Manning's ban shows main parties are trying to suppress free speech

​Your editorial ("Manning has government in a bind", August 31) points out the potential embarrassment of our federal government if Chelsea Manning is banned from entering Australia, whereas another ex-criminal, Jordon Belfort, was allowed in several times.

Its criticism is gentle in that although it does acknowledge Chelsea's certain harmlessness to the Australian public, it doesn't strongly condemn the government for trying to suppress free speech.

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But its criticism does contrast with virtual silence from Labor, which shares with the Coalition a servile, approval-seeking relationship with the US power elite.

Penny Wong did comment, not to protest political censorship, but trying to make cheap political capital by pressing the government for full visa ban details.

This consensus also explains both parties' refusal to intervene for Australian Julian Assange, threatened with the same US jail fate as Manning should he leave.

It's OK to sell and drop bombs but not to report where they fall and who they kill.

There is a parallel here with Daniel Ellsberg and his 1971 exposure of the Pentagon Papers, which revealed the lies that consecutive US presidents had told the public about Vietnam.

His civil court acquittal infuriated Nixon and Kissinger, challenging as it did their desire for absolute and unchallengeable power.

That desire persists today among the US military and security bureaucracies and their political representatives – had Obama been a lesser human, Manning would still be in jail.

Vince Patulny, Kambah

Surveillance failure

The arrival of an illegal Vietnamese fishing boat in Australian waters, scuttled near the Daintree in far north Queensland, was apparently due to a "surveillance failure" on the part of the maritime border command.

That would have to be an understatement of monumental proportions.

It beggars belief how a fishing boat from south-east Asia could traverse northern Australia through the Torres Strait and then travel south along a significant proportion of the Queensland coast without being detected.

Makes one question what other boats may have arrived in Australian waters without being detected, and what pests/diseases/contraband they may have brought with them, also undetected.

It is, of course, only coincidental that this illegal boat arrival happened on the watch of the minister who unsuccessfully tried to be prime minister, Peter Dutton.

Perhaps if he had concentrated on ensuring that his Home Affairs Department was doing its job properly, rather than engaging in foolish and ultimately futile political games, this surveillance failure incident may not have happened.

Don Sephton, Greenway

McCain sets example

This week we mourn the loss of a person who, no matter his unsuccessful tilts at national leadership nor his political leanings or shortcomings, was respected across both aisles of government for his consistency and fairness.

Australian Liberal conservative Tony Abbott, take a lesson from recently departed American moderate Republican John McCain.

Greg Simmons, Lyons

Time to pay for sins

Listening to Archbishop Coleman's response to the royal commission on child abuse on August 30 would have left most of us with a sense of futility. He still favoured mandatory celibacy for priests. He still thought the confessional should be inviolate.

From my Sunday School days I can still remember Jesus' reported saying: "Suffer the little children to come untome."

He did not say make those who come unto him suffer. Some have suffered for a lifetime. Others have suicided.

A confession made by a rogue priest appears to guarantee, as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, immunity from prosecution.

From memory Jesus also said: "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is His."

In practical terms if a priest sins against the law of the land he is liable to pay for that sin whether he is a priest who has confessed or been found out in other ways.

You do not transfer him to another parish to continue sinning against his God and thestate.

Howard Carew, Isaacs

Shameful behaviour

The Australian Catholic church purports to reject the royal commission's recommendation to lift the seal of the confessional in respect of the child abuse that it perpetuated and concealed.

It is for the Australian secular state to act on this recommendation, not the church.

Religious freedom is subject to civil law.

The self-serving church cannot exempt itself.

Anyway, has the Australian church not read the Pope's recent letter to "The People ofGod"?

He said: "Looking ahead ... no effort must be spared to ... prevent such situations from happening ... (and) ... to prevent the possibility of their being covered up ..."

What part of "no effort" do these credulists not understand?

But what more can we expect from a church that tried to pretend that it did not exist when rightly sued for reparations?

