Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Wedge plan with guns

Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Wedge plan with guns

It seems Malcolm Turnbull and Christopher Pyne have devised a plan to make this country a major player in the international arms trade. In the top 10 they boast. The unspoken beauty of the plan is its political or electoral pay-off.

What a way to "wedge" those sentimental peace-lovers and anti-nuclear extremists in the ALP and Greens parties. This is not to mention also wedging "economic rationalists" (like the shadow treasurer Christopher Bowen) who profess concerns about efficient national resource allocation. The international arms and "security" trade has such great opportunities.

Included might be building and maintaining "security systems" for those "environmental refugees" seeking asylum from climate change. Or maybe we could help meet the demand for more of those colourful automated lifeboats to turn around or deter those similarly placed persons taking desperate risks on the high seas on their way to countries like us.

We think of all the expertise required to build the submarines, with a little help from the French technologists.

Perhaps a commitment to Australia's comprehensive participation in the nuclear fuel cycle would be a help here too, especially in realigning party politics in South Australia. And all the more so as only nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered subs really convey the right "feel".


More soberly, we could dwell on the massive taxpayer-funded subsidies perhaps otherwise better directed. The Turnbull-Pyne-Abbott plan finally puts paid to encouraging a "greener" vehicles industry not only supporting quality jobs but helping to mitigate climate change.

Barry Naughten, Farrer

Pig Iron Mal

Prime minister and founder of the Liberal Party Robert Menzies was universally known as "Pig Iron Bob" (among other things) because he'd sold large quantities of Australian pig iron to the Japanese, who used it to make bombs that were subsequently dropped on Pearl Harbour and Darwin.

There was, after all, a pound to be made. Now, for the same reason, Malcolm Turnbull wants Australia to become a major arms exporter and the result, though perhaps more indirectly, will inevitably be the same.

In memory of his predecessor, I suggest that we start calling our PM Pig Iron Malcolm.

Fred Pilcher, Kaleen

Guns don't kill people ...

I refer to Adam Gartrell's article "Australia to become major defence exporter under $3.8b Turnbull plan" (January 29, P.1).

So here we have it: Australia is about to join the ranks of the Merchants of Death. Fear not, suggests our soothing Prime Minister, comforting us with the pledge that Australian-made killing tools will be sold only to those consumers with impeccable human rights records.

Could these customers include our great and powerful friend, the United States? This self-proclaimed champion of human rights has blessed the world with waterboarding, extraordinary renditions, the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, nifty lethal drone aircraft, and a series of ill-conceived and disastrously managed wars. It may be extremely difficult to determine who the end users of Australian home-made killing tools may be. Remember how the US itself sought to provide Israel with missiles, for clandestine transshipment to (wait for it) Iran? At the same time, Washington provided weaponry to insurgents who sought the overthrow of the legitimate government of Nicaragua.

Of course, for most of the post WWII period, the US was up to its ears in training and equipping the military forces of a number of barbaric Latin American dictatorships.

To top it off, our enthusiastic politicians have suggested that Australia is also eyeing weapons markets in the Middle East. Will Malcolm Turnbull become the new Daddy Warbucks?

Peter Grabosky, Forrest

Surely a better way

Your report that Australia is "set to become one of the world's top 10 defence exporters" with government financial assistance was disturbing.

Exporting military equipment to a world already awash with weaponry is not an ambition worthy of Australia. Trade Minister Ciobo's strategy to help Australian companies achieve "significant sales" mentions customers such as the US, UK, New Zealand and Canada, though other customers, including "the rapidly growing markets in Asia and the Middle East" are contemplated.

Selling arms is an ethical minefield. Customers are not questioned on what use they intend to make of the arms. BAE Systems in Britain, for example, sells Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia, which have then been used during a two-year bombing campaign in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians.

Recently, January last year, two men, the Reverend Daniel Woodhouse and Quaker Sam Walton, broke into the BAE base in Warton by cutting through fences, with the purpose of "disarming" the Typhoon jets with hammers.

