During the past few months many organisations have been urging the government to provide an adequate unemployment benefit after the scheduled termination of the more generous JobSeeker payment at the end of September.
The old Newstart rate was well below the poverty line of $457 a week. Newstart had failed to keep up with increases in the cost of living because it had been increased only in line with the CPI, a measure of pure price inflation, not a true cost of living index.
However, over the same time period, the minimum wage had increased by an annual average of CPI + one per cent. The minimum wage is currently $753.80 per week, whereas the base rate of Newstart was $282.95 per week as at March 20, 2020. I suggest that the new rate of Newstart after September should be maintained at the value of half of the minimum wage, or $376.90 per week, an increase of $94 dollars, which is very close to the extra amount that various welfare bodies have been asking for.
Annette Barbetti, Kaleen
The latest thing
So now we have JobTrainer. ("Skills to spur recovery", canberratimes.com.au, July 16). It never ceases to amaze me that governments continue to massively fund failed systems. No amount of short term funding and catchy titles will achieve lasting results. The whole training system in Australia needs a radical rethink, particularly for the development of skills required for high end manufacturing and new energy technologies.
We will not be able to compete in those spheres in the future unless we make fundamental improvements. Name changes do very little in the real world inhabited by smaller businesses.
Steve Thomas, Yarralumla
On the money
Congratulations on your editorial "Climate change is the existential crisis" (canberratimes.com.au, July 18).
Your words are a refreshing dose of common sense at a time when the voices of climate change denial are becoming increasingly strident, and in many cases more desperate.
The Siberian heatwave is, or should be, a convincing argument that human-induced global heating is real, and is a real threat to humanity itself.
The 2019-2020 bushfire catastrophe should also be an object lesson for the doubters and deniers, given that the 33 Emergency Leaders for Climate Action are unanimous in their conclusion that climate change prepared the path for the most destructive bushfire season in living memory, with smoke from the fires reaching New Zealand and being visible from space.
I look forward to the next grasping-at-straws letter to this newspaper from a climate change denier.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
Your editorial "Climate change is the existential crisis" (canberratimes.com.au, July 18) is both timely and vital.
The piece highlights the fact that our media have been so focused on the catastrophic threat of COVID-19 that they have failed to alert us to the evidence from Siberia that climate change is galloping ahead to threaten the very survival of human civilisation.
While we are all struggling with the pandemic, we are failing to address adequately, the more distant, but far more serious threat, that is man-made and which we could prevent if we heeded the science.
Em Prof Bob Douglas AO, Bruce
The greatest race....
While Mr Ken Fraser may consider we Scots were setting an example of ambivalence to one's fellow man with the quote "We're all Jock Tamson's bairns", (Letters, July 17); he should have balanced this with the famous Scots toast: "Here's tae us. Wha's like us? Damn few, and they're a'deid.".
This is translated by The Scotsman newspaper as: "Here's to us; who is as good as us? Damn few, and they're all dead". Maybe the Clan Fraser, despite their suffering on and after 1745, are more forgiving than we Clan Lennoxes who were thoroughly "done over" to the point of near eradication by the Campbells of Argyle after "The Forty Five"!
Lennox Bowen, Chisholm
How are we supposed to eat healthy when the dietary experts disagree about so much? While warning us off sugary content, Australian of the Year, Dr James Muecke, attacks the Australian dietary guidelines for demonising saturated fat and promoting carbohydrates ("Advice we've been fed is wrong", canberratimes.com.au, July 13).
The noted physiologist Dick Telford (Letters, July 17) agrees wholeheartedly about sugar, but seemingly with little else Dr Muecke says.
Okay, so we'll lay off the sweet stuff - but what about the main course? Are red meat and potatoes in or out?
Paul Feldman, Macquarie
Justice a joke
Having followed a number of recent trial outcomes in the ACT I have made a life-changing decision. If I ever decide to become a paedophile, cough coronavirus on police, or commit some other filthy, despicable crime I will make sure that I do it in the ACT.
Not only will the"'justice system" set me free, but I will probably be awarded an OAM for outstanding community service. The justice system here in Qld is pretty pathetic, but compared to Canberra, it is incredibly harsh. Maybe the UN can step in and get some of your judges and magistrates transferred up here to lower our standards even more?
Stuart Kennedy, Bli Bli, Qld
Give it a rest Zed
Senator Zed Seselja sounds a lot like the insurance companies attempting to dodge their responsibilities to assist their clients after the fires. ("Army was there to help, says Seselja on compo" July 16, p10).
We all acknowledge that the army was there to help and appreciate their good intentions. But, that said, if a builder was doing renovations on Zed's home and accidentally burnt down 80 per cent of it would Zed say "well, they were here to help so we'll cover the cost of all repairs. No harm done"?
