When all else fails, back yourself
In what can only be described as the ultimate irony, Zed Seselja, a member of Gary Humphries' own party, looks like achieving what three well resourced Greens campaigns were not able to do, remove Humphries from his Senate seat.
And to add ignominy to irony, Seselja may not have even been a member of the Legislative Assembly were it not for Humphries' mentoring when he was first seeking preselection for a spot in Molonglo, even though the aspiring politician lived deep in the heart of the Brindabella electorate.
It would appear that Seselja's latest move is the absolute epitome of the J.T. Lang truism, ''in the race of human life always back self interest 'cause you know you are on a goer''.
Seselja originally stood for Molonglo as he thought that gave him the best chance of winning a seat in the Assembly. He transferred to Brindabella as he thought that gave him the best chance of winning government, and he is now attempting to gain a Senate rather than a House of Representatives seat as he sees that as being the easiest road to the ''house on the hill''.
It remains to be seen as to whether the rank and file of the Liberal Party will support him in this quest for his next political prize.
One thing, however, is certain. Tony Abbott is much more able to count on Seselja's vote in a party room ballot than he can on Humphries'.
Ian De Landelles, Hawker
As a Liberal Party member, I was surprised to see Zed Seselja announce his tilt for the ACT Liberal Senate ticket as I thought he was doing quite an effective job as Opposition Leader. One must be optimistic though, and so if this move enables Val Jeffery to assume a seat in the Legislative Assembly, then his energy and enthusiasm for representing his electorate will benefit us all.
I also wonder if a Senate ticket consisting of both Zed Seselja and Gary Humphries could increase the Liberal vote by enough to give Canberra two Liberal senators. It would be quite a coup for Canberra to have Gary's federal experience and Zed's local experience working for us.
Samuel Gordon-Stewart, Reid
Humphries or Seselja, it makes no difference. The Liberals' problem isn't who their candidates are. It's that their policies are no good for Canberra or Australia.
Chris Sant, Nicholls
As I predicted in your paper in October, Zed Seselja is challenging Gary Humphries for the position of Liberal candidate for ACT senator. Quite frankly, it will make little difference to the people of the ACT as Humphries has achieved nothing in the important areas of health, jobs, education and infrastructure, so Seselja can do little worse.
Vic Adams, Reid
Playing federal political scrabble here at the moment, I get extra points for double letters. I can do Rudd, Gillard, Turnbull, Abbott. But in the ACT what do I do with this Z?
Linus Cole, Palmerston
I have just read that under our magnificent system of voting that is Hare-Clark, that the person who is next in line to replace the human dynamo, Zed Seselja, is none other than Val Jeffery. I hope that when I next wake up, I will realise that I have just been having a nightmare.
Gordon Maher, Gilmore
Tuning out to ABC
To add to the never-ending, well-founded bias woes of the ABC, we now have ABC Classic FM's emphasis on Australian ''composers'', charlatans on the ABC CD label, interspersed with inane presenter-prattle and endless advertising for the ABC Shop, CDs, DVDs, promos by the thousands.
Once a quality network by any world standard, sadly no more, clearly surpassed by any number of internet channels. Just another example reflecting deteriorating standards, exampled by our dismal political choices. Mediocrity, the new benchmark.
Alan McNeil, Ainslie
I ask Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, who asserts that she would not attend an inter-denominational start-of-term religious ceremony to open Parliament proposed by Coalition MLA Vicki Dunne ''as a matter of principle'', just what principle it is exactly that the Chief Minister is invoking?
It is fatuous to argue that it is on a principle of the separation of church and state. Australian governments before and after federation have been among the world's best examples of this separation, yet at the same time have upheld a tradition of attending religious services to mark the beginning of the parliamentary year.
The religious service proposed by Dunne involves all the Christian denominations in Australia and expresses all the very finest elements of united Christian principles based on the teachings of Jesus Christ.
These teachings and the inter-denominational nature of the service dovetail beautifully with the most desirable elements of open and honest government, treating everyone (including voters) in the ACT electorate fairly and justly.
With public trust in our parliamentarians at an all-time low, surely it would be advisable for our parliamentarians to seek every opportunity to attend a non-threatening ceremony that is an expression of community goodwill towards them for the coming parliamentary year.
Does this mean that the Chief Minister and her ACT government will respond in the same way to a similar request in the future for the ACT Assembly to attend a religious ceremony to mark the opening of Parliament should it be extended by the Islamic community of the ACT at this time of sensitive multicultural issues in Australian society?
I would surely hope not.
