Pope's brilliant cartoon (June 8) reminds us of the Commonwealth government's decision to transform the Australian War Memorial into a military theme park. Chris Barry, former Chief of the Defence Force, eloquently made the point on ABC RN Breakfast that morning.
All school students who visit Canberra with government support must visit the war memorial. With limited time it will be very difficult for teachers to encourage reflection and to educate about the social and cultural impacts of war when the students are straining at the leash to get to the shiny machines of war in their huge exhibition hall. We can expect future students to come away with a very different view of wars, their nature and impact, when their visit has been dominated by exciting war machines, rather than informed reflection and memorialisation.
Is this what we want for future generations of students? Will parents and schools be able to opt out of the war memorial visit when the institution changes from a memorial to a place for the exhibition of fighter jets, tanks and other war machinery?
Barbara Preston, O'Connor
It will be very difficult for teachers to encourage reflection ... when the students are straining at the leash to get to the shiny machines of war.Barbara Preston, O'Connor
More than an optimistic hope
In his balanced summary of the Palestine/Israel conflict, "Israel and Palestine are vexatious neighbours with little in common" (CT June 4) Clive Williams concludes, "What is surprising is that Israelis, whose Jewish forebears have suffered so much at the hands of others, cannot see parallels in their discriminatory treatment of Israeli Arabs and the maintenance of what is effectively an apartheid system to control the Palestinians."
This is not a new concept. On January 26, 1988, a former Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, the late Owen Dowling, told an ecumenical service in Commonwealth Park that flashbacks, or people's memories of dreadful things, helped them so often to have mercy and compassion for other people.
"Perhaps there are some flashbacks happening to Jews in Israel at present," Bishop Dowling said. "Flashbacks of their dreadful oppression and cruel treatment under the Nazis and perhaps that will give them a quality of mercy towards the Palestinians now."
It was more than an optimistic hope. Over the more than 33 years since, the oppression of Palestinians by the state of Israel has increased significantly, with continuing and arguably illegal annexation of West Bank land and expulsion of Palestinians from their dwellings.
Backed by the US, and its allies, including Australia, Israel, at least under the hard-line regime of Benjamin Netanyahu, was free to continue and increase what former South Africans, now Israeli citizens, agree is apartheid. Some Palestinian organisations are clearly not blameless in their struggle against this regime. But oppression leads to violence as it did in South Africa.
It must be hoped Israel's new disparate government, under the new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, can survive long enough to achieve at least some measure of peace for Israel and Palestine.
Graham Downie, O'Connor
Criticism alone is unhelpful
In his wide-ranging letter, Ian Morison criticises much, asks many questions, but answers few ("Most important lessons", June 5). He concludes that "It is only by teaching the need to study the issues, then question, and always keep an open mind, that we can stop the polarisation of our society." On the issue of climate change, which he appears to disbelieve, and his preference for nuclear power over renewables, he could practise what he preaches and read the CSIRO's annual GenCost reports. In there he will discover that nuclear power in Australia is more expensive than solar and wind, including storage, and that the capital cost per kilowatt of establishing a nuclear power plant in Australia is eight times that of renewables. We all share this planet and criticism only is unhelpful. As Abraham Lincoln said, "He has a right to criticise who has a heart to help."
Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Vic
Watch the children grow
As Ian Morison notes (Letters, June 5): "Many issues have complex answers, often requiring innovation, compromise, and time". Yet he seems to bring a closed mind to the role of teachers and teaching methods. My mother left school at Year 8 to work as a clothing machinist, and my father was pulled out mid-Year 10 because a job came up at the local glass works; it was the depression and you took any job available, and the "three R's" were sufficient at the time. The future of work itself is a complex issue, and preparing students for such a world is a complex challenge "requiring innovation, compromise, and time". Let the professional educators get on with it, and watch the children grow.
Jim Spithill, Ashburton VIC
Who are these gods?
Crispin Hull writes "Many [aged people] work well into their 80s." (Voters must be given the info they need", June 5, p25). I'd love to meet them and learn the secret. I'm 70-something and still work full-time, but it's a struggle coping with the (lessening) ignorance of the 20-somethings, the (increasing) overconfidence of the 30-somethings, the (ruthless) ambition of the 40-somethings, the (complacent) infallibility of the 50-somethings, and the (depressing) resignation of the 60-somethings. I'm heartened by the (informed) frank and fearless advice of the few 70-somethings.
The only 80-somethings I know look on from the comfort of Mount Olympus.
P O'Keeffe, Hughes
Which standard to adopt?
Debate still surrounds the Meritorious Unit Conduct citation held by the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan which was rescinded by CDF Campbell after the Brereton Report and then restored by Defence Minister Dutton. My question is simple: how many war crimes can a unit commit before it no longer deserves a citation for meritorious conduct?
The Report by Major General Brereton found 'credible evidence' that 25 ADF personnel had been involved in the killing of 39 Afghans who were either civilians or detainees under ADF control. None of these incidents was 'in the heat of battle'. Brereton also found evidence of attempts to cover up crimes by planting weapons next to bodies and misreporting the circumstances of the killings. It is possible, too, that the newly-created Office of the Special Investigator looking into these findings may uncover yet more potential war crimes.
