It’s best to bow out
After seeing Paul Murray sit there and let a former numbers man and the one-time leader of the party they both embraced exchange blows on pay TV, I am convinced that people who are no longer politicians best serve their party and their fellow citizens by just being ordinary people who have no interest in perpetuating their perceived importance and value to society (Editorial, “Bad eggs, Latham”, July 14–20).
– Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
Energy summit set up to fail
Karen Middleton’s article on the looming meeting on August 10 to consider national energy policy (“Emissions impossible fallout”, July 21–27) does not instil great confidence in the success of that summit. Nor should it: Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, otherwise known as the minister for talking out of both sides of his mouth, faces an almost impossible task. On any reading, the national energy guarantee is a cumbersome copout that, in effect, largely ignores the gravity of the challenge of climate change. It seems clear that as long as both Frydenberg and Malcolm Turnbull submit to the demands of Tony Abbott and his cohort of pro-coal climate sceptics, as long as the government’s energy policy fails to be genuinely technology neutral, and as long as Australia’s emission reduction target remains “pitifully low” – so low as to ensure the nation continues to freeride on the carbon controls of other countries – Australia’s decade of energy policy failure will likewise continue.
– David Nash, Manly, NSW
Definition fits the candidates
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has frequently referred to his ministers as “outstanding”. We are now hearing this description applied to his candidates for the byelections in Longman, Braddon and Mayo. These candidates are being babysat by high-profile Liberals who are instead doing all the talking. Thinking these individuals were perhaps short of this ideal, I resorted to my Oxford English Dictionary to clarify the word “outstanding”. One meaning is “not yet settled”. Got it now, Malcolm – not necessarily remarkable or even conspicuous; unsettled the more fitting interpretation.
– Rod Milliken, Greenwell Point, NSW
Give a voice to those living with disability
In 2013, when introducing the package that would fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme, then prime minister Julia Gillard told parliament of two people she had met, Sophie and Sandy, whose lives would be transformed under the NDIS. She teared up as she promised the scheme “will ensure Sophie and Sandy and so many other young people with disability will have the security and dignity every Australian deserves”. With all the problems we have seen with the NDIS since then, we must not forget the people it is aimed to serve – people with disabilities. But in the past four weeks I have read two pieces critical of the NDIS (“Bureaucratising disability”, June 30–July 6, and Michele Tydd’s “A kin to violence”, July 14–20) without a single comment from a person with a disability. Talking about people with disabilities as a burden simply takes us back to the dark ages of segregation and institutionalisation. While it is important to acknowledge that disability presents many challenges for family and carers, it is equally as important to appreciate its role in promoting understanding and growth. The lives of our able-bodied brothers and sisters may have been “complicated”, but I have no doubt their lives have also been enriched. Their experiences have taught them about compassion, courage and respect for diversity in a way that would simply not be possible without their experiences around disability. Yes, let’s fix the cracks in the NDIS. However, the way forward is not to speak for people with disabilities but instead to elevate our voices. Only then will Sophie, Sandy and so many others have the dignity we all deserve.
– Sam Drummond, Fitzroy North, Vic
Who’s living in a ghetto?
Every time I’m on the airport taxi feeder in Brisbane I see African drivers smiling, shaking hands and proudly cleaning their cabs. An old Australian once had a flat tyre out here and a quiet African driver insisted on changing it for him. But then we hear the PM claiming it’s not safe to go to Melbourne restaurants and Howard and Dutton saying it’s because Africans live in ghettos and don’t assimilate (Editorial, “Gang of fear”, July 21–27). As far as I can see it’s the rich who live in ghettos and don’t assimilate.
– Allan Graveur, Albion, Qld
Socialism and economic reality
Guy Rundle’s welcome article (“The ballad of Hayek noon”, July 21–27) about the emergence of unapologetic democratic socialists such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez overlooks the equally unapologetic answer that Ocasio and her colleagues are now giving to the hackneyed question: “How are you going to pay for all that socialism?” The answer? The same way the United States government pays for anything – by crediting the bank account of whomever it’s buying from. Likewise in Britain. North Sea oil revenue didn’t “pay for” Thatcherism any more than it might “pay for” prospective Corbynism. Taxes serve many functions – fighting inflation, reshaping income and wealth distributions, penalising antisocial behaviour – but the notion they are needed for revenue is obsolete. Logically and in practice, government spending comes first. Conservatives have long understood the irrelevance of the “pay for” question – save for its effectiveness at bamboozling the budget-balancing centre-left. What’s truly revolutionary about the new democratic socialists is that they now understand it, too.
– Daniel De Voss, Fitzgibbon, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 28, 2018. Subscribe here.