Roos are a capital asset
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Roos are a capital asset

The debate into the kangaroo cull (or government-sanctioned extermination program as it has now become) currently rages on as it does every year – with the weight of public opinion against it, and the government ignoring public opinion.

There is no doubt that there is considerable subterfuge going on with regard to the population numbers for culling. One can find endless information on the Department of Environment website on how the figures for the cull are calculated, but absolutely no information on what the current kangaroo population actually is.

Anecdotally, I can attest that there certainly are considerably fewer kangaroos to take visitors to see, and these few are targeted yet again in the current cull — eg Mt Majura/Mt Ainslie.

The current government appears to have little insight as to what tourists and visitors to Canberra would like to see and do. Many of the highlights are being systematically curtailed or eradicated completely – for example Floriade and Mr Spokes bike hire.

The one thing that makes Canberra special, and where it differs from other capital cities around the world, is its natural bush environment and habitat for native animals. There is no other country in the world where you can see populations of kangaroos in the wild, and no city in Australia where they are as accessible as Canberra. The main tourist attraction in Canberra's sister city Nara, Japan, is a beautiful large park in the centre of the city where you can hand-feed wild deer. It is a major money earner for the city. Rather than eliminate yet another reason for visiting Canberra, why not use its natural features to its advantage?

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Nicola Watson, Turner

Cull is a disgrace

There is absolutely no justification for the current kangaroo cull – it is an embarrassment that the Nation's capital would do this.

Over eight years, government shooters have culled 12,271 kangaroos on reserves, and in the past three years they have killed another 2061 pouch young.

Last year's was the biggest cull since 2011, with 1989 animals shot and another 800 pouch young killed.

Mr Gentleman has said kangaroos have an unacceptable environmental and economic impact, bringing excessive grazing pressure, degrading native grassy ecosystems, and the habitats of threatened species.

They also hit the economic viability of rural properties and increased the cost of managing land.

Yet how would I explain this to my animal-loving six-year-old twins and their teenage sisters – there must be better options! It seems ACT approaches to suppress fertility have not been employed successfully. But in the United States, PZP contraceptive darts have been successfully used with deer populations. It was found that immunocontraceptives alone could be used to stabilise and reduce a deer population over time.

After the disgrace of the animal live exports, I am ashamed of our federal government and now, of this territory government too. And in the medium term, we should be aiming to reduce grazing and the consumption of cows in the interests of sustainability.

I am sure that future generations will look back on our treatment of animals as a disgrace and a sign of an immature society. I hope politicians of the future will be holding us accountable for these crimes, in the way that we judge the generations before us.

Kate Lawrence-Haynes, Braddon

Educating mobs

If, as some keep demanding, the annual roo cull is stopped, an ongoing public education programme on living with wild animals, especially directed at children, would be advisable to forestall attacks by offended beasts as encounters become more common. There is a definite etiquette involved, sort of like living with humans.

Suppose you come across a doe breakfasting on the sweet grass of a neighbour's nurtured lawn in the grey mists of a winter dawn. She would normally raise her head and glare at you. It is simply good manners to pause and wish her a good morning. She would likely nod and continue her breakfast if you move a little sideways to give her just a bit more room and continue in your way quietly.

One might even come across a mob grazing in the shade of trees on a luncheon stroll. A big red might be lolling in his side but rouse himself on his elbow with an air of, "Here we go." It would be wise, as well as polite, to stop, even step back a short pace while greeting him. If he accepts you as no threat to his harem, you might hear a quiet, "Harrumph", as he drops back to the ground.

Educating the various mobs with a bit of road sense might be a bit more difficult.

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

Rein in the pollies

I agree with Frank Seymour (May 7) that the main reason why the ACT government doesn't provide a more compelling case for the kangaroo cull is that no case, convincing to the general population, can be made.

One thing that can be guaranteed to be absent from any case the ACT government may make is any recognition that the roos are sentient creatures.

It is ironic that our own great green champion, Shane Rattenbury, used to spend his summers in the Antarctic, protecting the whales, and arguing with great cogency, that these magnificent animals are sentient creatures as capable as we are of feeling pain and terror.

