As an Afro-Caribbean Brit married to an Australian, I would have been appalled and offended to see the Black Magic balloon (also known as 'Golly') flying over Canberra.
I would have taken photos and shared them with my relations and friends around the world, who would have been equally appalled and amazed such an offensive image was flown over Australia's capital city.
Growing up in the UK and being called "golliwog" or "wog" as one of many racist slurs towards black peoples in the 1970s, one look at the balloon (I missed The Canberra Times article so googled it) made me totally agree with the director of events ACT, Ms Verden.
Thank you for your respect and consideration of other cultures, especially given Harmony Day is later this month.
When I think of Black Magic, I think of chocolates, witches or black cats.
Perhaps the balloon owners could add some cat ears.
Carol Edwards, Farrer
Well, how did we all enjoy this summer's record weather? Warm enough for you? More to come next year and thereafter.
Even if we all did all the right things tomorrow the world would still get increases for some decades to come.
Recently, on the ABC's Foreign correspondent Dr Lomborg notes that persistent calls for collective and personal action on climate change have been ineffective. He then claims that with geoengineering we can set the global temperature to "whatever we want". And therein lies the problem, who is "we", how to decide on what temperature "we" want and how to enforce it. So the question for me is what is required to adapt to these changes and will our governments do enough.
James Walcott, Mawson
The article "government vows to fix unintended consequences of vacancy tax" (March 6, p1) indicates that the ACT government will act to fix any unintended consequences of the Greens-sponsored ACT vacancy tax legislation.
Surely there is a more fundamental and democratic issue at stake here.
Why should families who are posted overseas or grey nomads who desire to travel for an extended period or for that matter any other property owner who wishes to keep their principal property vacant whilst they are away from it, be, in effect by this law, forced to rent it out?
That said, owners will also have further reservations about renting out their principal property given the more stringent conditions now placed on property owners in tenancy agreements.
If the Barr government wants to redress the lack of rental properties in Canberra, surely the solution is to increase the number and diverse configurations of public housing instead of relying on an ACT vacancy tax mechanism.
Ron Edgecombe, Evatt
The article "Nature park is for remembrance, not cars" (March 6, p6) reminds me of the lyrics of the song Big Yellow Taxi, composed and made popular in 1970 by Joni Mitchell.
The first verse begins "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot" and continues "Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone".
The second verse begins "They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum and they charged all the people a dollar-and-a-half to see 'em". Mitchell's song is subtly wise and now seems eerily prescient.
There is another problem with the proposed car park: it will be close to an Aboriginal war memorial plaque.
The plaque is fixed to a boulder that is to be found by walking 150 metres along the paved track up Mount Ainslie, then along a side track to the left signposted "Aboriginal Plaque 70 metres".
The car park would impinge on the intended bush setting of the Aboriginal war memorial and isolate it from the main Australian War Memorial. It is highly undesirable on many grounds.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
The ACT government should consider the views of Professor Hensher, founding director of Sydney University's Institute of Transport and Logistics, in its planning of Canberra's transport system.
Professor Hensher observed "There's the old adage that buses are boring, trains are sexy. Trains might be more comfortable, but they come at a much higher cost of construction and (there are) a limited number of corridors in which we can justify them (in Sydney)."
The Productivity Commission found light rail was not warranted in Canberra and the ACT Auditor-General also found there were major deficiencies in its business case.
Barr, Rattenbury and Fitzharris are now advocating its extension to Woden in the absence of evidence of how it stacks up against alternatives including busways. One would expect a responsible government to intensely scrutinise any light rail project given the marginality of the Gungahlin to Civic and Newcastle projects and the farce of the Sydney CBD light rail which is expected to open more than a year late and $1 billion over budget.
The Canberra community deserves better.
Mike Quirk, Garran
On Monday, March 4, my husband and I drove from Newcastle to Canberra. In that distance, almost 440 kilometres, we saw only two police vehicles.
