Public must rally for broadcaster
Julian Burnside, eminent lawyer, once said all governments hate criticism. In Australia we have a broadcaster, owned by the people, funded by taxation, that has a reputation for quality programming. Numerous inquiries have found it is unbiased in its broadcasting. The Coalition government, accustomed to uncritical commercial broadcasters that do not deal with serious issues, is offended by the ABC. The charter of the ABC instructs it to inform, educate and entertain the public. The reduction in funding and staff has limited research for programs (Mike Seccombe, “Communications shakedown”, June 9–15). The appointment of people without dedication to public broadcasting to the board and management has led to more cheap, lightweight programs. We are in danger of losing a great national treasure and a wonderful source of news and analysis. We, the owners of the ABC, must demand restoration of funding and the appointment of people to the ABC who understand and support public broadcasting.
– Gael Barrett, North Balwyn, Vic
Don't give ABC away
It’s no surprise that the Institute of Public Affairs and its acolytes such as Mitch Fifield want to “give [the ABC] away ‘to either the Australian public or a group of people’.” I thought they could be taken at their word; perhaps the ABC could be funded via radio and television licence fees, as is the case with the BBC. Instead of spending my money on crowdfunding campaigns to rescue the ABC, I could help ensure its continued existence by paying a fee to gain access to it. Then I realised there are problems with that solution. Giving it away implies the necessity for some kind of board that would probably be inhabited partly by the likes of Fifield and his ilk, and, second, the ABC really should be a free-to-air broadcaster, funded by our taxes. The price of democracy is high, and thanks to various, assorted barbarians, that price is inflating rapidly.
– Peter Slade, Beerwah, Qld
Support for positive messages
I was astonished at Shakira Hussein’s scathing dismissal of Breakthrough Media’s federally funded project that seeks to counter violent extremism through sharing apolitical models of good citizenship using the voluntary participation of social media influencers ( “Dutton’s secret propaganda unit”, June 9–15). Hussein’s claim that the sharing of factual, local, apolitical, good news stories, designed to build cohesiveness and active citizens, is propaganda doesn’t seem credible. The case for this being misleading or puffery was not made. In today’s shallow, sensationalist news cycle, we need more countering stories about the best, about those looking to build and share, about the ways our diverse community works in harmony, about helping, supporting and mentoring. Certainly there must be careful analysis ensuring lines aren’t crossed and good people aren’t used for nefarious purposes, but building a more cohesive, productive and discursive democracy means giving positive initiatives and good intentions a fair go.
– Suzanne Gulikers, Tenterfield, NSW
All are under threat
So John Setka of the CFMEU caved in and stopped discussion of refugees (Karen Middleton, “Inside Labor’s refugee strategy”, June 2–8). It cannot be obvious to him and others that the destruction of the human rights of refugees means the erosion of union rights. “First they came for the refugees, and I did not speak out – because I was not a refugee ...”, to misquote Martin Niemöller. Shameful and short-sighted. Unions would do much more, I am sure of it, if they understood that defending refugee rights, even if they feel nothing for them as human beings, is a smart way of defending their own.
– Stephen Langford, Paddington, NSW
Enough from Barnaby Joyce
Tony Abbott believes Barnaby Joyce “has quite a bit more to give to our country” (said in a 2GB radio interview with Ray Hadley on June 4). I don’t think we can take any more (Paul Bongiorno, “The private becomes the political”, June 9–15).
– Vicky Marquis, Glebe, NSW
Christian Porter’s frightening suggestion that corporations should have defamation protection is consistent with the drive towards even greater social inequality that modern politicians seem to be so enthralled by. This is really the next stage in the company tax cut agenda: giving more, and greater power and influence, to his big business mates. Far from needing more power, they need to be constrained. In any event, protection of defamation from what? The old adage “any publicity is good publicity” has never been so true.
– B. C. Vilan, Potts Point, NSW
Nothing hidden in rainbow cake
The Gadfly’s cakehole mispleads in “Queer eye for the cake guy” (June 9–15). Justice Kennedy is no threat to gay marriage. The court’s 7–2 majority displayed an embrace of passive virtue. Kennedy led the 5–4 majority opinion in the Obergefell case declaring same-sex couples have the right to marry. On that, Janet Albrechtsen takes the cake in “A social revolution left in the hands of lawyers” (The Australian, July 8, 2015). Justice Ginsberg has not always been counter-majoritarian. She shifted left after George W. Bush’s expressed preference for “strict constructionists” on the bench. Ditto his 2004 State of the Union address defending marriage from “activist judges” who rule “without regard for the will of the people”. Ginsberg is revered in a new film, RBG. My favourite however is Der Kuchenmacher about an artisan who, through his cake-making, speaks of love and human connection.
– Greg Hogan, Balgowlah, 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 Jun 16, 2018. Subscribe here.