Letters to
the editor

Indigenous numbers beat Lambie’s

Senator Jacqui Lambie (Mike Seccombe, “Lambie’s secret medevac bargain”, December 7-13) only got 31,383 primary votes, and her preferences made up the Tasmanian senate quota, which at the last election was 50,285 votes. So 50,285 voters gave her a voice. Compare that to the quotas each senator had to get in the other states – New South Wales quota 670,761, 13 times more than Tasmania; Victoria 534,207, 10 times; Queensland 414,495, eight times; Western Australia, 206,661, four times; and South Australia 156,404, three times. We allow the voice of the people in the smaller states to be massively over-represented in the parliament. And yet we argue that our First Nations people, who number more than 760,000, have no rights to a voice.

– Julie James Bailey, Abbotsford, NSW

Coalition does not care

With reference to Jenifer Nicholls’ letter (“What about duty of care?”, December 7-13), I believe there are two reasons the government is shirking asylum seekers’ care. One, they will never accept the guilt of their actions, and two, it plays to their base, who vote for the cruel policy they perpetuate.

– Jeanne Hart, Maryborough Rural Australians for Refugees, Vic

Tech giants and free speech

Teasing out Rick Morton’s piece on large social media companies pushing back against proposed accountability for users’ comments and their deemed, or otherwise, defamatory comments (“Mounting the lobby horse”, December 7-13), it occurred to me Attorney-General Christian Porter would probably not give a damn about what I said about all sorts of people. But he may care about what I say about his fellow minister, for instance. Cynical, perhaps, but I can’t help but suspect focused gagging being in play. Currently, it seems, “important people” feeling slighted manage to get someone sin-binned for a nominal week or two. Christian would like to see those people pay dearly for it, is my take. This is heading to be the latest “free speech” minefield.

– Paul Keig, Wahroonga, NSW

Choking on emissions promises

The editorial “Missing in action” (December 7-13) reminds us that Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the United Nations General Assembly in September that there is no need for his government to take any further action on climate change because it was already “taking real action” and “getting results”. The UN’s Conference of Parties (COP25) was told that the emissions reduction targets, agreed to by all but two nations, were insufficient to avoid the worst of climate change, and higher targets were needed. But Australia, along with Donald Trump’s United States, will fail to meet even the Paris targets, now widely acknowledged as inadequate. In fact, Australia’s emissions stubbornly continue to increase. Morrison will need a lot more than miracles to prevent climate-change-driven catastrophe in Australia.

– Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin, ACT

Internships and worker exploitation

Hardly a week goes by now without the media reporting on another company accused of ripping off workers by underpaying them, not making them aware of their conditions or conveniently missing out on paying their super contributions for long periods of time (Josh Bornstein, “Under-waged gigs”, December 7-13). But there is another aspect of worker exploitation that is occurring mostly among the young. The term intern used to mean those who had just finished their medical degree and needed to work in a hospital under supervision, but not anymore. Many young people seem to be accepting positions as interns whereby they work for free over a set period of time with the hope of a paying full-time job. A friend who graduated from university agreed to work two days a week over a 12-week period for free in the expectation of a paying job. In the third week she was asked to do a third day, again without pay, to which she agreed. By week four she realised she wasn’t doing any work in the area of her qualification, just general clerical duties, which she was already doing two days a week in a paid job. She left, with seven other interns still working there for two days a week, each unpaid. This employer had 15 staff, of whom eight had been working for free. It seems there is no law to stop such exploitation of “interns”. No wonder the government and employer associations want to continue the erosion of unions from the workplace.

– Con Vaitsas, Ashbury, NSW

The PM’s winning ways

Reading Paul Bongiorno (“Hiding off into the sunset”, December 7-13) leads me to ask the question: how good is this federal government?  The very idea invites derision, an egregious concept of “good”, which only apologists for the cruelty the Coalition practises can entertain. Scott Morrison is openly contemptuous of anyone with a view contrary to his own. The PM has been quoted recently saying, “We’re winning so much you’ll be sick of it by next year.” I suggest an increasingly large number of us will indeed be “sick of it”, as the realisation grows that this man matches the narcissistic tendencies of a certain US politician. Smelling of roses? It be far more noxious.

– Rod Milliken, Greenwell Point, NSW

Mulch ado about nothing

I always read gardening articles but they don’t usually lead to me rolling around in bed laughing hysterically (Margaret Simons, “Summer glovin’ ”, December 7-13). I think I’ll have to put a Barbie leg in my compost heap!

– Lindy Jeffree, St Lucia, Qld

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 December 14, 2019.

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