Letters to
the editor

Standing up for reforms

I do not write to papers very often but I feel I must congratulate you on “The town with no water” by Nick Feik and “The new underclass” by Mike Seccombe (March 9–15). Nick Feik hit the nail on the head when he wrote that the main reason the Darling River is dead is because of the extraction of water, especially in the northern section. We should never have allowed cotton and rice to be grown in arid areas of this country and we should never have encouraged big agribusinesses to dominate our agricultural sector. I will vote for the party that has the guts to stand up for reform of these practices. If we are to save the Darling for all the people who rely on it in some way, we must be brave enough to say enough is enough and we don’t want you stuffing up our environment anymore. Mike Seccombe wrote compellingly about the new underclass. Even we in the bush have known for ages that the greatest number of illegal immigrants fly into this country. They don’t come by boat. The employers of these people should be prosecuted if they do not meet employment requirements. Again something some strong-minded government could do something about. Please keep publishing these insightful articles. It’s nice to know hard-hitting journalism isn’t dead.

– Nola Younghusband, Dubbo, NSW

Politicians must listen to the people

Robert Manne (“The myth of the great wave”, March 2–8) asks refugee advocates such as myself to accept boat turnbacks and offshore detention as necessary components of any politically feasible asylum seeker policy. Turning back boatloads of desperate people, and indefinitely interning those who do arrive in torturous offshore camps, is not just “morally and legally imperfect”, it is inexcusable. Let’s get the facts straight: boat turnbacks are in flagrant disregard of international law and they don’t save lives – they push desperate people back to the very precarity and danger from which they fled. What right does the Australian government have to tell these people to go and die somewhere else? If my opinions are uncompromising, then good, I refuse to sacrifice the lives of asylum seekers in an entirely confected border security war. Public opinion on refugees has shifted and we can force the ALP to shift, too, just like we did before. The major parties have compromised on treating asylum seekers as human beings. We must not.

– Imogen Szumer, Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney, NSW

No compromise on human rights

I am writing in response to Robert Manne’s article. I am proudly one of the “friends of asylum seekers” to whom he refers. Manne’s reporting has done much to bring Australia’s despicable treatment of refugees to the public eye. But we must not compromise. There is horrific suffering endured by refugees on Manus Island and Nauru. But what of the similar or worse conditions awaiting asylum seekers caught in the (internationally unlawful) bipartisan turnback and offshore detention policies? Why must we compromise when it comes to human rights? Why must the bar be set by politicians and not those of us fighting for a better, fairer world? We must keep the pressure on. Grassroots movements have already seen changes for the better. The “Kids Off Nauru” push was ultimately successful through public pressure. Compromising would be to condone the cruel and unlawful policy of turnbacks and offshore detention. We are a wealthy country that can afford to Bring Them Here. And yes, Let Them Stay.

– Charlotte Walton, Summer Hill, NSW

Appeal process awaits

I find it incredible that such a top barrister as Robert Richter, QC, can be so disrespectful to the very legal system he has upheld so successfully for so long. While I totally agree that Pell has every right to go to an appeal, no one, least of all Mr Richter, should be passing the sort of judgements he made recently until the appeal has been finalised.

– Joan Lynn, Williamstown, Vic

Franking credit change unfair

I’m also a millennial and I understand why people feel franking credits should be removed (“Plea from future generations”, Letters, March 2–8). However, I also understand why retirees are “bristling” about the removal. My father worked for 40 years to provide for our family. He invested in superannuation and, as part of this, invested in high-yield stocks so as to receive a suitable income upon retirement. Why wouldn’t he be frustrated that his expected superannuation pension is now going to be reduced by thousands of dollars? Wouldn’t you be? It might be wise for the government to implement a staggered, multi-year approach when removing franking credits, so people aren’t unfairly punished. Nonetheless, I don’t see how removing franking credits will save our “grandchildren”. The development and implementation of government climate policy will.

– Anthony Vido, Kew East, Vic

Sharing in the truth

Maxine Beneba Clarke’s exquisitely incisive “Communion” offering (Poem, March 2–8) cuts to the core of the betrayal of children, and their families, by sexual abusers – some priests, as well as some members of other religious congregations or orders. The role of currently accompanying a family member as legal action against the Catholic Church and Marist Brothers is commenced – a family member who, yes, has been damaged and who lives with the lifelong consequences, yet at the same time demonstrates a resilience I cannot know – has drawn me more deeply into the terrible reality of sexual abuse. Brava, Maxine, and my grateful thanks.

– Name withheld by request

Wide-ranging review

Congratulations to your reviewer of Peggy Frew’s Islands (Books, March 9–15). Not often have I found a newspaper article in which a word used is not included in the Macquarie Dictionary 5th Edition. Presumably your reviewer chose to use the word “ekphrasis” to show readers how erudite she is. Oops, I did it myself. I meant to say, “how learned or scholarly she is”. I really must track down a copy of a plain English dictionary. Thank you for the always interesting book reviews.

– Rod Olsen, Flynn, 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 March 16, 2019.

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