Letters to
the editor

No spinning Earth’s destruction

Many of us are inured to the fact that politicians and governments use “spin” – a watered-down term for misrepresenting the truth (Mike Seccombe, “What happens when a government chooses to lie?”, October 3-9). Compared with the deeply offensive, lump-of-coal-carrying “end of the Australian ute” prime minister, Dan Andrews is a beginner and his government’s transgressions minor. In a pandemic where thousands are still dying in most countries, it may do well to reflect on the proportionality of the peddling of fossil fuel industry bunkum by the Coalition and its “gas-led recovery” despite the clear harms this will bring to generations, versus a stuff-up with hotel quarantine in a complex system of bureaucracy and government departments. While the harms done in Victoria loom large just now, they will be a blip on the radar of the harms generated if we manage to help bungle the “tipping point” of climate change due to brinkmanship and vested interest. Ironically the same vulnerable populations will be worst affected, although no one will be spared. By then, those responsible will be old, retired or dead, so – like the aged Pol Pot – they will say in their dotage “we made mistakes” and we will have to forgive them for the carnage to human health. Or maybe not.

– Marianne Cannon, Ashgrove, Qld

Buying a seat on the plane

It was with shock that I read Karen Middleton’s article (“Millionaire visa-holders exempt from border ban”, October 3-9). Were it not for the plight of a friend who has been bumped from her confirmed flight bookings home from Norway on 10 occasions (so far), such action by the Home Affairs Department might be almost par for the course. However, exposure of the department’s plan to exempt “super-talented” business people with $1.5 million to invest, prioritising their access to the few available seats on planes to Australia while stranded Australian citizens wait in growing distress, is a sad indication of a way to address our post-pandemic future. Perhaps we might submit for consideration to the Home Affairs Department the case of our friend stranded overseas. She is a “super-talented” citizen, who wrote Australia’s best-selling popular books on research and evaluation that invested $1.5 million in the publishing industry during her working career. Everyone makes their contribution in different ways. Didn’t we just learn from the pandemic that cleaners and cooks are worth their weight in gold?

– Linette Ann Hawkins, Prahran, Vic

Money rules, health suffers

As a selection criterion, it’s completely unacceptable, but we shouldn’t be too surprised to find the government allowing wealthy overseas investors in ahead of ordinary migrants or – heaven forbid – refugees, let alone actual Australian citizens trying to return home. Karen Middleton’s report confirms an entrenched culture of profit before people. It’s just another depressing demonstration of the only Australian “value” that really matters: money. Other recent examples of the same mercenary attitude include the aged-care system that prioritises profit over care, and the tertiary education sector, which harvests fee-paying overseas students at the expense of educational standards. The current pandemic just sharpens the focus somewhat: the choices become more stark and the lack of moral compass more obvious. Public health should come before economic considerations, but there’s an overpowering need to recalibrate the whole ethical framework in order to survive and prosper as a society.

– Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale, Vic

Talent for business

Acting Immigration minister Alan Tudge wants to attract “super-talented” people to immigrate. Being rich they will also make good political donations to the party that allowed them to circumvent the restrictions that keep 27,000 Australians stuck in foreign lands.

– Don Owers, Dudley, NSW

Narrowing education

Startling to read of Jacqui Lambie’s threat to vote against the government’s higher education changes (Rick Morton, “Teaching raids”, October 3-9). As if a senator should take seriously the old chestnut about being an elected representative of the electorate, however indigent, rather than the government. From their hostile moves against the arts, collegiate liberal arts, and critical thinking generally, it appears that the government of Scott Morrison, Stuart Robert, Christian Porter et al may be evoking more antique authority from some time when their antecedents seemingly entered an alliance with their erstwhile foes, the Philistines.

– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas

Lambie dexterous

Go Jacqui! You don’t need a university education. You just did it – had a dilemma, investigated the situation, gathered a breadth of data, weighed the evidence, drew a sensible conclusion and are sticking to your guns. Few others, it would seem, are capable of doing as much with their “higher education”. Teach them how to do it, Jacqui. We need more people like you.

– Janice Horsfield, Tallangatta, Vic

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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Oct 10, 2020.

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