They were arrested before they got to the jets, and charged with criminal damage. In court last October they pleaded not guilty, as they were trying to prevent a greater crime.

The judge agreed that a greater crime was being contemplated, and found the men not guilty. Government money (our money) would be better spent in encouraging Australian manufacturers to produce something more useful.

Harry Davis, Campbell

The men grunt too

Douglas Mackenzie (Letters, January 29) complains about noises made by tennis players when they hit the ball. His letter only mentions female players.

I don't watch tennis on TV, but I did catch a small part of a game on the news the other day. Both the male players were making loud "OOF" noises each time they hit the ball. Douglas didn't name any male players in his letter, so I assume he thinks it's OK for them to "OOF" as much as they like.

Its only those pesky women who need to learn that they are to be seen but not heard.

D. Edwards, Weston

Much ado about egos

All that fuss and bother about so many issues at the Grammy awards and what has been achieved? Nothing, of course, except for the ego boosts.

N. Shaw, Belconnen

If you want my opinion, and I can say nobody has ever asked for it

What is wrong with this country? It seems we don't like our national holiday date, yet nobody asked me.

We are to become a world class arms dealer; whatever happened to peace in the world?

We spent money on a campaign that should have been decided in Parliament, but the PM was too gutless to do anything and so wasted millions.

We have Aboriginal people trying to divide the country with this business of it's my land, not yours and we will decided who can use it.

If I am starting sound racist, then sorry, I don't mean to. I see things as they are. Australia is one country, yet we are becoming so divided by stupid little groups who just seem to get what they want.

In my 70 years, not once have I been asked by anybody important for my opinion, yet all I hear is "all Australians" think this and do that and "the majority" have spoken.

We have become obsessed with these focus groups, a thing inflicted on us by the Americans, whose language seems to taking over our everyday lives.

What has happened to this once proud country? All I hear about is it's about mates.

This seems to be a lost cause because mates don't beat up their wives, they don't attack you at traffic lights, they don't hit you from behind.

Maybe I just see things from a time when people cared about each other, I would like to get back to those times, but with social media, it can only get worse.

Mike Smith, Wanniassa

Face up to darkness

Recognising the genocidal practices committed against Aboriginal people seems beyond H. Ronald (Letters, January 30).

In denying the historical facts, H. Ronald cites Keith Windschuttle's The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, one of the most rebuffed, criticised and implausible works ever produced.

A cursory internet search would have revealed to Ronald the almost universal condemnation of Windschuttle's book. I suggest he reads Whitewash, on Keith Windschuttle's The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, edited by Robert Manne.

If Ronald is interested in the fate of Aboriginal people following invasion, he could also read Australia's Unthinkable Genocide, by Professor Colin Tatz, founding director of the Australian Institute of Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

The details of the massacres and the policies that led to the killing of a people because of who they were, their dispossession, forced removal of their children, and destruction of their culture and beliefs – acts of genocide – is heartbreakingly detailed.

Simon Tatz, Curtin

Sceptical reception

It is recommended by H. Ronald (Letters, January 30) that those who accept the day European settlers first arrived in Australia (January 26, 1788) as being "invasion day" (and that there was such a thing as the "stolen generation") should read Keith Windschuttle's three-volume The Fabrication of Aboriginal History.

Windschuttle's work deserves credit for the amount of work put into it and the amount of detail it includes.

However, some reviews suggest that it seems to have been written with predetermined conclusions. It has been comprehensively debunked by several organisations and people, including the Australian Archaeological Association, the University of Tasmania, and Robert Manne's collection of learned essays, Whitewash.

My recollection of the receptions that Windschuttle's work received when it was published are mainly scepticism and plain disbelief or denial.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

Record straight

In the interest of truth, there are two more misunderstandings about the 1967 referendum that should be corrected.

First, it is not true that the referendum made Australian Aboriginal people citizens. The referendum had no effect on their citizenship. At the time of the referendum every person born in Australia was an Australian citizen.

Second, it is not true that the referendum gave Aboriginal people the right to vote. The referendum had no effect on voting rights. At the time of the referendum every Australian Aboriginal person held the right to vote in federal elections.

