Letters

Letters to
the editor

Insight into realities of pokies

Drew Rooke’s article about poker machines (“Highs of the machines”, May 23-29) was excellent. Too few objective people have seen the reality of the poker machine industry. It was my first job out of school, working in a suburban leagues club. They’d pump oxygen into the airconditioning to stop patrons from getting sleepy at 4 o’clock in the morning. Middle-aged men stuffing beer coasters into the side of buttons so they could play multiple machines at once. The motion sensors that would light up the machines as you walked passed. People pissing in the machine trays because they’d just got a double feature on Big Red and couldn’t leave. Hundreds of thousands gambled away every night by the same people. You’d need a pallet jack to carry the coins to the counting area. But worst of all is that these clubs say they turn all the money back into the community. By the looks of the cars that the board of directors drive, the money passes through more than a few hands before it gets to the under-12s’ new tackle bags.

– William Robertson, Austinmer, NSW

Liberals’ beliefs there for all to see

In asserting that the Abbott government believes in “nothing except prejudice” (Paul Bongiorno, “Bonfire of the insanities”, May 23-29) the ALP opposition merely displays its own ideological failings. It is patently obvious that the current Australian government believes strongly in social injustice and inhumanity towards dispossessed people, bias in reporting, governance on behalf of the economically elite, the violability of the law, the disposability of the natural environment, and the gullibility of the Australian electorate. Perhaps most seriously of all for the future of Australia that Abbott & co would have us suppose they care about, they believe that science and innovation should be opposed. The cost of the Liberal government writing off the valuable investments in research and development made by previous Australian governments using taxpayer funds is already emerging. I wonder how many people celebrating the recent launch of the Tesla battery in the United States are aware that we taxpayers were backing strong technological innovation players in the alternative energy game that is taking off around the world until the Abbott government pulled the plug on further investment and left our teams sidelined. Oh look, another Liberal belief – we should keep playing the old greenhouse gas game no one else wants to play anymore. Perhaps the Shorten opposition fails to acknowledge the many beliefs held by the Abbott government because it would expose their own complicity.

– Sue Hobley, Lilyfield, NSW

Social media playing its part

In “Courage under ire”, May 23-29, Sean Kelly tells a familiar tale of how the new media environment’s rapacious appetite for content is trashing our democracy. His argument follows similar logic to Lindsay Tanner’s Sideshow thesis and it would be hubristic to suggest that these impeccably credentialed insiders were simply wrong. But to argue that the commercial logic of new media represents some discrete threat to democracy is a gross oversimplification. Rather, the media shit storm that we so often see playing out is symptomatic of a new political environment characterised by a significant representation gap. This hollowing out of democracy is driven by the ideological convergence of the major parties whose cartel-like behaviour began with the end of the era of mass party membership. Voters and parties, who have become estranged, now relate to each other through the media and focus groups rather than through party organisations. This is the context for pole fetishism and the “political pandemic of cowardice and instability”.

– Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW

Arts switch worth watching

What is the world view of a government that siphons off half the Australia Council’s funding into a separate funding stream, the National Programme for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA), and then locates it within the arts minister’s office? Martin McKenzie-Murray’s well-reasoned article (“Inside George Brandis’s arts heist”, May 23-29) provides some balanced insight regarding the political motivations and philosophical complexities influencing this out-of-the-blue decision. Bravo to The Saturday Paper for giving his article prominence on page one! Australian artists already have a “thicket” of grants procedures to negotiate in order to justify and, if they are successful, finance their creative outputs. Here’s hoping the NPEA guidelines will promote dialogue between arts practitioners and this new government regulator. I am not holding my breath, however. As a serious fan of the arts in regional Australia I look forward to seeing ongoing commentary on this vexing issue.

– Sally Denshire, Albury, NSW

Not mad about Max

Why on earth, in a paper that is one of the more intelligent and thoughtful publications in this country, do you waste space on the puerile pornographic violence of a Mad Max movie? (Donna Walker-Mitchell, “Auteur space”, May 16-22). Even thinking that the cinema is somehow an art form and not the cheap manipulative junk form that it is, surely you could use your pages to talk about works that approach intelligence and taste, and not the cinematic sewage that is all Mad Max movies have ever been. Screen violence is the true pornography of our age and these movies have no trace of intelligence, taste or any redeeming features at all. Mad Max movies are the cheapest tripe, pandering to the basest drives of humanity. They are the dumbing-down of society and as such should be actively condemned for the putrescent offal that they are.

– Stuart Leslie, Dorrigo, NSW

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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 30, 2015. Subscribe here.