Time for courageous leadership
Thank you, Barry Jones (“Death of debate”, March 30–April 5), for reminding us of the need for long memories to see and understand the changes in our nation’s politics. I also remember when Australia’s visionary political leaders had frameworks of ethics and ideas that seem to be missing now. Just think about our prime ministers and how they show that 1996 marked that change. Before then – reflect on Chifley, Menzies, Holt, Gorton, McMahon, Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke and Keating, who all represented ideals and ethics (and varying competencies). Since then – Howard, and then the Rudd–Gillard–Rudd and Abbott–Turnbull–Morrison revolving doors. Gilliard was a minority leader. Turnbull and Gillard were undermined by their own. All have spent more time looking over their shoulders than into the future. Who have been the moderate Liberals of the party of Menzies since 1996? Who have been the leaders of policy change since, perhaps, Gillard’s attempts? Why have we become so fearful, we voters and those politicians? Where did the vision of those earlier leaders go? Where is the political courage, to lead our people to a better Australia – away from this fearful one we have become?
– Robert A. James, Annandale, Qld
Social media consequences
Barry Jones, in his excellent article, is right all along, including the fact he was wrong in his optimistic outlook for the Digital Age. He says: “The ubiquity of the internet has reinforced the realm of the personal.” Very true. The frequent use of internet and video games has a profound effect on the development of the self in young people. While the personal motivation is always there, the consequences, ironically, are destructive. Instead of reinforcing one’s personality, social media shatters it. I published a book about it called Devolution.
– Alex Pucci, Mosman, NSW
Dumb and dumber
I recently returned to Australia after an overseas trip and note with relief that Clive Palmer has dropped the Twisted Sister track “We’re Not Gonna Take It” from political advertisements for his United Australia Party. However, with an election in the wings I just hope One Nation does not try to rip off Paul Kelly’s “Dumb Things” (Damien Murphy, “How to quell One Nation”, March 30–April 5).
– Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
The perils of teaching
I was a secondary school teacher for a short while and therefore read the article “Class struggles” (March 30–April 5) by Clementine Ford with interest. There is clearly a huge disconnect between the view of teaching presented here to the perception that our political leaders have: Labor’s recent proposal of raising the minimum ATAR standards for students entering universities with the intention of becoming teachers being one example. Perhaps any effort to raise teaching standards should start with a look at the alarming 40 per cent of new teachers who leave the profession within the first five years.
– Douglas Richards, Rosanna, Vic
Ronnie Scott’s review ofSimpson Returns (March 30–April 5) reminds me of a visit I made to the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh in Brecon, central Wales, not long after John Howard’s celebration of Simpson as an iconic Australian role model. John Simpson Kirkpatrick’s heroic endeavours are celebrated in the museum as an Englishman “who even has a statue dedicated to him in Melbourne, Australia…”
– Dick Davies, North Warrandyte, Vic
No place for guns
What possible justification can there be for assault rifles being available to the public? In fact, what justification is there for any member of the public being able to buy a gun – any sort of a gun? A primary producer in certain sectors of agriculture and the meat industry may have such justification, registered hunters who work for government departments in culling or vermin destruction, recreational shooters who are registered to use firearms only in specified areas such as shooting ranges – all can obtain firearms through the legal process from registered gun dealers. But who else, in the name of common sense, can possibly need a gun? We all know that violence breeds violence. The possession of firearms just “ups the ante”. The police have sufficient challenges in coping with the import, distribution and obtaining of illegal firearms, and the subsequent possession and the use thereof among criminal elements of society, without adding to the nightmare through anyone who wishes to own a firearm being able to access one with ease. The only sector with an interest in the widespread sale of guns and armaments is the powerful worldwide arms industry, whose labours and products fuel conflicts all over the world. Without those arms the world would be a very different place. If disputes had to be settled by discussion or, second best, in hand-to-hand combat, what an outbreak of peace there would be. We should be proud of our current strong gun laws and fight to retain, and even tighten, them.
– Hilary Da Costa, Woollahra, NSW
Grieving racist acts
Can we avoid mentioning the name of the wretched Australian perpetrator of the Christchurch massacre, and concentrate on the humanity of the people who died and the survivors? I am thinking of the child, three years old, who was killed. And the many adults. Well done, Four Corners. Well done, New Zealand–Aotearoa’s prime minister. We grieve with you. No less racist is the slow killing, soul murder, and non-reporting being perpetrated on the mainly Muslim political hostages on Manus and Nauru.
– Stephen Langford, Paddington, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Apr 6, 2019. Subscribe here.