Given the Australian road toll, I would have expected a greater police presence on our busiest motorways and highways.
I understand the difficulties police encounter in terms of personnel, resources and the stresses of the job itself. However, I suspect but have no figures to prove it, that more attention is given to terrorism than to our road toll.
I did manage to obtain some numbers for 2016.
In that year there were nine terrorism "incidents" with no deaths and one injury.
For that same period, there were 1293 road fatalities Australia-wide, or 5.34 road deaths per 100,000 people. Surely this demonstrates a need for more road patrols more often.
V. Saunders, Weetangera
As a Catholic, I and many of my friends share in the ignominy and shame of our institutions and clergy and any of us who are responsible for this outrage.
It will take decades, if ever, to restore our standing.
No apologies nor compensation will ever salve the damage done.
I nevertheless ask the Australian community to remember the massive good done and still being done, by Catholics, through education, health, welfare and in other fields.
Remember which one of us is ready to throw the first stone?
Clive Dyer, Wanniassa
A. Burroughs (The Canberra Times, February 5) concludes his anti-school chaplaincy letter with a flourish by quoting Henry Parkes' vision of state education as being free, compulsory, and secular. I agree. But Mr Burroughs mistakes the meaning of secular due to the now widespread cultural amnesia about all things religious, as well as Parkes whom he approvingly quotes.
The NSW Education Act of the 1880s established public education as free, compulsory, and secular. It was written and shepherded through the colonial parliament by James Greenwood. Greenwood was a key leader in the Public School League, three of its four principles being adopted by Parkes, including its secularity.
In June 1874 Greenwood gathered leading protestants, including clergy, to consider "establishing a more efficient and unsectarian system of public education".
By secular he meant, as did Parkes, "unsectarian", that is, non-denominational, as a way of preventing the two old establishment denominations, the Roman Catholics and the then Church of England from running state education.
State education was to be free for all children without a religious test. This has for centuries been the Baptist position, and remains so.
Thank goodness Greenwood was successful.
"Secular" is derived from the Latin "saeculum", roughly meaning "of this age", as against the age to come after death.
Jesus lived in this age. It is thus secular to teach, talk, and engage with him.
Young people are incurably interested in religion and the "god stuff", just as they are interested in sex. Chaplains not being permitted to talk about religion generally or Jesus specifically makes as much sense as English teachers not being able to talk about Dickens, Tolkien, or Tim Winton.
Rev Dr David Griffin, Vincentia, NSW
The NRL's tally is now five alleged rapists/predators and two alleged wife bashers just this off-season alone. We're in royal commission territory by now, surely?
Julian Murray, Narrabunda
Sue Neill-Fraser was convicted of murdering her husband in Hobart.
She has served 10 of a 23-year sentence, in what Civil Liberties Australia believes is a gross miscarriage of justice. No body, no witnesses, no motive — purely circumstantial evidence.
Sue is appealing under a "right to appeal" law that CLA was influential in the Tasmanian Parliament passing.
Substantial extra evidence has been uncovered, which puts into doubt the original verdict. A single judge is now considering whether there is "fresh and compelling" evidence to have the case referred to a three-judge panel.
Should this happen, CLA urges the Tasmanian legal authorities to have at least two of the three judges to come from the mainland. This will avoid a perception of prejudice that would otherwise occur, as Tasmania is a small and insular jurisdiction.
Justice must appear to be done for Sue Neill-Fraser.
Further, CLA has called for a royal commission into the system of justice in Tasmania.
We believe that, no matter what the outcome, there will be grave uncertainty about the state of the law, policing, the prosecution office, the judiciary and justice in Tasmania in general until all issues surrounding this case are aired openly and transparently in a public inquiry. We note that no public inquiry has ever been held into the legal/justice system in Tasmania: one is very much needed.
Dr Kristine Klugman, president, Civil Liberties Australia, Fisher
Although much has been spoken and written about the value of Western civilisation, lifelong conditioning keeps us mired within our own paradigm.
