Thank goodness some prominent Australians have finally spoken up. Until now, protests by the average Joe about the obscene and self-indulgent plans to give half-a-billion dollars to the Australian War Memorial, have gone largely unheard.
The memorial has a valid and important role in Australia; to remind us all of the horrors of armed conflict, the terrible price paid by those who fought and the innocent civilians caught up, as well as the unimaginable destruction and waste.
There is a fine line between a memorial that helps to remind us of the tragedy of war and a temple, glorifying and romanticising it. One could also be forgiven the thought that $500 million is going to fund the "Brendan Nelson Tourist Attraction".
That same half-a-billion dollars would make a serious difference if used to help treat the physical and psychological needs of returned service personnel, paramedics, police, firefighters, SES, doctors and others who have served our communities.
Please, some common sense needs to prevail here; stop this outrageous stupidity.
Fred Barnes, Watson
Consultation a joke
In responding to the letter signed by prominent Australians opposed to the $498 million expansion of the Australian War Memorial, an AWM spokesperson said the memorial had consulted the public about their plans ( "Chorus against war memorial expansion", March 23, p1).
One wonders what consultation they are referring to? Would it be the process late last year in which those interested were invited to respond to five carefully chosen themes and questions, on issues such as the AWM precinct and access requirements? Feedback was received from 134 individuals, and, to my knowledge, the submissions have not been published. For a huge expansion, costing nearly $500 million that comes on top of about $600 million of total Australian spending on WWI commemoration, that's not a very impressive process. On what grounds does the AWM say an "overwhelming majority" of us support this proposal?
Whether or not Australians want the war memorial that belongs to all of us to become a grandiose showplace for more military hardware, whether our other national institutions should share in any available largesse – these and many more are important questions. They deserve discussion.
Readers can see the text of the letter to which The Canberra Times report referred, and the long list of signatories, on the Honest History website. Given the strength of community opposition to this project that is already evident, perhaps the AWM might like to engage in some real consultation. A well-publicised public meeting on the proposal would be a good start.
Sue Wareham, Medical Association for Prevention of War president
A waste of money
I totally agree with the 83 prominent Australians opposed to spending $498 million on a redevelopment of the Australian War Memorial. I live in fear it may become too much like the Sir John Monash Centre at Villers Bretonneux in France. During a recent visit to the centre I was appalled by the waste of $100 million for a museum that is not functional and uninspiring.
The Australian War Memorial in its present form is enough and is a permanent memorial to our veterans as intended by Charles Bean.
Whilst the government has nearly half-a-billion to splurge on the Australian War Memorial perhaps it could spare some money to inscribe Fromelles on the Australian National Memorial at Villers Bretonneux. This would be in memory of the 1933 Australian soldiers who lost their lives during the Battle of Fromelles on July 19, 1916.
Robyn Lewis, Raglan, NSW
Protecting our children
What would Guilia Jones have priests who hear about child abuse in the confessional do? Pray for the child? Pray for the perpetrator? It's bad enough that the Catholic Church cover up child sexual abuse occurring within its institutions. Now we have a member of our Legislative Assembly wanting to protect priests from having to report child abuse among its parishioners ("Lib invokes NZ horror in attack on child abuse law", March 20, p8).
Mrs Jones exploits the fact that she has six children at every opportunity, hoping to be seen as a loving parent in the eyes of voters. I don't doubt that she loves her kids. Would she choose to protect the sanctity of the confessional if the sin being confessed was abuse against one of her children?
Karla Ries, Duffy
Rates up, services down
I've just received my water rates notice and find, yet again, it's gone up. Year by year, I have reduced my water usage and year by year the bill gets bigger. Ditto all other government charges. The ACT government continues to squeeze its citizens dry, but where is all the money going? It can't be towards the betterment of health, education and infrastructure – you know, the sort of thing that Labor once considered its core values – because data suggests that performance in these areas is in decline. The "Labor values" of this government are so much in decline that even former ALP chief minister Jon Stanhope has commented on it. At least the big end of town seems happy. The developers can't stop grinning.
