So, we should can the Murray Darling Plan and let the farmers take the water. Why exactly?
The plan has spent nearly all the intended money, partly on buying water, and substantially on paying for water efficiency improvements. Now the money's been handed out the beneficiaries of that expenditure want to "can the plan".
The plan has upgraded the water interests of many people. It has made rights more certain, and made them tradeable. No-one has paid for those upgrades. Now that's been done - "can the plan".
But upgrading some people's rights makes other people's access to water less reliable and less certain. The farmers who missed out, the towns who never got certainty are hurting as water prices rise. Their pain has paid for the upgraded rights of others.
Now some sufferers want more of the water. More for them, less for South Australia. More for them, less to keep the rivers alive.
So will the holders of upgraded rights let those rights be downgraded again?
Will those paid for water, and paid for water efficiency improvements, give back the money?
Or does "can the plan" just mean the winners keep their windfall gains, the losers are made good and all the intended public benefit paid for gets suspended forever?
Christopher Hood, Queanbeyan
Can the protest
Venturing out to post a parcel on Monday I heard the hooting of the "convoy of no point". I saw a semi trailer with 1950s tractors on it; presumably to remind us how stuck in the past the farmers are, and a sign saying "Can The Plan".
I think they believed that, by driving up and down our streets tooting their horns and blocking traffic, they'd somehow persuade us to sympathise with their plight. And so I was immediately curious.
First, I wondered if these same farmers had ever derided the Extinction Rebellion protesters. Surely they'd be on the same side, I thought, given they're using the same tactics.
Second, I wondered if Prime Minister Morrison is going to stand up proud and tall and tell, say, a group of environment protection officers in South Australia that we shouldn't listen to "selfish, indulgent an apocalyptic" farmers?
Thirdly, I wondered what these farmers' solution to water allocation in the Murray Darling basin is. It's easy to come up with a three word slogan; politics has been filled with them in recent years, but it's much harder to find solutions that work for everyone. If you're not going to propose a fair solution, then you don't really have a right to demand the removal of the current one.
It seems to me that most of the "failure" of the Murray Darling Basin Plan has been a failure of states and farmers to comply with it, and the failure of any regulatory body to ensure compliance.Paul Wayper, Cook
Perhaps, instead of driving through Canberra, they might drive up to Queensland to block traffic into Cubbie Station, or somewhere that isn't letting the water flow down to New South Wales and South Australia. Or perhaps they might like to do something about those farmers that are still pumping water, illegally, from the river systems that are supposed to provide water for towns?
It seems to me that most of the "failure" of the Murray Darling Basin Plan has been a failure of states and farmers to comply with it, and the failure of any regulatory body to ensure compliance.
It is hard to see that as a failure of the plan per se.
Paul Wayper, Cook
Why is it that the police facilitate law-breaking by protesters when it suits them? Trucks have been parked across roads in the Parliamentary Triangle to disrupt traffic. Far from moving them on, the police have protected them.
Meanwhile scores of protesters' vehicles are parked all over delicate grasslands. All with the aim of abolishing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
But why should we be surprised? These are people who flog their own land for private gain, then complain when it doesn't rain and socialise the losses.
John McMahon, Griffith
We can do better
Re: "Alarm as Australian school scores slide" (December 4, p8).
Your reporter articulated the fact there is grand scope for improvement in the overall performance of our nation's classrooms.
No doubt there will be many complex and vexed solutions announced for arresting the downward trend, but I think two are particularly pertinent: respect for the craft of educating and the prevalence of personal technology.
Several years ago, I visited an Australian friend who has been living in Singapore for over a decade; it was fascinating to hear him speak of how in that country the educated and those who educate were revered, not just popular athletes or vacuous celebrities.
When comparisons are made between Australia and successful school systems in Asia, we need to remember that in their civil and familial framework, teachers are respected and parents are viewed as cooperative authority figures.
Too we actively undermine such reverence. Whether it be children being allowed to casually call teachers by their first names, disgruntled parents chastising staff members for enforcing the school rules, or trying to instruct students who have never had boundaries enforced at home.
It is often not possible for hard-working educators to fully make up for what has been left out.
Regarding technology, the sheer prominence also of smartphones and their associated dumbing down of grammar through the medium of text-speak, has meant accepted rules of syntax governing apostrophes, conjunctions and capitalisation is akin to a foreign language for some students.
It is possible to often witness an upward trajectory in primary school regarding a grasp of English and STEM concepts, only to see that plateau and fade when a child receives their first mobile phone.
While more money will always assist schools, it is ultimately the family and wider social cultures working in consonance that will set the tone for a lifetime of learning to come.
