Letters to
the editor

Self-interest taking its toll

Your two articles on appalling behaviour by our federal government, Martin McKenzie-Murray’s “Making war with the ABC” and Mike Seccombe’s “Charitable detonation” (August 19-25), are proof positive that the LNP are actively working against the nation’s interests. In a bygone era these people would be labelled traitors. The government’s intention, to hamstring environmental groups to prevent them protesting against land and water devastation by mining companies, is a direct threat to our food and water security. And making these groups clean up after mining companies would add insult to grievous injury. Self-interest has for far too long ruled our nation. We must vote out this destructive, self-serving clan, for the sake of Australia.

– Joy Ringrose, Pomona, Qld

Call to vote out Coalition

The federal government’s campaign to silence environmental charities and other community organisations seeking to make our society a better, fairer place is appalling. As always, Mike Seccombe hits the nail on the government’s ugly, mean-spirited head: “This isn’t about consistency or principle. It’s about monied interests, power and political survival.” I echo Richard Cooke on an earlier page (“Beyond the gall of duty”, August 19-25): “Who will stop any of it?” The next election can’t come soon enough.

– Anna Le Masurier, Earlwood, NSW

A free market in failure

Richard Cooke became one of my favourite journalists with some outstanding coverage of the intergenerational war between boomers and millennials, the Trump election, and now this week’s piece. The barely concealed contempt denounces a failed polity, a near to failed system and close to the worst of all possible worlds for a barely functioning democracy. He could also have looked elsewhere to find failure rewarded so handsomely: the banking sector blundering from crisis to crisis; the electricity market serving only the shareholders; and the telecommunications sector, so dysfunctional the federal government had to intervene to build the NBN, which was then trashed by the LNP government. Underlying it all is the ultimate failure, neoliberal economic theory. Failure is being rewarded everywhere. This is the “efficient market” in action.

– Andrew Lewis, South Coogee, NSW

Time to mourn

Your editorial (“Damn the barricades”, August 19-25) is possibly one of the most pithy pieces of writing I have encountered for some time. It encapsulates what this country has sadly become. This land was invaded and colonised by marginalised people (both the guards and the guarded) and during 200 years they and their descendants have sought to marginalise or exclude those who were already here and those who have come since, differentiating by skin colour, culture or some other construct. If we have much to celebrate we also have much to mourn, and it is only through genuine mourning that we can grow into a considerate, fair society.  

– Toni McLean, Lymington, Tas

Losing her home

I write in response to John Hubby’s criticism (Letters, August 12-18) of Drew Rooke’s article (“Battle for Waterloo”, July 29-August 4). Hubby’s letter reveals a total incapacity to visualise the effect of the redevelopment on the people of Waterloo estate. First, we are being forced out of our homes, obviously not a meaningful concept to Hubby. Second, the glib term “relocation” means for us an intolerable intrusion into our private lives and the disruption, and ultimately, destruction, of a strong community ethos. Believe it or not, we like where we live, and value our community as it is. The “social mix” so acclaimed by Hubby is, in fact, an economic mix, as there is already a complex social mix within the estate. In addition, a number of more recent studies contest the benefits of this “economic” social mix listed by Hubby. One describes the “social mix” myth as an excuse for not addressing entrenched economic disadvantage and stigmatisation of the poor. Third, I recommend that Hubby and his fellow bureaucrats read the recent publication In Defense of Housing by David Madden and Peter Marcuse which would disabuse them of the idea (should they really believe it) that the selloff of the Waterloo estate is motivated by the desire to improve the housing needs of the disadvantaged. As In Defense demonstrates, the selloff functions to preserve inequality while disguising it, and as a support to private profit-making.

– Catherine Skipper, Waterloo housing estate, Waterloo, NSW

Memories of Ern Malley

My half-sister Tess van Sommers was a co-conspirator in the Ern Malley scam of 1943. I found myself wondering whether the review of Tony Tuckson’s works on paper (Patrick Hartigan, “Proving reality”, August 19-25) was itself an Ern Malley item or perhaps a response to a set of Ern Malley artworks. What convinced me that neither were put-ons was the quality of the reproduced works. I don’t mean that they were too good, but on account of how solidly empty they appear. In the Ern Malley follow-up and for many years thereafter, both the work and its “author” were defended by many on the grounds that the poems actually had substantial literary merit that arose out of the supposed inability of their authors to produce fair-dinkum junk. What makes me sure that the images reproduced in your periodical are not “Ern Malley” fabrications is because as visual art they appear so honestly vacuous. If Tess, the daughter of our artist father Jack Sommers, had been given the job of creating Ern Malley visual art, I’m sure she would have synthesised items with just enough accidental compositional structure or emotional meaning to make them look kosher.

– Peter van Sommers, Gladesville, NSW

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
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 August 26, 2017.

For almost a decade, The Saturday Paper has published Australia’s leading writers and thinkers. We have pursued stories that are ignored elsewhere, covering them with sensitivity and depth. We have done this on refugee policy, on government integrity, on robo-debt, on aged care, on climate change, on the pandemic.

All our journalism is fiercely independent. It relies on the support of readers. By subscribing to The Saturday Paper, you are ensuring that we can continue to produce essential, issue-defining coverage, to dig out stories that take time, to doggedly hold to account politicians and the political class.

There are very few titles that have the freedom and the space to produce journalism like this. In a country with a concentration of media ownership unlike anything else in the world, it is vitally important. Your subscription helps make it possible.

Select your digital subscription

Month selector

Use your Google account to create your subscription