Letters to
the editor

Protests growing for action on Manus

The moving account of the forced transfer of refugees to a new, unfinished camp on Manus (“Malcolm Turnbull (02) 6277 7700”, November 25-December 1) by Martin McKenzie-Murray has given us a factual report of the conditions and brutality faced by the asylum seekers. The nearby Papua New Guinean population is fearful of them, the refugees are frightened of the PNG police and the inhabitants. This is a situation fomented by Peter Dutton, who appears to want conflict that he can blame on the refugees. He has consistently told lies about events and conditions on Manus. Fortunately many voters in Australia are not deceived by him. Active protests are growing. Unlike Dutton, many people are compassionate, have empathy, believe in humane, even generous, treatment of those who flee persecution. What more can we do? Bring the refugees here, now.

– Gael Barrett, North Balwyn, Vic

Bill Shorten needs to explain policy

Thank you for your continued efforts to publicise the dreadful situation on Manus. No reader can ignore the multiple listings of the phone numbers for Messrs Turnbull and Shorten. Well done. However, readers who decide to phone their offices should be warned of a variable reception from the staff members, ranging from polite to dictatorial and dismissive. Apparently the Labor position is fixed in stone – that none of these refugees will be received in Australia. Is it time to do an in-depth interview with Bill Shorten?

– Juliana Maher, Hughes, ACT

Getting through to the PM’s office

Thank you for alerting readers to Malcolm Turnbull’s work phone number – (02) 6277 7700. When I called I was advised by a recorded message that the Prime Minister’s Office is closed on weekends and to call back as the office does not accept new messages. I encourage concerned Australians to demand a postal survey on the accessibility of the PM’s office. Perhaps only then will this government listen to us, the voters. In the meantime I have added Malcolm’s phone number to my contacts list.

– Carmelo Bazzano, Epping, Vic

Assisted dying law welcomed

Dr Rodney Syme clearly places the right to assisted dying within the wider historical context of social reforms resisted by the Catholic Church (“The right to die”, November 25-December 1). The same line of clerics who invoked “Eve’s curse” to deny women pain relief in childbirth also promoted “redemptive” suffering in dying. Assisted dying law reform is a momentous occasion; not only for individuals who will be able to act on the legislation from 2019, but also the broader Victorian population. They will be reassured that those without public mandate, including members of the church and medical establishments, will no longer have the power to impose unwanted and futile suffering, or degradation of autonomy at life’s end. Thank you to the advocates, expert panel and parliamentary members who worked tirelessly for a law change that will inevitably be fought for again elsewhere in Australia.

– Dr Julia Anaf, Norwood, SA

Drawing on marriage equality

Loved last week’s Pryor cartoon (November 18-24). It does raise the question “is freedom of religion more important than freedom from religion?”. Religion and morals should pull in the same direction. However, throughout society’s evolution from the feudal system, it appears religion (“the church”) has been either been missing in action or resisting the changes. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way and the right and moral stance has prevailed. Today we take for granted the many changes such as abolition of slavery, child labour law reforms, universal suffrage, the emancipation of women, divorce law reform, mixed marriages et cetera. Let us just focus on what is right and just do it.

– Nigel Sandercoe, Winston Hills, NSW

Another view on Lee Rhiannon

Successive editions of your paper have made inaccurate and unjustified criticism of Greens New South Wales Senator Lee Rhiannon, without giving a counterview. Lee did not white-ant Greens negotiations with the Liberals on schools funding. She promoted party policy. The Coalition ended negotiations when they struck a deal with crossbenchers. NSW Greens endeavour to minimise nepotism in their grassroots preselections and therefore request prominent party figures to avoid any appearance of influence in this process. These people have a megaphone they are meant to use to promote the party and its policies, not to anoint or denigrate preselection candidates. Support for a fair go was why Bob Brown was requested to remove his tweet of the article critical of Rhiannon (Gadfly, “Gnarly Brown”, November 18-24). Bob Brown may be a champion of free speech, but where is the free speech for the many Greens members who disagree with him about Lee Rhiannon?

– Prue Cancian, Bondi, NSW

Biosecurity worth the price

As “Forestry rust belt” (Tim Low, November 25-December 1) describes, monocultures are playgrounds for plant diseases. Look no further than Indonesia where Acacia mangium plantations were no longer commercial after 15 years. Forest biosecurity is not high on Australia’s agenda, and the prevailing view seems to be that forest plants and invasive pathogens will reach a balance, despite evidence to the contrary from jarrah dieback and now myrtle rust. A sustainable funding model for biosecurity should come from the “users” of forests, the public and activities that create the risks. Any plan for a biosecurity levy on international movements is greeted with alarm; the amount needed per arrival would be less than the cost of a cup of coffee.

– Chris Beadle, Battery Point, Tas and Morag Glen, Blackmans Bay, Tas

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 December 2, 2017.

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