Judgement at the ballot box
Hindsight gives John Hewson a persuasive view of the present government’s shortcomings (“On shame and politics”, June 26–July 2). It’s easy to agree with his litany of instances where compassion has been missing. All the examples cited by Dr Hewson also have unacceptable financial consequences, and taxpayers are entitled to demand better. Shame and compassion may be unfamiliar feelings for the average thick-skinned politician with no moral compass. Come election time, our elected representatives must understand that the community also expects them to adhere to higher standards of financial and administrative probity.
– Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale, Vic
Better late than never
I was pleasantly surprised to read former Liberal Party leader John Hewson’s comments and assessment of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s lack of empathy and detachment from the people of Australia. I do wonder why it took so long for a person of his political weight to come forward with these observations of Morrison’s asinine attitudes, birthed under Tony Abbott and which flourished under Malcolm Turnbull. So really, why did it take so long?
– Ian Ossher, Dover Heights, NSW
Freedom of speech is very precious, academic freedom no less so. However, when academics belittle the research of their colleagues both locally and throughout the world and their statements endanger lives, surely this is an abuse of that freedom (Kieran Pender, “Ridd of him”, June 26–July 2). Professor Peter Ridd’s statements have been used by climate change denialists and the governments of Queensland, as well as our federal government, to downplay the proven effects of climate change. Data from the ACT Health Department shows a sharp increase in deaths due to smoke inhalation at the height of the Black Summer bushfires. Data from health departments of Victoria and South Australia show that in Melbourne and Adelaide ambulance services and hospitals were unable to cope with demand when temperatures and fine particulates peaked to highest-on-record levels. Where do we rule the line?
– Barbara Lyle, Tea Gardens, NSW
Diplomacy and war toys
Thank you, Karen Middleton, for canvassing Australia’s arms dealer aspirations (“Selling arms”, June 26–July 2). Given the difficulties we continue to face in our own defence capabilities – necessitating the stationing of United States Marines in Darwin; our struggle to keep six submarines operational; our increasingly de-industrialised skill set; and our dependence on foreign hardware – does Professor John Blaxland not have a point? That our arms export ambitions are “little more than a rhetorical flourish”. Since we are incapable, or unwilling, to provide adequately for our own defence, why would we imagine that we might join the top 10 of arms exporters? As an antidote to a perceived – though questionable – military/industrial bravura, might not our national security be abetted by wiser counsel? Such guidance was recently proffered by Frances Adamson, the former secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, when she stated that serious diplomacy funding has the potential to obviate the need for “more destructive tools of statecraft being required”. Within such an imagining, however, the opportunities for retired political/military apparatchiks to acquire influential positions – where they might peddle their imagined wares – would possibly shrink.
– Peter Doelle, Mount Gambier, SA
Thank you, Paul Bongiorno (“Oh no, here we Joh again”, June 26–July 2). On Friday night my footy team, one of several strong premiership contenders, had been totally obliterated by a team not expected to make the finals. Breakfast was a despondent affair. Your reference to Barnaby the Beetrooter blew away the gloom and had me laughing out loud. With insight like that in Canberra, all is not lost.
– John Mosig, Kew, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 3, 2021.
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