Letters to
the editor

A waiting game

The state of Josh Frydenberg’s supposed now open mind is very much a wait-and-see (Mike Seccombe, “What’s behind Frydenberg’s debt epiphany?”, May 15-21). Can we measure how far he’s actually travelled from his claimed Thatcher–Reaganomics? I’d submit it’s far too early to know what he’s intending, beyond restoring subpoverty JobSeeker at a tiny level above the pre-pandemic. I am not surprised he’s accessed a range of advice, as his starting level was notionally very low, and he’s not weighed down by Pentecostalism, like his current boss was when Morrison was treasurer. Sadly, much of the econo-commentary Seccombe elicited was replete with nonsensical fiscal framing, such as “help pay down the debt” and “how to pay for it”. While name economists continue to fail to understand that the issuing government cannot owe generational debt to itself, and that federal taxes are extinguished and pay for nothing, they’ll continue to cry “Alarums!” and thus perpetuate the household-going-broke myth we’ve been saddled with since the early 1980s.

– Paul Keig, Wahroonga, NSW

Her choice of words

Amanda Stoker regards abortion as permitting women to avoid “the obvious consequences of their voluntary choices”, but she also wants to ban late-term abortions, even when a pregnancy was the result of rape (Rachel Withers, “Stoking division”, May 15-21). But rape is completely involuntary. According to Stoker, therefore, if a woman is raped and doesn’t realise she is pregnant until later in the pregnancy, she still has to bear the rapist’s child. Stoker isn’t the assistant minister for Women; she is the assistant minister against Women.

– David Clarke, Battery Point, Tas

Fast-tracked to nowhere

I was appointed as a member of the Refugee Review Tribunal when it was established in 1993. The RRT was set up to provide an independent merits review of decisions made by public servants to refuse applicants’ refugee status. The refugee jurisdiction has since become increasingly politicised. The most recent initiative to “fast-track” the decision-making process by stripping a cohort of asylum seekers (so-called “boat people”) of the right to an independent merits hearing is yet another strategy to undermine the legal rights of those seeking protection from prosecution (Rick Morton, “From limbo to last chance”, May 15-21). Why does the government think this is appropriate? It can’t be to improve decision-making. I can only conclude it is an underhand means of reducing the number of asylum seeker applicants being recognised as refugees.

– Angela Smith, Clifton Hill, Vic

Individual options

I wholeheartedly endorse your editorial characterising the government’s failure to take strong climate measures in the budget as the real “Budget deficit”(May 15-21). Your piece follows a string of others drawing attention to the striking neglect in this country, from both sides of politics, of the climate crisis. That’s why it was so jarring to find on the paper’s back page an ad by a travel company inviting us to visit “Australia’s remote realms by private jet”. Our personal consumption choices are not trivial. They are the problem. The refusal of our political leadership to face the climate reckoning must arouse scepticism about waiting for top-down solutions and ought to inspire our own positive actions. Or have I missed something?

– Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW

A deadly struggle

The latest attacks by Israel on al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah have rightly caused alarm across the world, but I’m yet to see any condemnation of Israel from leaders of Western countries who claim to stand for absolute justice (Jonathan Pearlman, “UN fears ‘full-scale war’ between Israelis and Palestinians”, May 15-21). The balance of power is totally in favour of Israel and there is no comparison in terms of force being used by both sides, therefore the “right to self-defence” argument carries no weight. I urge Australian leaders to speak out against the crimes being committed by Israel and to urge the Israeli authorities to stop evicting Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah.

– Foad Munir, Hamilton, Qld

Music to my ears

George Szirtes (“Schubert’s nightingale”, May 8-14), a neuroscientist might say that the wave first coasts through the tympanic membrane, translating this movement to an oval window and causing the small ocean in our cochlea to vibrate. Surf, slowly picking up. Small calcified stones called ossicles turn minute waves into more sonorous ones and as these waves crash, the symphony strikes. Sensory nerves shudder a response, voltage plummets. Schubert whispers straight to your dorsal and ventral nuclei and from there, the web of neural firing continues to plume outwards. A symphony in sodium, you might say.

– Xan Coppinger, Brunswick, Vic

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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 22, 2021.

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