As Federal Parliament sits for its final session before politicians of all persuasions gear up for the election, dare we even hope in our wildest dreams that they may practise what they preach?
In the wake of the violence and horror of the Christchurch massacre, we have heard and seen Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten espousing tolerance, respect and love; sincerely meant.
Conversely, we read and hear of violent episodes in our own communities - perpetrated by all ages, but with an increase in younger offenders - and we grow tired of the lack of respect and gross insults hurled across parliamentary tables.
Is it a stretch too far to suggest a correlation between the increasing community concern and distrust of examples set by national and local political leaders, members and senators?
Is it that they have to resort to constant verbal political abuse because of a lack of meaningful debating skills?
Or do they hide behind the tired old "but that's politics" fallacy? Sure it's a rough and tumble profession, and we have always had tough characters who minced no words and gave no quarter but it has now reached the point of incessant personal and verbal abuse.
Seen together with providing juicy copy, seemingly intent on negativity, perhaps it also contributes to the decline in mainstream media news and current affairs – and the rise in malicious social media.
In biblical terms, do we reap what we sow?
Len Goodman, Belconnen
Boochani not 'one of us'
The article "Bring Behrouz home: for he is one of us" (April 4, p17) should have been titled: "He is not one of us; send him home".
The title derives from the author's words: "It is an acknowledgement that [Behrouz Boochani] is now an integral part of the Australian community."
This is a blatant lie: apart from a few days on Christmas Island, Behrouz, an asylum seeker on Manus, has never been to Australia. Further, the article unfairly criticises Australia.
As Behrouz, an Iranian Kurd, is an MA graduate, clearly he led a privileged life in his homeland, unlike many asylum seekers.
In 2012 he was invited to Paris to present a paper on geopolitics and minority rights, probably to criticise Iran.
Iran understandably refused him a passport. He escaped Iran in 2013, and attempted to enter Australia illegally.
On Manus he used a mobile phone to shoot a film about the centre; this indicates that he had considerable freedom there.
The film was shown at the London Film Festival.
The Australian literary and journalistic community is campaigning for him to be brought to Australia. As illegal immigrants should never be given Australian citizenship, I recommend instead he be sent to Kurdistan where his remarkable talents could be used to support the aspirations of his compatriots.
Importantly, it would be a genuine homecoming to the people he has for so long striven to assist at great detriment to his own life.
R. Salmond, Melba
Coal our saviour!
On behalf of Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce and the Queensland LNP I summon all Australians to the fight to save our coal industry.
It's time to outflank the Greens by making coal essential to everyone's daily life (including theirs).
We have to start using steam trains again. And use coal for home heating and as fuel in stoves.
Just think of the benefits to our economy when all our cars, trucks and farm machinery run on cheap Australian coal-fired steam instead of on expensive foreign oil.
We could give a massive boost to our whole industrial sector as we start to make everything from coal-fired toasters, washing machines and vacuum cleaners to coal-fired computers to coal-fired shearing sheds to coal-fired sewage treatment works to coal-fired planes for the RAAF. We would get back the car industry which the Liberals just let die.
Our office buildings would demand millions of new, Australian-made coal-fired airconditioning systems in every single city, suburb and country town.
Not to mention the jobs in transporting coal to places like Darwin.
Chimney stacks would sprout all over the country, and the clouds of smoke would truly bring us all together as one nation – city commuters on underground trains would have a daily taste of the life of miners and coal-fired country people, for instance.
And we could simply close down that Malcolm Turnbull nonsense in the Snowy Mountains.
There's an election coming. Outflank the Greens.
Grant Agnew, Coopers Plains, Qld
What a horrible nasty budget Josh Frydenberg brought down, presumably with the backing of the Prime Minister.
Scott Morrison and his crew profess their Christianity but are prepared to see people on Newstart and other welfare payments not have enough food to put on the table for their kids.
They are just like the priest and Levite who passed on the other side and left the beaten-up traveller to the support of the good Samaritan.
They don't deserve to be recognised as Christians. They certainly can't be classed as good Samaritans.
Support for the poor and needy is left to others through their charitable contributions. This budget is so one-sided for the rich that there is still no sign of rich retirees on tax-free pensions of nearly $200,000 being asked to pay the Medicare levy.
The levy is only paid on taxable income and their pension is not taxable. Why do we need tax cuts, other than to buy the votes of the wealthy.
If we have been running massive budget deficits, as the Prime Minister keeps telling us, how does it help if you give all this money away in tax cuts?
Under Costello a massive amount of income from the mining boom was given away as tax cuts.
Without any tax cuts the deficit would be paid off quicker. Hopefully, after the election, we will still have enough independents in the Senate to curtail some of the excesses in the budget.
Dave Roberts, Belconnen
The overall federal budget has grown 17 per cent since 2013 when Labor was last in power, but the environment budget has been cut by 40 per cent since then.
The Australian Conservation Foundation says environment investment is sitting at just 0.002 per cent of government spending.
How can this be? Conventional administrative and investment theory has three pillars: social, economic and environmental.
The Morrison government completely neglects the environmental pillar of our wellbeing. I hope a Labor government will correct this appalling situation.
Rod Holesgrove, O'Connor
Lakeside beauty no accident
I respect the efforts of voluntary community organisations, particularly where they are fighting to keep the high-quality amenity that characterises much of the environment of the central area of Canberra.
I don't think the Lake Burley Griffin Guardians have necessarily got it right, however, in their strident opposition to the west basin (City to the Lake) development.
The guardians seem to have the view that all aspects of the lake should be retained "as is", regardless of the intentions of Walter Burley Griffin or anyone else.
