Injustice as shot man loses award, sex romper wins compo
How can this be? A young man suffering a psychotic episode roams the streets near his house, chanting religious slogans, waving a kendo stick. He threatens and hurts no one and is not armed with deadly weapons.
Within less than a minute of arriving on the scene a police officer shoots him, rendering him a quadriplegic. And he is entitled to no compensation whatsoever (''Family devastated as $8m in damages denied'', December 18, p1).
No, I am not lawyer, no I have not listened to all the evidence nor read the findings of the court, just followed this sad and distressing case like so many others in The Canberra Times. Most right thinking people would agree that somehow, by some means, the Crowley family, who have always conducted themselves with quiet dignity, needs the assistance of this community. I don't have the answer, but we have a compassionate government in the ACT. We must strive to find a way.
Judy Aulich, Giralang
I am shocked and disgusted that the ACT Court of Appeal today upheld an appeal to deny Jonathan Crowley the $8 million in damages he was awarded earlier this year.
It might well hinge on a point of law intriguing to legalists, but where is the justice? A whole family is suffering, not only Jonathan. The courts gobble up money in legal fees. Caring for a paraplegic takes money and time both of which are running out.
Eleven years is a long time to seek financial relief.
It is particularly ironic to have read in Monday's Canberra Times that a public servant on a work trip, having sex with a male friend in a motel room, who was superficially injured when a light fitting broke, has been deemed to have been ''at work'' and has been awarded compensation.
The law is an ass!
Bea Duncan, Barton
No wonder so many have lost faith in our system of justice.
On Monday, the ACT Supreme Court determined that the AFP did not have a duty of care to Jonathan Crowley when its officers shot him, turned him into a quadriplegic and set him and his family on a path to ruin.
Down the road a piece, the Federal Court determined the employer of an unnamed commonwealth public servant, who was ''injured'' during a sexual frolic in a motel room, was liable for her injury, as she was technically ''at work'' at the time.
These decisions should surely make us all feel ashamed to be Australian.
John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW
The ACT community has a right to feel outrage at the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Jon Crowley.
How a man who was well known to police and mental health services, experiencing a mental health episode, can be confronted by police, ordered to put down the weapon, a stick, sprayed with capsicum spray and then shot, all in the space of 42 seconds, can be treated thus amazes me.
If there was no duty of care attributed to mental health services or the police, one can only assume that this man who was not in control has a duty of care to himself. How ludicrous.
The mental health services and police and now the community through this court decision has let a vulnerable member of our community down and it is he and his family who wear the burden.
Jon is a friend of mine and now I can't look him in the face without feeling shame for having abandoned him.
John Hargreaves, Wanniassa
It is reported the federal government is to divert $375 million from foreign aid to give to asylum seekers but would not think about diverting funds from foreign aid into fixing this country's dwindling infrastructure.
It proves we are becoming second-class citizens in our own country.
It is time we got rid of all the half-witted, incompetent politicians who are destroying this country.
N.W.H. Timms, Bungundarra, Qld
Civic the right site
There has been some discussion recently about the route and station location of the mooted inter-city fast train in Canberra. Clearly the station should be in Civic. That ''transformative'' location would have synergies with many commercial, tourist, cultural, national-capital, and municipal activities. It should be remembered that stations can successfully be cul-de-sacs. One route could see the line coming in from Sydney, as at present, across Griffin's Causeway Crossing, arcing on at high level above and on the line of Parkes Way, dipping under it at Anzac Parade and up again to an elevated station near the Civic Pool (the station mostly shielded from view from Capital Hill by the Commonwealth Park topography).
The line to Melbourne could then follow Parkes Way west, skirting the north end of the Brindabellas towards Gundagai. Alternatively, that station could be a cul-de-sac with the train exiting back towards Queanbeyan and then south via a mooted Monaro route. Railway yards could be near the existing Kingston station. Another scenario could see the line coming in from the north at high level in a plexiglas cocoon above and on the line of Northbourne Avenue to a cull-de-sac station integrated with the overdue development of City Hill. In that case, railway yards could be at Mitchell (not a good place for the station).
Jack Kershaw, Kambah
I refer to the article ''No more loud ads'' (December 15, p18). Let's hope the new American CALM [Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation] Act might stir the Australian authorities into action. It's past time our homes were protected against the excessively loud commercials foisted upon us. I tend to watch ABC and SBS, but if there are good programs on the commercial channels I record them so I can fast-forward through the ads and thus protect my ageing ears. The next step would be to enforce a reasonable level of sound in our movie theatres. I hope there are lots of audiologists in training because hearing loss is going to become far more prevalent due to the excessive decibels inflicted on us.
