Manus is Australia’s problem to fix

The account of conditions on Manus Island by Behrouz Boochani (“Breaking camp”, July 29-August 4) shows the cruelty and vicious treatment of the refugees by the Australian government. They are being driven to despair by various deprivations and by thrusting them into dangerous situations among the local inhabitants of Manus. The aim must be to force refugees to return to great danger and persecution in the countries from which they fled. The prospect of a life in the United States seems unlikely. These men are our responsibility. When compared with the problems and numbers faced by nations overseas, our problem is minuscule and could be solved by the stroke of a pen. The mental and physical damage we have inflicted on people seeking refuge is a crime against humanity. Surely Australians can do better.

– Gael Barrett, North Balwyn, Vic


Noam Chomsky’s telling words

Thank you again for giving Behrouz Boochani a voice from Manus. It is up to us to pile on the pressure to stop this horror. The forced transfer of these innocent men to dangerous East Lorengau is the latest bullying. We must make our voices heard, through our unions, professional organisations, religious institutions and political parties. I recently wrote to Insiders on the weak interviewing of Bill Shorten. If he cared about deaths at sea, he would be advocating the safe transport of refugees from Indonesia. But he was not challenged on his crocodile tears. We are holding hostages. Both parties are culpable. As if for the first time, I discovered these words on the wall of Sydney’s Edmund Rice Centre, dating from 2013:

“Message to Australia from Noam Chomsky, The true measure of the moral level of a society is how it treats the most vulnerable people. Few are as vulnerable as those who have fled to Australia in terror and are locked away without charge, their terrible fate veiled in secrecy. We may not be able to do much, beyond lamenting, about North Korean prisons. But we can do a great deal about severe human rights violations right within reach.”

– Stephen Langford, Paddington, NSW


Community voices are being ignored

Defining what constitutes editorial opinion versus balanced reporting is clearly important when we are awash with information (Santilla Chingaipe, “Breaking news”, July 29-August 4). The rise of editorialising, though, may be a symptom of a deeper malaise. Might it not parallel community feelings of disempowerment when leadership fails and attacks on the media increase? Do we look for opinion to be expressed knowing community voices are silenced by sophistry in the first instance precisely because we sense the frustrating and increasing dismissal by the political class of community sentiment? Nowhere is this more stark than in your article on the impending closure of the Manus detention camps. The notion that stopping the deaths at sea of legitimate refugees justifies torture can no longer be seen as anything other than the political lie it always was. That community and international outrage is blithely dismissed is alarming in itself. That politicians are unwilling to calm the fears of those who see this barbarism as unnecessary speaks to an absence of conviction politics, an absence of leadership. If those community voices are dismissed, and leaders won’t hear, is it surprising we have increasingly polarising editorialising?

– Gil Anaf, Norwood, SA


The other income splitting

“It hasn’t got worse – inequality – it’s actually gotten better.” This comment by Treasurer Scott Morrison (Karen Middleton, “Loose lips shift rates”, July 29-August 4), together with Andrew Laming’s definition of inequality as “staring over the fence and noticing another guy has got a jet ski and you don’t”, is an insult. It is an insult to the many in the lower end of the income and wealth distribution cycle who have increasingly become sidelined by the resultant power differential. Perhaps, ironically, it is best left to one of the world’s key money managers to provide a more honest appraisal. IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, in 2014, spoke of the “dark shadow” of rising income inequality (that includes Australia). “Excessive inequality makes capitalism less inclusive. It hinders people from participating fully and developing their potential.” Ultimately, she said, this “means addressing extreme income disparity”.

– Ted Noon, Lugarno, NSW


News Corp’s Catholic tastes

I hope Mike Seccombe’s article (“How the church is splitting Liberals”, July 22-28) was widely read, and he kept it razor-sharp by not digressing into other areas of Catholic-reactionary influence, so I’ll do it for him. The Australian published the following clanger in its May 5 editorial, in relation to Catholic school funding: “Unlike Coalition leaders such as Sir Robert Menzies, John Howard and Malcolm Fraser, Mr Turnbull, a Catholic convert, does not understand the tribe he joined or its culture and values.” The gist is that Turnbull’s Gonski 2.0 is an abhorrent waste of money but, by the way, Catholic schools might have to jack up their fees because their massive funding increase via Gonski 2.0 is not quite as massive as they would’ve liked. I sent a letter suggesting The Australian try crunching the numbers instead of the wafers, which was unsurprisingly spiked.

– Russell Graham, Highton, Vic


Lighten up

Oh, come on, Des (Des Files, Letters, July 29-August 4). Keep things in perspective. The Gadfly is the Gadfly. Read him if you are after some humour, some satire. You will find the more serious journalistic articles of very high calibre towards the front of The Saturday Paper. I’m sad to say that you, along with Father Gerard H, just don’t get it.

– Michael Ryan, Stanwell Park, NSW