As I sit in the cold on the grass at Anzac Cove, waiting for the Dawn Service to start, reading the news (iPads are a wonderful thing) and I read and reread Nicholas Stuart's piece on "Why I won't be marching" (canberratimes.com.au, April 24), I struggle to see his point.
First, it should be titled: "If I were entitled to March, why I wouldn't", because that would put the rest of it in context.
He clearly doesn't understand why veterans march, and what it truly means. He's just trying to guess what motivates others.
Visiting a war as a journalist for a few days on an escorted trip is not the same as sharing battlefield dangers with your comrades for months or even years on end.
Anzac Day is not "commemorating war" as he suggests — it's about showing respect and gratitude and remembering past servicemen and recent comrades.
Whether or not he thinks he would march (if he could) or whether he wants to remember his visit to Mosul, or even whether Woolies once tried to commercialise the day, is all irrelevant to those of us who can, and who want to, commemorate this day.
No one forces Stuart (or anyone else) to get up early for the Dawn Service — that's one of the freedoms we can all enjoy.
I'm happy to sit here amongst many new friends, sharing a few quiet moments of reflection and giving thanks.
This is what I chose to do on Anzac Day. Stuart can peacefully sleep in. But, as one of that somewhat older generation of ex-servicemen, I'm delighted and encouraged to be surrounded by so many young people here at Anzac Cove who apparently also think he is wrong.
Kym MacMillan, Gallipoli
A common cause
Nicholas Stuart in Wednesday's Canberra Times declares that Anzac Day means something to him. But it is impossible to detect that meaning from his article.
Anzac Day is not the commemoration of war that Nicholas imagines. It is a remembrance of sacrifice in a common cause. I would urge Nicholas to visit the gas ovens at Buchenwald, the site of the Post Office in Darwin, the dockside area in London or the city of Warsaw.
The smell of death may be long gone but the reality remains. War cannot be wished away because it offends his nostrils.
It was the price of the freedom that Nicholas enjoys every time he puts pen to paper.
Fred Bennett AM, Bonner
Sophie Verass' article "The story behind Canberra's Anzac Parade" (April 25, p17) traversed the significance of Anzac Parade.
An often forgotten aspect is the symbolism linking the War Memorial to the head of Anzac Parade on Limestone Avenue.
Viewed at the right time and angle from the air, the true design significance of Anzac Parade as a memorial in itself is more obvious – as a symbolic, national icon in the form of a huge grave in Canberra's heartland, with the Memorial building standing-out to shape a large cross at its head. It is easy for proponents of further development work on the Memorial building, on Anzac Parade and in the surrounds to overlook this undocumented iconic nature of the whole area.
Administrators and politicians eager to aggrandise at great public cost need also to remember, to respect and to preserve the true symbolism of this Australian icon.
Though hidden, it is still of the highest significance in particular to air force services and their families, to their ideals and to our national ethos.
The National Capital Authority, Parliament's Public Works Committee and other advisory bodies are wont to forget — carrying the risk of them agreeing to sacrilege in the name of progress.
Roger FitzGerald, Macquarie
Weapons of preference
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop recently stated that "the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, under any circumstances is illegal and utterly reprehensible". True, and therefore alleged use demands investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to establish the facts and hold any perpetrators accountable, rather than military action that could well destroy any evidence (as well as more lives). However, she has also specifically and consistently refused to state that nuclear weapons must never be used again under any circumstances. It seems that the most anti-human devices ever created are the minister's preferred weapons of mass destruction.
Dr Sue Wareham, Medical Association for Prevention of War, Cook
Electric future for roads
I fully support the ACT government's plan to shift to an all-electric passenger-car fleet by 2020-2021 and to encourage the take-up of electric vehicles by the public ("All government vehicles to be electric by 2021", April 16, p10). This is clearly the path of the future. The federal Coalition government and state Liberal or LNP governments, however, are pulling in the opposite direction. The report "Federal energy plan may curb state ambitions" (April 16, p5) points out that the Turnbull government has a plan that will prevent any efforts by Labor-governed states or territories to reduce emissions by more than the very modest ambitions of its National Energy Guarantee will "not count towards the national target".
