Furthermore, ACT Health's own Clinical Review Committee concludes "there were missed opportunities to clarify the patient's diagnosis and to offer more assertive treatments. The clinical significance of the patient's deterioration ... was not properly judged and family concern was not acted on".
I despair when I see the paltry response from the ACT Health spokesman that the "service would continue to review and update procedures in line with an internal action plan". What a joke. Don't they realise that someone has died? The coroner concludes that "any link between ACT Mental Health's failures and Mr Zovak's death would be speculation".
Many of us who have struggled in vain to get adequate care for our family members from ACT Mental Health beg to differ.
Rosslyn Williams, Holder
Bed taken for public
The article "Hospital plan means more jobs and staff" (June 23, p3) by John Thistleton mentions an agreement between the Little Company of Mary Health Care and the ACT government. This agreement will apparently make the existing private hospital available for additional capacity for the public hospital.
Those with private insurance should take warning that this kind of pact already exists between the public and private hospitals. During the past few days I was admitted as a private patient for an overnight stay at Calvary John James Hospital, only to find myself bedded down in a non-surgical bed for the whole period in a day surgery ward due to acceptance of public patients into the private wards.
Obviously, all our hospitals are in need of sufficient capacity, given the constant increase in population, but the government hides the fact that they have never been able to provide sufficient capacity (beds) in the public hospitals unless the private hospitals provide them.
How much is that costing? And was it agreed by the private hospitals that downgrading private patients to inferior day surgery beds and wards would be acceptable? Money talks of course: your money.
In the meantime the government fills the town with more and more people, building more public housing and wasting heaps of money on political agendas, eg, light rail, that adds to a never ending mounting debt. Surely, after 14 years of Labor/Greens, it is time for change.
Frank Scargill, Macarthur
Local shops defended
I have to take issue with R.S. Gilbert (Letters, June 23) when he claims that in Canberra there is no such thing as a "local market", only the Canberra market as a whole.
For many people, the local market for grocery shopping is very important; for example for the elderly, the poor, the disabled, the mothers of very young children without a second car in the garage. These are the very groups who are often marginalised and who feel invisible to the planners and decisionmakers.
As to whether another government inquiry is merited into competition in particular Canberra suburbs, I'm not sure that it would achieve anything. It is closely related to the vibrancy and life in individual suburban areas, which would be beyond the scope of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, but is within the ambit of the ACT government to consider when allocating funds to projects other than light rail.
Kathleen Calvert, Downer
Consumers to lose
I have been a long-term customer of SuperBarn at Wanniassa and feel that once again the customer is to be disadvantaged by the takeover of SuperBarn by Coles. The supermarket duopoly again narrows the choice for the customer and regardless of shopping habits, choice is no longer in the equation.
Many will have chosen to shop at SuperBarn because they do not like the dominance in the marketplace of Woolworths and Coles. The ACT government says that the customer will not suffer, but of course that will not be the case at all. If Aldi has a site near to where you live that may then give you an extra choice, but over many years SuperBarn has been serving their customers well throughout Canberra.
I hope that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission looks very closely at this takeover before giving their final sanction to the offer that Coles has made to SuperBarn. Not only will the supermarket customer suffer with this decision but so will the surrounding shops at the various sites around Canberra.
It would be a travesty to see viable smaller centres suffer because of this latest ploy by one of the supermarket giants. Canberra residents need to be better served than this.
Neredah Crane, Monash
Train older cyclists too
It's great that a system devised by a Canberra school teacher is helping schoolkids ride cycles safely ("Safe cycling program garners global praise", June 23, p3).
Something must be done to reduce the maiming of cyclists. Official statistics indicate cyclists account for a wildly disproportionate third of road injuries entering hospital through our overstretched emergency wards.
Clearly a focus on the young isn't enough. Who's going to save all those incompetent older riders already conned into dicing with 2-tonne steel monsters on our roads by our "Don't worry; it's good for you" urgers?
Perhaps train adult on-road cyclists too? A licence fee could pay for it. Training could remind them of road-cycling's inherent dangers: vehicles travelling substantially slower than the traffic create a real hazard (tractors, mules, etc are often banned); small/different equals very hard to see; having no protective shell (like cars offer) maximises injury; high-viz/reflective clothing is essential.
