The watches on the wall
There’s too much hot air obscuring the real bones of the Australia Post saga. It’s not really about Christine Holgate or bonus watches: that was just a convenient hook for the government to hang it on, as Karen Middleton spells out (“How Christine Holgate lost her job trying to save Australia Post”, April 17-23). The guts of the matter is the appropriate business model for former public enterprises, and the case for and against privatisation. Clearly Holgate’s real “crime” in the government’s eyes was that she was seen to be successfully resisting the political pressure aimed at selling off more of the shop. In so doing, she was throwing a lifeline to regional areas by ensuring the continuing accessibility and viability of postal and banking services. Whatever Holgate’s future may be with Australia Post, the public backlash from this episode is more likely to damage both the government’s image as the champion of decentralisation and small business, and its credibility regarding better treatment of women in the workplace.
– Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale, Vic
PM deaf to Black death toll
On the day marking the 30th anniversary of the release of the final report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and at least 474 further deaths, the prime minister chose to make the following statements: “the loss is great”, “it was an emotional day”, “we must think of those who have been significantly impacted, the families of those who are lost”. Rather than “Facing the truth” (Editorial, April 17-23), Scott Morrison was at his deflective best, very deliberately instead referring to the 41 troops who died in Afghanistan. With the addition of tears. His ignoring the occasion tells us this man cares not for the national disgrace of Aboriginal deaths in custody – his neglect as unjustifiable as the fact that no one has ever been held accountable over any of these deaths. Selective “empathy” and lack of awareness are hallmarks of Morrison’s character, defining himself by his ignorance.
– Rod Milliken, Greenwell Point, NSW
Backing the Denniss doctrine
Richard Denniss writes from the economist’s perspective about the plethora of coalmines, 11 in the Hunter, and 23 in New South Wales in total, awaiting approval (“Understanding the Dick Denniss doctrine”, April 17-23). He writes also of the ongoing abuse and threats he receives because he speaks truthfully and with common sense. I am fervently hoping investors are standing with Richard, and that this flurry of applications is a result of the dying twitches of a fatally wounded industry. On another level, if the Hunter region were to host any more coalmines, I cannot imagine it surviving as a place of diversified agriculture and vibrant country and urban life. For coal in the Hunter, and in NSW, and for the rest of us, enough is enough.
– Jill Dumsday, Ashburton, Vic
Poverty and cruelty
Paul Bongiorno (“Government’s raft of delivery failures”, April 17-23) lists the most recent instances of incompetence and scheming by Scott Morrison, but the worst is his neglect of and malevolence towards sections of the community. Plunging people back into poverty by reducing JobSeeker payments is not only immoral but also bad economics. People on the breadline cannot buy goods to stimulate the market. Universities need resources to pay tutors properly, to conduct research; the ABC must be well funded to educate, inform and entertain Australians. The maltreatment of asylum seekers must stop and long-term visas must be issued. We need a government devoted to the betterment of its people not one committed to selfishness and cruelty.
– Gael Barrett, North Balwyn, Vic
Rights and wrongs
Not only did the Sex Discrimination Act mark the beginning of Australia’s original culture war (Chris Wallace, “Sisters act”, April 17-23), the new law set in motion a legislative process that effectively changed the nature of human rights in Australia from the people’s line in the sand against tyrannical government to notions of entitlement in the discretionary hands of our politicians. Human rights principles are inevitably at odds with political objectives unless the government recognises the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens in a bill of rights. Nearly two months after the government referred the secret parliamentary workplace review to the sex discrimination commissioner, the review is still being established, according to the Human Rights Commission website. And while the review report is due in November, the last report from the sex discrimination commissioner gathered dust in the hands of the prime minister for a full 12 months. A right to freedom from sexual discrimination would demand more and better accountability.
– Peter Breen, Bellingen, NSW
The story by Margaret Simons (“Gourd almighty”, April 10-16) struck an immediate chord for me as my futile attempts in the past to successfully grow a pumpkin suddenly became a reality in the summer of 2020-21 in a community garden in Queenscliff, Victoria. Was it the additional attention the garden received during the Covid-19 lockdown? Was it the improved air quality? Six Queensland blues eventually found their way to my kitchen table. Will the success be repeated this summer or will I succumb to the many options now opening up as Covid-19 restrictions ease?
– Alan Johns, Queenscliff, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Apr 24, 2021.
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