Tasmanian candidate is not a Joseph Lyons descendant

I have noted recent press coverage elsewhere about the claims made by a Jim Starkey that he is the great-grandson of former prime minister Joseph Lyons and his wife Enid.

In my view Starkey, who is standing for office in Tasmania as a member of the United Australia Party, has not given any remotely convincing answers when pressed as to the truth of this claim.

The Lyons family in the 1930s. Picture: Research Centre, Old Parliament House

The Lyons family in the 1930s. Picture: Research Centre, Old Parliament House

As a great-grandson of Joseph and Enid myself, this has not surprised me. No one in my family had ever heard of him before June last year, when he appeared on the front page of The Canberra Times.

The occasion was Starkey visiting Canberra along with his wife Wendy, who in an incredible coincidence, was the great-granddaughter of another former PM, Billy Hughes.

No one in my family could find any evidence, including in the family tree prepared by Enid and Joe's son, Brendan Lyons, that supported Mr Starkey's claimed position within our family.

I was disappointed that when I pointed this out to The Canberra Times no further story was produced contesting Mr Starkey's claims.

Now Starkey has been standing for public office, claiming his "great honour'' to be continuing the "legacy of my great-grandfather'', it's important readers know they should not believe his claim to have any connection to Joseph and Enid Lyons.

Anne Henderson, the biographer of Joe and Enid Lyons, last week stated emphatically Starkey's claims were false.

I hope enough people recognise this before Starkey faces the ballot box on May 18.

David Austin, Fisher

Private sector efficiency myth

A constant source of irritation for me is the frequently stated mantra of successive federal governments that the private sector will always do things more efficiently than the public sector. I recently rang my health fund and asked for half a dozen claim forms. Today, I received six letters in the mail from the health fund. Each envelope contained a letter saying attached is the form I requested. So, instead of six forms in one envelope, there were six envelopes, six lots of postage, six letters and six forms. Spare me.

Gordon Fyfe, Kambah

Andrew is awake at last

I heard ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr say that he believes that there is petrol price gouging happening in Canberra and that motorists are being ripped off. Wow. Where has Andrew Barr been the last 25 years? There is hardly a day go by without a letter in The Canberra Times complaining about the excessive petrol prices in the ACT. Has he only just realised this now?

Anne Willenborg, Royalla, NSW

The real cost of hydrogen

Can you afford the hydrogen for your hydrogen powered car?

Commercial hydrogen production is done by steam reforming off natural gas, other hydrocarbons, and coal. It is not produced by electrolysis of water, which is inefficient due to the low conductivity of water.

The cost of hydrogen produced by steam reforming is about half the price of hydrogen produced by electrolysis of water.

Using a catalyst and alkaline electrolyte, electrolysis of water uses about 53 kWh of electricity to produce one kilogram of hydrogen, equivalent to 4.63 litres of petrol. At $0.20 per kWh (my Canberra electricity price) that is the equivalent of $2.29 per litre of petrol.

Bruce A. Peterson, Kambah

Folau entitled to speak

Israel Folau looks like he will be excluded from playing rugby on the ground that he failed to be inclusive in his views.

Perhaps he could have been a little more tactful in the way he put forward his views but he should be entitled to express them.

Corporate sponsors of rugby such as Qantas are not natural persons and only exist to make money for their shareholders. They have no place dictating public morality or what we can and can't say.

Make no mistake, this whole process is not about playing rugby. It is about denying Israel Folau his rights to freedom of religion and free speech. I urge all faith-based rugby schools and fair-minded supporters to withdraw from any association with Rugby Australia and its corporate sponsors.

Corporate sponsors of rugby such as Qantas are not natural persons and only exist to make money for their shareholders. They have no place dictating public morality or what we can and can't say.

John Popplewell, Hackett

For my part, I will not fly Qantas or attend any rugby matches in the future.

Just imagine the hue and cry if he had condemned to hell abortion and abortionists.

John Popplewell, Hackett

Student strike anything but

John Rodriguez (Letters, May 9) writes approvingly of school kids who "went on strike" to protest about politicians. Considering the kids enjoyed, with the apparent encouragement of their teachers, a half day's jollification at no detriment to themselves, their fun and games could hardly be called a "strike", an action that usually involves some sort of hurt to the striker such as loss of wages. Had they had the wit and inclination to organise their protest over a weekend and not robbed the taxpayer of several hours teaching time - were teachers docked wages for the period of the protest? - one might have more respect for them.

Bill Deane, Chapman

Price treatment appalling

As a Sri Lankan-born woman, I am appalled that two men, one white, one black, should insult and disparage an Indigenous woman, Jacinta Price.

I have heard Ms Price speak in Sydney; she spoke with clarity, purpose and determination.

I would not pay a cent to hear either Richard di Natale the Greens leader or George Hanna, the NT Greens candidate who racially insulted Ms Price, speak anywhere, any time.

