Letters to
the editor

Welfare plan beyond understanding

Thank you, Eva Cox, for your comprehensive insight into what is alleged to pass for welfare by this government (“Welfare crack of the whip”, August 26-September 1). I, too, watched that televised interview with Christian Porter, in disgust. A wiser government with an eye to social harmony would defend the basic human right to dignity and fairness of those who are in need of welfare payments. But not Alan Tudge and Porter, who demonstrate their utter contempt for anyone on welfare payments with every breath they take. Which part of the decreasing number of available jobs do they not understand? Unless of course you are a retiring MP with a lobbying job lined up. The “cashless welfare card” is the toxic icing on their policy cake, along with the robo-debt scheme. They are both designed to shame welfare recipients at every turn, as part of a two-tiered society. It requires a wilfully thick skull or a mindset of utter denial not to understand that money would be more wisely spent on assisting those in need of support or rehabilitation, rather than punishing and demonising them further – that is, if a flourishing, healthy society is of any priority to those in power. In this situation, to speak of “the politics of envy” is breathtakingly offensive.

This agenda appears to be the government’s defence of its Dickensian attitude to those less fortunate than themselves, to their enduring shame. These are not “Australian values” and never had been until the neoliberal era attempted to foist them upon us.

– Elizabeth Chandler, Napoleon Reef, NSW

Legal means used through fear

The article “Medical inattention” (Sean Kelly, August 26-September 1) about the medical care of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island exposes the harsh attitude of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. With regard to women on Nauru seeking abortions, it highlights the total lack of empathy of the officials. Women who have been sexually abused, if treated in Australia, are expected to return to the site of their abuse on Nauru. Using legal means to stay in Australia is not “gaming the system” but a real psychological fear. When will we stop treating refugees so cruelly?

– Gael Barrett, North Balwyn, Vic

A surprise in the post?

Please excuse my cynicism (The Week, August 26-September 1), but is it possible that the proposed voluntary postal opinion survey regarding same-sex marriage is disguising a second prong? That of creating a precedent in order to do away with compulsory voting, a long-held policy of the Liberal Party.

– Julie McCarron-Benson, Wallaroo, NSW

Drawing praise

As a foundation subscriber to The Saturday Paper, I am routinely impressed by the high quality of journalism and commentary. It is second to none, and I feel I can safely leave commenting on the quality of the publication to those better suited to doing so. However, Geoff Pryor’s cartoon of United States President Donald Trump in the situation room comparing himself to the solar eclipse and General John Kelly’s thought bubble was truly on an another plane (Letters & Editorial, August 26-September 1), and I am forced to comment: three cheers for The Saturday Paper!

– Nick Andrews, Vaucluse, NSW

Measured treasure

As usual, Mike Seccombe has written a well-researched and informative piece on the extension of same-sex relationship debates to the place of religion itself in society (“How the religious right stall climate action”, August 26-September 1). His calm, factual approach is in stark contrast with the hysterical outpourings in Gadfly’s favourite paper, The Catholic Boys Daily.

– Bill Forbes, Kippaxs, NSW

Right of reply on climate change

As a long-retired geoscientist, I was fascinated by Mike Seccombe’s “How the religious right stall climate action”. It is well known that over the aeons of geological time there have been a number of climate variations, many of them severe. I accept the scientific evidence for this. However, in recent decades it has become obvious that there is now a massive anthropogenic contribution from the ever-increasing industrial burning of fossil fuels. I also accept the compelling scientific evidence for this. Two things puzzle me; first, that rather too many of my now elderly erstwhile colleagues, whose professional lives have been based on the logic of science, are utterly impervious to this same logic when it comes to climate change. And second, that it has, in Australia and America especially, become an article of faith for the political and Christian right to deny the anthropogenic factor. It is as though the normal logical thought processes we associate with humankind are absent on this particular topic. Seccombe goes on to say that this is not the case in Europe. I recall writing in a published article in 2012: “Unlike in Australia, where whether 2 + 2 = 3 or 5 is a matter of one’s voting tendencies, in Europe man’s cumulative effect on climate is accepted and thus not seen as a political issue.” Governments can be changed; the (un)Christian right is an insidious virus doing untold damage to our society.

– Ian Nowak, Subiaco, WA

Trump’s nickname is missing

Gadfly (“Trumpette #36”, August 26-September 1) gave cogent information on Donald Trump and didn’t once refer to him as the Pussy Grabber. A step away from undergrad humour at last or a senior’s moment in omitting to use the tired tag ?

– Des Files, Brunswick, Vic

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 September 2, 2017.

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