The Canberra Times' editorial about school chaplains contains the line: "Religion should play no role in secular schools; this is a fundamental tenet of our education system." The editorial should have ended there.
The school chaplaincy program began under John Howard, at that familiar stage of a conservative prime ministership when the leader tries to get away with as many indulgences as possible before being turfed out, with the (all too often realised) hope that Labor doesn't have the ticker to dismantle them.
The latest rear-guard action or "campaign" by the small group of chaplaincy supporters is the death croak for this rightfully doomed program.
The minister (Yvette Berry) has absolutely done the right thing by ending it. It should never have begun.
The term "secular" is too often wilfully, and sometimes inadvertently, mistaken for "non-religious".
Secularism is actually religion's best friend, enshrining the right for people to freely practise any religion, or none.
If applied properly, it guarantees freedom of and freedom from religion.
The school chaplaincy program is a theocratic program because it installs one faith, the Christian faith, into secular government environments.
The zealots behind the program understand that most children no longer attend church, and only a third of them go to religious, or nominally religious, schools.
This is a means of trying to get to the rest of our children. It is not as problematic as Fred Nile's scripture classes in New South Wales public schools, but it is problematic nonetheless.
Much of the Times' editorial addresses the notion of getting more secular pastoral care support into schools.
By all means, devote an entire editorial, or a campaign, to that. The AEU will be right there with you.
A recent Assembly inquiry recommended exactly this additional resource. That committee was dominated by the Canberra Liberals, who are notoriously better at catastrophising about public schools than investing in them.
Minister Berry has sensibly committed to converting the chaplains into secular youth workers.
When ACT public schools are finally free from this anachronistic and fundamentally flawed chaplaincy experiment, let us all commit to welcoming more professional mental health and pastoral care support workers into our great public schools.
Glenn Fowler, Secretary, Australian Education Union, ACT Branch
Climate change is irreversible
Congratulations on an excellent editorial (Climate manifesto in age of disbelief, Nov 7).
This sentence, in particular, rang true: "Scientists, who for decades assumed facts would win the day, are now finding themselves forced into advocacy to confront the loudmouths who have elevated beliefs to the same level as facts." There are way too many such loudmouths on commercial media.
It is worth looking at the report by the 11,000 or so scientists that you cited.
It says the "climate crisis has arrived and is faster than most scientists expected.
It is more severe than anticipated, threatening ecosystems and the fate of humanity."
It also warns of "potential irreversible climate tipping points and nature's reinforcing feedbacks ...that could lead to "hothouse Earth" well beyond the control of humans.
The report rightly acknowledges the central role carbon dioxide (CO2) plays in climate change.
It then says: "Economic and population growth are among the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion ...therefore we need bold and drastic transformations regarding economic and population policies." Indeed.
One slight correction. We know what you mean when you claimed 22 per cent of energy now comes from renewables but it should have been electricity.
Unfortunately, we still have some way to go before renewables contribute 22 per cent of total energy (that also includes transport, manufacturing, space heating etc).
Jenny Goldie, Cooma
Underpayment a criminal act...
We have acknowledged for decades that crime sentencing differs between white and blue collar crimes.
The latter, usually committed by lower class people, often results in prison sentences, even for low value crimes such as being unable to pay bills.
On the other hand, white collar crimes are committed by people in the higher ranks of society and are often punished by loss of pay rises and bonuses, as is happening with the banks.
Isn't it time we addressed these differences and made punishment, including imprisonment, be imposed according to the magnitude of the crime, such as amount of money involved and number of victims?
Would under payment of wages by major stores have occurred if those responsible in this area had been aware that a prison term could be a final outcome? Is it coincidence that it was underpayment rather than overpayment?
The world is undergoing a huge knowledge expansion. Let's start using it.
Audrey Guy, Ngunnawal
ACT government lacks civic pride
Well done to Ian Kaye for calling the ACT government out on its irresponsible approach to open space and grass maintenance. It is not just West Belconnen
The open space around us in Bruce is unkempt and overgrown, including the small park right in front of our house, which is an absolute eyesore.
Our government is completely devoid of any civic pride.Rolfe Hartley, Bruce
It is not just bushfire which is a hazard.
Long grass harbours snakes. What is the ACT government going to do when someone is bitten by a snake hidden in their waist high grass?
Our government is completely devoid of any civic pride.
If they want us to be proud of our city, they have to present us with a city we can be proud of - that is why we pay our rates.
If they don't want to do that, then I suggest we get rid of our 'Bush Capital' licence plates and replace them with 'Canberra - the Shambolic Capital'.
Rolfe Hartley, Bruce
Food for political thought
I'd caution the further dissemination of the ALP's soul searching post-mortem of its May Federal Election loss (November 8, 2019).
