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.
Echoes of another postwar mistake
John Martinkus’s insightful article on the negative power-gap created by the US-led alliance following Saddam Hussein’s defeat (“What my captors wanted to know”, November 21-27) takes me back to the mistake the allies made at the end of World War I. It was not enough for the German nation to be defeated, it needed to be humiliated and punished for its transgressions. This provided the setting that allowed Hitler’s Nazi propaganda to seem like a reasonable remedy to the sense of disillusionment and oppression experienced by the German people in the years after that defeat. Enough were convinced of the correctness of the Nazi ideology to allow Hitler and his henchmen to take power. The result is a history we seem unable to learn from. Again we have a people defeated and left disillusioned, and Paul Bremer’s administration after that defeat added to a growing sense of resentment by disenfranchising an entire governing class because of their supposed allegiance to Saddam’s dictatorship. Apparently it did not occur to Bremer that the people he removed from the management of Iraq were members of the Ba’ath Party because that was the only way to be able to work in government or a number of Iraqi organisations in the time of Saddam. Now we are experiencing the dreadful backlash of that poor judgement I wonder if the nations and governments involved in the current conflict will have the intelligence to respond to it in a way that neutralises the atrocious and barbarous response of a minority of vengeful generals and their unthinking acolytes, but engages the broader population in a process that allows them to take back control of their country in a way that fits with their customs and culture, not ours.
– Frank Pollard, Wurtulla, Qld
Marching for a cause
In 2003 I joined the thousands who marched against following the US into Iraq. Not because we were supporters of Saddam Hussein, which is what was claimed, but because I, and many others, feared that there were no real plans for the aftermath of his ousting. There were courageous journalists speaking out, warning of the dire consequences that we now face. There is no comfort whatsoever in being proved correct in such horrendous events as we are now seeing.
– Barbara Lyle, Tea Gardens, NSW
There’s still hope
Thank you, John Martinkus, for your personal and insightful story. I, and I’m sure many others, recognise and accept the obvious progression of events that have led us to where we find ourselves today. I sincerely hope that it’s not too late to change our reactions and thereby the outcome.
– Kathryn Lai, Engadine, NSW
Ensure human rights for all
Emailing my relative, Pete, in London, Ontario, he told me what he really hated about the former, unlamented, prime minister, Stephen Harper: he kept on getting laws passed that were then rejected by the courts. Unimaginable for us. A bill of rights that meant that a law could not be passed that violated human rights! In our system, any old rubbish that calls itself a law can be passed and enacted; “paperless arrest” legislation that meant the death of Kumanjayi Langdon (Jo Lennan, “Paperless justice”, November 21-27), the NT Intervention legislation, and the stinking heap of legislation that sanctifies the sadistic treatment of asylum-seeking people who arrive here by boat. All of it has to go. When these dark days of the Manus Island and Nauru camps are over, we must drive ourselves on to achieve what this country needs so much – a bill of rights, or a charter of rights and responsibilities. Whatever we call it, we need something that means we cannot trample the rights of the latest group of human beings we have been persuaded to believe need to be taught a lesson.
– Stephen Langford, Paddington, NSW
Turnbull’s broader church
I was very surprised at the allegation Kevin Rudd cast Thérèse Rein from the Prime Minister’s Office, yet not at the observation Lucy has continued to be at Malcolm Turnbull’s side throughout (Chris Wallace, “The honeymoon after the divorce”, November 21-27). While reluctant to state the seemingly obvious that no success – high level or otherwise – can be readily achieved without the strength and loving support of a partner, so far Malcolm and Lucy exhibit all the signs of a successful prime ministerial couple. As global and domestic ambassadors they have set a good tone. Sure, it’s early days as PM, but the stratospheric approval numbers just cannot be because he isn’t Tony Abbott or Bill Shorten. Much of his appeal is that he is self-made, respected because he created his own fortune, but today so many people are, or come from, single-parent families that they identify with his struggle. And, while he likes tea, there’s absolutely no danger he’ll be leading a Tea Party revolution inside his party. Best of all, he’s not reminding us of his religion or God at every opportunity. Thank heavens for that.
– Andrew Heslop, Albert Park, Victoria
Government selling our souls
Mike Seccombe’s article (“Shenua’s Mongolia scandal highlights local fears”, November 21-27) is yet another revelation of the mindlessness of our governments who are willing to prostitute themselves, our country and our future food security and prosperity for a few pieces of silver. Tony Abbott referred to a “Team Australia” in another, diametrically unrelated context. However, the term is most applicable in this instance. Either we are with “Team Australia” or “Team Shenhua”. It’s not rocket science to guess which team most Australians would choose. We still live in a democracy … don’t we?
– Chris Dockrill, Crescent Head, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Nov 28, 2015.
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