THE world really is going mad. The ALP and the Greens in the ACT combining to legislate, in the face of opposition from the Liberal Party, the Human Rights Commission, the Law Society, the Bar Association and the Legal Aid Commission to deny an accused person in the ACT a basic right cherished and defended in liberal democracies for 800 years, namely the right to trial by jury.
This is a fundamental tenet of the rule of law and it is notable that other jurisdictions across Australia facing the Covid-19 crisis, including most notably the Liberal Government in NSW have not taken this draconian step. To be fair, one does need to concede that Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia and North Korea have adopted the same position as ACT Labor and the Greens on the issue of an accused person’s right to a fair trial.
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay and Minister for Justice and Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury, who championed the amendment, should in particular hang their heads in shame. Caroline what were you thinking? A progressive government? You must be joking.
Jon Stanhope, via citynews.com.au
Personally, I rather be in back in China
I KNOW how we can long for things in the past because time filters out nitty gritty parts. I sit here now in Australia during the coronavirus pandemic and actually long to be back in Shanghai, China during SARS 2003.
The start of the virus was very confusing given the lack of transparency, but having lived in China for many years, we were used to this.
Once the government got their act together and started full lockdowns of epidemic centres and enforced rules and regulations, we started to feel relieved.
I was living in Shanghai at that time and we were fortunate that the virus jumped from south China to north China so we were spared major lockdowns.
However, there were major transformations within the city. Before you entered all establishments your temperature was taken, everyone out on the street wore a mask, the elevator of every building had a schedule on it to show when it was last disinfected and all persons coming and going within an area were scrutinised.
Yes, there were failings to this system like the taxi drivers who were supposed to wear masks and would have them swinging off one ear, only to pop them back on when a police officer was in view.
At this moment in time, given the handling of the virus, I honestly wish I was back in China where I could feel safe and secure.
Adrienne Farrelly, via email
More action on inner-north hooning
IT’S time for authorities to take effective action in relation to ongoing localised hooning around the inner north, too (“How the hoons are taking over suburban streets”, Paul Costigan, CN, April 2).
Loud, regular bouts of revving and screeching started in mid-December in the lead up to Summernats in the afternoons and at twilight, particularly on weekends.
Clear evidence of fast and dangerous driving was left behind on major roadways adjacent to inner-north suburbs, including on Ginninderra Drive.
This unwanted antisocial behaviour continued into January and well beyond Summernats and could still be heard in the past week. Observations and concerns passed to local MLAs at the beginning January did not produce remedial action.
And now our less-trafficked main roads and streets are also encouraging some “to put their foot down” and may stimulate even more risky behaviour and local noise pollution by the more bored and less occupied in our community over the coming months.
It is time for real action and that includes either cancelling an influencing event such as Summernats or moving it well away from any suburban environment or rural locality in the ACT.
Sue Dyer, Downer
Empty buses must be wasting money
IT’S three decades since I moved to Bungendore from the ACT, but I still visit Canberra often and have former colleagues and friends there.
One of them who frequently uses Transport Canberra’s buses is dismayed by the wasteful misuse of ACT government funds on running buses quite or nearly empty to a timetable that bears no resemblance to public demand. She understands the cause to be the intransigent attitude of the Transport Workers Union.
She wonders what the ACT government considers more important during the crisis – paying drivers to drive empty buses on the normal schedule or saving public money by reducing the frequency, and thereby the expense, of unproductive journeys.
She was appalled to hear on ABC Radio News that the union expects that its members will continue to receive full payment during the fall in patronage.
Our conversation ended with a rhetorical question about an analogous Canberra situation. What justification does the ACT government have for spending a large amount of limited public money running so many nearly empty buses at such close intervals in a period of significantly reduced demand for them?
Dougal Macdonald, Bungendore
Moore is wrong to hit rant button
It is a while since I worked with Michael Moore (and a nice bloke he is). But he seems to have not compared notes with Jon Stanhope (same issue of CN, April 2) who again points out the extent of the financial mess the ACT is in.
So when Michael hit the rant button for the big-taxing, big-spending state like some other commentators of late: it reminded me of that solid ALP adviser and local Richard Farmer, who noted the best sort of tax is one that someone else pays!
I have been a public servant most of my life and even a tax assessor for a while, and gouging money out of people is not fun and also the font of ideas to waste money on never runs dry.
I am not against interventions that make our society better, but massive makeovers and impositions must surely grate up against Michael’s civil liberties and personal freedoms inclination (which I largely share).
I have great sympathy for our police and military in the current situation having to police these petty but unavoidable rules.
If Michael thinks more interventions and restrictions are good I would suggest respectfully he is very wrong.
I did some background work on rationing for a U3A presentation and the experience of both world wars with rationing, controls and tax hikes loses appeal very quickly (an outlier is Cuba which has hobbled along with ration books for some 58 years (too long)!
One day (hopefully, soon) we can venture into parks and restaurants, hug and shake hands even. Some of the sillier ideas of our (not so splendid) isolation will evaporate again. Michael might then come up with some positive ideas, too.
Martin Gordon, Dunlop