Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Australian Target Systems misses the mark on Sydney siege facts
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Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Australian Target Systems misses the mark on Sydney siege facts

Australian Target Systems says a firing range is a "market need".

I found it a bit strange the claim by "Australian Target Systems" is that one of their main reasons to push for a "national live fire centre" ("Shooting range bid rattles the neighbours", February 9, p1) is a "key market need" in the wake of the Lindt Cafe siege. This seems to me to be a misrepresentation of the facts. If my memory of the findings of the Lindt Cafe siege serves me correctly, the reason it all went horribly wrong was the total incompetence of the police officers in charge. It had absolutely nothing to do with the ability of police to fire rifles – or anything else. My understanding is that police at the time did what they could with very poor communication from those in charge. It seems just like all other management decisions – blame the workers, and then make capital out of it.

I have to agree with those who question its establishment. I suspect it will achieve nothing at all – except perhaps help the arms industry of America.

Geoff Barker, Flynn

Great disappointment

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When our Prime Minister first came to power I really thought he could make a difference, a positive difference, enough to convince me to vote Liberal for the first time in my life. However, as his time in the job has progressed he has become so much more than just a disappointment but indeed a moral eunuch, for example given his insensitive dealings with the ongoing plight of Aboriginal people.

I really didn't think that after this he could get worse. But indeed he has with his newest brain fart; namely that Australia should get into the business of producing and selling armaments.

What the hell is he thinking? Australia should get into the murky world dealing with unconscionable middlemen; which of course entails not knowing who the end-users of this weaponry will be.

He, like I, has grandchildren and I see it as despicable that the weapons Australia produces might end up in the hands some militant crazy group who will point those weapons at our grandchildren somewhere down the line.

Also bear in mind that among the countries he proposes to sell these weapons to are our "friends", Britain and America. On the one hand Britain is one of the largest seller of second-hand armaments in the world and that America is selling billions of dollars' worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, which is using them to decimate, amongst others, the civilian populations of Yemen and Bahrain.

John Galvin, Weston

Too few specialists

The front page article ("ACT's 'hidden' waiting list", February 10) on ACT waiting times will have hit a nerve for many in our community. The difference in waiting times revealed between private healthcare patients and Medicare patients would have disgusted many.

Obviously we have too few specialists in some fields that allows some specialists to have the a godlike power on who gets healed and who does not.

Private patients are charged extortionate fees and that is the reason why specialists and other healthcare providers prefer them.

I have not the slightest doubt that many specialists, with the help of accountants, pay little tax on the enormous amount of money they generate from our community.

Obviously we need, in some fields, far more specialists. One of the good things about capitalism is the fact that the more competition provided the better the community does as far as price goes.

Even more obviously true is that family trusts, negative gearing and other tax avoidance rorts should be modified. One of the traits a physician supposedly has is the eye of an eagle. This should not be allied with the rapacity of a vulture.

Howard Carew, Isaacs

Out-of-state options

Many Canberrans who are stuck on long waiting lists to see a specialist or undergo surgery ("ACT's 'hidden' waiting list", February 10, p1.) may not be aware that they can go interstate and still be treated under Medicare: GPs can refer patients to specialists and to hospitals anywhere.

Although some hospitals may not prioritise patients who live outside their catchment area, there is nothing stopping patients working with their GP to find appropriate interstate specialists and hospitals with short waiting times. Permanent ACT residents who are referred interstate for medical treatment not available in the ACT can apply to the Interstate Patient Travel Assistance Scheme for financial assistance to help cover travel and accommodation expenses.

While this will not be an option for everyone, local GPs need to be more up-front in letting patients know that they are likely to be treated much more quickly if they are willing to travel outside of the ACT.

