John Hewson says he is “embarrassed” by Australia’s offshore detention policy (“Exporting asylum policy”, February 3-9). I am surprised he didn’t say “outraged”, “appalled” or similar other superlatives. Our legacy of outright torture of asylum seekers who arrive by boat is a huge stain on our collective conscience and our international reputation. At this moment, 55 men who were detained in Manus Regional Processing Centre, and their families, languish in Papua New Guinea, facing homelessness and destitution while Australia and PNG both deny responsibility for their support. The UNHCR has assessed most to be refugees, at least 12 to be so unwell as to be unable to engage in resettlement procedures and three so paranoid they are refusing aid from anyone, including fellow refugees. Clare O’Neil, minister for home affairs, says PNG is looking after these men. Service providers say they have not received payment in more than a year. PNG says they have not received payment promised in a secret agreement made with the then Coalition government. Meanwhile, services have been cut and some of those abandoned in PNG are struggling to survive on donations from Australian citizens. Embarrassed? I think not. Devastated is more apt.
– Marilyn Lebeter, Uki, NSW
Sister Jane Keogh, age 78, will be sitting in the street outside Parliament House every night before parliament sits in February and March. She will arrive at midnight and remain to greet the parliamentarians with a donation box when they arrive at 9.30am. Asked why she is going to suffer such cold and deprivation of sleep, she replies: “I need to do something that symbolises the desperation and lack of safety for the Moresby men and their families.” There is no longer any financial support from the Australian government for the refugees sent from Manus Island to Port Moresby, and they are in a desperate state. Sister Jane is among the individuals and support groups who are raising money to provide $10 a day per person to feed and help these people for whom they are the only source of income. Good night and good luck, sister.
– Patricia Wilkinson, Yarralumla, ACT
The changes to the stage three tax cuts should be enthusiastically supported by all parties interested in social justice. Of course, tax reform could and should go further, but as Cassandra Goldie so cogently argues (“Stage three shy of a full load”, February 3-9), raising the Youth Allowance and JobSeeker payments is far more urgently needed.
– Juliet Flesch, Kew, Vic
Looking for reason
A wonderful article by Barry Jones on the different states of being assailing everyone around the world at the moment (“The end of complexity”, February 3-9). He asks the question: “How do we bring the country back into the one conversation?” I would suggest the answer lies in speaking honestly. As someone who grew up in the United States, I can tell you that you don’t want what is happening there to happen here. Mobs bring out the worst in us. Understand why you feel the way you do about an issue and don’t just say “because that’s my opinion”. When we force each other to establish the reasons for our views, then we can learn more from each other about what is causing our fears, hopes and enjoyment of this modern life.
– Sandra Bradley, Victor Harbor, SA
Importance of ethics
As someone who has chaired human research ethics committees (HRECs) for more than 20 years, I was appalled to read “Veterans cover-up” (Rick Morton, February 3-9). The Commonwealth guidelines under which HRECs operate require evidence of strong and defensible protections in place for participants directly involved in research, or for use of their personal data. These requirements are central to maintaining public trust in research. The persistent failures by Veterans’ Affairs and the University of South Australia are a tragedy, not only for those directly affected but also for the broader community that relies on the integrity and transparency of HRECs and researchers.
– Philomena Horsley, Carlisle River, Vic
There’s something comforting about being an ABC and SBS viewer. For instance, not having to be “married at first sight”, and avoiding the appalling advertising. So, it was with some excitement that I learnt of the appointment of Kim Williams as chair of the ABC (Quentin Dempster, “Chairman Kim”, February 3-9). Like all good and interesting aunties, the ABC has a decorous veneer and a challenging underbelly. Welcome, chairman Kim. May the data be with you.
– Pam Connor, Belconnen, ACT
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on February 10, 2024.
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