Canberra Times letters: Reflect peoples’ wishes

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John Madelly Snr makes the ultimate comment on “The Gay Vote” (Letters, August 2).

A plebiscite vote by all the citizens of Australia is the only true way of ascertaining the peoples’ wishes. A person who supports Labor may live in a Liberal-held electorate or vice versa, so that politician’s vote may or may not reflect the wishes of that citizen .

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An individual vote is the only fair way to decide, and let us not be distracted by the scaremongers from both sides. The peoples’ wishes are the peoples’ wishes. 

Paul O’Connor, Hawker

How in hell do those conservatives in Malcolm Turnbull’s circus who still want a plebiscite on same sex marriage think for a moment Australians will give a negative vote to the plebiscite? They  are deluded.

And what is even more gross is those who pushed to waste the $150 million will then vote against the people’s wishes.

One can only hope sanity will prevail and those we elected will:

  1. Put the money for a plebiscite back in treasury coffers, and
  2. do what they were elected to do and be given a secret vote so that those who vote in the affirmative do not suffer at the hands of those who have been torpedoing this long overdue change.

And if that was able to be accomplished while we were on a role we could look positively at the republic issue.

D.J.Fraser, Currumbin Qld

Hackers! That’s the reason we should not have a non-binding plebiscite on marriage equality.

Ordinary hackers at at a recent competition in Las Vegas were  able to successfully breach the software of US voting machines in just 90 minutes. 

Anonymous Russians are alleged to have done this easily in at least 21 states in the US Presidential election. 

How difficult would it be to do it here?

There are Russian hackers, religious hackers and other homophobic hackers who would detest letting voters allow loving same-gender couples marry in a 23rd country on this planet.

Parliament is certainly not that hackable and we could all watch the local heroes who would proudly cross the floor to go down in history to grant LGBTIQ lovers the right to marry! 

Bring on a vote in Parliament, ASAP please.

Charles Foley,  Queanbeyan  

Housing affordability

Jon Stanhope’s article on making housing more affordable (“More houses a priority”, Forum, July 29, p10) had merit. 

At the moment we have a system of land release that is designed to maximize the income this supposedly Labor government receives.

To put the problem clearly, there cannot be affordable housing without affordable land. From the 1950s to the 1980s we had affordable land. It was sold over the counter and our community thrived on it.

Sadly the past cannot be revisited. Nevertheless we can finance over the counter land sales on long term repayments. These payments would be directly to the ACT government and separate from the house that would eventually be built.

The land would be independently valued and I imagine would attract a weekly repayment of around $100.

The land would form the basis of a deposit on the building of the house, which would be financed through the usual sources. The house could be built within say five years from the purchase of the land.

Howard Carew,  Isaacs 

Beware Big Brother

Be aware, residents of Canberra, Big Brother does exist. You thought it was in the fantasy of George Orwell long ago in 1984. 

Gough Whitlam said “It’s time”. It is now another time. Time for the majority of us to wrest back our city from those who seek to make us just another city.

We were different; who remembers “the Bush Capital”? It is being taken from us by people who wish to line their pockets with no love of what we had.

We are not newcomers, we have lived in this town/city for 49 years. 

John Madelly Snr, Melba

Inmates’ rights 

Thanks Canberra Times for alerting citizens to clarification on where Bimberi’s inmates’ rights lie (“Bimberi charter of rights issued”, August 2, p7). 

Dignity and respect appear to be a key element of the charter. What I would like to see is a charter where this concept enjoys reciprocity. 

By all means factor in deprivation, dysfunction and bad parenting when assessing an inmate’s needs: but, spare a thought for the staff who have to wear violent and/or insulting behaviour daily.

Patrick Jones,  Griffith  

Drug policy 

More experts are declaring that there is a serious drug policy problem in the ACT. (Drugs, drink ‘policy vacuum’, July 31, p1).  

