Letters to
the editor

Conservation group played its part

Mike Seccombe’s (“Who is running green politics?”, November 8-14) article leaves the reader with the sense that the Australian Conservation Foundation was an “insider” with little influence. When I joined the staff in 2003, there was a handful of national climate campaigners, there weren’t 450 Al Gore climate presenters, no local climate action groups, GreenHome programs, or divestment campaigns. There was no price on carbon, no 20 per cent renewable energy target, no solar feed-in tariffs, no energy efficiency measures, no public transport investments by the federal government, no improvements in green buildings standards and no $10 billion Murray River rescue package. ACF, other organisations and community groups worked hard to achieve these and other successes, many of which have been wound back. Social change is slow and messy, and to be successful we need to bring the community along, as well as be at the table contributing to smart policy development. To claim the ACF was an ineffective insider with no community presence is an attempt to rewrite history.

– Monica Richter, Rushcutters Bay, NSW

Online threats do damage

In his otherwise fresh and sympathetic “Web of abuse” (November 8-14), Martin McKenzie-Murray unfortunately concludes by focusing on the ability of victims of digital hate to “[rationally] assess their threat level”. More’s the point, symbolic violence is still violent. The threat of sexual assault by men against women is inherently terrifying and damaging, whether it is carried out or not. Any attenuation of the threat of rape dehumanises all of us. There’s a terrible double standard among cyber-libertarians. When good things happen online – such as the Arab Spring, WikiLeaks, social networking and free education – they call the internet a transformative force for good. Yet they can play down digital hate crimes as “not real”, and disown their all-powerful internet as just another communications medium.

– Stephen Wilson, Five Dock, NSW

A growing readership

Andrew Bolt obviously was so busy tweeting Sean Kelly on November 1 (page 25, November 8-14) that he did not catch his fellow right-wing ideologue Gerard Henderson confessing recently on the ABC’s Insiders program that he also reads The Saturday Paper.

– Mal Park, Noble Park, Vic

Bigger irony than centre’s name

Richard Ackland, as Gadfly, saw a minor irony in naming an obesity centre after “a thin Aboriginal man”, but he may have missed the bigger irony. Sydney University supports the deregulation of university fees, which many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people fear will put the cost of attending university way beyond their reach. They are certainly right to celebrate Charles Perkins, the first Aboriginal person to graduate from university. If university fee deregulation and the accompanying changes to student debt are legislated, it will be more difficult for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become alumni who have a “real transformative effect in the life of our country”. It would be a shame for an obesity centre to find they were unable to find Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers and teachers to employ because they shut the door after the pioneering activist whose name they use. This would seem to be a bigger irony than merely the sizes of the people involved.

– Dr Tim Senior, Picton, NSW

Gadfly’s poke in the Eye

As a subscriber to Private Eye, the British satirical magazine, I have long believed that Australia would benefit from a similar publication. Satire has been defined by someone as “an unfortunate way of telling the truth” and Private Eye is a leader in the field. It has blown the whistle on numerous actions that the perpetrators would rather have kept hidden. Often, I have to say, at some financial cost but nevertheless it is still going strong and is compulsory reading for journalists. I am very pleased to see that the Gadfly column is looking very hopeful in this regard.

– Ron Kerr, Ballina, NSW

Praise for resignation call

If I have any complaint regarding your call for the resignation of Greg Hunt (“Greg Hunt must resign”, November 8-14), it is, What took you so long? The man is anathema to the environment. On a related subject, thank you so much for such erudite and entertaining journalism each Saturday.

– John Simpson, Tapitallee, NSW

Culpable on fate of deportees

Another harrowing and disgusting account of what we are doing to asylum seekers (“Death torture and an embassy afraid”, November 8-14) and, yes, it is “we” who are voting for this government. Both major political parties support the policy and Scott Morrison is merely the enthusiastic personification of the cruelty. Until there are some MPs who are willing to raise their voices in opposition, the barbarity will continue and we will all be culpable.

– Ruth Boschen, Balwyn, Vic

Kind words on The Cryptic

Mungo MacCallum’s The Cryptic is worth every cent of the cost of The Saturday Paper. Oh, the rest of it is great, too!

– Vicky Marquis, Glebe, 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 November 15, 2014.

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