Letters to the Editor: Unpleasant facts the reason for Whitlam's demise
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Letters to the Editor: Unpleasant facts the reason for Whitlam's demise

Peter Dawson has tried to revive the conspiracy theories of Whitlam's dismissal. (Letters, April 16).

Allegations of a monarchial conspiracy are unsustainable in the light of the simple facts.

Whitlam was attempting to govern without supply — an enormous breach of the constitution.

Many of us, me included, were not going to get paid our salary which was not a pleasant prospect with a mortgage due.

Whitlam was also implying that he would barge through including sacking the governor-general.

The only solution in our democracy was for the government to call an election and the deadline for doing so before the Christmas break was early November.

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In view of Whitlam's implicit refusal, the mechanism to achieve this was for the GG to dismiss Whitlam and call upon the leader of the opposition to be prime minister, obtain supply and call an election.

The election gave the people the final decision which we made resoundingly.

No conspiracy — just the facts.

Michael Lane, St Ives

Other US lies

Rex Williams told us in commendably few words that the US regularly lies about Middle East wars (Letters, April 13).

I agree; but I wonder if even Rex realises the depth of the hole into which he has peered? He mentions, inter alia, Iraq — and here I presume he refers to the "WMD" claims that provided the tripwire for engagement in the second Iraq War.

More shocking is the now utterly discredited "Nariyah testimony", which was a key plank for diving headlong into the first Iraq War. We may recall the claims made by the teenage girl, "Nariyah", of the diabolical cruelty of Iraqi soldiers invading Kuwait; how they removed sick babies from humidicribs and left them to slowly die. It was repeated scores of times by everyone from George Bush snr, on down through the ranks.

We now know the young lady had seen no such thing. She had been briefed to deliver a fictitious "set piece" by a public relations firm.

Going back even further, we find the tripwire for serious engagement in the Vietnam War — the Gulf of Tonkin incident — is now often referred to as the "Ghost of Tonkin".

While there had been a skirmish resulting in a single bullet hole on August 2, NSA documents declassified in 2005 and 2006 indicate there was no attack whatsoever on the USS Maddox on August 4, 1964.

If we do not learn from history we are bound to repeat mistakes of the past.

Ross Kelly, Monash

West also answerable

Mein Gott, the UK's national security adviser, Sir Mark Sedwill, claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin was "closely involved" in his country's chemical weapons program that tested a way to poison assassination targets by applying nerve toxins to door handles ("Putin oversaw secret chemical assassination lab, UK says", canberratimes.com.au, April 14).

Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away, the United States has acknowledged that in the early 1950s it tested the use of chemicals on the black civilian population of St Louis; that it had sprayed 20 million gallons of chemicals, including the very toxic Agent Orange, on Vietnam between 1962-1971; that it had deliberately targeted civilians with white phosphorous in Fallujah in 20014 and that it deliberately deployed thousands of tons of munitions made from depleted uranium in Iraq in 2003.

And let's not forget Sir Winston Churchill, who it's claimed, authorised the use of the secret chemical weapon called the 'M Device' (an exploding shell containing a highly toxic gas called diphenylaminechloroarsine), developed at Britain's Porton laboratories against the Russian Bolsheviks in 1918.

Still, only the wicked Russians have attacked door handles.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

Syria attack a mistake

The US-led attack on Syria is merely a form of military sophistry aimed at giving the home audience something to crow about.

It will achieve nothing in terms of changing the Assad regime or reducing its chemical weapons capabilities.

Even if Assad did use chemcial weapons against his own people it doesn't justify US-led military strikes against him.

The US doesn't have the right to police other nations. I doubt Putin will react quickly to the US contrived bombings. His most likely option is to continue to support Assad by targeting his opponents.

The bombings will strengthen Assad's hand by ensuring Russia remains steadfast.

Turnbull's comments about Australia supporting the bombings are just more of the same.

"Precision" bombing a few dilapidated buildings will change nothing.

I initially hoped that Putin would retaliate against the bombings but I think he is very wise to hold off and plan his actions.

I don't like Assad or his regime but I think that under the current circumstances we need Russia to play a much more significant role, not just in Syria but in other parts of the Middle East as well.

The world is not a safer place because of US policing.

