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.
The legacy of the Wakils
On so many levels, it’s a cautionary tale for the ages (Rick Morton, “The biggest party donor you’ve never heard of”, February 8-14). Childless migrants make good and seek ways to show gratitude to their adopted country. Through their legacy, generations will continue to benefit greatly from their gifts to education, healthcare, the arts; but then there’s politics… The community at large can only wonder how such an all-encompassing worldview could be so misguided as to shrink to a narrow party-political focus. It’s as though the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow has suddenly turned to dust. If ever there was an example of the basic incompatibility of philanthropy and politics, this must be it.
– Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale, Vic
Building our wall
Osman Faruqi (Comment, “Waiting to exile”, February 8-14) articulates with precision the tragic circumstances in which Australia has lost its way. While racism has been inherent and continues to define the “other”, there was a worthwhile period when Australia helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was a strong believer in multilateralism and the international rule of law. We have doomed ourselves to small-mindedness, bigotry and political opportunism at any cost. Yes, we are building walls that enclose us and we cannot see over them.
– Judith Morrison, Mount Waverley, Vic
Canavan’s forgotten NRL membership
Thanks to Paul Bongiorno for reminding us that Matt Canavan’s resignation from the Morrison ministry wasn’t solely a selfless act of principle in support of candidate for Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce (“Climate wars return amid Coalition chaos”, February 8-14). Canavan has also tracked soiled boots across conflict-of-interest rules, which have not yet been formally rescinded, in supporting a $20 million government loan to the North Queensland Cowboys, of which he is an affiliated backer. Such revelations also have us wondering precisely what valid reasons a member of parliament might have for backing coal-fired power stations, which the scientific world believes would result in eventual disaster for everyone, including any surviving coal industry.
– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas
On the spin cycle
As evidence of Scotty from Marketing’s inability to fulfil the job description of prime minister of Australia mounts (Paul Bongiorno, “The Marlboro Man rides again”, February 1-7), I am reminded of Abraham Maslow’s observation, “To a man with a hammer every problem is a nail.” Scott Morrison clearly believes that every problem can be solved with marketing and spin. And as is typical of most marketing campaigns, there is no substance at all in any of Morrison’s solutions to the deep problems facing Australia.
– Heinz de Chelard, Hamilton, Vic
Put coronavirus evacuees in Canberra bubble
It’s a pretty tough call quarantining all those innocents in the refugee quarters way out on Christmas Island (Rick Morton, “Anatomy of an epidemic”, February 1-7). Here’s a much more humane alternative. The country didn’t fall apart when Canberra closed down for the Christmas recess. So, close it down again for three to four weeks. Empty Parliament House of all the politicians and their hangers-on and use it to house those who have to be quarantined. There are many advantages. There’s lots of room to sleep – think of all those pollies snoozing when parliament was in session. They’ll get to better understand the tough and rudimentary conditions under which politicians and their staff have to work. It will keep things absolutely safe for the public at large, since the whole place is enclosed in an impenetrable bubble. And who knows – another month without the squabbling of politicians will probably pass unnoticed and indeed the country may well end up better off as a result.
– Ron Burnstein, Heidelberg, Vic
BMWs joining Comcar fleet
Roger Eggleton (Letters, “Comcar or caring for the Commonwealth?”, January 25-31) provides a small but telling example of the government’s insincerity in taking practical steps towards reducing emissions that contribute to global warming. Surely any government with a genuine commitment to this issue would have taken the opportunity to replace its Comcar fleet with electric vehicles. Not only would these have cost about half as much as BMWs, but the savings on the allocation could have been put towards those needed fire trucks and water bombers, or to support projects to improve infrastructure in fire-prone areas, such as placing power supplies underground, or widening the clearance zones along roads. Lest anyone should argue that such measures would be unaffordable, one might then ask why so many billions are spent on armaments to deal with undefined external threats in the future, rather than to address a threat that is real, present and ongoing.
– Bruce Pike, Launceston, Tas
When I stopped laughing at the latest Jon Kudelka cartoon (“Hey Michael! We’ve got a Barnaby loose in the top paddock...”, February 8-14), I reflected on the 15 kangaroos I drove slowly by when coming home with my Saturday Paper. As refugees from the bushfires they have become quite tame, but I would not risk showing them the cartoon for fear of their taking offence and running away.
– Ken Billings, Harrington, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 15, 2020.
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