He should reconsider the government's position here and budget to reimburse the ACT for the damages to the park. Maybe he can redirect some of the monies he hopes to squander on the AWM and get the rest from those funds they are trying to blow on submarines.
W Book, Hackett
Turn the tables
Sue Wareham (Letters, July 16 took Kym MacMillan (Letters 9 July) to task for stating that "a great majority of Australians support the proposed AWM makeover" by trusting the AWM's statements that "80 per cent of Australians are in favour of the plans despite just about everything pointing in the other direction".
Dr Wareham derides the (sample) survey of 514 Australians and the wording of the survey questions - rounding off that it is "the time honoured way to get the result you want - just present biased information and hide all the unwanted facts".
However Dr Wareham seemingly has no qualms with using her own biased rhetoric by injecting that the survey said nothing about the "huge controversy surrounding the proposal"? On what evidence does she does she substantiate "just about everything pointing in the other direction" and "huge". Is it the oft quoted opposition by a handful of former staff? Is it from opposing politics, media interests, or perhaps the Medical Association for the Prevention of War (membership numbers unknown?), of which Dr Wareham is president?
Len Goodman, Belconnen
Stokes is correct
AWM chair Kerry Stokes is right to dismiss criticisms of the redevelopment plans from a small group who he describes as having "special interests". As demonstrated in recent letters (including from Sue Wareham, Letters, July 16) some people will pursue their personal agendas and continue to criticise the proposal.
The AWM board is not answerable to them, but to the people and government of Australia. This is a national institution, not a Canberra facility to be influenced by a few vocal locals. The board must take a national view. It cannot, and never will, please everyone.
The visitors, and the veteran community, are the people the AWM must listen to. From what I have seen of the plans, I have no doubt that after the redevelopment, it will continue to be a place where Australians come to respect their veteran family members and learn a little about their sacrifices.
Kym MacMillan, O'Malley
On the other hand
Where did Kerry Stokes, Australian War Memorial Council chair, get the idea that "the public" supports the expansion project? I haven't seen any evidence of this and not spoken to anyone who agrees.
And as for his dismissal of so called "special interest groups" it is a poor reflection on Stokes to speak so of concerned and well informed critics of the project. His comment that if the funds are not spent on this project they will not be spent is risible. The AWM does not need this grandiose expansion.
Eric Hodge, Pearce
TO THE POINT
USE COMMON SENSE
Notices have appeared in my suburb asking motorists to slow down as there are walkers and cyclists on the road. Surely we should instruct walkers not to walk on the road. There are footpaths available. We should also reduce all speed limits in the suburb to 50km/h or lower, police the speed limits, and substantially increase the penalties for infringements.
Alan Wilson, Yarralumla
MEGHAN MARKLE VP?
Joe Biden originally was going to name his vice-presidential candidate on August 1 but has delayed it. Is this so his team can vet Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex? Internet searches reveal commentary on her US longer term political aspirations.
Catherine Sullivan, Queanbeyan NSW
WE NEED TO BE SURE
The long-term effects of COVID-19 are yet to be discovered. There is apparently cause to fear some victims may remain infectious for an extended period. If so, what happens after lockdowns are lifted? Will some people pose an ongoing risk to the community?
Alvin Hopper, Dickson
MORE CLIMATE HYPE
The editorial "Climate change is the greatest threat", (canberratimes.com, au, July 18) misses a few salient points. Siberia is not a land of permanent snow. It is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having the world record for temperature variation: "Temperatures in Verkoyansk have ranged 105 degrees celsius from -68 C to 37 C. Move along, nothing to see here.
John Coochey, Chisholm
THE SILVER LINING
I think only COVID-19 and the economic fallout that resulted from it will save the United States, and the world, from a reelected Trump. In this case we should all be thankful to coronavirus.
Mokhles k Sidden, Strathfield, NSW
DEATH FROM ABOVE
Forget the coronavirus, I'm more worried about the magpie hotspots. I've just moved back to the region. What the hell happened to the magpies here? They are huge. They are more like flying turkeys. A mutated passerine fowl, with deadly beaks, beady eyes and mean looks. I can avoid Victorians but it's harder to avoid the flying turkeys.
John Panneman, Jerrabomberra NSW
SHARE THE KNOWLEDGE
The Russians shouldn't have to hack into other countries research for a vaccine. They should have it already. This is a global crisis. We should be sharing our efforts.
M Davis, Charnwood
I would like to express my gratitude for the professionalism and efficiency of the ACT Ambulance Service.
Having occasion to call for an ambulance for a family member, the service responded rapidly.
The staff members undertook their duties with care and compassion. They were very much appreciated.
John Milne, Chapman
The first thing I thought of when I saw the public housing towers in Melbourne was the Grenfell Tower fire in London. The fact that the buildings have narrow stairwells as well only increased my concern. Nobody should have to live in such places in affluent 21st century Australia.
Felicity Chivas, Ainslie
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