Trust eroded by rhetoric and reality on Afghanistan
Malcolm Turnbull has put trust onto the political agenda. While the gap between rhetoric and reality over ongoing Australian participation in the war in Afghanistan which didn't get a mention in that debate it certainly doesn't help restore trust in government. The rhetoric of ''staying the course'' and sacrifice to secure our safety gets thinner by the hour.
The reality is that we have military forces in Afghanistan as part of the Australian government's down payment on maintaining good relationships with the United States. No more no less.
That down payment is not merely financier in terms of the cost of deployment. It involves an increasing number of deaths of Australian servicemen, and less visibly the long term impact of post traumatic stress disorder. The families and communities of those affected by this disorder will also pay a high price. The gap between the rhetoric of both government and opposition and the reality on the ground is stark and can only contribute to the ongoing erosion of trust in the political process.
Doug Hynd, Stirling
I have just read Volume 1 of One Very Big Year, the Canberra centenary program for summer-autumn.
I was going to invite friends of mine from Sydney and Melbourne to Canberra next year but have decided against this. The program is trite in the extreme and I noted most events publicised would have taken place anyway whether it was the centenary celebration or not. Certainly, people in Sydney and Melbourne have access to similar entertainment all year round. I feared this would happen by appointing a director who is not a Canberran and who obviously is unfamiliar with mainstream Australia (being of an arts background). My advice to fellow citizens is to head to the coast as often as possible in 2013 rather than cringe about the presentation of our unique city which in 100 years has grown from paddocks to a world-renowned planned national capital which deserves a celebration of depth and passion. Let us hope that a person of the calibre of Domenic Mico is given the opportunity to win the contract for the winter-spring segment in order to avoid a disaster and salvage our pride.
John Holland, Dickson
It is to be hoped that Centenary of Canberra creative director Robyn Archer and Dr David Headon, while on their ''international promotional tour for the Canberra centenary'', which will also pay homage to Walter Burley Griffin at his birthplace and place of burial, (''Archer spruiks centenary from capital to the grave'', September 1, p1) will not forget to acknowledge the pioneers who created the foundations of Canberra during the 1910s and 1920s. They include architects, engineers , horticulturists, foresters, builders and tradesmen. And those who came to establish service businesses or work as public servants should also not be forgotten. While it is obviously important to acknowledge Griffin's role in conceiving the federal capital it is clear that these pioneers should also be remembered. They came to Canberra and lived and worked under very difficult conditions. For example, the English-born Charles Weston, Canberra's first horticulturist and afforestation officer, who came to Canberra in May 1913, lived in a two-roomed hut at Acton for nine years and only saw his family three or four times each year.
As Archer and Headon are on their final approach to the main runway at London's Heathrow airport they should note that Poyle, Weston's birthplace, is directly below them and perhaps they can reflect on the fact that if Weston had not decided to emigrate to Australia in 1896, Canberra would be unlikely to be the successful garden city that it is today.
John Gray, Mawson
I refer to the article ''Supervisor's call leads to student complaints about test'' (September 7, p1). The ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies conducted the ACT Scaling Test at 23 schools on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.
At one of these schools, Dickson College, a supervisor's mobile phone rang audibly a number of times during the test. The board regrets that this occurred and is taking steps to ensure that there is no resulting disadvantage to students at Dickson College.
A second test is conducted in October each year for students who are unable to sit the test in September due to illness or misadventure. The board is offering Dickson College students who believe they may have been disadvantaged the opportunity to take the second test. The audible ringing of mobile phones is against board procedures for the test and supervisors are trained in these procedures each year. The board will be reviewing all use of mobile phones during the test.
Rosemary Follett, chairwoman, ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies
Bus stops waste
As a retired Treasury/Finance Department public servant I can't believe that the ACT government is even considering wasting $12.8 million of ratepayers' money on the construction of bus stops in Adelaide Avenue.
Apart from the fact that local resident patronage would probably not even cover running costs (let alone capital expenditure) there is also the likelihood that this would just be a blatant mis-use of public finances if a second Rapid Transport System (such as the one envisaged for Gungahlin) is mooted to link southern suburbs to the city via Adelaide Avenue.
