Lost in the wilderness
None of the media’s analysis of Scott Morrison’s fall from grace comes as close to nailing it as Rick Morton’s (“Coalition loss: ‘The transphobe thing was an absolute disaster’ ”, May 28–June 3). Morrison’s belief in his own political genius all came down to him and his staff believing that he had “a canine-like ability to hear the high-frequency pleas of the otherwise Quiet Australians”. Exquisite. The article also points to the role that the right-wing media will now play in securing Peter Dutton as Liberal Party leader. Such a development will ensure that the party will have an extended period in the wilderness. There it can freshen up and take in some of the “clean air” Morrison referred to last week. Maybe then that party can come back with some policy statements from the heart.
– Graham Rabe, Leederville, WA
Bruce Haigh’s allegations (Karen Middleton, “Morrison’s last boat”, May 28–June 3) of a secret deal between the Australian and Sri Lankan governments on asylum-seeking boat turn-backs should no longer surprise. Haigh presents ample evidence of a stage-managed stunt with a “corrupt” regime, barely criticised by the rest of the world for its genocidal treatment of the Tamil minority. In a desperate bid to cling to power, Scott Morrison dramatically turned around his own policy of refusing to comment on “on-water matters”. Morrison’s announcement that an asylum-seeker boat had been intercepted, unclear by whom, and subsequent text messages alerting voters in marginal electorates to vote Liberal, revealed a politician who hadn’t changed at all. He was incapable of embracing the real concerns of voters. The former prime minister sank to his lowest depths by turning “whistleblower” on his own policies, effectively compromising our national security. The penalty for his final shameful and despicable act of mistrust resulted in a comprehensive rejection by Australians.
– Carmelo Bazzano, Epping, Vic
Sting in the tail
John Hewson (“Monsters and the rabble”, May 28–June 3) wrote: “In a sense, the moderates who lost have only themselves to blame, for failing to take significant stands in the party room on issues such as climate, integrity and responsible budgets.” What has been apparent for some time is the active suppression of moderate, centrist voices in the Liberal Party in an effort to placate the right wing and the Nationals, and to court the conservative electorate. The dog was wagged by the tail more and more until there was no dog left, just the tail. Perhaps that makes way for the appearance of a new dog, a genuine moderate centre-right party? There are certainly a few former Liberal MPs who might welcome the opportunity to be part of such a group, free from obligation to the nutty right.
– Harry Dewar, Port Noarlunga, SA
There are striking commonalities between the successful campaigning of the community independents and the Greens: community engagement and “active hope” (“Lessons from the teal seats” and “Beautiful one day, Greens-held the next”, May 28–June 3). By doorknocking and listening to the people, these candidates made politics local again. Subsequently, we now have a more representative government in the house of representatives. Given the immense challenges of reinstating integrity, achieving equality and tackling climate change, the active hope and citizen engagement garnered by these campaigns should be harnessed as a strength as we move forward as a nation.
– Amy Hiller, Kew, Vic
Sense and compassion needed
There was a sentence in your editorial (“On-water martyrs”, May 28–June 3) that made me laugh, namely, “You can take off your ‘I’m with stupid’ T-shirt”. This referred to Labor now no longer needing to side with the opposition, particularly on refugee policy. No, it doesn’t, and you rightly criticised Richard Marles for his “absolutely no change” statement when change was exactly what the country had just voted for. Indeed, far more compassion is needed on refugee policy. Those on bridging visas should be allowed to work. People should not be allowed to languish either in detention or in the community for years without a decision about their future. Australia is still a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and should abide by its principles. Nevertheless, we simply cannot have an “open border” policy. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “82.4 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced at the end of 2020 as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations or events seriously disturbing public order”. Most were internally displaced within their own country but one-quarter were actual refugees, that is, had crossed a border. Many more are displaced by natural disasters; for instance, just last week, millions were left homeless by heavy rains and flooding in Bangladesh. Australia simply cannot take everyone. A more generous humanitarian program is warranted, say 20,000 annually, but that is a drop in the ocean of need. Thus, we have to lift foreign aid massively to help people who are displaced for whatever reason. But it is not unreasonable to control our borders. It just has to be done with both sense and compassion for those fleeing desperate circumstances.
– Jenny Goldie, Cooma, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on June 4, 2022.
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