We have convinced ourselves that the whole world will improve if they adopt our culture.
Sadly, the facts indicate otherwise. In the process of spreading our Western ways to all corners of the planet, we have virtually destroyed local cultures and populations in north, south and central America, Australia and Africa.
We have driven local people off their lands, pillaging, enslaving and exterminating in the process.
When we look at the shocking consequences of colonisation here in Australia, how can we continue to believe that our Western civilisation is anything but a curse upon the Indigenous people and the whole environment?
Pauline Westwood, Dickson
Rohan Goyne (Letters, March 5) disapproves of the NRMA's provision of rapid DC charging for members' electric vehicles (EV).
I am an ordinary member of the NRMA and I attended a presentation by the NRMA on its vehicle charging plans last year.
The NRMA recognises that globally the vehicle fleet is changing to electric due to the technical superiority of EVs and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It found that many of its members would purchase an EV but limited infrastructure for extended trips is a major factor holding them back, even with relatively affordable models increasingly available.
Meanwhile, commercial ventures such as highway service centres are reluctant to install rapid charging until EVs become more common. Consequently, Australia is well behind progress elsewhere.
The NRMA is addressing this "chicken and egg" problem by providing a network of rapid chargers along major routes for its members.
It is preferring locations in towns bypassed by the highways.
Once EV uptake passes a certain threshold it expects commercial charging arrangements to take over. In helping us to get to that point sooner, the NRMA is looking after the long-term interests of all its members, not just those of us who have EVs already.
Peter Campbell, Cook
Bravo Julian Burnside for running as a Greens candidate in Menzies' old federal seat of Kooyong. His stated reasons for running will be widely supported and his progress watched with huge interest.
Bob Douglas, Bruce
CLARITY ON TREES
As the city braces for the official launch of the light rail stage one, it is time for the government to provide some clarity about the fate of the historic trees along Commonwealth Avenue if stage two is to go ahead. Canberrans are for progress, but the loss of our garden city character is a real concern for most citizens.
John Litano, Hughes
If the Brendan Nelson-led Australian War Memorial's land grab continues, it will become large enough to have its own postcode. Then what? Short-stay accommodation and eateries for the influx of tourists? A light rail spur line? Our own 'Nelson's Column'?
Graeme Rankin, Holder
THE NAME GAME
Re: "Isis down but not out" (editorial, March 6, p14). Your writer is correct when they state Morrison is "no Menzies". He's actually a real "Downer".
M. Moore, Bonython
REVERSAL OF FORTUNE
Well, may we say, "Innocent until proved guilty" before a trial but, when an appeal is pending isn't it, "guilty until proved innocent"?
Eric Hunter, Cook
ENDING KOREAN WAR
A final end to the Korean War is not just a US decision. It was a UN decision to intervene. While the major combatants were the US, PRC, ROK and DPRK about 20 other nations, including Commonwealth troops, were involved. Any peace treaty should be a UN, not just a US, decision.
Adrian Jackson, Middle Park, Victoria
NOT SO WELCOME
So, Christmas Island gets a visit from Prime Minister Morrison. It's not quite the same as a visit from Santa Claus who brings people presents that they want.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic
Richard Branson better start looking to his marketing laurels with Geocon managing director Nick Georgalis upping the ante with the suggestive use of live snakes in a Garden of Eden-like setting for the launch of Geocon's apartment building Envie ("Snakes alive! Geocon goes green with Envie launch", February 28, p12).
Ann Darbyshire, Hughes
I hear the farm sector's exports will be reduced by over 10 per cent thanks to the drought. Surely the budget bottom line will be significantly affected. Will the government revise its plan to blow the wafer-thin projected surplus on clinging to power?
S. W. Davey, Torrens
Vale Les Carlyon. A great journo, a good man and one of the best, and fairest, historians this country has ever produced.
N. Ellis, Belconnen
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