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.
NSW asset sales risk democracy
Thanks to Mike Seccombe and The Saturday Paper (“Baird guy”, June 11-17) for exposing the Mike Baird NSW government’s dangerous plans to sell major public Australian assets. I consider public rights, services, facilities, institutions and tangible property ownership to be fundamental to the survival of effective democracy as we know and want it. Ordinary shareholders of private companies are basically powerless to stop the abuse of control by wealthy local and foreign economic capitalists. China is a state that bypassed democracy to become a powerful totalitarian capitalistic country. Apart from Australian citizens selling out on our ownership, control and fair rights, we are already weakening our Australian democratic sovereignty through secretive international so-called free-trade deal laws. Enough is enough. Keep democratic power in the hands of ordinary Australian citizens, don’t sell it to local and foreign entrepreneurs.
– Ron Cameron, Richmond, Vic
Third option for region on refugees
Martin McKenzie-Murray’s article “Tracing Nauru’s abuse of women” (June 11-17) rightly laments the dichotomy between deaths at sea and the cruelty of offshore processing centres such as that on Nauru. There is a third way neither Labor nor the government wants to engage in because it requires doing hard yards in diplomacy. Unlike Europe, refugees landing on our shores have been financially pre-processed by corrupt government officials in Indonesia and Malaysia. Therefore in order to stem the risk of deaths at sea we need a regional solution between Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia in which: (a) Australia accepts a much larger proportion of its immigration entry under the refugee category; (b) visa entry into Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia is tightened; (c) Australia sets up offshore processing facilities with the UNHCR in Malaysia and Indonesia, with the approval and input of their governments. Closing down offshore processing facilities in Manus and Nauru should be a priority since cruelty should never be a part of any Australian solution for any situation.
– Dr Ellak I. von Nagy-Felsobuki, Arcadia Vale, NSW
Calling out the perpetrators
Martin McKenzie-Murray’s article contained a concerning suggestion, that offshore detention’s opponents should concede the drownings argument as somehow humanitarian. Under the current “deterrence” regime there are countless deaths occurring in similar or worse circumstances (if such fates are rankable). They are just happening elsewhere, such as in freight containers marked “Europe” or in source-country torture cells. Allowing people to board planes to Australia visaless, and claim asylum on arrival, would provide boat-free transit thereby preventing associated risks and deaths. We must continue to call out the crimes against humanity conducted by corporations for profit on behalf of successive Australian governments; the grossly expensive efforts to keep detention secret and elsewhere demonstrate that our opposition concerns perpetrators. Perpetrators, including ministers and corporate executives, will be brought to trial. The evidence that will be furnished against them will likely include the very important report this article surveys.
– William Mudford, Lyneham, ACT
Time to be honest
While it is a tragedy that Papua New Guinea is a corrupt and failed state (Editorial, “Failed state”, June 11-17), what is more alarming is the tradition by the Department of Foreign Affairs to pussyfoot with the multitude of governments where they paper over their corrupt practices. If you take a five-year prism of the countries Australia has had “dubious” dealings with starting with PNG, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and Nauru, we have stooped to those countries’ level, allegedly in our “national interests”, whether it be dealing with boat people or geopolitical issues influenced by our unsavoury defence pacts. Perhaps we should act more honestly with these corrupt regimes even at the risk of losing some trade.
– Rob Park, Surrey Hills, Vic
Australians must respond on PNG
It is an appalling, shattering situation we have organised with PNG – and our leaders’ steely determination in this matter is mind-boggling. I don’t believe I’ve ever felt so bitter and angry – so ashamed – of my country. Our leaders are keeping us in the dark on this, just as they are on climate change. We must make sure we use our only weapon wisely: the vote. I am reading this out at my U3A class this arvo if I can get through it without weeping.
– Christina Sobey, Albury, NSW
New political model
Dorothy Wainwright (“Surely template”, June 4-10) puts her finger accurately on why politics, even in a federal election campaign, is of shrinking interest to so many these days. Now in my 70s, I look back longingly to when those candidates who could be characters were allowed to be so. Any tendency towards individuality has been stultified by the two major-party machines – and they’ll be joined by the Greens in no time. Unless the major parties wake up to the fact that “templating” is what is turning voters towards independents, hung parliaments will become the norm and render the Westminster system unworkable. The media can take some of the blame with their love of “ooohh-err” moments; gleefully, frivolously and endlessly reported. Mind you, it’s not all bleak. With the increase of independents vying for election to the crossbenches, especially in the senate, one can still sense what each is standing for or against. This could be of assistance when it comes to sorting the Leyonhjelms, Lazaruses and Lambies.
– Ian Nowak, Subiaco, WA
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jun 18, 2016.
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