Useless vox pops

Useless vox pops

Good satire reveals the truth and Ian Warden's "Vox pops expose a vacuum" (August 26, p19) does just that.

The ABC's increasing habit of running "man in the street" comments, not just during the recent leadership farce, upends what we realised decades ago, that usually it appears to show the public lack of knowledge or interest in many topics, especially politics.

Illustration Matt Golding

Illustration Matt Golding Credit:Matt Golding

Mostly, it is a simplistic way of presenting a few "filler" comments, edited so as to reflect what producers think is general public opinion.

So why is the ABC reverting to this outdated practice? It's yet another example of their "dumbing down" to the commercials' level but it's ironic because even commercial media these days generally eschews this form of "fake news".


Eric Hunter, Cook

Democracy wins

Thanks to Ian Warden for his constructive perspective (August 26, p19) on political machinations.

The last 11 years of government and leadership changes, of fractured parties and independents, is less a measure of turmoil than an exercise in democratic process far preferable to the oppressive stability of dictatorial and tyrannical governments elsewhere.

Yes, it could be better but the process of constitutional government prevails.

We have experienced Labor governments struggle with credible policy but poor salesmanship and clever Coalition salesmen spruiking largely vacant policy (with questions over their real intent). We have had independents and minor parties with limited and often deficient agendas but who at times have saved the day by voting down poor proposals and even supported good measures.

It is sad to see good policy undermined by internal party differences but encouraging when poor leadership is brushed aside and bad policy abandoned.

It is disappointing that so many electors are easily duped and cannot grasp measures that are obviously in the wider community interest. We can wish that many more would take the trouble to be better informed.

Nevertheless, lessons emerge from this intensively competitive (almost free market) political contest. We may hope that pre-selectors and elected representatives will see it in their interest to champion people and measures that align with the longer-term interests of a largely centre-based electorate.

In the meantime, we should appreciate our good fortune for living in an albeit imperfect democratic system rather than despair over this most serious but entertaining of games.

Geoff Rohan, Kambah

Unstable politics

Dave Sharma started his piece on our political instability by comparing our prime ministerial revolving door with the longevity of Benjamin Netanyahu ("Fixing huge flaw...", August 23, p16) so I expected that he would point out what is better about the Israeli system. He didn't, and had no suggestions apart from constitutional change which, if the political climate is as he says it is, could never succeed.

New Zealand has enjoyed great political stability since the changes a few decades ago, despite all sorts of predictions of doom. If we're looking around, let's have a look at them. But I suspect our problems lie within the major parties, not the constitution.

The biggest one is that most people don't want to be involved, and the parties like it that way.

S W Davey, Torrens

Asylum lunacy

The people detained on Nauru and PNG exercised their right to apply for asylum and are being punished for that.

They have been deprived of their freedom for five years. How much longer will this continue? Another five years? Or 10? Or for the term of their natural life?

The news media should ask the politicians in Federal Parliament. It is a pity that they don't. Instead, they give far too much attention to the trivial pursuits on Capital Hill.

Thomas Mautner, Griffith

Greed and planet

In 1910, Glacier National Park in the US boasted 150 glaciers, today it has 30 which are rapidly melting. Low-altitude Himalaya glaciers have lost "significant" volume in 30 years. Since the 1970s, Peru's Andean, Cordillera de Vilcanota glaciers have nearly halved in area. European Alpine glaciers lost half their volume since 1900.

China reports 16 per cent of its land is polluted, 82 per cent with inorganic chemicals, mercury, arsenic, chromium, predominantly in the west, pesticides and fertilisers in its south.

NSW is drought declared. Other states are teetering. Regardless of Tony Abbott's denials, the weight of evidence proves global warming is real, and anthropogenic.

Mohandas Gandhi warned that while the world may supply everybody's needs, it cannot support everybody's greed. It requires no great cognitive exertion to determine how mankind arrived at this juncture, a point at which social media has put consumerist pedal to the metal, with blandishments, akin to heroin pushing, offering "fulfilment", while airbrushing costs, human and environmental ("Mini-me" the big new fashion trend, Sunday CT, August 26, p14). Social media, while a boon to the rag trade, has done nothing to improve the wellbeing of developing nations' poor, trapped into manufacturing garments which they themselves will never own, for rich Western brats who will toss them aside on a whim. About 7000 litres of water are required to manufacture one pair of cotton jeans.

Rana Plaza's (2013) Dhaka death toll of 1135 is merely a symptom of a relentless, greed-driven system predicated on profits, at any cost.

Albert M. White, Queanbeyan

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