Letters to
the editor

Detained and voiceless

Karen Middleton’s article (“Exclusive: 4115 assaults in immigration detention”, August 22-28) highlights Australia’s continued maltreatment of detainees. The behaviour of guards and detainees in detention centres, as identified by the Commonwealth ombudsman, replicates that displayed in Philip Zimbardo’s 1971 Stanford prison experiment where volunteer first-year male psychology student participants were assigned roles as either warders or prisoners. The 14-day experiment was stopped early because each group assumed stereotypical roles. Both the warders in the experiment and detention centre guards believe they are doing “good” by keeping “us” pure and safe from “them”. The Migration Amendment Bill 2020 will enable abusive behaviour to continue. It gives the minister discretionary power to declare mobile phones prohibited things if used to report abuse, by arguing it affects the order of a facility. Detainees will not be able to notify outsiders of instances of abuse, making them voiceless and powerless. This must be prevented.

– Meg Pickup, Ballina, NSW

Christmas Island is no refuge

It is not surprising that the Home Affairs minister, Peter Dutton, wants to send the remaining refugees to Christmas Island, where wi-fi and mobile phone service is poor. If it wasn’t for the mobile phones, the public and refugee advocates would not have known what was happening in the detention centres.We saw how powerful the mobile phone could be with the film Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time and the wonderful book No Friend but the Mountains by the brilliant Behrouz Boochani, who is now living in New Zealand. It is shocking that there are innocent refugees still held in detention by our government supposedly to “stop the boats”.

– Susan Munday, Bentleigh East, Vic

Why did Ruby Princess set sail?

In all the inquiries into the Ruby Princess debacle (Karen Middleton, “Arrival tactics” and Paul Bongiorno, “Walkering back on political responsibility”, August 22-28) one salient point is never addressed. The cruise set off on March 8. Covid-19 was established all over the world and several cruise ships were being refused entry to various ports because passengers and crew were infected. Why was the Ruby Princess allowed to take on passengers and set off to New Zealand in those circumstances?

– Maureen Goldie, Blackwood, SA

Chipping away at habitats

Bob Brown’s legal challenge to Tasmania’s regional forest agreement already has an air of mythical futility about it, like battling the Hydra (“The end of the environment”, August 22-28). Jurisdiction over most of the state’s public forests was handed to the logging industry more than 20 years ago when the RFA was signed and the industry proudly advertised as “self-regulated”. Challenges to its governance are heard by the Forest Practices Tribunal, which normally consists of two former foresters, plus a well-chosen lawyer. Broad-acre poisoning of wildlife, including any species that might eat the primary victims, was standard procedure on new plantations following its routine clear-falls. Ninety per cent of the costs of the poison drops was reportedly incurred free of charge by the largest of the woodchip loggers, while the public paid for the shortfalls in profits guaranteed to them. Plantation land on private property was assessed at the same rates as undeveloped land. The elevation of Sussan Ley as overseer of Australia’s forestry industry when both major parties are major beneficiaries of resource industry largesse in seeming breach of all impartiality principles, and at a time of mounting environmental urgency, remains a conundrum as dense as any current minister.

– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas

Ley teaching

Bob Brown’s article articulates the blindness and criminality of both the Tasmanian and federal governments’ obscurancy on the issues when it comes to the environment. One example is Minister Ley’s proposal to give more power to the states. The existential threat the Earth is experiencing in so many ways requires leadership that understands the urgency that we must connect with nature before more damage is done. Tagore said, “You have two teachers: myself, a human teacher, and the tree, under which we sit, it is your nature teacher. You will learn more wisdom from the tree than from me.” Maybe Sussan Ley should sit under a eucalypt.

– Judith Morrison, Mount Waverley, Vic

Creative thinking shut out

You are spot on (Editorial, “A revenge on theory”, August 22-28). Right-wing governments do not like education – the process whereby the mind is freed for rational thought and spiritual response – but require instruction on their terms with their self-preserving political aims. Neither do they want freethinking institutions such as the ABC, BBC, The Guardian, The Saturday Paper.

 – Edward Black, Church Point, NSW

Foster could score political goals

I am surely not the only one to believe that Craig Foster could play a significant role in the national political arena (Joe Gorman, “Fozzy bared”, August 22-28). We need people of his intellect, integrity, energy and passion in Canberra. Now more than ever!

– Ron Benzie, Surry Hills, 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 August 29, 2020.

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