Letters to
the editor

Malakootis’ plight a crying shame

Tearfully, I read Abdul Karim Hekmat’s “Hearts in darkness” on Sadoullah Malakooti (May 25-31). Tearfully, I mowed the bourgeois lawn and pondered. Who can be happy in a country where this happens to a struggling father and his children? Who can treat a family seeking a new life after statelessness and bombing in Iran like this? Who can treat the surviving members of a family whose mother was drowned like this? Who can treat the victims of “an entirely preventable incident” while being escorted by the Australian Navy like this? Who the bloody hell have we become?

– Michael D. Breen, Robertson, NSW

Not money well spent

It hardly seems possible to read the tragic story of Sadoullah Malakooti and his daughters in the same breath as Scott Morrison’s claiming a miracle for his election win. Spending millions of dollars on self-promotion while people such as this family face destitution at the government’s hands is not miraculous. It is shameful.

– Vicky Marquis, Glebe, NSW

Women let down by juries

Bri Lee makes a strong case (“Make no mistake”, May 25-31) for changing the Queensland legislation in relation to the defence of “mistake of fact”. However, there is another important factor that militates against getting fairness for victims in sexual assault cases. It is the jury. Like all lawyers, she is ignorant of what goes on in a jury room. I was on a jury in a sexual assault case in New South Wales. There was little analysis of the evidence. Gender prejudice through personal anecdotes and quotes from television programs dominated the discussion. An opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald by a frustrated and angry juror in a sexual assault case reflects my own experience: “Many of my fellow jurors found the girls and women unreliable ... When you hear statements such as … ‘maybe they enjoyed it’ you realise we are fighting a battle that cannot be won.” My jury divided substantially on gender lines. I believe the adversarial jury system is not appropriate for sexual assault cases. An inquisitorial system, as practised in tribunals, is more fitting. Ideally a female and a male judge sitting together could ask questions of both victims and accused and decide guilt
or innocence based on the evidence.

– Julie James Bailey, Abbotsford, NSW

Liberals may need franking savings

Michael West’s article “Taking care of business” (May 25-31) discusses $125 billion worth of untendered contracts awarded to mainly defence contractors. These contracts could bankrupt the government, but maybe that’s what the Liberals were hoping for in the event Labor won the election. Now the Liberals are back they have to deal with their own booby traps. Bets, anyone, on how long it takes for the Morrison government to be the ones to cancel franking credits? After all, they’ve gutted every other source of social systems saving, leaving themselves nowhere to go but turn against the voters whose fears they so successfully exploited. Looks like Labor dodged a bullet.

– Anne Royal, Burra, SA

Convoy was invited to Queensland

Media outlets should acknowledge that Bob Brown was invited to central Queensland by the Wangan and Jagalingou Council, the custodians of their most sacred site, the Doongmabulla Springs. The Bob Brown Foundation was invited to country by the W&J Council to help them defend their sacred site from its destruction by the Adani coalmine. To suggest that this visit was proposed and organised by Bob Brown as an ego trip is a denial of the cultural sensitivities of a First Nation people. This suggestion, which has been constantly repeated in mainstream media, is racist and ignorant. Native title holders have the right to invite whoever they wish to country.

– Di Glynn, via email

Annie’s cooking class

What a joy it was to read Annie Smithers’ totally achievable Iranian noodle soup recipe in last weekend’s newspaper (“Persian gulp”, May 25-31). Several of my friends and I, each of us more Gabriel Byrne than Gaté, attempted the recipe this week with great success. More of it, please, Annie.

– Andrew Bartlett, Northcote, Vic

ASRC offering support

The federal government cut Status Resolution Support Services by 60 per cent in two years, from $139.8 million to $56.2 million. Since cuts were announced in 2017, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has played a leading role in refugee sector lobbying, media and campaigning for SRSS to be restored to all people seeking asylum. During the election, community delegations met local MPs, supporters wrote letters and emailed MPs and we released a report that earned media coverage of the issue. “Cutting the Safety Net” exposed a crisis of hunger, poor health and homelessness as more people, including families with children over six years old, are cut off SRSS. The ASRC has been inundated with people coming to our doors with increasingly complex and urgent needs. We have had to implement stopgap measures such as emergency relief housing; food parcels for people issued with a notice-to-vacate or those facing VCAT hearings and imminent homelessness; emergency food and pharmaceuticals; and sleeping bags for those sleeping rough. Weekly, 750 people – increasingly children and young people – rely on our food bank. The number has increased from 590 at the start of 2018. All organisations in the sector are stretched to the limit. We continue to expose the crisis and campaign against cuts, and to provide front-line services to thousands of people.

– Marcella Brassett, campaign manager at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

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 June 1, 2019.

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