Letters to
the editor

In Bernardi’s own words

At first blush, the claims made last week about “[Inside]Bernardi’s business web” (Kate Doak, February 21-27) seem at odds with the lofty ideals espoused in Cory’s rousing manifesto The Conservative Revolution. A grab bag of empty posturing and moral righteousness, his 2013 tome extols the great virtue of traditional Christian family values and hard work which sit uncomfortably with his shameless promotion of spread betting and associated get-rich-quick schemes. But upon deeper reflection, one realises just how important free enterprise is to Cory. It trumps all. The chief failing of leftist governments is “their efforts to protect individuals from the consequences of their own actions”. This is a flagrant attack on freedom. Besides, leftist lovers of big government will ultimately fail in their attempts to legislate fiduciary responsibility because, “human nature being what it is, unscrupulous operators will always take advantage of the naive”. Quite right. 

– Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW

A sliding scale

Given Senator Bernardi appears to have some kind of fetish for slippery slope arguments against marriage equality, it is bizarre that he has failed to apply such logic to the sanctity of the pecuniary interests register. 

– Samantha Chung, Cambridge, UK

Follow the money

So Senator Bernardi used to make money from spread betting? Quite apart from the questions raised by Kate Doak about pecuniary discrepancies, there is a question about principles involved. Betting on – sorry, investing in – sharemarket movements is a zero-sum game; if one person wins, it is because another person has lost. Like any other form of gambling, it does not create wealth: it merely redistributes money. Bernardi’s spread betting potentially created profit for subscribers – and presumably income for himself – without contributing any value to the community. In Joe Hockey’s elegantly simple taxonomy, that would make him a leaner and an enabler of leaners. Let’s hope that his time in the senate has enabled Bernardi to become one of the lifters. 

– Danny Neumann, Port Melbourne, Vic

In defence of science

The interview with Ian Chubb, Australia’s chief scientist (Ramona Koval, “Scientific methods”, February 21-27) was alarming. While Ian seems to have managed to remain polite or, as he put it, use passion, persistence and patience, the reality is we are going down the same path as other, now failed, civilisations. When reason prevailed, civilisations flourished, but reasoning is rarely conclusive, and of course it shouldn’t be. Which leaves fundamentalism as the only option to provide “certainty”. Richard Dawkins became famous for challenging religion not so much because he did not believe in God but because he saw it as a threat to reason. But fundamentalism is not restricted to religion, neoliberal economists regularly ignore scientific advice because in their twisted view the economy takes precedence over environment, wellbeing and even health. Unfortunately it’s a feature of both major parties but the Abbott-led one is most obvious in their contempt for science.

– Don Owers, Dudley, NSW

Standing up for the Salvos

Dr von Nagy-Felsobuki (Letters, February 21-27), the Salvation Army is in big decline and it’s necessary to outsource work, as they do in the services industry and volunteer positions. To single out the Salvos is just sad and wrong, as when you work for the Salvos you do so behind their ethos. If there was lack of experience, that is regrettable. But to blame the whole movement is short-sighted. As a Christian, former Salvos volunteer and admirer of the Salvation Army, I stand by the organisation.

– Stephen Brown, Wollongong, NSW

A call for compassion

Like most people I hope that Indonesia does not execute the two Bali Nine prisoners (Hamish McDonald, “Bali delays not from death row diplomacy”, February 21-27). But closer to home surely Tony Abbott and John Howard could have shown even a shred of compassion for David Hicks who was wrongfully incarcerated for five years by our American friends. 

– Jim Banks, Pottsville Beach, NSW

Memories of an old menace

The politics of fear is alive and well. The prime minister’s statement on terrorism has echoes of the reds under the bed of the Menzies era. Back to the 1950s everyone. 

– Mary Kidson, Lake Albert, NSW

For the record

Today every clothes horse is a supermodel and every cook is a celebrity chef, but not every tennis player is a tennis great, as you describe John Alexander (“The Week”, February 21-27). His best showing at Wimbledon, the French Open and the US Open was the fourth round and his highest ranking was No. 8 in the world. His main claim to tennis glory was his strong role in Australia’s Davis Cup win against Italy in 1977. Australia once churned out a stream of tennis legends, including grand slam winners Rod Laver (twice) and Margaret Court. Frank Sedgman, Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, Roy Emerson, Mal Anderson, Neale Fraser, Mervyn Rose, Ashley Cooper, Fred Stolle, John Newcombe, Tony Roche, Pat Cash, Pat Rafter, Lleyton Hewitt, Evonne Goolagong and Sam Stosur are all players who won individual grand slam titles. To JA’s credit, he appears to have thrived post-tennis, as a businessman, TV commentator and now as the member for Bennelong. But in a country with a phenomenal tennis history, the term tennis great should be reserved for those whose records merit it. 

– Margaret Kerr, Mona Vale, NSW

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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on February 28, 2015.

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