Michael Jordan, Gowrie
Arguing that gays can't get married is like arguing that women soldiers can't serve on the frontline or that an Aboriginal girl can't be Princess Elsa because of her skin colour. We need to end segregation.
David Grills, Kambah
Politics of team Australia expose limitations of right to free speech
My family are avid watchers of the ABC's Q&A program. We enjoy its unpredictability as much as the responses of the audience and the panel.
While rather startled by the appearance of Zaky Mallah and the exchange between him and Steve Ciobo, we were surprised by the apology by Tony Jones after the exchange. Next day, the response by Tony Abbott outraged us even more.
While [not] supporting the wacky views of Mr Mallah, IS or similar terrorist groups, we are concerned by the suspected attempt by the government to muzzle any comments that question its policies.
I have been in a country where the free expression of contrary views can land you in jail or even worse. The last thing I wish to see in Australia is a similar situation.
The ABC charter requires it to reflect all views of the community with as much impartiality as is practicable. The Coalition and its supporters are on record as highly critical of the ABC's so called "leftist tendencies", but they must learn to respect the broadcaster's independence. To do otherwise is to risk a serious decline in the authority of the ABC as a voice of the community. It is also a serious attack on freedom of opinion of ordinary citizens.
Gavin O'Brien, Gilmore
The reaction of Tony Abbott and his team to last Monday's Q&A reveals the low opinion they have of the intelligence of the electorate – like the courts, we clearly cannot be trusted to make the "correct" decisions. Their campaign to muzzle opinion and banish the messengers under the simplistic slogan "whose side are you on?" shows them to be a much greater danger to democracy than the zealots they target.
Adrian Gibbs, Yarralumla
Carte blanche for PM
I really don't understand what the fuss is all about ("New laws on terrorism could be retrospective for dual nationals", canberratimes.com.au, June 24). On the one hand we have the Abbott government wanting to do away with the rule of law in order to punish those suspected of being terrorists or terrorist sympathisers, by removing their right to the presumption of innocence; their right to confront their accusers; their right to a trial by jury; their right not to be subjected to the tyranny of retrospective legislation and their right not to be stripped of their citizenship by executive fiat, based on anonymous hearsay.
On the other hand, we have a few lone voices protesting that the proposed changes represent a pre-emptive attack on the very heart of our democratic system and the human and legal rights that our Constitution bestows on all of us.
If we really trust our politicians and are happy to casually do away with the rights and privileges of our fellow Australians, then surely we should be happy to give up our own?
It's simple really. Let's pass a law that says whatever Tony Abbott says is the truth and that we agree to do whatever he wants without argument. We won't need parliaments, oppositions, political parties, courts, a judicial system, lawyers, lobbyists or the media if we do that. We won't even need to think for ourselves because we'll have Judge Tony and his secret police to watch over us. There: no fuss; no bother; all fixed. And just think of how much money we'll save!
John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW
Open season on truth
As with all other political "tragics", I have keenly watched as both sides of those involved in the Killing Season seek to justify their roles and explain why the actions they took were necessary in the interests of the country, and also no doubt their own.
However, the more I watched, the more I realised there are always three sides to every story, your side, my side and the truth.
That's not to say those involved were deliberately lying, although doubtless numbers of them were, but rather they were recounting the events from their perspective and their memory.
While it would be fascinating to know the third side, regrettably that true story will probably never be publicly told.
Ian De Landelles, Hawker
Enemy by degrees
It seems that with the help of United States air strikes, the Kurdish militia YPG has been able to seize from the Islamic State the Syrian border town of Tel Abyad ("Kurds triumph over Islamic State but Syria left exposed", June 23, p7).
Curiously, YPG is a branch of the Kurdish Workers Party PKK, which has been designated a terrorist group by the US and the European Union. This is not the first time that the US foreign policy in the Middle East has recalled the old proverb "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".
Sam Nona, Burradoo, NSW
I watched ABC's Four Corners program on Monday night with increasing horror and disbelief. Here are people who in reality tick all the right boxes – they are innocents, they are god-fearing, and they are hard working and successful. But because of the world's crazy prejudices, they are perceived to tick all the wrong boxes – their religion is seen as a threat (they are Muslims), their hard work and success as businessmen and traders is seen as unfair competition for their Myanmar neighbours, and the fact that they are innocent of any crimes is seen only as "an inconvenient truth". On top of all that, they are painted as "boat people".
