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.
Batty has earned her privacy to grieve
Martin McKenzie-Murray doesn’t attempt to nail Rosie Batty as his splendid writing approaches tentatively (“Rosie Batty: the private toll of public grief”, June 22-28). Our background, environment and character determine our reaction to grief. Grief is sister to passion and vehemence and requires might to undertake a meeting with it. Rosie was catapulted into a prominent public position in the midst of these swirling emotions. While Australian of the Year is an honour that is overwhelmingly used wisely by the recipient, and Rosie Batty certainly fulfilled her role in that regard, it did add to her private struggles. And people who cannot understand this would do well to not speak. She has shown her resolve and strength and just needs the space to continue being herself.
– Pam Connor, Mollymook Beach, NSW
Inspiration of the year
One word for Rosie Batty: respect.
– Colin Hesse, Marrickville, NSW
Put more women on the front page
Congratulations on featuring Rosie Batty on the front cover, the only time this year (out of 22 editions) a woman has featured by herself in the main image. So far, 14 men have had that privilege. Kelly O’Dwyer and Gladys Berejiklian have both featured, but only in partnership with Scott Morrison. And where was one of the key woman leaders in the world, Jacinda Ardern, after her strong and empathetic response to Christchurch? Nowhere. Young women and girls need to see women featured and on front pages, otherwise they learn that only men feature, and that only men’s stories matter. A brief assessment of 2018 confirms this isn’t simply because early 2019 was all about the election. Of 48 editions in 2018, 22 covers featured single men, while only five featured a single female (one a refugee child). I hope your second half of 2019 improves.
– Fiona Dempster, Maleny, Qld
Asylum seekers fled war, too
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has voiced generous words about the several orphan children fathered by IS fighters now rescued from the Syrian war zone for passage to Australia. He iterated that the children were taken to a place they didn’t choose to go, and neither could they leave. They would be helped to integrate in society. The PM’s words of choice and freedom apply equally to those people kept by the government for years in offshore detention. They too were desperate to leave war zones. They too didn’t choose Nauru or Manus islands. They too deserve the chance to integrate with our free society and build good lives. Mr Prime Minister, please spread your generosity to include these refugees.
– Julia Osborne, Nambucca, NSW
Profit motive in outsourcing
The 1980s and 1990s neoliberal shift to contracting out government services has involved Mammon’s disciples just as much as God’s representatives on Earth (James Boyce, “Mission statement”, June 22-28). Boyce worries that doctrinal requirements might determine staff selection – only one of many legitimate concerns. Church agencies compete with those seeking profits to remit to local and overseas shareholders for contracts in health and aged care, family support, education, detention centres, prisons and other services. Competition is supposed to increase efficiencies and drive down costs. But “commercial-in-confidence” protections hide actual costs, inefficiencies and the massive disruptions when contracts change hands. Ever-escalating compliance-oriented paperwork takes teachers from classrooms and nurses from patients. Increasingly casualised staff are muzzled by fear of losing their jobs. With each new contract, the capacity to deliver quality service is relentlessly eroded. Transparency in how our taxes are used to deliver government services is long gone.
– Helen Moore, Cook, ACT
Setka out of sync
Your editorial (“Setting the record straight”, June 15-21) combined with Paul Bongiorno’s concluding comments (“Listening in a vacuum”, June 15-21) paint a damning picture of the CFMEU’s Victorian state secretary. Calling out his alleged comments about Rosie Batty is appropriate; however, such comments pale when you consider the extent of the language John Setka reportedly used that led to him facing charges. His so-called respect for Rosie Batty is questionable. Despite the new Labor leader’s desire to drive the state secretary from the party, Setka seems to be playing the Strawbs’ 1973 with its haunting reprise, “... I’m part of the union”.
– Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
Agitator is a worthy substitute
My dictionary defines a gadfly as a constantly annoying person. Evan Williams may not yet be as annoying as Richard Ackland, but several people – Abetz, McKenzie, Bolt, Hanson and Trump among them – probably believe he could easily become so (“Minister for minibars”, June 22-28). Well done, Evan.
– John Walsh, Watsonia, Vic
Dignity in death
I’m not really a poetry person but Maxine Beneba Clarke has converted me. “Things about dying” (Letters, June 22-28) had a physical effect. Simple, insightful, searing.
– Lucas Trihey, Medlow Bath, NSW
Letters are welcome: [email protected]
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jun 29, 2019.
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