Abbott writing the scripts as well
Mike Seccombe revealingly highlights the CVs of Tony Abbott’s right-wing old cronies appointed to head various boards and commissions (“Right across the boards”, July 19-25). But PM Abbott doesn’t just choose lead actors, he also writes their scripts. When former Business Council of Australia supremo Tony Shepherd was appointed to head the National Commission of Audit, his terms of reference told him to recommend balancing the budget only by cutting spending, not raising revenue. He followed the script. The PM has not appointed anyone to head his upcoming Review of Commonwealth-State financial arrangements, but the terms-of-reference script he released on June 28, 2014, reveals all. The review’s key objectives are “limiting Commonwealth policies and funding”, “fiscal sustainability at both Commonwealth and State levels”, and “achieving ... distinct and mutually exclusive responsibilities and subsequent funding sources”. Decoded, they mean permanently nobbling socially and economically vital Labor programs, notably the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Gonski.
– Max Costello, North Melbourne, Vic
Living in denial
I was disappointed to find, in the midst of an otherwise illuminating article by Mike Seccombe (“Abbott stacking an ideologue pile”, July 19-25), the term “climate sceptics”, that nugget of rhetoric so beloved by the corporate media. A sceptic is someone who seeks evidence to substantiate their beliefs, rather than succumbing to the overarching dogma, and who questions facts or assertions before blindly accepting them. Tony Shepherd, Maurice Newman and the rest of the Liberal Party cronies, who choose to deny the overwhelming scientific consensus and ignore the ecological crisis that we are already facing, are not sceptics. The era of uncertainty about climate change ended about three decades ago. To challenge the existence of climate change today is the opposite of scepticism – it is outright and pernicious denial.
– Anna Egerton, Annandale, NSW
ASIC deaf to warnings
James Wheeldon’s revelations about the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (“One-eyed watchdog”, July 19-25) reminded me of my own experience. I put in a submission to the senate inquiry on the cause of the financial collapse of the BrisConnections Airport Link with a loss of $4.8 billion. ASIC did nothing about the failure but what is worse was that it had earlier prevented release of the financial model under freedom of information on the grounds that it was “not in the public interest”. On another occasion in 2012, I alerted ASIC to a serious case of market manipulation. My extensive analysis was received with the usual polite brushoff. ASIC later declared during the senate inquiry that it was “going to get tough on market manipulation”. With such a dysfunctional organisation as ASIC I can see little hope of a proper regulatory regime for Australian investors.
– John L. Goldberg, Beecroft, NSW
Morrison or Machiavellian?
Sean Kelly (“The minister of truth”, July 19-25) need not limit himself to invoking Orwell or Kafka when describing Scott Morrison’s rhetorical style. Included in the select group of writers whose names have become adjectives is Niccolò Machiavelli. In The Prince, the Italian diplomat wrote, “Men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot.” This advice is consistent with the minister’s decision to lock up asylum seekers on the high seas. It’s telling that we need to use the names of two authors of fiction and a 16th-century political theorist to make sense of Morrison’s decisions. At least Machiavelli would be proud.
– Lachlan Alexander, Hawthorn, Vic
Kid gloves on little Bolt
A (predictable) shame that Andrew Bolt responded with his usual breathless hyperbole to the Gadfly column regarding his son (Richard Ackland, “Think of the children”, July 19-25). The piece was gentle, even encouraging its subject, which was appropriate given James Bolt’s youth. It would appear that Bolt’s fearless defence of free speech is not absolute.
– Jonathan Foye, Winmalee, NSW
Melbourne leaves its mark
Please stop referring to Clive Palmer as a Queenslander and implying that his behaviour is therefore to be expected (Jo Lennan, “PUP rolls over on FOFA”, July 19-25). He was nine years old when he left Melbourne. “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”.
– Peter Lynch, Moorooka, Qld
Informing our readers
After brushing my teeth, there is a distinct, slightly sickly sweet taste in my mouth. Among the ingredients in the toothpaste are sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol naturally found in fruits; glycerin, a simple sugar alcohol compound; and sodium saccharin, which is listed as an artificial sweetener. Why would this well-known pharmaceutical manufacturer want me to have a sweet taste in my mouth after brushing? I’m changing brands. And will read up on the list of ingredients before my next purchase. Thanks for the prompt The Saturday Paper and Wendy Zukerman (“Sweet nothings”, July 19-25), whose name, by the way, translated into English, means Sugarman.
– Rosie Elsass, Brighton East, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 26, 2014. Subscribe here.