The house always wins
If ever there were a salutary example of the corrupting power of money over integrity, it would be found within the grubby portals of the glittering gambling halls (Rick Morton, “Casino within a casino: Star’s extraordinary breaches”, September 17-23). If government truly represented citizens’ welfare, state-sanctioned gambling would not exist. But when government derives vast revenue from gambling, its duty of care appears subsumed by greed. Does this amoral revenue-raising justify the resulting devastation that enables addiction, mental health deterioration, domestic violence, poverty, relationship breakdown, fraud, corruption, organised crime and money laundering? It’s an abrogation of governance of the highest order. Yet, over and again, the scandals recede, the casinos retain their licences and, as Morton says, the house always wins.
– Alison Stewart, Riverview, NSW
Uncivilised rule of law
The idea that a state legislature would enact laws that target the sentences of a specific group of identifiable prisoners (“Justice withheld”, September 17-23) is contrary to the separation of powers principle in the constitution. Parliamentary supremacy over the executive and judicial arms of government was never intended to allow politicians to pass sentences directed at particular convicts. Otherwise we have Russian justice where the judges hand down sentences on individuals based on Vladimir Putin’s assessment of their offences. The result is brutal and autocratic punishment out of all proportion to the crimes. After the High Court established the principle in Kable that preventative detention orders undermine the integrity of the courts, the Carr Labor government successfully passed legislation that said all prisoners who were the subject of a non-release recommendation by the trial judge were to remain in prison for the remaining terms of their able-bodied lives. Two juvenile offenders, Bronson Blessington and Matthew Elliott, aged 14 and 16 years respectively at the time of their crimes in 1988, were part of this cohort. They have now served 34 years in jail. Given their good behaviour in prison and their good health, Blessington and Elliott could spend decades more in prison for crimes that carried an average of 12 to 15 years in 1988 when they were jailed. Unjust punishment on this scale is unimaginable in a civilised common law country bound by the rule of law.
– Peter Breen, Bellingen, NSW
Thank you for your editorial “Brute force” (September 17-23). By the time I reached the conclusion, I felt my own deep sadness and despair on this front had been given voice. We need a (recurring) policing summit to bring all parties together to confront the institutional racism and sexism that underpins so much violence against First Peoples and the inept response to domestic violence and mental illness. We need a national approach to education, training and support for our police and better funding to ensure its ongoing implementation and efficacy. Without a focused and committed national approach, cultural change will never happen.
– Liz Morris, Kambah, ACT
King of truth
The British have bathed their empire in a golden glow but, as the voices of the colonised become increasingly vocal here and elsewhere, this glow is fading. Charles III has inherited the legacy of the empire. As Tom Keneally observes (“King tide”, September 17-23), he may not accept being a monarch of “no edges” as his mother was. He could become the king who encourages truth-telling across Britain’s former colonies, who helps bring to light the pain that so many suffered under British rule, and who apologises on behalf of his forebears. We can only hope.
– Chris Young, Surrey Hills, Vic
While Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe identified there were problems with the RBA model, what he failed to point out was that inflation – the rise in cost of products – was not due to an increase in the cost of production (John Hewson, “High prices to pay”, September 17-23). It’s about opportunistic corporate business decisions in the event of the market being damaged by war. The flow-on effect to all other products drives inflation. Sure, the pandemic damaged supply chains and the floods on the east coast were all indicators of potential inflation problems, which the RBA missed. The question is whether monetary policy is an adequate mechanism into the future when such circumstances have a higher probability of occurring. Perhaps a prohibitive 80 per cent super profits tax is the additional government tool to crush societal disruptive business decisions in future.
– Trevor Pratt, Eaglemont, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on September 24, 2022.
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