Empathic PM needed
Your call (Editorial, “Taking the lead”, March 27–April 2) is timely. But if PM Scott Morrison is to change the poisonous culture that now reigns inside Parliament House, he must renounce the “bovver boy” persona to which he has recourse whenever a tough question is put to him there. He must replace the bully’s rhetorical bludgeon with the rapier-like wit, intelligence and repartee of (dare one suggest it?) a Menzies or a Churchill. Does he have the basic intelligence, the inherent “smarts”, to be able to do that? If not, he is out of his depth politically in his present job.
– Clive Kessler, Randwick, NSW
Labor women ready and waiting
Following your editorial I’d like to add a few words of advice to Anthony Albanese and Richard Marles. If you want to win the next federal election, get out of the way and make room for Penny Wong, Tanya Plibersek, Kristina Keneally, Katy Gallagher and all the other talented women in your party. Federal politics in Australia has finally washed up in the gutter with all the other useless debris polluting the country and it’s time for a new discourse. Who better to provide it than those talented women and who better to prove that gender, race and sexual orientation no longer matter when it comes to running the country? I’d offer the same advice to Scott Morrison but I can’t for the life of me identify anyone with the same depth of talent in the Coalition. Why is that so?
– Philip Fitzpatrick, Tumby Bay, SA
Taking the money
Mike Seccombe’s informative article (“Australian billionaires doubled their wealth during Covid-19”, March 27–April 2) could not have been more timely. The Business Council of Australia has rightfully stated that companies that receive JobKeeper should not be paying executive bonuses. According to Dean Paatsch of Ownership Matters, JobKeeper was accompanied by very little transparency, unlike similar schemes devised in other Western countries. When asked about this Prime Minister Scott Morrison played the politics of envy card. But this is not about begrudging those companies that did well. Companies are perfectly entitled to make a profit. It is about fairness. That is why many principled companies paid back excess money. It is about asking companies to consider the many Australians who are struggling to get by. As former shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh aptly remarked: “JobKeeper was designed to keep battlers in work, not help billionaires buy their next racehorse.”
– Frank Carroll, Moorooka, Qld
While the media is fixated on the shenanigans in Parliament House in Canberra, Peter Dutton and the Immigration minister continue to deliberately harass asylum seekers. (Rick Morton, “Medical disorder”, March 27–April 2). This is the stuff of nightmares for people already traumatised in their country of origin, then persecuted in Australia whether offshore in detention or onshore here. The denial or long delay of Medicare rights, the difficulty of getting a Covid vaccination, the three-month visas, the withdrawal of income support and the constant threat of deportation all amount to a system of mental and physical torture. These refugees want to start new lives, to protect their families, to live in a country they mistakenly thought would accept them. The cruelty to which they are subjected is a real crime. Seeking asylum is not.
– Gael Barrett, North Balwyn, Vic
MONA has more to do
Thanks to Tristen Harwood for an erudite examination of the issues surrounding Union Flag at MONA (“Flagging contempt”, March 27–April 2). The call for blood was disgusting but the lack of concern for the broader implications is arrogant and ignorant. Harwood unpacked many of the troubling elements. I might add that the apology offered by MONA, so graciously discussed by Harwood, was appalling. I suggest MONA undertake training in restorative justice principles and frame an apology that actually means something – by outlining the pain caused and the harm done (to demonstrate true understanding), to offer redress and to involve those harmed in the consideration of redress. I saw none of these principles in the apology, merely that the performance was cancelled due to the hurt caused and that proceeding “isn’t worth it”. MONA could start its learning process by a close reading of Harwood’s article.
– Kate Dempsey, Elsternwick, Vic
A bleeding liberty
Gadfly holds an unflattering mirror to the art world when he reminds us of artists’ (and the institutions promoting them) increasing tendency to push the boundaries beyond breaking point in their desperate effort to seem relevant, important or thought-provoking (Sami Shah, “Bloody dull Mofo”, March 27–April 2). But surely if Santiago Sierra was after relevant shock value, he should have approached the remnants of indigenous pre-Columbian South and Central Americans for blood donations to be spattered over the Spanish flag? Australians have enough trouble addressing our national shame without having to put up with the descendants of other genocidal colonial powers in their undergraduate efforts.
– Tor Larsen, Marrickville, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Apr 3, 2021.
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