigenous supplies of LPG Autogas. There are more than 3700 service stations across the country supplying LPG Autogas to in excess of half a million vehicles.
Local car manufacturers employ world-class technology to produce dedicated LPG models and there is a network of equipment suppliers and installers ready to convert vehicles to run on LPG Autogas. At half the price of petrol at the pump, LPG Autogas should be at the forefront of government thinking in terms of energy security and reducing transport costs for Australian families. Yet surprisingly governments and industry consistently overlook this readily available domestic fuel when it comes to setting policies and buying fleets. In light of the Blackburn report it's time to rethink Australia's approach to energy security.
Mike Carmody, CEO, Gas Energy Australia
Vote lost to Labor
I have run out of reasons to vote Labor, after 38 years of support and 21 years in the union movement. My crime is that I am white, male, over 50 and earn more than $100,000. I don't tick any boxes; I am just there to be shafted, over and over and over again. Now, the government's attack on the private health system by removing the rebate from the lifetime loading is just one shafting too many. All I want to do is work, save for my retirement and look after my family. It's becoming impossible under Labor. I supported the mining tax, the carbon tax, going into deficit because of the GFC and efforts to get the budget into the black.
I even spoke up for refugees. I voted for what I thought was the greater good because I was still doing OK. I was annoyed when they reduced the amount I could sacrifice into my super fund, but it just meant that I now invest in property (where the money can't contribute to the national savings account). I went into private health insurance, copping the higher rates because of the lifetime loading. Now, this latest attack on the private health system is just one little thing too far.
I could never vote for Abbott, but I have no reason to vote for Labor. None.
Trevor Melksham, Kingston
Science is life
When noting that more than $200 million has been allocated to help fund the arts in the ACT (''Grating note from minister rattles CSO'', March 14, p4), we should keep a sense of proportion and remember the significance of science in our lives. The arts have their place, but scientific inventions and discoveries have been essential in the evolution of our modern way of life.
With developments in medicine, the achievement of space travel, the invention of computers, modern air travel, etc, together with discovery of the age and evolution of the planet, science has made discoveries and inventions that we can all too easily take for granted. Science is a global endeavour, and scientists must compete on a world stage. Their projects must be appropriately funded.
Sandy Paine, Griffith
Meet needs first
The article ''Cash-strapped trust faces flogging the furniture'' (March 14, p1) should be noted by all and considered by anyone seeking public funds.
Without passing judgment on heritage preservation, we have to ask, ''Do I want public funding before someone's need is met?''
Politicians are pressed for ever more government services. They're asked to spend public funds on wants that result in the neglect of needs. The schemes are administered by a diminished public service, resulting in reduced quality of service for needs.
Is it not better there are quality services for the disabled or fair benefits for the unemployed? Or that we pay better salaries to nurses so the needy do not wait years for treatment? Or we have fairly paid teachers? Or we have a justice system that is resourced to deliver timely justice ?
Our demand for public expenditure on wants is a sign of a society that has corrupted the meaning of proper government. Perhaps when the needs have been met, it is only then time to consider wants.
Hannu Mannering, Wanniassa
Coach is to blame
I'm not going to pass judgment on what Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson did; only comment on a possible reason why.
Maybe Dugan and Ferguson had a plan to get out of a contract with the Raiders because club management suffers from severe myopia.
David Furner can't ever seem to get the Raiders to fire up until mid-season and even then they often only play well for the first half of each match; this has happened every year that Furner has been coach. Furner was a good player but as a coach he is so far out of his depth it's not funny.
Surely, someone in the Raiders' management can see the problem. Furner seems incapable of doing the job, year after frustrating year.
After yet another abysmal effort against the Panthers, maybe Dugan and Ferguson had had enough of being in a badly coached side and wanted to be sacked to have the chance this year to play for a team with a coach who has the knowledge, skills and ability to take a team to the premiership.
There hasn't been one at the Raiders for a few years now.
