Letters to
the editor

Lineball judgement

Karen Middleton reports that judges may be asked to determine which refugee offenders are likely to reoffend and should be returned to detention (“ ‘It’s pathetic’: outgoing security watchdog slams detention laws”, December 9-15). I served on a state parole board and we sometimes sought expert advice on whether a prisoner would be likely to reoffend if released on parole. This was standard where lifers were concerned. I don’t remember any instance when a psychiatrist was willing to give a clear yes or no. Their professional reputation was on the line and they were not inclined to put it at risk by making a wrong call. I wish the learned judges luck.

– Madeleine McPherson, Wollstonecraft, NSW

Future shock

I share wholeheartedly the concerns expressed about the consequences of jailing people for crimes they might commit in the future. No less concerning is the problem of innocent convicts, jailed in effect by politicians anxious to appease their law-and-order constituents. This week I will celebrate 50 years in continuous practice as a solicitor or barrister and I can assure your readers utilitarian punishment is alive and well in a justice system that remains deeply attached to our convict past. Jailing people for things they didn’t do, or might do, is like returning to the days when colonial administrators flogged prisoners at the triangles and hung their bodies from the gibbet to remind passers-by of the respect due to British justice.

– Peter Breen, Bellingen, NSW

Push to action

Mike Seccombe’s question (“Will this stop Beetaloo?”, December 9-15) is easy to answer. The Albanese government will not stop Beetaloo because it has always supported the project. All it will do is impose “strict conditions”. It will take people power to force the federal and state governments to accept the climate science and act domestically and advocate globally for the planned responsible phase-out of fossil fuels.

– Ken Russell, Redcliffe, Qld

Get involved

Blessings on Barry Jones – a national treasure. His 16-point graphic is sobering (“The shadow of a very bad year”, December 9-15). Harvesting fear and rage is a dangerous pathway – but that seems to be the way we’re headed. Jones’s article had me weeping for future generations, including my own grandchildren. Despite the bleakness, he refuses to give up, encouraging us to be active public citizens. I wish there were more 91-year-olds with such clarity and wisdom as Barry Jones. But those of us a tad younger must take heart from his determination to make the future at least less bad than predictions. Pick any one of Barry’s arrow points, get informed, dive in, engage. We can’t let fossil capitalism ruin our precious world.

– Jo Vallentine, Coolbellup, WA

Necessary work

Rick Morton’s timely and disturbing article about yet another Centrelink debt calculation disaster is concerning in many ways (“Apportioning blame”, December 9-15). I recall that following the financial services royal commission, the banks and other financial services institutions were effectively forced by the government to apply massive resources to a process of “remediation” to correct overcharging and breaches of agreements with their customers. This process was expensive and it took years and involved hundreds of thousands of customers and many hundreds of millions, and maybe billions, of dollars. Now I get the impression Centrelink and the government are suggesting it is all too hard for them to go through a similar process. If so, that is just not good enough. The right thing to do is to assemble the resources and get on with the work, however tedious and difficult it may prove to be.

– Graham Slater, Hawthorn East, Vic

Complex origins

Martin McKenzie-Murray offers a reflective and deep analysis of the child prodigy in sport (“Hothouse powers”, December 9-15). Child prodigies are often, but not always, the result of overbearing and over-ambitious parenting. In today’s startlingly intrusive media and corporate greed spotlight, the story of Tiger Woods is a cautionary tale. In thinking back to more genteel times of sporting glory, two names figure prominently. Don Bradman and Rod Laver exhibited, as children, a relentless talent and drive not only to succeed but also to flourish as people in their chosen sports. Bradman has been described as a highly driven man not given to close personal relationships and Laver as a spontaneous and highly skilled tactician. These qualities were present at a young age in an era where parents were not perceived as other than “mum and dad”. Perhaps achieving greatness in any sporting endeavour is a fortuitous and complex mix.

– Pam Connor, Belconnen, ACT

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 December 16, 2023.

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