The Morrison government is sliding out of Afghanistan with its tail between its legs (Karen Middleton, “Exclusive: US warned Australia on Kabul closure”, June 5-11). In so doing it is leaving Afghan families who worked with and for Australia in terrifying circumstances. It is very reminiscent of our dishonourable and disgraceful retreat from Vietnam. It is clear the government believes the bad publicity radiating from an ignominious retreat is far better than enabling the courts pursuing the Brereton report access to the truth. Our embassy closure in Kabul is clearly an attempt to make the gathering of evidence on the criminal activities of our troops difficult if not impossible. Leaving interpreters and their families to potential torture and death by the Taliban is the icing on the cake for our tacky national reputation. The now-approved decimation of the Australian War Memorial and its resurrection as a theme park for weapons sales will fit perfectly with the destruction of our military reputation. Our defeats in Vietnam and Afghanistan will be celebrated and displayed, along with Iraq, as victories in a mausoleum of self-aggrandising failure. But who will point to the charlatans and spin doctors who took us there?
– Gerry Gillespie, Queanbeyan, NSW
The Coalition government, which seems incapable of swift movement on domestic crises, managed to make a fast decision when it came to deserting those Afghans who worked for them in the Afghanistan war (Editorial, “An exit with no plan”, June 5-11). Britain and the United States have made provision for the safety of those who helped them, but Australia just runs away at top speed. Who would trust this government? Worse still, who would trust Australia?
– Gael Barrett, North Balwyn, Vic
Coalition not taking responsibility
A troubling theme of cruelty and disregard for those “not like us” defines the Morrison government, made evident in the June 5-11 front-page stories by Karen Middleton (on Afghanistan) and Rick Morton (“ ‘You had one job’: inside the botched aged-care rollout”). The Coalition dismisses human consequences and is concerned only with its important self and its driving urge to remain in power. Where is the acknowledgement that its actions, not just with aged-care worker vaccinations and overseas diplomacy but also in other sectors including disability, refugee aid, employment, health, higher education, First Nations, foreign aid and the environment, might inflict extraordinary damage? We have a government that, for example, “quietly” cancels the aged-care worker mobility reduction payment and reduces JobSeeker to near poverty levels, yet will not compel corporations that profited during the pandemic to repay public money. Have we truly become such a miserable lot that, groundhog-like, we blindly re-elect them in defiance of the values that elevate not simply ourselves but the nation – compassion, integrity, respect, fairness and a desire to contribute to a better world?
– Alison Stewart, Riverview, NSW
Pressure builds on climate
“The fight is not over” is the battle cry of schoolgirl and climate action leader Anjali Sharma and her teen team in their Federal Court case against Environment Minister Sussan Ley and the NSW Vickery Coal Mine Extension Project (“Call to action”, June 5-11). The case is ongoing so we have to wait for further developments. However, similar legal cases overseas will be adding to all the scientific, environmental, financial, business, activist and international political bodies pushing for strong, urgent climate action this year. And still the oil and gas industries fight back and various governments lack the will to agree and lead. As top scientist James Hansen wrote more than a decade ago, demanding political action is “the most urgent fight of our lives”.
– Barbara Fraser, Burwood, Vic
A familiar origin story
The problem with Joe Biden’s order for the US intelligence community to evaluate the origin of coronavirus is that the issue should be first dealt with as a scientific matter rather than an intelligence one (Jonathan Pearlman, “Biden puts Wuhan lab back under microscope”, June 5-11). It took more than a decade for epidemiologists to trace the source of the first SARS outbreak in 2003. How can the spies do the job in 90 days? The heated debate is becoming a deja vu of the weapons of mass destruction fiasco of 2003 when the hawks in Washington were convinced Iraq was hiding its weapons regardless of any evidence to the contrary. Thankfully this time the US can’t simply send in B-52s and the 101st Airborne to force China into submission.
– Han Yang, North Turramurra, NSW
The great divide
Thank you, Linda Jaivin, for your review of Kate Holden’s The Winter Road (May 29–June 4). What strikes me as a recurring theme is the incompatible expectations of a majority urban population towards the land. On the one hand, their capacity for produce consumption appears limitless. On the other, they are increasingly concerned about land use, habitat loss and the receding of the bush – the environment. Simply put, the disconnect between the consumer and producer will continue to increase. Sadly, the tragedy of Glen Turner’s death will not pause consumption patterns or ameliorate rural stewardship.
– Peter Doelle, Mount Gambier, SA
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jun 12, 2021.
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