Australia has failed to invest in peace
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Australia has failed to invest in peace

Australia has failed to invest in peace, rather than scourge of war

Full marks for Stephanie Dowrick's article "War — what is it good for?" (July 21, Forum p10).

Dowrick rightly identifies Australia's failure to invest financially in peace rather than war. Our funding for diplomacy has been slashed, while funding for war sky-rockets.

Armistice Day celebrations in Martin Place, Sydney.

Armistice Day celebrations in Martin Place, Sydney.

The poor old weapons industry even gets a leg-up with government subsidies, despite the fact that it provides one of the least efficient ways to create jobs.

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The industry is honoured by brand name promotion alongside our war dead at the Australian War Memorial. And we wonder why the world is such a violent place.

It's like ramping up cigarette smoking and wondering why there's so much cancer around. There are multiple examples of the global co-operation that Dowrick rightly says we need to show a better way.

Civil society does it all the time. As just one example, thousands of people around the world worked with supportive governments to achieve, last year, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the best step in decades towards nuclear weapons abolition.

The Australian government shunned the whole process. The centenary of Armistice Day, November 11 this year, will provide an important occasion to reflect on how WWI might have been prevented, the arms races that preceded it, the well-documented missed opportunities for peace that arose during those four catastrophic years, and what we have learnt.

With Lockheed Martin providing some of the funding for the official commemoration, we will obviously have to look elsewhere for anything meaningful.

Dr Sue Wareham, president, Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia), Cook

Blot on environment

M. Moore (Letters, July 21) apparently thinks that coal mining-degraded landscapes can be used as a justification for the placement of solar farm installations, as proposed at Sutton.

Simon Corbell already has form with poor consultation processes, as with the previous poor placement for a planned solar farm at Uriarra.

I wonder if M. Moore would maintain the same position if such a large installation were to be placed a few hundred metres from his/her own front door.

The Uriarra solar farm was ultimately rejected after the ACT government was swamped by objections to the Uriarra proposal from locals who argued the project would damage the character and appeal of the adjacent village, block views, and depress house prices.

Murray May, Cook

Bias on ABC? Well, no

Ian Pilsner (Letters, July 20) alleged bias by the panel on Offsiders.

He has confused bias with a difference of opinions to the views he holds.

He is perfectly entitled to disagree with the panellists and put forth his reasons on why they are incorrect. But to say that the ABC is biased because he doesn't agree with what was said is nonsense.

With the increasing claims of bias on the ABC from the government and others like Mr Pilsner, it seems to me, these complainants only want to hear views they share and agree with. We are a democratic nation that values freedom of speech.

The increasing cries of ABC bias from those who don't agree with what was said, need to accept that in a democracy there are many views.

If you disagree, there are many avenues to respond, including letters to the editor, to assert your reasons for disagreement but don't confuse this with bias on the ABC.

Lucille Rogers, Kingston

Interpretation key

John L. Smith (Letters, July 22) claims that "there is no reason to believe that light rail will substantially improve overall patronage of public transport".

Whether he is right or wrong depends on how we interpret "substantial".

Census results for Gold Coast-Tweed Heads show that 7930 commuters used public transport in 2011. The G-line light rail commenced operation in 2014, and by 2016 that number had increased to 11,063.

In an interview on ABC radio on July 18 the chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra described such increases as "skyrocketing".

In 2016 8.3 per cent of Canberra commuters used public transport.

If the impact of light rail in Canberra is similar to the impact it had on the Gold Coast, then it will increase our public transport mode share to almost 10 per cent.

Leon Arundell, Downer

Solar costs calculations

You report ("Consumer competition watchdog says ACT should dump solar scheme", canberratimes.com.au, July12) that the ACCC calculates the ACT's scheme as costing non-PV households $34 a year. This should not be taken at face value.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal concedes that rooftop solar feed-in does much to reduce power prices for everyone.

It achieves this by having shaved off what used to be the peak demand in mid-afternoon.

This reduces the eye-watering peaks retailers have to pay the generators and lowers poles-and-wires costs.

