I note with interest Ian Pilsner's letter ("Political Karma", March 5) suggesting that Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop have had their just desserts, now that they're out of the Australian Liberal Party and politics altogether.
I'd like to suggest that rather than implying in a very superficial way that Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop played a leading role in ousting Tony Abbott as the then prime minister, Ian Pilsner needs to dig deeper to get an understanding of the party political context within the Liberal Party of Australia and other influencing factors like sample polling, and the impact that undesirable policies have on the electorate.
I don't think Malcolm Turnbull or Julie Bishop set out to destroy the Australian Liberal Party, but to make it more progressive and reflect the views, sentiments and the demographics of the electorate.
In fact, sample polling and the party's internal polling of marginal seats suggested that Malcolm Turnbull was a better proposition as leader.
In the case of Tony Abbott he was the one instrumental in dismantling the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull as Leader of the Opposition.
Abbott had nothing to lose but everything to gain from challenging Malcolm Turnbull, given that the election of a Coalition government was within its reach and given the instability of Julia Gillard's Labor government with leadership squabbles.
More recently, the downfall of Malcolm Turnbull was his climate change policy and his efforts to meet Australia's obligations, and also to run a centrist government.
The ousting of Tony Abbott from the prime ministership was not the doing of Malcolm Turnbull but again forces within the Liberal Party who used him as a vehicle, to address what the polls were saying about the unpopularity of Tony Abbott as leader.
Thomas Natera, Ngunnawal
It is long past time that Australia focused on appointing long-serving, experienced members of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to important positions as ambassadors and consuls-general.
They would bring experience and insight to these roles.
Both major parties have a history of rewarding their own with these jobs.
This degrades the positions and leaves the parties open to accusations of cronyism.
Steve Ellis, Hackett
Since the Canberra Mothercraft Society can no longer continue to run the QEII hospital maybe it's time the ACT government took it over and ran QEII directly as a government service.
It has become clearer and clearer in recent years how mistaken the era of privatisation has been, and how much expensive damage has been done.
Taking over the QEII and running it as a government function is a small step, but by doing so the ACT government could signal its rejection of the privatisation rhetoric which has bamboozled so many for so long, and its return to direct government provision of services.
Then we could start planning how to get electricity and water back.
Gordon Soames, Curtin
A bushwalk last week in the Snowy Mountains between Mt Jagungal and Munyang Power Station showed us the impact of the drought on the Snowy Mountains.
It was very dry and there were few birds. Very noticeable was the lack of Australian Ravens or crows as many call them.
The National Park and Wildlife Service of NSW at Jindabyne said that drought had led to lower numbers of insects, especially Bogong moths which are a food source for the raven.
It was of concern to read that fewer Bogong moths could affect the critically endangered alpine Mountain Pygmy Possum as Finbar O'Mallon recently reported ("How Canberrans watering their lawns could help the endangered pygmy possum", March 2, p15).
During our walk we also saw bushfire smoke originating from near Tooma Dam masking Mt Jagungal to the north. Climate change is making such conditions increasingly prevalent, to the detriment of our unique wildlife and of our natural environment which supports the human race.
It's a pretty bleak outlook. Are the politicians fully aware of what's happening?
Judy Kelly, Aranda
Why was it removed?
ACT Parks removed a thorn tree shrub from behind Campbell High School outside the Mount Ainslie reserve area this week.
This large shrub has survived everything the drought could throw at it and on Monday morning it was providing sustenance to the superb parrots, the rainbow lorikeets (rare in Canberra), king parrots and cockatoos all at the same time which was an amazing sight and now it is gone.
There is another shrub nearby and I am worried this is going to get the same treatment. Why was this removed? Even if it's not native, it is providing a welcome habitat to native birds.
Rosemary Matley, Reid
The chief executive of Wing stated at the ACT Legislative Assembly inquiry on delivery drones that there are three entities apparently concerned with drones in Canberra: the ACT government, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, and Airservices Australia ("Delivery drone trial boss fronts ACT government committee", March 7). It is obvious there are huge regulatory gaps.
