Take action on asylum-seeker children
Martin McKenzie-Murray’s front-page story about the national apology to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse was masterful – complex, compassionate, critical where necessary, and very moving (“Julia Gillard was our hero”, October 27–November 2). Well done to Julia Gillard for having had the guts to call the royal commission against a great deal of pressure from those either with a lot to hide, or those with little understanding of the damage done to innocent children. As Chrissie Foster (bless her!) says, this is far from finished business. What is especially poignant and infuriating at this time is that the two leaders’ speeches, appreciated as they rightly were, mask the reality of what successive governments have allowed to happen to another swath of innocent children whose families have sought refuge from terror, only to be terrorised offshore. It’s shameful, just as the abuse of children entrusted to church and community groups in this country has been a shocking betrayal. That’s unfinished business, too, and its effects will be felt for a long time, wherever these damaged asylum seekers land. In both instances of abuse, an apology is insufficient. Action is required. I hope that the royal commission’s recommendations will be speedily implemented, and that all asylum seekers will be relieved from their hellholes of Manus and Nauru without further political pointscoring delays.
– Jo Vallentine, Maylands, WA
Strong women get their chance
Three cheers for Jane Caro (“Running against Tony Abbott”, October 27–November 2). And are we seeing the first pincer movement on the hard right that has insinuated itself into the Liberal Party to the detriment of the national progress? First it was Cathy McGowan in Indi. More recently the electorate spoke out in Wentworth with Dr Kerryn Phelps. Jane Caro possesses the same qualities as these two strong-minded and capable women. Anyone who has heard her speak, read her columns and studied the demographics of the Warringah electorate would have to give her a fair-dinkum chance. It is interesting that the party’s dominating core of ultra-conservative males, who have seemingly shunned women as candidates, is to be challenged by strong women with progressive views and long-term social-benefit vision. The ultimate irony is that the right-wing leadership has entrenched itself in safe Liberal electorates that are ripe to move forward on the social, global and environmental issues but are unconvinced a Bill Shorten-led Labor Party would deliver the changes in a manner with which they would feel comfortable. Enter a middle-of-the-road option with intelligent, well-thought-through views and a functional grip on reality and you have the makings of a perfect storm for the hard right that could send revitalising change around The Fatal Shore.
– John Mosig, Kew, Vic
Review the book
I found your review of One Good Turn by Mary Leunig to be narrow-minded and offensive (Books, October 27–November 2). Even if she is “mentally ill”, are you saying that the mentally ill have no right to express themselves? And how about reviewing the work itself, on its merits, instead of making guesses about an author’s mental state or motivations? We could all guess until the cows come home.
– Amy Choi, Lancefield, Vic
Phelps was the Liberals’ choice
I normally vote Liberal, subscribe to The Saturday Paper and I voted for Dr Kerryn Phelps and gave her the support I could (Paul Bongiorno, “Wentworth falls”, October 27–November 2). While her success can be attributed to many causes, it must not just be attributed to voter anger about party-room treatment of Malcolm Turnbull (though I didn’t like it one bit). Rather, Dr Phelps should have been the Liberal candidate in the first place. She ticks key boxes for Wentworth. She is local and a high-achiever in the private sector. She even has dogs – virtually everyone in Wentworth has at least one pup, typically two. While I do not agree with all of her politics, I recognise that she is overwhelmingly reasonable, moderate, highly intelligent and independent. That is what many of us look for in our representative. Wentworth also has a history of electing MPs who have been highly successful in the private sector: Turnbull was a successful lawyer and merchant banker; Peter King was a lawyer; and Dr John Hewson an economist. Dr Phelps was the first woman president of the Australian Medical Association and shares this tradition of success. John Howard never should have meddled in our election. On the other hand, Scott Morrison’s favourite, Woollahra councillor Katherine O’Regan, would have won handily. Dr Phelps may not have even challenged if Ms O’Regan was the party choice.
– Harry Melkonian, Vaucluse, NSW
Following the money
The looming spate of native wildlife extinctions Mike Seccombe warns of could be a handy earner for a federal government with a focus on commercial gain (“Droughts and flooding rains”, October 27–November 2). Tasmania managed to collect more than $50 million in federal funds over 12 years to eradicate a fox invasion that was never proved to exist, and subsidises public forest logging by more than $40 million a year. Even the endangered Tasmanian devil seems to have been drafted into the service of business, with the state government spurning the pleas of scientists to reintroduce captive-bred and disease-free animals to the mainland, preferring to sell close to 100 to overseas zoos while returning any surplus animals to the devil’s death row in the Tasmanian wild. The Morrison government seems locked into funnelling huge sums to emollient PR such as the Great Barrier Reef Foundation
or drought “safeguards” rather than offshore tax havens.
– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Nov 3, 2018. Subscribe here.