I am a sixth-generation Australian: Irish, English, Scottish-Celtic. I am a blood brother to my best mate. We cut our thumbs and mixed our blood when we were very young. He's gone now, but I'm still here.
His mob came across the land bridge from the north many millennia ago looking for a better life in better country. Mine came a couple of centuries ago, also looking for the same thing.
Then more people came here. They came from Italy, Greece and many other places in Europe. Now they come from Asia, Africa and the Pacific - some looking for a better life, some as refugees in need of help. They all add something to our nation.
"Makarrata" means many things, but resounds as "treaty". I think it rhymes with "Magna Carta". The Uluru Statement from the Heart must be enshrined in the constitution, but it must extend to all of our people.
We have protected this land from invaders who would do us harm. Disease, vermin and even some people. We haven't always been successful in this, but we persevere. Now it is a changing climate that we must contend with. Now we must really come together as one people.
Maybe we need a new national anthem. After all, we are one, but we are many. Maybe we need a new flag, a banner that unites us all, rather than one that delineates some and excludes others. I hear us come together. I see green and gold.
Recently, the new Tasmanian Premier, Jeremy Rockliff, supported the moving of Australia Day from January 26. He is right.
The arrival of Captain Phillip should no longer be the marker for the birth of this country. That event is offensive to most Indigenous Australians, who rightly see it as an invasion and a conquest, rather than the beginnings of this nation.
At the same time, this land is the legitimate home of every culture which has inhabited it since 1788: Indigenous, European, Asian, Pasifika and every other place from which Australians originated. We cannot be held responsible for Britain's colonial ideology in the late 18th century. Australia now belongs to all of us, however murky its beginnings since the First Fleet sailed into what is now Sydney Harbour.
We must never forget who was here first, even if the world has moved on too far to correct the injustice of 1788.- Mark Slater, Melba
The High Court's Mabo decision in 1992 undermined the premise for holding Australia Day on January 26, because Australia was already settled and inhabited when the First Fleet arrived in 1788.
The obvious date for Australia Day is January 1, to mark the meeting of Australia's first Federal Parliament in 1901, the initial tentative step to independence from Britain (we're still not quite there yet, 121 years later!). As January 1 is already a public holiday, January 2 could be added as a consecutive holiday to replace January 26 and properly celebrate the origins of modern Australia over two days, leaving January 26 for reflection on the shameful subjugation of Australia's original inhabitants.
Canberra Airport is threatening legal action against the ACT government because it mandates that passengers must wear masks inside the terminal, creating a "tangible stigma".
I am one of many people who would not go to the airport unless there was a mask mandate. And while I can easily avoid going to locations where masks are not enforced - pubs, nightclubs, strip clubs and brothels (noted by the airport as similar) - I would really like to visit my daughter in northern Queensland without catching COVID. If I wear a mask, my risk of contracting COVID-19 is reduced. If everyone wears masks, then everyone's risk is reduced more significantly.
The pandemic is far from over. In the past 24 hours 22,351 Australians reported cases of COVID. 10 to 30 per cent of these patients will experience some form of long COVID - even after mild illness. 2745 people are now in hospital, with 95 in ICU.
This year, 6432 people have already died from COVID-19 - 16 times the annual road toll.
Many of these deaths could have been prevented by the simple wearing of masks. There are no significant, adverse health effects of wearing a mask. But the health effects of not wearing a mask indoors can be severe - if not to you, then maybe to people who catch it from you. What other safety requirements is the airport looking to drop?
I used to dislike pine plantations, but after staying at the Angle, south of Tharwa, for two weeks, I have changed my mind. Now, with our remaining native forests threatened by logging and climate change, the newly planted plantations along Smiths Road, replacing those lost in the 2003 fire, are exactly what Australia needs. Planted on degraded land, each tree will lock up carbon for up to 35 years while growing. Each plantation will save precious native forest, and slow habitat loss and biodiversity decline.
Australia has millions of hectares of degraded and marginal land, a good proportion of which is suitable for plantations, pine and native. The new government must incentivise this industry.
The Tharwa-Smith Road-Monaro Highway loop, linked by Tharwa Bridge and the Angle Crossing of the Murrumbidgee (when open), is an interesting drive. The recent roadworks make it more accessible.
