The overkill of warship program
As we cut expenditure even further from any programs which might demonstrate our concern for the oppressed and forsaken, both here and overseas, we plan with seeming eagerness, even delight, to spend another few score billion on some naval killing machines (Karen Middleton, “Allies lobby Defence to take risk on ships”, May 26–June 1). I wonder if the specifications for the new frigates have incorporated a capacity to interface with waterlogged, overloaded, sinking, Asian fishing boats which have been our most consistent, frightening and virtually only border threats since the end of World War II – almost one third of the time since the last actual invasion commenced.
– Richard Hansford, Pymble, NSW
Show we care about asylum seekers
Congratulations on your splendid editorial (“Dutton’s moral twilight”, May 26–June 1) on asylum seekers. Minister Peter Dutton still writes letters calling refugees “illegal” although their right to seek asylum is well documented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He shrugs off any responsibility for refugees on Manus Island and Nauru by saying it is the business of the respective governments. Yet it is the Australian governments that have created the situation, funded the camps, denied or delayed medical treatment and ignored mental and physical assaults on refugees. The men on Manus and men, women and about 140 children still on Nauru are driven to despair by virtual imprisonment without end. Does this government imagine the problem will gradually disappear through further suicides? Electoral success based on cruelty and immorality is a disgrace. These refugees are our responsibility. Bring them to Australia. Care for them.
– Gael Barrett, North Balwyn, Vic
For love, not money
As the mother of a professional musician, I am more than familiar with the phrase “labour of love” so well explored by Jini Maxwell (“Funds are short and the art long”, May 26–June 1). As a music student, our daughter was frequently asked to play for charity events as “a labour of love” – that is, there will be no fee. One has to ask, don’t musicians eat? Pay rent? Why is it that when you work in an area that you love, monetary reward suddenly becomes irrelevant? On the one hand, our society tells us that your value is measured by how much you are paid, but if you work in the arts, you are far too often expected to do it for love. Surely part of the explanation for this is the dearth of politicians seriously passionate about and committed to the arts. Not since Paul Keating and, before him, Gough Whitlam have we had a politician who knew about and cared about the arts. Why is this so? As Jini Maxwell concludes, those working in the arts who stimulate our minds and nourish our souls “deserve better”.
– Megwenya Matthews, North Turramurra, NSW
Pride before a fall?
Your front-page picture of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Andrew Stafford, “ ‘Businessmen’ get $443m for reef”, May 26–June 1) vividly reminded me of my teaching Shakespeare a few years ago. Why? Hubris personified.
– Maggie Roberts, Surrey Hills, Vic
Australian school system does work
With some trepidation I opened the piece “Fairness now Gonski” (Jane Caro and Lyndsay Connors, May 12–18). Sadly my fears were proved correct. Like many education extremists, Caro and Connors fall into the familiar trap of lumping Catholic systemic schools in with private independent schools. This false equivalency is a common tactic by those of the far left who also deliberately fail to recognise that non-government schools receive less funding per capita than government schools – educating one third of the kids on one-quarter of the funding. There are many Catholic systemic schools that cater to disadvantaged communities. In the Catholic archdiocese full scholarships are available for any child of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent and schools in Sydney’s Greater West cater to particular groups, including the refugee community in Liverpool. The same is true for community faith schools, including several Muslim schools in the Bankstown–Canterbury region. However, it doesn’t suit Caro and Connors’ agenda to acknowledge these facts. They’d much prefer to compare anyone outside the far-left orthodoxy of public-school-funding-extremism to NRA supporters. The reality is our school system works. There’s an argument to be made to take funding from the richest private independent schools to give to poorer schools. However, shutting down schools educating kids simply because one dislikes the notion of faith schools? That’s insane.
– Liam Nilon, Mascot, NSW
Who’s watching who
If the cabinet is split on the matter of using an Australian spy agency that targets international criminals, I would first test it out on the cabinet (Karen Middleton, “Cabinet split on Dutton spy plan”, May 5–11). You would immediately find out which half are the international criminals, and which are simply Australians –constitutionally – who have a great deal of their private lives to hide. Gone are the days when governments had the courage to raid the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), to find out information for themselves. Perhaps Turnbull should be less concerned with the perceived domestic threat, and more concerned with the threat in his own cabinet. In all seriousness, spying on each other sends a very clear message to constituents that the government is paranoid, under stress, and may not be coping with its role anymore.
– Jesse J. Fleay, Henley Brook, WA
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jun 2, 2018. Subscribe here.