Canberra Times letters to the editor: Healthy fail
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Canberra Times letters to the editor: Healthy fail

The valiant efforts of governments and health groups to inform and educate the community about healthy food choices (‘‘Most don’t understand kilojoules’’, May 6, p.6) will never succeed, for three fundamental reasons: first, because these efforts are overwhelmed by the greater marketing resources and sophisticated approaches of the food and beverage industry (including the fast food sector), who effectively manipulate the environment in which food choices are made; second, because when people make decisions about food choices – and we are said to make more than 200 food decisions every day – many of these are ‘‘mindless’’, subconscious or habit-based decisions; and, third – as the recent consumer research has shown – conscious decisions about food will prioritise many other factors before ‘‘health’’, even where information is provided.
For these reasons, ‘‘information’’ and ‘‘education’’ will only achieve so much and are unlikely to persuade those who resist health messages and whose priorities and interests are elsewhere.
Rather than trying to influence millions of individuals to make conscious decisions which prioritise health – which is often an abstract and long-term concept – governments should be addressing the ‘‘obesogenic environment’’, encouraging or mandating food reformulation, restricting unhealthy food advertising to children, and focusing on other strategies which would make the healthy choices the easy choices by default.

Karina Morris, Weetangera

Working poor

Canberra social service providers are facing increased demand from working families confronting cost of living pressures, in an Australia boasting 26 years of uninterrupted economic growth (‘‘Social services seeing more working families, Sunday’’, CT, May 6, p.7).
Millions of working poor are being left behind, in a country of 11,000 millionaires and, according to the Financial Review Rich List (2017), 60 billionaires. Corporations are banking ever greater profits. Australian taxation figures disclose some 700 of Australia’s largest pay no tax, while many others pay token amounts, with few actually remitting 30 per cent, which, ironically, Turnbull, at the behest of the Business Council of Australia (BCA), strains to lower. Then there are the ‘‘disrupters’’ – Amazon, Google, Uber, etc – which parasitise communities, paying no tax, driving down wages, destroying businesses, courtesy fawning politicians, and operating completely extraterritorially, beyond Australia’s legal reach.
St John’s and Canberra City Care’s ability to meet basic needs is compromised both by increased demand and reduced donations, as people have less discretionary income. Carnell’s Chamber of Commerce and Westacott’s BCA’ ferocious – successful? – campaigns, urged on by Minister Cash, to reduce penalty rates, further pauperised the already poor, reducing them to precarious subsistence, in a rich country.
Considered government policy encouraging high levels of immigration plus a plethora of ‘‘skilled’’ work visas, granted on whim to employers, are used as wedges to drive down wages, subliminally succeeding where Work Choices failed.
Is this really the country for which so many fought and died?

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan

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More, please

Gratifying to see that the Canberra Times saw fit to devote a double-page spread (May 6, p.4-5) to the 30th anniversary of the opening of Parliament House.
A shame that reporter Andrew Brown didn’t have time to interview more of the contributors to its design and construction other than a member of the architectural firm of Mitchell, Giurgola & Thorp and a steel fixing contractor.
It would have been interesting to have comments from the construction director, other members of the architectural team, the public art consultant responsible for the co-ordination of the $13 million artworks programme, former members of the NCDC (sadly now defunct), some of the members of the Concrete/Holland Joint Venture team who actually were responsible for building and fitting out this iconic edifice. I would like to think that we may see a follow-up article (or articles) with more reminiscences from workforce who were proud contributors to one of Australia’s most prestigious architectural and engineering projects.

P. Watson, Red Hill

Name guilty

Once again the interests of the community are secondary to protecting the interests of a ‘‘profession’’, (‘‘Complaints against vets revealed’’, CT, May 6, p.1).
If justice is to be served then the names of so-called professionals found guilty of offences against their clients must be revealed.
Redacting their names from FOI responses will only ensure that we, the public, must consider all professionals to be guilty by association.

Roger Dace, Reid

Tasty gaps

There were a few notable omissions from the ‘‘smells and tastes’’ of certain foods from our past (‘‘Back in time with a bite@, Relax’’, CT, May 6).
I long for Arnott’s to bring back the Butter Oat, the look and taste of the Triple Treat from Streets and Margin’s of Gosford with their Golden Shandy.

Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW

Sneaky move

Five months ago our town council snuck in a nefarious piece of legislation so that from May 7, ‘‘agents could ask renters to pay a third party for a ‘commercial guarantee’, instead of lodging a cash rental bond’’. (‘‘Cane toad sprung on renters’’, May 6, p.19).
The right for people to ask is functionally equivalent to the right to demand.
Tenants ‘‘would have to pay a fee to this third-party company’’.
In fact, renters would have to ‘‘pay ongoing fees to a commercial guarantor to front their bond for them’’. (‘‘Rental bonds go commercial’’, May 6, p.7).
A critical point over and beyond the loss of direct appeal rights on bond decisions and the imposition of an annual fee for the service is what, if any, degree of separation is required between the agent, the commercial guarantor and the owner in situations.
The scheme also legitimises the sharing of secret client databases and the black-balling of difficult tenants who know and insist on their rights.
The bottom line is that Andrew Barr has again sold the little people out in favour of the real property industry.

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

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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