Letters to
the editor

The mood for ‘Yes’

Patrick Dodson’s honest and measured entreaty (“The Voice is a test of enlightened democracy”, September 23-29) is a salve to our all-consuming Voice maelstrom, from the story of First Nations soldiers returning from World War I service resaddled with systemic discrimination to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. I hope fellow readers have felt a turning in the mood for “Yes”. Last weekend’s Welcome to Country at the MCG confirmed what Dodson is relying on: honest recognition of what truly matters for Australians through a public show of respect. It was a spontaneous rebuff to our now normalised bad faith. This referendum puts on notice what Australians assume “a fair go” means. Can we honestly say we will uphold this trusted aphorism as a promise, or will we shrink from it as impossible to guarantee? I’m trusting what I felt at the MCG, and hope, for Dodson’s belief in Australian goodness, that it’s contagious.

– Andrew Marnum, Meroo Meadow, NSW

Mixed allegiances

Paul Bongiorno’s article depicting, inter alia, the ambivalence of Nyunggai Warren Mundine did not come as a surprise (“Close, but ‘No’ cigar”, September 23-29). Mundine was once national president of the ALP but left the party in 2012 amid strong suggestions it was because they would not give him a Senate seat. In the following year Tony Abbott called him a “kindred spirit” and gave him a position on his hand-picked Indigenous advisory committee. He later part-hopped to the Liberal Democrats and then joined the Liberal Party. Scott Morrison thought he was onto a winner by coaxing Mundine to stand for the seat of Gilmore in the 2019 federal election, thereby overriding the preselected Liberal MP, Grant Schultz. It all backfired when Schultz stood as an independent, splitting the Coalition vote and allowing Labor to take the seat. Since becoming a chief advocate for the “No” vote, Mundine was considered a Liberal frontrunner for a NSW Senate seat. On Insiders he called for a change to Australia Day and asserted that treaties were more likely between the government and First Nations if the referendum was defeated, hardly endearing himself to many “No” voters, including Peter Dutton and Jacinta Nampijinpa Price. Notably, he has now withdrawn his candidacy for the Senate.

– Frank Carroll, Moorooka, Qld

Clean up politics first

While Treasurer Jim Chalmers is newly focused on cleaning up corporate Australia, he and his colleagues might spread their vision and consider new standards in politics (Karen Middleton, “Taking care of business”, September 23-29). Banning false and misleading statements would be a good start. After all, politicians imposed that requirement on businesses decades ago. The hypocrisy of preserving the right for politicians to say what suits their political whims regardless of truth or harm must end.

– Rod Cunich, Vaucluse, NSW 

Paper ironies

After reading Richard Ackland’s excellent article about the courage of journalist Louise Milligan in pursuing her valid complaints to the Press Council and finally receiving justice (“Standing up to The Australian”, September 23-29), one has to wonder just how many similar complaints others would have liked to have made but have not had the strength of spirit or time to do so. The Press Council is a paper tiger that needs to be replaced by a government body, as recommended by former Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein. As an example of extreme irony, on the day this issue of The Saturday Paper was published, on the front page of The Australian was a picture of Rupert Murdoch reading that broadsheet above a headline of “Enduring resolve to fight for freedom and the truth”.

– Peter Nash, Fairlight, NSW

Mistakes made

I am in awe of the regular quality and power of your editorials, always my first port of call. But this was the very first disappointment (“Uninquiring minds”, September 23-29), and I’ve been reading since the first edition. While state governments made mistakes in their handling of the pandemic, they were neither political nor ideological. The territory was uncharted – probably less charted than it should have been – and state governments did their best. In some cases their best was terrible, such as the Ruby Princess debacle, and the cross-border clown shows. Hotel quarantine in Victoria was brilliantly dissected by the Coate inquiry, which revealed multiple well-meaning departments working hard but very much less than smart. The editorial mentioned the tower lockdowns. Are you quite sure they were an entirely bad idea? Our aim here must be to create a useful recipe for the future. It will probably require significant funding to implement – possibly for permanent quarantine facilities. I don’t see any parallel with robodebt, a scheme that was obviously dodgy. There had to be guilty parties, so that inquiry needed the powers of a royal commission. This problem demands light, not fight.

– Don Macrae, Kangaroo Ground, 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 30, 2023.

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