Standard of proof
John Kunkel, the prime minister’s chief of staff, wrote that prime ministerial staff must “hold themselves to the highest standards” in regard to an allegation of backgrounding of Brittany Higgins’ partner by Scott Morrison’s staff (Karen Middleton, “Tracing paper trail of alleged assault”, May 29–June 4). What a damn shame these “highest standards” were not upheld during the preselection for the seat of Cook in 2007 when the political assassination of the candidate Michael Towke was orchestrated by the Morrison camp. Morrison’s arrogance and bully-boy tactics are reflected in his performances in question time, belying his supposed Christian values. Labor senator Katy Gallagher was correct when she called Kunkel’s (non) report on Ms Higgins’ partner “an exercise in professional smear”. Pity Gallagher wasn’t around to defend Towke.
– Christine Tiley, Albany Creek, Qld
Moving on reconciliation
Congratulations to Megan Davis (“Healing power”, May 29–June 4) on her clear exposition of the benefits and the significance of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the inferior qualities of the legislated Voice as opposed to the constitutional Voice to Parliament and the significance for all Australians of taking this important matter forward to a national referendum.
– Ian Houston, Longreach, Qld
Labor’s chance to lead
Paul Bongiorno (“Coal dust gets in your eyes”, May 29–June 4) reminded me that in my time, Labor has excreted at least three traitors: Mal Colston, Mark Latham, and now Joel Fitzgibbon. Governing with integrity – a standard unknown to the modern Liberal–National cabal whose members have abandoned the fundamental distinction between right and wrong – is almost impossible. Sadly, the temptation to succumb to the blandishments, privileges and rewards of Mammon is human nature; among them, betrayal is perhaps the temptation most contemptible. Australians will not forever be fooled by snake-oil marketers and a reactionary media into voting against their best interests. But Australia’s democracy may not survive a further three years of this secretive, authoritarian government. There is only one, rarely seen, honourable position in politics, and that is to persevere with policies that benefit every human being, every animal and every aspect of the sentient environment. And, of course, the businesses that make civilisation function. A herculean task. The Labor Party could do it. They have what the LNP does not have: a memory of what it means to be ethical. They just need the courage.
– William Hageman, Burwood East, Vic
There are many things in life that Joel Fitzgibbon is too old to do but one of them is not ratting. Age is not stopping him from deserting his party on the vexed issue of coal and climate and in so doing handing a massive freebie to his opponents. Doesn’t that have the same effect as ratting? In fact it may be worse. As pointed out by Paul Bongiorno, this is a “godsend for Morrison”. Rats get bad press for arguably spreading disease, but as long as Fitzgibbon continues his stance, and there is no sign he is about to stop, the spread of destabilisation for the ALP just escalates. Anthony Albanese now has an opportunity to put Fitzgibbon unequivocally in his place and stall the mounting unease. Maybe this would allow him to prosecute a stronger case on climate while at the same time providing the option of opening the door for Fitzgibbon to exit. He could then be waved on his way, ratting or not, by voters wanting to stick with Labor but who are contemplating candidates who advocate for more meaningful climate action.
– Andrew Parsons, Ringwood East, Vic
Time for Fitzgibbon to go
In Paul Bongiorno’s article, Labor member for Charlton, Pat Conroy, is reported as saying colleague Joel Fitzgibbon has a “messiah complex”. While Australian politics is not funny, the Monty Python fans in Labor have no doubt already cast Fitzgibbon as a “naughty boy”. Others who feel stronger will see him as a Judas. Fitzgibbon is out of touch with most Australians who are concerned about climate change. His thinking does not align with the International Energy Agency or the G7, which recently called for a rapid exit from coal if we are to achieve the Paris target on warming. While coal dust may get in your eyes, it also gets up your nose, and Fitzgibbon has got up the nose of many. Not running at the next election would be a welcome decongestant.
– Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Vic
Not so funny now
Twenty years ago I would have roared with laughter at Bruce Pascoe’s short story (“Trains and boats and planes”, May 29–June 4). Sadly, my sense of humour has been shredded by the twin harpies of political correctness and wokeness. Having been brought up on a diet of Amos ’n’ Andy and Witchetty’s Tribe, I’m accurately aware of how things have changed. I now cringe at the idea of drunken revellers stealing, vandalising, lying and destroying the peace of others. The image of an inebriated lout tickling a female stranger’s feet uninvited now appears perverse and criminal. Larrikinism, hooliganism, rowdiness, and wanton destruction no longer seem amusing. I resent that I have been moulded into a po-faced curmudgeon who no longer finds such behaviour hysterically funny. Is there some way I can be cured?
– Peter Barry, Marysville, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on June 5, 2021.
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