I join The Canberra Times in praising efforts by indigenous leaders, together with commonwealth and state governments, to renew the Closing the Gap targets implemented by my government. However your Friday editorial ("Closing the gap must be a team effort", July 31, p38) failed to identify a key reason behind our nation's patchy success over recent years.
Readers would well remember how Tony Abbott's 2014 budget violated almost every promise he made in his election campaign against my Labor government. He announced plans to slash health and education budgets, abolish bulk-billing, raise university fees and shred the overseas aid budget (effectively ceding Australian influence in the Pacific to China).
What received less coverage was an announcement of page 185 of Paper Two: a "rationalisation" of Indigenous programs that cut $534.4 million over five years, and another $15 million cut to the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples.
The reality is you will never close the gap by cutting half-a-billion dollars in funding for Indigenous programs. This record makes Scott Morrison's decision on Thursday to single-out Abbott for special praise on Indigenous affairs all the more baffling.
Kevin Rudd, Sunshine Coast, Qld
Trump the danger
Your editorial of August 1 was an excellent summary of the dangers of the ever-erratic Donald Trump.
The ever-more-likely "Trump-astrophe" is what he will do if he loses the election. Yes there would be a rush to the Supreme Court, clamouring about election fraud.
The worst danger is that when he has exhausted his legal options. I fear he will refuse to leave the White House, issuing a strident call "for all True Americans to hurry to Washington to defend the White House - and bring your guns!" The man and his backers are irrational enough to risk civil war to enable Trump to hold on to the presidency.
Worse still, would the US Military intervene - or fracture into pro and anti-Trump forces? After all, the Book of Revelation is replete with war "in the last days" before the second coming. His fundamentalist "Christian" supporters would not be fazed by bloody street battles. "We have God on our side" they would say.
While this may seem extreme, think back on all the "he wouldn't dare" actions of Trump. What if Putin announced Russia would intervene to restore civic order? After all, in 1861-62, Britain (and I think, France) gave broad hints of intervening to end the first US Civil War on the basis of separate Union and Confederate governments and countries.
Rod Olsen, Watson
The reason why
It appears a principal cause of the spread of COVID-19 in Melbourne is that to make a liveable wage staff have to work in multiple places. The unsustainable "gig" economy is the consequence of union bashing by successive Liberal governments, and their unrelenting disregard for the living standards of youth and the poor.
This, combined, with their mismanagement of aged care at a National level over many years, has resulted in the catastrophe facing us all today.
Virus pandemics are a direct result of the human assault on biodiversity at all levels over the past 200 years. The coronavirus expansion in Melbourne is due to cavalier management and a disregard for human life at a Federal level.
If Health Minister Greg Hunt is so confident his, and previous, Federal governments have done such a good job with aged care I challenge him to live in an aged care unit for two weeks.
Gerry Gillespie, Queanbeyan, NSW
Tell us the facts
I take issue with the Forum article ("Does naming and shaming work?", August 1, P33). The sorry tale of this pandemic has seen the Australian community subject to censorship.
While the Ruby Princess debacle has resulted in an inquiry, the causes of the Melbourne hotel breakouts remain unconfirmed with gossip and innuendo as to why private untrained security guards were used. We still haven't been given all the reasons for why nine high-rise public housing blocks were locked down.
Now the virus is in Melbourne nursing homes. We are, once again, waiting on formal confirmation of why and how, with suggestions it may be being spread by unwell staff needing wages and, again, doing extra shifts at different locations. And finally we have the law-breaking Queensland girls and rumours that as a result our African communities are being abused.
Governments have been too slow and too soft on offenders. They have offered no compensation for nursing home staff not to work if unwell, and have failed to act against those who won't self-isolate at home.
The result of these failures to tell the public the truth, and to act quickly and firmly, is that the poor, and members of ethnic groups, are at risk being unfairly blamed and shamed rather than the real offenders.
Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla
A community asset
On Saturday I had heard so much bad COVID-19 news on my favourite Radio National that I turned to my second favourite station: Radio for the Print Handicapped, Canberra. (RPH). I listened to a story beautifully read by a volunteer reader. It reminded me that one of life's most charming experiences is being read to.
Then I discovered that this valuable radio asset is soon likely to be lost to the Canberra community because its block funding is no longer available, having been diverted via the NDIS to persons with a disability as they rightly choose to live their lives as unique individuals.
Why can't the ACT community fund this radio station as a valuable asset, not just for the vision impaired, but for all who are now learning to appreciate a quieter, more reflective, lifestyle?
Jill Sutton, Watson
Tree policy confusing
So a tree fell on a home in Calwell and caused much damage after the owner had already filed an application to have the tree removed last year.
