A pessimistic outlook
Rick Morton’s piece on Covid-19 vaccines (“Part two: How Covid-19 began an ‘mRNA revolution’ ”, December 18, 2021–January 7, 2022) asked if governments would “continue to fund and co-ordinate science, to accept failure as a key element of every breakthrough”? In Australia, you have to be joking. As Morton points out, the government has cut funding to CSL manufacturing of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The earlier Queensland University vaccine got short shrift. The government is doing what it always does: trying to pick winners and, like all gamblers, losing way more often than it wins. That, plus no real government strategic reform, is why as a country we cannot stand on our own two feet. The looming supply chain issue will impact everything. The economy will slow and prices will rise. So much for economy building. The same for science – not a good future in sight.
– Trevor Pratt, Eaglemont, Vic
Menzies is not the gold standard
John Hewson (“A rat with a gold tooth”, December 18, 2021–January 7, 2022) writes as though Robert Menzies was a great prime minister. My memory of his overlong period in that office was a time of stagnation. He accomplished very little and kowtowed to the British government over a number of issues, for example atomic testing at Maralinga. His futile and inept attempt at intervention in the Suez Crisis is a further example. The Liberal Party has always been the party of employers and exploiters of the poor. The present government follows his example and is even more corrupt.
– Gael Barrett, North Balwyn, Vic
Morrison’s election method
John Hewson concludes his piece with a request, writing: “Please tell me, Mr Prime Minister, that you are not just going to rely on frightening people to another victory.” The answer to the unspoken question, “What will you rely on?” is obvious. Scott Morrison will rely on whatever it takes, regardless of any previous position, regardless of truth.
– Juliet Flesch, Kew, Vic
Shattering the political binary
For John Hewson, Scott Morrison is “like a rat with a gold tooth”. Hewson expects him to try to impress voters with promises not able to be kept. However, it’s the inevitable scare tactics about Labor, the Greens, and now the independents, that we know are coming. But, as Hewson reminds us, “One in four Australians no longer vote for either major party.” And with over one million first-time voters passionate about climate change, the fraction will become closer to one in three. If that happens, a simple pie graph suggests the days of the Coalition are numbered. The rats will be gone and the world will rejoice.
– Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Vic
In the interesting interview (Mike Seccombe, “The one-in-six chance”, December 18, 2021–January 7, 2022) about his new book, Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh notes “a significant fall in the share of Australians voting for major parties”, linking it to the rise of populism. It is a pity he does not note that many of the more successful independents are not populists but intelligent centrists with strong values, such as my own excellent MP Andrew Wilkie. Some reflection on why Australians are increasingly fed up with the major parties – their lockstep voting, backroom decision-makers, responsiveness to donors rather than voters, et cetera – might help. He could read John Hewson’s piece in the same issue which, though focused on the Liberal Party, makes pertinent points that apply to both major parties. The two-party system is failing Australia and needs a drastic overhaul. Andrew Leigh is well placed to be a part of the solution.
– Tim Sprod, Taroona, Tas
How to save ourselves
Thank you for Amy Fallon’s “Saving Julian Assange” (December 18, 2021–January 7, 2022). It is the fairest and best-researched article on Assange I have seen in the mainstream media. If we fight and win I think we will have the same feeling as our friends in New Zealand Aotearoa did when they finally went nuclear free in 1987. Let’s fight to win his freedom, and ours.
– Stephen Langford, Paddington, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on January 8, 2022.
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