Letters to
the editor

Higher priorities

Mike Seccombe (Mike Seccombe, “ ‘I am hopeless now’: Australia’s $9.65 billion torture camps”, September 10-16) reminds us of the senseless crimes against humanity successive governments have committed against refugees, in our name. It’s time the new government ended the cruel and unaffordable detention policies of both Labor’s and the Coalition’s making. Taxpayers’ money is better spent on pressing priorities, rather than being wasted on questionable prison-operator companies to maintain torture camps. Australians voted to reject abhorrent policies on refugees, destruction of the environment, the free-for-all for fossil fuel companies, and unaffordable stage 3 tax cuts; not for Labor to continue implementing them on the Coalition’s behalf. Be courageous, Labor. Tweak outdated policies and chart a new course of your own. 

– Jean Abbott, Corlette, NSW 

Our responsibility

How ironic that a nation founded on transported convicts should, in this era, transport to offshore islands men, women and children whose only mistake was to seek our protection. How is it that we believe we have the right to condemn them indefinitely to the aptly headlined “torture camps” where they have been deprived of any hope of building a meaningful life? We have pressured neighbouring countries and made them complicit in the injustice and cruelty of our treatment of people who remain our responsibility. Why should other nations – who have their own influxes of refugees – be asked to take those who have arrived on our shores? After more than eight years, these refugees still suffer the agonising uncertainty of being without permanent status, and the future remains uncertain for them. We could have used the $9.65 billion or more this policy has cost us to alleviate some more pressing concerns. It’s wrong to continue to call out other nations for their human rights abuses when we have such a glaring example in our own backyard.

– Genevieve Caffery, Greenslopes, Qld

In the name of justice

The editorial (“Brave cowards”, September 10-16) summarises the plight of refugees on Nauru, in Papua New Guinea and in mainland Australia. Mike Seccombe in the same issue gives chapter and verse about the extravagant and unwarranted expenditure on continuing the maltreatment of asylum seekers. Kevin Rudd made a foolish statement on the resettlement of refugees; there is no need to persist with that policy. Asylum seekers on PNG and Nauru must be brought to Australia in the name of justice. Any contract with the United States prison company MTC should cease. There are thousands of refugees in Australia, some on visas that forbid them from working. Let us speedily process them, allocate them permanent visas and allow them to work. Many are skilled. Others should be offered training. This is an urgent problem of justice that must be rectified.

– Gael Barrett, North Balwyn, Vic

Preserving ecosystems

Ian Lowe’s passionate, old-school environmentalism, and his call to “integrate ecological thinking” into public discourse and respect “environmental limits”, makes his article (“Environmental limits”, September 10-16) essential reading. But some of the ideas are so old school they are old hat. Lowe is focused on the nation state and on population, arguing against further immigration because of the need to “live within the limits of our natural systems”. Apparently roads, public transport and hospitals are already crowded. Our population should grow no faster than our per capita environmental demands decline, he says, otherwise our impact will grow. This is all fine, but we do not live in an autarchy. We live on a planet whose systems ignore national boundaries. Immigrants to Australia will presumably have come from some other, overburdened land. Should we shutter immigration to preserve Australian ecosystems? And who will explain this to the inevitable waves of environmental refugees? 

David Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW

When distrust is prudent

One small section of Karen Middleton’s article (“Grant standing”, September 10-16) says everything anyone needs to know about the governor-general’s leadership foundation, with this quote from his official secretary, Paul Singer: “It’s a new and exciting initiative, which will essentially build a cohort of Australian leaders from sectors who are better connected, more collaborative and better equipped to make an impact in the national interest.” Here we find not only pretensions to, but specific intentions to, create an elitist leadership foundation. Potential leaders who are better connected. How? More collaborative. With whom? Better equipped to make an impact in the national interest. How, why, to what end and, again, with whom? It is always wise to distrust any and every military – or ex-military – individual who would interfere, or seek to interfere in social structures. The world has a very long history of such disastrous interventions. 

– Brian Snowden, Fawkner, Vic

Appropriate is best

Elizabeth Farrelly’s fine piece (“Comfort farm”, September 10-16) was a good reminder that all aspects of a process need to be taken account of in its evaluation, that balance is necessary in all things and that, while small is often beautiful, appropriate is always best. 

– Alistair McCulloch, 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 September 17, 2022.

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