Letters to
the editor

A Tea Party with Louis XIV

The defining philosophy behind the US Tea Party is that it embraces a Darwinian, dog-eat-dog view of society masquerading as libertarianism. Australia’s equivalent Institute of Public Affairs pushes a similar neo-conservative line, enthusiastically endorsed by the current crop of Coalition ministers (Mike Seccombe, “Abbott’s faceless men”, May 31-June 6). The anticipated consequence of following the elitist preferences of the IPA in areas such as culture, education, health and the economy is the fissioning of society into two unequal camps. History suggests that such societal polarisations result in turmoil. The reactionary philosophies of the IPA, and its practitioners, would be more relevant to the French courts of Louis XIV than modern Australia.

– Bob Barnes, Wedderburn, NSW

Wish lists

Every Australian should read Mike Seccombe’s article. Startling is the fact that “fixing the budget” was not on either of the IPA’s wish lists. Clearly this reveals that the wish lists were designed to boost the budgets of the IPA contributors. So, thanks to Mike, it is finally indisputable that our prime minister is more interested in helping the big end of town than the rest of us. Which is it, treachery or contempt? Mournfully I think it is both. Another omission from the 100 items on the IPA wish lists was “stop the boats”. I wonder who’s going to claim the credit for that one?

– Andrew McPherson, Kalaru, NSW

What’s in a name

So the Australian Environment Foundation is really just a Liberal Party front. I wonder if they will find themselves in the same boat as the Australian Vaccination Network, which, after a case in the Supreme Court, resulted in them rebadging themselves as the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network. Was there a not-so-subtle message in their choice of American spelling or is it just an extension of their ignorance?

– Fiona Horn, Abbotsford, NSW

Explosive expectations of ideology

Keep your popcorn handy: one of the many thrills of having the Liberals in government is watching the ongoing skirmish between its libertarians and its fundamentalist conservatives. We have all the kindling arranged, ready for a spark. What business does a government have in providing marriage counselling vouchers? How can the government fund only religious chaplains in a supposedly secular society? The flag-bearers for each faction will soon be marching out in support or in rebellion of these initiatives in an ideological showdown. Or, if you don’t have time to survey the entire battlefield, just keep an eye out for oil-and-water Cory Bernardi. One day he might realise that economic liberalisation is part of a broader philosophy that also assures personal freedoms like gay marriage and abortion. Now that kind of epiphany can only trigger an implosion on a supernova scale. I gleefully await. 

– Thomas Callaghan, Marrickville, NSW

Calla lilies are in bloom again

In Helen Razer’s article (“Dirty deeds”, May 31-June 6), calla is a name for arum lilies (Zantedeschia) – that’s the smooth stiff, usually white flowers, open cone shaped with a yellow spathe thingy sticking up the centre, rather like some sort of phallic symbol. The white ones are the sort that can become a pest in some regions, while fancy yellow, pink, etc, cultivars stay at home nicely. Cannas are another thing altogether, related to ginger, I think – yellow, red or orange flowers mostly, rather flappy looking, and flappy big leaves, too. Great massed beds are grown often in parks, particularly in warm climates. 

– Mona Finley, via email

Better supports for the elderly

“When the healthy want to die” by Martin McKenzie-Murray (May 24-30) by its title suggests that Jack, who is suicidal, is not mentally healthy after all. No well-adjusted happy people commit suicide. Unbearable anguish and often depression push people to that desperate, self-destructive act. The high suicide rate among male elderly people (over 85) suggests that their needs are not being adequately met by society. It is likely that Jack suffered from social isolation, malnutrition and untreated depression. Jack’s subsequent admission to the psychiatric ward is a humane response to help him deal with his mental suffering. While it is heartening that Jack received help from Meals on Wheels, Jack should have access to other holistic geriatric support services. This could range from adequate and appropriate transportation for social integration to recreational therapies and nutritional counselling. Why not learn from Singapore, which is planning a “coherent national agenda” to empower the elderly to “live happy and meaningful lives” as they age. Legalised suicide is not the solution for an ageing population 

– Clara Curtis, Tuggeranong, ACT

Don’t mention climate change

Your article on the medical research grant (Sophie Morris, “For the good of our health?”, May 24-30)touched on the irony of the government pledging billions on medical advances to help us live longer while bemoaning the burgeoning cost of an ageing population. Surely the greatest threat to the health of our future generations is climate change: $20 billion invested wisely in the renewable energy sector would put Australia at the vanguard of what will be a huge industry in the near future, and provide a much-needed boost to the struggling manufacturing sector. But, no, climate change didn’t even get a mention in the budget.

– Tim Wilson, Lapstone, 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 Jun 7, 2014. Subscribe here.