Letters to
the editor

Indigenous history not taught

Unfortunately Australians know more about the Holocaust than the history of Aborigines killed whether in past battles or in custody (Amy McQuire, “There cannot be 432 victims and no perpetrators…”, June 6-12). Perhaps this is a failure of teaching our own history to students at school that needs to be addressed as a matter of priority.

– Con Vaitsas, Ashbury, NSW

We must tell all stories

Practising historians need to get involved in current debates. It’s time for greater investment in the expansion of historical studies so that the full story/stories can be told.

– Bob James, Tighes Hill, NSW

Morrison’s chance to step up

Scott Morrison, you do not know how lucky you are. You have been handed an opportunity on a great big plate. The world is in turmoil, the Black Lives Matter movement has moved nations into moments that will go down in history. Trump is on the nose, the Middle East remains a tinderbox, Europeans are at loggerheads with each other, Putin doesn’t care what anyone thinks, China is being a bully to the rest of the world, and Asia looks at Australia with envy and for leadership in this region. Today is the day for a paradigm shift if there ever was one. It is a “Churchillian” moment in our history and you must grab it with both hands and steer Australia in its own direction with everyone on your side. Turn this ship around and accept the Uluru Statement from the Heart. How great would Australia then be?

– George van Holst Pellekaan, Aldgate, SA

Robo-debt built on lies

Mike Seccombe’s “Debt’s not all” (June 6-12) looks at the complete travesty of “robo-debt”. Thanks to key players such as Terry Carney, Cassandra Goldie, Peter Hanks, QC, and the determined Deanna Amato, this arguably illegal structure has been, for the moment, stopped. But underlying much of the government spin was the notion of “lost revenue” and “yield”. This is a falsehood, as taxpayers pay for nothing. The federal government issues; the ATO taketh away. This is a fact of fiscal and monetary operations. In the context of spending on submarines and private schools gifting, this is small beer. Robo-debt is gratuitously, and randomly, punitive.

– Paul Keig, Wahroonga, NSW

Help to those in most need

Mike Seccombe’s report on the robo-debt class action was more than just encouraging, it was inspiring. Thankfully there are men of integrity and social conscience who have the skills, knowledge and desire to help those who are the most vulnerable to ideology and tyranny.

– Margaret Wilkie, Peregian Beach, Qld

University casuals paying the price

As Richard Denniss highlights (“Hauls of Academe”, June 6-12), university staff in Australia are more casualised than any other public-sector workforce. I am one of those casuals – working overtime to support, and retain, the international students who are the lifeblood of Australian universities. However, despite my commitment to my students (and new-found expertise in delivering online learning), it is doubtful I will have a job next semester. While my university sends all-staff emails proclaiming valiant attempts to minimise job losses, what they are not saying is that casual jobs don’t count as job losses. The implicit contract between universities and casual academic staff has always been that if you do your time on casual contracts, you might one day secure a tenured position. The reality is that there will be no new tenured positions and no casual roles. There is simply no place for me in academia now. I am one of Richard’s “lost generation”.

– Andrea Babon, Fairfield, Vic

The invisible workforce being targeted

I applaud Richard Denniss’s criticism of overpaid vice-chancellors hoarding billions in cash reserves while at the same time threatening to sack hundreds of staff. There is one factor of the daily workings of Australia’s universities that Denniss failed to acknowledge – that professional/general staff make up half the workforce. Not only do we keep the lights on and the doors open, we provide academic support and course advice to students, and IT and curriculum design support to academics. Underpaid library staff provide research support to academics and students alike. General/professional staff manage administration tasks efficiently so that academics can focus on teaching and research, not form-filling. To paint a picture of hundreds of academics lining up at Centrelink belies the truth that university executives target the jobs of general/professional staff during times of crisis, because to them we are invisible. But without us, universities would come to a standstill.

– Ruth Jelley, Northcote, Vic

Is change gonna come?

Your grim editorial, “Eight minutes in America” (June 6-12), documenting George Floyd’s futile pleas for mercy, shows how less is more. His cries have again drawn attention to America’s original sin and the racist underpinnings of other settler societies, and will echo down the ages. But what change will they bring?

– Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW

Time for Australia to act

Nothing else was needed in your precise, concise and unutterably sad editorial. It will be a day for celebration when the federal government recognises Indigenous Australians in our constitution, recognises the Uluru Statement from the Heart, implements an Indigenous Voice to Parliament and changes the date of Australia Day to commemorate these overdue events.

– Christine Hackwood, North Lakes, 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 June 13, 2020.

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