Karina Morris, Weetangera

Colossal waste of time

I'd agree that attendance at countless meetings to not lead to improved meaningful and measurable outcomes of workplace productivity and wellbeing ("The bored room", February 6, Public Sector Informant, p12). They do, however, accentuate hierarchical gradients. Executives grow roots at talkfests that serve to barricade their being accessible to worker bees that continue to serve customers, pack groceries or look after the sick. As a hospital doctor responsible for the emergency unit, I fear being prised from my clinical obligations to attend pointless management meetings, leaving patients in the care of unsupervised junior doctors. My mind is necessarily distracted, knowing that when the meeting ends, I'll return to a chaotic and stressed ward that has not coped well for the duration of my absence without replacement. I notice some to stare vacantly ahead with heavy lids, daydreaming of somewhere other than the purgatory they have been condemned to. Ingenuously hidden smartphones are a heavy-sent conduit to more amusing matters among the younger set. Seriously though, we need to protest the amount of publicly funded time wasted on the ravenous malignancy of interminable meetings whose attendance subtracts staff from what they are employed to do in the first place, a vocational obligation to work to serve a business, hospital or community. Dr Joseph Ting, Carina, Queensland

Bargaining rules

The government's bargaining rules for public servants require the Public Service Commissioner to approve proposed pay rises before they are discussed with staff and unions, and the commissioner's approval is needed before agencies can table their final position with employees. Given Mr Lloyd's links to the IPA, a right-wing think-tank – he was a former director at the institute, and remains a member – wouldn't it be more efficient to have the IPA write the bargaining agreements for the public service and save a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between departments and the Public Service Commissioner?

Peter Dahler, Calwell

Let the jury decide

A recent letter writer (February 9) wrote to The Canberra Times in response to media reports about my review of the pilot ACT citizens' jury. The writer asserted that my report included some critiques: "Among them is the 'modest size' of the jury as 'the $2.8million allotted' 'paled in comparison with other prominent citizen juries'. What evidence is there that good decision making improves with group size?"

There isn't any such evidence; on the contrary, decision-making tends to get worse with size. News of the report was generally accurate. But as readers, the media and the government debated the report, some details became obscured. For example, it wasn't the size of the jury that I critiqued, but the short duration of the process. Also, I did not claim that the pilot citizens' jury (on car insurance reform) itself cost $2.8million. I understand that this cost applies to the whole series of citizens' juries that are set to run on a range of topics. I encourage readers to have a look at the report itself, which is available at the ANU Project on Deliberative Governance and Law webpage.

In general, the report was far from critical of the pilot citizens' jury. On the contrary, it was largely positive. It offered only three main critiques, each in the spirit of constructive criticism. The report made clear, I hope, that citizens' juries are an excellent idea and they should continue to run in the ACT. Ron Levy, Associate Professor ANU Law School, Australian National University

Don't cut speed limit ...

There have recently been arguments that the speed limits in the ACT are too low, but I venture to suggest that, whatever speed limit is set, irresponsible drivers will still speed past a vehicle which is obeying the speed limit. In the past couple of days, when travelling at the posted limit, I have been passed by "hoons" who not only were doing at least 20km/h faster than I was but also, in passing, crossed over double unbroken lines.

Ken McPhan, Spence

... don't stop weeding

Someone has started to do something about the deplorable infestation of weeds on our roadways. Smartest young fellow I've seen for a while. Saturday morning, southern end of the Majura Weedway. (Finally), one bloke with a brushcutter. Good luck young man. Maybe you'll get some help one day. Maybe, after you've done the rest of the city, they'll let you come back to dig them out because they'll be two metres high and seeding across the countryside again. We've already seen what happens when blackberries are ignored. This section of the Monaro Highway is, after all, the first and last impression of many visitors to our thriving metropolis.

Anthony Bruce, Gordon

Reckless driving

I have just returned from Tuggeranong, coming up Isabella Drive and turning into Cockcroft Avenue at 3.50pm. A route 63 bus was stationary at the bus stop outside Goodwin Village with its lefthand blinker going which would indicate that someone was either getting on or off the bus. As there is a roundabout outside Goodwin Village I stopped and waited for the bus to move as there was very little room between the bus and the roundabout should I have wished to go past the bus and enter into Goodwin Village.

To my absolute amazement, a white four-wheel-drive passed me and the bus, which by this time had started to move away from the kerb. Had it not been for the bus driver's quick reaction, the four-wheel-drive would have mounted the roundabout, hit the sign and caused damage to himself as well as the sign and caused what could have been a nasty accident for themselves, the bus and its passengers and perhaps myself.

Coming on top of the letter of February 8, I cannot believe how similar the circumstances were and the subsequent reactions of the bus drivers involved.

