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Grafitti is art?

I would like to take issue with the recent articles (GLW #818 and #819) claiming that graffiti is "street art" and should be accorded respect.

The ugly scribbling and "tagging" that pollute just about every street corner; from trees to walls, fences, private and public is a depressingly familiar sight across our landscape.

This visual pollution has as much a political message as a dog turd. Would the writers claim that this is "art"? Well, clearly, they are out of step with the majority of the population who see it as ugly.

Again, GLW endeavours to find all manner of causes for this action — blaming the capitalist state and lack of alternatives available to the young.

Well, I would like to put my own theory forward. Turn off the TV, spend some time with your kids, limit the amount of money and free time and impress upon the young the importance that with every right goes a responsibility.

Add in a healthy dose of the importance of respect — add some imaginative and constructive ways in which the young can give back to society, like volunteer work, etc., and I bet you wouldn't see many kids taking up pens and spray cans defacing the landscape.

Peter Bosma
Baulkham Hills, NSW, Abridged

For equal marriage

I agree with Farida Iqbal (GLW #819) that "the demand for the right to marry 'regardless of gender', rather than the right to 'same-sex marriage'", is more inclusive of transgender, transsexual and intersex people.

This is an important step as there have been conflicts in the past between gay and lesbian, transsexual, transgender and intersex activists over who gets included and excluded by particular demands.

However, it is not all that clear to say that: "In 2004, the Coalition government, with Labor support, banned marriage for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people."

In the 2001 Re Kevin case of the marriage of Kevin (a trans man) and Jennifer (a non-trans woman), the family court agreed that post operative transsexual people have the right to marry in their affirmed gender. This was upheld on appeal in 2003.

The result is that some transgender people — those usually defined as transsexuals who meet the criteria of having irreversibly changed their sexual characteristics — have access to marriage, but other transgender people do not.

A shift to a law that allows access to marriage for all, regardless of their sex or gender situation is clearly a more equitable outcome. An alternative approach would be to instead leave marriage to the religions, and demand that the state only recognise civil unions.

Riki Lane
By email, Abridged

'Stralians' and refugees

Though I am quite opposed to the stereotypical notions of being 'Stralian', as I feel they are hijacked and used to manipulate the population, I am surprised the public is reluctant to draw correlations between the stereotypical attributes we often pride ourselves on and the plight of asylum seekers and migrants.

A substantive amount of people have opted to permanently brand themselves with tattoos of the Southern Cross.

It is my hope that these individuals in recognising and representing the traits the Southern Cross (strength, unity, freedom, struggle, the people, mateship, a fair go) have considered the roots of its conception.

It's concerning to think a section of the population fuelled and often held hostage by the Australian identity is unwilling to acknowledge that most of the traits associated with being "Stralian" are being exhibited by the boat people seeking refuge on our shores.

These people are the underdogs, the downtrodden, the strugglers fleeing persecution, unlawful incarceration, torture, oppression, genocide, fascist governments and war. These people are victims and prisoners of unjust and inhumane governments in their homelands and are struggling for the same freedoms that our immigrant convict ancestors were (bar indigenous genocide), or in "Stralian" terms they're seeking a "Fair Go".

Ryan Neale
Marrickville, NSW, Abridged

Political donations

When I attended the political donations forum at Lindfield a week ago — hosted by the Greens — I became alerted that, thanks to "reforms" made to federal political donations law by John Howard's Liberal government, the disclosure threshold for political donations has been raised from $1500 to more than $10,000.

This hypothetically allows big foreign owned companies, such as those in energy resources to fund a multitude of "mercenary" political campaigns with lots of discrete $10,000 donations to win leverage for their commercial interests with our federal politicians.

Tony Backhouse

ETS fraud

According to the November 16 Age: "The government will permanently exclude agricultural emissions and give farmers access to credits for good farming practices such as tree planting."

According to World Bank Group environmental experts, the world annual greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution is 50% bigger than previously thought and the annual livestock GHG contribution is more than 51% of the world total.

The Australian Labor government is thus committing to permanently ignoring more than 50% of Australia's huge domestic GHG emissions.

This represents a monumental betrayal of Labor voters, Australians, humanity and the biosphere by the pro-coal Australian Labor government.

Australia is a world leader in annual per capita GHG pollution. Its domestic-plus-exported value is 10 times the world's annual per capita GHG pollution, 25 times India's, 20 times the Developing World's and 60 times that of Bangladesh.

However the two major Australian parties (the Liberal-National Party Coalition and the Labor Party) are telling the world several weeks before Copenhagen that Australia will keep polluting domestically forever at more than 50% of the current level in addition to expanding Australia's coal exports.

Dr Gideon Polya, Convenor 300.org
Macleod, Vic, Abridged

Peak oil approaching

Peak oil — the peaking of the global oil production rate — is imminent.

Whether it's 2010, 2015 or 2020 there is not and will not be any alternative to cheap oil in any meaningful quantity.

Reserves and estimated production capacity around the world are exaggerated. This is because many oil-producing nations want to attract in foreign capital investment and are cooking the books.

Factor in the huge surge in demand from China and India and we are faced with a crisis.

We rely on oil to power industry, for aviation, to produce plastics and chemicals, fuel the planet's 700 million cars, transport goods locally and internationally. Most importantly, we rely on oil based fertilisers to grow food for nearly 7 billion people.

Richard Bergin
Kensington, SA, Abridged