The saving results both from the fed-in power and the self-consumed.

To find the net cost of the scheme as a whole to other households would require estimating what the grid prices would be now if domestic solar had never taken off.

Far more likely, they only calculated the savings to other households if the scheme were abruptly terminated, yet the existing PV generation and feed-in were to continue.

Derek Bolton, Birchgrove, NSW

Going independent

I agree with Yasmin Poole ('Why young women shun a political career', Comment, p18, July 16).

Unfortunately, I suspect that levelling the playing field is more likely to occur if young women at least campaign for elected office.

In a formal sense, the ACT's electoral system makes it relatively easy for a person to nominate as an independent candidate for the Assembly election (only 20 nominators are required).

In practice, since the big parties set the rules, it is difficult for an independent to be elected.

However a good independent candidate with a sufficient core of support could be elected, including if they inform voters how the ACT Assembly electoral system actually works (essentially, if a voter numbers any candidate from the three major parties that person will probably get their vote).

I hope that Ms Poole and her ilk at least seek election and are hopefully successful.

I'd be very happy to have the opportunity to support a quality young candidate.

Bruce Paine, Red Hill

A season for statistics

In his article "Brumbies Season Review" (July 21, p98) Chris Dutton, reluctantly it seems, marks the Brumbies with a season fail.

I say reluctantly, because Chris trots out a number of stats to show that the season wasn't all bad.

I think these statistics need some scrutiny, and others need to be added, to complement his review and provide a little balance.

Chris notes that 56 tries, 85 line breaks and 13 offloads were a plus. This try tally left the Brumbies ninth on the try list, behind even the Bulls, with 12 of those tries scored against the bottom team (whom they played twice).

Line breaks – the Brumbies rated 13th. Offloads – it's what you do with them that matters, and as line breaks were poor as noted, and the Brumbies were dead last in the competition for defenders beaten, it seems offloads were basically ineffective at best.

A highlight stat, 15 kicks per game. This is a low number, but it doesn't reveal the times they should have kicked and didn't.

When they did kick, many kicks were in panic, ill-considered and lacking tactical nous.

One stat where the Brumbies did excel was in yellow cards, where they ranked fourth.

Looking at these stats in greater depth, one could disagree with Chris that they were a plus, and have no hesitation in labelling the season an absolute fail.

I do agree with Chris, however, that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that crowds can be lured back.

The final 95 minutes of the season is the template. The last 15 against the Chiefs and the 80 against the Waratahs (when nothing mattered, mind you) is what we all want to see every week.

John Catterall, Casey

Read them and weep

I am rather deaf and recently I lost my hearing almost completely for a few days.

I use the subtitle facilities when watching television.

They are absolutely useless when one is trying to watch the news on the ABC or SBS because the script is not kept in alignment with the presentation; and the names of people or places are very often completely garbled.

The subscript is apparently put in by a "program". SBS is by far the worst offender; you often see attempts to correct spelling mistakes, which get the subscript even further behind, and then just cut out so they can catch up with the next item.

The news bulletins must be planned well ahead of the time they are aired, so I cannot understand why the channel staff do not take the time to align the subtitles with the content before they go to air. It can be done.

A few weeks ago the ABC had an item about Auslan.

Someone had had the common sense (or common courtesy) to align the script for that item – the rest of the bulletin was the usual mess.

We taxpayers are paying for services that are almost completely useless.

Barbara Fisher, Cook

No going back

I write regarding the article by Tony Featherstone "Is it too easy to return goods to stores?" (canberratimes.com.au, July 19).

I have several issues with Mr Featherstone's article.

It is good that consumer rights are now strong.

Prior to the Australian Consumer Law coming into force in 2011, the balance of power favoured business. Businesses used that power unscrupulously.

Apart from change-of-mind, the "problems" Mr Featherstone mentions are mostly legal rights of the consumer being enforced, not a "poor sales culture".

Mr Featherstone misunderstands the nature of change-of-mind consumer/business transactions. He thinks they are one-off and zero-sum.

