Letters to
the editor

We’re being sold a PUP

In all seriousness I cannot see anything coming out of this latest gambit by Clive Palmer (“Professor Palmer’s indecent proposal”, June 14-20). All it demonstrates, at least to me, is that he is desperately after power and can be quite inventive and imaginative in the ways he tries to obtain and consolidate it. But all the time he has been shooting himself in the foot by branding himself as an unrepentant publicity slut and an unambiguous control freak. I think the real story will be how long it takes for his senate bloc to rebel and each of them decide to do their own thing.

– Gregson Edwards, Orange, NSW

Horror and despair

As a father of a one-year-old boy, reading Martin McKenzie-Murray’s two-part story “Catching a teenage murderer”, June 7-13 and June 14-20, I was almost sick. Earlier this year my house was burgled as my family slept – though what we lost was insignificant. I was filled with rage toward Harley Hicks, imagining what I would do if it were my son murdered in his cot. Rage alternated with despair in my mind as I imagined what Casey Veal has lived through, and will live through in the next few years. “Evil” seems the only apt description for Harley and his act, but the label does little to take away the scandal of what happened.

– Tristan Merkel, Bathurst, NSW

Fraser’s views keep resonating

Malcolm Fraser’s recent book, Dangerous Allies, enjoyed a flurry of media interest and controversy, but all too soon this book runs the risk of being consigned to gathering dust on a bookshelf. Fraser raises issues which we, in Australia, can ill afford to ignore. Ultimately they are about Australia’s position in the world, its future, its standing and relationship with today’s world powers and the prospect of a peaceful future existence. His arguments about Australia’s strategic dependence on the US and the likely futility of that dependence raise real issues. As he observes, “As a lackey of America’s, it will be hard for others to take Australia seriously.” And yet only last week Australia’s prime minister, Tony Abbott, was reasserting allegiance to the US and virtually committing us to follow the US into whatever choice it ultimately makes regarding the current crisis in Iraq. It may be that some of Fraser’s conclusions are unpalatable and even far-fetched. He talks about asking the US forces to leave Darwin and suggests the shutdown of Pine Gap. I think a better alternative would be to bring China into this alliance and allow it as an equal partner with the US to participate in these Australian facilities.

– Mike Lyons, North Bondi, NSW

Let elderly set their direction

Dr Rodney Syme’s comment on voluntary assisted dying of the terminally ill (“Last words”, June 14-20) puts the debate Australians need to have on this subject on a more rational basis than the emotive response by Clara Curtis (Letters, June 7-13) to Martin McKenzie-Murray’s well-intended article on Jack’s case (“When the healthy want to die”, May 24-30), which by its nature did not address the wider issues for persons of advanced age. At the risk of oversimplifying, the current law’s insistence that a life must be preserved as long as possible (regardless of the consequences for the aged person), ought to be amended to recognise directives such as the Advance Healthcare Directive offered by Dying With Dignity Victoria for those who wish to avail themselves of the opportunity to indicate what medication and treatment they wish to receive once they are no longer able to express their wishes. Indeed, such directives ought to be given the legal force of a will and be readily accessible by medical and paramedical staff, solicitors, insurers and government.

– Timothy James Brown, Footscray, Vic

The weight of the words

Dr Rodney Syme in his heroic struggle on our behalf to reform the law has suggested different words to refer to end of life choices to distinguish between euthanasia/assisted suicide/voluntary assisted dying. Dr Syme in his simple lucid language has clarified the various nuances of meaning surrounding these terms. It is to be hoped that eventually even those MPs who resolutely refuse to engage in a discussion and instead retreat into silence may finally understand this change is what the majority of us want.

 – Ruth Boschen, Balwyn, Vic

Take care what journey is taken

Dr Syme correctly states that words are essential to understanding complex human issues. He omits to mention that words are also essential to persuasion and seduction. Dr Syme guides us on this journey of persuasion by taking the following steps. First, he removes us from a full consideration of the implications of killing (i.e. causing the death of a person). He advises us to eschew distasteful words such as “euthanasia”, “lethal” and “suicide”. Instead, he suggests that we merely concern ourselves with the process of dying – as in “voluntary assisted dying” – a more pleasant-sounding notion. He then takes us a step further by telling us that it is “intolerable suffering” and not any “particular illness” that is important in this discussion. And finally he informs us that a doctor (who will be called upon to do the assisting in a pleasant sounding process that doesn’t have to involve any “particular illness”) cannot measure suffering. By this stage on our journey we are about to cross a threshold with only the good doctor for our guide. But where is the good doctor guiding us?

– Dr Jack Kirszenblat, East St Kilda, 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.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jun 21, 2014. Subscribe here.