Three years ago this week The Canberra Times graciously published a letter from me about the third anniversary of the introduction by the Rudd/Gillard government of the policy of indefinite, mandatory offshore detention of asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat. A policy which was later enthusiastically adopted by the Abbott government.
In that letter I said there was little hope, on that doleful third anniversary, that any member of the Labor or Liberal party returned to the Federal Parliament would reflect on their personal responsibility for the range of grave harms suffered by the men, women and children abandoned on Manus and Nauru.
I nevertheless asked in my letter whether the ACT's quota of federal representatives would maintain their silent endorsement of this illegal and immoral policy for a further three years.
I further asked, if that was their intention, which we now know it was, would they advise the residents of Canberra, their constituents, if a time would come "in say another one, three or six years when the people detained on Nauru and Manus Island will, if Australia is to retain any self respect or moral standing, need to be released".
It is now six years since the policy of indefinite mandatory offshore detention was implemented. Surely it is well beyond time that those that we have elected to represent us explain for how much longer they intend to lend their personal support, on our behalf, to the maintenance of this obscene policy.
Jon Stanhope, Bruce
Alcohol risk exaggerated
Isolated and potentially selective snapshots can be of limited to no use, especially when they ignore official data.
While there is little doubt hospital emergency departments will be busier for a raft of reasons on Friday and Saturday nights, your piece 'Alcohol harm revealed' (July 18, p1) may give readers the impression that alcohol is a leading cause. In fact, it is not.
According to annual Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data, collected from all EDs nationwide, in the ACT over 2016-17 there were a total of 143,860 ED presentations. Just 765 were alcohol-related. That's 0.53% of total presentations. This is below the national average of 0.6% for the same year.
Previous data in the ACT, from 2014-15, reveals that the proportion of ED presentations that were alcohol-related are falling. In that year, of the total 129,961 ED presentations, 789 (or 0.6%) were alcohol-related. Data is not available for 2015-16.
While a trend based on two years is not possible, the available official data suggests alcohol-related ED presentations are not only few, but falling in the ACT, which is mirrored across the country.
While a trend based on two years is not possible, the available official data suggests alcohol-related ED presentations are not only few, but falling in the ACT, which is mirrored across the country.Brett Heffernan, CEO, Brewers Association, Manuka
The snapshot study cited in the article is also flawed in methodology. It pointedly states that any presentation where an individual consumed a drink in the previous 12 hours was deemed to be alcohol-related. This is not only bereft of any scientific rigour, but makes no practical sense.
To be clear, no-one wants to downplay the significance of alcohol-related cases. Even 0.53% of ED presentations where alcohol is a factor, is 0.53% too many.
But the over-hyped notion of a crisis or sensational claims of masses of ED presentations due to alcohol, are factually wrong.
What we need is some perspective when considering these important issues. The full picture, based on comprehensive official data, should be part of that story.
Brett Heffernan, CEO, Brewers Association, Manuka
The real estate expert Lucy Bladen consulted for her article "Canberra the most pricey capital for renters" (July 11, p3) seemed truly mystified that high rents for unit-titled properties defied the fundamentals of supply and demand.
It is no mystery to owners and renters of such properties; it is the result of the Barr government's 2017 rates and land tax assault on them.
The same people brace themselves for the upcoming bills containing the latest assault which combines the bizarre method of 2017 (which lacks any valid case to support it) with the addition of separate tax scales that are higher than block-titled properties at every point.
All just part of ACT Labor's tax reform program, its "war on the poor".
Peter Bradbury, Holt
Cats are killers
Whilst it is acknowledged that the work Ms Doelle and others are doing to collect stray cats in Canberra is valuable ("ACT cat plan leaves rescue groups out in the cold as stray populations grow", July 8), it is surprising to read her statement that there is no research on how cats are affecting Canberra wildlife.
In fact, Canberra is the location of one of the few comprehensive Australian (and international) studies of predation by domestic cats by D.G. Barratt.
His study found that over 67 species of prey were caught by domestic cats, with small introduced mammals caught most often, followed by birds (27 per cent, of which 14 per cent were native), native reptiles seven per cent, native frogs one per cent, and native mammals one per cent.
Further research was also provided in the article by Steve Evans ("Killer pets on Canberra death spree", canberratimes.com.au, July 10) showing just how extensive the effect is.
It is encouraging to see that the ACT Government is engaging with the Canberra community on the issue of cat management and that so many people were involved in the recent consultation, which will hopefully lead to improved outcomes for cats, their owners and our native wildlife, most significantly with the expansion of cat containment across the whole of Canberra.
Matthew Frawley, Kambah
The tram question hangs
So, a "Tram question hangs over economy", (Editorial, canberratimes.com.au, July 15). That is some understatement.
