What some Australian soldiers allegedly did in Afghanistan is truly horrifying. That some other Australian soldiers had the enormous courage to speak out is admirable. What General Angus Campbell had to say about it all on Thursday morning seemed heartfelt and inspired some confidence that change will be pursued. But he cut a lonely figure.
Where were Ministers Reynolds and Chester? Where was the Prime Minister? As usual, when there is anything unsavoury to be aired, the relevant cabinet members were missing in action. This continues a long tradition for our current government to avoid being held to account.
When Campbell was asked how the most shameful period in the Australian defence force's history happened he responded: "It starts with culture". The culture of avoidance, cover-up and denial in our current government, and in particular the cabinet, has been problematic for some time. This is just the latest example of how rotten it has become.
Sarah Cowdery, Barton
Murder is murder
When the Afghan soldier Hekmatullah killed three Australian soldiers in Afghanistan in 2012 sections of the Australian media labelled his actions as "murder".
When 19 anonymous Australian special forces soldiers stand accused of killing 39 Afghan civilians their actions are characterised as "unlawful killings".
In commenting on the report prepared by Justice Paul Brereton, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that "we need to ensure justice is truly served by illuminating the conduct of those who may have acted in ways that do not accord with the high standards expected of our ADF and those expectations held by the serving men and women of our ADF & their veterans' community, past and present".
Perhaps we should start by acknowledging that "murder" is "murder", no matter who the assailants or their innocent victims might be.
John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW
I refer to Ian Warden's reflections on the downfall of Donald Trump ("The Shakespearian tragedy of Trump", November 15, p15).
While I understand Ian's horror and self-reproach at not being able to look away from the loathsome spectacle Trump always presents (my mute button has certainly had a workout over the past four years), I cannot agree with his appeal to empathy for the Donald.
We all have our demons but thankfully not many of us have the inclination or opportunity to inflict them on the rest of the world to the extent Trump has. It is one thing to be a damaged individual, it is quite another to use this fact as an excuse to damage those around you.
While he was not the source of the many prejudices he espoused and they will live on after he's gone (after all he's just the latest in a long line of populists who have weaponised them), he expertly cultivated and heightened them for his own ends.
I do agree that there is something Shakespearian about him although I prefer King Lear:
"It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing".
Bede North, Turner
What does it tell us in relation to COVID-19 vaccine usefulness that Boris Johnson, badly infected just a few months ago, has now been quarantined for two weeks after contact with a new case in cabinet?
Why didn't he just take a shower, wash his clothes and have 10 Downing St wiped down - as would be done anyway.
The problem is we understand so poorly this unique new virus and the human body's reaction to it that we have no idea how long any immunity will last, and what if any usefulness any vaccine is likely to have.
Nothing will be more treacherous than relying on doubtful "cures" in order to let down our guard insouciantly again.
Alex Mattea, Sydney
Light rail carbon impact
It is to be hoped that when the long-awaited business case for Light Rail Stage 2 is released the document addresses the issue of anticipated carbon expenditure versus anticipated carbon savings, over time.
Light Rail Stage 2, with its vast quantities of earthworks, terrain levelling, concrete trackways, steel rails and poles, bridges, tree felling, manufacture and transport (presumably again from Spain) of the vehicles themselves, etc, will generate huge levels of carbon pollution during construction.
The carbon generated during construction can be calculated by the Stage 2 design team, or an independent body, now. To offset the carbon generated one then needs to calculate the carbon savings by those commuters using the light rail instead of their personal vehicles. Keeping in mind that commuters are already transitioning to electric forms of transport and that all new vehicles in the ACT will be electric by 2035 ("Zero-interest charge boost coming for ACT's electric cars", p7. November 16), it should be essential for the business case to highlight at what date the carbon expenditure will be recouped. Such data should be an essential factor in the final decision on Stage 2 Light Rail feasibility.
Penleigh Boyd, Reid
What's the point?
Why does the federal government waste taxpayer's money on inquiries and royal commissions when they totally disregard the recommendations?
As with the banking royal commission report and the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the Royal Commission into National Natural Disasters has been filed in the bottom draw.
The recommendations were similar to the advice from the fire chiefs before the fires last year: we need more aerial fire fighting capability and national coordination.
The federal government has decided to flick the responsibility onto the states and refuses to purchase the recommended fire-bombing aircraft. The Morrison government accepts Defence projects blowing out by billions each year but can't spend $100 million on firefighting aircraft. It's a total head scratcher. All we have to show for the hours of hearings and millions spent on the Bushfire RC is another slogan, "resilient services".
R F Bollen, Torrens
Gore was different
Kym MacMillan (Letters, November 18), referring to President Trump's refusal to concede defeat by Joe Biden, commented "Vice President Al Gore did not concede in the 2000 election (against George W. Bush) until December 13" after disputing the result in Florida. The circumstances faced by Gore were vastly different to those facing Donald Trump in 2020. Election to the presidential office in 2000 literally hung on 537 disputed "hanging chad" votes in just one state. Mr Trump insists on disputing a result that saw Joe Biden winning the electoral college vote by 306 to 232 and the national popular vote by a margin of more than 5.725 million.
President Trump's defeat is indisputable (except by Mr Trump), but Vice-President Gore had a genuine cause. The course of world history was dramatically changed by a trifling 537 "hanging chads".
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
A poor result
I was amazed, appalled and angered to read in "ACT loses tennis international again" (canberratimes.com.au, November 17) that Tennis Australia is still planning to hold the Australian Open in January. Are these officials imbeciles?
Australia is just coming out of state border closures deemed necessary because two states were recording fewer than 10 new cases of COVID-19 per day. But these officials consider Australia should allow into the country a few thousand tennis players and staff who will be coming from countries where the number of new cases is several hundred thousand cases per day.
Wimbledon was cancelled this year because of COVID-19. The rate of new infections worldwide is now many times greater than it was then. The PM should immediately direct that the Australian Open not be held this year. The Victorian Premier is at least wiser than the PM. He stated: "It's a massive event but it comes at a time when the rest of the world is on fire. Avoiding a third wave is arguably more important". He should cancel the Open now.
Bob Salmond, Melba
Trump's recalcitrance, which appears to be based on self-delusion, comes as no surprise. What was unexpected was that so many others would buy into his vision of the world as he wants it to be.
N Ellis. Belconnen
I enjoyed recent articles about the lawn bowls tournament at the Canberra Bowling Club. Coincidentally, on the same weekend as that tournament, a young bowler was making history at the Canberra North Bowling Club, situated at the RUC at Turner.
Nathan Savino, 27, became the first bowler at Canberra North to win all four major championships in the same year. Nathan's team won the championship fours last Saturday, giving him a grand slam that many fine bowlers in the past could not achieve. Congratulations Nathan.
Mark Carter, Amaroo
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