On October 3 we, the owners of this democracy, found out that American "Aegis" ABM (anti-ballistic missile) systems would be added to our prospective naval fleet.
No cost figure was deigned to be necessary.
Cynics might quip that our relationship with the US – indeed the purpose of its embassy here – is not least about fealty in terms of writing very big taxpayer cheques to companies that are well enough known without me dropping their names.
And, yes, weapons and systems are required (unless you are New Zealand, it seems, which would appear to be almost defenceless).
But it is the habitual, dull, unquestioning acceptance of such cursory announcements by the public and press alike that exposes a weakness in our democracy.
The Aegis packages were mentioned today – you might also say excused and justified – by plopping them in the same announcement as passing references to North Korean missile threats.
Missiles ain't missiles.
There are BMs, IRBMs, andICBMs.
It may be the case that Aegis is a good ABM system, but not designed for the sheer speed and orbital altitudes of IRBMs, let alone the ICBMs that would target our sunburnt country.
Glib statements and conflations of "reality" with public ignorance are not good enough in a real democracy.
Ross Kelly, Monash
What exactly do Malcolm Turnbull and the LNP public safety squad mean by "instructional terrorist material"? ("Malcolm Turnbull pushes for law to detain terror suspects for up to 14 days before charges", canberra times.com.au, October3).
Mao Zedong's On Guerilla Warfare? Che Guevara's Guerilla Warfare? The Anarchist Cookbook? The US Army's TM 31-210 Improvised Munitions Handbook?
Without an explicit definition of what constitutes "instructional terrorist material", any law can, and will, be used as a means of stifling dissent, especially by a government with a track record of playing the terror card for political advantage. The mere possession of such material does not of itself imply intent.
Without specificity, any law that criminalises mere possession of materials that have a potential terrorist use is not only poor in law, but has a massive potential for repression.
Paul McElligott, Aranda
Tom Switzer, in his criticism of the newly adopted UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Letters, October2), undermines his own argument that "nuclear deterrence" helps keep us safe.
In relation to North Korea, Switzer states "there are growing fears that an accident or miscalculation could lead to nuclear war". Precisely.
We are being brought to the brink of nuclear annihilation by these instruments of terror. Nuclear deterrence theory tells us that leaders will always – 100per cent of the time – be wise and rational, and therefore would not engage in any steps that could end in "mutually assured destruction".
This might be OK in a perfect world where there is no human or technical error, but not in the real world where there is confusion and miscalculation, especially in a crisis.
Switzer is right, however, that North Korea must be brought in from the diplomatic cold.
After all, Kim Jong-un is not the only leader that regularly flouts international rules and norms.
Australia manages a far-too-cosy relationship with another such leader.
Sue Wareham, Medical Association for Prevention of War, Cook
Politics of gas
John Richardson (Letters, September30) uses the terms "burglars" and "crooks" while referring to Australian gas companies.
On the contrary, these companies appear to have made no secret of their intention to develop a gas export industry, investing many billions of dollars to build the required facilities.
Both Liberal and Labor governments were happy to cheer them on. One must assume the politicians involved didn't foresee the local supply problems that have become apparent.
Nor did they take the opportunity to benefit the Australian community by taxing these exports at a rate comparable to that imposed by other countries.
The politicians must bear the primary responsibility.
H. Simon, Watson
Rap for Showboat
Peter Fitzsimons' gushing article ("This act will save lives", October3, p.18) glorifying the performance of an awful tuneless song with banal lyrics recited by a rapper that is so rapturously received by the crowd it "explodes" only illustrates the depths to which contemporary popular music has sunk.
If a song was so desperately needed to reflect current attitudes to homosexuality, surely the LGBTQI lobby and its hetero supporters would have appreciated the tuneful nuances contained in the Kern/Hammerstein melodic number from Showboat, Why Do I Love You? and its lyrics "Who can know the why or wherefore, when you have someone to care for?"
Bill Deane, Chapman
Another young man has killed himself on Manus Island under our watch.
How much longer will we take this? The Liberal and Labor parties are morally bankrupt.
The Canberra Times should unmask our disrespect for human life and the injustices on Manus and Nauru every day until it stops.
Thorwald Lorenzen, Googong
Anti-development groups are just putting their interests first
One would be forgiven for thinking the City to the Lake project was some sort of monstrous mega-development designed to create as much NIMBY teeth-gnashing as possible.
Opponents of the project conjure up exaggerated imagery of towering skyscrapers mere centimetres away from an infilled puddle that used to be Lake Burley Griffin.
By contrast, contemporary West Basin is depicted as a lost garden paradise — a far cry from its actual role as a carpark.
"Griffin would be turning in his grave!" they declare, as they criticise elements of the project taken directly from his plans.
In claiming to represent an oppressed majority, this group takes a leaf from the book of any small, vocal group unable to gain any traction.
The failure of the "CanTheTram" movement illustrates the level of public support to which these movements can realistically lay claim.
This fight is not a new one. Canberra has been held hostage to the whims of small anti-development groups for too long.
The Central National Area remains empty, as infill proposals are met with vicious opposition on indefensible grounds, such as a loss of surface car parking.
This has forced increasingly dense growth to the edges of the city, where these same people will drive by and bemoan the higher densities and smaller blocks, before retiring to their 4-bedroom houses on leafy quarter acre blocks, wondering why people would choose to live any other way.
