It is a matter of trust

It starts with political donations – from unions, developers, industry associations, big companies, wealthy individuals, "policy exchange functions" and the like. And so it must follow that there comes a time to seek a return on such "investments".

Hence we see, for example, rules inexplicably relaxed for developers, unions and industry both exercising disproportionate power in policy matters, shortcuts in environmental assessments, questionable decisions taken under the guise of "ministerial discretion", and large grants rolled out to inappropriate organisations without any prior scrutiny or even a funding application.

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When similar shonky dealings happen in developing countries we are quick to wag the finger and cry out "corruption"!

But here in Australia we're more clever than that and instead befog all business around political donations and so make them appear ethical, legal and in the national interest.

I call it corruption. Better still, institutional corruption, call it what it is. And it's embedded deep in our highest institutions – federal, state and territory parliaments.

Reform is long overdue and our politicians know it.

But don't hold your breath for changes any time soon, both major parties are so firmly on the donation teat that any meaningful reform is wishful thinking only. Little wonder politicians continue to lose our trust.

Murray Johns, Aranda

Morrison's two priorities

Our new Prime Minister has declared that he's on my side.

In my relief at this turn of events, I entreat – Mr Morrison, if you are on my side then you will do two things urgently. Two things I and every single person I know, not to mention the majority of all Australians, want the government to do.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Photo: AAP

First, take climate change and emissions reduction seriously.

Second, remove the Oyster Knife Of Good Government from its scabbard, and winkle off the Biggest Barnacle Of All.

That is, remove Tony Abbott from any position of influence. The man has destroyed sensible policy for most of the last decade and our whole country continues to suffer because of it. Regardless of what he may or not be capable of contributing to the Aboriginal people, his presence in Parliament is dangerous to progress and an affront to anyone interested in stability of government and formulation of good national policy.

Thank you Prime Minister, it is a pleasure and great relief to know the government is on my side at last. Of course if I am mistaken in this, the voters of Warringah must assume the responsibility for winkling and lead the country at election time.

PS Barnacle (as has been pointed out before) rhymes with Barnaby, another urgent job for the oyster blade. "Envoys" does not equal winkling.

Julian Robinson, Narrabundah

What's that coal's story?

Looking at the front page of The Canberra Times recently displaying Scott Morrison as the new Prime Minister of Australia, it occurred to me that this was the same man who stood up in Federal Parliament holding a lump of coal with pride and telling the other members of Parliament what it was — as if he'd discovered something new and amazing. It only occurred to me today to ask: where did he get this lump of coal? They don't grow on trees, you know.

Does Scott collect lumps of coal as a hobby? Did he hunt it down himself and capture it single-handed? Did he go into his back yard and dig it up? Did he buy it on eBay?

If so, what price did he pay for it? Was it a gift from some well-meaning organisation? If so, did he declare this new acquisition on his register of interests?

Or was it a piece of Show Coal, specially polished and lacquered to look its best for its debut in the People's House before being taken away and burnt to keep a pensioner warm for a minute?

If Prime Minister Morrison wants to be "a new generation of Liberal leadership", does he still think that buying lumps of coal and brandishing them in public is going to solve our power problems?

Paul Wayper, Cook

A blot on our name

I hope that Scott Morrison takes immediate steps to remove the blot on Australia's name, by bringing the five-year-old refugee children and their parents on Nauru and Manus Island, to Australia.

This callous imprisonment is the most disgraceful and disgusting thing that we as a nation have ever done and it has been going on for more than five years.

Collectively and shamefully, we haven't said or done anything.

Our appropriately moral Prime Minister should sit down at home, in front of his wife and children, and as he looks into their eyes he should think about what he is going to do to repair the collateral damage caused by Australia's "turn back the boats" policy.

Until he does, we will all continue to be disgraced.

("What it means to have a man of faith as PM", August 30, p19).

