Your journalists and commentators have nailed different aspects of the fallout from the Voice vote (October 28–November 3). Their ideas mesh well into a positive approach to pulling us from the Peter Dutton-led attack on truth in our democracy. John Hewson’s suggestion of two things the Labor government should do would make a big difference: legislate to ban lies and mistruths in political advertising, and formulate a detailed plan to close the gap on Aboriginal disadvantage (“The plot to bury reconciliation”). Barry Jones eloquently discusses the need for truth to preserve our liberal democracy (“The paralysis of will”) and Paul Bongiorno points out how Dutton, in his quest for the Lodge, has no interest in truth (“Echoes of the Voice”). It will take time to combat the hidden racist undertones that emerged during the “No” campaign. However, despite a “No” vote, there is a lot of goodwill and momentum for change, as suggested by Daniel James’s discussion of the three broad fronts emerging from the “No” fallout – the invigorating of the Closing the Gap initiative through the Coalition of Peaks, the establishment of a new body to push for truth in public life, and a campaign to stop the Dutton opposition from winning government (“The ‘Yes’ case responds: ‘It’s a white flag from Labor’ ”). Thank you for keeping the discussion honest.
– Geoff Nilon, Mascot, NSW
Ignorance is the enemy
Barry Jones neatly summarises the main reasons voters turned their backs on the Voice in the referendum. If only more people could see the picture so clearly. He says there was “no distinction between a principled ‘No’, a racist ‘No’, an irritated ‘No’ and an unengaged ‘No’.” Overall, the attitude I find hardest to understand or accept is the ignorant “No” that goes beyond mere detachment or confusion, that deliberately rejects any factual explanation. The “paralysis of will” in our democracy has little hope of improving unless we can alter this mindset and close the educational gap.
– Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale, Vic
Searching for truth
The Barry Jones essay about the survival of democracy reminded me of a quotation from Remy de Gourmont: “The terrible thing about the quest for truth is that you find it.”
– Mark Porter, New Lambton, NSW
AUKUS folly doesn’t float
David Shoebridge is brave to question the foundation deal of the AUKUS pact just as the prime minister is basking in the glory of his meetings in Washington (“Can America be trusted on submarines?”, October 28–November 3). Yes, the nuclear submarine deal is a disaster from all points of view, including its cost and the antagonism of others. All this to deliver only a “marginal military asset”. But it’s actually much worse than that. We won’t have all of the submarines until the 2050s. Who knows what kind of government both the United States and China will have then? Military technology is always improving and submarines could become totally transparent at sea. They are too few to defend Australia’s shores. Shoebridge wants to spend the money on climate action, inter alia. Indeed, the shores of the US, China and Australia could be under threat by climate change by the 2050s.
– Jock Churchman, Campbelltown, SA
People with disability suffer most
While I appreciated Rick Morton covering the incompetency of the NDIA, did he fail to interview any disabled people for his article (“Exclusive: NDIA used the law to ‘exhaust’ participants”, October 28–November 3)? NDIS participants and applicants aren’t just exhausted, they’re in despair. I was told by my specialist not to bother applying for NDIS because it wouldn’t be worth the stress of the application process and defeat would exacerbate my disability. One friend has multiple disabilities and has been rejected seven times and doesn’t have support to go to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, let alone win. It’s a war of attrition against the most vulnerable, and everyone loses.
– Lynette Baker, Kariong, NSW
Government must help refugees
Thank you for your editorial about refugees “Reopening Nauru” (October 28–November 3). We need to be reminded of their difficulties and we need to put pressure on the government to help them. Issues around the world at present, such as the Israel–Gaza struggle and our own recent referendum, highlight the need for compassion, generosity and fairness for human beings in dealing with each other. These qualities should be used to give the refugees the help they need to restart safe lives in Australia. Our national anthem says we have “boundless plains to share”. Let us encourage the government to live up to this vision.
– Carol Bolton, Claremont, WA
Thank you, Alison Croggon, for a lovely article that brought back some wonderful memories of the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (“Worlds collide”, October 28–November 3). I was there in 2015 and remember going to see The Act of Killing about the 1965 massacres in a side venue that was not heavily advertised. My wife, who went to the festival each year from 2011 to 2016 when we lived in Surabaya, made the comment that it was a “writers and readers” festival. The atmosphere at each event reflected that. It aligns so nicely with the idea of hospitality noted in your last paragraph. There’s not much point in being a writer if there are no readers.
– Erik Hoekstra, Leura, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on November 4, 2023.
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