In January , it was revealed police were nabbing 12 times more Canberrans for drug-driving than four years ago in a trend experts say is sweeping the country. 

The illicit drug situation is horrendous – and our kids are dying while all our governments do is stand like kangaroos caught in the glare of policy headlights. 

Ice is a massive problem but only the top of the drugberg. In 2013, 496 Canberrans sought treatment for ice addiction. This rose to 1392 in 2015-16. 

While those at the coalface appear to be doing the best they can, the problem, like President Trump’s White House, is the policy. 

Sooner or later it is going to fall into its self-created vacuum – or as some see it, a black hole. If a policy to prevent first-time drug use is not introduced soon, morbidity and mortality, especially of our youth, will cause political change.

Colliss Parrett, Barton

MPs’ oath is to the Queen of UK, not to the ‘Queen of Australia’

Philip Benwell (“Attack on the Queen”, Letters, August 1) makes two basic errors in his criticism of Bill Shorten’s republic proposal. He asserts that the Queen is queen of Australia by right of the Australian constitution, and that Mr Shorten’s proposal is inconsistent with his oath of allegiance as a parliamentarian. 

The archaic but constitutionally mandated oath is to the monarch specified in the constitution: the Queen of the United Kingdom.

The titularly separate queen of Australia is nowhere mentioned in the constitution. The oath is to the UK monarch and her “heirs and successors according to law”. That law includes the provisions for Australian citizens to amend the constitution, including the replacement of the monarch as our head of state. Mr Benwell and his fellow forelock-tugging anachronists at the Monarchists League should stick to their un-Australian deferential genuflection.

Mike Hutchinson, Reid 

Republicans can’t win After the dismal failure of the republic campaign 20 years ago, I was amused that Bill Shorten is proposing another vote. Last time the republicans were fighting over the model and enlisted actors and game show hosts to support a republic. Australians don’t like celebs telling them what to do. Mr Shorten has not learnt, proposing a vote on a republic and head of state before we know the model proposed. 

We have the British Westminster system  where the Parliament sets policy not a president, nor the Queen for that matter, but we use the US names for the House of Representatives and Senate. If Mr Shorten wants an Australian head of state will it be similar to that in the US  where you have to be born in the country to be president? If so, people such as Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott would be ineligible as they are foreign-born new Australians.

 A vote for a president could be like the result of the Logies or a dating show – mediocrity. Just ask the Americans. The Queen is head of state of 16 countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea so  her position is not unique and is a fact of history.

 Other countries in Europe have successful constitutional monarchies but the difference is most have not had an empire as we had, now the Commonwealth. Furthermore, every 20 years a new generation of royal children is born and most of us love William and Harry and now George and Charlotte. The poor old republicans can’t win.

Adrian Jackson, Middle Park, Vic

NZ not ‘foreign’  

Kel Watt and Frank Cassidy (Letters, July 22) are right to say Scott Ludlam’s resignation from the Senate due to his dual citizenship with New Zealand shouldn’t have happened.

For Ludlam to be pilloried for falling foul of section 44 of the constitution relating to “foreign powers” while blissfully ignoring the constitution’s definition that: “‘The States’ shall mean such of the colonies of New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland …” etc is clearly unsound.

As Watt says, section 44 is outdated.

As Cassidy says, the constitution, by definition, doesn’t regard NZ as a foreign power.

So if Ludlam’s resignation is based solely on his dual citizenship there can be no other course for the Parliament than to reject it.

John Clarke, Pearce

Flaws in uni study 

One point commentators seem to have missed regarding the recent Human Rights Commission report is that it did not initially involve 30,000 students, but 300,000 – more than 90 per cent could not be bothered to respond, making it a self-selected sample, which is always biased towards those with an axe to grind.

The report acknowledges this: “The survey data has been derived from a sample of the target population who were motivated to respond, and made an autonomous decision to do so. It may not necessarily be representative of the entire student population.” However, this is then ignored throughout the report as is the finding that women are five times as likely to be “harassed off campus as on”. Interestingly there is no attempt at a validity study, for example, comparing those who claim to have reported incidents with actual records. I wonder why not?

