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.
Appreciating the quality
It was a refreshing moment to once again receive the quality journalism embedded in the pages of The Saturday Paper. Clarity, honesty and truth was there in all its 32-page wonderment. Sean Kelly’s particularly direct contempt for Scott Morrison’s incapacity for leadership and his government’s complete absence of policy or accountability was a standout piece (“Failing the hazard perception test”, January 25-31). The editorial’s underlying tone to Morrison’s narcissism captured the view of this PM that many, I’m sure, now share (“Empathy deficit”). And Nick Feik’s “The new denialism” put “Scotty from marketing” front and centre in the realm of fake news. I delighted in the thoroughness and accuracy from Karen Middleton (“Sports grants expose broken system”) and Mike Seccombe (“All up in arms”)and chuckled through the dark humour of Gadfly Richard Ackland. I remember when I stumbled upon the very first issue in a Melbourne cafe in 2014 and was struck by the high standard of journalism which, I’m pleased to say, persists today. Thank you.
– Ian Ossher, Dover Heights, NSW
A fire disaster waiting to happen
Welcome back and thanks for the excellent analysis of our fire, climate and leadership crises by Debra Jopson (“Planting doubt”, January 25-31), Nick Feik and Sean Kelly. A fundamental issue with our fires is that Australian eucalypt forest is not a natural landscape. It results from the use of fire by humans and intensive Indigenous land management over 40,000 years. Over much of the continent white settlers got rid of both the forests and their traditional guardians at the same time. However, vast tracts of bush were not worth destroying and were left abandoned and empty. These are not virgin forests but intensely cultivated parklands left to go to ruin. They were catastrophes waiting to happen and, kicked along by climate change, they are happening now. Good luck with your hazard reduction Mr Morrison.
– Ian Elliott, Meadowbank, NSW
What of the Hippocratic Oath?
Brendan Nelson’s opening address to parliament stated that he was guided by the Hippocratic Oath “do no harm” and by the principles of his Jesuit education. I asked, how then can you be the minister for the military? Brendan did not reply but took down his speech from his website. Now Nelson has come full circle. Considerate doctor to the CEO of a weapons company that inflicts injuries and misery on children all around the world. Nelson has betrayed his principles for mammon.
– Denis Doherty, Glebe, NSW
Handouts and hope
Thank you, Rick Morton (“Exclusive: Red Cross employees speak out”, January 25-31), for opening the bushfire donations debate. The response to this tragedy may open public eyes to the government having surrendered its responsibility to the community to civil society agencies. These in turn have been groomed to be as parsimonious as possible in handing out welfare support. Agencies that fail to follow the rules, or God forbid advocate for their clients, lose government funding. This money has been given in good faith by the Australian and international community, not as is usual in a government-directed grant. Bushfire survivors and victims may rightfully feel they are entitled to respect and generosity. It will be a shock if they are treated as welfare recipients or refugees who are routinely given as little as possible after every caveat has been satisfied. This money comes from the pockets and hearts of the people and should go as it was intended to give comfort and hope to those who have lost much.
– Pamela Curr, Brunswick, Vic
Many thanks to the Red Cross
I am a resident of Wandella, just outside Cobargo. My beloved family home was destroyed in the Badja Road fires. Myself and my family were on the run from the fire for a week and a half and we are still coping with the aftermath. The miscarriage of ScoMo’s government is an absolute disgrace. On New Year’s Eve standing under pitch black skies at 4pm in an impromptu evacuation centre, I wondered along with my family in anguish, where is the help? The recovery process is going to be long but the support we have received from non-government organisations has been incredible. In response to Rick Morton’s article, while it might be interesting how the Red Cross handles its donations, there are more important problems that need addressing. On behalf of my parents I applied to the Red Cross for the disaster relief package and it was received promptly and they doubled the amount of money initially offered. Compared with the Department of Family Services and the local Bega Valley Shire Council, the Red Cross process was much less stringent and incredibly quick to deliver relief to my family. Said government services have made the process long and arbitrary in a time of extreme trauma. As a loyal reader of The Saturday Paper and a fan of Rick Morton’s work, writing as someone who saw this horrible tragedy go down, please focus your attention on the real villains.
– Jack Wotton, Cobargo, NSW
A strong voice
A debut of searing intensity from Ellen van Neerven (Poem, “Paper ships, many fires”, January 25-31). I look forward to more truth speaking and endeavour.
– Pam Connor, Mollymook Beach, NSW
Back on stage
Thank you, Gadfly, for highlighting the brilliant return performance by Eryn Jean Norvill in the Sydney Festival’s show Anthem. How good is she?
– Vicky Marquis, Glebe, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 1, 2020.
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