Letters to
the editor

Toxic atmosphere on Manus

Confirmation by refugee Behrouz Boochani (“Damned lies and News Corp”, May 28-June 3) that the government is supplying cigarettes to the detainees on Manus Island for consumption by them or for trading to be consumed by islanders shows to perfection the duplicity and callousness rife in this Turnbull LNP government. While Australians are currently being bombarded with an expensive government advertising campaign that graphically shows the health and social hazards of cigarette smoking, this same government is involved as an active supplier of this health-hazardous substance to those it has incarcerated in other countries. One is entitled to ask if these cigarettes carry the same plain packaging and health warnings as those supplied in Australia and if not, why not, when the tobacco companies are using the international courts to fight the governments plain packaging laws here? Meanwhile, the lawyers for the tobacco companies must be gleefully anticipating the next session in the courts. 

– Mel Cheal, Manly, Qld

Tracks of Tarkine 

It probably isn’t solely because he came to parliament from the mining industry that Tasmania’s mining minister Adam Brooks opposes any environmental protection of the Tarkine wilderness (Ricky French, “Tarkine advantage”, May 28-June 3). The premier Will Hodgman feels the same way. And it certainly isn’t for a potential flood of royalties; as with forestry, both major parties have shown inexplicable largesse to the resource extractor and curiously little interest in any (public) benefit. Having failed in its recent attempt to have the state’s World Heritage forest listing revoked, the Hodgman government may be determined to prevent the Tarkine suffering the same fate, which they usually describe as being “locked up”. 

– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas

Miner’s mess 

Ricky French’s article on the Tarkine is timely as the state faces a clean-up of the mine where a smash-and-grab miner has left after seven short months and is in no hurry to clean up the site. Politicians here are easily seduced by the words of mining companies, allowing for fragile areas to be trashed.

– Peter M. Taylor, Midway Point, Tas

Not life as we know it

Blinding philosophic insight in the editorial (“Ugly politics”, May 28-June 3), “Few ordinary people would want this [political] life.” So who would? The extraordinary people succeed and manipulate the political system. The ordinary people get on with life. As I have suspected, it is clear that subordinate people must enter political life. This suspicion is confirmed by the present election campaign. It’s noteworthy that politicians rarely introduce themselves as politicians –far too embarrassing. 

– John Garretty, Kelso, NSW

Thinking left to the experts

Interesting article regarding the “think tanks” doing (for now) the work that you’d think an effective opposition should be doing (Mike Seccombe, “Think tanks calling the shots”, May 21-27). But it makes me wonder why people in our parliaments seem no longer able to develop and promote ideas that are intellectually sound, or come up with the counterarguments necessary for a healthy democracy. None of them seem able to actually think analytically about the implications of their various thought bubbles. Is it because both the major parties have emasculated and de-skilled the public service until it is no longer able to provide the sort of reality check that a good government should expect of its public sector? Is it that those parties have so comprehensively cowed what’s left of the public service that the mandarins wouldn’t dare offer such advice even if they knew it and knew it was needed? Is it because the parties have surrounded themselves with beautiful twenty- and thirtysomething advisers who must demonstrate total commitment to the cause to get those jobs? I worked in the public sector for a few years and it seemed to me that people with power do tend to recruit those whose views most closely mirror their own. Is this inability to think analytically due to a generation (or two) that has grown up being “educated” in a system that seems long on ensuring that children properly reference their sources, but no longer bothers to develop in our children an ability to think and a capacity for analysis? All a bit scary but – thank god for the think tanks. At least someone is trying to get the story out there, even if, for now, too few can be bothered reading and listening.

– Gabriel Brown, Murrumbateman, NSW

Professional skills deliver

It almost brings tears to my eyes when I read any of Paul Bongiorno’s articles (“Turnbull looking for fireworks”, May 28-June 3). They remind me of what excellent journalism was and should be – factual, analytical and incisive. No value-laden words; no propaganda; not skewed to one side or the other – “just the facts, man”. I am able to make my own decision about the topic by excellent professional reporting from a unique and talented journalist. 

– Margaret Wilkie, Peregian Beach, Qld

Musical inspiration

Congratulations to you for the headline “Found guarding black hole sum” (Karen Middleton, May 28-June 3). There hasn’t been a title that enjoyable since your classic “Eddie’s current suppression ring”. Cannot wait for your next one. 

– David Stanton, Murrumbeena, 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 June 4, 2016.

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