Nova Peris

Eveline Goy writes: Re. “Not local, not Labor, not preselected: NT bags Peris parachute” (yesterday). I think it is disappointing that people choose to insult Nova Peris if they have a problem with Labor’s sometimes dubious preselection processes.

Whatever flaws she might have, Nova Peris is black, a woman, and genuinely concerned and involved in Aboriginal communities and their social issues. She is bright and will learn. That she is tough has already been demonstrated in her sporting record — you don’t get that without discipline and determination.

In regards to the much criticised Labor preselection process, there have been plenty of times when a good Aboriginal or non-Australian born candidate could and should have been preselected, but was overlooked in favour of a union or apparatchik operator. This time the shoe is on the other foot. Live with it, and give Peris all the support that she deserves.

There is much to do to improve our relationship with Aboriginal Australians and to address the various disadvantages suffered by our indigenous brothers and sisters.

Jason Bryce writes: Re. Tips and rumours (yesterday). In your Tips and Rumours you wrote: “is it such a crime Julia Gillard thinks it’s time for a fresh face and wants to see an indigenous Labor parliamentarian at the federal level?”

I was a bit surprised at you taking sides so strongly in this issue, especially since there already is a indigenous woman in NT Labor who has announced her intention to seek preselection for Trish Crossin’s Senate seat — Marion Scrymgour.

Nova Peris’ tears at the presser with Gillard was reminiscent of an athlete or actor accepting an award. Peris’ answer when asked about the NT intervention was clearly rehearsed and Gillard constantly nodding her approval made it cringe-worthy.

Backing the widely disliked Nova Peris may be Gillard’s greatest mistake — and there’s been a few.


Joe Boswell writes: Re. “Mapping a reminiscent non-war in Africa” (yesterday). Rundle’s piece on the current fighting in Mali described al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb as “a disciplined force with money behind it”. Yes, and there’s the heart of the problem. The various eruptions of “violent Wahhabist/Salafist small-group war and terror” are of course linked.

Just as various conflicts during the Cold War were proxy wars where forces supported by the USA and its allies fought those supported by the USSR, now the USA and its allies are in conflict with forces backed principally by Saudi Arabia and (to a lesser extent) Pakistan through their very generous funding and encouragement of Wahhabist/Salafist movements. The USA seems too dependent on Saudi Arabia and its oil to react directly.

Even the 9/11 attack on the USA by Saudi Arabian and Pakistani terrorists dedicated to the Saudi Arabian version of Islam only led the USA to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, abandon the rule of law and take up kidnapping, torture and assassination; a response so irrational and counter-productive it might have been planned by al-Qaeda agents.

Hillary Clinton is obviously right to say this is going to last a long time, and to say a better strategy is needed, because the way the USA has acted so far cannot possibly succeed. Unfortunately, more use of drones does not look like a better strategy, just more avoidance of the real problem.

Pedant’s corner: tighten your beltway

Mark Williams writes: May we have a moratorium on “beyond the beltway” when speaking of Canberra’s attitude to the outside world? “Yass” is probably what those insiders are trying to say; but it’s hardly good for any of us when everyone doing the commentating appears to think they’re in Washington and have failed to note that neither Canberra (nor any other Australian capital) has one, even if there are such things as ring roads.

Canberra politicians seemed to jump inside the beltway around the time “bloviated” reappeared in the language during George W.’s last days. Crikey, unfortunately, now seems to have made the phrase of the fellow travellers its own. With respect, it’s time to belt up.