John Coochey, Chisholm 

Failed reading method

There is a reason Australian students are not up to the mark in reading and writing. For more than four decades, many schools have failed to use the most effective method for teaching beginners how to read.

Five-year-olds are often given a list of words to learn by heart in their first week of school. They try to remember the “look” of the whole word as if it were a Chinese character. Students with good visual memories can cope, but others can’t. Even those who seem OK may run out of memory by grade 3, when they try to guess words by looking at pictures or other clues. 

Too often they guess wrongly, losing confidence and interest in reading. Phonics – sounding out letters and blending them to decode words – takes longer to teach at first, but has been proven effective for all children, especially those with “dyslexia”. 

This method is often introduced too late, after children have already learnt to “look and guess”. While some English words do not follow phonetic rules, their consonants are mostly regular and the vowel pronunciation can be explained.

The biggest problem is that most teachers who themselves learnt to read by phonics before 1970 have now retired, and teacher training programs have been inadequate. Throwing more money at failed methods is not the solution.

Roslyn Phillips, Tea Tree Gully, SA

Public would pay  

Bill Shorten’s desire to keep domestic political donations is self-seeking, so as to maintain his strong link with unions.

Unions are wonderful when they fulfil their function as supporters of welfare of workers, but it would be wonderful for them to lose their role as political powerbrokers. 

In my view the Australian public would be prepared to ban both international and domestic political donations and pay a modest amount from the public purse — so elections can be simpler and fairer.

Caroline Fitzwarryne, Yarralumla

TO THE POINT

PENALTY RELIEF 

Now our rates have gone up so dramatically, could the government please remove the $10 penalty for paying quarterly.

 Maxine Edmonds,  Ngunnawal  

 SAFETY CONCERN 

Despite the alleged aeroplane threat, it appears women are actually safer flying than they are in their own homes or universities.  

 John Passant, Kambah 

 WAR ON TRANSGENDERS 

Poor old Corporal Maxwell Klinger of the 4077th M.A.S.H. He tried for three years to get out of the army passing himself off as transgender.  Ifonly Donald Trump had been president during the Korean War. 

 Greg Gerrard, Weetangera 

 FORMER LIVES 

 Why pick on Peter Dutton because he was a cop? What was Bill Shorten in a former life? A shop steward. At least Labor PM Ben Chifley drove an engine.

Barrie Smillie, Duffy 

 BITE THE BULLET 

According to Malcolm Turnbull, we don’t have a say on legislation unless we have a direct say. 

Why do we vote for representatives when so much legislation is enacted without our direct input? Marriage equity! Bite the bullet.

 Jeff Bradley, Isaacs 

 TIME TO RESIGN

Now that Tim Overall has announced his candidature for the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council elections (“Overall to run in council election”, August2, p10) to be held in September, I trust that he will resign his position as administrator of the council so as to avoid any conflict of interest, whether real or perceived.

 Don Sephton, Greenway

 TRUMP, YOU’RE FIRED!

 I think the best thing is to give the whole White House a clean slate. Fire Mr Trump.

 Mokhles K.Sidden, South Strathfield NSW 

 POLITICALLY GUTLESS

 The PM makes much of his 2016 marriage plebiscite election pledge to justify doing nothing, yet other election commitments have been “modified” to get legislation passed. To suggest that circumstances now are identical to those existing 12 months ago belies this PM’s oft-repeated assurances that he will be agile in meeting change head on. The reality is that he is politically gutless.

 Roger Dace, Reid

 SUGGEST YOU REFOCUS 

The solution to Focus of August1 is incorrect as only seven of the 30words published contain the focus  letter “B”.  

 Judith-Ann Sjostedt, Higgins

Email: [email protected]. Send from the message field, not as an attached file. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

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