The rule of Dutton
Julian Burnside (“A silk terse at a sow’s ear, April 28–May 4) gives such an admirably lucid account of the predicament into which Australia has drifted. We have in Peter Dutton a minister who has accrued powers in a calculated way. The list of areas of government that he controls is frightening. No single minister should ever have so much power. As we are discovering, there is corruption in many Australian institutions, but the creeping authoritarianism in government circles is the most dangerous. Dutton, a man without empathy for other people, especially those who do not resemble him, has tapped into that old fear Australians have of the different. Some media outlets have supported him and neither major political party has attempted to educate the voters on this issue. We can only combat this danger by threatening loss of office to the third-rate government which torments asylum seekers and persecutes the poor.
– Gael Barrett, Balwyn North, Vic
On leadership aspirations
Julian Burnside’s piece was a sobering reminder that Peter Dutton’s lies and propaganda war on refugees has become the norm. Some ex-coppers, such as Bill Hayden and Jim Cairns, became effective and, for the most part, respected politicians. As Burnside warns, Dutton, on the other hand, has the potential to lead Australia to very dark places. That he is touted as a future Coalition leader is truly alarming.
– Rita Zammit, Prahran, Vic
Ministry for Everything
Julian Burnside’s worthy excoriation of Turnbull minister Peter Dutton brought to mind an article in Punch magazine in the late 1950s in which, writing of tin-pot African states, the author maintained: “From any regime that boasts both a Ministry of Information and a Ministry of Justice, you can be quite sure that you’ll get neither.”
– Ian Nowak, Subiaco, WA
People must be the judge
How disgraceful that Kenneth Hayne, of the banking royal commission, was a part of the 2004 High Court Al-Kateb v Godwin decision that a stateless person can be locked up forever. He may well be doing a good job now, but he should have recused himself rather than make such an appalling, anti-human-rights decision (Richard Ackland, “Hayne and able”, April 28–May 4). As usual, it is your paper that is breaking the silence on the violation of the human rights of refugees. Thanks to the Refugee Action Coalition, Greens Senator Nick McKim made public in Sydney what he had seen on Manus Island last year when the men resisted Australian-sponsored violence with fortitude and ethics. McKim talked about a royal commission that would one day hold both parties to account. I think we cannot wait that long. We need a people’s commission that will counter this creeping fascism, and hold past and present governments to account for their violation of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. I suggest the major religious institutions and professional groups step forward. I would help in any way I can. We cannot wait for a royal commission. We need our own as soon as possible.
– Stephen Langford, Paddington, NSW
New theatre of war
I was aware that Brendan Nelson was wanting $500 million to expand the Australian War Memorial before I read your editorial, “Nelson’s new column” (April 28–May 4). I didn’t realise that this was to celebrate the work of the Australian Border Force in “keeping our borders safe”, as we are regularly reminded. I am sure some of this work is difficult, dangerous and very unpleasant at times, but the militarisation of customs and excise, the military-style uniforms and the veil of secrecy over “on water matters” along with the massive hidden cost of all this does make you wonder what this new edifice will contain. Could it be dioramas of boats being turned back or captains of boats being paid bribes to return to where they came, or scale models of the camps on Manus Island? As it is a war memorial, it would appear that Brendan Nelson, Michael Pezzullo et al see all of this as a theatre of war. Shame on them and all our leaders who condone what is being done in our name.
– Tony Healy, Balwyn North, Vic
I chose not to read Christos Tsiolkas’s review of the film Loveless (“Lost in alienation”, April 28–May 4) until after I’d seen the film, and I’m glad I waited. He’s a master of observation and of the written word. Keep him.
– David Andrew, Paddington, NSW
I am in agreement with Mike Puleston (“Not a fan”, Letters, April 14–20) regarding Jason Phu’s ability as a cartoonist. Although he may have a Sulman Prize to his name.
– Lynne Bancroft, Picnic Point, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 5, 2018. Subscribe here.