Letters to
the editor

Seccombe sets the standard

Mike Seccombe’s article “How John Howard undid his protégé” (December 20-January 23) was a long overdue contribution to the so-called budget crisis debate. This debate has been conducted for much too long as though anything that happened before 2008 had no relevance at all to the present. In part, this may be due to the 24-hour news cycle that encourages petty melodrama at the expense of even the most superficial analysis. It may also reflect the savage cuts in staffing that have destroyed much of the media’s ability to observe the world with its traditional healthy scepticism. Thanks to Seccombe’s article, the spadework has been done. Other media outlets have no excuse but to take note and lift their games. All we need now is a follow-up article that highlights the huge growth in offshore tax shelters used by the wealthy to dodge their responsibilities, while also putting crushing pressure on the budget.

– Rod Wise, Armidale, NSW

New ways must be found

As one of the contributors to the overwhelming number of submissions to the government citing significant reasons against amending section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act as suggested by Attorney-General George Brandis, I believe that Cory Bernardi and Tim Wilson’s recent call is ideological and ill thought through with little mindfulness as to consequences. Sadly it also uses the bandwagon of the events in France. Inflaming and hurting people through freely expressing views that demean and vilify is not the cornerstone of free speech and will not lead to harmony or reduce terrorism. In fact, it is likely to inflame it. Curtailing foreign aid to communities that are struggling is also short-sighted. Situations in France, Nigeria and Pakistan see victimisation of children, women and community, often Muslims, in the name of fanaticism. A nuanced, concerted effort is needed to connect with people at a grassroots level with support for front-line services, community connectedness and opportunities that negate hopelessness and anger. What is concerning is that the alienation, marginalisation, poor education, lack of opportunities and poverty are consistent themes in the lives of many of those susceptible to radicalisation. Continually, the simplistic and old approaches are favoured. The war against terror will not be fought on battlefields with any success until there is a consistent effort to make a difference to the lives of people before they are enticed to disenchantment.

– Dr Liz Curran, Australian National University

Continuing on Howard’s way

For those of us long frustrated by the misinformation constantly regurgitated into the public arena by the self-serving Murdacker empire, Mike Seccombe’s article provided a breath of fresh air in which to meditate on the Howard–Costello legacy. Seccombe focuses on the economic crimes of this partnership, but they point
 to a deeper evil. In a world striving for sustainability, John Howard and Peter Costello were intent on embedding profoundly unsustainable practices into

Australian society. Costello’s fiscal policies promoted social inequity within, while Howard’s military and immigration policies supported it without Australia’s borders. Both supported the exploitation of Australia’s natural resources for the benefit of a small sector of society. Under their watch the international goal of sustainability was abandoned while elsewhere it drove creativity and positive change. The Labor Party, in its fearful navel-gazing, failed to see the loss in these terms. Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison and Greg Hunt are now vigorously striving to amplify the causes of unsustainability. While some may be concerned that we are fast becoming a pariah state, my concern is that, on the oldest continent on the planet, the country home to one of the longest living human cultures will be the first to show what unsustainability means. Abbott and Morrison are intent on silencing the numerous critics of their deeply socially inequitable and environmentally destructive policies. It is time for Australians to resuscitate the word “sustainability” and use it for critiquing – and rejecting – any government that fails to keep Australia on the path towards its achievement.

– Susan Hobley, Lilyfield, NSW

Christchurch reborn

I was moved and delighted by Cindy MacDonald’s “Shaken and stirred” in the December 20-January 23 issue. I, too, had visited Christchurch (back in April), and was alternately dismayed by the severity of the damage to the CBD and touched by the resilience of the citizens. While some buildings remained in a state of disrepair and there were many vacant blocks, much repair work was under way. The Re:START temporary retail area is marvellous, as is the “cardboard cathedral”. There is much to see and, as a tourist, I found some bargains while shopping. The trains down the coast to Christchurch and over the mountains to the west coast must rank among the great rail journeys of the world. Meanwhile, congratulations on the diverse articles in The Saturday Paper – the coverage of local and international political events offers insights that the mainstream press ignore and articles on travel, art, literature, sport, film and theatre are icing on the cake.

– Patrick Conlan, Campsie, NSW

Classic Mungo

Thanks to all The Saturday Paper contributors for a great year of well-researched articles. I’ve taken up the challenge of the cryptic crossword and would like to commend Mungo MacCallum on making this a truly difficult task. Two drugs for the nutter: crackpot, Brilliant!

Paul McNeill, Carnegie, 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 Jan 24, 2015. Subscribe here.