I was incredibly disappointed and angry to read Senator Leyonhjelm's letter (Letters, January 9) in which he asserted that Senator Hanson-Young is not his co-worker, but his political opponent.
I assume that both senators have entered parliament with a true desire to improve the lives of Australians, and make a meaningful contribution to the progress of Australia.
Given that they both sit in the same house of parliament I would suggest they are co-workers, in that the House should be working towards the above goals.
That they are political opponents means they approach this task from different perspectives. For Senator Leyonhjelm to only acknowledge Senator Hanson-Young as an opponent scares me, since it appears to highlight that politics in Australia at the moment is more about personal point scoring rather than doing anything of worth.
It would be amazing if politics stopped being about blame and arguments and became about long term planning and sensible policies.
M. Ellis, Fisher
For the sake of argument, let's assume that Australian agriculture was transformed along the lines proposed by Frankie Seymour (Letters, January 3) and consisted solely of areas used for crop production without animals.
There would be no environmental reason why livestock could not be incorporated into such a system. They could be used to produce high-quality protein by utilising failed crops, crop wastes, poor quality grain and through the grazing of stubbles.
They could also offer benefits such as improved nutrient cycling and weed control. Why would we not want to increase food production and the performance of our agricultural ecosystem in this way?
The only answer I can see is a philosophical objection to the use of animals for meat production which is perfectly fine as long as people are clear about it. The intent of my first letter was to point out that Frankie Seymour was using specious environmental arguments to promote an animal rights agenda. To be clear, there is room for improvement in current agricultural systems but there is absolutely no environmental imperative for the Australian agricultural system to become completely animal free.
Jim Derrick, Florey
As an 80-year-old ex-motor mechanic, knowing zilch about the current computerised nightmares, I found an oil leak under my granddaughter's 2002 German-built car. I had to remove an undertray in order to see from where the oil emanated.
I found a pipe entering the auto gearbox with the attachment nut only "finger tight" (so much for the mechanic who serviced it last).
When I went to check the oil level the dipstick was missing.
The dealer told me "these cars don't have one".
I found a dipstick on the net for $6.75 so that I can check my oil levels just as I have done for the past 60 years or so.
The auto repair business has apparently dumbed down this present generation to the point where they can't be trusted to check there own oil levels between services.
What an absolutely blatant rip-off.
Don Davey, Launceston, Tas
Weeds from above
Canberra Metro recently waxed lyrically about their drone footage of the light rail "great corridor" in a way only afforded to "perhaps a high-flying magpie or currawong" in the past.
I wonder if these drones picked up the prolific growth of weeds that have rapidly appeared in the landscaped verges?
As I recently drove along Flemington Road and then Northbourne, I was impressed by some of the finest, healthy looking weeds I have seen for some time in Canberra.
While there seemed to be a good cover of paspalum-like plants growing very well, the most notable for me were the tall Fleabane (Erigeron spp) and Thornapples (Datura spp), the latter being highly poisonous to humans.
I guess that now there will be the additional costs of ongoing weed removal by either gangs of gardeners, or regular spraying with weedicides.
The former will be a high safety risk given the closeness to traffic, while the latter will contribute negatively on the environment. And I thought the light rail was good for the environment?
Chris Mobbs, Hackett
Rule of law
When an Australian parliamentarian's nationality is in question it is settled judicially. Transparent consideration is given to the laws, procedures, documentation and views of other relevant countries.
The facts and reasoning are public.
When the citizenship of a nefarious, if as yet unconvicted, accused Australian terrorist is in question, it is settled secretively by an Orwellian "Citizenship Loss Board" comprising officials who are required to be responsive and accountable to partisan political overlords whose public utterances make it clear what outcome is required. Is this how our rule of law is developing?
Mike Hutchinson, Reid
Australia has the longest ice-free coastline in the world and the Earth keeps spinning.
My point is tidal energy. Australia also has some of the highest tides. Australia is two years into a three-year systematic program of mapping Oz tides to be sure of best locations for ocean turbines, a technology which is already well advanced.
It could help ease the reliability issue of renewables. Wave energy is a bonus, if less predictable.
But what about the fossil fuel industry? In fact it sits on a priceless resource: non-oxidised carbon. This is the source of carbon fibres, which we know are stronger than steel and lighter than any useful metal.
Carbon fibres are already marketed but small-scale. Making steel just burns coal using oxygen from the iron ore rather than air; our children's children will be grateful for the continuing resource of coal.
Dig it up if you must, but don't burn it.
Dr Peter Cooper, Greenway
Having (deliberately) avoided staying in my Watson unit over the past few years of Summernats, I found the amount of noise and particulate pollution this year to be totally pervasive and obnoxious, worse than anything I can remember.
And the government must have fallen for the pup of drifting technique 'demonstrations', never mind the multi-car burnout competition/record.
If 146 cars achieved the record this year then the government will not have any qualms over 200 establishing a new record next year? Thank heavens for Saturday afternoon storms.
It would be useful to gauge the views of other Watsonians who endured the assault..
Steve O'Neill, Watson
Basin the victim of growth
Rod Campbell of the Australia Institute (TAI) takes the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to task ("Terror Australis", January 11, p1) for mismanagement.
Dead fish and dried river beds within the basin are the visual evidence that something is very wrong. TAI output is traditionally reliable so the article probably has substance.
Is the MDBA simply incompetent, corrupted by political influence, or does it lack jurisdiction? All it can do is make recommendations to the states.
