A casual remark overheard as to what the ADF was doing to help with the bushfires ("sitting on their bums") made me wonder if there is a popular conception running through the community that the ADF are doing bugger all.
Being ex-army, I knew that wouldn't be true. It also made me realise that I knew little about what the ADF was actually doing. A simple web search showed the extent of the effort that's been going on since mid-September.
More than 6500 personnel are now deployed, as well as assets and service personnel from NZ, Singapore, Japan, PNG and Fiji.
With few exceptions, service personnel aren't trained, or certified, to fight fires as firies. What the ADF does have are assets no one else has. They range from large jet cargo aircraft to massive supply ships and also include armoured troop vehicles such as Bushmasters that can drive through bushfire-affected areas.
In November an RAAF 737 from the VIP flight transported ACT Rural Fire Service firefighters from Canberra to Port Macquarie.
I don't think the message has been getting out as to the extent of the ADF effort. To find out, I suggest checking out Operation Bushfire Assist 2020 on the Defence website.
Dallas Stow, O'Connor
What a disgrace
Despite findings by the Australian National Audit Office and criticism from various people, including an eminent legal expert, that the government's controversial sports grants program could be unconstitutional, Bridget McKenzie has refused to apologise or step down.
The PM was standing by her as late as yesterday and, according to Mr Littleproud, she is "doing a damn good job".
It appears our pollies can do no wrong. Perhaps they deserve a pay rise for being "picture perfect". It appears our pollies are not prepared to admit they were wrong and just say sorry.
Phil Nicolls, Monash
It's a cop out
Regarding recent fires, it seems everyone is blaming global warming which does exacerbate fire conditions. But mostly they are saying it because they can't admit responsibility for the urbanisation of our forests and for decades of inaction to mitigate fire risks.
Now it's "the world's fault" we were unprepared when it all went up in flames.
Even Captain Cook wrote of massive fires as he sailed up the east coast. The plants of Australia have evolved and adapted to cope with fire. It's been going on for millions of years.
These big fires happen so infrequently they catch people by surprise, but they're certainly not new.
Now people will say "turn off the light, we need to save the planet". Meanwhile, in the industrially developing countries where the western world exported most of its industries and their associated pollution, greenhouses gases are released in vast quantities and remain largely unregulated by western governments.
My childhood home in Duffy burned down in the 2003 fires.
The entire southeast had been blanketed in smoke for weeks before that. We didn't blame the world for our misfortune. Yet here we are nearly 20 years later and nothing has changed.
Rinse and repeat on a roughly 20-year cycle.
The failure of politicians and "experts" to understand and act on the problem is clear. To dismiss it as a result of global warming, that somehow "society" is to blame, is merely an attempt to shift the blame from failed policies and decades of inaction.
Dave Turner, Duffy
Trump a blusterer
The editorial "Trump badly wrong on climate change" (canberratimes.com.au, January 23) sums up President Donald Trump's lop-sided view of what is happening to the planet on which he lives.
His exhortation to "reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse" both exaggerates the warnings of climate scientists and flies in the face of reality.
In the very unlikely event that Mr Trump is right about climate change how does he then explain the fact that global carbon dioxide concentration peaked at just over 415 parts per million in May 2019, a level not seen for three million years?
In the very unlikely event that Mr Trump is right about climate change, how does he then explain the fact that global carbon dioxide concentration peaked at just over 415 parts per million in May 2019, a level not seen for three million years?Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
And how does he explain the fact that average global temperatures in July 2019 were the highest recorded in human history?
I strongly suspect Mr Trump has no answer other than bluff, bluster, or diverting the discussion to a more comfortable issue.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
The right advice
Matthew Drake-Brockman (Letters, January 22 "China no friend") rails against The Canberra Times for its editorial suggesting that Australia "should work hard to maintain a strong working relationship" with China.
For mine, Matthew, I would much prefer to follow the the advice of The Canberra Times than that of the bellicose Donald Trump or his Australian lick-spittles, in particular Andrew Hastie, Christian Porter and Peter Dutton, and the retired "Brigadier-Generals" at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
At least The Canberra Times is offering some positive advice rather than the alternative by those mentioned above which increasingly advocates confrontation with China (no doubt at the behest of, and with the inspiration of, the US).
Such confrontation only serves the purposes of the United States and not the strategic and economic interests of Australia. This latter interest has recently been highlighted by Donald Trump becoming "new best friends" with China with his huge; great; large; bonzer new "trade deal" that leaves some Australian suppliers sitting on the sidelines.
