Award for Manus journalist
Congratulations to Behrouz Boochani for winning the Victorian Prize for Literature and to The Saturday Paper for bringing his disturbing and powerful book No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison to the attention of its readers. The judging panel who looked beyond his “statelessness” to recognise him as a worthy winner should take a bow.
– Vicky Marquis, Glebe, NSW
Killing our river system
My eyes filled with tears of rage and grief on reading Maxine Beneba Clarke’s red-raw, damning poem, “Ancient Giants” (February 2-8). Thank you for publishing her scorching words. How is it that we as a country have sunk so low as to have a government with members who collude in such devastation for the sake of short-term profit for a few? Where is our glorious “drought envoy”? Rather than being first and often on the scene, he appears to be in witness protection. His silence is deafening on the facts of the matter. Hopefully, this level of devastation can begin its long journey of repair with a new government; a government with a fierce dedication to the health of this mighty river system for future generations.
– Elizabeth Chandler, Napoleon Reef, NSW
Consider the consequences
Your paper fills the gap left by the demise of the Nation Review many years ago. Keep up the great work. Reflecting on the Australia Day debate, the 1788 invasion has led to massive benefits for non-Indigenous Australians (Claire G. Coleman, “Bloody Australia Day”, January 26-February 1). It would be hypocritical to treat January 26 only as a day of mourning and to pretend we wish none of this had ever happened. However, it is also unjust, immature and dangerously stupid to ignore the tragedy involved for the original inhabitants and the resulting accountability to their descendants who continue to pay big time for what we are enjoying. Events of this magnitude play themselves out, for good or ill, over many centuries. We simply can’t afford the mindset of little children (and some adults) of treating things that happened yesterday as though they are of no consequence.
– Ian Elliott, Meadowbank, NSW
Australia’s diplomatic efforts
If Bahrain’s efforts to get refugee and Australian permanent resident Hakeem al-Araibi extradited from Thailand prove successful – as Martin McKenzie-Murray’s article “Trapped offside” (February 2-8) suggested was increasingly likely – what will the government say? You can be sure there will be no robust criticism of either Bangkok or Manama. The foreign minister may regret the lack of any response from her Thai counterpart to her softly softly overtures. The PM will be his customary shtum in matters relating to refugees. And the minister for sport, whose view is presumably irrelevant since she has had nothing to say so far, will also keep her hands over her mouth. This should surprise no one: Australia’s rulers share a similar reputation to Thailand’s in overriding the wishes of individuals seeking sanctuary, and while they do not rival Bahrain’s deserved infamy for physical torture, they’ve shown themselves adept at inflicting mental pain. Robust talk and demands for al-Araibi to be returned to Australia can only be credible when they come from a government with moral fibre and a clear grasp of what constitutes humanity. The Thai and Bahraini authorities will listen to Australia’s “diplomatic” overtures and look at its hand-wringing and think one word – hyprocrites.
– Neil Thomson, Bellingen, NSW
Give the job to Bill Shorten
Will the Morrison government, in line with the United States and assorted others including Australia, exert pressure on itself to shove off and make way for Australia’s opposition leader? (Jonathan Pearlman, World, February 2-8). If it is good enough to try it on for remote Venezuela, then surely this practice of overthrowing governments in favour of “acceptable” oppositions should be the way forward for Australia to get rid of this alarming lot in charge here? It’s only fair.
– Robert Auld, Pasadena, SA
Difference should be embraced
I, too, was born and raised “bourgeois” in Mexico City. Christos Tsiolkas’s review of Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma is wonderful, except for the part where he refers to “some readers” bristling at the notion of an indigenous maid as Cuarón’s “second mother”. “Some” Australians simply don’t understand how the rest of the world works. We speak more than one language, we are happy and racially mixed – in Third World countries “the help” is family, who lovingly bring us up while our own parents were/are hard at work. Economic benefit for all concerned. This is not about affluence and not about exploitation, it's about combining the ritual of care, it's about love and trust, about understanding and exchange. Australians bristling at their own rich Indigenous culture is the issue. Proudly, I am also now Australian, having fallen in love with a place rich in aboriginality. We are Australians because of it, as we are Mexicans because of “mixed” history. We live together respecting and enriched by differences. I bristle at the ridiculous push-back of the hypocritical stance of “some”, and this based on ignorance. So boringly parochial. Tsiolkas’s own wonderful heritage is an antidote to our mixed differences. Don’t give an inch to the “some”. If anything, call them out.
– Lissa Barnum, Meroo Meadow, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 9, 2019. Subscribe here.