Letters to
the editor

Abbott reaping his bitter harvest

It is disheartening that so many people consider Tony Abbott to have been a good opposition leader. Government opposition should not be about deriding, shouting down and abusing those in power, obstructing each and any proposed government policy or legislative change simply to make life difficult for them, and never answering the actual question when challenged themselves. That is simply bullying and deceit. A good opposition forces the government of the day to engage in a discourse involving all the different voices of society that should be heard in decision-making processes. During Abbott’s time as opposition leader, representative parliamentary discourse was sacrificed to his personal ambition and his party stood loyally with him. Unfortunately, with the strong assistance of Kevin Rudd and the Murdoch press, Abbott’s style of non-discursive opposition succeeded in persuading the Australian public that good government is about loyalty to a party leader. His government has exposed how wrong he was. May he and his loyal followers now enjoy his bitter harvest.

– Susan Hobley, Lilyfield, NSW

Malcolm in the middle their only saviour

To the keen observer the current state of play reads something like this. The electorates of Victoria and Queensland have given notice that they don’t want policy that takes from the poor and gives to the rich. The ultra right is getting twitchy but has not yet grasped what this means. Before his latest stumble, Tony Abbott had already neutered his main leadership rival by first forcing him to embrace the pollution industry, then by having him wind back the NBN to 20th-century technology, and most recently by having him serve broken promise funding cuts on the national broadcaster – and even then, Malcolm Turnbull is still not trusted by the far right. The younger Bishop, Julie, was seen as a well-placed contender to challenge Tony but she saw what he did to Julia Gillard so her instinct for self-preservation prevailed. Some of the backbenchers can see the writing on the wall and are pleading for moderation, but there is no evidence of anything resembling a human conscience in the Coalition cabinet. Tongue-twisted Tony is determined to die with his boots on and has opted to play on until he pulls a Campbell Newman and calls an election to let the voters rate him on his dominant qualities.

– Dermot Daley, Carnegie, Vic

AFP used to step in to save mules

Jo Lennan’s excellent article (“AFP role in Bali Nine deaths”, February 7-13) on the lack of action by the AFP as regards to the warning Lee Rush gave them about his son’s misadventures in heading off to Bali should be followed up by a further inquiry into the AFP about the “unwritten” procedures that were undertaken prior to the Bali Nine’s misdeeds. I recall a former AFP employee stating to me at the time that it was normal for the AFP to prevent mules departing from Australia if they were aware of them heading to a country that practised the death penalty for drug offences. For some reason back in April 2005 the government changed its decision not to interfere with past practices.

– Rob Park, Surrey Hills, Vic

Bali Nine the architects of their fate

I am very much opposed to capital punishment. I believe it to be a barbaric, abhorrent and archaic practice, which demeans the citizens of those countries that still carry it out. That being said I express my concern about your headline “AFP role in Bali Nine deaths”. Mistakes may have been made by the AFP, and others, in their handling of this case. But I would be incredulous if Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were not fully aware of the consequence of being caught smuggling heroin, prior to them actually attempting to do this. To redirect blame to others for their current dire plight is not fitting.

– Wendy Wells, Goodwood, SA

How soon the tables have turned

During the upheaval and disharmony of the then federal Labor government, the Liberal opposition’s overt and rapturous glee at the chaos engulfing Labor was a shameful exhibition, not befitting a school classroom, let alone elected members of parliament. I think there might be many current and former Labor MPs who would now be experiencing more than a little schadenfreude.

 – Rosie Elsass, East Brighton, Vic

Thanks for illuminating soaring power costs

Thanks to Sophie Morris for setting out how this corporate welfare is working (“Power games”, February 7-13). Maybe in the case of the state-owned facilities, we can coin the term “selfie” welfare. Perhaps we also need to understand how this would work with “Investor-State Dispute Settlements”. Is there a double hit here for the taxpayer if tax liability is removed from the pricing equation?

– Maurice McCallum, West End, Qld

War, what it is good for

Last week Hamish McDonald warned that the PM will fight his “critics by donning flak jacket”. The events of last year – the chest-beating over MH17 and the fervour with which IS was engaged – make this a pretty safe bet. And so do the actions of Abbott’s heroine, Baroness Thatcher. Amid great discontent at her neoliberal policies, the Iron Lady came desperately close to being toppled by the Tories two years after becoming PM. She clung to power, though, after famously declaring that “the Lady’s not for turning”. The following year she went to war in the Falklands. The rest is history. 

– Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW

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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 14, 2015. Subscribe here.