Peter Waterhouse, Craigieburn, Vic
Thursday, December 5, is International Volunteer Day; a day to celebrate the contributions Australians are making in 26 developing countries in the region, through the Australian Volunteers Program.
The Australian Government has supported people like us to volunteer internationally since the 1960s. More than 15,000 of us have packed our bags, said goodbye to family and friends, and headed off in support of incredible organisations overseas.
In farewelling our own communities, we've supported communities in developing countries to achieve their goals. While our skills, experience and motivations are many, we're united by a desire to broaden our horizons, learn from others, and bring out the best in those we work alongside.
Today we say thanks to all volunteers: for what they give, and for what they bring home.
E M Avila, Viraji W.M. and Joseph Vile
Returned Australian Volunteer Network
Sam Roggeveen ("Tribalism in Australian politics", canberratimes.com.au, December 2) raises some very deep questions.
One set: have political parties outlived their utility for representative government? Have they become a way for the corporate sector to have undue influence which undermines democracy?
Second: Is the excessive partisan gaming blocking good government?
If these widely held perceptions are factors in people distrusting and disengaging from our political system, does that distrust and opting out lead us to totalitarianism? That looks like what is happening. So, one response is that we need to look at alternative ways to select and work with our representatives.
Alternatives exist. Even without using random selection of parliamentarians, there is the very liberal "voices of" method used in electorates such as Indi and Warringah.
Better ways to see if candidates are up to the job such as some way of vetting candidates against a set of eligibility criteria would also help; like a job interview that voters could use to choose between candidates additional to party policy (or these days no-policy) platforms.
P Tait, O'Connor
Death a tragedy
How dreadfully sad for the family of the 24-year-old who died at the Strawberry Fields music festival at Tocumwal over the weekend. A wasted life and a family shattered, despite the festival organisers having implemented every harm minimisation strategy available to them.
But just tell me one thing; how on earth would government-mandated pill testing have prevented the death of a young man who, according to his friends, allegedly chose to take a heart attack-inducing cocktail of GHB, MDMA and Cocaine despite all the publicity created by last year's fatalities?
Dave Richardson, Narrabundah
TO THE POINT
THE RIGHT STUFF
Re: M Moore (Letters, December 4). How does someone "earn" the right to an opinion in this country? How is an "earned" right superior to others' rights to agree or disagree? The High Court ruled in 1992 we have an implicit right to debate political issues. So, without having to earn it, Frank Bolton would still have a right to his opinion. Others also have the right to disagree with him.
Keith Hill, Isaacs
THE RIGHT STUFF 2
M Moore (Letters, December 4) writes "Frank Bolton has earnt (sic) the right to express his point of view". True, but if that point of view is wrong, others have an equal right to point out the error, be it about something critical like climate change, or as minor as a grammatical error.
Eric Hunter, Cook
SCOMO A GO GO
Does our shouty Prime Minister think the Quiet Australians are all deaf, and possibly blind as well? The deficiencies in his performance have been glaringly obvious to all in the final session of Parliament for 2019.
K L Calvert, Downer
Thanks Mark Sproat (Letters, December 4) for your suggestion I join the Canberra Comedy Festival. But I can't. That's because my "sarcasm is the lowest form of wit".
Brian Hale, Wanniassa
Hanson and Lambie; the dysfunctional duo. What a wonderful advertisement for women in politics.
D. N. Callaghan, Kingston
LEAVE IT OUT MALCOLM
Why can't Malcolm Turnbull just shut up and move along?
Mark Sproat, Lyons
Even without the body-in-fridge murder can anyone believe Australia has no extradition treaty with the nation holding at least 20 per cent of the world's people, many of whom come and go freely and frequently? It makes a mockery of any pretence at justice and security and seems purpose built to assist criminals. Economic and infrastructure planning isn't the only thing failing to keep up with our extravagant import of foreigners.
Alex Mattea, Sydney, NSW
BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE
The one upside from the saga of obfuscation and arrogance enveloping Angus Taylor is that the longer it lasts the less chance there is of having to fund Taylor's ascension to a higher rung on the Coalition parliamentary ladder or supporting him for years on end in a plum overseas posting.
Sue Dyer, Downer
Only Barnaby Joyce would have the gall, while wallowing amidst the APVMA carnage, to describe the shambles as "highly successful". It was for him. He won New England.
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan
RIGHT TO DRIVE
So, Alison O'Neill (Letters, December 3), protesters have the right to glue themselves to the road as part of their "freedom to communicate". Does my "freedom to communicate" extend to running over them to indicate my displeasure? Exercise some common sense.
N Ellis, Belconnen
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