The same argument applies to kangaroos but Shane doesn't seem to see it and the others probably don't care. The best way, I think, of getting Shane, Andy and their pals to see this point would be to let them go out and spend the night in one of our nature reserves when the shooters are operating.

One group we have too many of in this city is politicians. Keep the kangaroos and get rid of the politicians, I would say.

Stan Marks, Hawker

Testing the love

MP Andrew Laming has demonstrated a lack of understanding of education and students with his statement that students love tests. Never once in 35 years have I heard a student "love" a test and that includes students from the challenged to the brilliant. Spend a Friday afternoon supervising a maths test and you'll feel the "love" Mr Laming.

Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill Vic

Charles Bean: Australia owes a debt to this man of his time

Objections to the naming of the new ACT electorate in honour of Charles Bean based on his "racist and anti-Semitic" views (May 8, p3), ignore much of the man's life, contribution and character.

Bean landed with the Australian troops on Gallipoli on April 25, 1915.

He stayed with them at the front through the entire war, refusing evacuation when he was wounded. At Pozieres the following year he was witness to 23,000 Australian casualties in just six weeks.

A dying Australian asked him, "Will they remember me in Australia?" From there he conceived and subsequently built the Australian War Memorial.

Simultaneously over a quarter of a century he wrote or edited the 12-volume Official History of the war that so scarred and changed us.

Bean was a product of his day. Much of the nation was divided along political, religious and racial lines. He conspired with Keith Murdoch to frustrate John Monash's elevation to leadership of the Australians corps, in part because he was Jewish.

Bean later realised he had been wrong.

By the early 1940s Bean actively campaigned for a Jewish refuge in Australia.

He wrote, "I don't see how we can decently refuse these courageous people the chance to have a go and become the good Australians they want to be".

In placing a permanent Holocaust exhibition in the heart of the Australian War Memorial and working with the Jewish community across three states, not a single person raised such issues with me.

Bean twice refused a knighthood. On the second occasion writing to the Governor-General, "...it seems to me that in practice, despite certain advantages, the system encourages false values among our people, and that our generation needs above everything to see and aim at true values".

This nation owes Charles Bean a great debt.

Dr Brendan Nelson, director, Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Dysfunctional system

Tuesday saw Australia's long unbroken run of disappointing, insubstantial federal budgets continue — the product of a dysfunctional political system that rewards political expediency and short-term illusory gains ahead of long-term planning, responsible decision making, and equitable outcomes.

Serious changes are long overdue, but just as was the case with the LNP's over-arching tax reforms where "everything was on the table", our so-called representatives are so beholden to vested interests that any changes in policy that might benefit the nation but reduce the flow of largesse to a particular group with disproportionate influence are quickly ruled out.

And while this game of kick-the-can persists, our living standards continue to decline and the 1 per cent continue to line their pockets. This steady growth of inequality and the concentration of wealth at the very top will continue unabated for as long as we're prepared to allow our politicians to be bought with political donations.

The current system is broken to its core and the distinction between Sam Dastyari's relationship with the Chinese and the LNP's relationship with fossil fuel interests is not an easy one to make. Political donations should be treated as the bribes that they are, and a funding model similar to that used in the UK needs to be implemented in Australia forthwith, although the unfortunate reality is that such reforms are about as likely as politicians voting unanimously to take a pay cut.

James Allan, Narrabundah

Morrison the prophet

The prophet Micah more than 2000 years ago said (Ch2 V11): "If a liar and deceiver comes and says, 'I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,' That would be just the prophet for this people!" Our Treasurer knows his Old Testament well.

Ian White, Cook

Privileged generation

A sentence from David Roberts' letter (May 7) caught my attention. He remarked that, "At the same time as retirees are cruising the world, people on Newstart allowance are struggling to feed themselves". And, in ironic contrast, a friend recently tried to persuade me to go on a cruise saying 'You know, you can choose to eat dinner from any one of five restaurants'.

But I am not persuaded that we should go on cruises leaving behind a country which is not looking after its environment, its youth or its refugees. I am of course pleased to hear that we will have a budget supplying increased funds for the aged who are poor or who need extra support to age in their own homes but, at the same time, I do not think that we comparatively well-off retired have rights to continue our cruising lifestyle regardless.

