New concerns surround the government’s increased use of legislative powers to bypass the parliament and create laws that cannot be amended or overturned. The federal government has embedded special powers in new Covid-19 laws to make unilateral changes to non-pandemic-related legislation, using what are known as ‘Henry VIII clauses’ – named for the unchecked power they involve.
Political shift in values
Guy Rundle (“New dogs, old deals”, April 11-17) notes that Australia’s voting system has hidden the extent to which “the Greens have been colonising Labor’s vote”. This is certainly true. Under the ideological cover of globalisation, the democratic landscape has shifted markedly. Labor has vacated a significant political space, forming what amounts to a cartel with the Liberals. The cartel is free to govern without the encumbrance of having to represent. Of course, business must be protected since only unfettered free enterprise delivers the noble objective of economic growth. Labor has even tried to differentiate itself from the Greens, notably when Julia Gillard criticised their inability to “share the values of everyday Australians” in her Whitlam Oration. But one wonders how long “everyday Australians” will continue to embrace the values of a cartel seemingly intent on inducing climate catastrophe.
– Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW
The effects of war
The Howard government and in particular the Australian Defence Force have again failed badly if your story about Scott Moerland (“Testing claims”, April 11-17) is anything to go by. Having spent billions of dollars on the conflict in Iraq, Australia now has to deal with radicalised soldiers (not radical Islam in this case) returning with the frightening and extremist attitudes of Mr Moerland, sad victim of an illegal war.
– Daryl Dellora, Collingwood, Vic
Family shows support
As the father of Scott Moerland, I back my son’s stand 100 per cent, despite his use of swearwords, which really do detract from his warning to all Australians. Despite the fact there are “good, peaceful” Muslims in Australia – perhaps the majority as it is at the moment – you have to remember there is no “off” switch with Islam. You’re either a Muslim or you’re dirt, in their philosophy. The question I ask repeatedly, being a generation older than my son (obviously) and having memories of the influx of Europeans just after the Second World War, the people came here then (including my parents in 1952) for a better life and were prepared to work to get that life. The Snowy Mountains scheme comes to mind. What a fantastic achievement completed by Italians, Greeks, Dutch, Poles, English, Irish and many more, bringing with them a wonderful culture, a diversity of life and fantastic foods, music, inventions, trades and scholastic learning that benefited this country immeasurably. So the question I ask is: Name one benefit the Muslims have brought to this country – just one. You can’t, I bet. I thank The Saturday Paper for at least covering my son’s views without rancour, and without the left-wing Muslim apologetic bias that I am so sickeningly used to.
– Bill Moerland, Sydney, NSW
Members’ views represented
The article by Sophie Morris (“Falling off the lobby horse”, April 11-17) is a gross misrepresentation and rewriting of Universities Australia’s approach to higher education debate over the past year. Contrary to the report, UA never “struck a deal with the government” on the government’s Higher Education and Research Reform Bill, nor did it assume the government would win senate support for its proposed legislation. Instead, UA sought to have the proposals modified in accordance with the consensus position agreed by its members. This position formed the basis for broad advocacy by UA, its members and the university mission groups, with the government, the opposition, minor parties and crossbench senators, in responding to the government’s proposals. The article seeks to compare the Australian Medical Association’s position on the GP co-payment with UA’s position on the government’s reform bill but omitted to point out one crucial difference: the AMA opposed the co-payment, whereas the majority of the UA members did not oppose fee deregulation in recognising the need to address funding sustainability in a climate of repeated government cuts.
– Sandra Harding, chairwoman, Universities Australia, Deakin, ACT
Labor shirks its duty
What is so rotten within the kingdom of Bill Shorten’s Labor that it won’t tackle a problem that threatens the foundations of our society? David Marr’s disheartening piece (“Abbott running from the law”, February 28-March 6) exposed a deep, self-serving contempt for the law on the part of our prime minister, a lawyer by education. Every subsequent edition of The Saturday Paper has contained evidence that the rest of the Coalition, including the attorney-general, shares Abbott’s lack of concern for legality. This week we learn that two Coalition senators collaborated in the issuing of a report aimed squarely at undermining an ambushed senate committee hearing (“Gun lobby hijacks reform”, April 11-17). It is the job of the opposition to keep the government honest. It is indeed a sorry day when the politicians whose task it is to do so shirk their duty. No wonder our young are turning away in apathy. Or, rather, disgust.
– Sue Hobley, Lilyfield, NSW
Sharing does help
Thank you, Sophie Morris. Your story (“Losing it”, April 4-10) was not self-indulgent but most definitely brave. It still catches me, when I cast my mind to a day, almost nine years ago, where a 13-week scan showed a tiny foetus, with a heart that was not beating. I have never felt so alone as I did in that moment; bereft with an unfathomable grief for something that was never going to be. While many go through the awful experience of miscarriage, few feel okay talking about it. So thank you for your courageous story and I hope it helps the healing process of many.
– Kate Webb, Forrest, ACT
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Apr 18, 2015.
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