The decision by state and federal attorneys-general to defer making any decision on lifting the age of criminal responsibility in Australia was nothing short of cowardly ("Criminal age decision put off until 2021", canberratimes.com.au, July 27).
For years, there has been consensus among child psychologists, health professionals and legal experts that 10 is far too young an age for a child to be treated as a criminal. Doing so only serves to embroil children in the criminal justice system and a life of further offending. In Australia, it is predominantly Indigenous children who are affected.
Most developed countries have set the age as 14, and some at 16. The Royal Commission into the detention of children in the Northern Territory recommended nearly three years ago that the age be raised. But, after yet another inquiry into the issue, governments still can't make up their minds.
Australian politicians are very good at making apologies for the decisions of their predecessors, apologies to the Stolen Generation, to the Forgotten Australians, and to the victims of child sexual abuse. Yet when these same politicians have an opportunity to do something for children today, they prefer to sit on their hands.
It is time to get real. The age of criminal responsibility is largely up to individual states and territories. It is time for those jurisdictions that see themselves as progressive and as believers in human rights to change their laws. Then the governments that prefer to treat young kids as criminals will no longer be able to hide.
Dr Kristine Klugman OAM,
president, Civil Liberties Australia
Change the law
How many of us can imagine our former 10-year-old selves in jail? And yet we allow this to happen, mainly to Indigenous children, in this country.
Our attorneys-general have decided this week against raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years in line with most comparable countries.
Early intervention with therapeutic care is obviously a way of reducing our outrageous rate of Indigenous incarceration.
Instead, after messing up their different cultural system, we hurl the children so-damaged into jail. As a result they are even more likely to damage themselves and others.
Although we can see we have caused the injury, we can't be bothered trying to spend resources on healing it.
It seems to me that we are still not convinced that "black lives matter".
Jill Sutton, Watson
I write re: reports the ACT government is suggesting that, if it survives the forthcoming election, it will reintroduce government certification of large, complex, buildings.
I presume the intention is for the government to certify "spec built" buildings (residential and commercial) where the owner is, at the time of construction, the developer/builder, before the building is sold to multiple final owners, whose interests are not protected by the current private certification scheme.
This is a good move, but it is only part of the story. "Spec built" buildings are often built without the benefit of day-to-day professional oversight during construction by architects, engineers, clerks of works, etc. The only oversight is by certifiers, either government or private, who are required to inspect the site at prescribed critical stages of construction only.
This is not enough to address many of the common defects which are currently appearing after the completion and sale of the buildings. These may result from practices which are not necessarily apparent at the time of these limited inspections. Further major changes to the system are required to significantly reduce the occurrence of latent defects in completed buildings.
Denis Wylks, Holder
Thanks to B. R. Doherty for his article "When beauty is in the eye of the storm" (canberratimes.com.au, July 26) in which he gave this reader a mellifluous escape from the harshness of words and concepts such as virus, spread and lockdown. It's not often enough that we read in the regular paper of "Wednesday waves" and the "turbulent Tasman". I'd like to add "mulled wine", a taste and concept like a warm winter hug. As I say the phrase, I can smell the spices.
Oh, and thanks also to N Killerby-Smith for his consideration of the complexity of cosmic collisions and those long masses of Magellanic streams, near but never part of the lovely Milky Way.
Glenda Naughten, Farrer
The vice president of the Medical Association for the Prevention of War ("Why is Defence Spending Sacred", canberratimes.com.au, July 25) asks if Australia's defence funding could be spent a better way and questions cuts to DFAT's diplomatic capacity.
I'm reminded of a skilled negotiator and analyst at the British Foreign Office, (A certain Sir Humphrey) who, after some 50 years, retired. He was asked what had been the biggest problem in his distinguished career.
"The War Office", he replied. "Every Friday those fools from the War Office would come rushing into my office saying there was a terrible crisis somewhere. They would demand to know what the FO would do about it.
"I would calm them down and say the FO had the situation completely under control and not to worry. It, worked almost every time. In all my years at the FO we were wrong only twice, once in 1914 and once in 1939."
John F Janke, Pearce
Who is our creditor?
The government keeps on reminding us of the huge debt it is incurring by supporting Jobs. It never tells us whom we are getting into debt to. Are they Australian banks or foreign banks? If they are Australian banks, the money will wind up here eventually. We are the ones who will have to pay ultimately. Come on, tell us who our creditors are.
Reg Naulty, Hawker
Heed his words
Criticise the World Health Organisation and its chief, Tedros Ghebreyesus, all you like. But we should all heed his recent supplication: "Your choices could be the difference between life and death for someone you love or for a complete stranger".
Before you selfishly and recklessly disregard the rules and restrictions imposed on everybody, without fear or favour, please choose wisely.
