If you were seeking a snapshot of the decline of conservative politics and the subsequent degradation of any initial inclination to serve the public with integrity, Rick Morton’s piece depressingly provides it (“Front row seats at the Barilaro ‘shitshow’ ”, August 13-19). When a multi-term government becomes so used to untrammelled power, so immune to notions of common decency, so forgetful of probity, so imbued with a sense of gross entitlement, that is when an intervention is urgently required – legal, electoral, preferably both.
– Alison Stewart, Riverview, NSW
Always fun to see Pauline Hanson, leader of a two-person parliamentary party, complaining about giving political benefits to “a minority of people” (Editorial, “Domain of the charlatan”, August 13-19). Especially as she rakes in the dollars from her latest hate-filled merch.
– Richard Mason, Newtown, NSW
Yes for a Voice
Pauline Hanson will lead the “no” vote against a Voice to Parliament stupidly claiming, “That sort of thing was known as apartheid in South Africa.” Her underhanded registration of domain names referencing the Voice and the Uluru statement was rightly described by your editorial as taking “Black property”. Because domain names must be “closely and substantially connected to the registrant”, the regulator auDA should step in as it did when the Libs registered Albanese.com. au. The referendum requires a majority of voters and a majority of states. In the 1967 referendum, 91 per cent of votes cast, across all jurisdictions, agreed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples would be counted as part of the population and the Commonwealth. Let’s hope the 95 per cent of Australians who did not vote for One Nation in May will vote “yes” for a Voice.
– Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Vic
Chris Wallace’s piece (“Artful dodgers”, August 13-19) explores the way the tax system works better for some than others with a nice line: “Philanthropy is fine, paying tax is better.” It’s a thought that could have found a place in Mike Seccombe’s “The end of orthodoxy” (August 13-19), where he quotes various economists about inflation. For many economists worried that household spending had jumped 10 per cent, the solution just requires raising interest rates to lower demand. It’s an approach dismissed by other economists who point out that the spending splurge didn’t come from those on modest incomes or those stuck with mortgage payments, suggesting it’s highly likely that the bulk of the spending came from the “artful dodgers”, including the scores of millionaires who don’t pay a cent in tax. It’s a situation that could allow our treasurer a win-win – fixing the tax rorts would increase government revenue and reduce the extravagant spending that pushes up inflation.
– Don Owers, Dudley, NSW
John Hewson observes that whereas the Morrison government didn’t even try to achieve good governance, the Albanese government aims at “good, policy-driven governance (“Board games”, August 13-19). Likewise, until now, various banks and boards focused narrowly on their financial and brand interests. However, Hewson also sees a new trend of investment behaviour responding “more effectively to the climate challenge”, and that “the transition may ultimately be driven by investment behaviour”. Let’s hope that the complex investment world really understands the imperative of the very big climate crisis and urgently assists in solving it.
– Barbara Fraser, Burwood, Vic
Brought to heel
John Hewson (August 13-19) wrote that “The ABC has been subjected to a sustained barrage from the Murdoch media ... who are seemingly obsessed” with obliging the federal government to further reduce the ABC’s funding. This is consistent with my observation that the ABC’s expensive investigative journalism has been brought to heel. Programs such as Four Corners are less incisive and critical (of government); many topics are covered by foreign media such as the BBC; 7.30 is not as hard-hitting as it was, although Sarah Ferguson has almost restored Leigh Sales’ style; many other TV programs are replays. The Institute of Public Affairs has long been lobbying for privatisation of the ABC, as noted by Dr Hewson, or abolition. At present, the former option would likely fail, and the second would be fiercely resisted by rural and regional taxpayers and influential federal politicians.
– Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin, ACT
Kudelka’s apt cartoon featuring the NSW Parliament Gift Shop (August 13-19) can only draw gasps of “congrats on your acuity”.
– Pam Connor, South Brighton, SA
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 August 20, 2022.
For almost a decade, The Saturday Paper has published Australia’s leading writers and thinkers. We have pursued stories that are ignored elsewhere, covering them with sensitivity and depth. We have done this on refugee policy, on government integrity, on robo-debt, on aged care, on climate change, on the pandemic.
All our journalism is fiercely independent. It relies on the support of readers. By subscribing to The Saturday Paper, you are ensuring that we can continue to produce essential, issue-defining coverage, to dig out stories that take time, to doggedly hold to account politicians and the political class.
There are very few titles that have the freedom and the space to produce journalism like this. In a country with a concentration of media ownership unlike anything else in the world, it is vitally important. Your subscription helps make it possible.
Select your digital subscription