Australia's interests will be best-served by a thoughtful media and by its foreign and trade and defence policy-making being taken back by those departments
Of course, Matthew, we could cut all trade ties with China and confront it with our superior military forces; that would show the devils!
Roger Terry, Kingston
Change the date
Until we find a different date to celebrate Australia Day it will continue to be a contentious, divisive occasion that causes offence to our first peoples.
January 26 doesn't even have much relevance to Australians living outside NSW. Their modern settlements did not begin when Phillip planted his flag at Sydney Cove.
Federation Day is an obvious alternative but its date on January 1 is problematic. May 1 marks the date on which Australians ceased to be British subjects: something worth celebrating?
Independence Day (when we become a republic) would be ideal but, sadly, we're not there yet.
Wattle Day, September 1, honours our national floral emblem. Centred on a symbol that comes directly from our land and grows across the whole continent, it has meaning for all Australians. As an early marker of spring and one of the first plants to regenerate after fire, wattle signifies renewal; an appropriate focus for a national day.
Wattle Day's timing at the start of spring makes it handy for a long weekend; it offers built-in symbolism; and it's consistent with our national colours. A date worth considering?
Christine Butterfield, Downer
Human rights issue
This Australia Day we urgently need to be granted a very long overdue mature debate and democratic say.
No, not about the date or Aboriginal constitutional recognition but about why, in 2020, we are still the only western democracy without a national human rights act.
Canada introduced theirs in 1960 and New Zealand did it in 1990. Why can't we be allowed a voice on this like we had on same sex marriage?
It's been over a decade since Rudd's 2020 summit and national human rights consultations. Isn't it high time Canberra actually listened to the people they claim to represent?
How many more years will we have to wait?
Jennifer Nash, Browns Plains
The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, can't look Australians in the eye and tell them what carbon emissions reduction will mean for their jobs and electricity prices ("Climate change tensions plague leader", January 21, p9).
This concern for people's livelihoods, ability to put food on the table and local identity is to be commended. Indeed it is essential for an equitable transition to a fossil fuel-free future.
But I have trouble looking my grandchildren in the eye to say why we didn't protect their future from the catastrophic effects of climate change that are now starting to become evident.
Let's rise above polarising political debate and work together to find solutions.
Dr Janet Salisbury, Yarralumla
TO THE POINT
A SLICK TRICK
So Scotty from marketing has appointed his off-sider, Phil, to investigate his deputy's deputy. How slick is that?
PJ Bewley, Barton
Re Bridget McKenzie. I dunno what all the fuss is about. Mates' rates are an Aussie tradition. How good is that?
Ed Highley, Kambah
Bridget McKenzie is the personification of absolute arrogance.
John Quinn, Spence
No ScoMo, if you have a go (submit a high scoring sports grant application), you don't get a go.
Peter Bradbury, Holt
GRETA HAS WON
Greta Thunberg should now go back to school. She has made her point.
Heather Nash, Kingston
THEY ALL PORK BARREL
The Federal Attorney-General has let the cat out of the bag to explain why a conga line of ministers came out to support Bridget McKenzie.
He says her approval process was "not unusual".
In other words they have all been using Federal grants for partisan pork barrelling.
John Hutchison, Coombs
Yes, Fred Bennett (Letters, January 22), I agree we should give ScoMo credit for the hailstorm that devastated Canberra on January 20.
Frank Marris, Forrest
LET IT BE
The accepted pronunciation of the name of the island to the south of Melbourne has always been Tas-MAIN-ia and its inhabitants are known as Taswegians.
Prior to 1856 the said island was known as Van Diemen's Land, having been so named by Abel Tasman!
Paul E Bowler (former Tasmanian), Chapman
TIME TO GO, SCOMO
Scott Morrison stepped back when he should have stepped up. Now he should step down.
Annie Lang, Kambah
THERE'S NO ESCAPE
The hail has damaged far more cars than there are replacements available for hire.
A lot of folk no longer have the means to leave when the next disaster hits.
Juliet Ward, Crestwood
VALE TERRY JONES
Another Monty Python team member, Terry Jones, has left us. His brilliance created a world of chaos, confusion, humour and "a naughty boy".
Where will we see this again? Our Parliament and politicians will provide most of this but not the humour and rarely any brilliance.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic
The ACT Government is showing the way with its zero emissions achievements. Could the destruction in the hailstorm of many fossil-fueled cars be converted into an opportunity by offering an incentive to owners to replace these with electric vehicles ?
Judith Abercromby, Campbell
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 The 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.