John Coochey's (Letters, June 2) suggestion that no benefit was derived from expenditure on anti-COVID measures such as lockdowns, is questionable. Taking Victoria as a worst-case example, we know from the US and UK experience that had there been little intervention, approximately 22,000 Victorians (possibly many more) would have died. The lockdowns bought time to get most people vaccinated and better prepare the health system. As a result, only 3400 died. This is still a sad outcome, but also indicates around 18,600 Victorian lives were saved.
Reports suggest the cost of the Victorian lockdowns was around $38 billion. This means each life saved cost the community about $2 million. Is this too much to pay?
Applying my own values and setting aside the morality of the issue, there are comparisons that can be made. For example, the War on Terror has incurred a cost of around $3 billion per life lost, suggesting a cost of this order is reasonable to save lives. This is 1500 times greater than the COVID intervention.
My conclusion is that the interventions Australia has taken to minimise damage from COVID would have been a bargain at twice the cost.
Anthony Albanese has said he wants to do government better. Here's my suggestion to him for a start: stop yourself and your ministers referring to the "Albanese government".
The naming of different Australian governments after whoever the PM is at the time has been a long-term irritant to me. It implies a type of ownership which is inappropriate in a democracy. The Australian government belongs to the Australian people.
By all means use the phrases "our" and "your" government. but please, please drop what sounds like an exercise in branding. We had enough of that with your predecessor
Your editorial (The Canberra Times, June 5) asks the new government for a favour - funding for infrastructure projects for Canberra, noting a previous promise from Bill Shorten for projects with "new tourism and economic opportunities".
I would like to propose a major project for Canberra. A new national institution: a Natural History Museum.
In April 2019, a Joint Parliamentary Committee report on Canberra's collecting institutions recommended that the government develop a business case for such a Natural History Museum in Canberra, but the then government never responded to this report.
Countries throughout the world with animals and plants much less diverse and interesting than Australia's have such museums. Such a museum in Canberra would engage and educate both Australians and overseas visitors.
With the likelihood of four members of the government and David Pocock hailing from the ACT, we should do all we can to ensure we get our fair share of funding for Canberra after nine years of neglect by the Coalition.
Why is the ACT Senate first-preference vote count taking so long? According to your article "Seselja left without APH office" (June 4) there are fewer than 40,000 votes to count.
It has been two weeks since the election, and the ACT's Reps seats have long been decided. So why isn't the priority counting the Senate first-preference votes?
Surely the AEC has staff available in the ACT - whether casual or permanent - that can do the remaining first-preference vote count in double quick time, thereby adding considerable clarity to the ACT Senate outcome situation.
The new federal government is barely installed, but a coordinated campaign of letters criticising it is already underway - see the letters by Michael Doyle and Lauchlan McIntosh (Letters, June 6). Give Albo a go! If he stuffs up, say so, but cut the sour-grape-flavoured carping until then.
One mandate claimed from the election was for integrity in politics. The worthiness of that commodity is such that some politicians might be prepared to pay for it.
So Aspen Island is now the Isle of Ma'am.
Paddington Bear meets Lady Marmalade (David Pope, June 7)?
Now I get our fractious relationship with Indonesia in recent years. Scotty doesn't ride a bike.
At least we veterans know where we stand with Labor, having been relegated into the care of an assistant minister. The fact that this is the same person whose primary role is to foster a non-existent republic certainly demonstrates where the government's loyalty lies in respect to veterans who served Australia under the Crown.
The naming of the sea to the south of China was, in retrospect, a poor choice of names. Now a geographic description is causing territorial desires
If ever this country had an opportunity to jettison the royalty, it would have to be now. And a good chance to rid itself of those who feed off the royalty.
There are elderly Australians who have been waiting all their lives, including myself, who couldn't see why we were made stand to her. Over to you, Albo, who has waited all my life for "your coming".
Andrew Constance gets 46,650 primary votes, as opposed to Fiona Phillips' 39,813, and yet Labor retains the seat of Gilmore. Our voting system is an absolute joke.
I, along with the other 46,649 voters who voted for Andrew, would be accused of sour grapes for complaining, and you'd be absolutely right. Why should anyone have to vote for anyone else other than their preferred candidate to register a formal vote?
The thousands of NDIS participants mired in legal paperwork will not be surprised by the agency's patronising response to its new minister's concerns ("Shorten demands answers on NDIS", June 3). Its response to his concern about the "horrific" and "obscene" situation is to refer to "good early discussions" and its commitment "to working with him on the matter".
Mr Shorten obviously has some urgent axework to attend to.
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