Tony Powell, Griffith

Double standards

Peter Dutton granted visas to two Europeans who broke the visa rules; at the same time around 1000 people (including many children), who have not broken any rules by applying for asylum in Australia, are held in appalling conditions on Manus and Nauru.

His double standards and inhumanity are shocking – and this is the man that almost half the members of the current government voted for as their next PM.

Clare Conway, Ainslie

Friends in need

In October 2001, PM John Howard declared ... "we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come".

These sentiments, whether you agree with them or not, appear to have been corrupted by the recent Immigration Minister, and failed PM candidate, to become: "I will decide which white au pairs can come and stay in Australia for the benefit of those with connections to Liberal Party donors and my former police colleagues and the circumstances in which they come".

Thank goodness the recent Immigration Minister (and his local Liberal senator accomplice) cannot count to 43.

R. King, Melba

Visit a nursing home, you might rethink euthanasia

My mother died last week. She was 96. Not a bad innings you say? Thing is she should have been bowled out about five years ago.

My mother lived in an independent living retirement village until, because of her deteriorating health, she was unable to cope on her own, so I organised a carer to visit her a few days per week to help her with the things she could no longer handle on her own. Things like washing, cleaning, preparing meals and shopping.

As her health started to decline further I arranged for an ACAT assessment which indicated she needed full-time care, so we made the decision to move her into a nursing home.

The nursing home was fine for a couple of years, but her dementia was slowly getting worse and she needed extra assistance with getting dressed, bathing, and mobility issues.

Each time I visited her and asked how she was feeling, her standard reply was "I just wish the good lord would let me go to sleep and not wake up".

She knew that her quality of life was deteriorating fast and she had had enough. But euthanasia is not legal in this country.

As her health deteriorated further and she could no longer do anything for herself, she was moved into the nursing home's section for acute and palliative care residents.

I witnessed her condition deteriorating even further. I dreaded going to visit her. It was depressing and cruel to see her and lots of others just being kept alive because that's what the law says.

I would encourage people opposed to euthanasia to visit a nursing home and witness this situation first-hand. Instead of placing my mother into a nursing home, I should have taken her back to the country of her birth where people have a more progressive outlook on life and where euthanasia is legal.

When I find myself in a similar situation I will be taking a pill and not waking up in the morning. I have no wish to go through what my mother was forced to endure.

H. Zandbergen, Kingston

Cynical view misguided

John Burns (Letters, August 31) calls himself a cynic.

He disagrees with the euthanasia opinion that a very large proportion of the electorate actually hold.

John has every right to have his own opinion and be a cynic, and of course he can back Zed as much as he wants.

However l think he has no right to insult the "kids" by suggesting they are "wanting early access to the estate".

If this is the way your kids think, John, then no wonder you are a cynic. However l take exception to you insulting my kids – and in fact most kids l know – because "the estate" is the last thing on their minds.

l have had first-hand experience dealing with families watching their elderly parents in unmentionable suffering, and in virtually all cases the over-riding wish is that their parent was not suffering.

If the people of the ACT were treated like adults, and given the opportunity to have open discussion about the end of life choices, it would be a much better situation than having people in power, imposing their personal beliefs.

If this were the case people would be free to not "have a bar of it" if that is what they wanted. And l am sure that absolutely nothing would bring back the death penalty.

This is just another piece of proof that John is a cynic.

Geoff Barker, Flynn

Thought bubbles

My eye was attracted to the heading 'Call for ministers to be 'honourable"(August 29, p13). My first thought was that someone was actually requesting that ministers should behave in a new way.

Reading on I was disillusioned to see the article was, in fact, reporting the ACT Assembly's clerk had suggested a new salutation be introduced for ministers and the speaker.

My hopes were quickly dashed.

The same article moved on to report that the Labor caucus has been busy on important matters to suggest that gender neutral terms be introduced into the Assembly.

I can hardly wait to learn of the next important world-shattering thought bubble.

Martin Devine, Macarthur

The drone problem

In answer to A. Sheather (Letters, September 1). His argument is typical of a Canberra NIMBY.

