Letters to
the editor

In Aunty we trust

The ABC has played a vital role during the bushfire and coronavirus crises. Mike Seccombe (“Hundreds facing the sack with ABC cuts”, May 9-15) records our collective indebtedness to the ABC and its profound contribution to our collective wellbeing and the social fabric of our polity. Scott Morrison has nevertheless ruled out any change to his government’s policy of eviscerating the ABC, which he says has been “doing an excellent job, and they’ll continue doing that job with the resources that have been provided”. Here Morrison echoes the remark (misattributed to Captain Bligh) “the floggings will continue until morale improves”. The reason for the Coalition’s animus was summed up by John Howard’s former chief of staff, Grahame Morris, who described the national broadcaster as “our enemy, talking to our friends”. That serious, intelligent, evidence-based journalism is perceived as “the enemy” tells us a lot more about the Coalition than it does about the ABC. Polling consistently shows ABC news and current affairs is Australia’s most trusted media outlet. Our national broadcaster has earned, and continues to earn, that high level of public support.

– William Grey, Tarragindi, Qld

Advice on repeat

I noticed. I noticed when programs started to be scheduled to run twice on the ABC. I noticed when programs started to be scheduled to run three times on the ABC. I noticed when features that I listened to a number of years ago started to reappear. There is no more meat on the bone. Message to Prime Minister Scott Morrison about his proposed cuts: “Stop it. It’s not sensible, it’s not helpful. It’s unAustralian and it must stop.” Accurate, researched and clear news and quality programming is an essential service to the nation.

– Agnes Day, Myrtle Bank, SA

Funding cuts hurt quality and quantity

Mike Seccombe skilfully outlines the dire situation in which the ABC finds itself. The role of the ABC is to inform, educate and entertain the people of Australia. The Coalition government does not want an informed educated people, able to evaluate the actions of the government, criticise its policies and identify its deficiencies. The huge cuts to ABC funding limit the research programmers need to do to produce accurate, in-depth examinations of issues. Four Corners has revealed nests of mismanagement and downright corruption that governments prefer to conceal. Other programs on radio and television help audiences understand important issues over the entire country. The constant repetition of programs shows the struggle to fill broadcast time. In times of crisis we all turn to the ABC for accurate, clear information. Let us demand the restoration of funding for the ABC.

– Gael Barrett, North Balwyn, Vic

Coalition puts arts to the sword

For many years, travelling to Central Station by train, I would admire the character and presence of the railway yard buildings near Redfern Station. To have converted these grand period pieces into Carriageworks was a stroke of genius in my view; such a huge benefit to so many in the arts community. Pandemic or no pandemic, that this New South Wales government can stand by and oversee the destruction of such a treasure, without a qualm, is breathtaking (Steve Dow, “Performance anxieties”, May 9-15). There could not be a clearer demonstration of the lack of interest or concern (verging on contempt) for the arts community held by both the NSW and federal governments. This is a valuable social good, both for the artists and the public. It should be appropriately funded and supported by government in such a way that it will continue to thrive. Private donors who believe in the richness of its contribution to life in Sydney would also be a part of this support. I shudder to think that some developer might have plans to replace it with tower blocks of ugly apartment buildings. Could this be the hidden plan? There will be no “Belle Époque” in Sydney or elsewhere while Coalition governments are in power.

– Elizabeth Chandler, Napoleon Reef, NSW

Again, poor face harder choices

Paul Bongiorno’s report (“Riding the curve”, May 9-15) on Treasurer Frydenberg’s “Pollyanna” opinion that pushing “people off the unemployment benefits is to get them back into the workforce” shows how detached from reality the government is (or pretends to be). There haven’t been sufficient jobs available for many years, but this has been largely omitted from media and public discussion. The telling statistic emerging from this pandemic crisis is that the most affected layers are the very low paid/casualised. As the income scales are traversed upwards, the real effects diminish markedly. Figures from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives would be reflected similarly here. They are such that in the lowest decile wages/hours are affected by 52 per cent; in the ninth decile, only by 9 per cent. Hence, the higher earners are concerned with working-from-home difficulties, primarily, while the low-paid are faced with the Hobson’s choice of seeking subsistence wages (if available) or endangering their health through exposure to the pandemic.

– Paul Keig, Wahroonga, NSW

Kudelka’s insightful list of fails

A nephew who is an emergency doctor asked us to download the COVIDSafe app. Still not great with mobile phones, I was eventually helped to make space for a successful download. A few days later, I really appreciated Jon Kudelka’s cartoon (“Asymptomatic carriers”, May 9-15), showing individuals not getting the app right. Your cartoonist’s first loser had “downloaded app but didn’t register”. Thus tipped off, I have now registered and recommend health authorities consider carefully all eight of Kudelka’s fails.

– Michael Symons, Glebe, NSW

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 May 16, 2020.

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