Letters to
the editor

Not politically motivated choices

Further to Peter Pierce’s letter (“Political judgement goes awry”, June 28-July 4), I, too, was taken aback by Senator Brandis’s comments on the entire judging panels that have served on the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards since 2008. I, like Peter, was a judge for four years before retiring, in my case, from the nonfiction and history panel. The usual appointment time for judges has been two to three years, although subject to annual renewal. Continuity of judges was seen by the department as important in terms of assessment procedures. In my time on the nonfiction and history panel, I do not believe any of our judgements could be seen as politically motivated, from either left or right perspectives, unless Mark McKenna’s superb biography of Manning Clark could somehow be tainted by association with its subject matter. The award to Bill Gammage for his groundbreaking book The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia surely transcends politics. The two nonfiction and history winners last year, The Australian Moment by George Megalogenis and Farewell, Dear People by Ross McMullin, could hardly be called politically influenced judgements. One hopes that Senator Brandis’s almost completely new panels operate within similar neutral frameworks of literary judgement in 2014.

– Colin Steele, Canberra

A case study in courage

I think that the piece by Carolyne Lee (“Life and death decisions”, June 21-27) is very good as a case study. The facts of the medical situation not being clearly laid out to her show that physicians should make clear these facts, as, indeed, is a medical requirement. Bill’s refusal of further and undue psychiatric assessment was warranted. It is tough seeing a person die, but Ms Lee actually gives testimony to the fact that it is something to be lived through. Neither she nor her husband was assisted by faith, but they made and sustained decisions of moral integrity. Carolyne Lee did not assist her husband to die, but she did assist him in his dying. I do not believe that “euthanasia” as understood by its advocates occurred. As Ms Lee presents it, her husband had a natural death. As difficult as it was, her account makes clear that she holds dear the memories of those days. Difficult as they were, they were precious days that captured the quality of the life that they built together with her two sons, and that she continues with them and their extended family. The decisions that she and her husband took as she portrays them were not consistent with the moral positions of those who favour “euthanasia” or “assisted dying”. Your editorial policy seems to be pushing “euthanasia”, and an undiscerning reader could read Carolyne Lee’s testimony as favouring that “way out”. Read discerningly, her fine article supports rational judgement about death, and living through the dying experience in a manner that manages its physical agony, but upholds the dignity of life and the gift of that courageous dignity to those who surround the dying.

– P.  A. McGavin, Canberra

Balanced with poll results

Brian White criticises The Saturday Paper for being on a “one-sided crusade” in favour of physician-assisted dying (Letters, “Euthanasia debate too unbalanced”, June 28-July 4). He lists four articles for and two letters by Dr Kirszenblat against. I would like to point out this is more than fair compared with population polls, which have consistently indicated a ratio of 4:1 for some years.

– Beverley McIntyre, Camberwell, Vic

More resource wars ahead

The “Not in My Name” marches voiced the opposition of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world against the proposed unsanctioned invasion of Iraq. None of these protesters were supporters of Saddam Hussein, but most recognised that he had to be removed by the Iraqi people and not by outside intervention. Unlike Robert Manne (“The coalition of the shilling”, June 28-July 4) many of us viewed Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and then the US, UK, Poland and Australia’s unsanctioned invasion of Iraq in terms of “resource wars”. Even today’s sectarian divide in Iraq is viewed in terms of the strategic importance of oil, with ISIL’s capture of Iraq’s largest oil refinery being the real focus, and fear of the US. Do you really think governments would care what happened in Iraq if it only exported camels? As the earth’s population is heading to nine billion expect more resource wars. They will always be justified in utilitarian speak of the need to protect and project freedom (as Manne has noted). 

– Ellak I. von Nagy-Felsobuki, Arcadia Vale, NSW

War on climate change

Thanks for Robert Manne’s article on the Iraq disaster. The frightening thing about the “war party” is how successful they have been – at supporting the illegal invasion and then avoiding any responsibility for the subsequent consequences of that act. More frightening still is that these are the same individuals – less a few of the pollies – now in the vanguard of the “climate change denialists party”.

– Peter Gardner, Bairnsdale, Vic

Financial conflicts concerning

I would love to see a story on politicians’ conflict of interest. Clive Palmer has a declared financial interest in coal and canning the carbon tax. Is it enough that his interest is declared on the public register? Should he not abstain from a senate vote from which he will gain financially? It does not sit well with our democracy.

– Sarah Corbet, Yarraville, 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 Jul 5, 2014. Subscribe here.