If its god existed she would be ashamed of them.

Mike Hutchinson, Reid

Tax the churches

In refusing to lift the seal of the confessional in cases involving paedophilia, the church is refusing to accept a recommendation of the royal commission which was funded by taxpayers.

Its recommendations include removing the seal of the confessional as one practical way in which the church, which is exempt from paying tax, can avoid continuing accusations of hiding paedophilia.

If the church is, as claimed in its response, "committed to the safeguarding of children" how can failing to report an offence possibly be "mutually exclusive" to honouring that commitment?

To liken confession to lawyer-client privilege is risible: confession has to do with religion; lawyer-client relationships are secular.

Tax the churches and reinstate the offence of misprision of felony (failing to report a felony).

Neil Dwyer, Wanniassa

Morrison's hypocrisy

Just felt I had to weigh in on the side of the ABC which has received such obloquy over its comedy skit relating to Scott Morrison's religious hypocrisy.

The skit did not denigrate any religion. It succeeded in pointing up Morrison's hypocrisy in claiming to be a committed Christian but treating innocent and helpless asylum seekers in such a way that would have thugees shaking their heads and backing off.

Robyn Fetter, Downer

Vale our lost tree

Two generations ago, someone planted a eucalypt on the nature strip in Tyson Street, Ainslie.

As a handsome mature tree, it became a significant part of our natural streetscape, a home for wildlife, and an important link in the chain of vegetation between Mount Ainslie and our suburban gardens.

On a complaint from the new owners of a property facing the tree, the ACT government dispatched a crew to fell it and feed its remains into a chipper.

This is taking place without any neighbourhood consultation and in the face of reasoned objections from many residents.

Our written requests for consultation have been met by disappointing bureaucratic silence.

If this tree had been two metres to the north, on private property rather than on government land, it would be virtually impossible for a landholder to have it taken down, as the ACT has such effective and farsighted legislation to protect trees in suburban areas.

Same tree. Same value. Same appearance. Same impact.

How can the ACT government possibly justify such a different and illogical outcome?

McComas Taylor, Ainslie

Pupils falling behind

What a relief to read of the research of Professor Macintosh and Ms Wilkinson that exposes the reality of the ACT's poor education system. ("Canberra students falling behind", August 27, p1).

Their research should be a wake-up call for self-satisfied Canberrans who sit contentedly in the belief that the ACT has above average NAPLAN scores, yet choose to ignore the elephant in the room. That is, when we are compared to socio-economically similar schools in other states we consistently fare terribly.

And if that's not bad enough, Australia continues to fall down the OECD education rankings.

We're nearly at rock bottom, 39 of 41.

With a teaching curriculum jammed full of mumbo jumbo students are coming out almost illiterate and innumerate — because there "wasn't time" to teach fundamentals such as times tables.

We seem to have a generation of teachers who have been brainwashed by the education left to believe "direct instruction" methods are the work of the devil.

We are well overdue for a conversation about what and how children are taught.

We already have one generation of children who collectively are not going to live up to their full potential.

Dr Cuan Petheram, Hackett

IMF paper not relevant

The International Monetary Fund recently released a working paper that suggests a general decline in worker protections in rich countries.

It is an interesting contribution but seems to have little relevance to the Australian experience.

The analysis is based on an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development selection of changes to employment protection legislation in 26 advanced economies between 1970 and 2015.

Studies such as this that aggregate the experience across a large number of countries can be used to misrepresent the experience of individual countries. Interestingly, the two Australian "reform events" included in the analysis were the introduction of the Work Choices legislation, which took effect in 2006, and the reversal of the Work Choices legislation in 2009 when the Fair Work Act took effect.

The report looks at the removal of protections under Work Choices.

But it says the Fair Work Act restored many of these protections.

In addition, the report says a number of protections previously available under Work Choices were broadened in the Fair Work Act to protect workers against discrimination and adverse actions because they have a workplace right.

