When in 1999 John Hargreaves served on the seminal Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety that recommended that the ACT government establish its own prison, the government's discussion paper reported that the ACT incarceration rate of ACT sentenced people serving time in New South Wales was 49 per 100,000.
It is now 147 per 100,000 and the rate of incarceration of indigenous people here rivals Western Australia as the worst in the nation.
If Hargreaves, who was the deputy chair, is proud of the prison (Letters, Tuesday 27) he recommended I shudder to think what he would consider a disaster.
Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform argued before that committee that building it would be "inherently misguided, inhumane and counter productive" and that far better outcomes with enhanced public safety would be achieved far more cheaply by changing our drug policy just as Switzerland had by then done with spectacular reductions in offending by people engaged in treatment.
The committee gave us the flick: "The committee acknowledges that in an ideal society we would not need to have a prison but since that is not the case, the most appropriate option for ACT prisoners is for them to be housed locally".
It is cold comfort that the wildly impractical dream that the ACT could establish a human rights compliant, rehabilitative prison unlike any in Australia has shown itself to be the pipe dream that it always was.
Bill Bush, Families and Friends
for Drug Law Reform, Turner
Your newspaper has recently repeated the mistaken assertion that the inaugural Integrity Commissioner, the Hon Dennis Cowdroy AO QC resigned his position after less than one year in the role.
The fact is that Mr Cowdroy was appointed on June 4, 2019. He was charged with the responsibility of creating a wholly new government agency and to have such agency commence its operations by December 1, 2019. That objective was achieved.
Setting up the appropriate administrative structures, recruiting suitably qualified staff, as well as the search for permanent premises able to fit with the Commission's particular needs, took considerable time and effort. This very substantial undertaking was overseen by Mr Cowdroy, with the assistance from October 2019 of Mr John Hoitink, the new CEO.
At the same time, the Commissioner was overseeing assessments of corruption reports and a number of investigations, including conducting private examinations.
With the basic operational structures and staffing in place and moving forward in the performance of the Commission's functions, Mr Cowdroy thought it a good time for a seamless transition to a replacement Commissioner.
The drive, initiative and hard work of the Inaugural Commissioner made a very substantial contribution to the difficult and complex creation of a whole new government agency tasked with a unique function in ACT governance. His service was recognised by the ACT Parliament, as reflected in the Speaker's laudatory press release.
M F Adams QC,
Integrity Commissioner, ACT
At the end of 2019 there were approximately 605,000 international students in Australia. Fast forward to now, and that figure has almost halved to 348,000. As the government finalises permanent visa numbers to round up the 2020-21 budget, and with skilled migration down to a trickle, why not offer some of these places to international students?
Canada has just opened 40,000 places for international student graduates to apply for permanent residence.
These are students who have contributed to Canada's recovery from the pandemic and are employed in critical sectors. Canada's immigration minister said of international students when announcing the policy: "... your status may be temporary, but your contributions are lasting and we want you to stay".
What would be migrants and international students are after is simple: opportunity now, not in the indefinite future. International students pay taxes, they have supported our most critical sectors throughout the pandemic, they are already integrated into the society and community, and they are young, compared to Australia's rapidly ageing population.
While there is no clear pathway or policy in place to allow international students back to Australia to study, I believe it's time we rewarded and acknowledged the contribution international students have made and continue to make to our economy and community by offering them pathways to permanent residency.
Melanie Macfarlane, founding member of the International Students Education Agents Association of Australia (ISEAA)
Contrary to Geoff Davidson's statement (Letters, April 27), renewables did not meet 97 per cent of Scotland's electricity needs in 2020. The statistic Mr Davidson cites is the total electricity generated from renewable sources in 2020 as a percentage of total electricity demand.
It does not take into account whether renewable sources were generating electricity when people were demanding it. The Scottish government's energy statistics state renewables were capable of meeting half of Scotland's demand in 2020 for half the time.
Just as a levee is only as effective as its lowest point, the ability of any given form of generation to meet demand must be measured against its lowest actual output. When the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing something needs to take the place of renewables.
Scotland does this through nuclear power. That's a no-go in Australia, no one will invest in or maintain coal-fired generation and many state governments prohibit gas extraction. What will we use to fill the gap when the miracle cure of renewables turns into the snake oil it really is?
Stephen Jones, Bonython
I read your editorial "The hawks flock to the drums of war" (canberratimes.com.au, April 28) and wondered what steps you would suggest the Australian government should pursue in relation to the Chinese government's increasingly aggressive and unreasonable approach to international relations other than the ones they are taking.
