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Canberra Today 9°/12° | Friday, May 24, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Builders of this country the ones in shackles

Letter writer IAN PILSNER makes no bones about it. He thinks the anti-colonialists should thank the many convicts that were shackled for the long and arduous hours of backbreaking work they undertook to build the foundations of this country that they now enjoy today. 

Sadly, I read a letter in the local newspaper criticising colonialism in Australia, which seems to be the current fad. 

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It was talking about Aboriginals being shackled figuratively speaking, which I thought was ironic, because if they had read their history correctly, they would have realised that the builders of this country were often the ones in shackles and chains. 

Aboriginals had the country all to themselves for 60,000 years without shackles. In that time, while looking after the land they had done very little in the way of technology; no buildings, bridges, roads, hospitals, not even the wheel. 

It wasn’t until the First Fleet arrived in 1788, that these essential items that we now take for granted were even thought of. 

Maybe those anti-colonialists could thank the many convicts that were shackled for the long and arduous hours of backbreaking work they undertook to build the foundations of this country that they now enjoy today. 

As for the phrase “Always was, always will be…” that sounds irredeemably racist and forever trapped in the unacceptance of migrants coming to this country and making it a better place. Shame on you.

Ian Pilsner, Weston

Why Assembly Liberals need to be transparent

WHAT a reminder – “there are nine elected members of the Liberal Party” in the Legislative Assembly (“How the Libs missed the moment to be moderate”, CN November 9). 

Over the next 11 months, insincere, shallow or fake attempts to bolster the “moderate” credentials of any Liberal sitting member, new candidate or the ACT party overall will easily be skewered by an alert electorate, particularly one that also expects local campaigns to comprise much more than superficial “roads and rubbish” level viewpoints and proposals. 

Or will a couple of ACT “moderates” be minimally defined and paraded while the rest remain relatively mute on issues that matter to the five ACT electorates?

Canberra voters’ antennae would also twitch in overdrive at any party attempt to draw on the damaging skills, strategies and significant resources of its previously used and now better-known right-wing helpmates like Advance, Fair Australia, the Australian Christian Lobby, the ACT’s former Liberal senator and his former, yet still interfering, factional colleagues from regional NSW, Queensland, and WA, as well as some of his former Assembly colleagues and key staffers. 

Given the ACT party’s history, networks and poorly received past electioneering tactics, both current and aspiring Assembly Liberals need to be much more honest and transparent about who and what is influencing and driving the party, its policy priorities and its evolving platform. The creation of “puppet” moderates will not work in the ACT.

Sue Dyer, Downer

Unnecessary and unjustified traffic lights

IN the interest of full disclosure, can we ask Chief Minister Barr to detail how much he saved by going to Optus for the essential phone services to our hospitals, schools, ambulances, police and ESA?

No point asking where those savings went – there is always that ever increasing cost of the tram, never to be disclosed to the public

But out here in Holt we do know where some of the savings went. On totally unnecessary and unjustified traffic lights on Drake Brockman Drive where it crosses three low-traffic, suburban streets: Spofforth, McNaughton and Trickett.

The beneficiaries? Well that’ll be those punters who bought into the government business enterprise out at Strathnairn, and who were the recipients of a good deal on stamp duty, at the expense of my ever-increasing rates.

Bill Brown, Holt

Thank you, Jon, for raising this issue

I DON’T want to reflect too adversely on “The Canberra Times”, but I cannot imagine they would run an article like “’Lest we forget’ but there’s nowhere to remember them” (CN November 2). 

Author Jon Stanhope reasonably reflects on the sacrifice of young Australians in various conflicts, but the fact is the locals are not aware of their own history. 

I recall some years back when he spoke up for adequate recognition of the German sailors who died and are buried in our Cocos Islands in World War I (which I totally agreed with at the time). Germany has not always been an enemy, but they now are very much a friend.

I was not entirely surprised he did not object to the upgrade of the Australian War Memorial. It commemorates the sacrifice of so many. 

But he is not alone in the need for the recognition of so many both in the ACT or elsewhere. It should be a common courtesy we extend to these young men (and women).

I had the pleasure some years back seeing the Hall School Museum. I understand how he feels to learn something that is important but similarly revealing. 

Should Jon and Robyn want to change the pace, the Blue Mountains have a grove of trees dedicated to former Prime Ministers, and Ballarat has its Avenue of Honour. Although the latter at 22 kilometres and 3912 names and 528 dead might be a bit much for even the most devoted of spouses.

Thank you, Jon, for raising this issue.