In March 1993 members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment in Somalia brutally killed two civilians in separate incidents which they sought to cover up. In 1995, after the events became known, the Regiment was disbanded in its entirety.
Which standard should Australia adopt?
Hugh Smith, Deakin
Taiwan will defend its democracy
I would remind Bob Salmond (Letters, Sunday CT, June 6) that Taiwan has been a full democracy since the 1990s and its 25 million citizens don't want to be citizens of a brutal dictatorship and will fight to stop that occurring.
I have a Korean son-in-law and I know his family and all the other families in South Korea are happy that the US, Australia and other forces under the auspices of the UN intervened to save the South Koreans from a brutal communist takeover in 1950. Or would Mr Salmon prefer it if the US did not intervene and all of Korea was now ruled (and not just the North) by a homicidal glutton.
Oh, and by the way, the US does only recognise one China, but it also recognises that until both Taiwan and mainland China wish to reunite peacefully the rights of the free people of Taiwan must be respected and protected.
Bill Stefaniak, Narrabundah
Inclusion and promotion needed
Let's hope that the wonderful philanthropy being shown by The Ian Potter Foundation for a national conservatory of tropical plants and a 'world class' research facility for rare and threatened Australian tropical plants at the National Botanic Gardens ("Is this the ACT's next big international tourist drawcard?", June 7) will rouse ACT Tourism and Transport ministers Barr and Steele from their somnolent approach to Canberra's current and future 'major tourism drawcards'. For over two years now the Gardens have not been serviced by public transport. Yet an expensive 'transformational' 1.7km rail line to the start of Commonwealth Avenue Bridge is in the offing.
Sue Dyer, Downer
There are consequences to a name
John McKeogh thinks that the renaming of COVID variants with Greek letters has been totally driven by his self-confected Offence Against Anything Movement (Letters, June 8). But the use of national names has not been merely a matter of a few hyper-sensitive nationals being offended, as McKeogh imagines. Unfortunately, the use of these names has led to numerous instances of people being seriously assaulted, spat on, rejected, abused and humiliated in public just because of their appearance, accent or ethnic background. While I am sure that McKeogh doesn't condone this ignorant and spiteful racism, he must have had his head well and truly in the sand not to have noticed the downside of using national names.
David Roth, Kambah
TO THE POINT
FUEL OF CHOICE
I am sad I cannot save the world by paying another 12% for my electricity but I am off to turn on my gas heaters. Lovely instant heat regardless of the snow outside .
Paul O'Connor, Hawker
NO CHOICE, JAB OR JOB
Could we please have some commonsense (and leadership) in the Covid inoculations to aged care workers ("Covid jab status disclosures left up to aged care workers", June 7, P 4)? Get the vaccination or lose your job. Voluntary choice and disclosure is risking lives and the virus spreading.
Greg Cornwell, Yarralumla
SHOOTING THE MESSENGER
If one ever wondered what goes through the mind of a megalomaniac, the latest attack by Peter Dutton on Dr. Samantha Crompvoets is a perfect place to start searching. Dutton might have enjoyed wearing a sidearm in his career as a Queensland police officer, and he might be relishing his new role as Minister of Defence, but he has never had to face the prospect of the enemy shooting back at him. Shooting the messenger won't make the truth disappear.
Steve Hart (Lt Col Ret'd), Hawker
ARMS RAISED IN PROTEST
In the light of the NCA's decision to allow the redevelopment of the AWM, David Pope's next cartoon should be a reprisal of 'The Menin Gate at Midnight' with the Menin Gate replaced by the iconic dome of the AWM and the ghostly soldiers raising their arms in protest at the desecration of the place that is sacred to their memory.
C. McCullagh, Jerrabomberra
DISMAY AT DECISION
I am dismayed by the news that the NCA has given approval for works facilitating the expansion of the Australian War Memorial. This Brendan Nelson vanity project seems completely at odds with the reason the Memorial was created in the aftermath of World War I. It seems to be taking away from commemoration of lives affected by the trauma of war and replacing it with the glorification of the weapons of war.
Nick Reddan, Hackett
I HAVE A QUESTION
What exactly is the point of the National Capital Authority?
Maria Greene, Curtin
SUFFERING OF BILOELA FAMILY
I am appalled and distressed when I hear about the tiny girl, whose life is in danger, is being flown to hospital in Perth. Her mother is traveling with her. Her father and sister are left on Christmas Island. How much more cruelty will be dealt out to this family who have committed no crime. Let them go back to Biloela.
Auriel Barlow, Dickson
FINDING FAULT WITH REPORTERS
Colin Griffiths' fun proposal for dealing with banal questions to tennis players at post match interviews (letters, 8 June) got me thinking. An alternative could be to have journalist umpires in the interview room. They would call fault on the first stupid question, double fault on the next then suspend persistent miscreants for the duration of the interview day.
Keith Hill, Nindigully, QLD
ABANDONING OUR ALLIES
Marise Payne should be held accountable when those who risked their lives working for us in Afghanistan are killed by the Taliban.