The banks’ protection racket
The experience of James Wheeldon (Michael West, “Banks given ‘Neddy Smith’ green light”, April 21–27)when working for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and his reluctant conclusion that the banks are too rigged to fail reminds me of the US Federal Reserve regulator, Carmen Segarra, when in 2011 while working for the Fed and appointed to Goldman Sachs she discovered the bank did not have a conflict-of-interest policy. She found that Goldman advised the El Paso Corporation on selling itself to Kinder Morgan, a company in which Goldman Sachs owned a $US4 billion stake. Segarra was allegedly pressured by her superiors at the Fed to alter her report, she refused and was sacked. She filed for unfair dismissal but this was dismissed on the basis that she could not bring an action under the Fed’s whistleblower protection provisions. Will we too see insufficient penalties inflicted in order to protect the “rigged” and the supposed “rigged protectors”?
– Rob Park, Surrey Hills, Vic
What about market forces?
Thank you for this marvellous article by Michael West. There are two quite alarming statements in it. The first is the opening sentence. What kind of regulator appoints a senior member of the regulated industry (I hesitate to call it a profession) to be part of the watchdog team? It reminds me of Michael Corleone going to dinner with a mafia boss who brings the chief of police along as his minder. ASIC should be staffed and headed by consumer advocates, whistleblowers, and their lawyers. The second statement is: “The fact is successive governments ... have favoured system stability over competition and attentive regulation”. For most of the past two decades the right has been in government, and their motto is “market forces”. What Mr West describes sounds more like a communist system, or at least a socialist one. In fact that is what it is, but one designed to look after the rich and do nothing for the rest of us. When will Australia wake up? Only when everyone reads The Saturday Paper, perhaps.
– Terry Stanton, Tinonee, NSW
Minister’s speech defect
After listening to the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, being interviewed on ABC Radio it seems to me that the title of your editorial “Time warped” is very appropriate (Editorial, April 21–27). His attempt to turn a health issue into one of “freedom of speech” was beyond staggering. His obfuscation was cringingly embarrassing and it reminded me of his performance when announcing the last health insurance rate rise, where he turned the huge 4 per cent rise into the “lowest rise in many years”. Almost on a par with his predecessor, Sussan Ley, when she attempted to appear tough with the health insurers by announcing their proposed rate rise just wasn’t on – “I told them to go away and rethink”... yeah, right. Smoke and mirrors, political gymnastics and we, the plebs, being taken for a ride.
– Michael Vereŝ, Hastings, Vic
Bigotry in Australia
At once searingly honest and heartbreakingly ambiguous, Omar J. Sakr’s story resonates (“Anger and a humanity in lag”, April 21–27). It is the story of the reluctant insider who plays the game fearing condemnation (or worse). Paradoxically, it is the story also of someone wandering on the fringe, the quintessential outsider. Maybe we all need a sun that leaves no shadow.
– Pam Connor, Mollymook Beach, NSW
Memorials to war
Prime Minister Turnbull has launched a museum in France, costing $100 million, honouring Australians who lost their lives in World War I fighting for the British empire (Paul Bongiorno, “Keeping the home fires blazing”, April 21–27). Save the Children and UNICEF report Australian taxpayers have spent as much as $9.6 billion on offshore immigration since 2013, including more than $1 million for each of the 2000 people imprisoned on Manus Island. Most of the prisoners on Manus and Nauru are fleeing war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Is there a contradiction here?
– Helen Jagoe, Bathurst, NSW
Stories we need to read
Congratulations to Black Inc for publishing Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss (Books, April 14–20). This timely anthology, with its 50 personal stories, gives a powerful insight into Aboriginal identity. I hope Growing Up Aboriginal will become widely available in libraries and educational institutions. While there is delightful humour in some of their stories, there are also dark poems and life stories that are very sad, such as Alice Eather (1988-2017) to whom the book is dedicated.
– Ruth Latukefu, Newport Beach, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Apr 28, 2018. Subscribe here.