Is perhaps the matter of principle being invoked by the Chief Minister based on her own anti-religious beliefs, rather than responding to a well-intended invitation to promote the best human and legislative values on the floor of the Legislative Assembly during 2013?
John Bell, Lyneham
Pitch and putt
I refer to the potshot taken by Rod Frazer (Letters, January 31) at the unprofitability of the pitch and putt course. It is not true. The previous private operator was very happy with his profit but the CSCC refused him another five-year term. Instead the CSCC insisted on running the business, but in an unprofessional manner.
Profit is not as simple as numbers of members or visits. Firstly, a visit to pitch and putt, on average, brings in around $13 in green fees but a visit to the gym can be as low as $2. Mr Mitchell insists on comparing apples to oranges rather than showing us the accounts. If you look closely at the 2010-11 accounts the losses arise from the replacement of the fairway grass to couch because the government money was only a contribution. In 2011-12 the CSCC would have spent less on water and they also increased the green fees by 30 per cent but conveniently there are no accounts to show the impact of these measures.
There is no evidence to justify the $350,000 figure but neither the minister nor the government have questioned it. The action taken by the Board of the CSCC is not justified. They have no right to destroy our course on behalf of their members.
Luciano Lombardo, O'Malley
Bikes and traffic
When do mortal dangers associated with consumers using a particular product lead authorities to ban that product/activity? Under what circumstances do they instead decide to ignore fundamental risks?
Those are questions raised by bicycles ridden in traffic.
One-hundred and seventy-four on-road collisions involving bicycles were reported here last year (''Road users urged to turn down the aggro'', February 2, p7). Almost a third of admissions to hospital with road injuries are bicycle riders. Many die. The problem is not driver aggression.
The problem is that bikes are smaller and slower and provide no protection to users. Full stop.
Instead of ACT Greens demanding ''specific training on the issue for all learner (car) drivers'' they should be ensuring all potential on-road bicycle-users comprehend the extreme risks associated with the activity - before maimed riders start suing those who strongly encouraged them out there.
Cuthbert Douglas, Bonython
In a CT issue reporting the CPSU demanding more parking in a shambolic Parliamentary Triangle already deterring tourism (''Push to end PS parking crisis'', January 30, p1), and no additional parking at redeveloped suburban shops (''Lyons shops grow, but workers hog car park'', p3), Thomas Manley's very sensible letter restated the bleeding obvious. Of course Canberra's expansive design and the preference of well-heeled citizens for flexible personal transport and living space mean we will never see efficient, convenient public transport. Of course the ''solution'' doggedly pursued by Green/Labor social engineers is to parking-bash, infill and road-restrict us onto subsidised buses and trams.
Each bus user now costs us about $5000 a year in subsidy.
Gungahlin's future park-and-ride tram commuters? Capital costs approaching $100,000 each. Operating subsidies to come. Why? To reduce emissions? No cheaper options?
Eliminate rego fees for green-electric cars.
Deregulate taxis and supply taxi-cards to the disadvantaged.
Free parking for full cars.
Adrian Dunlop, Campbell
Ian De Landelles ( Letters, February 1) expresses a preference for four-year fixed-term elections but I would go a little further. I suggest that federal elections be held every February 29 and that the day be a public holiday when it falls on a weekday. If the elected government loses a confidence vote in the intervening four years then the alternative government only governs until the next February 29th. That should effectively limit election campaigns to a start date of January 27 and make parliamentarians think very carefully about bringing down the elected government.
Oh, if Crispin Hull and company win the argument for ''voluntary voting'' then only people who turn up at a polling booth on the day get it off.
John F. Simmons, Kambah
The current debate about teachers (''Parents seek out quality teachers'', February 4, p1) begs the rather obvious question: what is a quality teacher and how do we define him/her?
In my time as a school teacher (many years ago) a ''quality'' teacher was one who managed to keep the class quiet. In more recent times, a quality teacher was one whose students excelled in examinations. It seemed odd to me then (and still does) that seldom was the thought proposed that education might actually be about encouraging a love of learning in pupils, engaging with them and valuing qualities such as tolerance, empathy and compassion rather than just intellectual or sporting acumen. Mostly I was in a minority of one. I don't believe that the important things of life can be taught - things like respect for self and others, even a love of learning for its own sake. But a non-coercive (and non-competitive) environment can provide the conditions where these qualities can flourish.
Surely one of the main aims of education should be to produce happy and balanced human beings, not scholastic misfits or wage slaves. A commitment to lifelong learning, respect for self and others and being ''on the side of the child'' - these are the attitudes, qualities and vision that I would look for in a ''quality'' teacher. It would be interesting to see how most pupils might define a ''quality'' teacher. I wonder if they are ever asked.