No wonder our upright Christian PM says of helping them: "Nope. Nope. Nope". So we, and apparently the whole world, have elected to ignore them. If all Australians (including our Muslim youth) were to galvanise ourselves and our government into rescuing the Rohingyas, we could sponsor them to come here and settle. There are fewer than 150,000 Rohingyas , so while an ambitious undertaking, it would not be an impractical one.
As well as an inspiring and very special humanitarian gesture, such a move would also be in our own self interest. We would establish our credentials as a good neighbour in our region of the world. We should gain about a 100,000 good Australians. And perhaps most importantly of all we would give our idealistic Muslim young people a truly inspirational cause to join – a cause that IS could surely never match!
Derek Emerson-Elliott, Theodore
Shortest day's date depends on poles
Simon Hruza (Letters, June 23) seems confused about the shortest/longest days. The shortest day in the northern hemisphere is, in fact, in December. The shortest (or longest) day is determined by the occurrence of the solstice, which happens in June and December.
The actual solstice lasts for only a brief moment of time, when the poles of the Earth are at their nearest or farthest position from the Sun. The solstice can occur on any day between June 20-22 or December 20-22; this year (in Sydney, based on AEST), the winter solstice fell on June 22. However, in the previous three years, and in the subsequent three years, it falls on June 21.
Times and dates of the solstice, of course, vary throughout the world, depending upon the time zone. For example, under Universal Co-ordinated Time, the solstice does not occur on June 22 in any year between 1971 and 2203.
Nick Stevens, Cook
Wind woes not hot air
Phil Tubman (Letters, June 23) is right about proximity to wind farms and their degree of acceptance. This is a conflict-ridden topic.
If city armchair greens had these monstrosities constructed relatively close to their homes, and they were also thumping around in the night disturbing their sleep, it would be a different matter altogether.
Some paid hosts of turbines have also come out about the problems they are experiencing.
Murray May, Cook
Ochre hues tame wind
A significant reason why wind turbines are undoubtedly visually intrusive is because they're painted bright white.
A simple change to say, Payne's Grey, maybe with a touch of yellow ochre, would attractively soften their visual impact from many viewpoints.
Jack Kershaw, Kambah
TO THE POINT
GIFT THAT GIVES TWICE
I have sorted out my Christmas gift to those few friends who still vote Labor. A boxed set of The Killing Season.
REAL RUDD REVEALED
Once upon a time, as in all good fairy stories, I was a supporter of perfectly coiffured Kevin Rudd. But as time and his own actions revealed, the only person Rudd was concerned about was himself. We in Canberra know the real Rudd.
Cynthia Moloney, Yarralumla
PARKS FOR PENSIONERS
"Park benches" seemed to be the phrase on politicians' lips last week; then I realised they were talking about "part pensioners". But it's park benches part pensioners might be parking on, despite politicians' clever words about how no pensioner will be worse off under any government they lead.
Annie Lang, Kambah
ONE COUNTRY ENOUGH
Why do we allow dual citizenship? Surely you are either in or you are out.
Phillip Owen, Forde
May I call the attention of Simon Hruza (Letters, June 22) to a technical error?
In the northern hemisphere, the shortest day, the winter solstice, falls on December 21 (or perhaps 22). June 21 (or 22) is the longest day. The Sunday Times travel section runs lots of ads to cure his birthday melancholy.
Brian Robinson, Wanniassa
June 21 is absolutely not the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, despite Simon Hruza's claims of the Americanisation of Australia. It's the longest.
Believe me, the sun rose before 5.45am and set after 9.30m hereabouts. I hope he had a happy birthday, regardless.
Rachael Thew, Geneva, Switzerland
SAWN-OFF FLAG POLE?
The response to yet another mass shooting in America is to ban a flag. How about banning guns?
Anne Willenborg, Royalla, NSW
NEPAL STILL NEEDS US
Melbourne woman Gayle Murphy has raised more than $15,000 for iron roofing for Dhadakharka, one of the villages in Nepal in dire need of help. What are the rest of us doing?
Sheelah Egan, Hughes
ABC BACK-DOWN ERROR
The ABC showed lack of judgment in apologising for lack of judgment.
Mike Hettinger, O'Connor
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