Letters to
the editor

Nothing more than feelings

I can’t believe how thin-skinned Joe Hockey has become (Richard Ackland, “Treasurer for wail”, March 14-20). After Sarah Ferguson grilled him on budget night last year he told Brisbane’s Radio 4BC: “My feelings don’t really matter. My feelings don’t really matter.” Apparently, eight days earlier headlines in the Fairfax press – “Treasurer for sale” – and the subsequent defamation action demonstrate that his feelings really did matter. When in opposition Hockey never cared about the damage he was doing to the reputation of car dealer John Grant (Utegate). If memory serves me right he was more worried about the welfare of Godwin Grech than the fact that Australian Federal Police found there was evidence that Grech had broken the law. When seeking public life, grow skin!

– Dr Ellak I. von Nagy-Felsobuki, Arcadia Vale, NSW

Remember the disadvantaged

Paul Bongiorno’s excellent analysis (“Abbott running short of spares”, March 14-20) references the much advertised Intergenerational Report (IGR), which the government hopes will spell out the case for reform. The report fails to address a key barrier to future economic growth – social inequality. Neither equality nor inequality are mentioned once. At the G20 conference there was a renewed focus by other countries on this issue, which Australia did not want on the agenda. The International Monetary Fund’s recent study on redistribution, inequality and growth concludes that “It would still be a mistake to focus on growth and let inequality take care of itself, not only because inequality may be ethically undesirable but also because the resulting growth may be low and unsustainable.” A major reason Joe Hockey’s budget failed last year was that it was palpably unfair. The IGR as the basis for reform does the same. Australia is much impoverished through this neglect.

– Bill Johnstone, Marrickville, NSW

Going off script

Thanks for Helen Razer’s mostly excellent review of the ABC’s Q&A (“Control panel”, March 14-20). Unlike most people I know, I’m a devoted boycotter of this show. To me it represents the worst kind of trivialisation of the big (and more often not-so-big) issues. Worse because its pretention is that it’s the best and most “democratic”. However, the fact is that it is as scripted as all the other reality programs. The host clearly selects views from a list of preregistered questions based on what he thinks will make the best television. Nothing to do with democracy, then, just another example of how far from that ideal we have travelled. Sorry Helen, to me that’s not fun, that’s sad.   

– Marc Sassella, Coledale, NSW

Razer adds intelligence to debate

Helen Razer’s critique of Q&A was accurate and perceptive. It was especially pleasing that she used Adorno and Horkheimer in support of her analysis. We see so many opinion pieces based on little more than unreflective and often superficial individual perspectives. It is about time that the vast reserves of intellectual debate were brought into the domain of public comment.

– Margaret Davies, Forestville, SA

Coalition of the willing

Makes you wonder (Sophie Morris, “Abbott’s army”, March 14-20). Coalition governments have a greater record of sending off our forces on “faulty” intelligence for terrible results. Do the military actually enjoy blowing stuff up and shooting lots of bullets while having no solid reason for being there and ending up withdrawing without any reasonable claim of success?

– Graeme Finn, St Peters, NSW

Liberals’ best not good enough

However ridiculous they may look, or however politically horrifying the prospect may be, the government must remove this prime minister as a matter of urgency.

His completely intemperate response to what have been measured and appropriate reports by both the Australian Human Rights Commission and, more recently, by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture (Editorial, March 14-20), have been completely over the top, and a further international embarrassment. His position is that, yet again, we will do whatever we damn well please, and to hell with whatever UN conventions we are party to. By any measure of humanitarian decency, Australia has failed miserably in dealing with asylum seekers. The sanctimonious hypocrisy of the “saving the people from drowning” line hardly justifies their subsequent mistreatment and incarceration. Many people languishing on Nauru or Manus Island might well believe that it would have been better to drown than to be “rescued” by Australia. How the Coalition could ever have imagined Tony Abbott as a prime minister is hard to comprehend. Perhaps their individual political ambition rather clouded their judgement. Now, the longer he is allowed to remain in office, the more discredited becomes the Coalition as a whole to the point of becoming unelectable for years to come. After all, if Abbott is the best they could come up with, what on earth must the rest of them be like? Australia has not enjoyed good government for many years, and there is little by way of encouraging signs from either side of parliament. Perhaps good government is a phenomenon that only occurs once or twice in a long lifetime. Surely it’s getting a bit overdue.

– David Payne, Bermagui, 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 March 21, 2015.

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