Perhaps it is a mix of all three, the latter two reflecting back into the first.
But are there other reasons for the basin's inability to satisfy total water demand?
An immediate factor is the current drought, but that is but a subset of wider issues including population growth and past political malpractice and ineptitude. While state and federal ministers favour irrigation over social and environmental sustainability and Australia continues to grow its population by around 400,000 people a year the basin's inability to meet water demand can only increase.
More of its rivers will run dry, more agricultural pollution of the reducing water quantum will occur, more fish will die, and rural towns will, like Walgett now drawing water from bores, have to look for alternative sources.
This prediction is catastrophic for those dependent on the basin's water supply. Is it time to challenge the political dominance of economics and its dependence on unlimited growth?
What shall it be? More thirst or fewer water satisfied people?
Vince Patulny, Kambah
Compliance defaults in the tramway's underground high-voltage cables reported by several electricians raise more than one problem ("'White elephant': Fears light rail won't be certified", January 6, p1,2).
It will be expensive to validly certify the depth at which the cables are buried where the trench has reportedly been filled with concrete, likely requiring something similar to ground-penetrating radar.
Further is the inadequacy of the ACT's construction certification to verify compliance with all relevant Australian standards. All work should be inspected in detail before being covered in concrete.
Apparently not all of the cabling is enclosed in concrete because, according to Electrical Trades Union ACT officer Mick Koppie, "some pits containing high-voltage cables filled up 'like a swimming pool' and needed to be drained whenever it rained.
The trial runs already reported should never have occurred with high-voltage cables exposed.
Additionally, this could be a serious design flaw which should not have passed development application scrutiny if some of the cables are not to be sealed within concrete.
G. Wilson, Macgregor
Gail McAlpine (Letters, January 10) mentions inadequate parking limits of two hours around the streets of the Palace Cinema. However, the National Film and Sound Archive's parking area has a limit of three hours during business hours and free and unlimited parking outside business hours.
There is also plenty of parking in the surrounding areas outside business hours.
As I mentioned before, the cinema is only a short walk from the City bus interchange and the number 3 and 7 buses pass close by the NFSA.
Felicity Chivas, Scullin
Drug tests lack integrity
Governments must resist the pressure to test substances that some young people are unlawfully willing to consume. The civic authority cannot, with integrity, provide allegedly safer means by which people can break the law.
That would be akin to government providing burglars with free gloves to prevent them from being injured while smashing and grabbing.
While any loss of life is unacceptable, the solution is better education with tougher responses, buttressed by governments commending and supporting drug-free events.
David D'Lima, Sturt
Post has given up trying
Australia Post hasn't delivered any parcels to me in the last 12 months, though not for want of trying.
In fact, they don't even bother trying any more. I check in the morning in the online tracker to find my parcels already carded as undeliverable to Mitchell Delivery centre as they never intended to deliver locally, just changing the location once they drop them off at the post office.
As a disabled person I rely on services being delivered. Couriers can do it, Deliveroo etc can do it, but Australia Post doesn't even bother trying any more. My local post office has no ramp for the disabled and I risk falling every time I go there. I don't think it's too much to ask that the postman delivers to the door.
Liz Blackwell, Canberra
The ALP, which is now policy bound to recognise Palestine as a state, needs to urgently reassess the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority's democratic right to represent the Palestinian people. Such a reassessment would show that the Fatah party's legitimate democratic right to govern in the PA is non-existent and that the ALP's new policy would in fact effectively be recognising and supporting an illegal undemocratic regime.
There have been no Palestinian Authority elections in the West Bank or Gaza (other than local elections in the PA which were an electoral disaster for Abbas' party Fatah) since 2006.
Abbas and Fatah's term of government legally ended in 2009 when new elections were due.
Rather than holding elections Abbas has chosen to rule by dictatorial presidential decree since his democratic mandate expired – a rule which gives his regime powers which have led critics to rightly describe him as an illegitimate autocratic ruler.
The only way to make real steps towards a peaceful path to Palestinian statehood is through direct negotiations (negotiations founded on an acceptance of Israel's right to exist) between Israel and a legitimately elected government in the PA and Gaza.
This is the only way a just and fair two-state solution can ever be arrived at and the only way that Israel and Palestine can have a peaceful and secure future. Sadly I don't expect to see either elections or serious peace negotiations any time soon.
Dr Bill Anderson, Surrey Hills, NSW
Socceroos boycott call
I see that the Australian Jewish Association (AJA) has demanded that the Socceroos boycott their upcoming Asian Cup group match against Palestine ("Jewish group wants Palestine boycott", January 10, p34).
The association says Palestine is not a country recognised by the international community.
This argument adds weight and importance to the decision by the ALP at its recent national conference to extend recognition to Palestine. It should be among the earliest foreign policy decisions of an incoming Labor government.
Jeff Hart, Kingston
Testing time for teachers
Re: Geoff Barker's (Letters, January 9) concerns about the time it takes for teachers to provide data about "school outcomes".
I suggest such data be supplied only if the following conditions are met:
1. "Outcomes" of the work done by those assessing the data be made public.
2. The number of hours it took the assessors to produce these "outcomes" be made public.
These could then be added to the hours it took to produce the original data. If the "outcomes" of the assessors' work do not justify the work put into them then they (the assessors) should be dismissed.
Reg Naulty, Hawker
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