Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: The insidious presence of older men abroad on a silent ramble
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Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: The insidious presence of older men abroad on a silent ramble

I write in reference to the article "Charges dismissed as magistrate declares prayers are not a protest", March 10, p16).

Heaven help anyone found walking around silently in places where safe zones are not in place. Actually, being within said "safe zones" could be worse, but bear with me.

Without even knowing it, you could find yourselves accused of being judgmental and scrutinising those around you.

"What," you say, while noting the inherent hypocrisy of being judged as judgmental, "surely not?" Yes, according to Jacquie O'Brien, acting CEO of Marie Stopes Australia.

Old guys walking "alone and without speaking to anyone, save for brief acknowledgments of one another" can be seen as a negative influence on patients at the abortion clinic.

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Why? Because, she alleges, "patients can often feel judged and scrutinised as a result of their presence".

As luck would have it, this being 2018 and not George Orwell's 1984, Magistrate Theakston accepted that those engaged in silent prayer "involved no component of expression, communication or message to those around them" and dismissed the charges of protesting.

I am hoping that the exclusion zone is clearly designated for any "old guys" who just happen to be praying for peace and for the end of violence against women in all forms.

Michael Crowe, Hawker

Barking up wrong tree

Last week I was dogsitting my son's Belgian Malinois and was responsibly taking her for a walk on a lead.

We came across a group of four people chatting by the side of the road and with a small dog that was not on alead.

I crossed the road to the other side, hoping to pass the group without incident. However, their dog charged across the road and started yapping and nipping, trying to sink its teeth into my dog.

Being on a lead, my dog felt threatened and started growling and trying to escape from the nipping lunges of the unrestrained dog.

One gentleman in the group ineffectively called his dog back, but the dog did not respond at all to the command.

Said gentleman made no attempt to come and get his dog and I could only try to calm my dog and get away as fast as we could from the offending animal, who followed us down the road for quite some distance, continually trying to bite my dog.

No one in the group made any attempt to follow their dog and "rescue" me from the distressing situation.

I cannot help but wonder, though, how I would have stood legally if I'd let my bigger dog off the lead and she had protected herself from the offending smaller dog.

Would I have then been in the wrong or would the preceding events be taken into consideration?

Chris O'Keeffe, Gilmore

The handmaid's fail

Patricia Saunders of Chapman (Letters, March 10) asks why men complain about equal rights for women "when males have been top dogs for centuries".

She obviously thinks males have a collective stream of consciousness that has been unbroken through the ages; a kind of Westworld rebirthing where all men are just the latest incarnation of their great-grandfathers, destined to fulfil the same top-dog roles. Secret men's business where males are covertly plotting to keep women barefoot and pregnant from one century to the next.

Why should I be compared to another male from hundreds of years ago, Patricia?

It's a bit like saying murderer's sons should be punished by law as forcefully as their father because they have a penis and, therefore, they're guilty by association.

If we have a system where every sector of the community gets equal representation by default we'll end up being obliged to choose board members according to their skin colour, gender, sexual preference and religion.

Who cares if decisions aren't made?

At least we'd have an African, a Muslim and a lesbian on the board and, after all, white heterosexual Anglo-Saxons have been top dogs for centuries, right?

If women actually qualify for a position they should have equal consideration; if a man is chosen for that position, however, let's not fantasise that he's merely asserting his centuries-old right to male dominance.

Jeff Sweeney, Belconnen

My safety solution

As Miles Farwell (Letters, March 13) points out, the ACT does have a significant problem with speeding motorists.

I subscribe to the theory that the sudden stop of a traffic crash is more likely to kill or maim if one is travelling at antisocial speeds.

What is clear is that the ACT Road Safety strategy has failed, as shown by the evidence of the casualties over the last decade.

This has occurred despite attempts to automate detection of speeding and red-light offenders. Of course, enforcement of the other rules does not seem to attract the necessary priority.

Given the antipathy of the ACT Policing towards doing much of the road safety lifting, with the exception of the flavour of the month media releases, perhaps it is time to consider a new strategy.