That application was denied by the ACT government. While fully understanding the need to protect trees and our Canberra environment, there is something really wrong about a government that can remove all the mature trees on Northbourne Avenue in one go, but plays the "top dog" in decision making against owners of land in the ACT who request tree removal (at their cost) when a tree poses a risk to their home.
Joyce Noronha-Barrett, Giralang
What do we value?
As I enter the twilight of my years I am increasingly plagued and frustrated by the empty promises of our political masters to make a better life for everyone.
Promises are constantly broken in pursuit of vested interests. In the meantime blame falls on the downtrodden, the poor, and the aged and infirm, who pay the cost of government excesses disproportionally to their capacity to pay.
Our governments often preach about Australian values. But what are these? They are certainly not open and transparent decision-making, or universal access to high quality education, health, housing, welfare services or equitable access to justice regardless of status or position. The actions of government excess and decision-making, and notions of freedom of information and expression are ephemeral notions long forgotten in pursuit of political expediency and cloaked under false notions of secrecy and national interest.
These troubled times of fire, flood, and disease have given the government the opportunity to draw us together, to redeem the pledges and promises they have made through the years.
Reason and fair play can be rediscovered through voice and action.
We have an opportunity to return to government for all the people; not just the privileged, the large corporations, and other vested interests.
Let's not pass up this chance to do good.
James Grenfell, Spence
Signs of hope
It's unusual for a newspaper proprietor to take on the role of an oped piece contributor, yet Antony Catalano has ("Stop the presses: ACM changes explained", CT, page 31, August 1). Whilst job losses will occur, subscribers of this paper must be encouraged by his comments.
In particular: "This is not ACM stepping away from publishing printed copies of our newspapers. We know our trusted newspaper journalism has impact and influence in the communities we serve. In fact, these practical, sensible arrangements to cut duplication of press facilities and delivery truck routes are designed to make our newspapers stronger and more sustainable into the future".
Only time will tell how long the printed page will survive, however the life of the "parish pump" must continue to exist for the social fabric of the community to remain connected.
Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
TO THE POINT
THE WORD FROM JONESTOWN
So, Alan Jones is now ranting about Melbourne's new lockdown. He should learn from the experiences of Brazil's president.
God forbid, if he caught COVID-19 at his age.
Mokhles k Sidden, Strathfield, NSW
IT'S A MYSTERY
So, why do many letters start with 'so'?
Alastair Bridges, Wanniassa
I was tested at Garran at 10am; the all-clear SMS came just 20 hours later. Well done ACT Pathology.
Colin Parks, Isaacs
SILENT HEAD OF STATE
I don't recall hearing anything much from the Governor-General during the disastrous summer fires.
Has anybody heard anything from him in all the months of COVID-19?
Rod Holesgrove, Crace
I DID IT "MYWAY"
David Weeden (Letters, August 3) seems to have forgotten what the financial travails of being a young whippersnapper of only 60 or 65 are like.
If you obtain your senior's card before you turn 70 the concept of a MyWay balance is not irrelevant. Travel on ACT public transport is not free, merely discounted.
If Bruce Paine had preloaded his card with a few dollars, as I did when I got mine, checking his balance on the MyWay website is a perfectly reasonable thing to want to do.
David Wilson, Braddon
In his piece on the frequency of the Canberra Raiders' road trips during the pandemic ("Raiders would be Rap-t to keep Jordan on board", canberratimes.com.au, August 3), David Polkinghorne referred to the song "I've been everywhere man" and linked it to Johnny Cash.
Geoff Mack and Lucky Starr must be surprised.
Maureen Cummuskey, Hackett
NOT MY EXPERIENCE
The headline read "Woolworths customers mask up as new advice comes into effect" (canberratimes.com.au, August 3).
My experience at Woolworths Lanyon on Monday morning was somewhat contrary.
I only saw one staff member out of many wearing a mask, and less than 10 customers in a busy store wearing one.
Don Sephton, Greenway
TRIAL AND ERROR
Techniques worldwide seeking to manage the pandemic situation seem to be based on trial and error, with the emphasis on error.
M. F. Horton, Adelaide, SA
LET'S EAT GRANDMA
A good missive on the importance of punctuation, Eric Hunter (letters, August 3). My favourite was tossed to me by a student that got it when the light bulb went on: "Let's eat, grandma," or "let's eat grandma".
P Reynolds, Gilmore
ISOLATE THE POLITICIANS
In case Federal Parliament decides, or is required to reopen in August, should all MPs, political staffers, and house staff go into strict advance isolation at the appropriate time to prevent COVID-19 spread?
Paul O'Connor, Hawker
DOUSE THE GLIM
Curfew: (French) couvrefeu. It means cover your fire or hide your lights. Get inside!
Barrie Smillie, Duffy
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