New concerns surround the government’s increased use of legislative powers to bypass the parliament and create laws that cannot be amended or overturned. The federal government has embedded special powers in new Covid-19 laws to make unilateral changes to non-pandemic-related legislation, using what are known as ‘Henry VIII clauses’ – named for the unchecked power they involve.
Hard-right Liberals shown the door
The election of Malcolm Turnbull was a triumph of political sanity over the disastrous two years of the Abbott experiment (Sophie Morris, “End of an error: how Turnbull triumphed”, September 19-25). For the first time since Federation, Australia had a dalliance with a hard-right government that was more reflective of the elitist values of the United States Tea Party than with Australia’s concept of an egalitarian society. Bob Menzies’ Liberal Party was founded on concepts of liberalism for all, not a dog-eat-dog sort of elitism that was the foundation of the Abbott experiment. Australia expects that Turnbull will not be held captive by extremist shock jocks, media barons and mining magnates, as was his predecessor. Turnbull’s party-room victory will, at last, allow Australia to jump from the 1950s to the 21st century, provided the hard-right conservatives within the party can be kept on a tight leash.
– Bob Barnes, Wedderburn, NSW
Abbott’s rotten legacy
As I read this week’s editorial (“Kicking the Abbott”, September 19-25) I let out an almighty sigh of relief: an accurate version of Abbott’s prime ministerial résumé now exists in cold, hard print. Thank you for adding so courageously and succinctly to the historical record. However, I take issue that he is a “prime minister without a legacy”. Federal politics and Australia’s reputation is badly besmirched. Only time will tell how long it will take to clean up. It also remains to be seen whether Australia can recover from his writing off of taxpayers’ investments into R&D programs in science and technology. We are likely to be buyers rather than sellers of new technologies as a result of his sabotaging of the clean energy sector. The frightening truth about Abbott’s legacy is that so many within the Liberal Party didn’t vote for change. We cannot know how long it will continue to despoil Australia.
– Sue Hobley, Lilyfield, NSW
An editorial for the ages
As a TSP addict, there is much I have admired and enjoyed, nothing more so than Richard Ackland’s Gadfly. How refreshing to have Father Gerard’s Catholic Boys Daily cut down to size! But last Saturday’s editorial was a column extraordinaire. No one will pen a better critique of Abbott’s time at the top. He will disappear into the garbage bin of history but the damage he has done will linger. One of the things still stuck in my craw is his flouting of the 110+-year-old tradition concerning disclosure of cabinet papers. I, too, hope his like will not be seen again.
– John Walsh, Watsonia, Vic
Billy still deserves the ‘worst ever’ crown
Your editorial assessment of Abbott as PM is too harsh. I am aged 68 and remember. Give Tony Abbott his due: in three words, “Better than McMahon”.
– Phillip Sindel, Epping, NSW
Bet on the status quo in Tasmania
There’s probably nothing in MONA quite as exotic to the Tasmanian political mind as David Walsh’s insistence on a measure of ethics in his proposal for gambling to subsidise art. While these elected officials are renowned for their generosity, it is overwhelmingly directed to corporate friends. James Boyce (“Political gamble”, September 19-25) is at pains to not suggest any reciprocal aspect to this generosity, but concedes vigilance is not an obsession with Tasmanian watchdogs. While he hopes Walsh’s stand may trigger a revolt against current standards of governance, recent legislation suggests the pollies are resolved to defend the status quo.
– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas
Time to out all politicians
Scott Morrison railed against 2GB’s Ray Hadley over religion, and Canning’s new Liberal member, Andrew Hastie, declared “off limits” all questions about his family links with creationism. Why the secrecy? Parliaments are over-represented by proactive religious politicians and they’re out of step with a public that is now more than 50 per cent non-Christian. Religion in politics has flown under the media radar for decades and it has played a blocking role on a broad swath of social policy: from climate change to euthanasia. Same-sex marriage is another example of religious influence, where two-thirds of the LNP party room torpedoed the conscience vote. Labor’s record is no better. It’s political Christianity at its worst. So it’s time for full transparency, with all politicians adding their religious beliefs (or none) to their campaign and parliamentary biographies, so that secular voters know where candidates stand on key social policies.
– Brian Morris, Director, Plain Reason, Netherby, SA
Takes more than confidence
Malcolm Turnbull had much to say about business confidence this week. But confidence depends very much on one’s political outlook. When the economy was slipping towards recession in the 1970s, one wit observed: “Under Whitlam there was plenty of business but no confidence. Under Fraser there is plenty of confidence but no business.” Business leaders will be hoping the new Malcolm doesn’t share the experience of his namesake.
– Evan Williams, Killara, NSW
Quiz answers a pain in the neck
About your quiz. Recognising that it is very much a First World problem, and certainly not a major social issue, why do you perpetuate the publishing habit of printing the answers to your quiz upside down? The answers appear many pages apart from the questions, so I put it to you that the danger of inadvertently spoiling the contest is negligible. To illustrate the unnecessary irritation caused by this habit, I ask that you publish this final sentence upside down. [TSP: Thanks for the challenge, Greg. As the quiz answers are right-side up online, we'll stick with that formula here too.]
– Greg Turnbull, Franklin, ACT
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 26, 2015.
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