Griffin's plans did show the civic centre extending down towards the lake with a hard-edged, curved shoreline to the northern side of the west basin.
The guardians apparently preferred the area as it was prior to the development of the new Henry Rolland Park, then dominated by open carparks, senescent trees and poor-quality pathways, as it still is north-west of the new park.
The guardians also prefer soft edges to the lake shores.
There are kilometres of natural shorelines to the east and west ends of the lake, but the central basin and adjacent parts of the east and west basins are predominantly hard-edged, with retaining walls.
This is appropriate for areas of more intensive usage. It allows for greater public access to the lake edge and facilitates high standard maintenance.
As I enjoy cycling around the east and central basins (and Henry Rolland Park) I reflect on what a beautiful, high quality, well maintained and popular environment it is.
This did not happen by accident. It was the result of continuous improvement.
Richard Johnston, Kingston
AWM already superb
Stuart Walkley (Letters, April 1) writes an impassioned calculation that the half-a-billion extension to the Australian War Memorial is justified because it supposedly represents just $300 "per Australian who has served", as if we'd be getting a massive expansion of the memorial at a knock-down discount price.
But Mr Walkley writes as if the memorial had not already existed for a century.
Everything he says he wants, the AWM already does – and superbly. If he wants to "look at the photos of our diggers" and "read their stories" then not an extra cent is required.
The support garnered by the Heritage Guardians suggests that the assumption that more is better is profoundly flawed.
Peter Stanley, HeritageGuardians, Dickson
Public vista lost
The former headquarters of the CSIRO came tumbling down this week as wreckers made way for a new upmarket housing development.
It marks the public loss of a fabulous piece of land.
I was lucky enough to work at CSIRO headquarters through the 1990s and, while the structure itself was nothing to look at (heritage documents describe it as "an office building of a reserved character"), the vista looking out from it was superb.
You had an uninterrupted view from Red Hill to Black Mountain, with Canberra below and the Brindabellas in the distance.
And, being a public institution, it belonged to the people. But that's no longer the case.
CSIRO sold it to a developer and it will soon be the sole preserve of a privileged (rich) few. Private property, keep out.
Wouldn't it have been nice for the land to have been used for the public good and kept in perpetuity?
David Salt, Ainslie
What jobs bonanza?
Your article "Jobs bonanza from light rail" (canberratimes.com.au, April) illustrates how construction projects, whether they be trains, high-rise apartments or (in other places coal mines) give a false impression of the jobs produced from large amounts of investment.
In this case it was about $1billion for a tram. Over three years 3.38 billion people-hours sounds impressive, until you break it down. If 4637 workers shared the "bonanza" this means that each worker got on average 728.9 hours each and, if this is divided by a 40-hour week, we have 18.2 weeks' work per person.
This is not very much and very casual for most of the workers.
And then comes the real letdown. Permanent full-time jobs, the sort of jobs most people want, are 125.
This is a very few given around one billion dollars was spent. In my view, the train may be many things but a jobs bonanza for the ACT it is not.
Philida Sturgiss-Hoy, Downer
Growth isn't always good
M. Moore (Letters, April 2) questions whether those who criticise population growth in Canberra have had children.
It's a slightly fatuous question, as we all have the right to replace ourselves, that is, two children per couple.
Nevertheless, in my case, after reading Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb back in 1970 when my then husband and I had one child, we resolved not to have more.
So we adopted three and long-term fostered another.
Others of my generation restricted the number of children they had.
In 1970, world population was 3.7 billion; it's now just under 7.7billion, more than double.
The planet can't afford to double again in the next 50 years to 15 billion or more, as it has neither the resources to supply our needs nor the capacity to absorb our wastes.
Yet if the world grew at Canberra's growth rate (1.9 per cent), population would double in 39 years.
Not all growth is good. At some point it becomes cancerous. In the end, it comes down to a matter of mathematics.
Jenny Goldie, Cooma, NSW
Law is for the church too
M. Gabbitas (Letters, April 5) seems to believe that the internal rules and sanctions of the Catholic church ("excommunication" for breach of confessional secrecy) are a relevant consideration in the need for compliance with civil law.
They are no more relevant than the internal rules of any other voluntary membership organisation — whether a lawn bowls club, a footy tipping competition or a motorcycle gang.
In a world where the internal rules of some purported religions may include lethal sanctions for supposed offences – apostasy and adultery, for example – it is vital that the absolute principle of universal application of civil law be maintained.
We expect all those with conflicted rules to bring them into conformity with civil law.
So must the Catholic church.
Mike Hutchinson, Reid
Don't forget biofuels
Once we have displaced every single fossil-fuel watt of electricity with a renewable watt of electricity, then we can start putting public money towards the promotion of electric vehicles.
In the meantime we have biofuels.
We can make the entire transport sector irrelevant to the problem of dangerous man-made climate change by using biofuels.
They are better than carbon neutral, because more carbon is locked up in growing the feedstock than is released in burning the fuel.
We should remove all taxes on biofuels, and increase the taxes on fossil fuels sufficiently to cover the loss of revenue.
This will provide more than enough incentive for people to spend the few hundred dollars needed to convert their vehicles to run superbly on 100 per cent biofuels (ethanol for petrol vehicles, biodiesel for diesel vehicles).
Back in the 1970s, the CSIRO produced a report demonstrating how biofuels could replace all fossil fuels (including bunker fuel for ships and avgas for planes), although the political reason then was to avoid the economic shocks from OPEC price rises.
It's time we listened to them.
Greg Carman, Deakin
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