For most businesses, that's not the case. Customers will buy many times over several years. Allowing change-of-mind in "generous" circumstances recognises the ongoing relationship.

Mr Featherstone is arguing for a return to consumer dystopia.

Christopher Budd, Turner

Pity poor punter

On a recent Sunday I sat down to watch the highlights of my team's win. The replays kept getting interrupted by gambling ads.

My concern was with the portrayal of people involved in this gambling.

These massive companies make their money from your losses.

People should recognise most of the time they are going to lose.

The ads show people who are young and attractive, surrounded by "celebrities" and always seem to have a win.

When I visit hotels with pokies and racetracks with bookmakers there is a lot of older, generally much less attractive people, who seem tobe losing. Maybe I'm justthere at the wrong time.

Don't make betting glamorous when it isn't.

Don't imply the punters always win when they don't.

Don't suggest I'll make lots ofnew interesting friends whenI won't.

And don't worry, I'll still have the occasional bet even though I know what the likely outcome will be.

Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Melbourne

Play for power

So, The New York Times expert in international affairs, Thomas Friedman, believes that Donald Trump should have issued the following ultimatum to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki: "You have attacked our democracy, as well as two core pillars of the global economic and security order that have kept the peace and promoted prosperity since World War II – the European Union and NATO. We are not interested in any of your poker-faced denials. Just know that if you keep doing it, we will consider it an act of war ..."

At the risk of offending Thomas, Mr Putin could have responded thus: "What extraordinary hypocrisy you display. Your military-intelligence establishment routinely and systematically interferes in the elections of countries all over the world and will even initiate regime change to serve its interests. We are also not interested in any of your poker-faced denials. Just know that if you keep doing it, we will also consider it an act of war ..."Is this really the best that 5000 years of recorded history has to offer?

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

TO THE POINT

OUT OF HIS DEPTH

If I did not despise him so much I would feel sorry for Donald Trump. He is in with the big brains now. But then ignorance and inability are invisible to those who suffer from them.

Cynthia Moloney, Yarralumla, ACT

WORDS MATTER

I would be very nervous if I had been one of the two interpreters at that Helsinki meeting.

Mary Wahren, Aranda

DONKEY VOTE

We all thought Caligula's Horse won the 2016 Presidential Election. On closer inspection the Horse proved to be a Donkey; and that is Putin it mildly.

Jon Jovanovic, Lenah Valley, Tas

VEXED QUESTION

In the land of Trump, if someone misspeaks something that's fake, does it neutralise the facts, as with a double negative, or compound the situation, as would two fibs?

M. F. Horton, Adelaide, SA

COALITION RULE = DRY

Conservatives like to say that Labor always ruins the economy, although some would like to make excuses — eg, Howard got the mining boom while Rudd copped the GFC. But Coalition governments always seem to bring a drought. How to explain that?

S. W. Davey, Torrens

ARTISTIC REPRIEVE

I just looked closely at the artist's impression of stage two of light rail in Friday's paper (Letters, July 20). Why does it show the cedar trees if they are to be removed?

Wendy Limbrick, Monash

MASS NUMBERS ON RISE

Interesting to read in the parish newsletter that the annual Mass count held during May, for the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, reports that Mass attendance numbers have increased by 1300 each Sunday on last year's count.

Jeff Bradley, Isaacs

SHOW US YOUR EVIDENCE

Doug Hurst (Letters, July 21) apparently thinks he knows better than 97 per cent of the world's climate scientists.

Let him produce his hard evidence.

Patricia Saunders, Chapman

GANGING UP

Malcolm. When watching the Sydney Swans and North Melbourne Kangaroos this weekend, I'm sure I saw an African gang playing in each team. Please engage the "racist card army" onto these teams to keep us safe.

Jeff Bradley, Isaacs

WHAT MAKES TRUMP TICK?

On Prime TV Andrew Denton has been interviewing a range of fascinating people to find out what makes them tick. I look forward to his interview with Donald Trump.

John Milne, Chapman

Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attached file. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).

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