Rick Morton’s piece outlining robo-debt and its dubious beginnings (“Robo-debt: Liberals knew it was illegal before it started”, November 5-11) is a frightening insight into a public service more inclined to serve its political masters than the law that governed its actions. Of course, those political masters had scant regard for the law or the plight of the people they were targeting. Their eyes were on the prize of lowering payments to show what great managers they were and to score cheap political points. If this were a Yes Minister episode I would have laughed at its absurdity and thought that would thankfully never happen. But, as the royal commission unfolds in coming weeks, unfortunately it appears this will morph into an even more unbelievable episode of Yes, Prime Minister, as the man from marketing enters the story.
– Geoff Nilon, Mascot, NSW
A bigger penalty
The exposure of the illegality of the robo-debt scheme by Rick Morton again raises the question of what penalties are to be imposed, and by whom, on the individuals found to have perpetrated this crime. I am sick and tired of reading of human suffering caused by employers and government attracting a fine instead of a custodial sentence. People knowingly breaking the law should face the full force of the law – but white-collar crime typically does not. These outcomes cannot be dismissed with just a fine; they weren’t just bad policy decisions. Lives were lost through a scheme that was designed to get money from some of the most vulnerable people in our community. A deliberate decision to cause harm – you bet it was.
– Daryl Regan, Eden Hills, SA
Tax gas profits
While the Albanese government is seeking to get selected legislation passed quickly, it also has plenty to do and needs to be acting with great urgency on energy, the cost of living and of doing business, as well as climate. A good start would be to address the issue of multinational gas companies making massive profits and paying minimal tax in Australia (Mike Seccombe, “Wasted energy”, November 5-11). If there was reasonable revenue from Australian natural resources, it could help fund rapid electrification of households and gas-reliant businesses to reduce emissions and costs. This, like other things on the public agenda, requires money to match the talk.
– Jim Allen, Panorama, SA
Your latest editorial (“An American spear”, November 5-11) is spot on. The increasing militarisation of our nation to fit in with the United States’ warlike plans is increasingly worrying. Ever since Julia Gillard acceded to Barack Obama’s intention to locate US marines in Darwin in 2011, we have witnessed more and more enmeshment with US forces, sadly continuing a trend over many decades. In 2014, not long before he died, former prime minister Malcolm Fraser published his book Dangerous Allies. If only major parties in this country had taken notice and begun to question whether this alliance serves our purposes. As a middle-ranking country we have no obvious enemies. We could play a constructive role in peacemaking in our region; however, not with the current obsequious agreements to do whatever the US military strategists suggest should be our role. Since fighting for independence from Britain, the US has only enjoyed 18 years free from war. Surely it’s time to consider severing the suffocating and dangerous alliance that has cost us so mightily.
– Jo Vallentine, Coolbellup, WA
Yet again an excellent editorial. Humanity is at a tipping point, for example the toxic relationships between the US, China and Russia. Australia’s sovereignty continues to sink into the hegemony of the US and its military-industrial complex. Fear-mongering and increased subservience to the US must stop. The Albanese government should have the courage and determination to embrace conscientious objection to war, diplomacy, political imagination and start a revolution for peace.
– Judith Morrison, Nunawading, Vic
Thank you for the story “Whitegoods and evil” (Denham Sadler, October 29–November 4). This story has occurred many times over the years with different names targeting the vulnerable. I was disappointed you didn’t mention financial planners (fpa.com.au/find-a-planner), who can help people learn to budget, or those who are considering a financial transaction or suffering financial stress. Had those in the article first seen a planner, they would have advised on affordability, and eligibility for Centrelink’s no-interest loan scheme (NILS). My wonderful planner, Elizabeth, helped me to avoid bankruptcy after escaping from financial and other forms of domestic violence.
– Sally Abercorn-Brown, Kogarah, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on November 12, 2022.
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