Letters to
the editor

No time for secrets

Your plain-speaking editorial (“Free Assange”, July 2-8) sets out all the valid reasons why Julian Assange, courageous journalist and truth-teller, deserves to have the charges against him dropped and to be released from his prison cell. Without his leaks to the media, we would not know of America’s extensive war crimes. For this outstanding work of journalism he has been imprisoned for the past 10 years, including these past three years of torture in Belmarsh prison, and now faces extradition to the United States. It is not enough for Anthony Albanese to hint that his government is quietly working behind the scenes. Why should this be secret? Pick up the phone to Boris and Biden, Mr Albanese, and tell your fellow Australians the content of those calls. We will thank you when Assange is free.

– Brendan Doyle, Wentworth Falls, NSW

Mismatched penalties

Imagine a world where a New South Wales government, instead of trying to enact draconian anti-protest laws, introduced laws to properly punish those who destroyed the environment, including declaring illegal land clearing and felling sites “crime scenes” (Wendy Bacon, “Hostile climate”, July 2-8). Yet land clearing and felling continues with relative impunity. Just last month the NSW EPA pinged the Forestry Corporation of NSW just $135,000 for felling trees within a koala high-use exclusion zone, a mapped rainforest and a warm temperate rainforest. Punitive financial and management penalties for such breaches, plus strengthening laws rolled back in 2017 to punish illegal land clearing, might be a better course of action than targeting people deeply concerned about the environment.

– Alison Stewart, Riverview, NSW

A police state

I read with horror and disbelief the article “Hostile climate”. It is well documented that Earth is experiencing an existential climate crisis. The actions taken by the NSW police against those protesting are what one might expect in a police state. Such actions defy freedom to protest and of themselves are extremely intimidating. As Peter Kalmus said, “It is the eleventh hour in terms of Earth breakdown and I feel terrified for my kids and humanity.” Millions of us share the same concerns and more protests are inevitable as the planet experiences more tragic consequences of the climate crisis.

– Judith Morrison, Nunawading, Vic

Vexed at anti-vaxxed

As expected, Rick Morton presented a clear, eye-opening story of the evolution of the Covid-19 virus and how we are constantly looking in the rear-vision mirror to understand it (“The next coronavirus variant is already here”, July 2-8). The article had no hint of cover-up, corruption or scandal, since it involved scientists and not politicians, but one fact stuck out: “The global vaccination program saved almost 20 million lives in its first year.” I am wondering if the same techniques used to calculate this number could be used to estimate how many lives were lost – especially in Australia – due to anti-vax campaigns and the refusal of some to have vaccinations. They should be held to account with a statistic from which they cannot hide.

– Steve Hall, Cooroy, Qld

Extra support

I won’t be the only reader shocked by Chris Wallace’s comments about the PM’s decision to reduce parliamentary staff for independent members (“A world away from Morrison”, July 2-8). According to Wallace, Zali Steggall’s criticism of the decision “came across as obnoxiously entitled”. No, she came across as someone who had just suffered a 75 per cent cut to her capacity to interrogate legislation. According to Wallace, the decision “rebalanced” numbers to “something more realistic relative to staff entitlements of other MPs”. Nonsense. Independent members have to be across the detail of every bill and issue that comes before them, whereas party backbenchers merely follow party dictate. My local member, independent Andrew Wilkie, has on occasion been intercepted on the way to vote in the chamber by party members who didn’t know which bill was before the house. Even Scott Morrison recognised that independents have to do much more work on parliamentary business than party members do. This decision is nothing more than a cynical attempt to nobble the effectiveness of independent politicians.    

– David Clarke, Battery Point, Tas

Modern toolkit

When the Reserve Bank’s own estimates of “full” employment and the corresponding “neutral” interest rate are each unobservable moving targets subject to two-percentage-point margins of error, asking the bank to achieve its goals with its current tools is like expecting a blindfolded, drunk carpenter to fix a house in an earthquake. The articles by Mike Seccombe (“Reserve Bank: ‘If you know about monetary policy, you’re disqualified’ ”, July 2-8) and Claire Connelly (“It ain’t wages”, July 2-8) show how this narrow view of monetary policy hampers the board and hammers workers. The problem is neither recent nor confined to Australia – and it demands a deeper toolkit. Any RBA review that simply seeks to emulate the US Federal Reserve will achieve little if it ignores the blunt, brutal broadside the Fed is currently delivering to workers in the name of inflation control, or its internal critics who argue it has no reliable theory of inflation to justify rate hikes.

– Daniel De Voss, Keperra, Qld

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on July 9, 2022.

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