Letters to
the editor

Going in circles on asylum seekers

Thank you David Corlett for your article ‘‘Trapped in limbo’’, March  15-21, concerning asylum seekers and their impossible dilemma. Their situation is the 21st-century version of Catch-22. Because their conditions on Manus and Nauru are intolerable they request to be sent back to their own country from which they have fled. But in so doing they ‘‘nullify their claim that they have a well-founded fear of persecution’’, according to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. The history of this period will one day be written and will document Australia’s shame.

– Ruth Boschen, Balwyn, Victoria

Secularism needs protecting

Martin McKenzie-Murray fails to appreciate the position of people like me “who disagree with religion entirely” (‘‘Forming a disorderly Kew’’, March 15-21). As an atheist I am deeply concerned about the damage caused by religious dogma and the lack of governmental surveillance of religious institutions and individuals seeking to impose their will on others. I regard it as proper – not improper – that politicians and also other people (such as doctors, teachers and jurists) who have important public responsibilities make very clear their religious convictions. Only then can individuals and communities begin to understand the consequences of their choices in inviting them to make decisions that affect people of diverse other persuasions. The public invests in the training of doctors for the common weal and doctors are not entitled to allow their particular personal values to override community values that have been recognised through legislation. The defence of secularism should be the concern of all thoughtful individuals, whatever their religious convictions, for it is the only sure means of defending their rights in a diverse society such as Australians enjoy.

– Sue Hobley, Lilyfield, NSW

Committed marchers set the pace

Only an older person such as moi could marvel at such a magnificent initiative and outstandingly successful national 2014 March in March assembly that could start a few months back as a bright idea, and then be delivered   totally using the vehicle of social media. It must be a terrible worry for the many troglodytes working for old-style mainstream political campaign outfits. I say, go our many bright and socially committed young folk, our future depends on you.

– John Fryer, Ryde, NSW

Helping commuters stay informed

Congratulations on the first two editions of your paper.

I bought both and plan to subscribe for the year. Great journalism – and so great to read in-depth articles about important issues.  Stories that would never be printed by the Murdoch press. I spend quite a bit of time commuting to work – and take my copy of the paper with me on the train and bus. Democracy is still alive and well!

– Mary Keating, Flemington

PM must heed popular movements

Prime Minister Tony  Abbott has expressed his contempt for the nationwide March in March protests by ignoring a question about them and talking only of the St Patrick’s Day celebrations. Shakespeare’s Coriolanus was a muscled-up warrior and came to a tragic end by ignoring those who made him a consul. He too discarded every opinion that was not his, resented those he had wronged, and goaded those who had voted him in to depose him. His fighting skills were his downfall as a politician in power. Taking no heed of the large protests on March 15-16 displays an arrogance Aussies do not care for. Discussion, not dogmatism, makes a democracy. Abbott should beware the Marches in March.

 – Ian M. Johnstone, Armidale, NSW

 When the money is hard to find

A variation on Sophie Morris’s ‘‘The Chinese puzzle’’, March 15-21, and free-trade talks is when you don’t know who’s paying – private investors or the Chinese government? My understanding is that, at present, the Foreign Investment Review Board kicks in if a government-controlled investment exceeds $248 million. Since 2006, the Chinese order of Shaolin monks have held 1500 hectares of NSW coastal public land on a deposit of $250,000 for an asking price of $5 million. Since then, while maintaining an active interest in the site for a development quoted to cost anything from $340 million to $750 million, the Shaolin monks have been unable, or unwilling to pay another penny. With Shoalhaven City Council’s indulgence, a stand-off was maintained until 2009 when the land sales signatory, Mayor Greg Watson, returned from China suggesting Chinese government interest. Shortly after, again announced by Watson, a Chinese businessman, Mr Huen, made an $8 million personal contribution to the project. In 2014, with still just $250,000 on the table, the project seems to reflect Chinese government interest with the inclusion of facilities for Chinese mainland retirees and students. In response to concerns about funding for infrastructure, Shaolin consultants  Conybeare Morrison advise ‘‘funds will be available when required’’. But, where’s the money coming from?

 – Judith Gjedsted, Vincentia, NSW

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on March 22, 2014.

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