Well, we do not want drones in our backyard in the country either.

There are laws regarding these machines.

Just go to the aviation website and you will see quite strict rules.

The police should be policing this issue.

J. Gray, Queanbeyan East, NSW

On the wrong track

Cuan Petheram weighs into the school education debate (Letters, September 3) but has googled too excitedly and used the wrong figures. Australia actually performs above the OECD average in science, mathematics and reading.

The hyperbole in Dr Petheram's letter is something else! Apparently "brainwashed teachers" have failed a "generation of children" by teaching "mumbo jumbo" and leaving them "almost illiterate and innumerate". Dr Petheram thinks we are overdue for a conversation about what and how children are taught.

That conversation occurs every day within educators' professional communities, and it would be a great deal easier for them if armchair experts butted out.

Glenn Fowler, secretary Australian Education Union, ACT branch

A balancing act

Annette Barbetti (Letters, August 31) asks whether the greenhouse benefits of light rail will outweigh the emissions caused by its construction.

The draft environmental impact statement for Stage 1 estimated that its construction would cause 60,854 tonnes of emissions. In their paper "Greenhouse gas emission reductions from Canberra's light rail project", Steffen, Percival and Flannery estimated that people who switch from driving cars to using light rail Stage 1 will reduce emissions by an average of 1.6 kg CO2 per trip.

On that basis Stage 1 would become carbon neutral when it has replaced 38 million car trips.

Capital Metro estimates that Stage 1 will carry 20,207 passengers per day in 2031.

If we assume that one in six of those light rail passengers would otherwise have driven, rather than travel by bus, then Stage 1 would reach carbon neutrality just after the end of its 30-year economic lifetime.

Leon Arundell, Downer

Article distressing

I found the article "How they found the boy in the bush", (September 1, p1) quite distressing. We can only hope the mother is the one who rises from the ashes and is given time to heal. Putting the boy's photo in the paper will only draw more attention to him and possibly impede his healing process.

It is hardly the "good news story" we want on the front page.

Nick Corby, Hawker



Of all the myriad ways to help Indigenous communities, Tony Abbott has decreed that his highest priority in his mysterious sop of a role as Indigenous envoy (wherefore art thou, Nigel Scullion?) is acting as chief truancy officer and punishing miscreants, I imagine with good old-fashioned missionary zeal. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

David Jenkins, Casey


Why does Tony Abbott bother coming to Canberra any more. Does Zed give him room at the Inn?

Linus Cole, Palmerston


It looks like the whole Liberal Party have become "wreckers". Bravo Tony Abbott, your destructiveness became utterly infectious and you destroyed the lot.

Harry Young, New Acton


In ancient Greece, green was the colour of bile/envy. It must be Tony Abbott's appropriate colour.

Cynthia Moloney, Yarralumla


The ultraconservatives are still pushing the pendulum to the right. What more do they want?

Howard Styles, Kingston


If you need to be of "good character" to enter Australia, then why on earth did ScoMo invite Trump here?

R. Moulis, Hackett


It would seem that it's OK for foreigners to come and work here as long as they're on a tourist visa and promise to work for free. For Peter Dutton, it's just routine.

S. W. Davey, Torrens


If Mr Morrison is "on my side" would he be prepared to dismantle the fence around Parliament House?

Vanessa Lauf, Bungendore, NSW


Thank you Tim Gavel for 30 years' commitment to informing us of the journeys of Canberra, Queanbeyan and AIS athletes and teams. Your enthusiasm and dedication will be missed but not forgotten.

Greg Blood, Florey


A lot of your correspondents tell us the world has never been worse than it is now. Monday marked the 79th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland that started World War II. We should count our blessings I say. Others have faced much greater challenges than we do.

M. Moore, Bonython


How about refusing a visa for Trump on character grounds, and welcoming Chelsea Manning for her work in uncovering war crimes?

Fred Pilcher, Kaleen

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