Politics and notoriety come to fore

Tony Wright rightly points out in his article "Rising chaos is just what killer wants" (March 21, p5) that the attack by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has no basis in fact. Australian and New Zealand soldiers were not sent to Turkey to fight against Islam.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's response to Erdogan's attack was fully justified. However, it is also hypocritical, given that Morrison reportedly wanted to exploit public concerns about "Muslim immigration" in the 2010 federal election campaign.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: AP

Political chaos is not the only thing that the Christchurch killer probably wanted to whip up. He would no doubt welcome the notoriety that has been bestowed on him by the Australian media.

Every day since that fateful Friday his horrendous actions have dominated news and opinion. Headlines about those actions and their consequences covered two pages of this newspaper, but in the News Corp press they have been covering up to eight pages. This is the sort of publicity that the killer could barely have dreamt of.

West Papua pain

The news from West Papua about the awful floods and landslides is terribly, terribly sad. It is good that the news media informs about the desperate and urgent need of the people of Sentani. The media errs however, in invariably describing West Papua as a "province" of Indonesia.

West Papua is in fact an independent country which has suffered invasion and genocidal colonial occupation by Indonesia for some 60 years.

Any assistance that Indonesia gives to occupied West Papua is a pittance compared to the riches that it has stolen from the indigenous West Papuan people over the decades.

There can be no justification for Indonesia's vile, barbaric and rapacious occupation of West Papua.

Shame on Indonesia, shame on the UN and shame on those governments who support Indonesia's violent colonialist occupation of West Papua.

Fight issues

Amongst all the shock and horror that has been expressed about a teenage fight being recorded and broadcast on social media I am surprised that I have not heard any suggestion that the whole event might have been staged as a prank.

Even assuming that the fight was a real and hostile one, it shows double standards.

We are appalled by this but can still accept that two men trying to punch each other senseless is good, legitimate, big business entertainment.

We make national and international celebrities of those who do it most successfully.

Burning $1 million

I can't believe it. The National Gallery of Australia has reportedly paid $1 million – yes, $1 million of taxpayers' money – for a wax sculpture that is literally not going to exist after six months.

The sculpture we are told is effectively a candle which is apparently going to be lit every weekday and will melt away over the next six months.

So at the end of that time, what will the NGA have for its $1 million outlay? Zip, zilch, absolutely nothing.

I can think of many, many more worthwhile things to do with $1 million.

Wong definitely right

Penny Wong is a most worthy recipient of the McKinnon Prize for Political Leadership,

Her leadership was well demonstrated last year when the senator calmly entered a Senate estimates hearing and told an agitated Michaelia Cash that if she didn't withdraw threats to defame opposition staff she'd be referred to the floor of the Senate to account for herself.

It was at this point that Cash withdrew her remarks.

Senator Wong would make a great prime minister.

Shocking rant

At a time when New Zealand and Australia are holding remembrance ceremonies to honour the memory of the dead, the country is going through a period of shock, horror and outrage at the massacres that occurred in Christchurch.

On radio and television and in print we are re-examining our country's recent attitudes towards minority groups, and recognising a strand of racism creeping into public discourse, ever since Tampa.

At this sensitive time Senator Brian Burston has chosen to print and distribute an overtly racist election leaflet, one of which I received in my letterbox to my great shock. The heading on the double-page leaflet says, "Australia's sovereignty is under threat. The Chinese government has secretly built an airport in Western Australia ..." I will not quote more. I think you get the drift.

I would just like to express my outrage at this racist and misleading rant. This man does not deserve to be re-elected.

I ask the electors of Australia to repudiate this kind of fear-mongering and dog whistling comprehensively at the coming election!

Moral compass missing

The needle of a correctly operating compass should always point north.

A person that has a functioning moral compass should know what is right and wrong and act accordingly.

Judging by events of the last week, New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has a strong moral compass.

It is difficult to remember, however, a recent Australian prime minister who, if they have known what is right and wrong, have spoken or acted according to their conscience.

Kevin Rudd's apology to the stolen generations and Julia Gillard's establishment of the child abuse royal commission are rare examples of actions taken for moral rather than political reasons.

Even by the low standards set by his peers, Morrison's demonstrable lack of a moral compass is breathtaking.

He is prepared to demonise all Muslims one week and to shed crocodile tears for their massacre the next.

Perhaps he should go back to advertising and tell us Persil is better than Rinso, or vice versa, depending on which soap powder company is paying his salary.

Wrong message

Brenton Tarrant, the alleged Christchurch shooter, may have fired the shots which slaughtered nearly 50 people in Christchurch but the real perpetrators were those politicians and media commentators who load the weapons of hatred and intolerance.

The killer was their messenger. They may not have wished for the outcome but they created the scenario.

Tarrant, and so many others like him, are just the actors playing the roles they believe have been assigned to them.

Wages argument flawed

Simon Cowan ("Living wage is living in the past", March 16, Forum, p10) asserts as an article of faith that increases in the minimum wage, or any wages, will automatically cost jobs.

Send your opinions to letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au

Send your opinions to letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au

Yet evidence from the US and elsewhere strongly suggests that this is not the case, because low-wage earners tend to spend increases, rather than save them.

The reductio ad absurdum of policies of long-term low minimum wages in the US, recently reversed in some states, has seen fully employed families living on tips, relying on food stamps and residing in cars. This is an example we don't want to follow.

Moreover, we have seen very little of the promised bonanza of jobs in hospitality industries since the cutting of penalty rates in 2017, a matter on which Cowan and other conservative commentators remain silent.