Maureen Blackmore, Pearce
What hope peace?
It appears that I have inadvertently flushed out Palestinian apologist Evan Jones, a retired political economist from the University of Sydney (Letters, December 15). He is known for various ''rants'' on the Independent Australia website. It is not possible to debate people like Jones so I suggest that those interested should research his unsupported statement that ''Ehud Barak offered nothing at Camp David in 2000''. A start could be googling Wikipedia under Israeli Peace Process. And I note he does not dispute my statement that the head of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, said recently that ''Hamas will never accept any peace deal whilst Israel exists''. What chance has peace got?
Ric Hingee, Duffy
Whether the increase in parking fees will actually deter car use, as the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate suggests ('Parking fees rise to deter car use', December 15, p1), depends on two things: whether journeys by private vehicle are discretionary, and whether there are other viable modes of transport. Have those questions even been asked? Or is this another case of policy driven by an almost religious belief in price-responsiveness?
For many trips, there is less flexibility than policy makers may think; where there is flexibility, it is reasonable to assume that people may redirect their visits to other more-accessible suburban areas rather than rely on Canberra's inadequate public transport whose schedule does not even acknowledge late-night shopping and which is simply not a practical option when you are loaded down with work stuff, gym stuff and shopping, or even when you want to stay in Civic after 11pm. Simplistic policy responses such as ''raise parking fees'' show no understanding of the complex factors that support the use of private cars instead of public transport. Raising parking fees will only lead to more inconvenience and financial pressure on those for whom driving is not a choice but a necessity.
Karina Morris, Weetangera
Suppliers to blame
As one with engineering and science qualifications, I fully endorse what Peter Rusbridge (Letters, December 12) had to say about ''ACT to move on shoddy engineers''. But, as he says, the problem is systemic across many professions and has been this way for more than 30 years. In my mind the problem stems from governments and non-engineer management having abdicated their responsibilities to specify independently their requirements, by allowing the suppliers to tell them what they shall have.
Classic examples, in my opinion, are our education system (just reported on as failing by world standards) and the provision of capital systems for Defence, where reports are non-ending about massive cost overruns, late deliveries and poor operational performance. In the case of education, government deferred long ago to the teaching sororities/fraternities to set syllabuses. In the case of Defence capital acquisition, engineering staff have been depleted in number and status in favour of clerks and accountants who have thought that functional specifications for equipment was the way to go, only to find that the suppliers are playing them for every dollar they can. With the diminution of its engineering capability, how can Defence be a smart buyer ? Without engineering expertise, how do you know what you are getting?
M. Silex, Greenway
Thank you to all the 666 ABC Canberra listeners who have been in touch with me, including via The Canberra Times' letters page, after hearing about the changes at the station next year. Your kind comments have been much appreciated, but far from being ''dumped'' from Drive, I've decided that after 13 years presenting a daily program on 666 it's time to do something different. My new role as field and online reporter means I'll be out and about and sharing the stories I find with you on the radio, on our website and through social media. While there are many things I will miss about presenting Drive, I'm looking forward to connecting with you in new ways.
Louise Maher,, ABC Canberra Drive Presenter
The poor deserve our help, not to suffer their misfortunes
I had always thought that the expression ''the deserving poor'' referred to those people deserving of our help and sympathy because of their poverty, but Nicholas Kristof (''Cashing in on failure'', Times 2, December 12, p4) obviously interprets it as meaning people who deserve to suffer their misfortunes.
The whole article reads like an apology for those rich Americans who are fighting tooth and claw to keep their tax rates low, and is strongly reminiscent of Mitt Romney's diatribe against people who do not pay taxes and expect the state to support them.
He lauds the efforts of the Save the Children Fund to encourage education in Appalachian communities, without apparently being at all embarrassed that this organisation has to work in one of the richest countries in the world. He also praises the mayor of San Antonio for adding an extra (admittedly minuscule) amount to their local GST to fund preschooling programs. It does not concern him that in the USA this tax is applied to food, thus adding to the financial burden of the poor.
The evil single mothers who refuse to marry because they will lose some of their government benefits come in for a serve. He does not seem to be aware that for every single mother there must be a single father, often some feckless oik who got the girl pregnant and then refused any responsibility. Of course single-mother households are poor: it is very difficult for a mother to work and care for her children. Kristof's story of the pregnant Anastasia McCormack is a case in point. Kristof also forgets that the evil single mothers may have been married when their welfare-sucking children were born.