Further, who is protecting the interests of animals?
At the same inquiry hearing, the ACT Equestrian Association, the Belconnen Dog Obedience Club, and Tuggeranong Dog Training Club outlined in detail the sort of havoc that drone noise creates for horses and dogs. This is because of the extending hearing range of these animals that pick up drones well before humans do. Consequently they go into fight or flight mode, explaining why dogs bark so much with such invasive noise.
With Wing literally planning to take over the sky with over 10,000 drone deliveries a day by 2030, this spells considerable stress for these animals if such a scenario eventuates. As for the birdlife, the Bonython experience underlines that the birds just disappear. Is it any wonder?
Murray May, Cook
Gwyn Rees, chief executive of ClubsACT, (Letters, March 6) points out Justice Debbie Mortimer of the Federal Court considers Dr Charles Livingstone has no capacity as an independent expert on gambling because he is an advocate for the applicant.
So, one is debarred from being an independent witness if one has reached a conclusion. Surely that would depend on the evidence produced.
G Wilson, Macgregor
Fixing the lake issue
Lake Tuggeranong is the south's main silt trap for the Murrumbidgee River. Its other role (seen by many as the main one) as a safe, attractive, swimmable water feature, has not been, and apparently cannot always be achieved.
That's despite new catchment-area wetland works and planting designed to intercept and break down detritus. So, the lake gets a lot of smelly toxic blue-green algae, etc, such as we're seeing now.
Its main dry-time flow depends on a tributary of the Murrumbidgee, Tuggeranong Creek, which isn't much. Increased continuous flow could come from the Murrumbidgee itself.
Substantial pumps at that river's Angle Crossing, upstream from Tuggeranong, were installed to pipe water a long way over a ridge, to supplement our vast back-up dam, Googong.
Icon Water recently decommissioned the pumps because, apparently, with our new over-sized Cotter Dam, we don't need that supplementation. In dry times, the pumps could send Murrumbidgee water via a large supplementary pipe, to the headwaters of Tuggeranong Creek (Rocky Gully), and so into the lake.
The flow could prevent the algae etc, while filling the lake, sending most of the pumped water over the lake's dam, back into the Murrumbidgee. The Commonwealth, which designed and built the lake (and Tuggeranong), should contribute to this rectification.
Jack Kershaw, Kambah
Land tax hits home
Is this another "unintended consequence" of the ACT's new land tax laws on vacant properties?
A 97-year-old lady, living in her own townhouse, with assistance, until last November, finally had to enter permanent residential care.
This necessitated considerable reorganisation of finances, but was found possible to do without selling her home, at least for the time being, in case occasional visits were possible and the time required to clarify her wishes and determine the best course of action regarding the house and her possessions.
However, as it is no longer her permanent home, in addition to her health care fees, the residential home fees and the government's means-tested fees, she has just been hit with her first quarterly land tax bill for $600.
For a 97-year-old, whose previous permanent home is currently vacant while her future options remain uncertain, to be charged a tax aimed at developers, is hardly the intended action of a sympathetic government.
Jim Cullen, Melba
Residents ripped off
So this good old local government is once again ripping off Canberra residents with its so-called "land tax".
Empty properties began incurring land tax from July 1 last year.
I have a number of words to describe this local government but that would fill a number of pages so not practical in a letter to The Canberra Times.
So a person cannot purchase/own a property and leave it vacant if they choose to do so without incurring a "fine", in the form of a land tax charge.
An owner should have the right to do with their property whatever they want (as long as it is not being used for illegal purposes).
This government, among other things, is pathetic and manipulative.
Phil Nicolls, Monash
Big not better
Conspicuous in much of the analysis surrounding Opal Tower has been the careful exemption of the largest, longest-established players from being named in the construction quality scandal which has for at least two decades beset the industry.
