Examining the numbers
The story “Trust deficit threatens Covid-19 response” (Mike Seccombe, March 14-20) contained two related issues: a decline in trust of governments and an assertion that the economy has almost doubled since 2008. We are continually bombarded by economic data including the line that Australian hasn’t had a recession in 27 years. It’s a smokescreen designed to obscure the reality of the terrible mess governments have made via market economics. Our GDP, the tool used as an indicator of performance, was according to Google either $US1.45 trillion or $US1.89 trillion, which puts Australia 14th out of 196 nations surveyed. This sounds great until you realise that GDP has become the best indicator of environmental impact, including climate change. Our household debt, largely from mortgages, is about $US1.7 trillion, which suggests that the much-vaunted GDP is based entirely on debt. On average we are spending almost twice our income, borrowing mostly from overseas to buy what are often shoddy dwellings approved by corrupt councils and that have been set up by government policies to increase in price. It’s a cruel scam disguised as a housing boom that leaves more than 100,000 people homeless and many more trapped in mortgage stress. Local objections to developments are ignored; protests are met with threats of new laws to silence us. And while our economy grew, the number living below the poverty line followed, with one person in seven falling into this category, largely because we have about 2.5 million either unemployed or underemployed and only 237,100 job vacancies.
– Don Owers, Dudley, NSW
A touchy subject
It seems peculiarly apt that your front-page photograph of the prime minister (March 14-20) shows him doing exactly what the medical experts tell us to avoid. Perhaps someone should counsel him to try to keep his hands off his face and his nose as well as refraining from forcing handshakes on others.
– Juliet Flesch, Kew, Vic
George Pell in the High Court
I did not know whether to laugh or gag at Bret Walker’s statement in defence of George Pell that “faith can be wrong”, that “faith is slippery” – this in the defence of one of the Catholic Church’s most senior defenders of its faith (Rick Morton, “Final judgement”, March 14-20).This whole case depends on the evidence of the victim (as yet not seen by anyone but the trial juries and judges). Walker did not dispute the credibility of the victim, but did question his reliability – in other words, he could be trusted but could he be believed? I am no lawyer yet am aware that much legal determination depends on the interpretation of language. To me, Walker’s assertion is a bridge too far. Rick Morton’s excellent report of the Pell appeal to the High Court did not appear to provide any serious challenge to the current decision. The appeal raked over old evidence, already considered by lower courts, and seemed to simply argue that insufficient consideration had been given to doubt. The only new line was possible evidence from Father Egan, who had not been called by the prosecution but was not called by the defence. I wonder why not?
– Rod Syme, Yandoit Hills, Vic
The victim’s evidence
The justices of the High Court are confronted by a simple choice. They can believe the testimony of the victim or they can believe George Pell, who says he did not do it. Pell’s lawyers are all over the place. At first they said the victim should not be believed. Now they say he should be believed with reservation. At least the victim and the prosecution have been more consistent.
– Mark Porter, New Lambton, NSW
The rort in private schools
“Private schools’ spending arms race heats up” (Max Opray, March 14-20) demonstrates yet another taxpayer funding rort by the conservative government, which has been going on for years. It is clearly aimed at seeding long-term conservative voters and building a class divide in society. Funding per student should be equal for all Australians in primary school, secondary school and university for an equal standard of a broad education. This will maximise the talent Australia needs to restructure for the future. If the wealthy and religiously defined want extra curriculum let them pay for it. Private schools charging $20,000 to $55,000 a year in fees to support the creation of a societal divide should be left to their own education model. Imagine what the fees would be without the education funding rort? Regarding “Wire less” (Paddy Manning, March 14-20), will someone please stand up and reassemble the Australian Associated Press for the public to have the broadest views and a better understanding of Australia and the world. Don’t take it over and give Murdoch a payday.
– Trevor Pratt, Eaglemont, Vic
Another test for Morrison
Paul Bongiorno’s on the money (“Stimulating conversations”, March 14-20) in his analysis of the prime minister’s leadership on the coronavirus. And with that now front and centre for Scott Morrison, it’s timely to have regard once more to his credentials as a Christian. For, so far, he’s been giving the faith a bad name. Sure, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”, but really, when you’ve snatched power and show-ponied your “miracle” links, you’ve submitted yourself to judgement by pew as well as pub test. One can only hope and pray that now in handling the Covid-19 crisis he can post some Christian credibility.
– Lewis Rushbrook, Weston, ACT
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 21, 2020.
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