Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Barnaby dictated to us about our private lives, but his is immune?
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Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Barnaby dictated to us about our private lives, but his is immune?

No doubt the Prime Minister will have kittens over the latest avoidable seismic distraction that the Coalition government has brought upon itself so publicly and so early in the parliamentary year ("Sins of the father: Why not publish Barnaby Joyce's baby news?", canberratimes.com.au February 8).

The Deputy Prime Minister's personal situation and demands for privacy would not have become stand-out issues had they not been linkable to the hypocritical positions taken by him and many other males in both Coalition parties over the years in relation to disparaging and trying to interfere with and control others' private lives and reproductive health choices.

Sue Dyer, Downer

Modest political martyr

Barnaby Joyce, in his long TV interview over his latest controversy, strangely claims that the marital infidelity he has demonstrated is virtually part and parcel of being a martyr to politics, as he modestly sees himself.

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He must be confusing it with insincerity and hypocrisy, which indeed well qualify him for the job.

Alex Mattea, Kingston

Just desserts

I hope that Barnaby Joyce and Susan Lamb don't think they are the only people in a difficult circumstance or are special.

Elected representatives should expect, and deserve, a greater degree of scrutiny than the average person and that the public will be generally unsympathetic to their personal circumstances.

This is because they have the ability to make laws that affect all of us and to use, or misuse, our money – including for personal benefit (expense rorts) or arguably for personal benefit (e.g. the APVA's move to Armidale).

If politicians demonstrated less self-interest and operated more often in the national interest, the public may cut them more slack.

Bruce Paine, Red Hill

ABC under threat

Brian Hale asks what do I expect when I turn off 666? (Letters, February 8). Sir, I'm not quite understanding the question. However, I'll tell you since I've stopped listening to the early morning radio my life is peaceful listening to music whilst I water my garden, or read The Canberra Times or look at my Facebook or Twitter account.

In my previous letter I thought I explained myself quite well as to what I do expect from my ABC radio station and that's unbiased news.

It's not about "alternative" views as you put it, it's about quality journalism, which is sadly lacking at the moment under an ex-News Limited employee as its head.

This crosses over into TV as well, so as you see it's not just our local radio station.

I will be attending a meeting next Tuesday held by the Friends of the ABC to discuss this very subject.

Our ABC is under threat, Mr Hale. That may not worry you but it worries many of us.

Jan Gulliver, Lyneham

Hard to listen to

I agree completely with Jan Gulliver (Letters, February 7). Previously, I was a regular listener from early morning until late afternoon and especially enjoyed Genevieve Jacobs with her varied stories and interviews.

She was a respectful interviewer and drew information from her sources – you often picked up tidbits about the local area that were quite helpful.

Now, I barely hang on throughout the morning until Conversations and The World Today when I switch off from the very lightweight Myf Warhurst program.

Linda Leavitt, Kingston

Citizenship trauma

I admit it; I was wrong. I was one of the heartless-many thinking that MP Susan Lamb should be referred to the High Court to determine her citizenship status. In retrospect, perhaps that would have been best, enabling her to keep her circumstances private and avoid a public airing of very personal, very deep tragedy.

Linda Burney also went through emotional challenges, examining records from the heinous Aboriginal Protection Board, to demonstrate her ancestry and, thus, prove her citizenship.

Josh Frydenberg's Hungarian-born mother was rendered stateless by the Holocaust, so he became a target, too.

I now believe we must find a better way for those in special circumstances to demonstrate their citizenship, or demonstrate they've done everything they could to prove their Aussie-only citizenship.

I'm not certain what such a process would entail; still, I'm certain that something should be established so people willing to serve in our Parliament don't have to broadcast what may be traumatic, personal situations behind their ancestry.

Judy Bamberger, O'Connor

The jury is out

Dr Ron Levy as reported in The Canberra Times ("Citizens jury flawed: Report", February 6, p1) has a number of criticisms of the "impartiality" of the first ACT citizens jury reviewing third party insurance.

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?

For cost comparisons, the South Australian government spent $115,000 on its citizens jury to recommend on nuclear waste disposal, and the Victorian government spent $150,000 on its West Link infrastructure.

