Politicians need to respond to suffering
The president of the Human Rights Commission is a statutory officer of a commission required to advance and protect human rights (David Marr, “Abbott running from the law”, February 28-March 6). Professor Gillian Triggs has ably and intelligently steered a significant inquiry critical of both sides of politics about the harm done to children in detention. What is political is not the report, so much as the vehemence of the attacks on the independence of a body and its leader. Would it not be better for our elected representatives, on both sides of the house, to consider the effects of trauma on children that are both physiological and long term? As we listen to the appalling evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, why are our political “leaders” so removed from human suffering that they refuse to see the institutional abuse occurring here and now in our detention policies? We should be taking lessons from the current royal commission, not replicating child abuse. The Human Rights Commission makes some incredibly sensible and cogent recommendations. Ignore the noise of the current political point-scoring and read the sobering report itself, given leaders, on both sides of politics, seem unable to comprehend the harm done to children by being locked up and exposed to great trauma.
– Dr Liz Curran, Australian National University
What of commissioner Wilson?
I note that in the acknowledgments in appendix 9 of the Forgotten Children report, all contributors to the report are listed. The list includes the two Human Rights Commissioners, one of whom is Tim Wilson, a Coalition appointee. As far as I am aware, nothing has been heard from him in response to the government’s furious reaction to the report, which has targeted only Gillian Triggs. Wilson has lifted not a finger to defend her, or to take responsibility for whatever contribution he may have made to the project. However, his presence would seem to negate Tony Abbott’s and George Brandis’s allegation that the report is a “political stitch-up” – or does it?
– Gayle Davies, North Sydney, NSW
Security helps poll numbers
Good article (Mike Seccombe, “Prime minister’s new plan: panic”, February 28-March 6). It reminds me of how Margaret Thatcher’s fortunes improved markedly after the sinking of the General Belgrano during the Falklands War.
– Dara Conlan, Nelson Bay, NSW
Voters held to account
I do not hold Tony Abbott responsible for the debacle Australian politics finds itself in. Most of these things were known of Tony before he was elected to the prime ministership. I do, however, hold the voting public responsible. They placed power into the hands of an irresponsible individual in the hope that he would curb the boats, and alleviate a national debt. A national debt cannot be compared to a household budget. There are times a nation needs to have a debt to assist in national health or education, and, dare I say it, humanitarian issues. The voters of this country showed some of their cold and callous ambitions at the last election.
– Gregory P. Smith, Coffs Harbour, NSW
Not a laughing matter
In senate estimates this week, Senator Scott Ludlam questioned the head of the Department of Defence, Dennis Richardson, AO, about the possibility that SIM cards have been hacked by US and British intelligence agencies (that story has since been confirmed by the SIM card manufacturer). Richardson, smiling, quipped that “if anyone wants to listen to my phone calls, they can” because “I don’t have conversations I’m particularly worried about”. And Attorney-General George Brandis, sitting alongside, laughed out loud. Telephone interception without a warrant in this country is illegal. It beggars belief that our top law officer is not outraged by the possibility. Can we get an attorney-general please who actually values the rule of law?
– Stephen Wilson, Five Dock, NSW
Peter Principle tells the story
Tony Abbott reached his pinnacle of performance when appointed leader of the Liberal National Coalition party in opposition, where he methodically set out to destroy anything and everything Labor, in coalition with the minor parties, attempted to achieve. In that he was the epitome of elevation of management as described by the Peter Principle. The Peter Principle is a ubiquitous observation: anything that works will be used in progressively more challenging applications until it fails. Unfortunately Abbott has been promoted inevitably, maddeningly, absurdly to his nadir, his “level of incompetence”, where the candidate has been selected based on their past and current performance in their present role rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. The principle is named after Laurence J. Peter, who co-authored with Raymond Hull the humorous 1969 book The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong. Unfortunately for Australia, how true.
– David Adermann, Wahroonga, NSW
A weighty issue
Andrew McConnell correctly advises home cooks to purchase an electric scale for accurate baking (“A piece of cake”, February 28-March 6). However, he sells this advice short by pairing the recommendation with a recipe that largely features volume rather than weight measurements. Even as a bumbling baker I know that weight measurements are the sine qua non of reliably toothsome treats.
– Benjamin Dummett, Brunswick East, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 7, 2015. Subscribe here.