Letters to Eureka Street

Serious issues

My initial disappointment that fewer copies of Eureka Street are to be published each year has been mitigated by the first fortnightly editorial update! Andrew Hamilton’s timely and thought-provoking approach to the current relationships between Australians and their government (‘Laying down the law’, Editorial Comment, eurekastreet.com.au, posted 16 November 2005) raises serious issues, not least of which is the widening gap between New Testament values and values promoted by the Howard Government.

Positive human relationships are, more than anything else, founded on trust. Sadly and too frequently in the last decade the electorate has been fed a diet of misinformation. Even sadder is the fact that the community at large has accepted such dishonesty as part of life, whether it be the distinction made between promises and core promises, the blatant untruth that children had been thrown overboard, or the failure to take far-reaching IR changes to the electorate in the months preceding the 2004 election.

This most recent deceit has been compounded by giving too little time for parliamentary scrutiny and debate of a policy which has the potential to seriously lower the living standards of the most vulnerable members of our community.

David Dyer
Ballarat, VIC

Guiding principles

Thank you, Andrew Hamilton (‘Laying down the law’), for becoming an informed web voice challenging the attitude displayed by the Government in recent legislation, and for clearly outlining the guiding principles that are presently missing from the proposed legislation. By providing a forum that offers Australians the opportunity for comment, involvement and debate, you are encouraging the building of the sense of solidarity, community and co-operation that respects human dignity and that the Government is failing to recognise as essential for human flourishing.

Margaret Smith
via email

Leadership lacking

Our Government is showing little genuine moral leadership on this issue (‘Beneath the trapdoor’/‘The face of moral judgment’, Editorial Comment, posted 30 November 2005). But what can one expect when Howard et al are prepared to allow David Hicks to languish in intolerable conditions in Guantánamo Bay, where none of the usual legal protections seem to apply to our ‘allies’ in the way they deal with their prisoners, in this case one who is a citizen of our country? I find that situation even more puzzling, frustrating and hypocritical than the Nguyen case, if not as tragic, as [Hicks] is not yet on death row.

Bill Versteegh
Woodforde, SA

Response to our fortnightly editorial update at www.eurekastreet.com.au has been overwhelmingly positive. If you are a subscriber and have not yet provided us with your email address, please send it to eureka@jespub.jesuit.org and we will email each new editorial update to  you.

Acting ed

On terror tactics

I do not often find myself agreeing with Jack Waterford. However, I thought that much of his piece, ‘Terror Tactics’ (Capital Letter, September–October 2005) was spot on.

Cases like Rau, Solon and all the others denied their liberty without recourse to a court seem to me to have a clear message. Parliament and its individual members should be very careful about the powers they give to officials, especially when individuals have little or no right to judicial review of official decisions.
This is not necessarily to argue against the Government’s border protection policy. It is a suggestion that if Parliament must make laws that enable detention, then it should do so only if it also provides checks and balances that are available to the individuals concerned.

Bill Ranken
Kew, VIC

Ethnic stereotyping

I was disappointed to read David Glanz’s account of his recent visit to Israel (Eureka Street, September–October 2005). Despite Glanz’s reputation as a committed anti-Zionist, one might have at least hoped for some serious engagement with the reality of Israel and its social and political structures. Much of Glanz’s account is blatant ethnic stereotyping. We are told that the Israelis he meets are unfriendly, rough, tough, rude and aggressive. They all carry guns, and are inherently militaristic. In contrast, Glanz depicts the Arabs he sights either as vague and incompetent (the Egyptian border guards), or alternatively as mere passive victims of Israel. As for political analysis, Glanz offers little more than a parroting of the Palestinian national narrative he first heard at university 30 years ago. All Israelis are powerful oppressors, and all Palestinians are powerless and oppressed

Philip Mendes
Kew, VIC

Truly frightening

The new anti-terror laws are truly frightening, especially as the past record of this Government has consistently disregarded the needs and rights of the most vulnerable in our society—for example, the callous treatment and demonisation of asylum seekers and the denial of work rights even if the asylum seeker has skills needed by our community. The new industrial laws also show a lack of understanding or empathy with young and/or unskilled or timid workers who clearly are unable to negotiate successfully with their employer. Hail to the Police State, farewell to Australia of the Fair Go!

Joan Pearson
Ivanhoe, VIC



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