Clarification:

Crikey says: An item in Tips and Rumours yesterday stated the Queensland Health fraud scandal was “involving three senior bureaucrats”. Only one public servant has been charged to date; three others referred to by authorities have not. Queensland Health Director-General Dr Tony O’Connell said on December 14: “There is no evidence to date which implicates any of these three individuals in criminal behaviour.” We’re happy to clarify.

Christmas Island tragedy:

John Richardson writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. Crikey rightly observes, in my view, that the SIEV 221 “accident” at Christmas Island 12 months ago “seems to have left no mark on the national imagination. We are not dealing with repression and guilt; there is no trauma.” And Crikey asks “why”?

Well Crikey, I think it’s simple really … we’ve been mugged by duplicitous politicians, aided and abetted by a corrupt media, whilst our own ignorance and selfishness has made us culpable.

For more than 10 years we’ve been told to “be afraid, very afraid” of the terrorists. We’ve endured campaign after campaign designed to make us suspicious of anyone who doesn’t look like a white Anglo-Celtic, whether they are driving a bus, wearing a police uniform or walking through an airport terminal. We’ve been constantly regaled about how unsafe the world in which we live is, to the point where we allow ourselves to be harassed, herded, x-rayed, physically searched, prodded, poked, sniffed and treated contemptuously.We’ve sat idly by and quietly watched our politicians strip-away the few legal protections or freedoms that once helped define the term “liberal democracy”.

As we’ve hidden under our beds, we’ve been constantly lectured about the endless “war on terror”, which requires us to sacrifice our freedoms without question and look the other way. We have listened daily to the shrill racist diatribe of the rightwing nut shock jocks who relentlessly mock those who are different to “us”; inspiring hatred and distrust of anything Islamic.

For more than a decade we have been complicit as a nation in the commitment of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan: the waging of wars of aggression; the commitment of crimes against humanity and the torturing of anyone who got in the way. As we act out our role as harlot to US foreign policy, we may occasionally be troubled by the loss of one of our own, but are immediately reassured by our lying, conniving politicians that we must stay the course and that the eternal blood sacrifice of our youth is necessary to protect “our way of life”.

Then, when some helpless human flotsam turns up on an old fishing boat and dies before our very eyes, we are comforted by the guile of said politicians who reassure us that the reffos have only themselves to blame for putting themselves in harm’s way …. not our fault; why should we feel guilty just because we’ve been an accomplice in the destruction & looting of their societies, turning them into desperate refugees, willing to take any risk in order to attain what we all take for granted?

And so to today when, as our politicians dance, locked together in a desperate embrace of moral bankruptcy, Crikey asks “why”?

Niall Clugston writes: You quote your editorial on the Christmas Island shipwreck of a year ago.  I’d like to quote my response which you published the following day:

“The fact is people die every day, and any cause, even fascism, can be supported by footage of carnage. I don’t see how the masses of people who are indifferent, or antagonistic, to the plight of refugees will be suddenly converted to a recognition of reality by a few more corpses.”

That terrible event could have evoked sympathy for refugees or hatred for “people smugglers”.  But all it really proves is that it’s dangerous to approach Christmas Island on a crowded fishing boat. So it’s not surprising it had little impact.

As I said at the time there’s no substitute for “patient and intelligent campaigning”. I’d be happy to be proved wrong.

Europe:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Rundle: how violence in Europe takes a hard-Right turn” (yesterday, item 4). Guy Rundle asks “How will the liberal Right deal with the increasingly violent and racist trajectory of the hard-Right?” Probably in much the same way as the liberal Left dealt with the violent trajectory of the representatives of the hard-Left: Mao (40m dead), Stalin (20m dead).

And maybe Rundle should also consider that the hard-Right is probably more a by-product of the smothering embrace of the liberal-Left than anything else.

Tasmania:

John Thompson writes: Re. “In Tassie, wise heads back Giddings, despite the motley crew” (yesterday, item 3). Bruce Montgomery suggests “wise heads back Giddings”, but surely that is a value judgement. He questions why O’Byrne would not wait until after the next election to challenge. Surely, the answer is obvious; next election, Labor is likely to finish with one or two more seats than the Greens, Giddings can claim a Labor/Green coalition win, thus continuing her premiership. In the unlikely event that the Liberals hold a majority, why would O’Byrne settle for Opposition Leader then, when he can be Premier now?

There seems to be a reluctance to challenge female leaders, particularly on what used to be the left of politics (now the not quite so right). Thatcher is the only female leader who springs to mind that has been canned by her colleagues. Is this some kind of misplaced chivalry? If they can’t take the heat send them back to the kitchen.

Peter Fray

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