A wake-up call on the environment
Natalie Cromb’s excellent article (“The economics of reparations”, March 10–16) highlights the fact that our First Nations sovereignty was the first externality of the venture capitalists and developers arriving in Australia since 1788. They then added environmental damage, including habitat destruction and pollution, and the value of ecosystem services they relied on to the list of externalities. As Natalie pointed out, any realistic representation of reparations for the losses and harm done to our First Nations people would bankrupt the country. Similarly, if our agricultural industry had to pay for the habitats it destroys and environmental harm it causes, on top of the use of ecological services from soil, air and water, it would be far from profitable. Industries pay for licences under so-called environmental protection legislation to dump their waste on land, in the atmosphere and to waters, both above and below ground, again treating the harm caused as an externality. Our current occupancy and use of Australia is far from sustainable or economically viable and relies on screwing over both the First Peoples and environment. The failure of our government to even comprehend this is highlighted by their marginalising of Indigenous communities, support for fossil fuel mining and failure to have an effective policy to control land clearing and carbon discharge.
– Brynn Mathews, Cairns, Qld
Damages for damages
Natalie Cromb’s article is a revealing and honest precis of Australia, the nation invaded, and the plight of Indigenous Australians. Now, with further ignorant and deceptive behaviour of this Liberal government and its galling lack of response to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, is this the time for Indigenous Australians to sue previous governments of her majesty and indeed this current government? I don’t doubt that the International Criminal Court of Justice will decide the Indigenous peoples should be compensated for all that has been stolen and for the continued pervasive racism and “white” entitlement. A call-out to the crimes for what they are. It would be a welcome jolt to our current spineless colonial leaders.
– Ian Ossher, Dover Heights, NSW
Looking for a leader
There have always been knaves and chancers in politics, but there have been times when we looked up to political leaders for moral and ethical leadership. Mike Seccombe (“Counting the rings in Turnbull’s circus”, March 10–18) demonstrates why confidence in politicians is plumbing new lows. Mr Turnbull’s regular references to Australian values compared with his behaviour are, at best, confusing. However, many Australians are not confused about their views on matters such as a republic, an appropriate reaction to the Uluru statement, treatment of refugees or climate change. They are outraged that our prime minister presumes to determine what the electorate will tolerate, rather than leading, advocating and persuading. To loosely paraphrase Julia Gillard, they will not be lectured to about values from this glib, silver-tongued chameleon who has sacrificed principle to vaulting ambition.
– Norman Huon, Port Melbourne, Vic
Those who care are marching
Your editorial, “Neighbour hoods” (March 10–16), is well named, and spot on. To say our government is shameless is to suggest it would even recognise a concept such as “shame”. It doesn’t. I remember the long years of Australia training the Indonesian TNI that now terrorise West Papua, among many other places. Australia trained the TNI right through its illegal occupation of East Timor and both major parties had the same policy. Groups all over Australia resisted and protested. With the Timorese, modest but brave as lions, we won. The last sentence of your editorial is not quite true, “All this happens, and no one seems to care.” Actually, many do care. The marriage equality “Yes” vote shows we are not a nation of sadists. The tens of thousands who marched on Invasion Day tells a different story as well. There are Palm Sunday refugee rallies coming up all round the country. We badly need the unions to come out strongly against racism and refugee-baiting, and to pull the ALP, our Clayton’s opposition, into line. Our very small contribution is to join Adelaide, Melbourne and Newcastle with a weekly refugee rights protest at Sydney’s QVB, by the Queen Victoria statue, every Friday, 6-7pm. Much has inspired us, including your paper publishing the words of Behrouz Boochani. Thank you. Please join us.
– Stephen Langford, Paddington, NSW
The Saturday Paper’s editorials should be bottled. Just brilliant.
– Vicky Marquis, Glebe, NSW
Some self-examination required
I wonder if Mr Dutton ever examines himself (Karen Middleton, “Trust me”, March 3–9); truly does an internal review. I tend to think we all should at times. Obviously Gary Cohn, the US president’s economic adviser, did when he resigned last week. Good for him. He set an example. One of the reasons this government is so poorly regarded is because nobody on either side seems to be truly aware of the effects of the things they do. Perhaps some serious soul searching might create greater empathy. Even Mr Dutton might begin to understand the true awfulness of the lives of those on Manus and Nauru. He might just stop and think. It never does any of us any harm.
– Joanna van Kool, Crows Nest, NSW
Return to sender
“Bungle of Joyce”, what a terrific headline (Martin McKenzie-Murray, March 10–16). Reminds me of the PM’s declaration earlier this year that 2018 was to be “the year of delivery”. Indeed.
– Ross Tolhurst, Flynn, ACT
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 17, 2018. Subscribe here.