Hold leaders to account
Andrew Wilkie (Martin McKenzie-Murray, “Up in arms”, July 16-22) is Australia’s equivalent of Daniel Ellsberg or, more recently, Edward Snowden. An insider whose access to the unfiltered intelligence and decision-making processes of our government and military gives his testimony and decision to blow the whistle on our country’s deeply flawed involvement in the Iraq war special significance. He is right. Australia needs an inquiry into John Howard’s decision to back America’s ill-conceived war of aggression, which was indeed based on a series of lies, as the Chilcot report makes clear. Wilkie’s stand has been vindicated and if on the basis of our own report Howard is found to have acted simply because he thought the decision was justified at the time, and he thought the decision was right in spite of the very great deal of uncertainty surrounding Saddam Hussein’s capabilities, then he should face a war crimes court for all the death, destruction and current insecurity the world now faces as a result of the actions he, George W. Bush and Tony Blair took. These three men have a great deal of personal responsibility for the almost continual attacks being carried out in Europe, the United States and Britain since 9/11. Not least the horrendous atrocity in Nice on Bastille Day. It is no longer sufficient for world leaders to line up in pointless solidarity with France and other nations to utter useless platitudes about increased security and states of war. It is time to acknowledge that this ongoing disaster is, to a large extent, one of our own making. We must hold our own leaders to account and drop the pretence that we are the only victims. In so doing we may be able to move towards some kind of negotiation with the disenfranchised of the countries in the Middle East whose systems of government we have undermined for our own benefit for so long.
– Tor Larsen, Marrickville, NSW
Why Pauline Hanson did not get my vote
I am concerned about workers getting a fair go. Workers all over the world. I am also convinced Pauline Hanson (“Why Pauline Hanson got my vote”, Letters, July 16-22) does not have the answers to either employment innovation or sustainable development, both required in this day and age to support and entrench Australian jobs for residents and citizens. Indeed, I believe the greatest number of opportunities for both innovation and workers of “collars” regardless of colour will arise out of a very rapid transition to renewable energy. Unless we reduce emissions and reconfigure our national economy to actively support, and not further erode, sustainability, there is no point voting for the same old same old, including Hanson.
– Ellie Bock, Mena Creek, Qld
Clive’s youth program
The right-wing in politics wants to replicate the grassroots activism of GetUp! and the unions (“How GetUp! boosted Labor”, July 9-15). As Mike Seccombe’s article points out, they do not have the numbers or the will among their supporters. However, beware of suggesting money doesn’t buy everything. In the 2013 election, several 16-year-olds in my extended family were paid $100 cash from Clive Palmer’s team to go to the Frankston electorate (they lived in Melbourne) and hand out how-to-vote material for the Palmer United Party. The 16-year-olds didn’t have a clue about PUP and were embarrassed when voters asked questions they could not answer. They just wanted the easy money. Democratic activism had nothing to do with it.
– Kath McKay, Upwey, Vic
High Court link to siege
An immediate cause of the Man Haron Monis siege, I have argued in The Australian Rationalist last year, was Monis’s technical loss in his High Court free speech case (Mike Seccombe, “The Sydney siege: what went wrong”, July 16-22). This concerned his virulent letters to the parents of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. His loss became public on Friday, December 12, 2014. The following Monday he walked into the Lindt cafe with a gun. Had he not lost, it is unlikely this particular siege would have occurred at all. Under freedom of information legislation we sought the reasons for Legal Aid NSW funding Monis at considerable taxpayer expense. They stonewalled. An inquiry undertaken at the behest of then prime minister, Tony Abbott, also ran into a legal cul-de-sac on this point. Of course, Monis may have exploded at some later date in some other way, but equally, he may not have. A sobering thought, I argue.
– Max Wallace, Rationalist Association of NSW, Sydney, NSW
A spell in the sin bin
Print edition headline from July 16-22: “The Sydney seige: what went wrong.” Apparently the main thing that went wrong was the spellchecker. Or was it some sort of “wierd” attempt at subeditorial humour?
– Russ Cuthbertson, Mount Glorious, Qld
What a well-written travel article from Alison Arnold (“Star trek”, July 9-15). Excellent description made me feel as if I was there, star gazing.
– George Goodison, Griffin, Qld
Two funny men
Sitting with Mungo’s crossword over breakfast this week (The Cryptic, July 16-22), and one across is: “Compose manic ode to Abbott or Costello, perhaps.” Clearly an anagram of manic ode. Demoniac comes immediately to mind, but it turns out be comedian. Sadly, either is appropriate.
– Michael Egan, Pomona, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 23, 2016.
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