To the extent that the IMF study established an OECD-wide "trend" in which employee protections have been in decline, this trend would not seem to apply to Australia.

Protections have not been wound back in this country.

As such the IMF working paper seems to shed little light on the actual Australian experience.

Innes Willox, chief executive, Australian Industry Group, Kingston

Libs fail on Bishop

The Liberals have missed the best opportunity they had to win the next election by failing to choose Julie Bishop as their new leader.

Highly competent and experienced, and well-regarded by the electorate and foreign leaders, Julie would have made an excellent prime minister.

Her elevation to the leadership would have sent a clear signal to Australians fed up with the shenanigans of her colleagues that the party has changed, has taken a new direction, and is still a party worth voting for.

Women, in particular, would be delighted to see another woman at the helm.

But unfortunately for us all, her attributes and service to the Liberals and this country have counted for nothing.

Her colleagues were too thoughtless, too short-sighted, too dismissive, and too stupid to give her serious consideration.

L. Bentley, Braddon

Ministries for all!

Since 2007 we have had three more prime ministers than we would normally expect.

Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Malcolm Turnbull and now Scott Morrison are all entitled to prime ministerial pensions and other benefits.

In addition, each change of prime minister brings a new cohort of ministers, each of whom are now entitled to increased pensions over and above their backbench entitlements.

Of course this reduces the pool of taxes available for legitimate government spending to the detriment of the economy as a whole.

However, this may be an ideal way of mollifying those backbenchers who are worried about losing their $200,000 a year (plus perks) jobs referred to by a backbencher talking to Peter Hartcher last week (not that any of them are in it for the money).

Give them a ministry for a month each before May next year.

George Beaton, Greenway

TO THE POINT

KNOWING WHAT'S BEST

Aboriginal Elders and leaders are questioning the bona fides of Tony Abbott as the special envoy to their people.

Abbott has endorsed his selection by self-congratulatory references to his past photo-opportunism in remote regions.

In response to their concerns, ScoMo has had to remind the First People yet again that the White Man, uniquely represented by his government, knows what's best for them.

Patrick Robertson, Rivett

AN HONOUR FOR ABBOTT

Now that all "the tumult and the shouting" over the recent Liberal Party imbroglio has died it would be only fitting if Tony Abbott were to be made an honorary life member of the Australian Labor Party.

Henry Lawrence, Belconnen

COMPETENCY KEY

Ian Pearson (Letters, August 29) writes a fine letter about why the demise of Malcolm Turnbull was quite different from that of Tony Abbott. But, he gets it wrong in the last paragraph. Decency is irrelevant. The primary difference between the two is that one was competent. (I've met several Tony Abbott fans in the past few weeks who'll draw the wrong conclusion.)

Tony Stewart, Hughes

POLITICAL NARCISSISTS

How ironic. Tony Abbott's actions and behaviour led the Coalition to electoral victory in 2013 and then out of bitterness and spite at being deposed as PM he has set the stage for a Coalition electoral wipe-out! It is good to see self-absorbed narcissists get their just deserts.

Priceless.

Rory McElligott, Nicholls

COSTLY MOVE

Paul Keating coined the phrase "unrepresentative swill". The past week in Australian politics has showed us that it's not the Senate at all. Peter Dutton and his mates took notice of the swill rather than the people — It's gunna cost the Liberal Party dearly.

T. E. White, Evatt

VITRIOL VENTED

It appears that nothing much is going to change on the policy front as a result of last week's leadership change. The Coalition's best retail politician has been given a Clayton's job, and the nonsensical Paris agreement remains. Still, Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton gave the usual suspects the opportunity to vent their vitriol.

Owen Reid, Dunlop

DOING THE RIGHT THING

Refusing to act on climate change because other countries are not doing so is like beating your partner because other people are beating their partners. There are two very good reasons to act on climate change – demonstrating leadership, and doing the correct thing.

David Bailey, Deakin West

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