M. McGregor, Curtin
Let's face it - Canberra is a car city. The maximum time to reach home is about half an hour. We don't have the population to necessitate trams or light rail. Supposedly only 9 per cent of Canberrans use the buses, even the park and ride parking areas are not full. Even the offer of free Pino Coladas would not entice people to give up their cars!
Mrs G. D. Byrne, Hughes
The editorial ''Prevention is cure'' (August 27, p8) raises a key issue. Minimising the need for people, especially the elderly, to be admitted to hospital or placed in an institution must be a priority for any government.
Compulsory reading for all candidates in our upcoming election should be the July 1993 report, ''Investing in Successful Ageing: The Capital Gain''.
The report, the outcome of the Successful Ageing ACT project funded by the National Better Health Program identified four characteristics of a society supportive of successful ageing and made eight recommendations
If our candidates do not have the time to read the 200-page report there is a summary of some 30 pages.
Alan Foskett, Campbell
The Prime Minister found comments by Jim Wallace, from the Australian Christian Lobby, offensive in regard to the health risks of homosexual sex (''Gillard snubs Christian lobby after row'', September 7, p2).
Notwithstanding the possible risk of adding to victimisation of homosexual people, the facts about poorer health outcomes, including valid comparisons, should be publicly known.
Individuals should be informed about the risks of lifestyle choice and preference, and it is also in the public interest, given the moves to redefine marriage.
Marriage is in sickness and in health, and society at large has a stake in marriage, as well as individuals.
Arthur Connor, Weston
So Julia Gillard (and however many others) doesn't like what Jim Wallace said about homosexuality. Too bad - he speaks truth.
J. Halgren, Latham
When it was suggested that ''truth'' should be a defence in religious vilification laws, it probably didn't occur to anyone that vilification of those speaking the truth is the most common situation in matters of religion.
The distortion of Jim Wallace's message by Clive Banson (Letters, September 8), who warns of children getting too close to members of the Catholic clergy, is an example of attempting to bring a religion into serious contempt, whereas the real subject for examination is to what extent organisations like the church or scouts have been infiltrated by the practitioners to which Wallace was referring.
Why not focus on the cause of the problem? Then we might get some more facts, such as whether paedophile priests are mainly heterosexual or otherwise.
Has it become impossible to test facts publicly without abuse and sneers from the socially sanctioned vilifiers?
P. Edwards, Holder
Lord Sebastian Coe in his opening address to the 2012 Paralympics said we would be amazed, inspired and stunned by the performances we would witness.
How true. For anybody who has been watching the TV coverage it has been truly overwhelming to see the impaired athletes overcome their disabilities and perform with such courage, strength, perseverance but above all with such an enormous degree of sportsmanship and good will. Much praise must also go to the ABC for their outstanding coverage, far better than any channel covering the able-bodied events.
From the explanations of the categories of impairments through the splendid presentation of Stephanie Brantz and her anchor team to the brilliance of all the commentators who through their own enthusiasm were able to transmit the sensations and excitement and the awesome ability of all participants in every sport. Well done everyone and a million thanks.
N. Bailey, Nicholls
No confidence in Zed
So, Zed Seselja's brother-in-law is on the board of the organisation using primary school kids to deliver political material on behalf of the Liberals (''Liberals family link in flyer row'', September 8, p1). According to his rules of fair play, he should have declared that relationship two years ago. I expect Seselja to file a motion of no confidence in himself as soon as possible.
Darren Hossack, Dunlop
In announcing that should ACT Labor be re-elected, safe drivers will be rewarded (''Rewards for safe driving'', September 12, p9) Attorney-General Simon Corbell has left himself open to ridicule. If he really believes that a paltry reward of a 20 per cent discount ($31.40 spread over five years ) on a driving licence costing $157 would alter driving behaviour, he should consider a sea change.
Mario Stivala, Spence
Out of the woodwork
I find it bemusing to see all those Canberra Raiders fans suddenly appear out of the woodwork at the weekend's final. Where were they all season when the Raiders had the lowest crowd attendance in the NRL? No doubt they will return to the woodwork and things will return to normal when they are smashed by the Bunnies.