Adam Bonner, Brogo

Don't resurrect Abbott

The collective amnesia reflected by those continuing to bay for Tony Abbott's return as prime minister ignores a core reason for his removal. Quite simply, he was a national embarrassment, as evidenced by his threat to "shirt front" Vladimir Putin and knighting the Duke of Edinburgh. Perhaps we (and the Senate) should be grateful that he didn't have a horse.

Tony Abbott's departing words that "there will be no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping" from him have also apparently been forgotten by many, and most alarmingly by Tony Abbott himself.

Ian Pearson, Barton

Canberra needs fun

Having just spent a fantastic long weekend over the ditch being indulged by everything that is Queenstown (I do miss the direct flights we had once upon a time ), it occurred to me that almost everything adventurous that makes Queenstown such a desirable place to visit was once part of the fabric and lifestyle of Canberra, until a large chunk of the good fun bits got shut down or squeezed out.

The fun stuff that has been culled or killed could be an industry for Canberra bigger than the one I just spent time within, but for the right attitude and leadership.

I also wonder how a small town of 28,000 people with an economy based on young people and adventure tourism has a Louis Vuitton Store, and Canberra – with the highest average incomes in the country and 400,000 people – doesn't.

I can only guess that Queenstown hammers Canberra for cashed-up tourists.

David Shearer, Braddon

Rising up the ranks

I write in response to Adrian Jackson's letter 'Rank is not a reward' (Letters, April 12).

Whether Monash or anyone else is posthumously promoted to field marshal will be a matter for people, especially politicians, to decide but discussion should not be clouded by erroneous "facts".

The assertions about span of command made by Mr Jackson are quite wrong. There is no fixed number of divisions, corps or armies a general or field marshal might command. Rudolph Lambart commanded the 10th Army in Italy in WWI which consisted of just two corps totalling four divisions. Incidentally he was promoted to field marshal in retirement as a "reward". Archibald Montgomery-Massingberd was promoted to field marshal in the 1930s without having commanded a single unit in World War I.

As for the assertion no Australian commanded such a force, even in World War II, Blamey as commander-in-chief of Australian Military Forces and commander Allied Land Forces South West Pacific Area, commanded the 1st and 2nd Australian Armies and the US 8th Army as well as the Volunteer Defence Corps of 111 units with over 90,000 soldiers. His "reward" was promotion to field marshal in 1950.

The Australian Defence Act until relatively recently contained provisions for the Governor-General to promote any officer to any rank as a "reward".

Field marshal may be a rank but it is in the gift of the sovereign, not the defence force.

David Deasey, Mortdale, NSW

Not so tasty bait

Are Canberra's endemic flight cancellations a form of "bait and switch"? Advertise more flights than you can possibly fill to harvest customers, who think that they are getting a good price at their preferred time.

Closer to the day, cancel and consolidate to the times you really intend to fly. If a customer wants to then switch to a rival airline that truly is flying at their preferred time, offer a refund of the discount fare paid months ago.

Higher prices at that late stage mean that only the truly desperate will make the switch, so you've successfully sold the customer a product they wouldn't have knowingly purchased.

Perhaps the solution is to require the cancelling airline to supply the closest alternative to what they sold you, even if that means them buying you a ticket on the rival airline.

Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Survey no true indicator

The validity and usefulness of Unions ACT poll finding that 51.5per cent of the ACT population supported the extension of the light rail to Woden is questionable.

If the question had been framed along the lines of "would you rather see over $1billion spent on light rail to Woden or on health, education, disability services, city maintenance or to reduce rates" the answer would have been very different.

What does matter is the community is fully informed of the costs and benefits of the project and the opportunity costs identified. It is irresponsible for the business case being undertaken to compare only alternative routes.

In the absence of evidence as to the benefits of the extension, it is difficult not to conclude the project is an act of faith and that too much is being sacrificed on its altar. It is unfortunate that the Barr-Rattenbury government's immaturity and lack of transparency and integrity has made it necessary for Senator Seselja to refer the project to a federal parliamentary committee to investigate whether the community is getting value for money.

Mike Quirk, Garran

Green ideology waste

It was no surprise to read that the unions had done a survey which found that a majority of Canberrans want the tram extended over the lake.