Ken Fraser, Kambah
Your headline ''Parents seek out quality teachers'' (February 4, p1) ought to have read ''Teachers seek out quality parents''. Parents who love and care for their children, and who guide their children to knowing right from wrong, are exactly the sort of parents that teachers would seek out. Quality parents, more than any other factor, help to create quality teachers.
Graham Wylie, Kambah
A variety of opinions is healthy for discussion and democracy, but the opinions of Jamie Pittock (''Can't see trees of the forest'', Forum, February 2, p7) are just too much.
It is a pity his ideological position prevents him seeing anything good about the National Arboretum. Most Canberrans, unless older than about 65, have never known the Arboretum site as anything other than pine forest.
To contend that the Arboretum is encroaching on the ''bush capital'' is nonsense. Would he but actively lobby for improved funding for the nature reserves and bushland that he seems to enjoy so much with the same vehemence as he denigrates the Arboretum?. As the city grows and matures so will the trees and the facilities, and our grandchildren and following generations will thank us for our foresight.
Perhaps Dr Pittock should listen to his family, friends and colleagues and even go there, walk around by himself and contemplate his narrow views.
Paul Scholtens, Aranda
Last Monday we visited the National Arboretum and words cannot describe what we experienced. Amazing, exhilarating, exciting, extraordinary and stunning are just a few. Truly a vision splendid. To John Stanhope and the ACT government we simply say congratulations on providing such a ''significant recreational, scientific and educational hub'' for all Australians and overseas visitors to share and enjoy. To all of its knockers and detractors we simply suggest that you go and check it out for yourselves and, whilst admiring the breathtaking views, consider the longer-term implications and benefits of this ''unique place'' rather than merely adopting a short-term tunnel-vision approach to the project.
We encourage all Australians to visit the Arboretum, as well as the other fantastic tourist attractions, many of which have free entry. As for the National Arboretum, you won't be disappointed in what we consider to be a remarkable investment for the future.
Chris and Jan Bell, Pearce
The personal (ad feminam) attack on Dr Judy Ryan by Neil Porter (Letters, February 5) was outrageous. Why is it that climate sceptics are not allowed to express their honestly held views?
Dr Marjorie Curtis, Kaleen
TO THE POINT
BLOW THE WHISTLE
Can any reader please explain why, as we were told repeatedly last week, it is so vital that the date of a federal election does not coincide with the football grand final. Voting is a sort of political grand final anyway, and it takes only a brief time, leaving lots of time for the main game of the day. When I have asked this question I have been told it shows I am not a true Australian! Do I have my priorities wrong?
Robert Willson, Deakin
No doubt Nicola Roxon has said to herself, ''If I am not going to be Attorney-General after September, I might as well stay home!'' And no doubt Chris Evans has said to himself, ''If I am not going to be Senate Leader after September, I might as well stay home!'' There will be others. Some we will miss and some we will not.
Keith Mitchell, Campbell
ME, MYSELF AND IRE
I have become used to the incorrect use of two pronouns in the nominative case after a preposition (''it's just between he and I'') or in the accusative case as the subject of a verb (''her and me are friends''). But a mixed expression of one correct and one incorrect pronoun is a new one: ''as he or her sees fit'' (''Next up for Gillard is facing her own troops'', February 2, Forum, p2).
Michael McCarthy, Deakin
A MAN WELL VERSED
Thank you, Ian Warden, for the reminder of the bicentennial of Charles Harpur's birth (''On waxing lyrical'', January 28, p10). As one of the original residents of Harpur Street I have regard for the poet's works and should a resident regrettably leave our area they have on that occasion been given a copy of these. We will give thought to a street party and would be delighted to include an author and neighbour of such note as yourself.
Merle Hunt, Garran
NOTHING FOR BATTLERS
Tony Abbott wants to cancel the school kids bonus, which allows many children to go on excursions, have uniforms and stationery. If people on benefits must send in receipts to benefit under any scheme he proposes, then anyone who can't pay upfront can't benefit and their children lose out. Great way to save government money.
Great pointer to a government bent on giving people nothing and taking them nowhere.
J.M. Keene, Murrumbateman, NSW
LACK OF COMMITMENT
Tony Abbott's fine words about his commitment to advancing the cause of our indigenous community were brought into question during his speech at the National Press Club last week when it seems he did not have the good grace to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which the club stands.
Roger Terry, Kingston
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