Under the plan, the opposition in Victoria could attack the Labor government for pushing up power prices in its drive to cut emissions. The NSW Liberal government could take advantage of the plan by doing less to cut emissions and not being penalised.
We won't get very far with efforts to tackle climate change with one major part of the country pushing in one direction and the other part pulling in the opposite direction.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
Move people, not cars
Stage 1 of Light Rail will see the ACT government's first use of overriding traffic signal priority for public transport.
Hopefully this indicates their adoption of a "move people not cars" policy for our transport system.
Our next step could be providing traffic signal priority for all public transport as occurs in other Australian jurisdictions.
Canberra only needs a small SCATS software parameter change to give our buses over-riding traffic signal priority when a bus is caught facing a red light in their own dedicated bus lane.
Let's start moving people not cars.
Chris Emery, Reid
Police use gas too
Unfortunately there is a very serious flaw in the whole chemical weapons scenario.
Where does that leave police use of capsicum spray and tear gas?
Capsicum spray can be lethal.
Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
The proposed imposition of fines of up to $210 million on miscreant companies, as an outcome of the banking royal commission, is a potential miscarriage of justice in that it penalises blameless shareholders who bear the subsequent loss, not one of the millions of whom have any input whatsoever into the criminal practices instigated by the policies introduced by the directors and managers.
By all means impose lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines on the individual highly paid boards of directors, section managers and "advisers" who have received huge bonuses, and are responsible for these reprehensible acts, as both punishment and as deterrent to potential like-minded directors.
How much of the "blind eye" that has been turned to these illegal practices in the past that can be attributed to the benevolence gained from the open slather of receipt of hundreds of thousands of dollars in "bribes" (aka "political donations"), is debatable.
Michael Adler, Gungahlin
A matter of trust
The extent of dishonesty and misconduct exposed by the royal commission highlights key learnings from my 30 years experience as an organisational psychologist.
People do not go to work with the intention of damaging their organisation's culture; they typically intend to live basic core values: e.g. "Give everyone a fair go", "Do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay".
Culture problems frequently arise in organisations but effective leadership and management typically resolves them.
It takes years of systemic leadership and management failure at all levels in the hierarchy before culture problems can become systemic.
Consequently, "systemic" culture problems cannot be fixed by self-regulation alone.
Systemic culture problems require courageous new styles of leadership because wholesale changes always have to be made.
Legislators must change regulations, penalties and methods in order to protect banking customers.
Regulators must ensure structural changes are safe.
"Vertical Integration" has enabled sub-cultures within banks to harm customers; similar sub-culture harm may be caused by some "Horizontal Integration" as well.
Regulators must ensure they enforce regulations and penalties in ways that prevents systemic culture problems from evolving.
Banks must change boards, CEOs and managers to ensure trust is rebuilt by selling only those products which make their customers safer, more prosperous, and more respected.
James Cooney, Canberra
Integrity still matters
The royal commission into financial sector misbehaviour is sending shockwaves through Australia, but many Australians who experienced this misbehaviour directly will not be surprised.
What is surprising is that financial institutions that so strenuously resisted the royal commission are now disclosing and admitting to serious misdemeanours, embarrassing conservatives who had defended these institutions.
The lesson in this is that integrity still matters, and that the public expect regulators like ASIC that were created to uphold the integrity of national institutions, to consistently apply the highest standards.
Politicians and others who are dismissive of the need for genuine systemic integrity will be seen for what they are: people who cannot be trusted to uphold higher community values.
Trevor Wilson, Chifley
Heat on industry funds
Barnaby Joyce, apparently now a convert to candour, has made a direct admission that he was wrong to oppose the Haynes royal commission into financial services.