Of the $2.8 million that the ACT government is spending on the jury, about $24,000 was spent on payment to the 53"jurors" at $75 per day attendance over three weekends or less than about 1per cent. There are serious questions regarding the exercise, impartiality being only one of them.

The others are why is the ACT government spending about 20 times more than other jurisdictions? Where is the bulk of the funding going?

Are "stakeholders" (professionals/institutions) that represent their own commercial interest being paid to attend? Will the results justify the cost?

Why didn't the ACT government just act on independent expert advice just like the "citizens jury" is likely to do?

Mary Bau, Deakin

Too much union power

Thank you Canberra Times for the editorial "Procurement rules must be balanced" (February 6). The longstanding MOU between the ACT Labor government and UnionsACT that gives effective veto power by unions over work put to tender and contract by the ACT government has been shameful abuse enough of taxpayers funds.

Now the ACT government intends to not only enshrine the terms of the MOU into legislation but to also provide the unions with even greater veto powers and control over virtually all work done by contractors for the ACT government, in particular in building and construction.

M. Silex, Erindale

Time to tilt the scale

An article in the usually well-informed Railway Digest of January 2018 claims that three applicants have been chosen to submit plans for replacement of the NSW regional fleet of trains: Downer, Bombardier and Momentum Trains.

No details are shown, but Transport NSW apparently aims to award a contract for the new fleet in early 2019.

It seems therefore that there is no NSW planning for high-speed tilt trains on the Canberra to Sydney run, despite the lobbying from Andrew Barr and his government, and their rail Memorandum of Understanding with NSW.

(The advantage of tilt trains is that they can run fast on poor quality tracks so there is little infrastructure cost.)

Perhaps it's time for the ACT government to buy its own tilt trains? The current estimate is $100million dollars - chickenfeed compared to light rail.

C. Williams (Friends of Canberra-Sydney rail group), Forrest

The smart choice

There are a number of significant concerns linked to smart meters including increased household electricity bills, invasion of privacy via the hacking of smart meters (a security concern), and adverse health effects for some people, particularly in close proximity to the meters. The January/February 2018 issue of the Our Canberra newsletter from the ACT government has an item entitled "More choice for Canberrans" promoting digital smart meters. However, the item does not list all choices available.

The item states that existing electricity meters will be changed to a smart meter if they are faulty or reach the end of their life.

An important option not mentioned is that consumers with existing functional meters can write to their electricity retailer with a refusal in advance of a wireless enabled smart meter, opting instead for one that is not wireless enabled, should a maintenance upgrade be required. Such a meter must still be read by a human meter reader.

Murray May, Cook

Can't keep em down

With "hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from the pokie industry to Labor and the Coalition", $3.6 million from the coal industry lobbyists, $1.3million from the Minerals Council etc, etc, etc ( February 2, p4) it is no wonder that there is such disenchantment with our political system, reflected in a declining vote for the old parties, their shrivelled grassroots membership and the disengagement of young people.

This bought influence is legal. In contrast, behind a smokescreen of clamping down on foreign influence, steps are being taken to effectively outlaw little people kicking in less than $5 a week (just $251 a year) to groups advocating political change (January 29, p4).

That bought influence must be so scared of the crowd funding of the widows' mites should be a cause of rejoicing as an awakening of hope and a rebirth of faith in democracy.

It was unimaginable to me that I would ever live in a time of resurgent fascism when respect and enhancement of the principle of one Australian one vote would ever be questioned much less actively suppressed.

Bill Bush, Turner

Needless exercise

Dr Ron Levy as reported in The Canberra Times ("Citizen's Jury Flawed: Report", February 6, p1) has a number of criticisms of the "impartiality" of the first ACT's citizen's jury reviewing third party insurance.

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?

Cost comparison is that apparently the South Australian government spent $115,000 on its citizen's jury to recommend on nuclear waste disposal, and the Victorian government spent $150,000 on its west link infrastructure.