For no reason other than that all the fault must surely lie with the more obscure operators lately attracted to that honeypot.
It is interesting therefore now to note the just-released findings of Sarah Russell's government-commissioned report on Home (Aged) Care Package providers. It identifies that industry's worst performers as the largest ones.
It is no coincidence that the same has always been notoriously true of property developers. Big names unscrupulously trade on the public's perception that big is good, big is safe and you can't go wrong with big.
The biggest developers have exploited this for decades as they set new lows in construction standards for the whole industry – in Canberra, Sydney and everywhere – and indeed established their wealth and power.
Come to think of it, it's been the same with banks and insurance companies, as another royal commission seems to have proven.
Since we continue to seem mysteriously unlikely to have a royal commission into this greatest bank robbery of all, we should carefully glean and note all we can from the others. Just like the Opal disaster was never an isolated incident, it was never just the result if its developer being merely an unfamiliar name.
Alex Mattea, Sydney, NSW
Phil O'Mara (Letters, March 5) contradicts himself.
On the one hand he states "The company makes a profit and pays 30 per cent tax on behalf of that individual or other entity".
He then states "the dividend imputation debate becomes confusing when assumptions are made that companies and investors are one and the same – which they are not".
Perhaps he should peruse Marlene Hall's excellent letter of the same day to get the proper picture. A company and its shareholders are totally different legal and financial entities.
A company pays income tax on behalf of itself – because it has a legal obligation to do so.
The company does not pay income tax on behalf of its shareholders.
You cannot conflate the position of a company which may have paid tax, with the taxation position of any individual shareholder.
The bottom line of this debate is that if a taxpayer is paying no tax, he should not be receiving a tax refund of tax he has not personally paid.
Peter Costello has a lot to answer for with his ill-thought-out, vote-buying, middle-class welfare.
Rob King, Melba
TO THE POINT
THE MATTER OF NAMES
No, Peter Hughes (Letters, March 5), The Canberra Times did not wrongly state "that the elected body which preceded the Assembly elected in March 1989 was called the Advisory Assembly" (with capital letters). The paper simply reported a quote by Gary Humphries that referred to "the old advisory assembly" (without capital letters), which was a fair description of the House of Assembly that was replaced by our Legislative Assembly in 1989.
Frank Marris, Forrest
PM'S WASTEFUL VISIT
Scott Morrison's Christmas Island visit was a waste of time and a waste of our money.
Jeff Bradley, Isaacs
The power of the sun to provide free energy cannot be denied. It also does not cause any pollution, unlike coal. The cost of solar panels has reduced dramatically, making it very affordable. From the time of installation, in most instances, there will be no electricity bills to pay for decades providing extra cash for families, saving thousands of dollars each year.
Roy Gray, Gordon
WHY ARE WAGES STATIC?
Nobody seems to have convincingly explained why wage growth has substantially slowed.
Rod Matthews, Melbourne, Vic
PANELS, BATTERY SAVE US
We are proud solar panel and battery owners. The solar panels and battery save us about $200 per quarter in our all-electric home. We are great supporters of renewable energy and we are pleased that we live in Canberra with our strong renewable targets. However we all need to do our best to help mitigate climate change. It is easy now as the costs are decreasing all the time and the technology is improving.
Sylvia Carr, Curtin
PARENTS' INPUT KEY
Proverbs 22:6 King James Version: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." No bullying of any kind, in or out of school. No illegal drugs. No phone use in school. Parents, it's your responsibility to give them the right values, not just the school, police and so on. It's not rocket science.
Russ Morison, Theodore
A QUESTION OF FAITH
ACT public schools are free to decide many things, but they are not free to engage chaplains, according to the ACT government. Students in public schools who are uncomfortable with faith-unfriendly secularist assumptions are apparently not worthy of faith-friendly pastoral support. Such students may also be the subject of bullying.
Arthur Connor, Weston
How would Optus go rolling out China's 5G network? Not well I think.
N. Ellis, Belconnen
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