Meanwhile, Kelly O'Dwyer has made a fool of herself by seeking to claim credit for widening the terms of reference so that AMP, for example, was caught in the net. Any effort by the government to broaden the scope was intended to direct attention to industry superannuation funds.
This government's first priority in the area of financial services has always been to put the heat on industry funds so that more citizens will direct management of their compulsory superannuation to the likes of AMP and the banks.
A superb policy to take to the next election!
In the interests of disclosure: I am a satisfied member of an industry superannuation fund.
H. Simon, Watson
Far too close
Alex White is again quick to label any questioning of the relationship between UnionsACT and the ACT government as union bashing ('Light rail justified...', Letters, p14, April 24). Mr White says they "do not have a veto over ACT government contracts".
Let's accept that is legally the case. However, a quick look at the rules of the ACT Labor party makes it clear that unions and their delegates are the key power-brokers in that organisation.
And anyone who remotely follows ACT local politics will know unions essentially determine who are the ministers, and will have followed the revelations about the memorandum of understanding between the government and certain unions that covers the construction of at least Stage 1 of the light rail (and which unnecessarily increases construction costs of the light rail and hence across Canberra), the number of pokies in union controlled clubs, the land deals in Dickson, etc.
Because I worked on building sites when younger and was a union member at other times, I accept and support organised labour having a role in the economy and society.
However, the relationship between certain unions and the ACT government has got far too close and appears to have become too one-sided.
Bruce Paine, Red Hill
In line for the throne
I am pleased to announce the birth of our son, Gareth, a little over 40 years ago. Mother and son are both doing well. By virtue of his Pommie parents, Gareth will be 26,352,871st in line for the throne, and a possible future Head of the Commonwealth. Well-wishers should send donations to the Australian Republican Movement.
John Walker, Queanbeyan, NSW
TO THE POINT
I do not consider myself qualified to comment on the merits (or none) of the proposal to posthumously elevate General Monash.
I detect, however, a sub-text in recent letters on the subject, from those signing themselves off with their army ranks. I surmise that they are, or were, regulars and that said sub-text parallels something once expressed to me by a regular Army officer: that Monash was, after all, " ... just a bloody part-timer".
G. S. McKergow, Forbes Creek, NSW
With Sydney having positioned bollards along the Anzac Day march route this year you have to ask what next. As those who want to harm us appear to be winning their war against us. Which raises the question where to after this latest elevation?
D.J. Fraser, Currumbin, Qld
FOCUS ON THE LIVING
Brendan Nelson is defending the proposed expenditure of $500million on the expansion of the War Memorial, saying it will benefit all returned servicemen/women. As important as this may be surely we should be focusing on the living, not the dead. A $500million trust fund, set up to look afterreturned servicemen/women, many of whom suffer PTSD and other health issues would be better for those who have been off to war.
Errol Grace, Fountaindale, NSW
DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH
OK, so the government got it wrong with the banks. How long will it take them to realise they've got it wrong with live animal trading?
Jeff Bradley, Isaacs
Here's an idea to empty our prisons of thieves and robbers.
Allow the criminals to sincerely apologise, pay back the loot and promise not to do it again. After all it works for the banks caught out by the royal commission.
Tom Lindsay, Monash
In Cook on Tuesday morning I saw a dog foul the edge of the path and then run under the wheels of a bike. Fortunately the rider didn't fall. To judge by its squeal, the dog was hurt but not badly enough to stop it running away. The owner – complete with leash over her shoulder – watched all this happen but didn't even call the dog to heel.
John Rogers, Cook
Can Alex White (Letters, April 24) explain why Unions ACT supports a public transport system that, compared with bus rapid transit, employs half as many drivers, costs twice as much, doesn't offer express services, replaces direct services with services that require people to transfer between buses and trams, and further discourages patrons with less frequent services and longer walks to and from stops?
Leon Arundell, Downer
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