It's hard not to be drawn into the narrative of Malcolm Turnbull making slow passage home to rightful kingship in Ithaca, beset by the hatred of watery Labor Poseidon because Odysseus has made things more complicated by trickily blinding the one-eyed giant Tony Abbott ("Coalition in chaos", October28, p1).
Meanwhile, the High Court, which is a cross between Zeus and a casino, fiddles about in Olympus, adding to the chaos.
But what comes after? No one has really fixed anything, and staffers will be trawling through histories looking for evidence that ever so many are not entitled to be in Parliament.
Many might not be so entitled for other than technical reasons.
Doesn't being born in Australia mean anything much legally?
Is simple revocation of other citizenship rights sufficient, if you were (say) born in Elbonia?
Can you really be simultaneously an Australian and a Chinese citizen without bias, whatever you may have formally revoked?
Heaven knows, but the High Court doesn't.
Roy Darling, Florey
The editorial of October28 considered the "five members banished from the hill ... won't be the last unless somebody does the hard work to resolve the matter by amending the constitution".
That bodes ill for the future governance of the country. It would mean that politicians continue to be as indolent and contemptuous of the law as those just dismissed.
I am confident that I am not the only Australian so inclined. When pushed hard on the matter by Stan Grant at Llewellan Hall at the ANU on the evening of October27, the day of the High Court's decision, Kevin Rudd was of like mind. He supported the High Court's decision and retention of the requirements of section 44 in the constitution.
Frankly, the only surprise to me is that there has not already been a spate of further disclosures of those similarly remiss.
Gary J.Wilson, Macgregor
George Brandis says the constitution, particularly section 44, is no longer relevant to Australia's multicultural society.
Nonsense. Section 44 provides protection against a person who may harbour (or be asked to harbour) allegiance, however faint, to another country from making laws for Australia.
In today's multicultural society, it is arguably more important to retain section 44. All Australians should expect our federal politicians to have their entire focus on improving Australia.
A dual citizen, or one entitled to claim citizenship of another country, has an escape route if he or she doesn't like the laws of our country. Such a luxury is not accorded others to which Australian law applies.
It is a simple thing we ask of people who nominate for federal office: to understand their actual or possible entitlements to citizenship of another country, and take reasonable steps to renounce such entitlement.
The fact that some have failed to do so is an indictment on them, not the constitution.
There are only four main criteria a person needs to meet to enter federal politics: no criminal record; not an undischarged bankrupt; not in receipt of any income from the Commonwealth; and not an actual or potential dual citizen.
If renunciation is unacceptable for whatever reason, then a person should not nominate for office.
Graham Rayner, Campbell
John Cameron, the lawyer who started the "citizenship seven"' case by outing Scott Ludlam as a New Zealander, says: "There's a crying need for an independent commission on corruption, as this case has demonstrated" ("'There will be others,' says Perth lawyer who exposed Scott Ludlam", online, October27).
Is he suggesting Ludlam and the other disqualified parliamentarians are corrupt?
Their behaviour may, in some cases, have been careless, but corruption implies deliberate wrongdoing.
Michael McCarthy, Deakin
I do hope Len Goodman (Letters, October30), who attacked Bill Shorten's claims that the Australian Federal Police had been politicised, reads Jack Waterford's best column in years ("Leaking through the AFP", October28, Forum, p1), in which Waterford outlines the number of times conservative governments have used the AFP for such purposes, and the number of times they have come up with a result (one!).
Roger Terry, Kingston
David Wroe's article on nuclear instability ("Unstable days as nuclear club fall out", October28, Forum, p4) quotes a former long-serving Pentagon official, who describes the new UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as "hopelessly quixotic". This is the equivalent of asking a tobacco company about cigarette taxes.
However, last year, the US government revealed its true assessment in a (leaked) letter sent to all NATO states. The US expressed major concern about the effectiveness of such a treaty.
Over the past few decades, human error or technical glitches have brought us to the edge of nuclear war on numerous occasions. The brinkmanship and instability of Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump are in their own right a clear argument for ridding the world of these, the worst "weapons of mass destruction".
The treaty puts nuclear weapons on the same legal footing as chemical and biological weapons. It will take time to work, with progressive, verifiable, time-bound reductions in weapons stockpiles.
Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop talk a lot about keeping people safe and the importance of the rule of law.
But until Australia signs this treaty, that amounts to nothing more than doublespeak.
Margaret Beavis, board member, ICAN (Australia)
Neglect and mistreatment by humans makes dogs aggressive
I feel enormous sympathy for those involved in the dog attack in Watson: the owner, her family, the dog, neighbours, police ("Dog attack horror", October 26, p1).
However, we should ask ourselves: who is responsible?
If we want dogs in our lives, it follows that we owe them a duty of care. Dogs needs exercise, shelter, interests.
I'm a long-term volunteer at the RSPCA and don't believe any dog is born aggressive. When one is aggressive, it's probably been neglected or mistreated by a human.
It's terrible that this dog ended up confused, aggressive and dead. I believe it is one of the victims of this tragedy.
There are two issues here.
We dog owners must take responsibility – to train and care for our dogs, or surrender them – and we need to reach out to people who are unable to manage their pet.
Second, the ACT government should act quickly when dog issues are reported.
If you've ever reported a dog nuisance or neglect issue, you'll know the government's processes for addressing these reports are inadequate.
We can't have the situation where people and the government shirk responsibility and the community and animals suffer as a result.
Beth Shepherd, Evatt
Frances Cornish demonstrated the hypocrisy of City Services Minister Fitzharris' empty boast – that if "dog owners cannot take responsibility for their own dogs, the ACT government will" (Letters, October 27).
Another ministerial edict is distilled to nonsense in the light of so many horrible dog attacks reported in this newspaper. All were followed by feeble, if any, government action.
