Letters to
the editor

A chance going begging

It’s a pity Wayne Swan hasn’t spoken to Bill Shorten recently, or that Bill hasn’t understood (Martin McKenzie-Murray, “Avarice shrugged”, October 4-10). The ALP, by apparently adopting a small-target election strategy, is forgoing the best opportunity in years to project a vision for Australia that more closely identifies with the egalitarianism identified by the Australian Election Study. The unfairness of the budget, and the lazy adoption by the Coalition of whatever the Institute of Public Affairs says, should be a gift for the ALP. Where’s Bill?

– John McCombe, Merrijig, Vic

A sticking point

It’s good to see that the Coalition politicians are sticking to their motto, “lifters and leaners”. Leaning on the decisions of the United States regarding the best ways to conduct war, leaning on ASIO to get the most control over the people of Australia, leaning on the less wealthy in order to least affect the income flow of the wealthy, leaning on Islamic women in order to scavenge a few votes in the dog-whistling department, leaning on the dictates of the coal industry in order to avoid the need to address climate change, and leaning on absurd pre-election promises in order to continue policy so as not to lose face when the promises were patently wrong. Nothing like a predictable government.

– J. Garretty, Kelso, NSW

Setting the dress code

As we teeter on the brink of yet another war in the Middle East, with all the connotations of horror,
real and imagined, it may be worth considering the words of Bill Gates regarding the Ebola crisis ( “A great example of where the world needs to come together.” The Week, October 4-10.) Conversely you have the prime minister, Tony Abbott, and the speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, in a superb tag-team fashion response to the burqa-hijab-niqab dress code brouhaha. Clearly, brilliantly dividing and intimidating. Recent news reports indicate a US citizen has carried the Ebola virus undetected to the US mainland. Whereas the Ebola virus has the ability to invisibly transcend borders and break out, through human physical contact, the Islamic State terrorists have a much less efficient vector and therefore do not have the potential of a weapon of mass infection, which Ebola clearly is. The linking of Muslim dress to the IS is tacky, but effective. Though I offer a word of caution, our politicians may need to restrict their overseas travel, should Ebola gain a foothold in the US. The last image I saw of a health worker in the Ebola-infected area was of a dress code requiring head-to-toe coverage.

– Mike Clifford, Blaxland, NSW

Fight IS or fight Ebola?

In West Africa we know the enemy and how to fight it. A virus. It can be beaten and many lives can be saved. Australia’s failure to respond to Ebola is in stark contrast to our government’s mad rush to go to war in Iraq. Again! Our “humanitarian” jets and special forces, at a cost of half a billion per year, are to be deployed against an enemy already in control of towns and cities where they will use civilians as human shields. This sum would go a long way against Ebola but Médecins Sans Frontières has said, even more than money, it is personnel that are needed. We have the resources. Julie Bishop’s lame excuse that we do not have a suitable evacuation aircraft is not good enough.

– Graeme McLeay, Aldgate, SA

Respect my authority

In a democracy, the chain of command between the people and the army private should be clear and transparent, particularly in time of war. In the US, the president is mandated by the people at her/his election to be the supreme commander of the armed forces. In Australia the chain of command is not clear. Tony Abbott, without the sanction of the parliament, has put himself in charge of the new Iraq war. He is the acting commander-in-chief, the supreme commander. His generals seem, without question, to acknowledge that he is. Could Mr Abbott please explain to me, because I missed it the first time, and in terms that even I can understand, if the people’s parliament doesn’t, what other authority does he call on to wage this war.

– Brian Sanaghan, West Preston, Vic

Taking it to the limit

Christopher Pyne’s proposed changes to university funding provide outstanding opportunities for business development. Lifting all restrictions on the size of student fees as well as HECS-HELP loans allows for a completely different educational experience. Our prestigious universities could set up a company to award intensive degrees and include accommodation, meals, computers, smartphones as part of the degree. A car could be thrown in, too. Perhaps the small classes with top professors could be held in places such as the top floors of the Crown Resort at Barangaroo, if the views are not too distracting. Compulsory overseas study tours would include job interviews for students. Since no repayments are due upfront, overseas employment would delay repayment, perhaps indefinitely. Retirement back in Australia is possible with no repayments due until taxable earnings rise to a current $53,000. On death the loan extinguishes for the student. Australia’s outstanding student loans could rival the size of America’s in no time, demonstrating our commitment to education. Everyone would be a winner!

– Bill Johnstone, Marrickville, 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 October 11, 2014.

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