Martin Gordon, Dunlop

Druggies on the streets and in the gutter

I AM writing to let Michael Moore and the people of the ACT know that his commentary, “Reforms not the end of the world as we know it” (CN November 2), needs to be corrected. 

Mr Moore seems to be of the opinion that legalising small amounts of drugs is not a problem. Moore asks if Elizabeth Lee will have the good grace to eat her words. I would ask the same of Moore.

My husband and I stayed in Vancouver a few years ago and it is a lovely city, or should I say was. My sister recently visited it and was disappointed. There were druggies out on the streets, in the gutter, propped against the walls and parked on any available bench. 

I Googled drug laws in Vancouver and in January 2023 they brought out the same laws that the ACT Greens/Labor government had just brought into the ACT. Is this what we have to look forward to? I hope not.

As to the provision of treatment: this ACT Greens/Labor government is clearly already incapable of providing the necessary level of service, so there is no reason to expect they will do anything whatsoever in support of this decriminalisation. As such, we can clearly look forward to the same outcomes as have happened in Portugal.

Vi Evans, via email

We face Russia joining in a nuclear World War III

IN his article “The only means left to decide the winner is force” (CN, November 9), Robert Macklin notes “this is the time when climate heating demands that we work together to solve a truly existential problem for our species. The clash between ancient notions of the relative merits of gods… is a complication we don’t need”.

It seems to me that a major stumbling block to “working together” is the intransigence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

The “Guardian Weekly” of November 3 quoted a Gaza resident who said: “Israel cut us off from the world (in north Gaza) in order to wipe us out”. Gazans have not yet been wiped out, but tens of thousands of non-combatants have been killed, including many thousands of innocent children.

When Mr Netanyahu was asked to call a ceasefire so the dead could be buried and wounded evacuated, he replied: “The Bible says that there is a time for peace and a time for war. This is a time for war”. 

Rather than showing any sign of ending, the war will likely worsen, and possibly draw in Hezbollah and its heavily-armed (perhaps nuclear-armed) host, Iran.

One could be forgiven for asking “when will the conflict stop expanding?” With the world’s attention diverted away from the Ukraine war, we could possibly be faced with Russia joining in a nuclear World War III.

Dr Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin

A nice academic exercise, but little more

I’M at a loss to understand Dr Paul Kauffmann’s concern that the indigenous population is set to “boom” (CN, October 26). His key reason: “An almost religious… wish to identify with one’s Aboriginal ancestry for many people”. 

So what? I grew up in an era when convict ancestry was a horrifying thought in polite society. How that particular circle has turned, so why shouldn’t indigenous heritage also follow a similar path as Australia, hopefully, broadens its social horizons? 

Besides, the simple (perhaps even simplistic) arithmetical projections provided by Dr Kauffmann and his sources are a nice academic exercise but little more.

Of course, the predictable response will be that, “they’re all trying to latch on to the extra benefits ladled out to anyone who wishes to claim Aboriginality”. 

This canard based on, “why should ‘they’ get benefits the rest of us don’t”, also contains a great irony. If there are “false” claims to Aboriginal identity, those making them must therefore be non-Aboriginal (white perhaps?). 

Besides, I know of no real evidence that such is occurring to any larger extent than in other benefits areas, despite ongoing unsubstantiated claims from the usual media suspects and their acolytes. 

Oddly, we seldom hear such vociferous complaints about dodgy claimants in other welfare areas. Oh, sorry, I forgot about all those skiving dole-bludgers in the ’80s (when I was at Social Security), along with the masses of teenage girls who got pregnant just so they could claim the single-parent benefit. Their hyper-ventilated numbers were just as fictitious.

Eric Hunter, Cook 

A long bow on population forecasts

IN forecasting the indigenous population out to 2081, Paul Kauffman makes some sweeping assumptions (“Indigenous population set to ‘boom’”, CN October 26). 

In 1961, when Dr Kauffman claims the indigenous population was 84,000, Section 127 of the constitution contained the wording “Aboriginal natives shall not be counted”. 

Back then, people were also afraid to identify as Aboriginal because of the stigma and discrimination. In 1965, in Moree, Aboriginal children were barred from entering the swimming pool, for example. 

The definition of aboriginality has also changed over time. In 1991, a legal historian estimated that at least 67 classifications, descriptions or definitions to determine who is an Aboriginal person had been used by governments since white settlement in Australia. 

Therefore, assuming the growth in those who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander from 2021 to 2081 is the same as that from 1961 to 2021 is a long bow indeed.

Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Victoria

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One Response to Builders of this country the ones in shackles

James says: 28 November 2023 at 8:22 am

The only shame is on Ian Pilsner for penning such a letter, let alone on the City News for publishing it. Shame on you.

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