Part of my voluntary work in retirement is training migrants and refugees to pass the Australian citizenship test (Kim Rubenstein, “The citizenship test”, January 20-26). Most Australians would fail it and probably so would quite a few politicians. When I started the classes, I didn’t know all the information. Many new Australians are confused over the emphasis on our Judaeo–Christian roots and the values question about whether or not Australia has an official religion. Even if students are taught some of this material in high school humanities classes, they still couldn’t answer the 15 out of 20 questions required to pass, let alone the compulsory section. While it’s a good idea to teach new Australians about how we run their new country, I’m not sure the Liberal Party- designed questions are the best we can offer. Sadly, I don’t think redesigning the test is a priority of the Labor government in Canberra.
– Peter D. Jones, Lenah Valley, Tas
Blinken and miss
The most important statement in Mike Seccombe’s report (“Julian would rather commit suicide than go to the US...”, January 20-26) is, “Why the fuck are we continuing with this?” Even if Assange was to be convicted in the United States of espionage, his sentence in equity terms with that of Manning, the original activist, has already been served. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, however, continues to assert Assange’s actions risked very serious harm to US national security. In effect, however, Assange did the US a favour by showing how inept their data security practices were. The real reason Blinken wants to see punishment is the US was embarrassed over the issue and the only target for revenge is Assange. If this is how the US treats its AUKUS allies, perhaps it’s time for our prime minister to be more assertive.
– David Wilson, Rothwell, Qld
Stoking the fire
Chris Wallace’s reference to Peter Dutton’s “rage-farming” is the best description I have heard of Dutton’s Trumpist approach (“How the right built a new base”, January 20-26). Dutton suggesting his party is the friend of the worker, not of big business, flies in the face of both his words and actions. That so many media outlets and alleged journalists are part of this Advance-led conspiracy is a real worry. Dutton is no patriot; his “whatever works” approach shows his disregard for the people he claims to want to represent. Like Trump, his stoking of the flames of insurrection might just succeed among his target audience.
– Geoff Nilon, Mascot, NSW
Chris Wallace notes that “Dutton has stopped short of donning a MAGA cap but in other respects he emerged this week as an Antipodean Donald”. Dutton appears to have nothing to offer apart from Trump-like rants about “woke agendas” and vicious attacks against his political opponents. Seeking solutions to difficult issues is seemingly not his concern and rather bizarre for an alternative prime minister. With Advance and conservative media amplifying his fear campaigns, Dutton’s message is that Albanese and Labor are making the country increasingly alienating to ordinary Australians.
– Mike Anderson, Holt, ACT
The cause of “The era of the tradie” (John Hewson, January 20-26) is that many tradies have changed their business model from being sole proprietorships with emphasis on service to a profit-oriented business model where service is secondary. As Dr Hewson comments, this includes opportunities for tax minimisation and free training. Not having a HECS-HELP debt increases tradies’ numbers and political clout. Both major political parties are encouraging the change, using tradies in many photo opportunities.
– Joe Phillips, Woollahra, NSW
I first voted in 1961. I think Anthony Albanese’s supposedly Labor government is the most gutless I have seen in 60 years. Perhaps the “sleep paralysis demon” (Editorial, January 20-26) has been busy, but I think something more concrete has captured the bulk of, if not the entire, caucus. Something not new but something against which Labor was supposed to be the antidote. The phrase “gangster capitalism” rings true and the Albanese government is its hostage. More fossil coalmines? Vandalise our progressive tax scale? We have a puppet government, controlled by selfish bastards. We have been betrayed.
– Don Macrae, Kangaroo Ground, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on January 27, 2024.
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