After all, the project will provide several years of well-paid work for its members. Then, of course the residents of our city want to put their hands into their pockets and come up with another billion-plus dollars knowing that most of it will go down the tube and not come back to them in terms of benefits.

Of course they want to spend a couple of hundred million to build a new bridge over the lake to take the tram or to replace a couple of traffic lanes on Commonwealth Avenue bridge with tram lines so that traffic congestion will rise to the point that cars can hardly move. And of course they want to replace their fast express buses with slower trams (capable of

70km/h not 80) meandering in the inner south instead of zapping down Yamba Drive.

As a life-long rail fan who spent 10 years working to further the rail industry, it saddens me that this money, which could do so much good, is to be spent to please the madness of green ideology.

Stan Marks, Hawker

Pollies and junkets

We are still trying to work out why the various Canberra members of the Legislative Assembly feel justified in taking overseas trips at the ratepayers' expense to the tune of $170,000 as was reported earlier this month.

Canberra is really a big council so why are we funding these trips?

Why are those of us who pay rates carrying the expenses of overseas trips when many things need fixing such as potholes in the Cook shops car park or dead street lights or a breakfast program for kids in low socio-economic suburbs here in Canberra?

If the MLAs want a holiday, pay for it themselves as the rest of us must do.

Their job is to provide municipal services, not go on expensive, unnecessary, "fact-finding " missions which are a waste of time and unjustified for a very small polity. Most of these trips should be seen for what they are – junkets at our expense.

An independent commission for corruption would be a good idea to combat the entitlement mentality some MLAs seem to have

Karna and Julian O'Dea, Aranda

Barr steering clear

The smartest move by Andrew Barr since he became Chief Minister was to not put his hand up for the new federal electorate of Bean. He wouldn't want to be known as a "has Bean" if he lost at the election now would he?

Graeme Rankin, Holder

TO THE POINT

WHERE WAS VLADIMIR?

It appears Mr Putin is telling lies about the effectiveness of the 30-year-old anti-aircraft system his countryman palmed off on the Syrians a while back. I seem to recall him saying if the U.S. mounted an attack Russian forces would shoot down the missiles. That didn't happen. The new lie is the Syrians shot down 71 of the 103 missiles fired. The satellite pictures tell a different story.

M. Moore, Bonython

HOIST BY OWN PETARD

I wonder how many of the residents complaining about out-of-hours light rail construction actually voted for light rail. I suspect the majority did.

Ric Hingee, Duffy

GRAFFITI PLAGUE SPREADS

The plague that is 'graffiti' is out of control: the plethora of tagging on the wall of a storage facility facing Drakeford Drive in Tuggeranong is testimony to this. It's about time there were some arrests (for vandalism) and wholesale eradication.

B. J. Millar, Isabella Plains

US OUR WWII SAVIOUR

In response to Rex Williams "US Has No Credibility" (Letters, April 13); if it wasn't for the US you would be speaking Japanese.

Michael Collins, Banks

MR FLUFFY IGNORED

The ACT government is to hold an inquiry into shoddy building work which, it's stated, possibly cost the ACT $100 million last year. What a shame it can't show the same enthusiasm about setting up a board of inquiry into the Mr Fluffy $1billion scandal.

Kathleen Read, Gundaroo

FINDING FAULT

It is to be hoped both drivers were subjected to mandatory blood and urine testing in the aftermath of the recent crash between a police van and another vehicle.

Eddie Boyd, Spence

SEEING HOW IT FEELS

Now Australia is confronted by the potential of one Chinese military base in the Pacific, I wonder if it will give us an understanding of how the Chinese and North Koreans, feel about having had (for decades)US bases, in the North Pacific?

Kerry Foster, Allambie Heights, NSW

LYRICS FUSS OVERBLOWN

I cannot believe all the hype over the fact that Malcolm Turnbull didn't know the words to some song by John Farnham.

I bet he knows the words to the national anthem.

Mary Nortje, Phillip

SO WHAT'S CHANGED?

OK, so the US fired a one-off missile attack on Basher al-Assad's Syria in response to the chemical gas attack by the rogue regime. Has that attack dislodged the Syrian dictator from power? So what's really changed ?

Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

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