Changing the definition
As a legal expert and author of a new book, Better Law for a Better World, due for release in April this year by a reputable scholarly publisher, I am extremely vexed and to be frank alarmed by the politicisation and distortion of the underpinning of our democracy, “the rule of law” (Editorial, “Upholding a broken law”, March 6-12). This concept is that all are equal before the law and that it ought to benefit us all irrespective of how privileged or poor we are. To see it used as a defence by the chief law officer of the land, allegedly in a rape context, when a police investigation was not fulsome due to the alleged victim’s death by suicide, is not enough. The rule of law ought to serve both victim and accused. The use of the rule of law as a defence in such circumstances by the political arm is indefensible, a contortion of the concept and harmful to so many. The rule of law is actually all about accountability and responsibility and rights. Australians, please do your own homework on what the rule of law is, and what it is not.
– Dr Liz Curran, Elwood, Vic
Others held to account
Karen Middleton notes that during the 2019 election, Scott Morrison raised many subtle references to Bill Shorten’s rape allegation “Porter denial fails to end calls for an independent inquiry”, March 6-12). I suspect the reason the PM didn’t mount a full-on assault was self-interest. If recent events are any guide, the toxic workplace culture in Parliament House is a hornets’ nest the Coalition desperately wants to avoid stirring. Morrison’s sudden aversion to extra-judicial independent inquiries stands in sharp contrast with recent precedents: Christine Holgate, the Australia Post CEO, was subjected to one for exercising her staff remuneration discretion. Former High Court justice Dyson Heydon was investigated and found to have sexually harassed co-workers. Labor and the union movement had to endure two royal commissions. The constant reference to the woman’s mental health as a way to discredit her story ignores the fact that politicians aren’t reliable witnesses either, as their job routinely requires exaggeration, distortion, obfuscation, omission, or simply outright lying, which is why they fight against any effort to regulate truth in political advertising.
– Han Yang, North Turramurra, NSW
Stolen lands returned
The idyllic, gentle and respectful agricultural world in 2030 envisaged by Bruce Pascoe (“Brave old world”, March 6-12) is a wonderful concept, but sadly will not come to pass. Industrial-scale agriculture has taken over the smaller family farms that struggle to compete and a reversal is unlikely. Supermarket chains have a stranglehold on distribution and keep food prices unfairly low. Niche and artisan products are available for aficionados but the prices preclude any widespread uptake. The methods that kept a harmonious natural balance pre-invasion could feed perhaps 250,000 people but are unlikely to feed 27 million or more voracious Australians at the end of the decade. We are unlikely to enjoy the aroma of heated native grains he describes and will have to settle for the smell of popcorn on movie nights.
– Peter Barry, Melbourne, Vic
A franking response
In reply to “Not hopeful for aged care”, Letters, March 6-12, I have a solution to the funding issue. Channel the franking credits given to non-taxpaying retirees currently estimated about $5 billion per year. That should fund aged care nicely, and given those on franking credits are in the aged-care demographic (as I am), it’s a win-win.
– Stephen Trevarrow, New Farm, Qld
Have another glass
In Christos Tsiolkas’s recent review of Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round (“Intoxicating questions”, March 6-12) he mentions that the film is dedicated to “a friend who died” yet fails to be what he considers much of “a study of despair”. In fact the film is dedicated to Vinterberg’s daughter who was killed during the early stages of production, and all the scenes shot in the school are in the school she attended with many of her classmates appearing, including in the memorable final sequence. This surely adds a new dimension to a film that is a study of grief, but ultimately more about catharsis. I suggest Tsiolkas could benefit from watching this one again.
– Stephen Davies, Curtin, ACT
Stephanie Dowrick’s article “Feminism’s retreat” (March 6-12) reveals her passionate pursuit of an equitable society, but it’s as if she has missed a major point – we have come so far that feminism is now mainstream. Today, most women in Australia would expect a workplace free from sexism and sexual harassment (obviously this is yet to be achieved) and will speak out to hold those in the highest positions of power to account. Numbers do matter, as does the courage of contemporary feminists who are not retreating. It appears Dowrick is blaming the younger generation for not achieving more rather than attributing this to the sheer difficulty of changing the world. We have not retreated; we are as passionate and as revolutionary as her generation. With intersectionality central to the current wave of feminism we will create a more equitable and fairer society.
– Kathleen Linn, Elizabeth Bay, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on March 13, 2021.
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Letters & Editorial