New concerns surround the government’s increased use of legislative powers to bypass the parliament and create laws that cannot be amended or overturned. The federal government has embedded special powers in new Covid-19 laws to make unilateral changes to non-pandemic-related legislation, using what are known as ‘Henry VIII clauses’ – named for the unchecked power they involve.
Conflicts of interest
Mick Keelty’s warning, via Karen Middleton, that the nation’s public water supplies were “ripe for corruption” has come too late (“Keelty warns river ‘ripe for corruption’ ”, April 27–May 3). The PM revealed last week that the Coalition’s definition of “broad church” has now formally expanded to encompass the moral universes of both Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson, which suggests an ethical breadth that could accommodate both the newly mapped black hole and all the tenets of mammon worship. This has seemingly attracted cautious approval even from elements of the opposition, who have long envied elements of the freedom inherent in a political funding system based on legalised bribery.
– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas
Medivac hopes unfulfilled
Each week I welcome and treasure reading The Saturday Paper with its longer factual and analytical style, even though it may disturb me. I was particularly despairing after reading Behrouz Boochani’s chilling account of the failure of the medivac bill (“Medivac missteps”, April 27–May 3). Read alongside Shaun Hanns’ “Scott Morrison’s single-mindedness when immigration minister is a frightening trait” (The Guardian, April 26) you have the image of a man who ignores his Christian beliefs to actively promote the slow torture of people into submission or death on Manus and Nauru, flouts the law and “barters with the fate of most vulnerable asylum seekers” in order to prove what? Are we so self-absorbed that we can collectively stay blind to the horrors of our treatment of refugees? Is it symptomatic of our silence on the genocide, dispossession and disrespect of the First Australians? Please have the courage to vote for people who truly espouse a better, compassionate Australia.
– Janet Spink, Eltham North, Vic
Voting for compassion
Another compelling firsthand account from Behrouz Boochani, who is still being held on Manus Island. When we heard the wonderful news that the medivac bill had been passed, we were all hopeful that finally the refugees would receive the medical help they desperately needed. I asked my brother, a retired doctor, when it would start and he replied, “I imagine immediately.” It is now nearly three months. All that has happened in that time has been Scott Morrison opening Christmas Island for a photo opportunity and closing it again after a massive waste of our money. I agree with Behrouz that the bill is being used as another instrument of torture. Today, another refugee friend of mine on Manus Island who is very ill is being transferred to Port Moresby hospital. Will he be any better off there than on Manus? How much longer will this inhumanity and cruelty continue to be perpetrated by the Australian government? My vote, this election, is going to the party that will help these refugees survive and lead the productive lives they should be living.
– Susan Munday, Bentleigh East, Vic
Opting for integrity
If one was forced to nominate a third tier beyond a Green–New Deal type suite of policies (environmental action and societal equality), A. J. Brown’s article, “A matter of trust” (April 27–May 3) puts a damn good pitch for the third, open governance, as vital for the first two mentioned objectives to work. Worldwide, positive-sounding policies have routinely been undermined by lobbying and financial “arrangements”, and the current federal government is replete with depressing examples. Ironically, we need a capitalist “glasnost” (transparency).
– Alan Baird, Rose Bay, NSW
Shorten’s Adani antics uninspiring
It is sad to reflect on the hyperbole from political mouths to suit the crowd and order of the day. The sort of antics Bill Shorten has adopted to slink between the coalface and scuttle to avoid commitments that may have some reflection on Queensland electorates (Editorial, “Mining both sides”, April 27–May 3). It is frankly what I perceive to be a true representation of his opportunistic character that has tended to underpin the general voter dislike he has engendered. Forget the Gillard–Rudd travesty, I believe there is mounting evidence his reign as PM will reflect an equally prosaic stand at the helm, as the art of aversion and sleight of hand are adopted from the outgoing administration. Although I am a long-time Labor voter, the only reason I would do so now is to see the end of Scott Morrison rather than the entrenchment of Shorten.
– Rod Stephens, Brighton, Vic
A timely Anzac Day reset
If as I suspect the small fraternity of professional sentimentalists, conspiracists and careerists who’ve cornered the market in Anzac bullshitology are too self-absorbed to get through Mark Dapin’s implacably calm Vietnam corrective, Australia’s Vietnam, they should at least read Hamish McDonald’s pitch-perfect review of it (Books, April 27–May 3). A robust antidote to the narcissistic boomer lens through which we’ve come to view that conflict is decades overdue. Even more damaging has been that woefully misread period’s distorting influence on how we now mythologise Anzac in its entirety: an increasingly jarring potpourri of self-important chest-beating, overindulgent “hyper-brokenness” and sentimental tripe, embarrassing military ignorance, and – above all – a toxic usurping by “the Digger” of all other elements of our national history and identity. As a former soldier whose family has put (and often lost) uniformed skin in every Australian conflict since Federation, including the current one, I find my reluctantly growing private sentiment each year on April 25 to be: Let’s we forget. Or at least give it a bloody rest for a bit.
– Jack Robertson, Birchgrove, NSW
Moved to Rapture
It’s always Gadfly and Maxine Beneba Clarke first, then the rest of the paper for me on a Saturday morning. Today, after Clarke’s “Rapture” (April 27–May 3), it was glasses down, runners on, and a lengthy walk to process the command in the words. Maxine, gratitude for your contributions.
– Helen Nash, Eaglehawk, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 4, 2019.
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