Rory McElligott, Nicholls
While I note the eerie similarities between Josh Dugan and Todd Carney (tattoos and all), one really has to wonder about the geniuses at the Raiders who sent Dugan out to play in 30 degrees-plus on Sunday (not long after midday) given that a few days previously he had been in hospital with a raging fever (infected lip) on an antibiotic drip.
Then when the lad runs out of puff and gets flattened, these same geniuses wonder why he would be demoralised after the game. The headline in The Canberra Times the next day, ''Sick and sorry Dugan wilts in the heat'', wouldn't have done much for his morale either.
Philip Knopke, Kaleen
Love of freedom
Mark Slater (Letters, March 15) is simply not paying attention if he thinks the main opponents of Stephen Conroy's media legislation are News Limited and the opposition. Indeed, the outcry is coming from far and wide including Fairfax editorials, journalists from the left and the right, academics and average punters.
Perhaps the best comment I have read so far came from someone steeped in Labor politics, author and commentator Cassandra Wilkinson, who said, ''Overreaction to press censorship is the duty of every freedom-loving person.''
H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW
The Otway Ranges in Victoria have a plague of furry koalas and we have no such koalas. But we did have them, up on the Mount Mugga ridge in the early 20th century, and we could have them again, as the furry fellows may find our climate similar to their present locale.
So what became of the furry territorians back then? Disease, I imagine. Also, my own grandfather noticed that as rabbits appeared the koalas disappeared. Yes, there were actually no bunnies here in earlier times and no kanga-mates either.
So the new tree climbers would face dogs, vandals and, of course, eventual overpopulation.
Stuart J. McIntosh, Isabella Plains
It's good to see that Ian Warden is not being hypocritical and doesn't take to task those citizens he had encountered with signs referencing Prime Minister Julia Gillard in an unpleasant way (''Emotions run high at capital event'', March 13, p12). Warden's comments about Tony Abbott have always been less than kind.
Ordinary citizens who gatecrashed Chief Minister Katy Gallagher's party weren't turned away but the event was not listed on the Canberra 100 website.
It seems most Canberrans were irrelevant to this pageantry. We had had our circus and eventually our bread the day before.
David Jenkins (Letters, March 13) makes light of the omission of any role for the Leader of the Opposition. It was at the planning stage for the event that protocol applying a century after 1913 should have been considered.
Katy Gallagher's protestation apart, I assume it was an oversight by the organisers rather than a deliberate slight on a significant proportion of the Australian electorate.
John Bromhead, Rivett
Pope Francis lived as do the poor, a cause for our rejoicing
The election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the papacy is great news. Bergoglio is a genuinely spiritual soul, and a man of deep prayer who tends to accent growth in personal holiness over efforts for structural reform.
An accomplished theologian, he is especially well known for his great personal humility. Despite his status as a prince of the church, he chose to live in a simple apartment rather than in the archbishop's palace. He also cooked his own meals and gave up his chauffeured limousine in favour of taking the bus to work.
Bergoglio is also a staunch defender of Catholic moral teaching. He has especially opposed the intrinsic immorality of divorce, homosexual practices, abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and contraception. In 2010, he was one of the first to propose that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children. His doctrinal orthodoxy has always emphasised Christ's mandate to love: he is well remembered for his 2001 visit to a hospice, in which he washed and kissed the feet of 12 AIDS patients.
The new Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis, is a rare example of a humble intellectual. With him guiding the Barque of Peter the horizon looks bright not only for Catholics but for all men of good faith!
Rick Arlen, Kingston
Land lease reform
Christopher Erskine (''Time for a new lease on life'', March 9, p7) is correct that it was the writings of American political economist Henry George that inspired Canberra's founders to put in place a leasehold system of land tenure. It was envisaged by many, including Walter Burley Griffin, that land rent payments to the Commonwealth would provide an ever-increasing fund for the maintenance and development of a self-supporting national capital. Mr Erskine asks whether we should keep those remnants left of our leasehold system. However, we need to start with a deeper question. How can we secure equality of opportunity for our citizens?
