Letters to
the editor

Betrayal of principle

It is distressing to read backbenchers are being gagged if they cannot actively support the “No” campaign (Karen Middleton, “Liberal ‘Yes’ supporters threatened with losing preselection”, September 9-15). I had been led to think the Coalition believed in freedom of speech and individuals taking responsibility for their actions. But instead of making the referendum campaign one of conscience and liberal values, they have drawn hard party lines over something that was entirely bipartisan until Dutton forced his front bench to campaign for “No”, simply because he had no traction on any other issue. The way the “No” campaign tells partial truths and argues that the lack of detail is a reason not to vote on a matter of principle is disingenuous at best, and gambling with future generations at worst. This is particularly so given the detail is entirely with parliament and in the hands of those we have handed responsibility to run the country, and is not just about their political careers.

– D. Robertson, Encounter Bay, SA

Not a contest of ideas

Revelations that Coalition MPs in support of the “No” campaign have greatly outspent others on social media advertising raises a disturbing question. Is this campaign more about rebooting political fortunes than anything else? The extreme negativity and misinformation has the hallmarks of a whatever-it-takes election contest, not the Constitution’s founders’ notion of putting an issue to the people to decide, or healthy debate, a concept that is being systematically and cynically undermined. With the benefit of hindsight perhaps truth in advertising legislation needed to come first, to give informed debate on the referendum, and democracy, a fighting chance.

– Jim Allen, Panorama, SA

The path to healing

People might question Andrew Forrest’s motivation, but he is saying what climate scientists are saying: fossil fuels must be phased out rapidly (Marc Moncrief, “Forrest management”, September 9-15). If national governments, including the Australian government, would also say this, and accept and act on the science, there would be a good chance for the world to avoid a climate catastrophe.

– Ken Russell, Redcliffe, Qld

Broken lesson

Saul Griffith (“Lessons from the US energy transition”, September 9-15) gives a detailed account of how the Inflation Reduction Act aims to address climate issues by facilitating an energy revolution. One of his organisations was “kept busy with the shifting sands of the political landscape in the US over the 18 months that the [IRA] bill took shape”. However, he failed to mention that in March this year the Biden administration approved the huge Willow oil-drilling project in Alaska. This project is expected to create about 239 million tonnes of greenhouse gases over its life span and this will make the aims of the IRA significantly harder to achieve. As in Australia, the left hand sabotages the right.

– Ian Bayly, Upwey, Vic

Lack of real experience

Thank you to Kate Shaw for her clear-headed analysis of the benefits of rent control (“The case for rent controls”, September 9-15). I feel another blindness many free marketeers may have is a lack of recent experience in renting. Kos Samaras worries rent controls will lead to landlords never doing maintenance on properties – has he not rented in the past decade? The rent goes up every year and the landlords never make improvements! Rent controls will at least attempt to minimise the ongoing price gouging of profiteering landlords across this country.

– Amy Huva, Melbourne, Vic

Ignorance isn’t bliss

Thank you for your extraordinarily interesting article on rent controls. This makes the powerful case that ignorance pervades so much of what passes for public debate. This applies equally to our politicians, our so-called think tanks, and our mainstream media. The question remains, though, is the widespread manufacture of ignorance deliberate or is it simply the sign of lazy thinking concerned not with the wellbeing of our society but with sectional interests? It is hard to know which is worse.

– Greg Baker, Fitzroy Falls, NSW

Subjective truth

Your editorial (“Abbott’s blinkers”, September 9-15) summarised why Tony Abbott is still a lonely voice spreading misinformation and distorting the facts. His opposition to the Voice and the Uluru Statement from the Heart is baffling, until you listen closely and see he is trying to whitewash history. In your previous edition, Madeline Gleeson (“How Australia shaped Britain’s refugee policy”, September 2-8) recounted Abbott’s attempts to rewrite history over “stop the boats”. Australia was colonised by the British and until our First Peoples are listened to, we will not be a totally authentic country. Abbott
has to realise there are objective truths that trump his subjective realities, and arguing otherwise only fools himself. Australia needs to become a more decent and humane country on all levels.

– Geoff Nilon, Mascot, Vic

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 16, 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