Letters to
the editor

Regional approach needed to help refugees

I read with interest and appreciation Tony Windsor’s plaintive cry for decency and humanity in refugee policy (“Stop the brutes”, June 27-July 3). It is time that our politicians stopped posturing and making political capital out of intractable human tragedy. Asylum seekers should be treated appropriately, as victims (some 90 per cent of asylum seekers arriving in Australian waters in recent years have been found to be refugees, facing a real chance of persecution) not as criminals. As Windsor identifies (and, he notes, the Houston report recommended), a regional approach is required – although Australia is rapidly losing any credibility in the region through its relentlessly unilateral perspective. Australia should work with UNHCR and regional governments towards a genuinely regional approach, including purpose-built refugee status determination facilities run by UNHCR in countries of first asylum, in conjunction with commitments by Australia for resettlement of persons assessed by UNHCR as refugees in accordance with the refugees convention. It is not (quite) too late for Australia to redeem its international reputation and its own self-respect.

– John Blount, Fadden, ACT, former director, Refugees Immigration & Asylum, DFAT, and former deputy principal member, Refugee Review Tribunal

Big Tobacco lights way for the carbon club

Yet another excellent piece of journalism from Mike Seccombe (“Tobacco playbook to kill renewables”, June 27-July 3). His thesis that there are parallels between the renewable energy critics and the tobacco industry’s misuse of science is scary indeed, and he makes a credible case for us to be very wary of the politics that will follow. His piece reads like a horror story. What terrifies me is that the dramatis personae are not fictional: they are real people! 

– Bill Forbes, Kippaxs, NSW

Our masters pose the greatest threat

Sophie Morris’s article about the secrecy of the current government winds up by reminding us that this is all in order to keep Australians safe (“The government’s secrecy addiction”, June 20-26). When a citizen asks the question “safe from what?” there appears to be three sources of danger – rogue persons or organisations, foreign governments and the citizen’s own government. At this time of Magna Carta’s anniversary, we should remember that this third source of danger is traditionally the most dangerous.

– Denis Fulford, Byron Bay, NSW

Office of zero information

No one should grieve concerning the Abbott government closing down the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. It was a dud anyway, if my experience is any guide. Having paid $419.60 for a freedom-of-information request of the Department of Agriculture, not only did I not get answers but, to add insult to injury, I was provided copies of my own earlier correspondence. My appeal to OAIC in late 2013 was a total waste of time. OAIC accepted the department’s claim “that reasonable searches have been conducted”, and then went on to suggest I “consider a fresh FOI request”. So round and round we go, and another fat fee. To recap, in September 2012, I stumbled on the fact that the Wine Australia Act had been substantially amended to our detriment and no one in our region or state was consulted. It is disturbing that the laws of this country can be changed in secret and that all efforts to get an explanation from the bureaucrats are arrogantly rebuffed. Tyranny governs the wine industry since we have no right to know why particular actions have been taken. FOI is a bad joke and former senator John Faulkner was clearly dudded. From my experience it is clear our civil “servants” never did intend to allow OAIC to actually bring their colleagues to account. OAIC was always going to be a fraudulent waste of money while our politicians continue supporting a conspiracy of silence.

– David Bell, Orange, NSW

Liberal campaign to muzzle debate

The Liberal Party has an ideological hatred of the ABC because the ABC chooses to give both sides of a story. It is also interesting that this attack is happening in the week that Mark Scott is having funding discussions in Canberra. MP Steven Ciobo was out of order on Q&A, and the Media Report (June 25) on Radio National shows how News Corp and the Liberals have misrepresented the question/questioner/situation and have stirred this up purposefully and vindictively. 

No one wants terrorism but it is worthwhile hearing all views, whether crackpot or not. The conservatives’ attempts to control the media and information is scary and 1984-ish.

– Robyn Lipshut, Tatura, Vic

Thanks for respecting your readers

I buy your paper every Saturday at the New Farm farmers’ market and I look forward to it, appreciate it, and read it avidly. I’m writing just to say thanks so much for existing in these depressing political times. I’ve just finished reading Mike Seccombe’s article about anti-renewable lobbyists (Tobacco playbook to kill renewables”, June 27-July 3). It is so well written and so well researched. Thank you for respecting your readers’ interests and intelligence. I return the respect to you all. 

– Susan Giblin, Brisbane, Qld

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 July 4, 2015.

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