On drug testing for Youth Allowance and Newstart 

Daniel Ruben writes: Re. Drug testing to weed out dole blunters” (Tuesday)

It’ll never get through the Senate. This is just huffing and bluffing to keep The Daily Telegraph readers and 2GB listeners happy and distract them from the fact that this is more or less a Labor budget.

On infrastructure in the budget

Ian Fraser writes: Re. “Big bucks, boondoggles and Badgerys — NSW takes centre stage on infrastructure” (Tuesday)

The key to Inland Rail is road pricing or some scheme re heavy road vehicle charging. I was told by people in Parkes that heavy trucks pass through their main streets at a rate of one per minute. So the Newell is a problem the further one projects into the future. Heaven help car drivers if the Newell gets B-triples.

My understanding is that Inland Rail is a 10 year project (no time to search Budget papers for detail) so in that timeframe we need to realise that fuel taxes could be on a steep decline and hence road funding becomes an issue without explicit charging – due generally to projections (and admittedly at present they are only that) of increased shift to non-fossil fuelled vehicles. I think that is the scenario that the Feds are focusing on, but I may be wrong and they may have bought into a project that ARTC can’t control costs on…

On the school chaplaincy program

Jock Webb writes: Taxpayers should shell out for religious indoctrination in public schools because freedom” (Monday)

I am basically irreligious. I respect all religions to a reasonable degree and I disrespect them likewise. I have spent nearly  15 years as the coordinator of SRE in my school. In that time I have seen “Scripture” go from serious thought to Happy Clappy rubbish in many cases. However, I respect the many good and decent people  who try to explain the mysteries of the bible (and also argue with them later if I think they are talking rot, theologically).

You cannot really grasp a lot of art and literature unless you have been exposed to the cultural underpinnings. I despise the chaplaincy stuff as rubbish, largely because God bothering and mental health do not go together in my experience. I have known many fine clerics, including the delightful old priest who used to visit my Mum (an atheist) and was kind to her and she liked him for the decent  human being he was, but hey would not have accepted this claptrap for an instant. 

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey