We've learnt nothing from the horrific lessons of war

We've learnt nothing from the horrific lessons of war

John Warhurst refers in his article "How to play game of names" (February 4, Times2, 1) to stadiums, national institutions, etc.

One would be hard pressed to find a name that's more offensive and inappropriate than BAE Systems Theatre at the Australian War Memorial.

BAE Systems, like the rest of the world's big weapons makers, profit from the wars that bring such suffering, displacement, misery, destruction, pollution and diversion of resources wherever they occur.

Before and during World War I and its industrialised killing, the huge vested interests on the part of weapons manufacturers led to political lobbying for increasing military spending, in what historian Douglas Newton calls "a vast raid on the public coffers".

World War I has been commemorated to death but we have refused to learn from it.


At the end of the war, the British foreign secretary in 1914, Sir Edward Grey, said: "The moral is obvious: it is that great armaments lead inevitably to war."

The memorial's website says the theatre's facilities can be "combined with a VIP tour of the memorial's galleries for a truly special occasion".

A VIP tour to commemorate those Australians who were mutilated and died in their lice-infested trenches perhaps.

Can no one on the memorial board recognise a vested interest when it's staring at them?

Dr Sue Wareham, vice-president, Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia), Cook

Shamed by asses

The High Court decision to find that the detention centres in Nauru and on Manus Island are lawful ("Detention ruling pressures PM", February 4, p1) shows just how distant lawyers are from the practice of humanity and compassion.

Charles Dickens got it right when he had Mr Bumble opine: "If the law supposes that, then the law is a ass, a idiot! If that's the eye of the law, then the law is a bachelor. And the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience."

The idiots and asses of the High Court have put Australia to shame.

Brian Millett, Yass

Put to the people

George Beaton (Letters, February 2) is guilty, as are others, such as the Canberra Liberals, of peddling "myth-information" by saying the light-rail project "was never put to the people".

On September 22, 2012 – a month before the last ACT election – under the headline "Labor unveil plan for light-rail line", reporter Noel Towell wrote of the previous day's announcement by Simon Corbell and then chief minister Katy Gallagher "that both Labor and the ACT Greens will go to next month's election with light rail as a central policy position".

The announcement was widely reported in other media.

I'm surprised that Beaton along with others missed it.

It was put to the people at the 2012 election and the government is now delivering on that promise.

Denis O'Brien, Lyneham

Two hits in one

Labor MP Andrew Leigh's latest essay has established him a greater politician than statistician ("Good govt requires more than mere memories", The Public Sector Informant, February 2016, p3).

His prior citation of a poll from his own website totally ignored sampling criteria. The latest essay extolled the contentious bipartisan initiatives of the past four decades some of which have passed their use-by date, particularly globalisation and government privatisation.

As a canny politician, he praised the bureaucracy as the primary implementer of these initiatives.

He also established G.K.Chesterson, the crime writer reknowned as a convert to Catholicism, as the muse for his essay.

That's two sizeable voting blocs Leigh hit in a single essay.

Gary J. Wilson, MacGregor

Opportunity lost

Disclosure: I am, unabashedly, a fan of TV presenter Virginia Haussegger – she has been a standout at ABC Canberra for many years.

For Norman Lee (Letters, February 4) to use the word "disgusting" in any connection to her is telling.

With regard to his complaint about Haussegger's interview with opposition transport spokesman Alistair Coe, I generally like to see interviewers give politicians lots of rope.

However, it seemed to me that Haussegger saw from the start of the interview that Coe knew little about the contractual arrangements of the light-rail project and about opposition alternatives to light rail; and so she may well have decided that because viewers were receiving no information we should, consistent with the ABC charter, "to inform and entertain", have a few minutes of entertainment with Coe, instead.

Peter Moran, Watson

Norman Lee is right to castigate Virginia Haussegger for her overbearing interview with the Liberal's Alistair Coe.

Worse, in trying to browbeat Coe into a gotcha moment, she actually missed one.

The Liberals have said constantly they will tear up any light rail-contract signed before the election, no ifs or buts. Then, at the end of one answer, Coe let slip a Liberal government will tear up any contract, but only if it doesn't cost too much – or words to that effect.

My view all along has been that this promise is just a political stunt and the Liberals wouldn't be game to renege on the contract, "unexpectedly excessive cost" being the most logical let-out.

Unfortunately, Haussegger, in her enthusiasm to emulate Leigh Sales' aggressiveness, missed an excellent opportunity to put Coe on the spot.

Eric Hunter, Cook

Join Xenophon

I'm yet to meet someone who thinks Noel Pearson talks silly — but I now find myself that person.

Understandably, he is frustrated at the lack of progress in Aboriginal affairs, but, far from missing the boat into politics at age 35, he is now at 50 just the sort of experienced "wise senior" (Latin for senator) we need in the "house of review".

Join Nick Xenophon's centrist group as the representative from Queensland. Maybe a new name is required (Australia First for First Australians?). He'd be a shoo-in.

Pearson might just be able to suggest a simple change to the constitution to recognise the First Australians with honour: let's not forget the widespread support in the community at the Aboriginal recognition referendum in 1967.

A multicultural country should rise above petty legalistic obstacles.

C. Lendon, Cook

An insult to all

Pope's constant, carping polemics denigrating every aspect of modern life that fails to meet his standards of trendoid politically correct purity are bad enough.

But his creation on Thursday was more than usually egregious and should outrage vexillophiles everywhere, whatever their political persuasions.

Australia's flag is a thing of beauty. To depict it reversed (suspended from the fly, with the hoist streaming loos), is a major solecism and an insult to all Australians who revere it.

P.S.Wilkins, Torrens

A bad option

I'm glad Stephen Jones (Letters, February 3) agrees that politicians should undertake a short course in climate economics.

Any competent climate scientist could demonstrate how well the climate models fit the observed global surface temperature trends.

However, they would need to accept that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has underestimated sea-level rise.

I agree that using taxpayers' money to mitigate CO2 emissions — e.g. the government's direct-action policy — is a very bad option.

A realistic carbon tax is a much better idea.

And yes, we do need to make room for developing countries to grow their economies.

Paul Pentony, Hackett

Design facts

In the article "Building industry told to lift game" (February 1, p1), building consultant Ross Taylor asserts that the primary cause of defects is poor design.

In the same article, the construction occupations registrar, Mark McCabe, also says defects go back to design.

These contentions aren't supported by evidence.

It's important to have the facts before making broad assertions that may be damaging to highly qualified professionals, such as architects.

For every building that has poor quality outcomes, we should know the qualifications of the design consultant, the extent of the design documents, and how many person hours were applied to the design tasks they were engaged for.

We should know whether they were engaged beyond the development application stage into construction.

Without this information, how can we know who created the problem, whether it was the developer, builder, designer or the tradesperson?

Most importantly, we need to evaluate who can design what types of buildings in the ACT, and make sure the designer is appropriately qualified.

Poor-quality outcomes for buildings can arise because of cost-cutting in design documentation for construction and site-attendance services.

Adequate investment in these services prevents poor performance and without this, the quality will depend on the client, project manager, builder and trades ability, or inability, to create solutions to building complexity as they work through problems on site.

Andrew Wilson, ACT chapter president, Australian Institute of Architects



So the children are to be returned to Nauru ("Detention ruling pressures PM", February 4, p1). Our politicians believe it is better they be traumatised for life so others will not ultimately drown at sea. What a wonderful rationale; a pity some consider this torture. Can someone name the paediatricians who advise Immigration Minister Peter Dutton or his department?

C. J. Johnston, Duffy


I see there is to be another inquiry into the Canberra School of Music ("Review aims to reinvigorate troubled School of Music", February 3, 1p). However it will not be an inquiry; it will be an inquest, for the school is already dead, killed by moronic bean counters and Philistine attitudes. The only hope for a school rebirth is as a totally separate institution, with nothing to do whatever with the ANU.

Daryl Powell, Griffith


It's surprising that businesses have bid to build and operate the light rail, when it's so clear that it won't be built — because proposing it has obviously cost Labor the next election, and the Liberals will cancel it. True, the successful bidder will get compensation, but I doubt it'll be enough to cover its costs up to the time of cancellation.

R. S. Gilbert, Braddon


On Tuesday, my wife delivered her mentally handicapped grandson to school for his first day of the year. All the teachers, the principal leading, were at the front of the school welcoming these disadvantaged kids with loud welcomes and cheerful cries. They had the kids laughing and happy in seconds. All of those teachers are Australians of the year!

Peter Murray, Red Hill

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