Sending a public message
Rick Morton’s impeccable reporting detailed the generosity within Australia Post management (“What went wrong inside Australia Post?”, October 24-30). Australia Post is a government company, owned by taxpayers and managed mostly by Liberal Party associates for profit. It therefore provokes the question, “Where are the dividends for the rest of us shareholders?” The old advertising slogan of “We deliver” has a questionable connotation today. Australia Post has certainly delivered cash and gift bonuses to management, licensees and contractors. In contrast, management requested hands-on staff to work overtime for no pay. Greed continues to be the diagnosis of predatory capitalism, especially when spending other people’s money.
– Carmelo Bazzano, Epping, Vic
Young team using evidence against Adani
I was buoyed by Anna Krien’s interesting and informative article on the magnificent efforts of our six defenders of the Great Barrier Reef, while at the same time I appreciated the balance in the piece (“New research links Adani mine to Great Barrier Reef bleaching”, October 24-30). Two things stood out for me in Anna’s piece. One was her celebrating the passion, intellect and hard work of the team led by teenagers Brooklyn O’Hearn and Claire Galvin, and of Ariane Wilkinson, Bill Hare, Paul Burke and Tim Buckley. We’ve been following the fight of these two young fellow Queenslanders this year. Now there’s a team. Fantastic! The second thing, though, is perhaps as important. It was so heartening to read that our defenders of the reef are now putting together the evidence and arguments needed to dismantle the phoney “drug dealers’ defence” of the coalmining lobby co-opted by the federal government and Minister Hunt. As an old student of economics, I am familiar with the market substitution argument and its perverse uses. Good to read of it being dismantled in a good cause.
– Peter Shaw, Bundaberg, Qld
Hope, not incarceration
Mike Seccombe’s important article (“Penal failure”, October 24-30) uncovers Australia’s shameful statistics revealing that our Indigenous citizens are “probably the most imprisoned people in the world”. But this is nothing new. There was a Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (1987-1991) that made 339 recommendations and concluded that imprisonment should occur only as a last resort. Why were its recommendations ignored and forgotten? No doubt our government will recommend another royal commission. We don’t need it. Just implement the recommendations made 30 years ago. And make sure First Nations people are properly consulted about them!
– Dr Ruth Fink Latukefu, East Newport, NSW
Rusted on to debunked theories
I find it incredible that in a country whose modern history was founded on the failure of harsh penalties to deter crime we still have politicians calling for yet more severe penalties and sentencing and increased jail terms for offences of all kinds. With the exception of the removal of state-sanctioned murder via the death penalty, nothing has changed or been learnt since 1788. The underlying causes of why some people resort to crime remain exactly the same and are callously ignored. It would seem that even the glaring failures of our economic system highlighted by Covid-19 have not penetrated the mindset of those who seek to govern us.
– Melvyn Cheal, Manly, Qld
The Kennett effect
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Paradoxically, it equips us to make the right decisions without helping us to fix the problems caused when we didn’t. As Royce Kurmelovs explains (“Hotel baggage”, October 24-30), it’s clear that the Victorian hotel quarantine fiasco is an inevitable consequence of the Kennett years of de-professionalisation of the public service and outsourcing of its functions. I spent 30 years working in public housing before, during and after Kennett, trying in vain to resist the rise of this lowest-common-denominator mindset. Outsourcing can only succeed if there’s enough in-house expertise supported by administrative authority to set up and manage the external contracts. Political and ideological agendas are absolute anathema when imposed on operational expertise; sadly, we are now seeing the negative results throughout areas such as healthcare and education. Victoria is not alone in this. It’s time to stop the witch-hunts and start using our expertise to look ahead and fix the problems.
– Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale, Vic
A powerful story
What a treat to read Ambelin Kwaymullina’s stunning poem “Time” (October 24-30). Such wisdom and insight encapsulated in breathtaking simplicity. A gift indeed.
– Vicky Marquis, Glebe, NSW
On behalf of myself and many other Australians stranded overseas and finally making our way home, thanks for the story exposing the difficulties in getting home (Karen Middleton, “Flights unseen”, September 19-25). Thanks, too, for bringing to light the poor policy that affected Australians trying to return home for so long in difficult, compelling and varied circumstances. I have more insight into what it’s like to be an asylum seeker or a refugee whom no one wants due to circumstances beyond their control, such as civil war, torture and abuse of human rights. Glad to be home for so many reasons.
– Liz Curran, Elwood, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Oct 31, 2020.
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