Letters to
the editor

Power grab a sign of weakness

Scott Morrison’s latest gambit to expand his already worrying power should be met with dismay, and not a little disgust (Sophie Morris, “Morrison to snatch courts’ powers”, November 29-December 5). Dismay for the plight of people attempting to come to this country to escape tyrannous governments elsewhere only to find new tyrannies at the hands of the Australian government, and disgust for his hubris in considering that he is the arbiter of “Australian community standards and values and what is in Australia’s public interest”. That one politician could consider it reasonable to attain such power beyond the normal checks and balances of a democratic society is of great concern. Does the rule of law, the right of anyone to be considered innocent until proven otherwise, no longer apply? This kind of legislation might be expected in countries where democracy no longer exists. Are we that weak as a country; are we so lacking in compassion that we need to resort to such draconian legislation?

– Frank Pollard, Wurtulla, Qld

Lack of review the real concern

So, Scott Morrison wishes to award himself plenipotentiary powers to decide the fate of thousands. The rationale is indeed enticing: he needs the powers to decide as quickly as possible who in our mini-gulag is to be granted life in our sea-girt home, and who is to be expelled, perhaps to die. Enticing indeed, and I can easily imagine myself in his position seeking such an arrangement. It’s the bit about no redress, no review, no recourse, no appeal that has me slightly worried.

– Walter Steensby, Hawker, ACT

Taking the low road

Mike Seccombe’s excellent analysis (“What Mark Scott is really doing”, November 29-December 5) includes a transcript of Malcolm Turnbull’s interview with Leigh Sales in which he attempts to defend the indefensible. The man in Canberra who polls so highly as a potential prime minister is having to defend a liar and blames public servants for driving the cuts to the ABC and SBS. It is tragic to see such a formidable barrister, a successful merchant banker and entrepreneur stoop so low, instead of simply acknowledging that the government has broken its promise.

 – Bill Johnstone, Marrickville, NSW

More to referendum’s achievements

While applauding David Marr’s article on the need for sweeping constitutional reform to address Indigenous rights (“Poetic injustice”, November 22-28), I believe he does less than justice to what the 1967 referendum delivered. To those of us conducting the campaign on the ground, the most urgent issue had been to break the tyranny of the states’ native affairs departments. The referendum gave the federal government – for the first time – power to override this colonial system of “protectors” (often the town policeman) with its tyranny over local communities. The immediate benefit was the end of systemic theft: rations in lieu of wages, with any residual change being deposited in compulsory savings accounts from which Aboriginal people needed to plead for permission to withdraw their own money. While one can justifiably blame the referendum for raising hopes of a genuine reconciliation that never came about, it was in the 1999 referendum that the wider constitutional issue was bombed out of the water by Malcolm Turnbull’s Australian Republican Movement minimalists.

– Rodney Hall, Prahran, Vic

All hands on deck

The problem with the ship of state is more than a few barnacles (Paul Bongiorno, “Scraping barnacles off a sinking ship”, November 29-December 5). The real problem is that the captain has deserted the bridge and is three decks down doing nothing more than helping the bursar to balance the books.

– Denis Fulford, Byron Bay, NSW

Cloak and dagger with ASIO

Come closer, closer, now bring down the cone of silence as you read this. Not only do our intelligence agencies publicly advertise in the media to recruit staff but they also read the letters to the editor pages of our newspapers. I know this as I was contacted in 1991 by ASIO late one evening. An unknown voice on the phone said he wanted to have someone visit me at home to discuss my letter published in that day’s Sydney Morning Herald about the social and economic problems in Romania after the and execution of Ceauşescu. Not sure of this person’s bona fides, I asked for their number to ring back the next day. Arrangements were made to meet outside a city cafe. The two young agents, a male and female, looked as though they had just stepped away from their bank job. They questioned me about what I was doing in Romania, how long I was there and what I observed, and where else I travelled. The most bizarre moment came when they asked if I had any questions but firstly wanted me to know ASIO had nothing to do with the Hilton bombing, a topic I had not discussed with anyone for some years. I was never offered a job. However comical some of the above might appear, we do need intelligence agencies but they do also need to be accountable.

– Con Vaitsas, Ashbury, NSW

Can’t be any clearer

The world appears to be divided into two parts – those whose brains need a bend on the weekend and those who just need to feel like they’ve accomplished one small thing. I reside in the second world – that of the straight crossword. I’m in agreement with Victoria Kennedy (Letters, November 22-28) . Mr MacCallum, stoop down and hand us mere mortals the straight clues, won’t you?

Jessica Bramwell, Hurlstone Park, 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 Dec 6, 2014.

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