Message heard loud and clear
Martin Mackenzie-Murray’s comment on the protests that stopped the extraordinary overreach of the Australian Border Force’s Operation Fortitude, that “protesters lacked perspective”, is a serious misjudgement of context (“Inside Border Force’s power”, September 5-11). When a low-level PR officer clearly states that the para-military ABF will be on the streets stopping and searching people, that doesn’t occur in a vacuum. The aggressive, militaristic environment inside Immigration/ABF clearly promotes this kind of understanding in the minds of its staff. While incompetence may have caused an embarrassing public backdown, it doesn’t mean something sinister isn’t happening. You don’t create an army without intending to use it. Just what Operation Fortitude would have morphed into, when ABF troops were on the street having received the message of that press release loud and clear, is a consequence too disturbing to be ignored. This government has been pushing the country to the extreme right since its inception, and has only ever backed off when the public pushes back loud and clear.
– Lee Kear, Kambah, ACT
‘Paying’ refugees still aren’t welcome
As your editorial “Grim tide” (September 5-11) observed, “Sometimes a single image can sum up a debate.” This captures something about the impact of Aylan Kurdi’s tragic death, which seems to have shifted the terrain of political discourse by forcing the issue onto the Australian political “caste”. They have suddenly realised there is a crisis. Liberal MP Ewen Jones said as much on Radio National this week as he called for Australia to take in 50,000 refugees. But he made a crystal-clear distinction between poor, downtrodden asylum seekers in refugee camps and the privileged few who pay for passage to Australia. The notion that these are discrete categories is as cynical as the belated recognition of crisis. If crises are the crystallisation of the accumulation of pathologies, they should be judged by the transformations to which they give rise. Jones’s pathological cynicism suggests that we are not headed for transformation but catastrophic equilibrium.
– Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby NSW
Census tells a different story
Mike Seccombe (“Abbott and the Christian right”, August 29-September 4) uses numerous statistics in his argument that the Liberal Party is unduly influenced by the “religious right”. While more of a “religious centre/left” person, I do find his use of numbers somewhat self-serving. He says “more people now identify as ‘no religion’ than identify with any faith except Catholicism”. We know Catholicism is not a separate faith but a denomination of Christianity. What Seccombe does not mention anywhere is that in the last census more than 60 per cent of Australians declared themselves Christian. The figures were: 61.1 per cent Christian of some denomination; 22.3 per cent no religion (not “about a third” as he claims); 7.3 per cent other religions (including Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam) and; the remainder either didn’t answer the optional question or gave unclear responses. Statistics need to be true and to be used fairly. Any argument that starts by ignoring the majority position of the population invites suspicion.
– Elizabeth Jones, NSW
Lack of Christian care is the problem
Mike Seccombe implies that having a large number of federal ministers with Christian beliefs or affiliations is necessarily a bad thing for Australia. I would beg to differ. The problem with the federal government is not the Christian affiliation of many of the ministers, but their failure to implement Christian principles in their political decisions. One of the great commandments advocated by Jesus is to “Love thy neighbour as thyself” and on the issues of unemployed youth, student support in education, healthcare for the elderly, compassion for refugees, care for the environment, they are disobeying that command. What this country needs is Christians in government who live and rule by the dictates of Micah 6:8. “The Lord requires you to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
– Antony Ault, Rose Bay, Tas
A poorly judged stereotype
I wish, in the strongest terms, to refute the comments made by Brian Sanaghan (Letters, September 5-11) regarding the biases of judges. They are not overwhelmingly born into privilege (take Michael Kirby as an example), educated at privileged schools (Mary Gaudron, for example), and graduates of privileged universities (I’m not sure Michelle Gordon would regard her alma mater as privileged). In response to the comments about scurrying past pie stalls for the leather upholstered security of the Long Room, I can only say that the metaphor is vile. Judges are human beings. They do not scurry and they do not avoid contact with the society of which they are a part. Their day-to-day dealings in the law before they became judges well and truly gave them contact with all levels of society. As to the insanity of the possibility of electing judges, it poses the prospect of judges having to please the people in order to keep their jobs. Where is the independence of decision-making in that? There is an awful lot of unnecessary social and economic jealousy forming people’s attitudes to the law. What we really need is greater knowledge of the law developed over half a century rather than what has been recently described as the “pub test”.
– John Garretty, Kelso, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 12, 2015. Subscribe here.