Perhaps the most important part of Henry George's work was his discernment of the ''Law of Human Progress''. Hereby George demonstrated that there can be no real and sustainable social progress without association in equality, which in turn necessarily requires an equal right to use and enjoy the Earth. George then famously showed how the collection of land rent in lieu of taxes on labour could establish such an equal basis for economic and social relations.
Land rent may be collected under a variety of land tenure arrangements ranging from leasehold to fee simple.
It is the rent of land not the land itself that naturally belongs to the people in common. Further reform and extension of the ACT Land Rent Scheme is one means by which Canberra could realise the original progressive ideals espoused by our founders.
Ronald Johnson, secretary, Association for Good Government, ACT Branch
Monster bill control
Opening an electricity bill is rarely a pleasant experience, but this morning was different. Following December's bill, which had increased rates following the introduction of the carbon tax, I reviewed our electricity usage.
I changed to an off-peak electricity plan, and we now run the dishwasher and washing machine after 10pm. We turn off the TV at the wall and the office computers and printers except when in use, and don't leave lights running in empty rooms. Result - electricity consumption down about 35 per cent, and an electricity bill cut neatly in half, from $665 in December to just over $330 in March.
Matthew Thornhill, Deakin
PM's rubbery figures
The attack on 457 visa holders is just a diversion to stop us from looking at the invasion of illegal boat people under this Labor government. Let's be clear, Julia Gillard is saying she doesn't want 457 workers who pay tax and contribute to this country but prefers asylum seekers who are still on welfare after five years of being here. She is using rubbery figures and can't provide examples of rorting of the 457 visas. Gillard's attack is to also shore up union support because it is the corrupt unions that are keeping her in the Lodge.
William Burrell, Darling Heights, Qld
To the point
HERE ARE TWO CLUES
The editorial ''Child protection makes headway'' (March 13, p16) soft pedals around the two issues that leave children to suffer severe abuse and even death in our community. First are the bleating mobs of the stolen generations, Aborigines, forced adoptees, Barnados boys and all the rest who have cowed the body politic from what is, in extremis, the only solution, intervention.
Second is the entrenched unwillingness to cope with the undeniable streams of state-supported financial opportunists and deviates preying on vulnerable children and youths.
Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor
LAY OFF THE PM
I wish the media would lay off speculating about Julia Gillard. Understandably, the manner in which she became PM has something to do with it, but after three years it would be a sign of intelligence if the media thought of something else. I cannot help but think that the PM's gender has something to do with it, too.
M. Pietersen, Kambah
A SUPER SPECTACLE
What a spectacle, watching media report on media. I've never seen so many twisted knickers.
John Dinn, Ngunnawal
OF MYTHS AND MEN
In his article ''Celebrating all our heroes'' (March 14, p19) Brendan Nelson expresses concern that young veterans from contemporary conflicts are not joining the RSL. Has education perhaps facilitated their realisation that the nationalistic mantra ''for king and country'' was a shackling mythology that sacrificed lives for mere political whims?
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan, NSW
WILL ANYTHING CHANGE?
It's a little premature to be calling Francis the ''people's Pope'' (''New World's prayers answered for people's Pope'', March 15, p1). He might visit the poor and needy of Argentina but he acts against their best interest by resisting the introduction of free contraception - a main cause of the people's poverty. He may prove the doubters wrong but I for one am not holding my breath in the hope that anything much will change.
Eric Hunter, Cook
A WOW OF A TIME
When it comes to exhibitions, festivals, fireworks, Floriade and other spectacular public events, Canberrans are spoilt rotten. On top of all that, we had a big 100th birthday party. Unlike critics in ''Organisers proud of capital's $3 million party'' (March 15, p1), I had a wow of a time.
Spreading party events around the lake reduced traffic jams and aided crowd dispersal, enhancing the laid-back atmosphere.
Graham Macafee, Latham
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