For Canberra's sake, this civic selfishness must stop.
Ryan Hemsley, Wright
Hail the hospital
We sometimes hear of negative experiences at our hospitals so I would like to tell of my very positive experience last week.
From the arrival of the ambulance and its very calming ambo officer, to the prompt attention on arrival through to my discharge 12 hours later I was so impressed with the wonderful care I received from doctors, smiling nurses, specialists, wardsmen.
All of these people at Canberra Hospital were thorough and their disposition second to none.
To all of you I would like to say a heartfelt thank you.
V. Walker, Yarraluma
Weed out the habit
Congratulations to Andrew Forrest on taking a stand to cut down tobacco smoking in the Australian community.
It is well known that, despite their denials, Big Tobacco targets young people so that by the time they become responsible adults they are already addicted to the weed and then have no choice as to whether they want to start smoking or not.
They are already hooked. Raising the legal age to 21 is a good move.
Dr Alan Shroot, president, Canberra Action on Smoking and Health, Forrest
Just hot air?
The obsession with renewable energy just has to stop. Anyone with a modicum of common sense can see that renewable energy is not suited for baseload despatchable power as the wind and sun are not available 24/7.
We continue to give renewable energy priority and spend billions subsidising them.
We are turning our backs on cheap and reliable fossil fuel baseload power in the mistaken belief that we are helping the planet. Even the chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel has said that Australia's carbon emissions have virtually no impact on the climate, so why are we putting the economy and our future, in jeopardy with renewables?
If mindlessly following the Paris Accord is going to place severe strain on the economy, then the Turnbull government should follow the lead of US President Donald Trump and place the interests of the country first by withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.
Before we spend another red cent, a royal commission needs to be convened to test the veracity of global warming claims, and whether there is any compelling reason to have a clean energy target at all.
Alan Barron, Grovedale, Vic
Having represented whistleblowers in the US for more than 25 years, I can say that Richard Mulgan, opining from his academic perch, is wrong on many counts. ("Pushing the limits of whistleblowing laws, Public Sector Informant, October 3, p.16).
One point in particular that concerns me is his claim that "a formal whistleblower regime" should be a last resort over voluntary programs. A formal whistleblower regime – not a voluntary one – is the only way to "instil trust and mutual respect for the common interest," as he puts it.
Employers must face sanctions and be required to compensate whistleblowers if they retaliate against them, otherwise no trust is ever developed because voluntary rules might not be enforced.
And the only "common interest" that most companies have is an interest in making money.
To benefit everyone's interest, Australia should enact laws that protect and reward those who have the courage to speak out about wrongdoing.
Erika Kelton, Phillips & Cohen, Washington, DC
Not so lucky
Julie Bishop has been criticised for using taxpayers' money to attend last Saturday"s AFL grand final.
According to the media, she was able to justify this by virtue of being a partner of the AFL.
Fair enough. But what about those unfortunate punters seen on the television news holding up banners and placards begging for tickets to the game?
Were they able to obtain tickets?
Also, what about the hundreds of North Queensland Rugby League fans who were apparently asked to pay about $1000 in airfares alone to travel from northern Australia to Sydney to attend Sunday's NRL grand final?
Apparently the airlines were disinclined to offer much in the way of subsidised travel for Cowboys fans. These people are taxpayers too.
Andrew Rowe, Florey
Spreading the love
Due to the ubiquitous and loquacious Mr Abbott's publicity, I will be downloading Macklemore's Same Love as a Christmas present for all my friends and rellies.
John Galvin, Weston
TO THE POINT
Instead of reciting The Lord's Prayer at the start of parliamentary sessions, perhaps our politicians could look each other in the eye across their respective chambers and audibly remind themselves of Sir Walter Scott's couplet from Marmion: "Oh, what a tangled web we weave When first we practise to deceive."
Ted Tregillgas, Flynn
What next for Barcelona – the Spanish Inquisition?
Thos Puckett, Ashgrove
GUNS AND IGNORANCE
So the Las Vegas shooter was not the foreign terrorist expected in all the babbling US media reports.
He was instead a 64-year-old native.
By demonstration, this was an ignorant, narcissistic, gun-toting guy who cares not who he hurts. That's the profile.
Roy Darling, Florey
ABBOTT LOSING AGAIN
It's a pity that Tony Abbott wants to be on the losing side of every step forward.
Michael McCarthy, Deakin
When I read that there was a taxpayer funded Bishop travel outcry I thought I was reading a paper from years ago but it was a Bishop all right, just a Julie rather than a Bronwyn.
This brings up the thought of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic — the travel boat is still sinking.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic
THE RIGHT TO BE SHOT
Thank God America has the Second Amendment, and its citizens' rights to be brutally massacred are firmly protected.
Peter Dark, Karabar, NSW
TIME TO TALK, AMERICA
One 64-year-old retired man with 10 rifles shoots and kills 58 people and injures 515 others at a Las Vegas music concert and the White House says now is not the time to discuss gun control.
So when's the time to talk gun control in America?
Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW
Mike Harding (Letters, October 2) asked how the outrageous water costs can be justified.
Haven't you heard about the light rail Mike?"
Mary Robbie, Aranda
THANKS, MR HOWARD
The entire Australian population should salute our ex Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, again.
Thank you Mr Howard for your action on gun control.
Mokhles K Sidden, South Strathfield, NSW
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