My suggestion is for the government to encourage citizens to provide digital photographs and video of alleged offences to the already established traffic camera office.

Following appropriate adjudication, a penalty notice would be issued to the owner of the offending vehicle as well as a monetary bounty to the citizen providing the evidence.

If this suggestion is taken up I am confident this would, in a week or two, lead to significant improvements in compliance with the road rules.

Bill Gemmell, Holder

Save local jobs

While ACT Health might conveniently refer to a 2015 consultants report which recommended a particular "staffing model" for the University of Canberra Hospital, there are other options the ACT government can take to make sure Canberrans (and in particular local Belconnen district residents) become the workers of choice at this new facility.

With Myer to close its doors next year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics moving more staff out of Belconnen and uncertainty over the staffing profiles at Calvary and Canberra hospitals, keeping local jobs under the auspices of government gives so many local families a better chance to stay and participate in our community.

The ACT government has the power to make this staffing model an ethical, government-owned-and-operated venture.

That is the promise they made at the last election on a whole range of contracting arrangements and it's a promise we want them to keep.

The future of our district and many of those who live and work in the ACT depends on it, and it is something we all deserve.

Glen Hyde, Belconnen

Barr needs a reality check

It may be time for journalists and older people to join together to explain our contributions to the community to Andrew Barr.

It may be that journalists and some senior advocates have struck sensitive nerves in Mr Barr with criticism of land deals and rate rises.

While journalists have mechanisms to address Mr Barr, seniors have to rely on letters to the editor, Twitter and Facebook.

Mr Barr suggests he wants direct communication channels not filtered by journalists.

Has he considered community meetings for consultation?

He does not attend the ones that are held unless they meet his special interests or involve developers.

As a volunteer advocating for parts of the community for over 10 years, I feel particularly galled at the value he places on contributions by our over 60s volunteers.

I have many friends who volunteer as carers, in hospitals, nursing homes, at Canberra events, and just helping their children with their grandchildren.

I would be surprised if the younger people these volunteers assist aren't upset by Barr's attitude to us.

Lets all get together, young and old, to tell him and his MLA associates what we think of his attitudes.

Maybe it's time for a change of leadership.

Gary Petherbridge, Barton

New toys, old news

That Andrew Barr wants his Government at the cutting edge of communication technologies hardly makes him a savant.

Politicians always exploit new technologies to reach votes.

I am OK with the Chief Minister trying new things. What is a worry is the entirety of content travelling his new channels.

Will a new Labor approach to communications cover those obtuse land deals in Dickson, Glebe Park and West Basin with inexplicably inflated prices?

Or the ACT public servant trying for a billion dollar land deal with the Malaysian Government?

Or that minister Joy Burch's office was accused of inappropriately handling sensitive police information?

Still I sympathise with the Chief Minister. Sometimes the Canberra Times drives me nuts too, and I wonder how many of the great things in this city can go unreported while the trivial is covered?

Then I open the paper and there lies a story I need to know because I am a taxpayer, a citizen and a voter.

If I have to pick between the imperfect Canberra Times and the ACT Cabinet live-streaming on Twitter (2015 was the last such sitting) I'll opt for my morning paper.

Bob Crawshaw, Weston

Risks of 'big data'

The Chief Minister's desire to replace the print media with direct communication with Canberrans should be opposed.

The exclusive use of direct communication would markedly increase the potential for the government to make secret promises to appease (bribe so they are silent, to be blunt) groups and individuals.

While secret promises have always been possible, there weren't many of them and traditional media often knew where to look.

Using "big data" and direct communication, political parties and the government can potentially make a different promise to each of us, with no practical way for us to find out what else has been promised, whether the promises in total are affordable, or whether we find some of the promises abhorrent.

This information is essential for a functioning democracy, and has traditionally been provided by the print media.

Bruce Paine, Red Hill

Andrew's new agenda

What's the matter Andrew? You hate journalists and you're not going to deal with the mainstream media as a form of communication with the people of Canberra.

