Arezo’s story of inhumanity
I feel shocked and traumatised simply reading “Unthinkable treatment” by Janet Galbraith (July 4-10). Offshore detention is extremely expensive for the taxpayer. It sounds inefficient and cruel and transgresses human rights. What have these asylum seekers done to deserve such inhumane treatment? The Nauru government is abandoning democratic processes and our government has not uttered comment or objection. We may have a future dictatorship on our doorstep. This country is the jailer of the hapless asylum seekers.
How do we, as a nation, explain to our children and grandchildren the treatment meted out in the offshore centres, particularly Nauru? I find it utterly depressing and incomprehensible. I also appreciate Tony Windsor’s cry for decency and humanity in refugee policy (“Stop the brutes”, June 27-July 3). Is our government saying “hurry up and die so we can be done with you”?
– Ann Poynter, Ringwood, Vic
Taking care of business
Free trade agreements should not be about corporate interests supplanting public ones but, with the secrecy surrounding the Trade in Services Agreement talks (Philip Dorling, “Secret trade deal exposed”, July 4-10), this may be what Australia’s future holds. Germany is presently being sued, under the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, for $US4.7 billion because it wants to phase out nuclear power. Canada lost a case after Quebec imposed a moratorium on fracking. The federal government was sued over its tobacco legislation, and though it won the 2012 case, the latest one asking billions in compensation has not been decided. With Rupert Murdoch’s media empire influencing elections and global corporations controlling through legal processes what regulations should or should not be imposed by our government to protect us, to keep us safe, Dick Smith’s plea to buy Australian things such as peanut butter seems quaint and other worldly. With our xenophobic concerns about “boat people” and “Australians deciding who comes here and how”, what about our essential sovereignty in being able to regulate business in our own country?
– Ian Muldoon, Coffs Harbour, NSW
Refugee policy’s narrow focus
Tony Windsor’s “Stop the brutes” piece and supporting letter from John Blount (Letters, July 4-10) highlight the isolationist immigration policy path Australia has taken and look to a regional solution. Our government, with opposition compliance, has defined the policy debate. It has focused it on “stopping the boats”, the management of previous arrivals, and secrecy. It ignores the bigger moral picture and makes little comment on regional or international co-operative alternatives. It seems the vast majority of media comment on Australia’s refugee policy seems locked into a debate only on these policy approaches and occasionally their domestic political drivers. Except for the odd paragraph or news bite, it does not attempt to examine, explore, discuss or construct potential international responses to address the needs of refugees or the causes of their flight. The failure to do so limits our population’s social perspective as regional, let alone global citizens, and reduces its political horizons to domestic isolation and self-interest: an ongoing tragedy for us and for those seeking either asylum or relief.
– Peter Dwyer, Epping, NSW
Is WA turning into Greece?
Paul Bongiorno has a point (“Abbott’s poll two guise”, June 27-July 3) about Tony Abbott and economics. He will also try to avoid the West Australian election debt horror show he called his blueprint for economic management. Ultimately the Commonwealth is liable for the debt of our states, but our states have lost the taxing power to repay their debt on their own. So is WA going to look like Athens – sharing a common currency but unable to raise enough taxes to match a high currency with a growing debt irreparable on its own? In any case the federal election will be won outside New South Wales, the only state benefiting from our new two-speed economy, and that’s bad news for the Coalition.
– Francois Humbert, East Fremantle, WA
Abbott following the plan
Samantha Trenoweth’s article “Green means go” (June 27-July 3) clearly highlights another avenue that the Abbott government is pursuing to negate dissent. Apparently the broad-brush strategies are: (i) defund it (environmentalists); (ii) claim it illegal (asylum seekers); (iii) shame it (Q&A); (iv) shrill and invoke an atmosphere of fear (war on terror); (v) give equal voice to non-experts based on a lack of evidence (renewables). I believe love is higher than hate, understanding higher than the anger of the ignorant, inclusion higher than exclusion, trust is higher than deceit, truth is higher than false pledges, freedom higher than protection, peace higher than war. What side is Abbott on?
– Dr Ellak I. von Nagy-Felsobuki, Arcadia Vale, NSW
Libertarians suffer a blow
Being libertarian can be tricky. In the wake of the Martin Place siege, Senator David Leyonhjelm claimed Australians had an irrational fear of guns and suggested the siege was the result of laws prohibiting the carriage of concealed weapons. Appropriately, he is leading a senate inquiry into the way Australia is becoming a “nanny state”. But as Mike Seccombe reported (“Tobacco playbook to kill renewables”, June 27-July 3), Leyonhjelm is working assiduously to ensure that the nanny state cripples wind energy. It is most ironic that conservatives – even those who adopt the “libertarian” moniker – are always happy for the state to intervene on their behalf when it suits them. But when it isn’t redistributing income upwards or otherwise helping out their friends and sponsors, the nanny state is an impediment that should get the hell out of the way.
– Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 11, 2015. Subscribe here.