These points can be confirmed by reference to Sawyer's The Australian Constitution, third edition, p147 & Indigenous Recognition & Constitutional Myths, blog of Constitutional Reform Unit, Sydney Law School, University of Sydney.

Fred Bennett AM, Bonner

Power play

John L. Smith's political diatribe against domestic solar photovoltaics (Letters, January 24) might at least have achieved a hint of objectivity if he'd acknowledged the times this summer that domestic PV has already saved the grid, too dependent as it still is on coal-fired generators that are prone to fail in the heat, from forced load-shedding at critical times.

Most noticeably, on January 18 Reposit-managed collective systems in Victoria and South Australia were able to provide critically needed electricity when Loy Yang B had to be taken off-line.

Fortunately a similar joint project between Reposit and ActewAGL in Canberra, which was awarded a grant by ARENA, is able to provide similar back-up by aggregating multiple Canberra households with PV and batteries to create a virtual battery to benefit the whole grid and all its users.

So, maybe knowing the difference between the past and the future is just as important as knowing the difference between energy and power.

It would seem that all the players here, including our own minister, understand both and are actually doing something about it.

Felix MacNeill, Dickson

Opaque vision

The article "Cap put on festival liquor licences" (January 24, p6) misses some important issues. Did the police really express concern about liquor when there were only three arrests for drunkenness?

Some might see this as an example of responsible drinking. How do the statistics compare with an average weekend in Civic?

The story about who actually banned community groups from serving alcohol keeps changing. The minister's story changed a number of times. How are hard-working volunteers supposed to "partner" with the big boys?

Food and specialised alcoholic drinks are part of the multicultural heritage of many countries. Clubs ACT is not. The lack of transparency is staggering.

Maria Greene, Curtin

No sympathy

I have no sympathy for the boozed up yobbos arrested in Cambodia for violating local decency standards. No Australians were busted, but probably not for want of trying.

M. Moore, Bonython



Malcolm Turnbull has been speaking on media of the desirability of Australia getting into the armaments market. In all honesty and considering the idea in the most kindly way if we consider our track record on arms manufacture and procurement it is a very silly idea. If Malcolm put renewables and electric cars in place of armaments he would have made much more sense.

Howard Carew, Isaacs


What a great way to protect our borders. Export arms the use of which will increase displacement and suffering in the world hence more people needing asylum. Why not help sustain quality of life with education and foreign aid.

Jean Doherty, Ainslie


Could someone explain to me why, when mature men play sport, their teammates call them boys?

C. J. Johnston, Duffy


Kenneth Griffiths' letter (Letters, January 29) conceived while driving to Fyshwick and listening by accident to a "working-class jock", is a masterpiece of virtue signalling, political correctness, intellectual and class snobbery, wild assumptions and national self-loathing, all rolled up into one glorious nugget of emptiness.

Peter Sesterka, Hawker


My suggestion for a new promotional song for Australian Rugby Union: "I get no kick from cocaine" (from Cole Porter's Anything Goes).

Greg Simmons, Lyons


Australia Day should be the day Australia became a nation, not the day when one of the many waves of migrants that reached these shores arrived. And each wave should be free to celebrate its arrival as it wishes and on the day that it chooses.

G. R. Ryan, Caravonica, QLD


Wouldn't strong brown paper carrybags suit the environment better than plastic? Could our recycled cardboard and newspapers go towards producing brown paper? If so, why not start a Canberra industry? We could be a national pacesetter.

Barrie Smillie, Duffy


Shane Rattenbury never ceases to amaze me. I can't believe he is more worried about plastic bags rather than our homelessness, which has reached an all-time high.

Mary Robbie, Aranda


So, Canberrans avoid going to the doctor. Would the anti-bulk billing cartel that has ruled the roost in the ACT for decades have something to do with that?

N. Ellis, Watson

Email: 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).

Most Viewed in National


Morning & Afternoon Newsletter

Delivered Mon–Fri.

By signing up you accept our privacy policy and conditions of use