Why? Is it because the mainstream media prints what Canberrans need to know and/or ought to know about your government that you don't like?

In regard to print media, such as the Canberra Times and the Daily Telegraph, perhaps you need to visit some of the local social clubs in Canberra who provide these and other papers for members. Sometimes you have to queue up to get a paper.

It's not just the older generation reading the papers.

The Canberra Times and other forms of mainstream media will be around a lot longer than you are the Chief Minister.

Meanwhile, I'll save my pennies to pay your ever increasing property taxes, levies, power costs, rates, roads and rubbish taxes – oh, let's not forget the tram costs.

J. Bodsworth, Phillip

PS: please reply

It appears that Mr Barr wishes to "completely overhaul the way we communicate as a government". I couldn't agree more. He could start by replying to the letter that I, as a concerned resident of Canberra, hand delivered to the Legislative Assembly on 7th July 2017. I received no acknowledgement from our ACT government.

Pontificating and broadcasting is not communicating.

Communication is a two-way process involving listening, understanding and appropriately responding.

Among well mannered people it also involves courtesy and respect.

I wonder if that is a "contentious and risky idea" that the Barr government might like to consider, but, as it comes from someone aged over 50, I guess it will be ignored along with the concerns expressed in last year's letter.

Maureen Pitman, Reid

Tweets and twits

So Mr Barr is going to ignore/not use traditional print media but rely on social media. Well, despite sounding arrogant and fearful of critics, with something to hide, how is he going to communicate with my household? We choose not to use social media. It is unverified, silo based drivel, full of opinionated tweets. Where will I get an accountable news source on what the ACT government is doing? Maybe Mr Barr has been in power just a little too long.

Des Heaney, O'Connor

Sports diplomacy

Why do we have a taxpayer-funded diplomatic corps when in times of "troubles" with our first best friend we call in our most famous golfer/ businessman to negotiate?

E. R. Moffat, Weston

TO THE POINT

MORE SCRUTINY

If Andrew Barr wants to find new ways for young people to engage effectively and openly with civic issues he should be encouraged. But he doesn't appear to say that. The message I get is he is looking for ways to influence younger people without The Canberra Times and older Canberrans breathing down his neck. Either way, he will get – and deserve – more intensive scrutiny.

David Townsend, Curtin

LISTEN TO WISE OLDIES

If he can't take the criticism and scrutiny of the media and those a bit older and wiser, Andrew Barr should resign as Chief Minister.

Paddy O'Keeffe, Palmerston

LEADER FOR LIFE?

Barr's arrogance seems boundless. No doubt he will shortly declare himself "Chief Minister for Life".

Phil O'Brien, Watson

GO THE TIMES

More power to your journos. Do all you can to bring this government to account.

John Madelly snr, Melba

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER

Andrew Barr: never pick a fight with somebody who buys printers ink by the barrel.

Graham Macafee, Latham

AGE FRIENDLY CITY?

Now that the Chief Minister has put the boot into us oldies, those "Canberra age friendly city" number plates seem a bit suss.

Ed Highley, Kambah

DEALING IN THE DARK

Andrew Barr's dislike of The Canberra Times and journalists indicates a deep desire to avoid scrutiny.

David Hall, Wanniassa

THOUGHT CRIME

Andrew Barr certainly had a brain snap: he said what he thought.

Mike Dallwitz, Giralang

COME BACK, JON

Jon Stanhope, all is forgiven.

B. Pearson, Belconnen

A CHEAPER WAY

If drivers obey the road rules then they won't have to add to the coffers of the government.

Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW

IDES OF MARCH

Is Turnbull's Ides of March approaching with bad poll No.30 around the corner?

Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

CONVICT HEAVEN

The Irish scammers are highlighting what a great country this is. Convicts are arriving of their own volition.

Matt Ford, Crookwell, NSW

RAIDERS ON REPEAT

Here we go again. New Raiders player starts well. Scores try. Ricky reverts to same old losers and guess what, we lose.

Pat Tracey, Canberra

Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attached file. 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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