Lee Welling, Nicholls
Poor use of cash
Katie Burgess' article ("Dreams come true on the new light rail", March 23, p2) is entertaining. But it also explains why the tram is a farce. Yes, the tram will be nice to travel in but why buy a Rolls-Royce when a Holden would do? She says "The $939 million question is will Canberrans use the service". The answer is a lot of them will. But, based on the Auditor-General's assessment, only enough to recover half of that cost. A pretty poor investment when you consider all the needs that exist in this city. Express busses running down the middle of Northbourne Avenue wouldn't be as swish as the tram but would do everything useful that it does and the money that would save could be used on our schools and hospitals or, for that matter, on a more frequent bus service so Burgess could have a frequent bus past her door.
Stan Marks, Hawker
Trains beat trams
Bill Shorten recently said if Labor were elected at the next election, he would provide $200 million for stage two of the Canberra tram network. Shorten lost any possibility of getting my vote with such an announcement. However, if he had said he would provide the $200 million for an upgrade to the Canberra-Sydney rail line, he almost certainly would have garnered my vote. Such an amount could significantly upgrade the Canberra-Goulburn section of the line, with perhaps money left over to upgrade further sections.
So what do we want from Shorten, 10 kilometres of useless tram line between Canberra and Woden or a vastly improved Canberra-Sydney rail service. I know what I prefer.
New Zealand accused not 'us'
For years, after each successive outrage by an Islamic extremist, we have been told that those terrorists did not represent true Islam, and that a whole community should not be condemned because of them. And that was true. But now, following Christchurch, people like Catherine Moore (Letters, March 23) tell us that we "have to own this person" and "he has sprung from our society". I totally disagree. The Christchurch shooter no more represents my society than the radicalised person who murdered Curtis Cheng in Sydney represents all Muslims – both were seriously deranged criminals who did not represent their societies.
I also totally reject these assertions that Christchurch is a result of our institutionalised racism and intolerance – that's mere supposition by those who would prefer to find fault in our society and blame anyone but the perpetrator.
Further, I note a Canberra Times article ("The European journeys of Christchurch gunman", March 24, p20) that suggests the Christchurch shooter found inspiration for his act during his years of travel "in Europe where neo-Nazi extremism is on the rise". So perhaps Ms Moore was again wrong – we don't have to take responsibility for him. Rather we should recognise these crimes for what they are: murders by sick, radicalised individuals who hide behind a cause.
Kym MacMillan, O'Malley
Image says it all
When I saw Pat's editorial cartoon in the digital edition of The Canberra Times on Monday, March 18 I was in Paihia in New Zealand's Bay of Islands ("Pat's poignant image resonates around the world", March 23, p9). We had arrived in Rotorua the previous Friday as news broke of the tragedy which struck at the heart of a city, its faithful worshippers and a nation.
We had been through Christchurch once on our arrival in late February and then again on the Saturday before the massacre. Having seen a silver fern, the underside of the green leaves, Pat Campbell's image will now serve as a sobering reminder of a nation and its people whose innocence has been brutally scarred.
Allan Gibson,Cherrybrook, NSW
I write from a cafe in Auckland where half the women customers have donned headscarves in silent solidarity with the Muslim community. It was sad to think how unlikely it is that my country, which raised the mass murderer, will ever see such public expression of cross-cultural compassion – or unity in grief with the victims of a white supremacist.
Tim Macnaught, Farrer
Erdogan out of line
I agree with The Canberra Times editorial ("Erdogan in error over Christchurch", March 22).
However, I'd like to further suggest that making political mileage and remarks about the Christchurch massacre by the Turkish President, Recep Tayyap Erdogan, is offensive and insensitive. It is also an insult to the broader citizens of Australia and New Zealand.
The remarks by Erdogan are especially cruel for the families of Diggers and Kiwis who died on Turkey's soil in Gallipoli, and were never repatriated back home to be laid to rest. It seems to me Erdogan has no regard for Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's words of comfort to the descendants of Anzac soldiers.
No doubt, Ataturk's words were the start of a long and enduring relationship with Australia. I'm sure the resident Australian population born in Turkey and Australian residents of Turkish descent would be disappointed with the way Erdogan has conducted himself, as well as all other Australians.
