Does Abbott want to serve this nation?

Does Abbott want to serve this nation?

THE opposition's "suspicions of a cover-up" in the Australia Day incident fly in the face of logic, given that it was reasonable to assume that Tony Abbott would be at the presentation ceremony that was taking place very close to the Aboriginal tent embassy.

For a man who freely admits that making political points is more important to him than telling the truth, this hypocrisy transcends all his publicity stunts and further demonstrates his lack of respect for the electorate.

If Mr Abbott had not made pronouncements designed to anger that segment of the population, no incident would have taken place.

It is a fact that Mr Abbott has no difficulty in alienating many sections of our community: asylum seekers, whom he would drive into the sea gays, to whom he would deny fundamental liberties adherents to any religion not his own trade unionists and now the indigenous population of Australia.

That he craves the office of prime minister is beyond debate that he harbours a desire to actually serve this country is beginning to look like the proposition that needs to be debated.

Donald Smith, Mount Eliza

Conflicted ideals

AS GRANDPARENTS of a severely disabled little girl, we were thrilled that the Labor government was to introduce a disability insurance scheme. This could be life-changing for the most vulnerable in our society.

Tony Abbott, however, says that such a scheme is only aspirational. I am stunned.

This is a man who professes to be a Christian and will defend the multimillionaire pokie owners, but will not commit to assisting the lives of those children and adults who struggle daily to live their lives.

I only hope that when we go to the polls, voters will think about the conflicted ideals of a man who will support pokie kings and disregard children such as our precious granddaughter.

Carol Reed, Newport

Onus on developers

OPPOSITION to the Malvern project has been built on judgments that "it did not suit Armadale" ("Stonnington quashes apartment towers proposal", The Age, 31/1). It could also be opposed due to the impact upon infrastructure.

Proximity to train stations is only part of the assessment. It is not an advantage if the trains and trams are already crowded when they reach the area. To judge the project we need to know how many are over-crowded between 8am and 9am? How long does it take cars in Orrong Road to clear the Malvern Road lights at this time? Can the school accommodate many more new students? How will the strip shopping centre cope with the extra cars? What's the state of the pipes and wires? These questions emerge as the context for inner-city residential development has changed.

In the past, this was an attractive planning strategy as new population used existing capacity in schools, roads, rail and trams. But capacity has now likely been well and truly filled in most parts of the inner city. Hence developers should now be required to identify local infrastructure capacities, show the effect of their project, and how they would tackle likely problems. Outer suburban developers have long been expected to fund local infrastructure. If the inner city is to remain liveable, a similar perspective needs to be applied.

Professor Kevin O'Connor, faculty of architecture, University of Melbourne

Misplaced faith

THE residents of Boonah in the east Otways had a meeting on Monday with the Department of Sustainability and Environment regarding an 800-hectare "fuel reduction" fire near our properties, proposed for next month.

The residents were informed that should the fire escape its boundaries and damage or destroy our properties, we would be fully compensated. Unfortunately, the department won't put this in writing.

Further, the department's representatives were unable to respond to queries on the fire's effect on the ecology of the park, nor were they able to provide any facts as to the efficacy of fuel-reduction burning. Yet this department is entrusted with maintaining the state's natural heritage. A department that regards the Alpine National Park as a paddock, the Great Otway National Park as fuel and the public as fools.

David Wanless, Boonah

Festival in the clear

WHAT a tragedy that someone died at a music festival on the weekend, but event organisers can't be blamed ("Epping man a festival fatality", The Age, 31/1). The Rainbow Serpent Festival was the best organised festival I have been to. I was waiting for St John Ambulance attention for an ankle injury while the man was being attended to, and in addition to the on-site first aid there were four ambulances and police. The first aid area was cordoned off and staff had cleared the exit route so the ambulances could leave when ready. St John and festival staff did everything they could. The problem was that the man took drugs.

Annie Wilton, Collingwood

Generous boss

KEN Grenda shares $15 million with his employees after the sale of his bus company, acknowledging their loyalty, commitment and work ethic. The banks, running record profits, slash jobs and take them offshore while paying executives obscenely fat bonuses.

Maybe the banks could take on Mr Grenda as a consultant but I suspect he wouldn't last long. He understands management.

Dick Stratford, Portarlington

Banks get a piece

of lottery action

AND I thought the big banks had exhausted every avenue available to rip money from customers. Those who use credit cards to buy a lottery ticket are now being charged a cash advance fee, which is 1.5 per cent of the transaction. The banks say they are minimising problem gambling.

They reason, apparently, that increasing their bottom line will turn off problem gamblers. When I put my bank, the Commonwealth, under pressure for further answers, they claimed government legislation required them to do this. What a load of nonsense. They are doing this because it adds to their profits.

This new charge, which will reap millions for the banks each year, is immoral gouging. It simply amounts to the banks wanting to get a piece of the lottery action, and in doing so labelling as problem gamblers every person who uses their credit card to buy a lottery ticket.

Robert Cooper, Mount Eliza

Unemployment figures a con job

ONE of the biggest con jobs is the monthly unemployment figures (Comment, 1/2). A year ago, Julia Gillard referred to the possibly 2 million people outside the full-time labour force, above and beyond those registered as unemployed.

She based her statement on the Bureau of Statistics' "Persons not in the labour force" survey, which is the only true measure of employment/unemployment, not the bureau's nonsensical "labour force" survey, which is based on a political definition of unemployment.

Remember, also, that we only have 181,000 vacancies, which represents about one vacancy for every 20-25 unemployed, depending on your skill level.

Dodgy unemployment figures leads to dodgy analysis and policies. The cooking of the unemployment figures must stop if we are ever going to solve our mass unemployment.

Marcus L'Estrange, St Kilda

Flow-on effects

CONTRARY to what Vivienne Ortega suggests (Letters, 26/1), Indonesia's drive for food self-sufficiency is not a simple good thing. The consequence of this is likely to be more deforestation to create pasture and crop fields to feed the archipelago's bloated population. This is what has happened in South America, where the local beef industry is one of the forces behind rainforest destruction.

What will happen to rare and wonderful animals such as orang-utans if Indonesia clears more forest? There is a serious environmental price to pay if Indonesia stops importing beef and other food from Australia.

Jason Foster, Mirboo North

Taking good care

FATHER Bob Maguire has not been "thrown on the scrap heap" ("On last wings and a prayer as Father Bob bows out", The Age, 30/1).

Our Ministry to Priests Office and Priests Retirement Foundation care for about 100 retired priests. Each man receives a new car, generous benefits and has a range of accommodation options, including private accommodation and high-care nursing home. This care is extended to all retired priests in good standing including Father Maguire.

Fr Gregory Bourke, Ministry to Priests, East Melbourne

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