The postal plebiscite seems overly complex, as well as risking a costly and time-consuming court challenge to its validity.
Instead, why not undertake detailed polling of what the voters want? NewsPoll, for example, seems to be very accurate with voting intentions using a sample of a few thousand.
So to be sure of what Australians want, engage the top 10 polling companies to each survey 15000 voters spread over 100 per 150 Electorates. Have independent experts oversee the methodology and processes adopted by each polling company.
Keep the question simple: do you agree to gay marriage: yes or no. Then collate the results, drop the highest and lowest two results to cater for anomalies, then take the average of the middle six as the result. Then take it to a vote in Parliament. Quick, simple, cheaper and incontestable.
Ian Morison, Forrest
Right from the start, let me emphasise that I completely support same-sex marriage.
What I personally do not support are conscience votes. We vote for these block-heads based on party allegiance and party policy.
When we vote we have no idea of their personal political, religious, environmental or social beliefs, or influence to political campaigners.
So their "conscience vote" can never be representative of their constituencies, and isn't that what they're supposed to be there for? The idea of a plebiscite is just a smokescreen to simply determine whether there should be a vote along party lines (we know where that goes) or a conscience vote on which we have no say or idea except for the select few who have come out in the media.
Whether it is same-sex marriage, the euthanasia bill or whatever I think conscience votes are a joke.
G. Shields, Fraser
The last significant dodgy plebiscite was in 1938 when Hitler asked the Austrians if they wanted to become part of Germany.
Plebiscites are not binding on our parliamentarians and a voluntary one for gay marriage would be no better than an opinion poll conducted by the newspapers, but more expensive. Perhaps a broader opinion poll say with 10,000 instead of 500 people surveyed would confirm that gay marriage is a goer in Australia.
Other English-speaking nations just like us, eg Ireland, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, have introduced gay marriage without any fuss so what is the federal Coalition's problem? Could the voluntary nature of this plebiscite be a precursor to the removal of sensible compulsory voting in future general elections?
Adrian Jackson, Middle Park, Vic
Liberal ambition for a voluntary postal ballot upholds the party's inclination towards non-compulsory voting – in contrast with the ALP preference for maximum participation.
Voting in federal elections became mandatory following the 1922 election, which involved less than 60 per cent of voters.
The miserable turnout of 24 per cent in our ward at a voluntary postal ballot in the recent Marion Council election does not bode well for democracy. ALP senators will do well to vote in accord with the party's inclination towards full participation by approving a compulsory plebiscite.
David D'Lima, Sturt, SA
As the civil contention continues over the planned postal plebiscite, there needs to be some honest questions raised as to why some members of the LGBT community are relentlessly demanding access to a historical term, which, by its very nature, is exclusive and positively discriminatory. To use a sporting analogy, in this nation, the term "football" is an inadequate catch-all descriptor of the array of ball sports played; we require further clarifying words such as soccer, Aussie rules.
So it is also insufficient to label both a heterosexual and homosexual union as a "marriage".
The lack of complementary sexual organs and the inability to reproduce in the latter changes the foundational make-up of the relationship. It is a true partnership, indeed, but not a true marriage, in the attested use of the word. The right way forward, therefore, is for a bipartisan championing of an alternate nuptial descriptor for gay unions – besides marriage – which can sufficiently describe their fundamental biological differences.
Such an approach, while assisting the Federal Parliament to now spend its limited time on more pressing civil, industrial, medical and judicial matters, will also give due relational recognition to gay partnerships, without reducing the concept of marriage from a familial covenant to a mere contract of consent.
Peter Waterhouse, Craigieburn, VIC
The front page of The Canberra Times (August 8) was divided between a feature on our beautiful Betty Cuthbert and our inconsequential preoccupation with same-sex marriage.
With only a small percentage of Australians attending church regularly and a growing number not bothering to get married, I cannot see the value of same-sex couples wanting to get married in church. In the mind of most the issue is simply not important. There are many ways couples all over the world can undertake a permanent relationship. The important thing is the commitment, not the ceremony.
Howard Carew, Isaacs
For what future?
At what point does democracy descend to something else?
It takes more than just the processes of democracy to ensure the will of the people is put in place.
It takes conventions and goodwill and flexibility, something that conservatives usually profess.
We had these political games played with the republic under Howard. We are seeing a rerun with the various plebiscite plans for gay marriage. Government as delay or otherwise dismantle. While climate, housing, energy, corporate malfeasance – essentially our kids' future – are ignored.
Eric Pozza, Red Hill
Bitcoin is an idea whose time has come, don't impede its progress
It was encouraging to read that Labor senator Sam Dastyari and Liberal senator Jane Hume have come together in calling on the Reserve Bank to embrace bitcoins as an official form of currency.
Bitcoin and its supporting network the blockchain will drive a tsunami of change through the financial industry in the not too distant future.
It would be wise for regulators to investigate legislation to encourage the development of these technologies and not shroud them in regulation that will stymie the opportunities Australia could gain from supporting them.
It is hoped that Australian politics doesn't get in the way of these technologies. Bitcoin and the blockchain is an idea whose time has come, it cannot be stopped.
Bill Burdin, Monash
If it was a union leader the federal Liberal government would be hysterical over the fiscal behaviour of the leaders of the CBA.
They would be frothing at the mouth and there would be a "conga line" of ministers lining up to attack the villains.
But it is businessmen, and bank businessmen to boot (who are the sacred cows of the Liberal Party), who appear not to be behaving in the national public best interest. So we hear nothing and they will probably get away with any eventuating fiscal misbehaviours.
When is the public going to wake up to this sleazy, duplicitous federal government?
E.R. Moffat, Weston
Totally agree with Mark Urquhart (Letters, August 8) concerning the lack of care for Jack Hartigan. The most eye-opening result of this government's hard-hearted decision was the Greens joining Labor in denying the family any compensation.
