Getting the wording right
Labor’s efforts to be a small target are making it virtually invisible. While acknowledging its difficulties in actively opposing a government that has few, if any, policies, Labor can assert expectations of honesty and integrity to confront the ethically challenged incumbents who have yet to be held to account by their prime minister. As Chris Wallace says, a strong campaign slogan will be critical for Labor to make any effective impact (“Can Labor win the election?”, October 16-22), but beyond that Labor must play to their strengths. Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd were all charismatic leaders. Albo is not charismatic but he does have a very talented shadow frontbench. If these stand together, with a strong, simple slogan, they can surely present an electable alternative to the sports rorting, car park rorting vaccine mismanagers on the government benches.
– Chris Young, Surrey Hills, Vic
Every voter for themselves
Chris Wallace continues this nation’s political deconstructions, omitting the elephant in the room, the electorate. The electorate is akin to a “market” while parties are at the behest of its fickle forces, integral to a growing plutocracy that further compromises our perceived egalitarianism. This is evidenced by a Murdoch-dominated media dumbing down our commentary and ensuing conversations. Add to this an electoral system vulnerable to political expediencies and lacking democratic parity, and a dynamic multicultural diaspora that has further entrenched our historical conservatism, and any counter-political voice will struggle for identity and relevance. In 2019, a Bill Shorten-led Labor Party presented an opportunity to realise a more equitable society and was brutally rejected. Time and again, substantive and far-reaching policies pale throughout the course of federal campaigns, reduced to domestic hip-pocket pork-barrel politicking. Ours is a nation of individuals. In that context, the farce that is a Morrison-led conservative Coalition has little to fear from an opposition that would attempt to transcend our myopic sentience.
– Rory Slater, Red Hill, ACT
Catholic response to John Hewson
Dr John Hewson has written an inaccurate and defamatory article, “Selling off the dead” (October 16-22). His assertion that the NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, was “trotting Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher to meetings with Gladys Berejiklian, when she was premier” is completely false. Mr Perrottet was never involved in any communication between the archbishop and the former premier. Dr Hewson also asserts that the Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (CMCT) has wanted to take over the management of the cemeteries run by the other trusts and made a “takeover bid in the past”. The non-profit CMCT has proposed that it remains outside the OneCrown model as a separate provider, managing Crown land and providing cost-effective burials for 24 non-Catholic faith groups it serves. CMCT was invited to join an unsolicited proposal to amalgamate all the trusts several years ago but withdrew after due diligence. Dr Hewson also says “a Catholic takeover would be a disaster. It would be incredibly offensive and divisive, and shows an appalling misunderstanding of the empathy required in the provision of cemetery services”. The CMCT has the backing of the major Muslim, Jewish, Orthodox and other faith groups in Sydney and it is both mischievous and simply wrong to suggest CMCT’s continued existence as a separate entity will be divisive. The CMCT is solvent, fully loaded for perpetual maintenance and fully land-banked with DA approvals to build two new cemeteries and thus solve the burial land shortage on behalf of the NSW government. It is sad that the former chair of a trust placed into administration has shown his anti-Catholic hand and confirmed his ignorance of these important matters.
– Gregory Smith, SC, Catholic Cemeteries Board
A moral balancing act
Your editorial (“Moral capacity”, October 16-22) works hard to make the case for Australia accepting more refugees and asylum seekers from Afghanistan, but there’s more than one way to look at it. As well as the positive benefits of increasing our refugee intake generally, there’s a corresponding list of negatives if we don’t. The negatives may well provide a more compelling rationale. By pursuing the current hardline position we risk not only our international credibility but also our strategic and trading relationships. Sadly, it’s too easy to conclude that the government is deliberately pursuing its current policy so that our country will become too unattractive as a refuge, making us all the losers.
– Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale, Vic
Our violent past
I enjoyed very much Elizabeth Flux’s profile “Gold standard” (October 16-22). Let’s hope Corrie Chen goes on to direct more film stories. I grew up near Young, formerly known as Lambing Flat, in southern NSW. Young was probably renamed because of the shocking Lambing Flat riots against the Chinese during goldmining days. We didn’t learn much at school, other than that locals rounded up all the Chinese and cut off their pigtails. Apparently, a Roll Up Banner incited about 200,000 men to rally and attack Chinese miners. There is a local swimming hole called “Chinamen’s Dam”. I’ve always had a curious sense of dread about that name.
– Jen Martin, Northcote, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Oct 23, 2021.
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