Letters to
the editor

Disparity in MH17 response 

Your editorial writer detects something “statesmanlike” in Tony Abbott’s response to the downing of MH17 (“Statesman caprice”, July 26-
August 1). This tragic event has provided Abbott with a stage on which to strut the stuff he does best: populism and dog-whistling. After a serious hammering for a budget that clobbers the poor, the unemployed, the sick and Indigenous Australians (among others), Abbott can affect compassion and concern. Moreover, sending a large team to repatriate human remains contrasts strikingly with the cruel and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. So while denying refugees, Abbott will go to great lengths to ensure the repatriation of the entitled. Operation Bring Them Home dovetails neatly with (and, by distraction, reinforces) Operation Keep Them Out. I fully support condemnation of the MH17 atrocity, and the repatriation of the bodies. But Abbott’s zeal and compassion contrasts strikingly with his government’s treatment of disadvantaged groups, here and overseas.

– William Grey, Tarragindi, Qld

Wise words from political master

Great to see Tony Windsor contributing to The Saturday Paper (“Why Hockey’s rhetoric doesn’t stick”, July 26-August 1). His succinct and balanced summary of the reasons for the Abbott government’s current budget dilemmas serves to remind one as to why he stood head and shoulders above so many of his peers during his time as both a state and federal member. 

– Phil White, Chadstone, Vic

Too soon to point the pencil

I wish to congratulate you on launching The Saturday Paper. But to have published Geoff Pryor’s “Grim Reaper” cartoon (July 26-August 1) in regards to the destruction of MH17 is just jumping the gun. It’s far too early to start making insinuations regarding Russia in general and Vladimir Putin in particular. We simply don’t know who did what, and won’t even begin to know until a proper inquiry has run its course.

– Walter Steensby, Hawker, ACT

Food for thought

Gillian Terzis’s article (“Square meals”, July 26-August 1) says, “We don’t eat simply for survival but for pleasure.” You don’t speak for me, Gillian, and you should have replaced “we” with “most Westerners”. I lived and worked for 10 years in “undeveloped” countries. Like many of my friends there, I eat to survive, and look forward to the day when I can swallow a pill for my daily sustenance.

– David O’Connor, Eden, NSW

Stuck in ideologue drive

Those who followed Mr Abbott’s career would have no doubt that Australia had elected its own version of the ideological, hard Christian right, usually associated with the US Tea Party (Mike Seccombe, “Abbott stacking an ideologue pile”, July 19-25). Abbott’s ideologically driven philosophies would inevitably result in influencing the most important learning and information centres within any society: its schooling curriculum and the media. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull was not consulted and expressed outrage at the attempt to politically influence the ABC and SBS boards by the appointments of arch conservatives Janet Albrechtsen and Neil Brown as overseers. Education Minister Christopher Pyne appointed two ideologically driven culture columnists from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, Kevin Donnelly and Ken Wiltshire, to the national curriculum review panel with the objective of culturally biasing teaching with a uniquely Eurocentric version of history. The list of overt ideological appointments grows without any political impediment. A Cold War “marshal of the Soviet Union” couldn’t help but be impressed with Mr Abbott’s skill in “stacking an ideologue pile” in his own partisan image.

– Bob Barnes, Wedderburn, NSW

Budget rhetoric doesn’t add up

I have followed the discussions on the latest budget with interest. It seems that the ageing population problem is to be solved by keeping people working longer, and more women, the disabled and everybody else are also expected to find work. For some time now I’ve wondered just where these jobs are going to come from. I could be wrong, but if 2.5 to 3 per cent unemployment is actually full employment, then we haven’t had full employment since the mid-1960s. In fact, apart from during World War II, the brief period between the end of that war and the mid-’60s is probably the only time we’ve ever had full employment. Automation is increasing – for example, the local supermarket is replacing checkout clerks with self-checkout systems, and I believe mining is fast-tracking to driverless trucks and robots for underground work. Isn’t it about time we faced the fact that there are going to be even fewer jobs available in the future? It seems to me that we have been indoctrinated to believe a fallacy; the unemployed could find work if they tried hard enough or had more training. It’s as if everyone assumes, conveniently, that somehow jobs will magically appear. Where are the economists who are questioning the economic model that seems to be leading us in a downward spiral to mass unemployment? Maybe one of your excellent journalists could do some research and put my mind at rest with a reasoned article.

– John Duffield, Yarra Glen, 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 Aug 2, 2014. Subscribe here.