The arrogant attitude of Erdogan towards New Zealand and Australia will not endear himself to other players on the geopolitical stage. It has certainly created the perception that Erdogan has chameleon tendencies, that can easily change his opinions or behaviour, according to the situation. In this case, it was mixing politics with the Christchurch massacre.
I hope that the Australian public diplomacy program focusing on promoting Australian business and trade, and strengthening people-to-people links is not hindered in any way. Particularly, in view of the fact Australia has had 50 years of a formal productive and warm bilateral relationship with Turkey, including substantial dialogue across a wide range of issues including counter-terrorism.
Thomas Natera, Ngunnawal
Historically, Victoria was the jewel in the Liberal Party electoral crown, as NSW was for Labor, however the past two elections in those states have delivered polar opposite results from the previously accepted norms and intriguingly, both the Victorian ALP and the NSW Liberals, ran very similar successful campaigns highlighting their "getting on with the job" approach.
These two results highlight yet again the changes we have seen in the national political landscape, particularly in the past decade, and demonstrate that the result of the forthcoming federal poll is much more difficult to predict than many pundits would have us believe. The next six weeks will make fascinating watching for all political tragics such as myself.
Ian De Landelles, Murrays Beach, NSW
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said it is "possible" that President Donald Trump was sent by God to save Israel from Iran. Yes, the same Mike Pompeo who is No.3 in the US government hierarchy. America is the country that dictates all our foreign policy daily and who we follow into every warlike fracas when commanded. Iran with not one nuclear warhead confirmed and Israel with more than 400 and controlling both houses of US government. It does make you wonder, Senator Payne.
Rex Williams, Springwood, NSW
Smith no candidate
There are some suggestions that Steve Smith could eventually become the Australian cricket team's captain again. No!
The role of captain requires many skills but it also requires character and honesty. To suggest his return is to condemn Tim Paine as not being good enough in an apparently urgent need to win.
Didn't anyone learn anything from "Sandpapergate"? The gate to being captain must surely be shut. It's time to move on and look at the latest players to return our integrity and maybe some victories – honest victories.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic
TO THE POINT
ADS JUST PROPAGANDA
We are witnessing more and more federal government advertisements on the television screen glorifying the work that had done by the government and will be done in the near future.
Such advertisements are nothing but election propaganda. It should be stopped.
Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt
LABOR FALLS SHORT
Where art thou Bill Shorten? We would all like to hear your comments on the disastrous performance of the Labor Party in the NSW election, with an overall swing against it of 1.6per cent. It now appears that the federal Coalition is not the only one that's on the nose.
Mario Stivala, Spence
Some left-leaning pundits just can't help themselves. Alexandra Smith ("Negative and dirty, Liberal team gets the job done", March 24, p4) claims that Gladys Berejiklian won through a "negative and dirty" campaign, rather than through better policies and management.
Peter FitzSimons is wishfully thinking that the Premier's tenure will be short-lived. Sounds like sour grapes to me from both of them. At least The Canberra Times gives front-page coverage to Mr Barilaro's resounding win.
M. Silex, Erindale
An Islamic State leader called for revenge for the Christchurch mosque attacks. That call should come as no surprise. That is the only language they – the terrorists – understand. The language or grammar of violence. Clear-thinking Muslims everywhere will pay no heed to the perverse call. Two wrongs don't make a right. Never did.
Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW
WATERFORD NAILS IT
What an excellent article by Jack Waterford ("Prime Minister's ever-diminishing credibility", Forum p1, March 23). But I think we can accept, in Bill Shorten, a prime minister who is not larger than life, and who does not try to be to win our votes.
Michael McCarthy, Deakin
MONEY (NOT) WELL SPENT
Those complaining about a $498 million expansion of the war memorial ("Chorus against war memorial expansion," March 23, p1) over other more-cash-strapped national institutions, hopefully, were not including the National Gallery of Australia, which paid $1 million for a disappearing melting candle sculpture (Letters, March 25).
Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla
Rather than pour another $500 million into the War Memorial monolith in Canberra, why not commit to the establishment of a $500 million trust to support the recuperation and health of returned veterans sent to fight for the wars we lost in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq?
Gerry Gillespie, Queanbeyan, NSW
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