If Malcolm Turnbull and his government can tell consumers to compare electricity prices, why can't they use their access to hundreds of skilled public servants and huge computing capacity to do the comparison for us?
Then they could tell us, region by region and household type by household type, where to find the best deal. That would be government representing the people.
Instead, we get a PM and a government playing quizmaster, asking the question but refusing to tell us the answer.
We elected them for that?
Gordon Soames, Curtin
After ActewAGL told me I couldn't have a discount on my electricity account three weeks ago because I have solar panels on my roof, today they phoned and offered me a 12 per cent discount and also a discount on my solar feed. Thank you, prime minister.
Deidre Woodger, Weston
How I cheered when I heard that I was going to be sent a letter by my electricity retailer, courtesy of Malcolm Turnbull. And how impressed was I that aged pensioners everywhere will be able to use the their smartphones to access extra information through the barcode on the bill? Utopia has arrived!
David Jenkins, Casey
Senators' cheap suit
Crispin Hull asserts that, under the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975, a suit by a citizen could result in a senator ineligibly elected last year being liable for $73,000 ("The price of dual citizenship", Forum, August 26, p2).
However, the $200 amount only applies per sitting day and only a single $200 payment applies retrospective to the suit. So senators with skeletons still in their closet would only be at risk of $200, if they cease to sit once the suit is moved against them.
I recall, in the 1975 Dismissal context, Senator Albert Field referring to the $200 per day "fine" as the reason he stopped sitting when a dubious suit under the Act was moved against him (under s44 of the constitution, for having given insufficient notice when resigning his Queensland public service job). Senator Field was a Labor Party member appointed by Joh Bjelke-Petersen to fill a casual vacancy arising from the death of Queensland Labor Senator Bertie Milliner, overlooking the Labor Party's choice of Mal Colston.
The ALP's loss of Milliner's vote gave the Opposition a majority in the Senate, allowing them to merely "defer" consideration of the supply bills (there are doubts about whether some Opposition senators would have been willing to literally vote against supply). The significance in this of Field's absence is uncertain, although his Senate biography contends that he "was known to be a strong opponent of the Whitlam government and was expected to act accordingly once in the Senate, including by voting against the government on the vital issue of the passage of supply."
Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra
Risk of disharmony
The "value of faith schools" (Letters, August 30), as with school chaplains, lies in its worth to the proliferating systems of religion. Is it to be at the expense of school education and society generally?
We are a nation welding our society from the most desirable aspects of a diversity of cultures: Not perfect, but from the mid-19th century to the present we have smoothed out a few bumps. By the 1870s the states had abandoned state aid to religious schools, believing social cohesion would not be enhanced if children were segregated by difference of faith: instead, the intermixing of Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, etc. children would enhance cohesion of society.
Since Federation our numbers increased from fewer than 4 million to 24 million; largely by migrants from a diversity of faith/belief systems holding to interpretation by their human leaders. Each faith is entitled to its belief, and have people able to attend their schools. However, governments risk disharmony by involvement: how will dispensation be affected? What proportions between the various Abrahamic religions and their disparate sects, or the Buddhists, Hindu, etc? And why foster silos of disparity?
As to Mary MacKillop, she provided education to the poorest children rather than for those already provided for. She was not befriended by her church during her lifetime. Only lately have they granted her due recognition.
Colin Samundsett, Farrer
Horror at jobs threat
"Driverless electric buses should be the ultimate goal for Canberra" was the heading for a letter written by John L. Smith (August29).
While I agree with the "electric" part, I feel horrified about destroying the jobs of thousands of bus drivers.
Yes, it's cheaper to put them on unemployment benefits but Nicholas Eberstadt's book, Men without work: America's invisible crisis, reports that many American men face a lifetime without a single day's work.
And before the conservatives accuse them of laziness, let's acknowledge that politicians won't be replaced with machines but they are choosing for that to happen to others.
However, there is always work in the illegal drug trade selling to customers whose despair is created by the ruthlessness of the powerful.
Rosemary Walters, Palmerston
Policies in pictures
Campbell's August 28 cartoon of Schrodinger's legendary cat, neither dead nor alive, awaiting High Court decision is spot on, as is Pope's August 29 interpretation of the Turnbull government's attempt to conserve its vanishing political momentum in terms of Newton's third law.
Now how about a pictorial application of the first and second laws of thermodynamics to energy and tax policy and the increasing disorder of a government isolated from the people?
Paul Edwards, Chapman
Defence of bulk-billing rates in ACT just doesn't cut the mustard
Professor Steve Robson, AMA (ACT) president, took up pen to defend his colleagues against the slights in the letter "Doctors' greed is alarming" of August 3 which, as he observed, regarded "the costs of seeing a family doctor in Canberra" (Letters, August 30).
The professor concentrated on averages and wrote, "Even though the rates of bulk-billing in Canberra are slightly lower than national standards, the great majority of visits to a family doctor in the ACT are bulk-billed.
National bulk-billing rates for 2016-17 were 78.3 and 67.9per cent respectively for Australia and the ACT (health.gov.au).
The ACT was over 10 percentage points lower than the national average.
The professor wrote, "The cost of running a practice in Canberra ... is high." I do not accept his unsupported implication that high fixed costs in the ACT justify the significantly lower rate of bulk-billing or the exorbitant non-bulk rates cited in the original allegation of greed.
Nor do I accept that "the 'Medicare freeze' initiated by Labor and continued by the Coalition until the most recent federal budget" justifies either of these two discrepancies.
The professor's response to the allegation of greed was little more than a petulant and puerile, "No we're not."
(I am one of the fortunate 67.9 per cent.)
Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor
Move on, please
In response to M.Silex of Erindale, the ACT government may be spending $22,000 on two beautiful rainbow buses to brighten our day. However the federal government is willing to spend $122,000,000, (I think that's enough zeros) for this ridiculous postal vote which may or may not be legal.
Regardless of whether you are going to vote yes or no, just enjoy the colour, long may they stay, and do stop grouching.
Jan Gulliver, Lyneham
Kilt a tough gig
I have to come out and admit that the school that I attended in the 1960s forced me to wear a dress to school.
One of the highlights of attending that school was marching with 90 of my schoolboy mates behind a pipe band playing Scotland The Brave. However there was a downside: wearing a kilt through Kings Cross on a double decker bus on the way to school was a tough gig for a 14-year-old shy lad. I am not sure that wearing a kilt affected my heterosexual preferences, or those of my fellow students.
However this "debate" is getting foolish. Marriage equality has got to happen soon.
David Bagnall, O'Connor
Falls 'jewel in crown'
It is good to see the Yass Valley Council endorsing a ban on housing projects adjoining ACT's northern border (The Canberra Times, August 25), together with your editorial ("Land Buffer zone is well justified", The Canberra Times, August 24).
It is therefore no surprise to read that surrounding land owners are angry to lose out on the huge financial bonanza that occurs with rural to urban rezoning (The Canberra Times, August 23).
Neither the council nor your August 24 editorial has highlighted one very significant natural spectacular feature – the Ginninderra Falls. This "jewel in the NSW crown" lies in NSW adjacent to the northern ACT border.
Rezoning here by the council would be remiss and irresponsible as it is the obvious hub for a national park.
Moreover, the area is fire prone and also has a number of important Aboriginal cultural heritage sites alongside both the Ginninderra and Murrumbidgee gorges and the Ginninderra Falls.
Christopher Watson, Latham
On the right track? No
Front page of The Canberra Times, August 28: "Time to make Tracks". Front page of previous Canberra Times from the early 90s; ditto. Front page of previous Canberra Times in the early 2000s; ditto.
As a politician, all you need to do is to help sell newspapers and keep the public on tenterhooks. Nothing will change.
The four-hour dawdle on the train from Kingston to Sydney is a joke. A huge improvement would simply be to increase the number of trains to and from Sydney to every two hours instead of every the current timetable.
Pigs might fly.
Vanessa Lauf, Bungendore
Tram figures lacking
R J (Bob) Nairn (Letters, August 16) asks about patronage modelling for the Civic-Woden tram.
Bob, don't hold your breath. I was concerned about the apparently weak impact of the Civic-Gungahlin route on public transport use – the business case showed it bringing just an extra 1500 passengers ACT-wide by 2031 (p73). So I sought information about the patronage modelling from the ACT government. Minister Corbell did not bother to respond to three emails sent in June, July and August 2016.
I finally got a response from minister Fitzharris in May this year. She stated that the government will not release documentation associated with the business case. Looks like information about how our rates are being spent is now a state secret.
So Bob, even when patronage modelling for Civic-Woden is released, there will be no way of knowing if the numbers have any credibility.
Michael Plummer, Watson
Centre our business
How disingenuous of David Marshall, ACT Tourism Advisory Council chairman, to say to the ACT government: Make a $160 million contribution to a new convention centre and then "get out of the way".
That is taxpayers' money that Dr Marshall is talking about and we taxpayers would have every right to expect the ACT government to "get in the way" if making such a contribution.
Given the apparent demand for convention centre business – it was reported the existing convention centre is knocking back at least 100 conferences a year because it is unable to squeeze them in – one wonders why a government contribution is required at all? If the business case for a new much bigger convention centre is really compelling, then private enterprise should be stumping up all the required funds.
If a government contribution is required to make a new facility viable, it raises the question as to whether it should in fact proceed at all.
Don Sephton, Greenway
To the point
BRING FRASER BACK
I suggest Fraser be reinstated. Fenner for the northern-most electorate and Canberra for the central electorate (to include Civic). I am sure most long-term Canberrans would be pleased to have Jim Fraser honoured again.
Brian Bell, Isabella Plains
LET'S RECYCLE CHIMNEY
Some Canberrans will agree with the view of Caroline Fitzwarryne (from Yarralumla) that the Fyshwick incinerator is a good idea. But why waste resources? We could use the Yarralumla brickworks site. It already has a chimney.
Maria Greene, Curtin
MASKING THE ISSUE
A postal vote may determine who we can marry but nuclear proliferation will ensure love with gas masks on.
Matt Ford, Crookwell
I presume the Australian Test cricket team, currently on holiday in Bangladesh, believe they're worth the money they recently went on strike over. Me, I'm not quite so confident. Mind you, it's good to have a fresh disaster to take your mind off the old ones – s44, the same-sex marriage plebiscite, electricity prices, climate change denial, Tony Abbott ...
Peter Dark, Queanbeyan
IN THE FIRING LINE
During times of war, Australia has interned alien citizens. If Australia joins the US in another war, I would expect all dual citizens, including myself, to be interned.
Nick Swain, Barton
Re. Father Robert Wilson's letter (August 26) espousing that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman. If that is so, maybe he can explain why Jesus Christ has so many brides?
Hugh McGowan, Holt
We can't change what happened in the past but we can be honest about it. Captain Cook did not discover Australia. Let's get it right!
Janet Rickwood, Greenway
Well what do you know, the music has long stopped, but nonetheless there's always a chair for the chosen ones ("Hendy named to Commonwealth Grants Commission", August 30, p2)! "Between craft and credulity the voice of reason is stifled" (Edmund Burke).
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan
WATER CHARGES MOUNT
I refer to Paul O'Conner's letter (August 31) about water charges. Icon is charging a high price for supplying water to our households in the ACT. For many pensioners it has become even worse as there is no more discounts available for them.
Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt
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