Letters to
the editor

The truth exposed

Last week’s front page (Karen Middleton, “Foreign policy in the age of Trump”; Mike Seccombe, “Inside Q Society’s sick, sad world”, February 25-March 3) left me puzzled about the boundaries between the Q Society’s xenophobic “sick, sad world” and those of the Trump age’s aggressive nationalism, which the Australian government seems to be embracing. Both seem to spring from little more than some hindbrain tribal instinct. As the Trump assault on the most basic tenets of morality and democracy grows ever more buffoonish, the Coalition’s motives for its obsequiousness are even more obscure. Malcolm Turnbull’s clash with Donald Trump over the refugee swap, which his backers have tried to celebrate as plucky defiance, simply mirrors Trump’s handballing of an unlawfully hardball political vow. While Turnbull’s accommodation of Trump is undoubtedly meant to look like realpolitik, it better evokes the cravenness of those burghers in the Hans Christian Andersen tale too timid to acknowledge that their demented emperor is nude.

– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas

Wrapping up the issues

It is sad that the likes of News Corp cannot provide a balanced view of the issues of the day like The Saturday Paper produced last weekend. The article revealing the disturbing Q Society’s “grate society”, Santilla Chingaipe’s balanced coverage of the much-maligned Sudanese youth (“Fright attendant”), Susan Carland’s portrayal of Muslims’ assimilation difficulties (“The Australian crucible”), Paul Bongiorno’s excellent discovery of a politician (John Alexander) who appears to have some principles and some backbone on housing affordability and how to resolve it (“Boundless plains to spar”). Finally though, the gem was from Abdul Karim Hekmat (“Citizens oppressed”) who provided a story of the utter frustration Nabi Zaher suffered in trying to obtain his legitimate right to Australian citizenship. One can only assume the sinister involvement of what the late Bob Ellis refers to as “the first free-elected mandrill in the Western democracies’’ is behind the inept performance of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

– Rob Park, Surrey Hills, Vic

A call to prayer?

I am bemused that in Mike Seccombe’s article on the Q Society’s political arm, Australian Liberty Alliance, it was not noted that the acronym ALA sounds eerily like the subject of so much of the society’s hysteria.

– Ann Babington, Shortland, NSW

Disability jobs service is a cruel scam

Our family also has a disabled member. The circumstances of his “employment” and subsequent sacking were identical to that of Tom (“Not working”, February 18-24). The pride he took in obtaining what he thought was a real job and in his work as a car detailer were matched only by the anger and despondency he felt when he was sacked for what was clearly a spurious reason. The real reason was that the federal government’s subsidy to the car dealer had run out, and the company needed to replace him with someone just like him, but who was eligible for the subsidy. This is theft of public money by the employment agencies and the companies involved in this shameful merry-go-round. Worse is the psychological damage to the person involved in their scam. Why not subsidise the company to employ people on an ongoing basis? The employment agencies happily engage in this deceit, make a good profit and keep the politicians happy by reporting the great number of “clients” placed in “employment”. How do these people sleep well at night?

– Ian Brumpton, Indooroopilly, Qld

New poster boy for Australian values

The article about Peter Dutton and another national values debate (Karen Middleton, “Pledge to reopen Australia identity debate”, February 18-24) reminds me of the last values debate 15 years ago. The allegation was that Muslim values were not the same as Australian values, so John Howard drew up the list of official Australian values. A copy was sent to all Australian schools to display. It spurred me on to do my PhD thesis on Islamic schools in Australia when I interviewed more than 80 teachers and former students in six cities around the country. For the chapter on the values debate, I asked all of them if they felt Muslim values were incompatible with Australian values, and without exception they all said “No”. It’s interesting that the right wing of the Coalition is resurrecting the debate as part of their “new nationalism” agenda, again targeting Muslims, although they can’t openly say so. I suspect most of those posters sent to Australian schools have long since fallen down so, like many other teachers, I look forward to seeing the new list with Peter Dutton’s imprimatur on it.

– Peter D. Jones, Lenah Valley, Tas

Politicians’ behaviour out of order

Surely I am not the only voter from the older, retired demographic finding events in parliament deeply troubling. Paul Bongiorno (“Stuck in the mud”, February 18-24) suggests the vitriolic personal attacks on Bill Shorten and the Labor Party from Turnbull, Pyne, Joyce, Dutton and others were possibly “a sign of desperation” but in fact only “reinforce the impression that the politicians are more interested in themselves than voters’ concerns”. He is right. A few years ago I wrote to Turnbull and Pyne when they were using the same disgusting tactics on Julia Gillard. Recent performances by the same politicians are not what one hopes for from our elected representatives. It looked like the behaviour of out-of-control Trump look-alikes and was truly sickening.

– Vivienne Szekeres, Kensington Gardens, SA

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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on March 4, 2017.

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