Letters to
the editor

Dutton simply perpetuates cruelty

Our minister for xenophobia, Peter Dutton, doesn’t seem to be able to tell the difference between a migrant and an asylum seeker. He doesn’t understand that some people have the time and relative security to apply to migrate to Australia, while others who are faced with an immediate threat to their health and wellbeing need to escape their countries quickly and in any way they can, including in leaky boats. The walloper in Dutton believes that seeking asylum is tantamount to a criminal act and, as such, deserves punishment. It is a familiar meme, particularly among conservative politicians who believe that people under stress, such as welfare recipients, are to blame for their circumstances and need to be dealt with harshly for their own good. Behrouz Boochani (“Manus prison theory”, August 11–17) makes the point that there is a danger that the cruelty overseen by Dutton on Manus and Nauru is “in the process of replicating itself throughout Australian society”. It is a good point, but I suspect that it might be the other way round; that the cruelty already inherent in our welfare systems was simply applied by our government to asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru. That Boochani has managed to write a book about his time on Manus in secret using nothing but his mobile telephone is a remarkable achievement. That he has survived punitive imprisonment on Manus for five years and retained his sanity is also remarkable. He is not alone, of course. All of the asylum seekers who have survived on Manus and Nauru must be remarkably tough and resilient. Sensible people have been calling on our government to bring the asylum seekers to Australia on compassionate grounds for a long time. I’ve developed a slightly different view. We don’t need to bring them here because we feel sorry for them. We need to bring them here to inject a bit of grit and backbone into our society. We need people like Behrouz Boochani in Australia. We need people like him much more than we need people like Dutton, Turnbull, Shorten and others in Canberra and elsewhere who purport to be our leaders. Those people imprisoned on Manus and Nauru are heroes. We should celebrate them, not punish them.

– Phil Fitzpatrick, Tumby Bay, SA

Carrying the guilt for Manus and Nauru

Thank you, Behrouz Boochani, for your crystal clear thinking, while being imprisoned in what is a living hell. This unholy hierarchy of torture, which strips people of their identity, is infecting our country as a whole, and can be seen in many institutions on the mainland. Yes, this way of taming the people has a long history. I am a Jewish child Holocaust survivor, forced to hide with a Christian family, during which time I also lost my name and my identity, separated from my family, not knowing why I was there, or even who I was. I feel guilt now, as many Germans do, even if they were not alive during World War II. Now I am the “German”, carrying the guilt of what is being done to refugees on Manus and Nauru in our name. How many Australians will say that they did not know what was going on? And will those who constructed this dreadful system ever be brought to justice? Please continue to hold this country to account.

– Marietta Elliott-Kleerkoper, Fairfield, Vic

The myth of ‘keeping us safe’

Behrouz Boochani writes, heartbreakingly, of the tyrannical regime refugees have endured on Manus Island. Using a bureaucratic labyrinth designed to frustrate and deny medical care men are condemned to suffering, and in some cases death. Every daily process and procedure is planned to humiliate and dehumanise, to reduce men to the status of animals awaiting death or refoulement to the war zones and despotisms from which they fled. Why is this done? Refugees are depicted as “the other”, lesser beings possibly dangerous and different, to be feared. Some politicians are “keeping us safe”, and using cruel and evil policies to secure their seats and their ministries. Let us stop this torture and bring asylum seekers here.

– Gael Barrett, Balwyn North, Vic

Not a glutton for puns

Your generally well-received newspaper has a jarring habit of trying to find the most appalling pun for every headline in the issue. Perhaps you think it adds a dash of sardonic humour to the usually weighty subjects you cover. For this reader it comes across as simply vexatious. Whoever is responsible should be pun-ished…Oh my god, it’s catching.

 – Ian Iveson, Surry Hills, NSW

Coalition fossils fuel resistance to change

The absence of investors to build coal-fired power generators isn’t market failure. Investors’ refusal to support fossil carbon technology is a case of market success. The market has signalled it’s time for an outmoded technology to be replaced by cheaper, more efficient, more effective and less environmentally destructive alternatives. Our energy generation will change because our energy needs can be satisfied with cheaper, better alternatives. The delusional right wing of the Coalition government, however, wants taxpayers to subsidise coal. This is a strange position for champions of the free market. They reject basic principles of science and economics. If these troglodytes get their way we will certainly pay for it dearly through our power bills and through our taxes.

– William Grey, Tarragindi, Qld

Stay out of the schoolyard

The editorial “Australians all let us rue Joyce” (August 11–17) is regrettable. Criticising the conduct and politics of Barnaby Joyce is one thing – one can even rubbish his new book and media appearances. The editorial, however, goes further. It belittles Joyce’s (claimed) mental health problem, apparently on the basis of your paper’s disagreement with his politics. Your paper is better than that type of ugly – dare I say schoolyard – writing. Leave the amateur psychology out of your editorials.

– David Walter, Balmain, 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 Aug 18, 2018. Subscribe here.