While recognising the problem of sluggish wages, Cowan puts forward no solution other than continuing with the present position, which is that low-wage workers, or indeed most workers, have minimal share in productivity gains.

Anti-Labor bias

I must admit l get frustrated when I read the rants as in the letter of M. Silex (March 21).

I say "rants" purposefully because that is all the letter was.

The claims about Labor not controlling our borders have no basis at all, except an opinion. Saying there are going to be huge increases in taxes, again no substance.

M. Silex talks about the 50,000 future illegal arrivals.

Where, apart from government propaganda, did that figure come from? Silex also criticises the made-up saying that Labor will "run the govt like a union".

Apart from the fact it seems it was Morrison who used those words, not Shorten, it would certainly be more efficient than the way the present government is running the place to suit large private organisations and their corporate friends.

The Labor Party does not do the "bidding of the unions and ACTU".

It is true it is willing to listen to their views and discuss issues with them as necessary.

This is unlike the Liberals, who expect everyone to do their bidding.

If you don't you are threatened or ignored.

If anyone promotes class warfare it is the Liberals.

Why on earth do they have a National Party as well.

Labor, despite what M. Silex says, is not union controlled.

However the conservative sides of politics are controlled by big business and the wealthy corporates.

Those are the ones who have all the money and who control the lawmakers.

We are becoming more and more like America.

We can do better

It is a shame that a mass homicide committed by a white Australian, against our closest friends across the ditch was needed to wake us up to the fact that our society has become the very thing that has appalled us – breeders of extremists with terrorist intent.

It brings shame on all Australians that this person, who was raised in our society, created an atrocity abroad, against defenceless and innocent people. Our ancestors who fought and died for our freedom would be disgusted.

Yet we allow "freedom of speech" disguised as "nationalism", to continue to divide our community. It is no surprise to me that the perpetrator is using that freedom (in the form of social media) as a weapon, because it has allowed proliferation of rampant, unfettered opinions.

I am confident we can do better.

Work with us

The theme for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2019 was mitigating and countering rising nationalist populism and extreme supremacist ideologies.

The tragic events in Christchurch have highlighted again the pervasive presence of offensive and vilifying material on websites, Facebook pages, Twitter and in the day-to-day lived experience of people of different faiths, races and cultural backgrounds.

Many of the messages this week have focused on the need for people to act rather than observe when witnessing these events or coming across this type of material.

While the ACT Human Rights Commission can assist, we need the Canberra community to work with us by reporting such events.

A safe and inclusive community is our collective responsibility. It is also not something, even here in Canberra, we can take for granted.

Population peril

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' figures released recently for the year ending September 30, 2018, showed Australia grew by nearly 400,000 people (395,100 to be exact).

The ACT grew by 8000 people at 1.9 per cent, the second-highest rate after Victoria (2.2 per cent) and higher than Australia as a whole (1.6 per cent).

Overall, net overseas migration had fallen somewhat and natural increase had risen, despite fertility remaining below replacement rate.

If this continues, Australia will gain another million every 2 years, not a lot of time in the scheme of things.

If the ACT continues to grow at 8000 a year, it will reach 500,000 within a decade.

At that point, the city will be pushing up against resource limits, not least water.

With the prospect of regional drying under climate change, it may be that half a million people will have to endure permanent water restrictions.

Also this week, the United Nations released its Sixth GlobalEnvironment Outlook (GEO6).

Key words were: "Human population dynamics or trends, particularly population pressure, and economic development have been acknowledged for many decades as the primary drivers of environmental change."

We have to be careful unfettered population growth doesn't damage those very ecosystem services, such as clean air and water, that make human life possible.



How tawdry our Prime Minister looks in comparison to Jacinda Ardern. Words that might ring true coming from somebody else's mouth seem hypocritical and superficial coming from his, the right-wing politician who gleefully built his career on "stopping the boats" and revelled in the loaded rhetoric that went along with it.

Michael Williams, Curtin


The Prime Minister, speaking in the wake of the New Zealand atrocity said: "An attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths." Unless there are genuine apologies from Morrison, Dutton and Abbott for past dog-whistling, these words are hollow.

Mike Quirk, Garran


Jacinda Ardern towered above Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison last week. She showed leadership, compassion and love, and they did not.

John Davenport, Farrer


When I read The Canberra Times front page headline "Keep fear out of the debate" (March 19) I was astounded at the sudden conversion by Morrison. I had to check the masthead to see if I was reading The Damascus Daily.

Jeff Bradley, Isaacs


The worst that can be said of "egg boy" is that he was silly. The best that can be said of Anning is that his most intellectual statement thus far is violence.

Eric Hunter, Cook


The Christchurch 50 have shown us the results of hate-speak. Their community, ably represented by their Prime Minister, have demonstrated the healing power of kindness-speak. Kindness is a show of strength. Troll-speak is weak and cowardly.

Peter Cooper, Greenway


If the perpetrator of the Christchurch mass murder had "a string of far-right views", how come he was not on the radar of the Australian or New Zealand state security agencies?

Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW


There are many who say Senator Fraser Anning doesn't represent Australian people or their views. Since he only got 19 votes he really doesn't even represent one in a million Australians. Hopefully he will be unemployed soon and forgotten.

D. Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic


"Strong men" like Erdogan and Morrison can't help themselves. They beat their hairy chests and go roaring through the jungle. What a contrast to New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern.

Bob Gardiner, Isabella Plains

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