Letters to
the editor

A horse of a different colour

A clarification for those cruciverbalists who may yet be reeling in confusion from 1 down (The Cryptic, September 22–28). Roy Rogers rode Trigger; the Lone Ranger rode Silver.

– Gary Stowe, Springwood, NSW

Abortion law long awaited

The current legal situation of abortion in Queensland and the proposed legislation to decriminalise this 19th-century law are well described by Bri Lee (“Labor push”, September 22–28). Passage of this legislation through parliament is the first essential step towards providing 21st-century abortion care throughout the state, but particularly for women in rural and remote Queensland. At present, abortion is not part of mainstream medical practice, and not only in Queensland; many medical schools do not provide teaching, junior hospital doctors are not involved, and obstetrics and gynaecology trainees can complete six years of training with no involvement or theoretical instruction about abortion. Abortion remains stigmatised, in a grey area of medical practice largely within the private sector. While there have been improvements over the past two decades, there is still an urgent need for many Australian women requesting termination of pregnancy (about 25 per cent of all pregnant women) to receive the same standard of medical care, the same accessibility to services, and the same respect as women continuing their pregnancy.

– Caroline de Costa, Cairns, Qld

Childhood memories rekindled

Excellent article by Linda Jaivin (“Tower of strength”, September 15–21) on the colourful history of Johannesburg. In the early 1950s my mother and her friend would drop me and the friend’s two daughters at a shabby Joburg cafe Bioscope (cinema with refreshments) while they went shopping. We girls, aged nine to 11, had money for entry and a supply of potato crisps and Coca-Cola. We saw American cartoons, Laurel and Hardy comedies, ancient Tarzan movies and film adaptations such as The Wizard of Oz. Three or four hours later our mothers collected us for the journey home in the back of the car, along with bulging paper carrier bags of sale bargains from Greatermans, John Orr’s and Stuttafords. It is sad to read of Joburg now as “one of the most dangerous [cities] in the world”. It probably was unsafe in my childhood but we didn’t notice. At the Bioscope we sat on hard wooden benches, chomped on junk food and had a great time. I can’t remember the racial make-up of the audience – in fact I can’t remember the lights ever coming on. The only interruption was the youngest of our trio sobbing at the frightening bits and her sister telling her to shut up. As a mother and grandmother did I ever send young children unescorted into a cinema? No way. How our perception of safety and danger have changed.

– Ann Greenwood, Hobart, Tas

Well said, Harper

I have been reading The Saturday Paper since its first edition and have always enjoyed the various guests who have had their opinion published on the comment page as it gives them a full page to note in some detail what is on their mind. However, dare I say this paper has gone beyond expectations by inviting the nine-year-old who received much attention for refusing to stand at school assemblies when the national anthem is played due to her belief its lyrics don’t represent fairly Indigenous Australians. I doubt any other news publication would’ve given even a glimpse of thought to allowing Harper Nielsen to write an opinion piece. But after reading her contribution I’m sure they are kicking themselves for missing out on one of the most articulate people we of this paper have had the honour to read by explaining in plain English what is wrong with the anthem and what she wanted to achieve by refusing to stand at assembly. Unfortunately her actions have provided some criticism from adults who have called for her to be physically disciplined and or expelled from school. Luckily this brave nine-year-old is not showing any fear for the belief she holds. I look forward to following her career and hopefully further comment pieces.

– Con Vaitsas, Ashbury, NSW

Verses don’t stand up to scrutiny

Harper Nielsen has taken a stand – or rather a refusal to stand – in a protest about our national anthem. And good on her, it’s a lousy anthem and as well as being offensive it would have been rejected by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as misleading if it had been a commercial rather than a national advertisement. As Ms Nielsen pointed out, 60,000 years is not young, nor are we free to expose government crimes. Australia has highly leached infertile soils that could scarcely be called golden and the “boundless plains to share” flies in the face of the Mabo decision where the High Court of Australia decided terra nullius should not have been applied to Australia. It thus recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have rights to the land that existed before the British arrived and can still exist today.

– Don Owers, Dudley, NSW

Spreading the word

What an amazing young person is Harper Nielsen. I was greatly moved by both Harper’s intransigence and subsequent resilience in the face of what I have no doubt amounted to bullying and harassment. As someone who has held similar views and recalcitrant motivations to stand for a head of state vicariously complicit in the murder and theft of our nation’s First Peoples, I, at 70 years of age, applaud her views and marvel at her resolve. I just hope she has at least touched the consciousness of ordinary Australians.

– Rod Stephens, Brighton, Vic

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 Sep 29, 2018.

During the final week of the election campaign we are unlocking all of our journalism. A free press is one you pay for. Now is the time to subscribe.