Letters to
the editor

Dutton despair

Peter Dutton says that an Indigenous Voice to Parliament is unlikely to reduce the youth violence being seen in Alice Springs and other regional centres (Editorial, “Dutton’s grift”, April 15-21). While the pathways into such behaviours are well known and start in utero for many, this is being ignored by Dutton as well as the premiers and first ministers of these jurisdictions. It was the former Coalition government who, in 2014-15, defunded the 75 Aboriginal community-controlled child and family centres across the nation. These centres were established based on the best evidence that pathways into healthy brain development start early and require holistic care within supportive communities. We know that nearly 90 per cent of children (aged 10-18) in detention in WA have a serious neurodevelopmental disorder such as foetal alcohol spectrum disorders, ADHD and intellectual disability, most present from birth. Such significantly damaged children need wraparound therapeutic programs, not punitive incarceration, if they are to have a chance of a good life. It is likely that if Aboriginal people had a Voice, they would recommend that these centres be immediately re-funded. Aboriginal researchers, community leaders and “grassroots” families have the knowledge about what will work best for their people. The previous Coalition government also implemented the so-called Northern Territory Intervention, in response to the “Little Children are Sacred” report. Its aim was to reduce child sexual abuse. However, child sexual abuse rose annually in the Territory for many years after it was introduced. We actually have the answers to Dutton’s questions, but he may not appreciate them.

– Fiona Stanley, 2003 Australian of the Year, WA

The too-hard basket

Thanks to Mike Seccombe for his article on plastic recycling (“Soft on plastics, soft on the causes of plastics”, April 15-21). There is an urgent need to dig deeper into why plastics recycling in Australia looks so hard. The REDcycle program has resulted in thousands of tonnes of source-separated, stored, soft plastics – the very thing remanufacturers are after. In Cairo, the Zabbaleen, who are based in the city’s slums, collect about 85 per cent of all waste from domestic sources, separate the plastics by hand and reprocess it into hard pellets for the world market. Yet Australia – which has the machinery, the money and the plastic – cannot achieve it? If one digs deeper, we might find fossil fuel lobbyists and those with vested interests are pulling the strings.

– Gerry Gillepsie, Queanbeyan, NSW

Held to account

John Hewson (“Dutton’s MAGA fantasy”, April 15-21) wants the Liberal Party to recover in order “to hold the government to account” and be “a strong and effective opposition”. Unfortunately, it is likely that the Liberal Party will continue to use its opposition role to be misleading, negative and destructive rather than positive or constructive. The Greens and independents are trying, and partly achieving, holding the government to account. Hewson doesn’t mention them. The proportion of voters avoiding the two major parties is increasing, especially in the younger demographics. Perhaps Hewson and other sensible, moderate Liberal people should extract themselves from what the National/Liberal parties have become. They may get more fulfilment elsewhere, rather than try to change a fireship of a coalition.

– Tom Maher, Aspendale, Vic

Bully tactics

The process Karen Middleton details so thoroughly on the Liberal Party’s approach to the Voice referendum (“Inside story: How Peter Dutton set up the ‘No’ vote”, April 15-21) has the hallmark signs of workplace bullying and should be identified as such. This quote is taken directly from the Australian Human Rights Commission fact sheet on workplace bullying: “Excluding you or stopping you from working with people or taking part in activities that relate to your work.” A key stakeholder (in this case, Julian Leeser) was excluded from the leadership team meeting, not supplied with an accurate agenda of the party meeting that was called and was unavailable for the question/discussion session that followed. This, despite holding the shadow portfolios of attorney-general and Indigenous Affairs. This had the effect of isolating him from the Liberal Party position. When is bullying in the parliamentary workplace going to be recognised and addressed?

 – Jeanette Hulcup, Geographe, WA


Will Peter Dutton’s confusing line on the Voice (Thomas Mayo, “The right side of history”, April 15-21) be counterproductive? The support for “legislated” Voice bodies, plus the party room vote to “oppose a constitutionally enshrined Voice”, reveal the unstated game: Liberals support a legislated Voice that they might later delegislate (repeal or weaken) but not a constitutional Voice that they can’t.

– Max Costello, North Melbourne, Vic

Purple passion

Thank you, Martin McKenzie-Murray, for eliciting a loud chuckle from this reader (“Purple patchy”, April 15-21). In the otherwise dismal and disappointing world of a Freo Dockers supporter, a sense of humour is an imperative, along with an extensive array of groans and expletives. But we retain our ridiculous optimism and even sometimes climb out of the tepid bath to don our purple beanies and retro green jerseys, lift the anchor and sing that dreadful club song. Which is just so much sweeter when the victory is against one of those odious Victorian teams. Bring it on, we say; they may pinch our best players and whinge about how far they have to travel to the West, but they’re never going to get our GST!

– Rhonda Parks, Bunbury, WA

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 April 22, 2023.

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

Month selector

Use your Google account to create your subscription