Human cost of debt recovery ignored
The tragic story of the death of Rhys Cauzzo (Martin McKenzie-Murray, “ ‘Centrelink debt pushed him over the edge’ ”, February 18-24) was extremely saddening to say the least. I was very frustrated not only that any letters of demand sent to individuals by Dun and Bradstreet, as agent for the Department of Human Services, were received as fait accompli by so many, but that “Human” has been discarded from “Services” with so little regard for the consequences of those demands. Through my work in an accounting practice over the past 23 years, I have had many dealings with various debt collection companies, Dun and Bradstreet included, as recovery agents for the Australian Taxation Office. My experience has been that communication at the earliest possible time is paramount and beneficial to all concerned. Once a debt is confirmed and agreed upon, a payment arrangement can usually be negotiated. There are many steps before any garnishee orders can be enforced. There is always a solution, and the human services minister should have, at the very least, empathetically communicated this to the vulnerable and desperate. This is why we need “Human” in “Services”; robots cannot communicate.
– Bernadette Scadden, Earlwood, NSW
Science has to win
Mike Seccombe’s been exposing the convoluted play of the carbon lobby through many editions (“Power switch”, February 18-24). Malcolm Turnbull, now Mr “Clean Coal” (repeat incessantly), is a captive of a revived cliché. What Turnbull and Bill Shorten won’t discuss is how many retired politicians and party operatives are working as lobbyists within the coal and gas industries. Expect to hear more of this phrase without explanation of coal’s metamorphosis. Many of us are sceptical of the market’s ability to always get it right. This time, sense might prevail. Record heatwaves raise a sweat but more so among nervous investors questioning the tide of temperature and the likelihood of a walkaway business case. Clean coal versus scientific truths? The research on climate change is irrefutable.
– Warren Tindall, Bellingen, NSW
Self-interest not national interest
Mike Seccombe’s article should be compulsory reading for all politicians and all thinking adults. It clearly illustrates the undeniable fact that politicians of all persuasions base their policies on ideological interest and not the national interest. Most Australians are sick of the blame game and the inability of one party to accept and implement the policy of another party, even if it is clearly in the national interest. Why are our politicians so gutless and self-serving? How can they claim to represent their electorate when they subjugate previously stated beliefs for the expediency of internal ideology?
– Ramon Jones, Carcoar, NSW
Job service makes no sense
The story of Tom, who has schizophrenia, shows how people with mental illness continue to be devalued (“Not working”, February 18-24). Tom was devalued by the employment agency, his employer and the government disability service that endorsed this rort. This flawed and counterproductive system reduces the person to $10,000 and rewards the employer for terminating the employee when the subsidy runs out. Evil is treating another person as an object and not as “you”.
– Mark Porter, New Lambton, NSW
Family violence help must continue
I was surprised that not one of the Letters contributions for the February 18-24 edition addressed Martin McKenzie-Murray’s piece on the potential threat to funding for prevention of family (domestic) violence (“Under threat”, February 11-17). As I write it is Sunday morning and the lead story on the news is of the death of a 29-year-old woman in a suspected domestic attack. Despite the initial focus on this issue and the prominent role Rosie Batty has played, it seems little has changed. While much is made of tackling, and rightly so, the ice epidemic, it would appear efforts to address family violence have become less important to the federal government. Budgetary pressures continue and with money too tight to mention only vote-buying initiatives and opportunistic political pointscoring receive prominence in the national debate. As a communality we need to do more to encourage political leaders to recognise this important social issue.
– Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
Keep up the good work
Last week began the third year of my subscription. The recent edition immediately rewarded with its articles exhibiting a commendable – if not coincidental – unity of theme. Does signing on for citizenship mean writing off any hope for a diverse, tolerant Australia (Karen Middleton)? Those in power seem comfortable preserving the gap between Indigenous and non‑Indigenous Australians (Editorial), punishing or purging the unemployed and the mentally ill (Anonymous, Martin McKenzie-Murray), while overfunding and overextending our military capacity (Mike Gilligan) so that this “way of life” might continue. Inverting Tony Benn, we can find money to kill people, but we can’t find money to help people. Granted, in a hierarchy of needs, survival precedes self-actualisation, but surely defence against climate change is as vital as national defence? The prime minister’s solar‑panelled roof reflects this reality, even if his government’s policies don’t (Mike Seccombe). In this dark age of domestic politics, it helps to be reminded that any policy agenda is a choice, not an inevitability. Thank you, TSP, for consistently aligning the issues and shining a light.
– Daniel De Voss, Nundah, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 25, 2017. Subscribe here.