Letters to
the editor

Bipartisan agreement on torture

Every time I see a picture of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (on the cover of No. 239, Karen Middleton, “The pain in Hayne stays mainly...”, February 9-15) I also think of Tanya Plibersek, two parliamentarians of the major parties who have refugee family backgrounds. Incredible, I often think, that these two people have not spoken out against the torture of people who are in the same situation their parents were in. It says something about the system, as well as their personal morality, and the marching-in-step mentality of the major parties. They would call it party discipline; I call it a disgrace. There is not a whole lot we can learn from Britain, but I very much admire Jeremy Corbyn, who voted against his own party 500 times. I really wonder how Plibersek and Frydenberg, and the rest of them, can sleep at night, being complicit in the abomination of Manus and Nauru and the violation of refugee and human rights. As citizens we must take action and demand, absolutely demand, an Australian Human Rights Act.

– Stephen Langford, Paddington, NSW

West Papuan resistance

As disturbing as it may sound, I am profoundly glad that your paper has cast light onto the appalling situation of West Papua, that longstanding travesty of justice to our immediate north (John Martinkus, “War in West Papua”, February 9-15). For a graduate dissertation in 1996, I studied three indigenous-resource development conflicts in Australia’s near neighbourhood – Grasberg, Ok Tedi and Panguna on Bougainville. All cast the lives and livelihoods of their respective traditional owners aside in the relentless destruction of priceless environments for someone else’s profit. For all, it was clear that armed conflict could escalate to war waged between militaries and citizens. Is this what we want to see happen so close to our northern shores, the effects of which are already being felt in the Torres Strait?

– Ellie Bock, Mena Creek, Qld

Financial system must be reformed

Your excellent editorial , “Loyal commission” (February 9-15), highlighted the inadequacies in conception and outcome of the Hayne banking royal commission. Both suburban and rural Jill and Jack, and their families, whose lives have been devastated by the immorality and criminality exposed by the proceedings before Hayne, will feel betrayed by the PM’s appeal to be sensible and that Hayne should ensure the stability of the financial system. The financial system is broken. We need new thinking to establish a financial system that is underpinned by a morality that is 180 degrees from, as you say, “the system of privilege upon which (the present financial system) is built”. The incoming government could establish its credibility and commitment to Jill and Jack by beginning the process of devising such a system.

– Gerry Phelan, Dooralong, NSW

A man of his words

Maria Takolander’s review of Gerald Murnane’s latest publication (Books, Green Shadows and Other Poems, February 9-15) offers excellent insight into the mystery of this man and his work. I first came across Murnane decades ago when he spoke at a writers’ festival here in Hobart. Later, he was scheduled to hold a workshop, which assembled as an intimate group of devotees seated around a canteen table, with Murnane at the head. He sat down, put notes and his elbows on the table, his head in his hands, and began to talk to the tabletop. What he said was pure reason and wisdom; no self-indulgence, no affected intellectualism. And it was all about the written word, particularly the sentence and how it works. Some time later, Hobart’s State Cinema advertised a doco about Murnane and I went along. There was one other literary type, so we made up an audience of two, sitting separately. The first of the two-part doco was devoted to Murnane’s obsession with horse racing: I went straight to sleep. When woken by the intermission announcement, I saw that the other person had disappeared and expected to hear that the second part of the program had been abandoned. Not so. It started on schedule and Murnane began to speak to camera about writing: the theories, the mechanics, his methods, and so on. He spoke from the heart but described theories and experiences that illustrated with sharp clarity what writing means, how it works and what it does. I was riveted. I do agree with Takolander’s final two sentences, but I wonder if Murnane would have constructed them as one…

– Ann Greenwood, Hobart, Tas

A different viewpoint

High praise and endorsement to have Maxine Beneba Clarke (Poem), with her erudite poetic wit, give her take on Australia’s state of affairs. Keep it up, Maxine.

– Les Lloyd, Noosaville, Qld

God of chaos mix-up

Mungo MacCallum may need a refresher on his Egyptian mythology (The Cryptic, 2 down, February 9-15). Sobek, not Set, is the crocodile god.

– Sean Carmody, Petersham, NSW

Take the time for a better rhyme

For a front-page headline, if your subeditor can’t find a third rhyme for “pain” and “Hayne”, use something (or someone) else. Several came up, maybe “The pain in Hayne won’t stop their bid for gain”?

– Chris Clarke, Kambah, ACT

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 February 16, 2019.

A free press is one you pay for. Now is the time to subscribe.