Letters to
the editor

The toll of clergy abuse

The Saturday Paper editorial “Pell’s day in court” (July 1-7) confirms that George Pell has been charged with historical offences, and is also about the recent impact of child sex offences on the church. As a member of a family who has been touched twice by child sex offences by Catholic clergy, I would like to say that the extent of these offences has effectively decimated an entire generation of those most precious to us, those we held most dear – our young. It is just and fair that George Pell will have an opportunity to respond to the charges but in any case, the tide has turned. The message is out. No matter who you are, you will be held to account.

– Mary Keating, Flemington, Vic

Learning to speak up

The headline under Gadfly’s logo, “We shall fight on free speeches” (July 1-7), taken at its simplest probably means the war has just begun when it comes to speeches that involve little or no cost. Yet over the passage of time the battle lines between “freedom of speech” and “free speech” have become blurred as each generation has sought to take command of what is acceptable or not. Back when I was living in the ’70s, a work colleague invited me to join a Rostrum Public Speaking Club. Joining was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. However, it is the Rostrum promise, learnt by rote, that remains with me. Particularly the words, “I will defend freedom of speech in the community”, and “I promise not to be silent when I ought to speak”.

– Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW

Don’t Google it

I read with interest Rose Donohoe’s article about Google tracking (“Hide and seek”, July 1-7). Surely the easiest and simplest way to minimise tracking is to just not use Google as a search engine. There are others but I use Microsoft’s Bing, which works just as well as Google and doesn’t track individual users in micro detail. It also has wonderful photos each day on the home page.

– Nigel Hungerford, Hawthorn East, Vic

Lack of consensus on Greens

Karen Middleton offered a fair and balanced view of the internal problems of the Australian Greens (“Inside the bitter Greens civil war”, July 1-7). This party was founded on four principles: social justice, environmental protection, peace and, most importantly, grassroots democracy. It is incorrect to say that Greens in other states agree with the sanctioning of Lee Rhiannon. Those running the state branches might, but many grassroots members are alarmed at the increasingly centrist tendencies of the party. It is not what they signed up for. If getting a consensus is impossible at branch and state level, the issue goes to a vote. If this were adopted by the Greens’ parliamentary representatives, then states would have true representation at federal level, and compromise could be reached. The problem is not with the NSW Greens, but with the rigidity of the federal Greens’ decision-making processes. Beware of rigidity, and ignoring the grassroots, otherwise the Australian Greens may follow the path of the Democrats into oblivion.

– Joy Ringrose, Pomona, Qld

The facts of the case

Thank heavens for The Saturday Paper this week, Karen Middleton’s piece on the Greens in particular. I now understand what the fuss has been about. All my other sources – ABC Radio National, Guardian Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald – have personalised the story. Karen explained the structural arrangement between The Greens NSW and the national party, the difference between council and the party room et cetera. At last, some information.

– Jonathan Silberberg, Newcastle, NSW

Indigenous care a federal responsibility

Thanks to the online transcripts of the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory there is now a wealth of information showing the NT government has little regard for the third of its population that has a unique Indigenous history and culture (Martin McKenzie-Murray, “Don Dale lessons”, July 1-7). The question has to be asked: Should the Northern Territory government with a population of 240,000, smaller than many local councils, continue to govern its Indigenous population? There are 25 members of the NT Legislative Assembly. There are eight cabinet ministers, most with multiple portfolios, and six of them come from electorates around Darwin where the majority of the population is non-Indigenous. Olga Havnen, an experienced Indigenous bureaucrat, suggested NT governments were not capable of fixing the problems. Although very critical of the federal government’s last intervention she recommended it should be responsible for implementing the commission’s report for a transition period. Federal responsibility would hopefully mean the rest of Australia could ensure the Don Dale lessons had been learnt.

– Julie James Bailey, Abbotsford, NSW

Abbott boxed in

So Tony Abbott, the prince of the political pout, thinks Christopher Pyne is a disloyal member of the Liberal Party? (Mike Seccombe, “Notes from the Abbott insurgency”, July 1-7). That’s surely the pot calling the kettle black. It’s like Malcolm Roberts calling Barnaby Joyce bat guano crazy, or Bronwyn Bishop chastising Peter Slipper for wasting taxpayers’ money, and it’s even like Peter Dutton criticising Donald Trump’s refugee travel ban as being unfair treatment of a vulnerable group of people. Abbott must have the hide of a rhinoceros.

– John Bailey, Canterbury, NSW

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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 July 8, 2017.

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