Detention centres and detainees:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Two detainee deaths 10 years apart … what have we learned?” (yesterday, item 1). It’s past high time we discussed the broad issue of refugees in a rational and appropriate manner instead of the hysterical hand wringing rubbish that passes for serious comment and the high camp hypocrisy, political point scoring and deliberate misdirection, obfuscation and spin that is dragging this entire issue into a disgraceful verbal mud pie.

A refugee is a person who seeks refuge because of fear of physical harm elsewhere. A person who overstays a visitor’s visa and likes Australia better than his/her less affluent country of origin is not necessarily a refugee. We are obligated to provide refuge to those who have fled persecution and/or death. We are not obligated to accept anyone simply because they would be financially more comfortable in Australia

If a person arrives in Australia on a leaky boat or a jet plane isn’t the point — what is the point is their status —genuine refugee or simply someone who wants to better themselves. There exists processes to determine the status of genuine refugees — and these processes can be extremely time consuming and expensive.

Australia, like most other countries, has determined that they will take only a certain number of people each year. Detention centres are run in Australia by private profit making organisations. Is this a good thing? The facts show that this is all very hard and it will stay that way.

How about we think constructively and cooperatively in seeking genuine solutions.

Chris Hunter writes: I get Inga Ting’s point about our failure to learn about detainees. The problem about learning is that it implies not clinging to a fixed position. Faith inspired politicians like Mr Abbott and Mr Pyne have fixed positions. Neither denigrate boat people as such but instead they suggest these unannounced should have gone through the immigration” process in an orderly and legal way — you don’t “jump the queue” and you don’t risk your life at sea.

A high percentage of detainees are genuine and proven after investigation to have been escaping in fear of their lives. For these cases the “queue” is a metaphor for death. Detainees who are detained before leaving their countries — who would swap places with them? A political escapee in a homeland queue is a wood duck in a shooting ally. Fixed rhetoric has that old dead cat bounce. Nothing changes. It is ordained. Etc etc..

The role of Speaker in parliament:

Anthony Zanos writes: Re. Tuesday’s Editorial. With all the problems associated with “pairing” and impartiality, wouldn’t it be easier if the Speaker wasn’t actually someone voted into a seat of the House of Representatives but, rather, a popularly elected official from outside the parliamentary system.

They could be elected either by the incoming House of Representative members or — perhaps more audaciously — by a popular vote of the people. Imagine that — instead of voting for a president we could vote in a speaker!

Of course, this comes with its own dangers … while we might indeed install a venerated member of the establishment — think a retired military official for example — we could also end up with someone like Kyle Sandilands.

My dream would be for an acerbic comedian to get up — then parliament would definitely be worth watching.

Harold Thornton writes: Re. Yesterday’s Comments. Your Letters Editor yesterday confuses Harry Evans AO, retired long serving Clerk of the Senate, with incumbent Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tasmanian and Chumbawumba fan Harry Jenkins Jr, MP.  It’s true though that both have chosen to adorn their faces with beards, so perhaps the error is understandable.

Marrickville Council:

Mary O’Sullivan writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Tuesday, item 8).  Crikey’s “Tips and Rumours” section should be renamed “Malice and Lies” if Tuesday’s effort on Marrickville Council was anything to go by.

Who knows what will happen in a mayoral election that is as likely as not to be determined out of a hat? That the anonymous informant is no innocent is obvious from the assertion that the Mayor Sam Iskandar travelled to his country at rate payers’ expense. He was in fact on a council sanctioned sister cities visit at his own expense.

Marrickville Greens, Independent and Labor councillors have in the past self-funded visits to sister cities, as have for example Greens and other parliamentarians in delegations and study visits.

I guess the best you could say about anonymous “plants” like this Crikey-hosted nasty is that “lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.”

No fly zone?:

Michael Badcock writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). Crikey published:

“Word from a Customs employee is not to fly the first week in November …”

Please give me any more info you can on this no fly zone rumour! you can’t just print that and that line alone … what was the nature of the advice not to fly? Is there a terrorism tip? Planned customs crackdown? Industrial action over feng shui concerns by baggage handlers? I am set to go to Europe and fly extensively for the entire month. I just read that line as, “quick, everybody PANIC!”

Vic Labor:

Andrew Crook writes: Marcus L’Estrange and Alastair McConnachie both noted (yesterday, comments), that I weirdly wrote on Tuesday that “Rob Hulls” (rather than John Thwaites) had preceded Martin Foley as the member for Albert Park in 2007. I can assure them this was a rushed brain explosion, rather than an actual attempt to claim that Victoria’s current deputy premier had thrown in the towel three years ago.