Angela Kueter-Luks, Bruce
It could be worse
A R Henry (Letters, July 28) is lucky it's only the garage that is the problem. Had the house been insulated with government-approved loose fill asbestos they would be in a far worse position. The government would have torn down the house, taken away the land and provided the Henrys with inadequate compensation. This is what happened to the thousands of ACT residents affected by the Mr Fluffy debacle.
Mary McDonald, Lawson
Crispin Hull ("How Australia must spend its dole money", July 25, p27) says Australia can't go bankrupt because it issues its own currency.
So why does the government issue bonds?
Why not issue currency instead? And why do Australians have to obtain currency via private bank loans at varying interest rates, causing many Australians to be bankrupted?
Hull says inflation goes out of control when too much money chases too few goods and services.
That misleadingly implies that inflation is due to excessive labour and other prices, ie: prosperity, when it is really caused by private banks issuing usurious loans without ever issuing the currency needed to pay the interest thereon.
That means there's never enough currency in circulation to pay loan interest. To keep the system going banks must issue ever greater loan volumes so part thereof can be used to pay interest on existing loans.
Banks use this to create booms and busts so they can force governments to enforce "austerity" (higher taxes and fewer services) on Australians on the pretence there's too much money in circulation while at the same time banks reduce lending (the money supply).
This means more people and businesses are bankrupted. The banks then foreclose, often taking properties for a few cents on the dollar.
Banks and governments can then pretend those being bankrupted were lazy, greedy or incompetent when, in fact, it is usurious banks with licences from the government to effectively print money via usurious loans that are the problem.
Ron Chapman, Yarralumla
There have been interesting reports on the ongoing conflict between the paid and volunteer firefighting forces in the ACT which, in last summer's fires, seemingly made things worse. Plagued by officialdom, including defence and local forces, the fires burnt important natural areas and caused the deaths of countless wild animals. As one who has been a forester and an ADF firefighter, I hope the ACT government sorts this out.
Rod Holesgrove, Crace
TO THE POINT
THE NEW EPIDEMIC
Not wishing to make light of this current health mess, but is there evidence of cross-species mutation? It's just that I thought this week we saw evidence at a retail outlet of mad cow disease.
Linus Cole, Palmerston
SOME FIRMS PROSPER
So, the ACT is bad for business ("ACT 'bad for business'", July 29, p1). Presumably whoever made that assessment is excluding businesses involved in erecting bloody big apartment buildings all over the place, and businesses involved in bulldozing grazing land and turning it into suburbs full of tiny houses.
Gordon Fyfe, Kambah
GOOD TO KNOW
Edward William Coon (1871-1934) was the inventor of Coon cheese in Philadelphia. He was not even Australian.
Vicki Harris, Yass, NSW
There's a sad irony in AWM volunteers being told not to speak out about the controversial redevelopment. Aren't we told every Anzac Day that the fallen soldiers commemorated by the War Memorial sacrificed their lives so that we could enjoy liberties such as freedom of speech today?
Matt Graham, Googong, NSW
SILENCE IS DEAFENING
We haven't heard much from the proponents of euthanasia, especially in Victoria, lately.
Dennis Callaghan, Kingston
1984 IT IS THEN
I always wondered which of George Orwell's books, Animal Farm or 1984, was the most prescient. With cancel culture now rampant in our streets and public discourse, and freedom of academic opinion being constrained by the courts, as evident in the recent Peter Ridd judgement, I think 1984 is the clear winner.
Ian Morison, Forrest
NOOKS AND CRANNIES
Douglas Mackenzie (Letters, July 28) opines that the Earth has no corners, because it is a globe. I submit that, on the contrary, it is all corners.
Ed Highley, Kambah
A TRIPLE ACT
Bronis Dudek (Letters, July 28) asks why US voters "put up with this clown?" Could it be that having grown up with Bozo (Bush) and Ronald Reagan, they think this is business as usual?
Yuri Shukost, Isabella Plains
THE WRONG ANSWER
It doesn't matter what the question is; the answer is not, nor has it ever been, Reagan and or Thatcher.
Jon Jovanovic, Lenah Valley, Tas
A LUCKY ESCAPE
Thank goodness "Howie", (Mr Howard Charles), is safe. No doubt his fellow committee members are relieved the Nimmity Bell did not take a human toll ("Giant bell falls, traps man underneath", July 25, p10).
Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
NAME CHANGE ABSURD
Christopher Jobson (Letters, July 28) doesn't go far enough in justifiably highlighting ridiculous racist name cleansing. All surnames, streets, suburbs, and even historical events featuring black or white need to be changed. Oh, and be careful what you call your pet.
Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla
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