Letters to
the editor

Shining a light in the darkest of places

I’d like to thank Martin McKenzie-Murray for the honesty and insight on such a challenging topic (“Inside the mind of a paedophile”, May 10-16). My husband was a cast member of the program Hey Dad..!, and a witness in the recent Robert Hughes trial. It is shocking to realise the rumours that always surrounded an old colleague are not only true but far worse than one could ever have imagined. We have spent much time analysing what causes men like this (often in positions of power) to do such a thing. It’s difficult to know, but clearly it’s a complex web. As you say, there is no clear research, just a great deal of hysteria around this topic, particularly for the high-profile cases, and we need more science behind the motivations and causes of this behaviour. As a parent with young children, I am thankful that the perpetrators of these crimes are now being exposed and served justice, and that community awareness of this issue is far greater than when we were children. Now is the time to work on the prevention and understanding of the root of the cause – the perpetrators. I applaud you for taking such an assertive approach to your own abuse and not letting it take over your life. In youth we need to trust our elders in order to survive – the abuse of this trust is nothing short of criminal. I thank you, and The Saturday Paper, for shining a light in the darkest of places for that is the true role of good journalism.

– Nicole Smith, Mittagong, NSW

Fighter with no vision

Nick Feik labels Tony Abbott as a dilettante (“An unserious man”, May 10-16). Laura Tingle of The Australian Financial Review once described him as “the hollow man”. To me, the most puzzling aspect of Tony Abbott is that he never entered the military. University boxing, pugilistic student activism, a book entitled Battlelines, a “Green Army”, constant attacks in opposition, settling of old scores as soon as he gained power, picking fights with the neighbours, needlessly antagonising China, glee in his jet fighter purchases – Tony Abbott lives to fight. In respect of his attitude to women, he seems prepared to cede ground to the women in his life, provided he doesn’t have to directly deal with them in the workplace. As for the environment, he praised Greg Hunt as “an environment minister who appreciates that the environment is meant for man and not just the other way around”. When it comes to the economy, the market will solve all. His archaic attachment to an overseas monarchy is well documented. What seems to be missing is a vision for the Australian people or any appreciation of our beautiful country. Combat is his true calling and, luckily for us, neither Britain nor the US are in a position to start any new wars. Let’s hope the damage from his leadership is short term and reversible.

– Margaret Kerr, Mona Vale, NSW

Ideology is the driving force

I was drawn to a particular paragraph in Nick Feik’s admirable article on Tony Abbott: “Does his government believe in climate change or not? If it does, what it has done is absurd. If it doesn’t, it’s cowardly and untruthful.” These words should be writ large, because the political dilettante currently masquerading as our prime minister has, many times, been “pretty loose with the truth”, to quote from a 2012 Leigh Sales interview.  The fact that, even now, people are still wondering if the government believes in climate change confirms the lack of conviction, the indecision, and the inconsistency of political values that has so far characterised the Abbott government over a range of issues. Its first budget on Tuesday night was a further unveiling of what many suspect is under way: an ideology-driven attack on Australian society and the environment.

– David Nash, Manly, NSW

Division in student ranks

Christopher Pyne would like Australian universities to be deregulated and compete on fees. He believes market forces will reform tertiary education, but the problem is that while markets may increase efficiency, they don’t produce equity and instead create hierarchies and increase inequality. Universities will compete not necessarily for the most able but for those most capable of paying higher fees for prestigious courses. Market forces do not encourage diversity of learning opportunity but rather standardisation of it and lead to a two-tier system of students – those who can most afford to pay and those least capable.

 – John Bailey, Canterbury, NSW

Indigenous art in contemporary society

The article about Adrian Newstead (“Remote control”, May 3-9) touched on many issues in relation to Western Desert painting, and the place of Indigenous painting. Newstead also outlines the issues of cultural preservation and transmission that face many Indigenous communities. At the same time, tired, reductive distinctions were played out in the article. The history of Western Desert painting is not a binary between “mystic” and money; the works derive their value from a relationship between culture, production and their monetary value. As Aboriginal Australians are not a homogeneous group, Aboriginal art is not a discrete category comprising simply Western Desert dot paintings. Indigenous artists utilise photography, painting, craft, dance, video, etc. To uncritically print Newstead’s idea that Aboriginal art is a passed, “golden moment” ignores a vibrant contemporary art world in which Indigenous artists engage deeply and critically. Perhaps what is truly over is the “golden moment” of the white art dealer and exploitative art auction house.

– Rula Paterson, North Melbourne, Vic

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.

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 May 17, 2014. Subscribe here.