Norman's stand
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Norman's stand

It's unfortunate that claims and counter-claims about Peter Norman are being made after his death, including assertions by Robert Messenger in his column (Times2, August 24, p2).

I am still alive, however, and do need to correct the claim made in the same column that my international rugby career was terminated as a consequence of my stand against sporting ties with South Africa. After the South African rugby tour of 1969, I worked as a lawyer in France and played rugby there. My French residency lasted for 24 years. There was therefore never any practical test of whether my Australian rugby career would have suffered negative consequences due to my stand. I can't say that I ever had any sense that I would have suffered selection prejudice had I been playing in Australia. Certainly, I am well treated by rugby officialdom these days and even had the honour of presenting the jerseys to the Wallabies before their 2010 French Test.

Anthony Abrahams, Bellevue Hill, NSW

The column (Times2, August 24, p2) by Robert Messenger about Peter Norman mentions seven Wallabies in the 1971 Springbok tour protests, of which I was one. Norman was a hero of mine and still is.

Norman was a lone individual making his statement of support for racial equality in his own unique way. We were seven and remain close friends to this day. We have been acknowledged by the Australian Rugby Union with invitations to various events and some of us have presented Australian jerseys to the Wallaby team before an international match. One against a multitude requires some heart. While I have no knowledge of Andrew Leigh, I think it is entirely appropriate to recognise the action of Norman at the 1968 Olympic Games. To comment on Norman's drink-driving record reflects more on Robert Messenger in thinking such an issue is relevant. Norman was not only a great Australian athlete but also a lone individual who made a moral statement in a quiet and dignified way.

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Jim Boyce, Allambie Heights, NSW

Play in afternoons

Patrick Ryan (Letters, August 25) said it all in saying holding Canberra Raiders fixtures at night during Canberra's winter is stupid and a major factor in low attendance at home games. Apart from the cold, night games are not friendly to families and not attractive to fans in the region (or further afield) who would like to return home that day. Weekend games starting about 1pm make sense. The ACT government in its taxpayer support for the Raiders should demand from rugby league administrators that home afternoon games be mandatory.

Brian Brocklebank, Bruce

School choice

I won't dispute much of what Frank O'Shea wrote (''Two tiers of private schools'', August 28, p9) - the wealthy schools certainly are taking advantage of their poorer cousins. I will question the veracity of his reasoning regarding the choice of a Catholic school. He doesn't seem to realise that there is now an element of guilt that drives parental choice: ''How can it be good if I don't have to pay for it?'' Under-resourced they might be but public schools should set the standard, and frequently outperform the privates (often in the extra-curricular activities that Frank doesn't believe exist in public schools).

Jo Hann, Wanniassa

Unread Abbott

Billy McMahon, on a visit to the US towards the end of his term as prime minister, when asked at a press conference what he thought about the future of Australia, rifled through some papers then answered, ''I haven't been briefed on that''. Not surprisingly, he lost office soon after.

Tony Abbott appears to be developing similar proclivities, although it seems that he doesn't even read anything. Just pick up the damn papers, Tony.

Dick Parker, Page

Refugee mentor

Your wonderful story on Mustafa Jawadi the apprentice mechanic (''Years of detention are lost on Jawadi'', August 24, p9) who sought asylum and has found happiness, is a lesson for us all, but you forgot to mention the champion behind him, Nat McGahey.

Not only has Nat operated a great workshop service for many years, he has been a champion for the needy, employing and mentoring many young people coming from another country.

Mick Gentleman, executive director, Motor Trades Association ACT

Taxis need boost

Canberra's problems with buses and taxis are related. Both transport people, both are environmentally better than cars when fully used, and both are now unreliable in Canberra. There are too many near-empty buses out of peak hours and not enough buses in peak hours. There are not enough taxis to provide a reliable service especially at peak times. Bus subsidies are $100 million per year, which is too much. Taxis have little subsidy and are shackled with large licensing and number plate investment costs. It's time to transfer some of the bus subsidy to taxis.

John Skurr, Deakin

Pacific solution #2

Felix MacNeill (Letters, August 17) took issue with Barnaby Joyce on the ''legislative resolution re boat people'' that is indistinguishable from the Coalition's original Pacific solution. He also looks forward to Senator Joyce's explanation as to why the Pacific solution worked under the Coalition but didn't work under Labor. The Howard government solution appeared to work due to a reduction in the number of refugees worldwide. The number of refugees increased about 2007 when many Sri Lankan Tamils decided they would take their chances in leaky boats rather than be butchered in their homeland.

Nothing is going to change the global refugee situation unless governments attack the problem where it begins, and we are unlikely to see this happen soon.

Les Brennan, Sunshine Bay, NSW

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