Are you going to the dawn service this year?
Spare a thought for the sulphur-crested cockatoos who nest in the tall eucalypts around the Australian War Memorial.
Over the years their raucous cries at first light have become an integral part of that deeply moving ceremony.
But they won't be there next year, or for many decades to come.
Their leafy homes will be reduced to wood chips to make way for a large parade ground, used maybe twice a year.
Margaret Clough, Ainslie
On March 23, 2021, a letter appeared in The Canberra Times under the bold headline "ACT's green infrastructure at risk".
The letter writer then relied on a report from the Australian Conservation Foundation which was prepared by the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub.
In what was a very significant development on April 15 the Australian Conservation Foundation, along with the Monash University researchers, issued a revision to take into account revised data relating to vegetation cover in Canberra.
While they hold firm that tree cover in Australia's capital cities is declining, the very important point needs to be made that Hobart and Canberra were capital cities that actually showed more vegetation in 2020 than 2013.
The ACT Greens, namely Andrew Braddock, MLA for Yerrabi is to be congratulated for looking into the dramatic claim of 60 per cent loss of vegetation in the ACT.
It was a number that was quite clearly very wrong.
Thankfully the researchers were prepared to acknowledge that and revise their position.
Chris Doyle, Gordon
I imagine I'm not alone in finding the assertion that it "would only take a few atheist doctors or politicians" to decide to "put down" a very sick or old person both offensive and alarmist (Letters, April 19).
Euthanasia has not become compulsory in any jurisdiction in which voluntary assisted dying laws operate. Such laws have been carefully framed to protect the vulnerable and to minimise suffering, not promote murder.
History has shown us that faith in God does not always prevent a person choosing to take the life of another. Regrettably that choice has been made too often by both people of faith and atheists.
Penny Farnsworth, Fadden
The dark arts
Greg Dunstone's reference to marketers "striving for ambiguity" (Letters, April 20) reminded me of a writing course I once took with the tongue-in-cheek title "optimal obfuscation".
The highlight of the course was examples from letters to the editor the instructor had posted to The Canberra Times (with stamps, it was a long time ago) demonstrating writing tricks he had employed to paper over flaws in his arguments.
The enlightened purpose was to show us how to be vague and obscure so that we could avoid unwittingly doing so in our professional writing.
I swear I have never used those techniques to cross over to the "dark side".
Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra, NSW
Nic Stuart ("China, the west and the new world", April 12, p39) and Jill Sutton (Letters, April 17) appear persuaded by the Chinese embassy's argument that because China has a "communitarian" view of human rights, Chinese citizens, whether the Han majority, including the people of Hong Kong, or the minority peoples of Xinjiang and Tibet, only have "collective" economic, social and cultural rights.
This claim, promoted since the time of Mao, leads to the conclusion the people of Hong Kong no longer have the right to choose their own government and can be imprisoned for demonstrating in support of their democratic principles. Equally, the Uighur population of Xinjiang does not have the right to protection from forced labour, and does not even appear to have protection from the abuse of their "communitarian" cultural rights. Does this same discrimination also apply to the citizens of Taiwan?
How do supporters of the "communitarian" excuse explain that China's own constitution articulates support for almost every civil, political, economic, social and cultural right in the UN's two International Human Rights Covenants? China has been a party to the UN Convention against Torture (protecting individual human rights) since 1988 and has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights?
China is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of foreign journalists and politicians and to promote a more communitarian interpretation of human rights internationally.
We shouldn't swallow this propaganda. We should conduct more research and acknowledge the universal truth of the United Nations' advocacy of "all human rights for all".
Ann Kent, Forrest
When will we learn?
The departure of Australian forces from Afghanistan ends another chapter in a sorry tale of Australia's repeated complicity in US strategic misadventures.
From Vietnam, to Iraq, to Afghanistan, the cost to Australia has been significant.
It will continue to be so, as we struggle with the prosecution of alleged war crimes and confront the ongoing tragedy of veterans' suicides, as well as lasting injuries, both physical and psychological.
The Italian philosopher Gramsci said: "History teaches, but has no pupils". Sixty years ago a song inquired "When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?" We still sing that song today.
Peter Grabosky, Forrest
Against the wall
The firing squads will be working overtime if Bob Salmond has his way. (Letters, April 22).
Millions of Australian "traitors" who have not had a compassion bypass support freeing the incarcerated Tamil family and allowing them to return to the Biloela community that has embraced them as good people.
We will all need to be put up against the wall and punished for our crime of disagreeing with Mr Salmond about refugee policy.
Kristina Keneally, far from being a "trouble-maker", is reminding us of the need for the decency and honesty that are missing from our current government that tries to score political points by locking up children.
As for damaging Australia's reputation, the federal government needs no help on that score; refugee policy is only one of the many cruel and reckless ways it has made us an international pariah.
Steve Ellis, Hackett
I'm indebted to Bob Salmond (Letters, April 22) for explaining the importance of following the "fair rules" that apply to immigration and by implication all the other rules that governments apply.
Perhaps he could also explain why this government seems happy to break any of the rules when they see political advantage (including in immigration). Could this mean that the government, to use Bob's word, are also "cheats"?
In addition, perhaps he could explain why the government is unwilling to apply the genuinely "fair rule" that would, at the stroke of a pen, allow the Biloela family to return to their Queensland community where all decent Australians wish them to be.
That is the rule that allows the minister to exercise compassion.
Oh, and it would put an end to Bob's other worry; the ongoing waste of taxpayers' money involved keeping the family isolated indefinitely while their supporters exercise their right to use our "liberal democracy's" fair rules to try and obtain justice.
Eric Hunter, Cook
Re: George Burnell (Letters, April 21) voluntary assisted dying is not killing by someone else. Nor is it euthanasia such as when the Germans killed the intellectually disabled.
It is simply a decision by a person that their interest in life is at an end. I'm an active 82-year-old who goes go-carting with the grandkids, plays croquet and bowls, trades in shares and cryptos, keeps data on spreadsheets and fix and build my own computers.
I do not want to finish up as a drooling idiot in an underfunded aged-care facility being fed by a spoon, nor do I want palliative care at the end of a terminal illness. It is unethical for someone to impose their view that only "God" (which one of the thousands?) should determine when I die.
As a scientist, I believe that life on the earth was an accident due the right type of sun, the right size planet and the right distance from the sun that allowed chemicals to combine to form amino acids and ultimately DNA and life. There was no God involved.
My biggest nightmare is going from being an active thinking being to a vegetable in one instant due to a stroke. Then VAD would be out of my hands in all the current legislation.
Dave Roberts, Belconnen
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