Letters to
the editor

A Nauru mother’s plea

I would like to share with you a message recently received from a mother on Nauru. While I can vouch for the authenticity of this message, for obvious reasons I cannot reveal the name of the family concerned, nor that of their family in Australia who passed the message to me, as they are in community detention. It came with a request to place this plea before the Australian people:

“I am the mother of a child in Nauru and gave birth to my child here in bad conditions and very terrible in a abandoned hospital with minimal facilities and very dirty with very bad psychological conditions. My baby is three months now and ordered immigration is that my daughter and I have come back to the tent and endure harsh conditions and unsafe there. I beg you to give my voice to the people of Australia and help me. Very bad living conditions in Nauru, especially for children.

Bad weather conditions causing skin infections for my children, and the medical team did not do anything here ... My daughter is my baby will be very dangerous disease if not treated. Doctors say it is just for the weather and dust. [She is] underweight and is in the process of losing weight. I beg you to help me and save us from here ...”

 – Lyndel Whitehouse, via email

Big problem in small communities

I congratulate Ben Rice for his article on the proposed exclusion zones around women’s medical clinics (“Protesting from the sidelines”, March 5-11).

We have the same problem in Albury, but it is more intimidating for patients as this is a smaller town. People can be recognised by the protesters and approached days after in public places by zealous members of the same anti-abortion group. Paul Hanrahan (of Family Life International) attended here once, to support the local protesters; he was most aggressive and intimidating towards women patients, forcing his unwanted advice and inaccurate and alarmist pamphlets upon vulnerable women. The police were called to caution him. A large study in Melbourne found more than 77 per cent of women felt more anxious and harassed by the presence of the anti-abortionists, despite their assertions that they never harass. The sooner Mehreen Faruqi debates her private member’s bill to remove abortion from the Crimes Act and enact a “privacy zone”, the better for many thousands of New South Wales women.

– Dr Pieter Mourik, Albury, NSW

How Australia has changed

Thank you for publishing the article by Behrouz Boochani (“Island of the damned”, February 27-March 4) to remind me that I and thousands of Australians are all complicit in driving men, women and children insane on the festering hellholes of Manus and Nauru. Behrouz also reminds me how our once generous country was, before being destroyed by weak politicians.

– John H. Bennett, Dingabledinga, SA

More of Howard’s handiwork

Another piece of John Howard’s legacy to add to Mike Seccombe’s list (“Inside Howard’s actual legacy”, March 5-11) is the passage of the 1996 Therapeutic Goods Amendment Bill that created a new class of restricted goods including “progesterone antagonists … intended for use in women as abortifacients” – specifically mifepristone (RU 486). Howard agreed to this in exchange for Senator Brian Harradine’s support for partially privatising Telstra. Until 2006 mifepristone was essentially unavailable in Australia. Not only could women not access the drug, they barely knew of its existence. The legislation helped perpetuate the stigma abortion still carries today, and contributed to the reluctance of politicians of both major parties to embrace changes to archaic state abortion laws.

Caroline de Costa, Cairns, Qld

Tax profits of the churches

The recent grilling of George Pell (Martin McKenzie-Murray, “It’s a sad story... of much interest to you”, March 5-11) has revealed ambition was far more important to him than stopping widespread criminal behaviour. Once such behaviour would have drawn a life jail sentence. Within the Catholic Church it drew a change of location. Only 37 per cent of Australians describe themselves as being religious. The other 63 per cent have no say in the subsidising of religious institutions. Each year these organisations turn over $80 billion. We need a further royal commission into church finances, as many government services have been handed over to this sector at public expense. Any responsible government, truly concerned about taxation reform, would be scrutinising this sector and taxing its profits. The 63 per cent are not happy with the Catholic-dominated Coalition government’s enabling of this reprehensible institution.

– Joy Ringrose, Pomona, Qld

Recipe brought into focus

Thank you for the recipe for pot custards (Andrew McConnell, March 5-11). I was beside myself with excitement at an excuse to buy a blowtorch. The required ramekins didn’t hold quite the same thrill but I got some of them, too. I made the custards – they were perfect. However, I do have a complaint. I have quite recently gone old lady blind. I have about 12 pairs of $15, +1.5 reading glasses with the right arm broken ( I read on my right side). Even with my perfect eyesight and even better result, something didn’t seem right. I don’t want to slight the clear instructions, lovely photographs or smashing layout. It was the headline that jarred. “Custardy agreement” was surely incorrect? It was in my head on a loop – through the whisking, the stirring and the careful wobbling slide into the oven. Thank you anyway. I am a tiny bit fatter now, and so are my kids.

– Jenny Lyon, Elwood, Vic

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 March 12, 2016.

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