Letters to
the editor

Raising the bar on comedy

I have just found your paper and with this letter I have subscribed. Good on you. But I have just had my first giggle. How about the left-whinger Richard Ackland siding with the ultra-conservative Bar Association and the Queensland judiciary (“Court red-faced”, July 5-11). Of course Tim Carmody can be criticised. He was preferred over “senior” judges, but so was Ackland’s hero – Tony Fitzgerald. He has tenuous links to the government of the day but there have been blatant political appointments in Queensland and in other jurisdictions. The really funny part is that (by inference) Ackland is supporting the old-school-tie establishment that would prefer a closed-shop approach to appointment to the judiciary. Funny that!

– Rob Coutts, Tingalpa, Qld 

The trouble with polls

If democracy is the “worst of all governments excepting all the rest”, what are we to make of proponents of euthanasia citing poll results as a compelling argument for enabling legislation (Letters, “Balanced with poll results”, July 5-11). Democracy has checks and balances built in that disclose our wariness about human nature. The two-tiered system, wherein bills set before parliament have to negotiate two houses, is the most obvious. Yet, proponents of euthanasia repeatedly cite the outcome of opinion polls as a guiding light that should force euthanasia-enabling legislation. Should we respond likewise to the polls that show similar levels of support for capital punishment? No; these forces that would drive us towards a crude understanding of democracy, simply interpreted as the majority rules, represent the worst of human foolishness.

– Patrick Hockey, Clunes, Vic

Keep up the Murdoch Watch

Mike Seccombe’s measured and forensic analysis of News Corp’s role in the plain packaging conspiracy (“Murdoch and the IPA roll a big one”, June 28-July 4) was a welcome read. It’s time The Australian newspaper, in particular, was criticised not only for this sort of thing and its promotion of climate change denialism, but also for the manner in which it pontificates on the shortcomings of other media outlets, Fairfax Media and the ABC being its prime targets. It is highly sensitive to criticism, as illustrated by its responses to Media Watch. Furthermore, editorials and opinion pieces exhibit a remarkable level of self-congratulation. I hope The Saturday Paper will continue to comment fearlessly on Mr Murdoch’s undue influence in Australian media.

– Bill Forbes, Kippaxs, NSW

A minority religious position 

Stephen Brown’s advocacy of pentecostal chaplaincies in state schools (Letters, “Finding the right message”, June 28-July 4) ignores the Australian constitution section 116’s prohibition of religious observance or test, and its upholding freedom of worship. He also ignores the decline in adherence to Christianity: according to the 2011 census: 61 per cent in toto, 7.2 per cent other religions, with 31 per cent no religion/not stated. The 95 per cent poll result against federal funding of religious only chaplains can be explained by the tepid adherence of many Christians, and general distaste for religious hysteria. The proposal arouses conflict while undermining confidence in public education. Victoria’s state schools adopted secular education in 1872: why move into the proselytising business now? Nothing prevents denominational instruction outside school, while students deserve to learn about religion’s role in history, culture and ethics under accessible curriculums devised and taught by accountable educational professionals. Parliamentary candidates must explain unequivocally why an unquestionably minority religious position should prevail in state schools.

– Timothy James Brown, Footscray, Vic

Repelled by Labor’s refugee policy

The ALP moral compass is perfectly on course for policies such as Gonski, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a more equitable tax system and a proper distribution of community benefits from the sovereign wealth and so on. Why then does that same compass strike such magnetic interference when confronted by a need for humane treatment of asylum seeker refugees held in detention? Has Labor conveniently accepted the government has indeed a supposed mandate to act in such a less than humane manner. I think there is a lot to be learnt from a country such as Lebanon with a population of five million and a refugee population of one million with no intention of closing off its northern border.

– John Fryer, Ryde, NSW

Peris shows her worth

The description, by Tony Abbott, of Australia as “unsettled” before the British arrival at Botany Bay does not surprise anyone. It is a continuation of the fight that should have ended with the Mabo decision but that has not been accepted by the right of Australian politics ever since. I had doubts about the way in which Nova Peris gained her position, but she has shown that she is worth the trust that has been shown in her. She has stated that Abbott’s comments were “highly offensive, dismissive of Indigenous peoples and simply incorrect”. Warren Mundine, on the other hand, finds the comments merely “silly”. I know which of the two I respect and which of the two needs to decide who is benefiting from their relationship with the Coalition parties. 

– John Garretty, Kelso, NSW

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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 12, 2014.

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