Letters to
the editor

Don’t be ruled by the oligarchs

Thanks Rob Oakeshott for your candid, heartfelt appeal (“Capitalist punishment”, August 9-15). If Australians continue to let a handful of oligarchs run the government by proxy, courtesy of their man Abbott, then our democracy will truly have failed. Many people’s mistake is to think that Abbott is driven by ideology; in truth he stands for little else but winning (“I’d do anything but sell my ---- for this job,” confessed the former Rhodes scholar and boxing champ). Thus, he simply invites the biggest donors and wealthiest ideologues that helped him ascend to power write public policy for him, while using their media control to distort, dilute and obfuscate the agenda. If we are so gullible as to let a coterie of fanatical billionaires run the government, trampling on our interests as they please, then democracy is faring little better in Abbott’s Australia than in Putin’s Russia (striking their resemblance when shirtless).

– Matthew Currell, Armadale, Vic 

Food for the eye and the spirit

Re Helen Razer’s article “Overcooking reality”, August 9-15, I, too, am troubled with the prevalence of cooking shows that continue to bombard our TV screens. So much focus on food, when so many don’t have enough to eat. I do learn things, though. For example from Nigella I came to appreciate the colour of food and this was like a mindfulness lesson that increased my enjoyment of life. Freshly picked salad greens from my veg garden teamed with the vibrancy of beetroot red and pumpkin orange and the white of goat’s cheese became like art. I am not in a position to travel, so the cooking shows on SBS TV enabled me to have cultural experiences and “get a taste” of other cultures. In addition, with the amount of research that goes into those shows the hosts have the privilege to experience things that wouldn’t be open to the individual traveller. As you pointed out, the reality shows are troubling. Food is about nourishment, including spiritual nourishment. A warm home-cooked meal is an expression of love. You quite rightly mention that MasterChef is sponsored and is a big advertisement for Wesfarmers – therein lies the heart of the problem. As in so many other aspects of our society, big business is having the voice and the average person appears to be unaware that they are being bullied.

– Philippa Hart, Newport, NSW

Spurred to join the conversation

In the BA (Before Abbott) era when a conversation with occasional friends and acquaintances moved towards politics, there was often an all-round sideways glance with a reaction of “Uh-oh, what are we getting into here?” But this does not happen now. Abbott has created a whole range of policies and “reforms” that are adversely affecting people, and have many of us all deeply concerned with “What kind of country have we become?” New friendships are being created based on sharing insights on this drama-a-day government. Discussions with acquaintances after my gym class have deepened. When I read articles from The Saturday Paper to my wife on the bus, on the train platform, or even waiting for the Opera House doors to open, strangers open up and contribute to the conversation, and we share our concerns. I go back as far as Menzies and I cannot remember this happening before. Perhaps this is not a gift to the nation that Abbott intended, but it is very real. 

– Bill Johnstone, Marrickville, NSW 

Howard’s way out of the madness

John Duffield seeks to make sense of the government’s attack on job hunters (Letters, August 2-8). But there is no method in the government’s madness: no models, nor successful examples from other countries, to base the offensive on. We can even consult John Howard’s tome, Lazarus Rising, which resolves: “I always opposed any time limit on the payment of unemployment benefits. Some people found it impossible, no matter how hard they tried, to find a job.” Abbott pays lip service to his mentor with “earn or learn”, which suspends financial support to young job seekers for six months. This is a wicked policy based on anecdote and ideology, not practicality and fairness. Even the paragon of social conservatism, Howard, appears to agree. 

– Lachlan Alexander, Hawthorn, Vic

Help the fight against TB

What a sensible article (Mike Seccombe, “World Ebola panic”, August 9-15) . A much more insidious danger for Australians lies in tuberculosis infection, especially in HIV sufferers. There are 58 per cent of global TB cases existing in our region. And it is estimated that latent TB exists in one-third of the world’s population. This dormant form can quickly become active in people with low immunity, such as those living with HIV. If we don’t test and treat HIV sufferers for TB as well, we could see a resurgence of TB, a disease that made our parents shudder. Australia, for its own good, needs to integrate TB and HIV funding in our aid budget. The easiest way to do this is by increasing our support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This is the main body fighting these diseases and now integrates their treatment.

– Barbara Gavin, Mona Vale, NSW 

Mungo’s Cryptics hit the spot

Mungo MacCallum’s crossword setting is like his writing: clever, witty, challenging, informative, off centre and, for me, so deeply referencing Australian culture and language that, when I do decipher the clues and work out the answer, I feel that I have shared a secret understanding with him. I’m a fan. It takes me the best part of the week to complete over breakfast and I chuckle most days. Long may they continue!

– David Williams, Alphington, 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 16, 2014. Subscribe here.