Letters / Puzzled by Jensen column

I WAS puzzled and dismayed by Nick Jensen’s opinion piece (CN, March 2,”Parents lose power to ‘rainbow ideology’”). My children have benefitted from the Safe Schools program in the ACT public education system. I’m very glad Andrew Barr has ensured the program will continue in Canberra.

quillMr Jensen is clearly not so happy. He’s, of course, entitled to that opinion. However, there are many factual errors in Jensen’s piece. He has also been disingenuous about his association with the Australian Christian Lobby, a conservative group who oppose marriage equality as well as the Safe Schools program. The only other source he quotes, by Prof Patrick Parkinson, has also been commissioned by the ACL.

A quick Google helped me recall Mr Jensen’s personal association with the marriage debate: he is the man who infamously promised to divorce his wife if same-sex marriage was legalised (CN, June 10, 2015).

Unfortunately, his remarks about Safe Schools are equally silly. No one refers to a “rainbow ideology” except the ACL director, Lyle Shelton. While I’m not really sure what this means, the only “ideology” I can find on the education department’s website refers to “creating safe and supportive school environments for same-sex attracted, intersex and gender-diverse people by reducing homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination in schools.”

The Safe Schools program does not run classes in primary schools, and Mr Jensen has no need for concern for his preschool children. I suspect he already knows this and is scaremongering.

Safe Schools does offer support for gender diverse and intersex primary aged children. I’m very grateful to them for this support and thank the ACT government’s continued promotion of a kinder, better informed and more accepting school community.

Rachel Cunneen, via email

Barr’s rainbow warriors

THANK you for publishing the article on “rainbow ideology” by Nick Jensen (CN, March 2).

It’s about time there was serious exposure to this insidious, misnamed Safe Schools policy being prosecuted by the ACT government to satisfy a small but very vocal minority of rainbow warriors.  

I agree with other commentators that it is a pernicious “Trojan Horse” by those who would want us to be multi-hued like them. I dare the Chief Minister to conduct an unbiased survey as to public support for this minority policy.

He may have been returned to power last October, but I do not recall him campaigning for the right to pursue this policy in our public schools, let alone plaster rainbow flags around town at taxpayer expense. 

M Flint, Erindale

Flags of support

NICK Jensen, you may see the rainbow flags that were recently displayed on Commonwealth Avenue as some sort of sign that the ACT government is committed to the deconstruction of gender (“Parents lose power to ‘rainbow ideology'”, CN, March 2), but I see support for a community that has historically been attacked, on every level.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that the Safe Schools program is about supporting LGBT students. As a former student of Marist College, a school that was rife with homophobia and paedophilia, I can only wish that we had such a program back then.

Danny Corvini, Deakin

Then there’s the Velonias’ case…

I ACKNOWLEDGE that columnist Nichole Overall’s account of the 1953 “death sentence” passed on rapist Vincent George Dixon is very interesting (CN, February 23) but it is certainly not the only death sentence ever passed in the ACT.

Twelve years later, in the Canberra law courts, a disturbed man named Stefanos (Steve) Velonias admitted to killing his brother Harry, as well as Harry’s wife Sophia, in Narrabundah, in January, 1965. He pleaded not guilty on the grounds of insanity.

While Harry and Sophia were enjoying the John Wayne movie “Hatari” at Canberra’s only drive-in cinema, Steve had been lying underneath their bed for hours, armed with a loaded rifle. It was a long-anticipated, premeditated attack, based on Steve’s jealousy of his brother and his desire to have Sophia for himself.

After the murders, Steve made elaborate plans to escape to Europe, hardly the actions of a man who didn’t really know what he was doing.

The judge wasn’t buying his defence and the jury didn’t buy it, either, finding him guilty of the double murder on June 2, 1965. He was sentenced to death.

A month later, the case was heard again, this time in the High Court in Sydney.

Velonias and his barrister, Mr Kevin Murray, were seeking leave to appeal against the death sentence on “points of law and the question of his legal sanity”. Murray argued that medical evidence showed an “abnormal degree of resentment” by Steve when Harry had thrown his brother out of the house. He said that the evidence showed that Velonias had “a disease of the mind before and during the murder”. On Tuesday, July 6, the High Court refused the appeal.

Regardless of the failure of the appeal, the ACT Supreme Court commuted the death sentence the following month and Stefanos Velonias was sentenced to 30 years in Goulburn Gaol.

On the morning of Thursday, September 16, 1965, warders found Velonias dead, suspended from the window of his cell. Having been given a reprieve from hanging by the legal system, he had probably decided that his death was the only way to end the shame and misery that he had brought upon the Velonias family.

Ged Fitzsimmons, via email

That tree still stands!

The tree threatening John Wright’s home… still defying gravity.

AFTER years of complaining and campaigning about a mature street tree dangerously overhanging my home, in November I finally got a letter from City Services acting director-general Ben Ponton saying: “After reconsidering your situation and in light of the fact that the tree is not part of the formal streetscape, [we] will schedule the removal of the tree later this year or early 2017.”

The government came about the tree on February 22. Unfortunately, I was having a nap and my wife didn’t wake me or show the worker the letter of authorisation.

He refused to cut the tree down, so they’ve reneged on the promise. He was presumably supplied with no paperwork. The government should know what the tree looks like, given “CityNews” published the photo of it. If these people ever cared to visit sites, they might learn something.

​John Wright, Chisholm

Yes, but what do the choppers cost?

THANK you Clinton McAlister, of ActewAGL, for your letter on helicopter patrols (CN, March 2), even if it didn’t address my concerns directly.  I never said that patrols from the air were not “essential” or that it was less efficient or cost effective than ground-based patrols. What I did say was that there were perhaps much cheaper options for inspecting powerlines from the air, options that many other authorities and businesses have used for years. And there is no information to suggest that perhaps the LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system could not be employed from light aircraft or by an equivalent camera-based system.  

As an economist trained in cost/benefit analysis, I simply wanted to know how much your annual helicopter inspections were costing ratepayers so that some calculation could be made as to how efficient they actually were compared with other possible alternatives. Unfortunately, your letter provided no costings on the use of the helicopter or the personnel it carried.

Ric Hingee, Duffy


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