John Bell, Lyneham
In the water
Whatever is in the water out there at Eagle Hawk, please bottle it and start drinking it at the beginning of the season rather than towards the end of it.
Anne Willenborg, Royalla, NSW
Stocks for knockers
So the Raiders win 34-16 in an elimination final and are still in the race. Where are all the knockers now, who were baying for the head of David Furner and the board and who were handing in their membership cards? They should be rounded up and placed in stocks in Garema Place so the true believers can throw humble pie at them.
L. Christie, Canberra
Over the years rugby league referees have allowed decoy runners to shepherd and run offside. Bill Harrigan's explanation (''Harrigan explains obstruction rule'', August 24, p18), misses the whole point of what has occurred. This is a big problem with a simple answer. Coaches should not teach players to run offside.
George Notaras, Weetangera
Smart not smarter
To coin a phrase, malicious critics, discussed by Damon Young (''Malicious web trolls are petty, broken human beings'', Forum, September 8, p7), make their victims smart but not smarter.
Edward Linacre, Page.
Foreign investment: not just the farm to be worried about
Why do so many Australians get jingoistic when we sell a small part of the national farm to overseas interests?
Do they ask why we allow large farms to exist that produce cotton which misallocates resources by using copious amounts of water that could otherwise be used for environmental flows to cleanse and reinvigorate the river system?
Cotton has no strategic value to Australia although farm owners may pay large amounts of tax to the government?
Why doesn't the jingoism extend to the more than 80 per cent of profits from mining that go overseas.
Why doesn't the jingoism extend to the denouncing of US and Japanese car makers who are able to use transfer pricing to get their profits out of the country and then successfully demand subsidies from whichever party happens to be in government?
There is a trend in Australian politics to tread softly on important issues and take a hard stand on any issue that can be sensationalised.
Les Brennan, Sunshine Bay, NSW
R. S. Gilbert (Letters, September 8) argues for the removal of the Lease Variation Charge, partly because it is ''based on the socialist theory that profits individuals make belong to the community in general''.
This seems unfair, were it an accurate representation of socialism. For the sake of argument, assume it is.
Make another assumption, that the Lease Variation Charge is a legitimate income stream and once removed would create a budget shortfall. In this case, removing the charge becomes far more unfair.
Suppose that the Lease Variation Charge is removed and creates the predicted budget shortfall (for the work on altering planning registers etc would need to continue and carries costs). The government (of whatever political persuasion) therefore increases some other charge (say rates) to compensate.
At present the Lease Variation Charge is paid by those developers and individuals who wish to vary a lease and (often) that charge is passed on to the customer through the settled price. Under this scheme the user pays.
This in fact does not socialise profits, but makes people pay for their choices (not much loss of profit at all in fact).
However, removing the charge and increasing the rates (in this example) means that the burden of costs are passed on to ratepayers, most of whom do not benefit from the variation.
Here everybody pays, ensuring that the community pays for the profits of the individual. So whilst the ''socialist principal'' disabused by Gilbert here, assumes that all profits are socialised, (for the greater good note), the alternative socialises costs, for the individual profit. Not sure why I have to pay for the costs of developers and thus contribute to their profits when I don't benefit.
Andrew Turner, Kingston
I shook my head in disbelief after reading Geoff Stannard (Letters, September 7), who criticised Jennie Goldie (Letters, September 5 ) regarding her stance on Australia having a large population.
Where Stannard's argument for a big Australia falls down is that he has not given us one; he just compared Goldie with Hanrahan and stated ''the more the merrier''.
Goldie however, in all her letters, has given excellent arguments for why our wanting a larger population is barking mad. I can only guess that Stannard is too young to have witnessed the damage that overpopulation has done to Canberra and other Australian cities, or he is an older person who bought his house when they were affordable and is afflicted with the boiling frog syndrome.
Baby boomers and parents of baby boomers should be ashamed if they have ever voted for Labor, the Coalition or Greens, because it was their united support for mass immigration which is the cause of today's urban problems and which threatens our whole way of life.
It may be too late for most Australian cities, but if today's voters have any love for their children and grandchildren they will not vote for any political party which wants to continue increasing our population, because in so doing they will make things far worse than they already are.
Rodney Campbell, Calwell