History teaches us that appeasement never works against an aggressor.
Since Gulf War One the west has dropped the ball and forgotten "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance". And, as Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus once said, "if you want peace prepare for war". And also, as Margaret Thatcher said, "this is no time to go wobbly".
Bill Stefaniak, Narrabundah
War is out of date
So, Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo, beating his drum, tells Australia to prepare for war. This time with China. What a strange old fogey Mike must be. He clearly doesn't realise that war between nuclear superpowers is out of date, has been for over 70 years. Mike should be gently retired, and his place taken by a woman. Almost any woman would do.
Harry Davis, Campbell
What's the motive?
The tough talk coming from Defence Minister Peter Dutton and his former Secretary Mike Pezzullo seems intended to brace us for a principled stand on Taiwan and preparations for armed conflict with China.
If China is likely to become our enemy in the field shouldn't we be ending our exports of the iron ore and copper that are essential to their economy? And if our principles really are beyond compromise, shouldn't we be talking tough to Indonesia over its colonial atrocities in West Papua, which is right on our doorstep?
Paul Feldman, Macquarie
ADF has much to do
I hope that when Anne Williams (Letters, April 28) wrote "war is great... it keeps the guys in khaki busy" she did so with her tongue firmly in her cheek.
Disregarding for now that the ADF employs both male and female personnel on operations, does she think that between warfighting ADF members sit around waiting for the government to commit us to a war?
ADF personnel are employed in more than 10 operations worldwide that do not involve actual warlike activities.
As well as providing personnel for security at COVID-19 quarantine hotels Australia wide, the ADF is engaged in anti-terrorism, anti-piracy and anti-drug running operations in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea (OP MANITOU), anti-piracy and illegal fishery patrols in the Pacific region (OP SOLANA), rendering safe munitions still left over from WWII to help our Pacific neighbours (OP RENDER SAFE), and operations in Africa and the Middle East in support of UN and NATO peace-keeping activities (Op ASIAN - South Sudan, OP ORENDA -Mali, OP PALADIN - Israel, etc).
As someone who spent 50 years in RAF and RAAF uniform, I can assure you the "the guys in khaki" - and in the other two colours - do not need a war to keep busy.
Len Bowen, Chisholm
TO THE POINT
Tim Hollo ("AWM we choose says much of us", canberratimes.com.au, April 28) suggests the proposed expansion of the Australian War Memorial may have arisen from the close relationships which the previous director built with arms manufacturers, who in turn are major donors to both the Liberal and Labor parties. If this is true, and the expansion proceeds, the acronym AWM will in future stand for the Australian Weaponry Museum.
Ray Edmondson, Kambah
I believe that in addition to the strengthening of armed forces in our north, this year will see the removal of foreign influence over Darwin Port.
Colliss Parrett, Barton
As punishment for his "drums of war" speech, Pezzullo should be left in Home Affairs instead of moving to Defence.
Michael McCarthy, Deakin
SEAT OF DUTTON
I investigated your question Graeme Rankin (Letters, April 29), and while I can't say when he was elected to the position, Pezzullo now holds the seat of Dutton very tightly.
John Howarth, Weston
Reports that the federal government will build a gas-fired power plant among the vast coal deposits of the Hunter Valley are further proof how ridiculous the climate and energy scene has become. High efficiency coal is better than gas, it's cheaper, and there's lots of it, but it seems such facts no longer count outside the sensible, coal burning countries of Asia.
Doug Hurst, Chapman
The unrelenting criticism and cheap shots at Morrison by your letter correspondents begs the question who would each of these people see as Prime Minister? Silence? Thought so.
Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla
MISSING IN ACTION
So PM Morrison had found time in his busy schedule to address his fellow church-goers on the Gold Coast last week. In contrast Mr Morrison has not bothered to appear on the ABC's 7.30, Insiders or Q+A programs at all this year. It certainly demonstrates very starkly which audience the prime minister values more.
Mike Anderson, Holt
The Foreign Minister with a "Payned" look on her face, dropping stitches, cast off on a sea of discontent, while her upstairs neighbours drum up a battle, performing in a theatre of war (David Pope's editorial cartoon, April 29).
Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
ABOLISH LAND TAX
Another report finds no affordable rentals in the ACT for disadvantaged citizens.
Same story, same problem. It's time to abolish the cruel, inequitable, huge impost of land tax on renters and ACT investment properties.
No, I don't own one. Land tax is the silent killer in the ACT rental market.
John Mungoven, Stirling
GET CRACKING PAPA
Papa, you're not Samson. Have a haircut and start playing football.
Tony May, Pearce
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