As Trevor Wilson points out in his letter (May 4) "historically low level of payments for Newstart etc are helping create a new phenomenon of youth inequality in Australia", and on the same day, Audrey Guy comments that, "we aren't prepared to spend on school dropouts – we'd rather keep building ever more prisons and keep them for life rather than give them help".

In response to this inhumane and unequal distribution of the nation's wealth, I would like to suggest to David Roberts that it is not only youth who should "(wake) up to this reality and (start) complaining". Many of us comfortably off retired people should also change our focus away from cruises to our obligation to thank and repay this country for the remarkably wonderful lives we have been privileged to lead, with free education even at tertiary level.

Jill Sutton, Watson

Retirees rip off youth

M. Silex (Letters, May 8) assumes I'm an angry young person.

I'm not. I'm an angry, near 80, geriatric who sees my kids and grandkids being ripped off by wealthy retirees.

There is no BS in my analysis, the income, up to $80,000, from a $1.6million SMSF in pension mode is classed as NANE (Non-Assessable, Non-Exempt) income and is therefore not reportable to the ATO as income. It is not taxable income as the ATO knows nothing about it and so Medicare is not paid on this $80,000 pension. I quote from a publication called SuperGuide: "For example, you can, say, receive $80,000 income from your super fund, and $18,200 (for the 2017/2018 year) from part-time work and pay no tax, and potentially earn up to $20,542 of non-super income tax-free, when you take into account the Low Income Tax Offset." This could give you $100,542 tax free, Medicare free. It is even more generous if you are over 65.

David Roberts, Belconnen

Tasers a risk to us all

Our ACT government, sooner or later, will equip every policeman with a Taser gun. Our politicians take us for an unruly, ill-behaving lot that needs restraining at all cost. Why do I suddenly feel more unsafe?

F. Schinzi, Canberra

TO THE POINT

RIVER WATER REVIVAL

The only way real water can be given back to the Murray Darling rivers is for water to be bought from some irrigators willing to sell , and then returned to the rivers and for water theft to be stopped. It is currently rampant across the basin especially from unmetered usage. The federal government and opposition have now ended the buyback proposition.

Bill O'Connor, Beechworth, Vic

GIVE BEAN A CHANCE

How many of the people protesting about recognition for Charles Bean have actually read a word of his published works? I get the impression most are riding on the backs of zippy one-liners by politically correct culture warriors. Bean's books reveal an astute observer of humanity who worked hard to be fair and balanced in his reporting.

M. Moore, Bonython

TERROR VICTIMS

The bombing of the mosque in Khost, Afghanistan, reiterates the point that Muslims are the largest victims of terrorism. Only last month, 60 people were killed in another suicide bombing in Kabul. Terrorist attacks are more common in Islamic countries than non-Islamic. If only Pauline Hanson and her colleagues understood this point.

Dr Shaheena Rana, Walkerville, SA

SCOMO'S FANTASY

Hi ScoMo, are you going to make Australia's economy strong again? Good on ya mate! So, tell us, how you doing it.

Is it with the submarines or the jet fighters? Or maybe an access road to a new airport? God! Things are really happening. But what about us pensioners? What about the pension I don't receive, after paying taxes for 45 years, because my missus is still at work?

John Rodriguez, Florey

BEER TAB LOGIC

Five men split a $100 beer tab based on what they earn and the Aussie tax system. The first paid $0, the second $2, the third and fourth $14 each, and the fifth $70. The bar gave them a $20 refund based on what they had paid. The first got nothing, the second 40¢, the third and fourth $2.40 and the fifth around $15.

The media said the refund was inappropriately skewed to the rich and that the refund should be split $4 each. What's the fairest way to split a refund of this beer tab ... or a tax cut?

Ken Mansell, Chapman

LEAVE THEM ROOS ALONE

The ACT is a progressive jurisdiction with a proud history of leading the way in animal welfare. We banned greyhound racing when the evidence showed the widespread horrors, we have banned battery hen operations and we have banned sow stalls. Now we must end this shameful practice of culling our national emblem.

The time has come for a change in conservation practices. We ask, and will continue to ask, that the ACT government end this practice now.

Mary Shabbott, Canberra

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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