War on the home frontI wouldn’t for a moment suggest that Tony Abbott is anything like Colonel Kilgore in the anti-war classic Apocalypse Now. But Kilgore’s sensual dependence on the glories of war is dramatically projected by the wistful nostalgia Robert Duvall brings to the ambiguous line, “Some day this war’s gonna end.” Despite Treasury Secretary John Fraser’s warning, Tony Abbott seems to have the same emotional commitment to ever-expanding house prices as Kilgore had to war without end (Editorial, “Homeric tragedy”, June 6-12). The end of the housing bubble is inevitable, as was the end of the Vietnam War. Peace is always preferable to war. Affordable housing prices are always preferable to unaffordable prices. An end to the bubble will punish those who have benefited most from it, and reward those who haven’t. So be it. I, like Tony Abbott, have benefited, and it is enough. It’s time that people such as me and Mr Abbott, from positions of wealth, recognise we have obligations to future generations, whose single ambition is to provide the security of owning their own home in order to raise the families they have, or are about to have. If it’s any consolation to those battlers faced with ever increasing housing unaffordability, I’d like to paraphrase the words of John Fraser, unambiguously: Some day this bubble’s gonna end.
– Brian Sanaghan, West Preston, Vic
War on the domestic front
In the article by Sophie Morris (“Abbott’s jihad on civil rights”, June 6-12), Tony Abbott is quoted as saying, “anyone who raises a gun or a knife to an Australian because of who we are has utterly forfeited any right to be considered one of us”. Does that apply to men who do the same to their wives or children hourly in this country? Come on, let’s get our priorities right!
– Robyn James, Clifton Hill, Vic
Shifting the responsibility
Sophie Morris’s article highlights the increasing intrusion of Australian governments and, in particular, of the Abbott government of incrementally shifting cases from the jurisdiction and oversight of the courts to the executive of government (e.g., from denationalisation to refugees). It has form in this area – look at the attempt to shift federal funding of education and health to the states. Their trajectory is on course for not trying to solve any problems but rather to let others do the solving for them – so long as their actions are never argued nor scrutinised before the court.
– Dr Ellak I. von Nagy-Felsobuki, Arcadia Vale, NSW
The other Les Murray
I was so excited when I saw Les Murray’s name on your front page, I had to cool off under a sprinkler (Martin McKenzie-Murray, “Les Murray and the FIFA scandal”, June 6-12). Then I remembered that there may be more than one Les Murray, and that world-famous Australian poets don’t make the front page in Australian newspapers. Yet.
– Danny Neumann, Port Melbourne, Vic
Years of research as background
The letters (June 6-12) regarding Dr Helen Caldicott’s views on nuclear energy try to be balanced but ignore the very large amount of evidence she has accumulated and published in the past. The fact is that she has not presented in this small article all of her findings, and that is because she has assumed that most of the readers would have read her previous publications. They have not. Safe disposal of nuclear waste is still to be developed, Dr Caldicott is not inventing a frightening proposal (as the Japanese reactor disaster has demonstrated), and to condemn Dr Caldicott for not dispelling our ignorance is absurd. What is she doing in this article? What she has been doing in all of her articles published over decades. Three decades of research have, one would think, enabled her to claim expert status. But informed debate is out the window in this country. Money has the final word.
– John Garretty, Kelso, NSW
A mine of history
Mike Seccombe’s story about the polluting history of the Alcoa mine servicing the Point Henry smelter (“Coal in rehab”, May 30-June 5) is a fine bit of journalism. One little-known aspect of the mine’s history is that in the late 1980s the clay overburden above the coal seam was found to have remains of a tropical rainforest, very similar to the current Daintree, dating from when Australia was separating from Antarctica about 50 million years ago. David Christophel, palaeobotanist from Adelaide University, and a series of Earthwatch teams excavated and extracted thousands of mummified leaves over several years, with the full support and interest of the mine management. This and other southern sites provided the evidence that until that time tropical rainforest covered all the eastern half of Australia. So the mine holds a record of very significant botanic heritage of the evolution of modern Australia from very different prior conditions.
– Robert Bender, Ivanhoe East, Vic
Seeking what’s below the surface
I read your Gadfly section by Richard Ackland every week with a mixture of humour, horror and disbelief at the continuing adventures of Freedom Boy (Tim Wilson) and Bookshelves (George Brandis). One thing I can’t work out is the endgame of the Institute of Public Affairs’s agenda on property rights. Normally I’m quite adept at seeing the workings behind their schemes but this time I’m drawing a blank.
– Elliott McRobert, Springwood, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jun 13, 2015. Subscribe here.