The recent Senate estimates hearings have elicited some interesting information about the Christmas Island refugee detention centre. The centre was opened by the Prime Minister before the last election at a claimed cost of $1.4 billion to house the hordes of refugees who would come to Australia if those already in detention were allowed to receive urgent medical treatment in Australia.
Of course the hordes did not arrive and the centre remained empty for several months, apart from over 100 staff with nothing to do.
From September the centre has housed a Tamil family of four who were seized from their home in Biloela, Queensland. At least eight cleaners and six gardeners are employed to look after this family, so at least the centre should be neat and tidy.
It costs nearly $5 million a month to operate the detention centre - a huge amount of money to keep one family in solitary confinement.
They could be accommodated in a top hotel in Sydney for less than $30,000 a month. A couple of security guards might cost another $30,000. This would save taxpayers over $4.9 million a month. There are so many good things we could do with this money instead of torturing an innocent family.
Charles Body, Kaleen
It's time to talk
After a mass shooting in the USA, the National Rifle Association and others come out say, "Now's not the time to talk about gun reform - we need to be strong and pray for the victims and their families". Right now in Australia, with the dreadful fire and drought emergencies, I'm hearing similarly lame comments in relation to meaningful agricultural reform and dealing with the effects of climate change. Of course our thoughts are with the victims and their families, but when it comes to the right time to take real action to address the issues behind these disasters, if not now, when?
Keith Hill, Isaacs
People's water priority
Despite the unprecedented drought, record low inflows into Canberra's reservoirs and no sign that weather patterns will soon change, Icon Water and the ACT Government seem to be in a state of wilful denial.
Perhaps this situation is aggravated by the fact that the privatised Icon Water is conflicted between revenue objectives and what should be its prime purpose - ensuring an essential service to ACT residents.
We all deserve better from both the ACT Government and Icon. If Canberra runs out of water, there is no plan B. We don't have the option of some coastal cities to run desalination plants.
Come on the ACT government and Icon! Prove you are capable of leadership and that you have the welfare of the ACT people as your top priority.
Keith Croker, Kambah
Labor should hold course
The recent report into the ALP's election loss misses a crucial factor. The ALP were united behind Bill Shorten for three years post 2016 because they thought they could win the 2019 election. Now the seat warmers and bed wetters are doing what the ALP does best, turning on itself. Time for them to leave Federal Parliament for good. Hold your nerve, develop your policies more, develop a simple no fuss communications strategy and highlight the utter mismanagement and policy failures of this dud LNP government and you might have a chance at the next election in late 2020 or early 2021.
Graeme Rankin, Holder
Shift focus for funding?
Faced as it is by no longer even being able to discharge its national audiovisual heritage preservation mission ("History under threat in race against time", November 3, p1), after for years already losing pretty well all its public services and staff to savage defunding, the National Film and Sound Archive should try the following tack.
It should loudly emphasize publicly how much of its archives relates to farmers, "our glorious ANZACS", "the man on the land", "our boys in uniform" and funding should magically appear. Just like for the Australian War Memorial. And just like at the National Gallery of Australia last year, where the only free publication copiously and expensively produced in ages was a lovely booklet commemorating World War I by way of glossy illustrations of the art of official war artists.
Just dress the National Film and Sound Archive's iconic logo's kookaburra in a slouch hat and trench coat, Mr Mueller!
Alex Mattea, Sydney
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