Of the $2.8 million that the ACT government is spending on the jury, about $24,000 was spent on payment to the 53 "jurors" at $75 per day attendance over three weekends or less than about 1 per cent. There are serious questions regarding the exercise, impartiality being only one of them.

The others are why is the ACT government spending about 20 times more than other jurisdictions? Where is the bulk of the funding going?

Are "stakeholders" (professionals/institutions) that represent their own commercial interest being paid to attend? Will the results justify the cost?

Why didn't the ACT government just act on independent expert advice just like the "citizen's jury" is likely to do?

Mary Bau Deakin

Banks give and take

We don't need costly inquiries to show that Australians no longer trust banks to act in the communities' best interests if acts of integrity such as not overcharging and offering unbiased financial management advice erode banking sector profitability.

Abolishing the daily grind of a small service fee for cash withdrawals from other banks' ATMs was a great first step to regain our trust. It's such little acts of huge symbolic reprieve that speak most to customers that have suffered price gouging, reduced and degraded counter service over decades of loyalty to one institution. However, banks need reminding that there is a long way to go before insinuating themselves back into our confidence.

I anticipated and reluctantly suffered the hoary old chestnut of a 1.5 per cent fee for credit card payment of my burgeoning home insurance policy with the Commonwealth Bank, despite this representing an internal transaction.

The new annoyance was not being able to future date my insurance payment close to when it was due, two payment cycles from now, using my Commonwealth Bank Mastercard.

Not only am I obliged to pay a service charge, but I now lose $1500 of spending money so that the bank can earn a further two months worth of interest. It goes to show that with one kind hand the banks give, but with the other they greedily take away. I may be pessimistic, but once the negative press from the banking enquiry abates, the banks will surely revert to their badly behaved selves.

Joseph Ting, Carina, QLD

IN BRIEF

HYPOCRITICAL JOYCE

On The 7.30 Report (February 7) deputy PM Barnaby Joyce makes a feeble attempt at being the judge of his own case with regard to his wayward conduct.

It's a classic case of demanding high standards from others but seeking exemption for one's own self.

Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

GLASS HOUSES

Yes, everyone should respect politicians' private lives as long as they don't affect others adversely.

I've never forgiven the Liberal government for the way they attacked former Prime Minister Julia Gillard for her personal life and over her policies.

Susan MacDougall, Scullin

FERRETS AT THEIR BEST

The Aussie saying, "giving the ferret a run" seems to have risen to new heights with the announcement the Deputy Prime Minister has fathered a child to one of his staff members.

And being born and bred in the New England region Barnaby Joyce would be well accustomed with the fun of ferreting.

John Sandilands, St Marys, Tasmania

HE'D BE STUMPED

"Lawyers tell Trump to say nothing", (CT, February 7, p16) this would be a new word in his vocabulary?

Peter Baskett, Murrumbateman, NSW

MOLAN'S TRUE COLOURS

Former General now Senator Jim Molan put a vicious anti-Muslim video from a British fascist group onto his blog, didn't take it down even when it was shown to be a fake. He must have enjoyed sending the RAAF to the Middle East to bomb villages with Muslim women and children.

Richard Keys, Ainslie

DOUBLE STANDARDS ...

"Heads must roll" thunder the politicians discussing the old cabinet files that turned up in a secondhand shop, but when a bank promotes the person in charge of its money-laundering division to CEO nothing is said. Balance? Relevance? The pollies just don't get it.

Adrian Gibbs, Yarralumla

... DITTO THIS MOB

Quite right, Philip Benwell (Letters, February 7), about the hypocrisy of a republican mooted WA governor. Similarly disgraceful is the barefaced effrontery of republicans Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten occupying the positions of Her Majesty's Australian Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.

Frank Marris, Forrest

CAPITAL DISGRACE

I lived in Canberra for 17 years as a kid. On a recent visit to Canberra I was appalled by the overgrown weeds and grass everywhere. The ACT government can spend a fortune on an unnecessary tram line, and regularly sticks its nose into federal matters, but can't seem to attend to basic upkeep and maintenance of open spaces. For the nation's capital it's not a good look.

Bill Teece, Werribee, VIC

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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