By not disendorsing Hanna immediately, Di Natale gave tacit agreement to the slur.

I also wonder why the women who so passionately supported the "me too" and other gender-specific movements did not speak out for Jacinta Price. Was it because she is a woman, Indigenous, or running as a Coalition candidate? Or all three?

Christina Faulk, Swinger Hill

Do something about petrol

It is time Andrew Barr stopped all of his rhetoric on petrol pricing and did something. The companies tell us higher transport costs to the ACT are to blame. But what is the difference between transporting to, say, Wagga Wagga and Canberra?

The ICRC's report on petrol companies doubling their profit margins on the ACT consumer is pure greed and shows no respect to Canberrans.

The ACT was part of the "Legislative and Governance Forum on Consumer Affairs----Strategic Agenda 2018-2022".

One of the agreed upon strategies was:-

"Under the Intergovernmental Agreement for the Australian Consumer Law (IGA) the objective of CAF is to improve consumer well being through consumer empowerment and protection, to foster effective competition and to enable the confident participation of consumers in markets in which both consumers and suppliers trade fairly".

Which of our fuel suppliers have adhered to the last two words?

Errol Good, Macgregor

Let's follow Britain's lead

Britain, with far less sunshine that Australia, a far greater demand for electricity and still emerging from the depths of winter, has gone a week without any coal fired power. The prediction is that by 2025 the UK grid will be completely carbon-less. Not only that, they claim the cost of power with the increase in renewables will be cheaper.

Either that's all fake news or someone here in Australia is trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

Keith Hill, Isaacs

Why we vote early

Joan Milner wants someone to explain why people are allowed to vote a week before Labor launched its campaign (Letters, May 8).

It's because I, and many others, are sick of the blather and have made up our minds on where our votes will go.

The faux campaign launches have nothing to do with disseminating information; they're con jobs to fund as much electioneering on money from the public teat as they can.

Bronis Dudek, Calwell

Dutton on the way out

After stabbing Malcolm Turnbull in the back, Peter Dutton has sworn undying loyalty to Scott Morrison, win or lose.

Dutton said the $180 million to open and close Christmas Island as a stunt was "well spent".

Luckily we won't have to put up with this financial genius much longer.

After insulting his Labor opponent for her disability, I doubt if any woman in his electorate would vote for him.

Richard Keys, Ainslie

Andrew Barr has a hide

So Andrew Barr thinks fuel retailers are gouging Canberrans? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. The Barr government's been gouging ACT constituents for years.

J R Ryan, Phillip



After a lot of pain for no gain, what excuse will Bill Shorten give in three years, when there has been no change to global temperature?

Owen Reid, Dunlop


Wrong, James Allan (Letters, 9 May). Folau's church is now the Uniting Church, not the AOG.

Lynn Armstrong, Scullin


I would like to add my voice to the chorus of voters that want Zed gone. The only time we see him is when he is furiously nodding behind ScoMo at press announcements about the ACT.

Michael Lucas, Conder


I wish that the winners in the federal election would be the people. Unfortunately, the winners will, as usual, be the politicians, their parasites, power brokers and donors.

R M Smith, Scullin


Andy Brown (Letters, May 8) has called for drivers to ensure their vehicles are illuminated for safety. I support him, adding the caveat drivers need to ensure all the bulbs are working and the aim is correct. Drivers should also ensure fog lights are only used lawfully. In some circumstances they do disguise hazards for oncoming motorists.

Bill Gemmell, Holder


Caitlin Oliver (Letters, May 8) hit the nail on the head about house prices. I am of her parents' generation and agree falling house prices are to be welcomed if this enables Caitlin and other hard-working young people to achieve the dignity of a place they can call their own. A house is not a luxury.

Peter Downie, Banks


Flood plains are created by floods. People who build beside rivers must put up with the occasional flood. Taxpayers and other insurers should not be forced to subsidise their costs. Essential infrastructure should not be built on flood plains.

Viv Forbes, Washpool, Qld


If Greg Cornwell (Letters, May 10) were sincere in his inquiry he could easily have found the Greens' population policy online. It would have been too nuanced for his two-dimensional thinking, however.

Felix MacNeill, Dickson


I have wondered why Barr was reluctant to investigate apparent fuel gouging. Now I know why ("Servos hit back over pricing", May 10, p2). "Lease costs are 20 per cent above metro Sydney". Is it Barr who is gouging, not the fuel companies?

Jim Coats, Fadden


The environment is the economy, stupid. Without the environment we don't eat. It's as simple as that.

Peter Cooper, Greenway


As slips go, the ACCC's premature announcement of its decision to block the proposed merger between Vodafone Hutchinson Australia and TPG Telecom was a doozy. Result? $1 billion wiped off TPG's market value. Oops.

N Ellis, Belconnen

Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attachment. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

Keep your letter to 250 or fewer words. 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).

To send a letter via the online form, click or touch here.