Jim Crane, Monash

Served in vain

I enlisted in the Australian Army in 1977, five years after the Vietnam War, yet I was frequently accused of war crimes simply because I wore the uniform. Service to one's country means giving up the normal luxury and comforts of our society; it means hardships, loyalty and devotion to duty all in service to the people that accuse you of war crimes.

My accusers had no understanding of the nature of military service nor often even the facts of the Vietnam War.

US armed forces actions at places like My Lai seem to have convinced my accusers that all members of the Australian Army joined up explicitly to commit atrocities. These accusations left me feeling sick and powerless. It was clear that my accusers were not interested in any rebuttal from me – they just wanted to bully me because somehow my choice to serve my country threatened them.

And 41 years on, I'm seeing it all again from the Greens party behaviour with respect to Senator Jim Molan. Listening to someone hide behind parliamentary privilege to espouse the same appalling falsehoods and bully someone who served our country is still sickening.

Dave McLachlan, Kambah

Switch to electric cars

Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel is quite right in his support of electric vehicles. Europe and China are showing the way, but with people like Coalition backbencher Craig Laundy pulling in the opposite direction, Australia could be left wallowing in the past. There are several benefits of electric vehicles. Apart from in their construction, they are responsible for lesser volumes of greenhouse gas emissions than conventionally powered vehicles, or none at all if they use power from renewable sources for recharging their batteries. Neither do they produce the fine particulate matter, hazardous to human health, that is emitted by many, if not all, diesel-powered vehicles.

Another benefit is their relative silence, except for tyre noise at higher speeds, and I for one would be pleased to see the demise of loud exhaust systems. This brings me to the one potentially significant drawback: because of their lack of noise — at least at lower urban speeds — they could present a hazard to pedestrians. This, however, is easily overcome by observing the rule we were taught as children before we crossed a road: stop, look right, look left, and look right again before crossing.

Dr Douglas E. Mackenzie, Deakin

TO THE POINT

SPENDING AT LIGHT SPEED

I congratulate Keith Pantlin (Letters, February 7) for having coined the term "light rail dollars", which is likely to become an accepted yardstick for measuring the extravagance of government infrastructure white-elephants.

Just as a "light year" is the accepted measure of mind-boggling astronomical distances, the "light rail dollar" rating will become the accepted measure of mind-boggling government extravagance.

Bruce Taggart, Aranda

INGRATIATING THE RICH

Under semantics of "wider measures to facilitate investment and job creation in the territory", public money is donated to ingratiate rich mates ("More than $2.1m in tax waived in 2015", February 10, p5). Why is the publicly funded scheme for "sustainable or adaptable building design" continuing to produce humpies?

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan

A FLASH SUGGESTION

I agree with Ken Brazel (Letters, February 10) that we need lights on school zone speed restriction signs that would flash when the signs are applicable. These signs make more demands on drivers than most road signs, as they contain more information; but are not relevant every day. You have to think: "Is this a school day? What time is it?" Flashing lights would answer these questions for you.

Michael McCarthy, Deakin

REASON FOR SOLAR

Replying to John L. Smith, we installed rooftop solar and a battery in 2016 because neither ACTEWAGL nor any Australian government had done enough to move away from coal and methane for electricity production.

Richard Horobin, Curtin

LAUGHABLE CRITICISM

Richard Keys (Letters, February 9) is obviously confused when he claims that Molan "must have enjoyed sending the RAAF to the Middle East". It may come as a surprise to Mr Keys, but in this country, retired major-generals (even still serving ones) don't get to decide on operational commitments of the ADF. His criticism of Senator Molan, and the rest of his post, is laughable.

Kym MacMillan, O'Malley

CLEVER JUXTAPOSITION

I enjoyed the juxtaposition ("Hidden waiting list: surgeries taking up to five years", February 10, p4) and opposite ("ACT says no to fed's public hospital funding accord". February 10, p5). Well done.

Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla.

EXPENSIVE MOVEMENT

The other day I fully paid off two credit cards (Westpac). In fact I overpaid and had a small excess available I moved this excess to other accounts. For that privilege I was charged $2.50 as, I was told, it represented a cash advance. $5 for using one's own money.

Bill Seaman, Giralang

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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