Duck-shoving responsibility for crippling injuries and costs after a little boy was viciously attacked by dogs illegally housed in government-provided accommodation contrasts, yet again, government action with ministerial bravado ("Jack loses case over dog mauling", May 6, p10).
Don Burns, Mawson
There is a lot of fake news about what the national broadband network is, isn't, and should be.
The NBN, in its hybrid form, costs about $2000 per person to install. An all-fibre NBN would cost at least twice as much.
Make no mistake: one way or another, through taxes and service fees, you will need to pay this cost. You should consider how much broadband speed you need, and how much you are willing to pay for it.
My copper-wire ADSL line provides a consistent 2 megabits per second, which supports my voice-over-internet phone, Netflix, web browsing and email, with a 100-gigabyte-a-month traffic limit for under $45 a month.
Government policy is forcing the shutdown of my ADSL line (why is this necessary?). An NBN connection will cost me more, and is unlikely to provide as good and as consistent a service. This is not because of the hardware adopted by the NBN. Although it is not all fibre, it should be 10 times better than my ADSL line.
The NBN makes its money by selling bandwidth to resellers (why did the government mandate resellers?).
The resellers increase their profits by not buying sufficient bandwidth from the NBN to service all their sales. The insufficient bandwidth bought by your reseller, not the NBN, is the cause of internet traffic congestion at peak times.
Why is all this such a mess?
Leaders are like eagles. We don't have any in Canberra.
Bruce A. Peterson, Kambah
Crispin Hull argues in favour of limiting immigration to alleviate stressed public services and traffic snarls ("There's no room for the elephant in the room – time to wake up", October 28, Forum, p2).
For balance's sake, I'd urge scrutiny of the 40 per cent denovo population growth from Australian residents heartily encouraged to procreate. Babies born here also add to unsustainable population growth yet receive hefty parental leave and other financial incentives partly funded by the deliberately childless.
The decision to have children is a personal choice that confers a lifetime of contentment, psychological wellbeing and even family care in old age for lonely parents.
The non-parents among us would understandably bristle at bolstering a new parent's aspirations.
The dilemma lies in matching the subsidised needs of a burgeoning number of retirees and the long-living elderly (the demand) with children raised to taxpaying independence (the supply).
However, this co-dependency could potentially generate an accelerating demand-supply loop.
Today's children will grow old and, in turn, seek their due from generations raised to adult productivity that come after them.
The cost of raising a child to independence, an increasingly deferred milestone, is not just met by the parents and families but also the rest of society.
As such, the social policy argument that subsidising the care of children and their schooling leads to payback from grown-up children's taxes maintaining economic health and funding public infrastructure and future welfare programmes makes no sense.
With humanity burgeoning at the seams, it's time Australians thought about having fewer children as well as limiting immigration intake.
Joseph Ting, Carina, Qld
Halloween in our time
I am not a Halloween-hater; my friends and I celebrate it at the proper and meaningful time, which is at the approach of winter.
In the southern hemisphere, this is at the beginning of May rather than the northern hemisphere's autumnal early November.
Most pagan celebrations such as Samhain (Halloween) and Yule (Christmas) originated from ancestors mindful of mother nature's seasonal changes.
In many cultures, the approach of winter dark and cold is associated with remembrance of ancestors and the beloved dead, and with humorous, morale-boosting celebrations.
Death is not elevated but is regarded as an integral part of the cycle of life.
In Canberra, at this beautiful springtime, which Celtic people called Beltane, many of us take time to celebrate and attune to life, growth and love.
Ester Gaia, Pearce
TO THE POINT
ON THE MOVE?
Does the High Court decision on Friday about Barnaby Joyce ("Coalition in crisis", October 28, p1) mean the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority must now move to Christchurch?
D. Lewis, Weston
If Barnaby Joyce or any of the other "ineligibles" are re-elected, what happens to their future parliamentary superannuation entitlements? Will they rejoin Parliament as "newbies", and therefore only be eligible for the more recent and considerably less-generous provisions for new members or senators?
John Mungoven, Stirling
Some people say we need a plebiscite to know what Australians think. A logical consequence of that belief is that, in future, such people will be unable to say "Australians think x, y or z" on some issue unless there has been a plebiscite, to show that Australians do indeed think x, y or z.
Heino Lepp, Macquarie
A JOB ON THE WAY
By taking full responsibility for tipping off the media about the raid on the AWU, David De Garis ("PM backs Cash, October 27, p1) has protected his boss, Michaelia Cash, like a bodyguard throwing themselves on top of the president when an attempted assassination is detected. I guess that is why so many have talked about him "paying such a heavy price" for his (or more likely his boss's) lapse in judgment. To repay De Garis, I suspect a well-paid job in Liberal Party head office will come his way shortly.
Mike Reddy, Curtin
UNFIT FOR OFFICE
I am really tired of the excuse "I didn't know" from MPs. Now Michaelia Cash has dragged it out. If these people didn't know what their presumably vetted and approved staffers were doing, they're incompetent. If they did know, they're lying. Either way, they're unfit for office.
Lis Hoorweg, Campbell
'I KNOW NOTHING'
Note to politicians: covering your eyes and ears while singing "la-la-la" does not obviate your obligation to taxpayers, who pay for the trough at which you swill.
B. Chadwick, Mawson
ZOMBIES FOR OUR TIME
I just heard about the zombie walk ("Zombies take over Canberra streets", October 29, p2). I think zombies fascinate us because they are humans who have been stripped of their humanity, of everything that separates us from other forms of life, and reduced to a set of bestial appetites. What an apt celebration for our capitalistic, individualistic times.
S. W. Davey, Torrens
Email: email@example.com. Send from the message ﬁeld, not as an attached ﬁle. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.
Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).