Are we the Great Northern Land?
Sophie Morris’s “The short march to another war” (September 6-12) stated that Tony Abbott, on behalf of Australia one must presume, is “deepening [our] engagement with NATO”. Given that there’s nothing more likely to attract the votes of the people who will never be engaged in a war of any kind, think Margaret Thatcher and the General Belgrano and George W. Bush with the initial invasion of Iraq – both of which saw them re-elected before the electors realised the truth behind these events – I can only assume Mr Abbott is following along a similar path, given his deep unpopularity in domestic matters. Australia seeking any form of engagement with NATO makes about as much sense as Greenland seeking engagement with ANZUS. We all know the “NA” in NATO stands for “North Atlantic”. Apart from Antarctica and possibly Indonesia, Australia is about as far as you can get from the North Atlantic region, so why on earth is Mr Abbott so keen to ingratiate himself (note, himself, not the Australian people and certainly not with our blessing or even moderate support) with NATO? If he wishes to portray Australia as some sort of military power, then he is even sillier than I’ve ever believed him to be, and that’s really some achievement. Neither Ukraine nor Iraq/IS has anything whatsoever to do with us; let’s keep it that way, we’ve already done enough damage in Iraq.
– Brian Pymont, Frenchs Forest, NSW
Parliament must decide on war
No war between nations should proceed before the will of the people has been expressed in the parliament. Boosters of Tony Abbott’s preparedness to take the nation to war would claim that he has been able to demonstrate the people’s will by relying on claims of something called bipartisanship and another called convention, imbuing their incantation with the mysticism of a Gregorian chant. The Abbott supporters, including Bill Shorten, are clutching at straws to demonstrate the will of the people. Where did this pair of political clodhoppers, whose only legitimacy is as members of the house of representatives, acquire the constitutional authority to allow them to pre-empt the will of the parliament? The only way in a democracy to measure the will of the people is by a vote of the parliament. As experienced parliamentarians, they should know it. Telling the parliament is not enough. The even more spurious claim of convention is risible. Just because Hawke relied on it and Howard, too, Abbott supporters seem to believe that is enough. Convention can be relied upon but only if the situations to which it is applied are congruent. But each war is different with a different rationale. A declaration of war should not rely on tautology. Without a vote of the parliament, the emperor is demonstrably naked. The prime minister must conduct his war, this war, at the direction of the parliament, otherwise it is a breach of the most binding convention of all, the democratic convention. It is a convention that supersedes any that Tony Abbott’s pro-war groupies can concoct.
– Brian Sanaghan, West Preston, Vic
Better political choices for future
As I read Mike Seccombe’s excellent article (“Confidence tricksters”, September 6-12), which included exposures of corrupt dealings in the ICAC inquiry and the bribing of politicians by developers, I reflected on the largely neglected and possibly more significant associated outcomes of such corruption. This includes the undermining of democracy and depriving our electorate of representation by more capable honest politicians; the destruction of natural areas for wildlife and human engagement, with associated loss of endangered species and essential nature-based experiences in areas that should have been protected from development; and loss of potential heritage areas. I suspect that behind all of the other dirty dealings being exposed by the ICAC hearings lie similar examples of the unfair treatment of natural systems, communities and individuals. As citizens we must become much more vigilant and informed about the policies and qualities of those we are voting for. And we need to make sure that we vote for the wellbeing of not just present but also future generations.
– Stuart Hill, Linden, NSW
Greens not for sale
The Mount Coot-tha branch of the Queensland Greens recently held a fundraising event. Senator Larissa Waters was the guest of honour. For the $15 entry fee, people from all walks of life – teachers, retirees, doctors, lawyers – had the opportunity to meet Larissa and have a chat. The event was a great success even though we raised less than the price of a single ticket to a dinner with senior LNP ministers. No one expected anything in return for the ticket price except a good night. Our event illustrates one of the fundamental differences between the Greens and the old parties – while they reserve access to the people’s representatives for the wealthy and powerful, we believe that in a healthy democracy money should not buy influence.
– Omar Ameer, Red Hill, Qld
Tragic consequence of bad treatment
What’s going on? A young man on Manus Island dies of septicaemia following infection in a leg wound? Diagnosing and taking precautions against septicaemia is not rocket science. As a triage nurse in an inner urban Melbourne hospital, I needed to assess hundreds of wounds and infections, which left unassessed and untreated may have had the same outcome. What access to medical assessment do refugees in detention centres have? This is outrageous and an indictment on basic healthcare. Clearly the system is broken. It needs to be fixed.
– Mary Keating, Flemington, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 13, 2014. Subscribe here.