The report's launch into the public domain represents a high water mark for transparency and accountability, yet Sun Tzu's The Art of War cautions against revealing too much.
The Art of War contends that "in making tactical dispositions, the highest pitch you can attain is to conceal them; conceal your dispositions, and you will be safe from the prying of the subtlest spies, from the machinations of the wisest brains."
ALP strategists risk over-exposing their failings and weaknesses to the Coalition's advantage.
The Coalition stands to profit from the ALP's insights learnt from a painful defeat.
Sun Tzu argues that "if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles." Lessons from the ALP's dissection of its May 2019 catastrophe allows the Morrison government to prosper on the revelations of its nemeses' strategic battle plans into the next electoral cycle.
Sun Tzu advises concealment as vital to winning. "The most refined form to give your troops is being without form or invisible.
"If they are invisible, a well-concealed spy cannot spy on them, and a wise man cannot make plans against them."
Albo, take heed before you give the future game away in 2022.
Joseph Ting, Carina, Qld
Court still 'a true champion'
Sorry Dennis Fitzgerald, Margaret Court is a true champion, her outstanding record of total grand slam wins still stands.
Her personal beliefs have nothing to do with her championship status, they are two separate issues and should have no bearing on her rightful recognition as the champion she is.
It is shameful that she has to personally push for Tennis Australia to get off its' sanctimonious high horse and issue the invitation to be present at the Open the same way that it has to that other great Aussie icon Rod Laver.
Alex Wallensky, Broulee
Reduce energy? I did it...
Fred Bennett tells us that 'he has yet to see ... the scientific community ... voluntarily reduce their consumption of fossil fuels, energy...' (CT, November 6, p17).
I consider myself to be a member of the scientific community.
My family has made great efforts to reduce our consumption of both fossil fuels and energy.
For example, 6 years ago our house was powered solely by fossil fuels. At present only about 10 per cent of the energy we use in our house comes from fossil fuels.
I have documented our household energy transition at fossilfuelfreedom.com. I am aware of many Canberra households taking similar steps.
On a broader level, a very significant proportion of the Canberra community is actively reducing its carbon footprint through, for example, installing solar PV systems and insulating their houses.
They are primarily doing this because it makes economic sense.
Dave Southgate, Bruce
TO THE POINT
FAIL TO PLAN, PLAN TO FAIL
Rather than produce a clinical analysis 6 months after an election explaining why you lost, would it not make more sense to produce one 6 months before an election explaining how you will win?
John Howarth, Weston
BAPTISM FOR A CT WRITER?
Mr Ian Warden would be greatly upset if upon entering St Paul Cathedral he was requested a baptism certificate.
Garrigues Garrigues, Giralang
FEW CEOs SEEM TO GET UNDERPAID
With the ongoing exposure of 'accidental' corporate wage theft, it would be good to know how many senior executives (eg. chief financial officers, CEOs) were also underpaid. How many were overpaid?
We should know.
Murray Johns, Aranda
OUR COAL IS CLEAN, SURELY
Surely it's not Australian that's responsible for all that pollution in India. Our coal is clean coal, or so we've been told.
Keith Hill, Isaacs
MANY FINE REFUGEES IN AUSTRALIA
Khizar Rana ('Congratulations in order', Letters, Nov 6) rightly points out that Professor Munjed Al Muderis, in being awarded the NSW Australian of the Year, is a great example of what refugees can achieve.
Perhaps the finest example of this is the current Governor of South Australia.
A former Vietnamese refugee, Hieu Van Le AC, who served as lieutenant-governor of South Australia from 2007-2014, was appointed Governor of South Australia on 1 September 2014, with his term ending in 2021. He also became the first Asian to be a state governor.
John Milne, Chapman
PIDGEON AMONG THE POPPIES
There is a First World War story that if not true, should be.
It goes that Canadian troops 'captured' three German message pigeons, sending one home with the message: "Thank you for the pigeons, they were delicious".
Bill Thompson, Scullin
I enjoy reading Ian Warden's columns, which can best be described as sesquipedalian.
John Milne, Chapman
KAMBAH LOSING OUT ON RATES
Paul Wayper (letters, November 6) may well be happy his rates payments provide him with high quality and well maintained facilities and services. However, he needs to look beyond his own backyard at the many suburbs across Canberra that haven't fared as well as his area.
My suburb of Kambah saw the government close a number of schools and sell off green space and children's playgrounds to property developers.
My neighbours and I have seen our bus services taken away, our suburban shops rezoned for housing and our community services and public facilities left to decay.
At the same time we have seen our annual rates rise at four times the cost of living. Before telling us to move to Sydney or Melbourne, I would encourage Paul to visit nearby West Belconnen and see how well maintained the green spaces there are.
On his way he can check out how well Page or Higgins have fared for their public schools, suburban shops and bus services.
J Smith, Kambah
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