Defence and Dutton
On past performances, Peter Dutton’s new gig as Defence minister could be at least as alarming to domestic fans of democracy as he hopes to be to any foreign foe (Karen Middleton, “How Peter Dutton will transform Defence”, April 24-30). Dutton has long displayed a staunch unwillingness to share power, preferring to be the apex of a vertical command chain. His stint as Border Force chief also revealed that he is no slave to government transparency, approachability or traditional notions of democratic humanism. He has indicated support for the view that the chief role of the ADF is the infliction of violent destruction on Australia’s enemies, seemingly ruling out distractions from looming natural or humanitarian disasters.
– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas
Slow to act on climate
The common theme running through Paul Bongiorno’s perspective piece on the Morrison government (“Lean times for ineffective Morrison”, April 24-30) is lack of urgency. Despite the “Paris in a canter” claims, the Morrison government now lags seriously behind comparable nations on a 2030 emissions target after the recent climate summit. Before that, the Australian states, the Business Council of Australia and the National Farmers’ Federation all recognised the climate urgency and called for the federal government to set a net-zero target, but their calls fell on deaf Morrison ears. As Bongiorno points out, a similar lack of urgency is apparent with Covid-19 vaccines. So what can explain this snail’s pace to act? Last financial year, the Coalition received nearly $750,000 from the fossil fuel industry and it still counts among its ranks pro-coal loyalists such as Barnaby Joyce and Matt Canavan who, in Bongiorno’s words, are “willing to make trouble”. Coupled with the PM’s Pentecostal mindset, the religion least likely to accept the science of climate change, we have some further explanation. Rather than urgency, it’s a kind of juggly, comfortable complacency, with strings attached.
– Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Vic
Hypocrisy on human rights
Societal commonalities never cease to amaze me. Thank you, Santilla Chingaipe, for highlighting the continuing plight of refugees in this country (“Refugees handcuffed, moved again”, April 24-30). What selective morality and double standards Australia projects in the matter of human rights. While we criticise China’s treatment of its Uygur minority, the mote in our own eyes appears to preclude a like assessment of the way minorities – including those seeking asylum in this country – are treated. We excoriate China’s stance towards its Muslim minority, without for a moment acknowledging many of our asylum seekers hail from Muslim-majority states. Is it their faith, or their colour, that allows us – as legatees of the White Australia Policy – to treat this cohort so inhumanely? Would we treat white Christian refugees thus?
– Peter Doelle, Mount Gambier, SA
The Greens’ targets
For two-thirds of my life I have been wishing for and contributing towards an Australian future of responsible stewardship of this place and the Earth. But I also could never discern any difference on global warming from either of the dominant players in our domestic political game (Editorial, “Labor must put up a fight”, April 24-30). This week, in the land of my birth, a female politician was chosen to stand for her party at the next German federal election in September. Despite its leadership in medical and clean-tech research and development, that country is massively implicated by the coronavirus, by transitioning out of coal and nuclear, by extremist nationalists and by deep ructions in its established social democratic and conservative parties. Some similarities with us here, it appears. Alas, not in one crucial respect. The female politician, Annalena Baerbock, is standing for Bündnis 90/The Greens. And she has a real chance of being the next German chancellor. Maybe that will happen in Australia in my lifetime. If not, we could always try for a green–red progressive coalition in the interim.
– Ellie Bock, Mena Creek, Qld
Labor must commit to 2050 goal
Having read your editorial I felt it imperative to demand Labor take a carbon neutral stance. I am a 75-year-old son of a Lithgow coalminer and a Labor supporter all my life who is becoming increasingly dismayed by Labor not taking the principled and necessary position of net-zero emissions by 2050. Australia has the ability and capacity to meet this target. We need the political will now.
– Les Matthews, Roseville, NSW
In sickness and in health
Thank you, Sandra Symons, for describing the agony of the primary carer experience (“Wearing out our caring”, April 17-23). I am the only carer for my partner. My aim is to care for her in our home until her last breath. My fear is that I’ll get sick in the meantime. There are government supports if you have the tenacity and computer skills to find and apply, but it’s a challenging obstacle course. A kindly My Aged Care assessor told me our assistance options were limited because providers were underfunded, understaffed and waiting lists long – she said there should be an uproar about it. Hence this letter. Carers are, by default, serving the nation, but the nation isn’t truly serving them.
– Sara Hardy, Kensington, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 1, 2021.
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Letters & Editorial