Another case study he cites, that of Britny, the girl with the ''crackling intelligence'' who hopes to do nursing training, emphasises the point that ''the poor'' are just like us rich folks: some are smart and some are stupid; some are motivated and some are lazy; some are trustworthy and some are dishonest. The Britnys of the world will probably rise above the poverty level, but what about people who are not very intelligent and those whose backgrounds do not provide them with examples or incentive to succeed? Very few rich people come from very poor families.
Moreover, modern technology is rapidly doing away with the kinds of jobs that can be done by people who are not very bright and have little education.
We have entered into a new industrial revolution. When I was young there were a lot of jobs that have now disappeared. A few examples: typing pools and telephone exchanges are no more; garbage trucks once had crews of five and now are controlled by one person; bus conductors have vanished; and now the supermarkets are doing away with check-out operators.
You cannot blame the poor for being ''content to bludge on welfare'' if there are no jobs available to them. Nor can you blame them for preferring welfare to military service. As I remember it from the Vietnam era, the rich kids were just as eager as the poor kids to dodge the opportunity to have their heads shot off by people with whom they had no quarrel. Kristof smugly congratulates God's Own Country for the programs that have ensured ''nearly all'' homes in the Appalachian area have electricity and running water and aren't starving.
But he goes on to say that most poor families have air-conditioning, washing machines, clothes driers etc, with the obvious implication that they have no right to such luxury. But the whole society is based on the big sell (watch The Gruen Transfer if you don't believe me). The postwar boom led everyone to expect this higher standard of living. I for one would have to be damn hungry before I'd go back to doing the washing the copper-and-tubs way. Moreover a lot of advertising is aimed at people who do not have the intelligence to resist it. From the no-downpayment and X months to pay giant TV, to the scandalous housing loan scam that caused so much damage to poor Americans in the financial crisis, unscrupulous people are out to grab every cent.
As for the parents keeping their children out of special education courses so they can qualify for a disability pension - I'd like to see the figures!
Barbara Fisher, Cook
To the point
HOPE FOR ASSANGE
Julian Assange will be mildly heartened that after 10 years Gary McKinnon has escaped extradition from Britain to the US for hacking the Pentagon and NASA (''No UK charges for UFO hacker'', December 16, p16).
Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor
LOST IN DIRECTIONS
Thomas Broom (Letters, December 15) appears to be under the misapprehension that the NSW-ACT border runs along the rail lines at Queanbeyan station. This is not the case as the border actually runs along the edge of Railway Street between the McEwan Avenue Bridge and the Cooma branch line. This can be verified in the original border survey field books on the ACTPLA website. The field book A497 V13 to Q15 River Traverses FC18 Sheet 5, 6 shows this deviation from the railway on page 9.
Mark Dawson, Gordon
LANDCARE FOR OAKS ESTATE
Landcare Inc supports calls by Oaks Estate residents to protect the intrinsic heritage and environmental values of this unique area of Canberra. Having members from Oaks, Queanbeyan Landcare is well aware of the many reasons why better protection of this area at the confluence of the Molonglo and Queanbeyan Rivers is justified. We hope elected representatives succeed in broking cross-border agreement on better preserving Oaks Estate.
R. Bernard, chairman, Queanbeyan Landcare Inc
NO OFFENCE, POPE
This is not the first time that I have had cause to protest to you about offensive themes in the work of your cartoonists. Saturday's editorial cartoon by Pope (Letters, December 15, p6) features buckets of faeces, a material with which he seems to be obsessed. A good cartoon makes its point by wit and accurate targeting. The crude and offensive is never a substitute. Perhaps you could persuade Pope that he needs to go and see someone?
Dr Alan N. Cowan, Yarralumla
WORDS IN OVERDRIVE
In last week's food guide your wine expert, Chris Shanahan, wrote that the Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ''leaps out of the glass into your face, the variety's raucous bonhomie in overdrive''. What does this mean? Do people actually talk like this?
What's wrong with ''Not a bad drop. Goes well with fish''?
Martin Page, Waramanga
TIME TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
All joking aside, what sort of society are we becoming where more and more people are refusing to accept responsibility for their own actions (''Motels sex was work: court goes for compo'', December 17, p1), or is this another case of the legal profession feathering its own nest by encouraging ridiculous litigation?
Les Neulinger, Farrer
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