Given that Stage 2 is now a "captain's pick" with absolutely no thought to fiscal consequences some taxpayers might call that arrogance in the extreme.
Marie Antoinette had nothing on the prima donnas running our government.
While trams may be a work of art in the eyes of one local journo, they are slow, inflexible, of limited capacity, outrageously expensive and already outmoded technology.
Even if the government bothers to commission one, a business case for Stage 2, based on a light rail solution, will not be good enough. What is needed is a complete re-think of the best mass transport options for Canberra, given the technologies available now and, especially in the future.
There needs to be another study, like that done in 2012 for Stage 1, which compared a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system to a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, the latter being costed at half that of the tram.
M. Flint, Smart Canberra Transport, Erindale
Pru is still a mystery
Pru Goward's piece on pill testing ("Pill testing is a dangerous distraction", July 11, p. 20) shows her to have been one of those infuriating politicians who tell you so many things you want to hear and who appears to understand and even sympathise with your position.
But then you leave a meeting, as I did her article, wondering where you ended up. Turn our attention, she urges, to "pathological drug abuse, which really would be making inroads into many wicked social problems Australian governments struggle with but over which they have never prevailed".
She is absolutely right. Our policy response to drug abuse is implicated in virtually all of Australia's most intransigent chronic and costly social problems. But I'm blowed if, for all her apparently empathetic, and understanding words, she comes up with any practical course that would have done better than pill testing in saving the life of Joshua Tam who died at a music festival last December.
Framing drug policy that minimises harm to users, families and the community is not for dilettantes.
Bill Bush, Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform, Turner
Oh no, Scomo
I didn't think it was possible for Scott Morrison to sink any lower. This is a man who denies we have a climate crisis, who imprisons and demonises asylum seekers, refuses to accept Newstart and other government payments are too low to live on, and who thinks a budget surplus means a strong economy.
But he has managed to surprise me. By accepting a dinner invitation from Donald Trump and describing Trump as "a strong leader, who says what he's going to do and then goes and does it", he has demonstrated that there is absolutely nothing he will not stoop to.
I am utterly ashamed that this is the Australian Prime Minister. Being Australian used to be source of some pride, but now that we are represented by this man, I can only apologise to the rest of the world. Those of you who voted for the LNP at the last election should hang your heads in shame.
Anne McCourt, Lawson
TO THE POINT
ANDREW'S ECONOMIC THEORY
A rising price should cause people to switch to lower cost alternatives, or to change their spending patterns. So it is for rates. Those complaining the ACT government is charging too much are missing the price signal. They should either leave Canberra, downsize, move to somewhere more affordable, or save money elsewhere. Don't they believe in market economics?
Paul Wayper, Cook
TRY THE PASSIVE DEFENCE
Never mentioned in any discussion of Australia's defence policy is "social defence". Brian Martin says: "social defence is a nonviolent alternative to military defence, based on widespread protest, persuasion, non-cooperation and intervention to oppose military aggression or political repression". Civilians can learn how to devise ways to deny an invader the capacity to overcome resistance. If we are to avoid accepting an exclusively military approach, we need to include social defence.
David Purnell, Florey
FREEWAY? NO WAY
I've just returned to Canberra after many years elsewhere. It has matured and there is a real buzz. I have noticed though that whilst there's been a lot of development some areas of the city have been neglected. One is the freeway from the southern suburbs to the Barton highway. Apart from the different road surfaces, the rubbish and the dead animals, the 90km/h speed limit is ridiculous.
Michael Finck, Chapman
I sympathise with Alison Gerrard (Letters, July 17, p19). How things have changed, and in this case not for the better. I have lived in Canberra since 1968. Back then when your turn came up on the government housing list it was an exciting event you shared with family and friends. You were expected to look after the house and grounds to a reasonable standard. The government housing people would never accept what Alison describes.
Val Walker, Yarralumla
IS MOTH AT RISK?
Re all the reports about infrastructure building projects being held up because of the endangered golden sun moth. It appears that it's habitat is all over the ACT. If that is the case then how is it endangered?
Ken Wood, Holt
A FIRST WORLD PROBLEM
Re: "New Team to crack down on off-lead dogs" (July 17, p6) and the fines from $150 to $2400. The priority is wrong. How about a team to engage with the many homeless on our streets to connect them with services and to support them. I know there is no revenue involved with this initiative... just compassion.
Nic Manikis, Queanbeyan, NSW
MARX AND THE MOON
In July 1969 much of the world's population was ground down by poverty or Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism. The moon landing meant nothing to them. I was around at the time and was well aware of the minority status of us moon landing watchers.
Stephen Holt, Macquarie
With reference to the article "Housing data busts Canberra myths" (Thursday, July 18, p3), it is absolute nonsense to compare Canberra with other states. If comparisons are to be made they should be made with reference to other cities.
Geoff Nickols, Griffith
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