Letters to
the editor

Stop this torture

Torture has become so much more sophisticated. No more rack and thumb screws so no bodily evidence. Imran Mohammad (“Manus and post-traumatic stress”, June 2–8) details the results of the vicious regime of Minister Peter Dutton through which Australia manages to deprive asylum seekers of hope. It imposes depression, fear of the future, loss of capacity to think clearly and the ability to behave like normal adults. This is done at tremendous monetary cost and loss of reputation to the Australian community and even greater cost to the mental health of the refugees. There are many tragedies and much suffering around the world. This is a needless catastrophe we could remedy immediately with care and compassion. Bring the refugees on Manus Island and Nauru here to Australia.

– Gael Barrett, Balwyn North, Vic

Safety of turned-back vessels queried

I read with interest Karen Middleton’s excellent account – “Inside Labor’s refugee strategy” (June 2–8). On the vexed issue (in the Labor Party) of offshore detention of asylum seekers she writes that “many in the parliamentary Left no longer want to oppose turning back asylum-seeker boats, provided it is safe”. However, since Dutton has been the responsible minister, a cloak of secrecy has enveloped “on-water operations”. Dutton boasts that his government has turned back 32 boats. It defies belief that all these boats returned safely. A determined investigative journalist or whistleblower needs to detail the number of turn-backs that resulted in deaths at sea. When the truth is told, maybe the Labor Party might find the political or moral courage to change its policy.

– Bill Clark, Melbourne, Vic

A permanent stain

Yes, “Dutton’s moral twilight” (Editorial, May 26–June 1) does affect all of us Australians. The Coalition government, the Labor Opposition and all of us citizens have been morally tainted by our treatment of the men on Manus Island. Behrouz Boochani’s cutting criticisms about the death of the Rohingya man, Salim Kyawning, will be remembered in the future as a warning to which we refused to listen. Thanks to The Saturday Paper for continuing to keep us informed about the horror of our offshore detention centres.

– Zeny Giles, New Lambton, NSW

Turnbull’s attitude has a high price

Thank you to Hamish McDonald for his excellent piece elucidating the worsening relationship between Australia and China (“China, spies and the PM’s new fight”, June 2–8). This is of great public interest as Australia’s economic prosperity depends on trade, with China our largest trading partner. A trading partner must be treated with respect and understanding, missing in our recent relationship with China. The Turnbull government has accused China of spying and bribing politicians to win influence, by using Australian business people of Chinese origin, without an iota of evidence. There is a great danger in Australia’s attitude. Over the years, China has been buying from Australia more iron ore, coal and other minerals than it really needed and stockpiling the excess, now amounting to hundreds of millions of tonnes. In addition, China has been opening up new mines in conjunction with African and South American countries. Thus China can very well manage now without importing these commodities from Australia. If China decides to send its students elsewhere, bans tourists from visiting Australia and bans the import of our coal and minerals, we will be in dire straights: more than a million Australians will become unemployed overnight and our economy will be shredded.

– Bill Mathew, Parkville, Vic

Australia must find its own way

“China, spies and the PM’s new fight” contained a lot of conjecture about future Australia–China relations. The notion that China might spy on us, make us a vassal state and seek to dominate our international political decision-making, was ironic, given the United States has done all of these things to Australia. The old adage, “Love many, trust few; always paddle your own canoe”, needs to be Australia’s new foreign policy stance. If we are going to spend $197 billion on new defence equipment, let it be the best, not some overpriced lemons like the F-35 fighter jets. And let us not waste any more money, and Australian lives, being a vassal to the US’s wars of attrition.

– Joy Ringrose, Pomona, Qld

Parental charges ignored

Liam Nilon (Letters, June 2–8) claims “non-government schools … educat[e] one-third of the kids on one quarter of the funding”. This arithmetic ignores a legitimate but substantial source of income for non-government schools, namely the fees they charge parents. Once this is taken into account, non-government schools are considerably less efficient than government schools. While Mr Nilon acknowledges the “argument to be made to take funding from the richest private independent schools to give to poorer schools”, arguing that independent schools are doing the country a favour because their combined government funding is less than that for government schools, is no more than neoliberal disingenuousness.

– Lyle Gurrin, Rosanna, Vic

Mysterious ways

I’ve always had great respect for the credibility of The Saturday Paper, however a niggling question surfaced when you start using a Bono quote in your advertising: “The less you know, the more you believe.” Perhaps this goes at least part way to explaining his blinding self-belief.

– Bruce Hulbert, Lilyfield, NSW

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on June 9, 2018.

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