Smallest victims of our treatment
Not only is “concern” not “metastasis[ing] into decency” (Editorial, “Dutton for punishment”, September 26-October 2) in the treatment of asylum seekers, even more devious punishments are being devised for them. Recent news of the birth on Nauru to a Rohingya woman who had refused transfer to Papua New Guinea suggests a major policy change recently being explored by International Health and Medical Services in Port Moresby is now being implemented. Instead of transferring women to Darwin at 32 weeks of pregnancy, they will be sent to a Port Moresby private hospital far less well equipped for mothers and babies than Royal Darwin. Women will have to spend months awaiting and following birth in the highly dangerous environment of Port Moresby, before being returned with their newborns to the dangerous environment of Nauru. Conveniently, though, they will be even more out of Australian public view than they now are in detention in Darwin, and the fact that their children are stateless will be PNG’s fault, not that of the Australian government.
– Professor Caroline de Costa, James Cook University College of Medicine, Qld
Song the same for Morrison
Sophie Morris has done a superb analysis (“Just a humble cabinet-maker”, September 26-October 2) on Malcolm Turnbull’s wise softly softly approach to reform to placate the Nationals and the conservatives. In this vein, Scott Morrison has continued Joe Hockey’s mantra that “we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem”. However, this is a flawed analysis of our woes. Morrison would not be thinking of saving the $5 million cost for each bomb dropped in Syria and the “war” costing about $1 billion, but more about scrutinising the unemployed, single parents and people with disabilities from Morrison’s previous portfolio for their contribution to government savings. Repeating the mantra must be music to the ears of the multinational tax avoiders, the wealthy enjoying their super tax concessions, the favoured tax treatment for novated car leases, the tax advantages for the already wealthy using negative gearing, just for starters. Fairness is yet to come into the equation.
– Bill Johnstone, Marrickville, NSW
Bad side effects of free trade
It is worrying to read that “Robb ... is ‘completely obsessed’ with this side of trade”, referring to Andrew Robb’s negotiations that put farmers as potential winners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks (World, “TPP a farmers’ market”, September 26-October 2). Not worrying because of gains to farmers, but because “the cost in medicines and other intellectual property items could be felt by us all”. In other words, we may be witnessing the way in which failed US-style health and pharmaceutical systems might gain a foothold in Australia, to our great cost. This is at a time when our health minister is on record as wanting to review Medicare, and change fee-for-service medicine for chronic illness management, shifting instead to lump-sum payments. The latter is not an issue of monetary reward, but rather is about how bureaucrats will try to gain control over who is treated, how they are treated, and at what cost despite these policies having failed in the United States and Britain. Psychiatric practice, already threatened by less Medicare rebates as of January 2016, has, since the Howard era, long been vulnerable to such ill-informed interventions. The dangers posed by “free trade” may well include letting in overseas healthcare companies, along with their questionable methods, but it is the public that will pay the price.
– Gil Anaf, Norwood, SA
A lengthy process
Bronwyn Adcock’s article (“Caught in the net”, September 26-October 2) gives much on which to ponder, not least of which is the reason for the delay in proclaiming the commencement of section 21AA of the Fisheries Management Act. In the early 1990s I worked for the Department of Primary Industries when it was known as NSW Agriculture and had an in-house legal branch. In those days we got through a large volume of legislation, both principal and subordinate, in fairly short order. A proclamation could be dealt with in a matter of days. A set of regulations took longer, depending on the complexity of the subject. I cannot accept that it would take in the vicinity of five years to develop “cultural fishing regulations” to go with section 21AA unless there was a complete lack of political will to do so.
– David Clark, Springside, NSW
Abbott hits a new low point
I, too, am old enough to have lived through many prime ministers – since Menzies, in fact (Phillip Sindel, Letters, September 26-October 2). And I am of the opinion that although Billy McMahon was ineffectual and sometimes laughable, Tony Abbott was more malicious and destructive – a wrecking ball of significant proportions!
– Angela Sands, Wombarra, NSW
Turn-back on quiz answers
Like Greg Turnbull (Letters, September 26-October 2), I was irritated by The Quiz answers being far away and upside down, even considering writing in about it. But, like him, I felt it was a trivial annoyance in the face of world calamities. Then I found the solution and wonder if it was planned this way. With the paper open at pages 2 and 3, fold up the lower half of page 3 (including the rest of the paper as you do so). Behold, there are the answers right in front of you and right way up. Problem solved.
– Lesley Kirmsse, Daisy Hill, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Oct 3, 2015. Subscribe here.