Letters to
the editor

A blueprint for what not to do

The verbal gymnastics exhibited by politicians to justify leadership changes make interesting reading, but surely the main reason for their short terms, at least in the past decade, has been the lack of leadership attributes in those deposed; the exception is Julia Gillard, who, as a woman, didn’t have a chance (Karen Middleton, “How Morrison played everyone”, September 1–7). Rudd, Abbott, Turnbull – none of them managed to create an effective team, all were so impressed with their own abilities that they felt they had a divine right to do as they wished. Future leadership programs could just study how the RATs did things and propose the opposite.

– Bruce Hill, Giru, Qld

Fall of the emperor

Many thanks to Karen Middleton for her insightful piece. This coup was as brilliant as any in history, fooling most of the soothsayers of the press who believed the now prime minister’s claim that he and Josh Frydenberg “had no blood on their hands”, appearing at the podium, sans toga, with a look of surprise at their good fortune. It called to mind Steven Bradbury in the 2002 Winter Olympics cruising to victory as his much more favoured competitors fell before him. Though Middleton’s piece invites us to look deeper: “This was not a ‘defend Malcolm’ exercise,” one Dutton backer said of Morrison’s group. “This was a ‘get Malcolm’ exercise.” Indeed as the conspirators gathered at the forum, the then prime minister Turnbull sought a signed petition, pleading on behalf of the nation and the people for those good women and men of the Liberal Party to show themselves. As with Caesar, the petition was corrupted, undermined by machinations and bullying, as is coming to light with the resignation of Victorian Liberal MP Julia Banks and the ritual sacrifice of the then foreign minister, Julie Bishop. Then with unprecedented efficiency, the new cabinet was rolled out, teeth and shoes all shiny, hair gelled, with Praetorian lapel badges declaring their allegiance. Go the Sharks! Hail Caesar!

– Mike Clifford, Blaxland, NSW

Hold an inquiry into politicians

Having witnessed how incredibly successful and useful the royal commissions into the institutional responses to child sexual abuse and into the banking, superannuation and financial services industry have been, could we consider having one into our governance? Topics could include: the Constitution, the functioning of our parliaments, the lack of standards or qualifications for our politicians to lead us, much less run a government department or portfolio, their so-called entitlements (travel support, pensions and superannuation arrangements), the holding of religious beliefs that preclude politicians doing their job and the wilful misuse or lack of accountability of “other people’s money”.  

– Ray Rodgers, Flinders Park, SA

Visa for surgery denied

The medical treatment visa was refused for surgery in Australia for my young Afghan friend, aged 20, who has a congenital facial deformity. Letters of support from the craniofacial surgeon plus my assurance of financial support during the eight weeks for surgery and recovery carried no weight. No avenue for appeal was permitted. One reason given was that there wasn’t evidence of a family connection or employment to return to, nor was there evidence in the passport of previous travel. I don’t recall questions on the application form relating to these statements. It was assumed my friend would not return to his country and he was coldly deprived of the “fine face” he’s longed for all his life. Obviously I don’t know the right people (Gadfly, “Minister for foreign au pairs”, September 1–7).

– Julia Osborne, Nambucca, NSW

Dr No middle name

It seems The Saturday Paper fell for a villainous scheme in The Quiz ( September 1–7). Ian Fleming did not assign a middle name to his creation James Bond. The middle name Herbert arose from a joke article published in Britain’s Daily Telegraph more than a decade ago. What a Thunderballs-up.

– Matthew Weston, Glebe, NSW

No entry for Chelsea Manning

The Australian government’s decision to prevent the entry of whistleblower Chelsea Manning on grounds of character is both outrageous and sadly predictable. Your readers will not need reminding that the attorney-general is currently pursuing the prosecutions of whistleblower “Witness K” and lawyer Bernard Collaery. Their crime was to expose the corrupt, duplicitous and malicious conduct of the government in its dealings with Timor–Leste. Manning’s was to expose the carnage of war crimes committed by United States armed forces in Iraq. She was imprisoned for seven years, much of it spent in appalling conditions in solitary confinement. Those who put her there would have preferred to see her serve the full 35 years – an obscenely heavy-handed reaction from a surveillance state looking to make an example of public-interest leakers. Similarly, the closing of Australian society continues under the Coalition, and David Coleman has shown he’s one of the team. A thoroughly strategic debut in Immigration by the member for Banks in his trial run for the coming election.

– Jacob Thornton, O’Connor, ACT

On the new Churchill

Very good, Alex. Very good (Alex McKinnon, Gadfly, September 1–7).

– Jonathan Silberberg, Newcastle, NSW

Master’s apprentice

In reading The Saturday Paper my first port of call is invariably Gadfly and his Oscar-like Wildeness. Now he has an apprentice Gadfly. Pip, pip, young chap.

– Pam Connor, Mollymook Beach, 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 September 8, 2018.

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