The Greens, a party that cares? I think not.
Assuming this terrible accident doesn't happen on a regular basis (where a child's face is terribly savaged), I fail to see why this government couldn't make an exgratia payment for special compensation (if necessary to further change the funding guidelines), especially when territory funds are channelled into so many non-vital projects.
Show some compassion.
Robyn Willimott, Aranda
Our greatest man
I have long been of the view that John Monash was not only our greatest soldier (Letters, August 8) but also our greatest citizen to date.
If it seems invidious to promote one profession over another it may help to recall that Monash was also an engineer, lawyer, entrepreneur, linguist, musician, administrator of a large state enterprise, prestidigitator, a meticulous organiser and planner on many fronts and much else.
I confess to considerable bias. On January 27, 1917, Monash promulgated a request for the production of a smoke bomb that could be manufactured in the lines and fired from a three-inch mortar. At that time smoke could only be laid by four-inch guns, which were not always available, whereas each brigade had its own Light Trench Mortar Battery, so Monash, then 3rd Division commander, had three at his disposal.
My father [9th Australian LTMB] began work on the bomb immediately, with eventual success, so that it was first used in action during the Third Battle of Ypres later the same year. In his subsequent negotiations with the Inventions Board, he was greatly and personally assisted by Monash who had had his own battles over patent law.
Dick Varley, Braidwood
Onward and upward
Unless I am mistaken, being a dual citizen does not rule you out of becoming a member of the armed forces in Australia, a distinction that assumes you will put the interests of Australia and your fellow service men and women above all else when required.
In the most extreme circumstances, members of the armed forces would be expected to lay down their lives in service for Australia.
Why, therefore, would we not expect dual citizens holding public office in this country to similarly put the interests of Australia first and foremost when required?
Surely, in a country that has transitioned from a British Empire outpost to the multicultural society we are today, it is time to bring the Australian constitution up to date.
Robert Luton, Sutton
Little Eagle at risk
The Ginninderra Falls Association is concerned about Ginninderry ("First homes for new suburb get green light", August 5) because the proposal threatens one of the last remaining pairs of Little Eagle nesting in the ACT. The previous zoning of this land for broadacre and buffer purposes supported the maintenance of native species to some extent but many species react negatively to urban proximity.
Tracking records show that these eagles tend to fly from the nesting tree northwards over the golf course estate, past West Macgregor and into neighbouring NSW.
Buildings and removal of mature eucalypts will almost inevitably discourage the Little Eagle from following this route to its northern foraging area and using the nesting tree in future. Stage eight is planned over the site of the Little Eagle nesting tree, suggesting the Little Eagle will leave.
The Little Eagle is a declared vulnerable species in the ACT, whose Threatened Species Action Plan 35 states that "Protecting nest trees, eg placing a buffer around them, is not necessarily sufficient for conservation".
The association believes a larger buffer zone is required between housing and the conservation zone proposed along the Murrumbidgee and Ginninderra gorges.
Robyn Coghlan, Ginninderra Falls Association president, Hawker
For the middle way
Thanks for the CT article on Dr Lopsang Sangay, the democratically elected Tibetan President in exile ("Leader in exile Tibetan President calls for Australia's support", canberratimes.com.au, August 6).
Dr Sangay gave a powerful speech about Tibetans' call for the "middle way" at the National Press Club today. Tibetans are seeking to end oppression and secure genuine autonomy under Chinese laws. It is disappointing that so few Australian politicians are willing to engage with Dr Sangay. Obama, while US president, met the Dalai Lama and publicly supported the proposed "middle way" approach.
Kate Waterford, non-executive director, Amnesty International Australia
TO THE POINT
COUNTING THE HEADS
The Liberal caucus meeting on same-sex marriage shows there are a few parliamentarians that will stand up, but not long enough to be counted.
Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld
Insanity is doing the same thing (attempting to enact a plebiscite on same-sex marriage rejected by the Senate) over and over again and expecting different results.
Peter Dahler, Calwell
THE RIGHT TO LIVE
Currently there's much debate about the right to die. Maybe it's time to debate the animals' right to live. What gives humans the right to casually snuff our their lives forsomething as frivolous and unnecessary as taste bud pleasure?
Jenny Moxham, Monbulk, Vic
THEY CAN'T REFUSE
Rather than starve the populace, wouldn't it be better to encourage the likes of Microsoft and Apple to make North Korea's rocket engineers a better offer?
Jack Kershaw, Kambah
MYTHING THE POINT
What were the editors thinking by uncritically reprinting climate denial myth No.9 under a picture of bleached coral?
Peter Campbell, Cook
VOTING WITH CARE
Without specifying republic or monarchy, Therese van Pelt-Penders (Letters, August 5) implies that national independence fought for and won may end in disaster. Ms Pelt-Penders may be comforted to know that Australians will take great care when they vote on the issue.
Bryan and Elizabeth Lobascher, Chifley
F. Ziolkowski ("Recycling cash", August 6) wonders whether the ACT government will claim the deposits from containers placed in domestic yellow bins. Is it possibly more likely that our bins will be scoured by enterprising strangers looking for opportunities to claim the deposits? I hope they remember to return the remainder back into the bins.
Bill Blair, McKellar
FROTH AND BUBBLE
With all the frothing at the mouth by the Liberal government members about not breaking the election promise about the same-sex plebiscite I look forward to them never ever breaking another election promise.
Malcolm Paterson, Greenleigh
THAT'S MY EXCUSE
Re "Busted" (August 6, p1). I recall some time back, from where I don't remember, that a speeding motorist replied when caught, "I am practising to be an ambulance driver.".
Brian Hale, Wanniassa
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