Letters to
the editor

Domestic violence toll underreported

Re “Lateral damage” (Jill Singer, January 23-29), in addition to the reported two women a week being killed by a person known to them, I was told by a nurse who worked with families of unconscious women that she was often told by families and friends that the woman was a victim of family violence. These deaths were not recorded as family violence related because the woman was not able to bear witness or make a report herself. Statements by close family and friends are considered hearsay. I also wonder how many suicides – women and men – are family violence related and not reported as such.

– Helen Dand, Inverloch, Vic

Sharing the journey

I wept as I read Georgia Blain’s article (“The unwelcome guest”, January 30-February 5). I wept for my friend who was also diagnosed with a glioblastoma last September. As I read Georgia’s article, I relived our experience with my friend, who sadly did not respond to treatment and is in palliative care. I visit her and can only sit and massage her hands, read to her, or offer her a sip of fluid. We need to make the most of every day, we are all living on borrowed time.

– Breda Hertaeg, Beaumaris, Vic

Where to draw the line?

In response to Xanana Gusmão’s letter (“Asserting nation’s rights”, December 19, 2015-January 22, 2016), East Timor has indeed the right to define her maritime boundaries, although whereas outside the Joint Petroleum Development Area her boundaries with Indonesia still remain to be defined, her boundary with Australia formally exists since 2003 when the Timor Sea Treaty entered into force. It so happens that the lateral and southern boundaries of the JPDA are already at or beyond the exact lines of equidistance between East Timor and her neighbours. Beyond the lateral boundaries of the JPDA lies the Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone, in parts of which Indonesia has particular seabed arrangements with Australia. These arrangements can hardly be any of East Timor’s concern. The sole point possibly open for legal debate could be Australia’s 10 per cent share of petroleum revenue in the JPDA, but interestingly that issue is not addressed by Gusmão. He invokes Australian spying activities to affirm that the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea is unfair to East Timor. As uncommendable as spying on one’s neighbour may be, common sense suggests that the actual motives were probably far removed from trying to obtain an unfair but hard to comprehend commercial advantage in the negotiation. Gusmão seems to imply that some secret obtained by the spies relieved Australia’s negotiators from the obligation to otherwise renounce all of Sunrise. East Timor owns less than 20 per cent of the field geometrically but was granted 50 per cent of its revenue. What was the bona fide secret that, had it not been revealed to Australia, would have compelled her to give up all of Sunrise? On whose side is a possible display of bad faith? There is little doubt that Australia believes the Timorese people equal in the community of nations, to the extent that she even elected to share equally a resource of which she owns 80 per cent geometrically. International law states only that maritime boundaries should be equitable. The existing boundaries are equidistant. How far from equidistance does Gusmão think equity should be? Would he mind drawing equitable boundaries on the map?

– Marc Moszkowski, president Deep Gulf Inc

Spy freedom

Plenty of remarkable architecture to see in Canberra: the impressive, the predictably ugly, and then the unbelievably enormous and creepy ASIO building. While it’s an overdrawn analogy, one is tempted when driving past to recall Ceauşescu’s fascist monuments in Romania. However, Frank Moorhouse (“Rethinking intelligence”, January 23-29) is spot on. Having brought to life in his meticulously researched fictional trilogy the grand and not so grand days of Australian involvement in international diplomacy, he is well placed to bring to our attention the need for balance between security and freedom. We must rethink “intelligence”.

– Margaret Jacobs, Northcote, Vic

Sins of the cardinals

The editorial on George Pell and whether he will come back to give evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (“Absent empathy”, January 30-February 5) has probably been answered by the previous action of Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston who, after covering up knowledge of more than 250 priests’ sexually deviant activities in Massachusetts, was forced to resign but now resides within the Vatican and still attends American Independence Day celebrations in the Vatican US embassy each year. The film Spotlight, based on brilliant investigative work by The Boston Globe, must set the blueprint for those in charge of the royal commission to stop the outside pressures that existed in Boston and also exist here from preventing proper and just outcomes for these horrendous crimes. Politicians, police officers, community leaders, church elders, church legal representatives and parents are all implicated in some measure in the illicit cover-ups.

– Rob Park, Surrey Hills, Vic

Carrying the meaning

In the editorial (“Absent empathy”), the wrong case was used in a passive construction – “them forced to sit on a slim wooden bench”. It should have been “they (were) forced to sit on a slim wooden bench”. Or better still, the active construction “he [George Pell] forced them to sit on a slim wooden bench”. The passive gives the impression that an event was accidental instead of a deliberate action, even if ignorant. Or due to a lack of empathy.

– Wayne Robinson, Kingsley, WA

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on February 6, 2016.

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