Let’s go to the polls
“And that makes him not very different to many of his colleagues.” In reference to the capability and ethical radar of the leader of the junior Coalition partner of the Australian government, thus concludes last Saturday’s editorial, “Barnaby rubble” (February 17–23). An incisive indictment of the parlous state of governance in our nation, the editorial stripped bare any remaining pretence that grown-ups were running the country. Malcolm Turnbull has chosen to squander his tilt at immortality by cravenly stonewalling any forward social, economic or environmental movement in government thinking and/or action. During his tenure of inertia, we’ve had the parliamentary distractions of same-sex marriage, the section 44 eligibility fiasco, and now we have the unseemly performance of Barnaby Joyce. In this time we’ve had draconian laws mooted in the name of security, the ongoing disregard for the refugees pitilessly incarcerated in our name, the shameful blanking of the Indigenous people who held this country together for 60,000 years or more, and a less than dignified rearguard action to protect the banks from judicial scrutiny. If it’s not time for an “Australian spring”, surely it’s at least time for an early election. To clear the air, Malcolm.
– John Mosig, Kew, Vic
Bleak outlook due to redress failure
Martin McKenzie-Murray has drawn attention to how we have yet again failed the victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse (“Church blames fatigue for redress failure”, February 17–23). I say victims and survivors because we know only too well that not all victims survived. We have failed them again by our lack of will to establish a redress scheme. Such a scheme was only one of the many key recommendations made by the royal commission. If we can’t even get that right there is not much chance for transparent procedures to deal with future complaints or for ongoing education to understand and prevent future child sexual abuse both institutional and non-institutional. Not only have we let down victims and survivors from the past, we have also failed those who will be abused. The prophetic voice of the royal commission will have to be rediscovered at some future time.
– Mark Porter, New Lambton, NSW
Waiting for the trickle-down effect
Mike Seccombe’s wonderfully precise article forensically demolishes the current “cargo cult” arguments by Cormann & Co for yet more corporate tax cuts (“The maligned leading the blind”, February 17–23). I’m amazed that once again we’re expected to believe that the largesse will tiredly “trickle down” (and yet again evaporate) despite the plethora of countervailing evidence. I can’t begin to adequately convey the frustration of being an onlooker as the usual media suspects dutifully relay this manifest nonsense to their gormless recipients. What really rubs it in is when Labor (especially Chris Bowen) considers a duplication of the duplicity while blowing the budget fruitlessly.
– Alan Baird, Rose Bay, NSW
From the political playbook
It’s almost a shame that Mike Seccombe is so forensic in his skewering of Scott Morrison. The weight of evidence is one thing. A good story is quite another; and truth should never stand in its way. We might live in a post-truth world, but more important perhaps is that we live in a world where stories rule. Demagogues such as Tony Abbott – let us not forget that he brought the conservatives to power in 2013 – and Donald Trump were not elected on the basis of facts, but on the strength of their stories, however ludicrous they were. It’s storytelling that shapes human civilisation, not facts. Alexander the Great kept two things under his pillow: a dagger and a copy of The Iliad.
– Dave Lisle, Courtenay, Canada
Tax cuts and Trump
Mike Seccombe’s exposé on the Morrison–Cormann tax cuts push hopefully should be in the knowledge base of other journalists and, like everything that Trump espouses, be examined very closely. Little really has been revealed by other media outlets in Australia on the reality of the regulated trickle down in wages following the Trump tax cuts. Arundhati Roy summed it up best when she referred to the trickle-down effect more truthfully as the gush-up effect.
– Rob Park, Surrey Hills, Vic
PM’s moralising beside the point
Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement of new rules of ministerial behaviour were breathtaking, as was his almost tearful condemnation of Barnaby Joyce’s insensitivity to his wife and family (Karen Middleton, “Turnbull caught by Hobson’s Joyce”, February 17–23). Yet he could not see Joyce’s behaviour required his resignation from parliament. Turnbull’s action (and inaction) are cynical, and his announcement was a blustering attempt to sideline the political discourse from Joyce’s use of federal money and apparent undermining of parliamentary standards, which would necessitate that he resign. It is a 180-degree change from last week’s “boys will be boys” dismissal of Joyce’s transgressions. I see Turnbull’s pronouncement as unenforcable, cynical theatre designed to hoodwink the country and the media.
– Keith Mitchelson, St Lucia, Qld
A clothing issue
Patrick Hartigan was unable to state categorically that Vermeer’s Woman reading a letter was pregnant because the fashion of the day was the bulky look (Letters, “A delicate condition”, (February 17–23).
– Ingrid Haydon, Long Jetty, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 24, 2018.
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Letters & Editorial