Policy for the short term
Disbelief at the federal government’s monster grant to the obscure Great Barrier Reef Foundation was compounded by Karen Middleton’s revelation that it was the narcissistic political brainchild of our new prime minister, Scott Morrison (“Exclusive: Morrison set reef grant terms”, September 29–October 5). What sort of conscience would see the political advantage to the Coalition in declaring a budget surplus as outweighing the emergency confronting the reef? We have been lightly prepared for such cynicism by his predecessor’s reported willingness to hamstring the independence of the public broadcaster for the same reason. The indifference of many pollies to the longer-term consequences of their decisions could be militating for the same sort of outcome as predicted for killer whales within a century – extinction due to polychlorinated biphenyls.
– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas
Coalition avoiding criticism
Mike Seccombe’s rundown on the ructions at the ABC (“Guthrie dismissal triggers chaos at the ABC”, September 29–October 5) was an excellent piece of reporting. As the headline had it, it was chaos. But the underlying story is chaos in the government. During five years of dysfunction, refugees have been blackguarded, energy policy is lacking, and growth policy is stalled in supply-side economics. Unsurprisingly,the government has been increasingly sensitive to criticism. Its desire to shut down valid criticism, whether directly or covertly, is a dangerous development, more akin to the policies of undemocratic authoritarian regimes.
– Peter Wigney, Pakenham, Vic
Touched by Boochani’s journalism
Please keep Behrouz Boochani as a frequent correspondent to remind the public how cruel our nation has become in order to “protect” our borders (“Five years in purgatory”, September 29–October 5). How weak are our political leaders that they dare not remind us of the deaths, mental destruction and misery of those living in purgatory. We are all complicit in this evil. Well may the new prime minister gloat about keeping “our borders safe” hoping that we will forget his role in adding to our national shame.
– John H. Bennett, Dingabledinga, SA
Preference decision perplexes
Independent candidate for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps is a puzzling character. She is certainly a fine citizen, but to throw in her lot by preferencing the Liberal Party in the byelection is mystifying, to say the least (Paul Bongiorno, “Waving or drowning?”, September 29–October 5). Climate change and renewables are important factors in our lives and any political party not believing in them – in words and actions – deserves to be dumped.
– Jim Banks, Pottsville Beach, NSW
Turnbull’s lack of legacy
No wonder the former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull escaped to the other side of the world when one looks at the legacy he left behind. Karen Middleton throws some light on the magnanimous gesture of money from the federal budget to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation for “restoration” of the reef. It was so proudly announced at the time by the then minister, but described by former Australian Conservation Foundation chief Geoff Cousins as “accounting trickery”. Two of the other main issues left are explained by Jane Caro (“Schools of thought police”, September 29–October 5) about the private/public school scandal, and Behrouz Boochani’s “Five years in purgatory”, which explains itself. But there are many more issues left that can be described as acts or sins of omission or sins of commission left to Turnbull’s successors such as the about-face on the national energy guarantee as he exited, which leaves the country with no national energy policy and no target post-2020. Australia is one of only a handful of countries with no mandatory emissions standard, yet it has little regard for the latest rise in emissions, and the present government continues to court the Adani company despite their plan for unlimited water use and having already commenced drilling. There are so many other issues on the boil. Who would not want to take an extended holiday to the United States? One wonders whether Malcolm Turnbull will emulate United States president Donald Trump in his make-believe claims of personal successes that were greeted with such cynical, hollow laughter at the United Nations (World, September 29–October 5).
– Beverley McIntyre, Camberwell, Vic
Refugee stories must be told
Thank you for continuing to publish articles by the refugees on Manus Island, especially those by the talented Behrouz Boochani. I think he is kind to call it limbo. To me, it seems more like hell on earth. Other media, even Fairfax, seem to be no longer reporting on the tragic situation except for occasional letters from concerned readers. The Saturday Paper and Guardian Australia keep us informed, as well as the refugees themselves due to friendships made on Facebook, so the refugees know that many Australians are not like our government and the Opposition. It is wonderful to hear of the men who have been accepted by the US, and by all accounts they are doing well there. This makes it hard for the ones remaining as, even though they are thrilled for their friends, they are still waiting for their turn, which at times they think will never come. Behrouz says he will not leave Manus until every refugee is safe in another country. I think he is an amazing human being.
– Susan Munday, Bentleigh East, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Oct 6, 2018. Subscribe here.