The 457 furore

Marcus Ogden writes: Re. “Keane: sordid triangle of xenophobia in 457 debate” (yesterday). So let me see if I’ve got this straight. Bernard Keane claims 457 visas are being “rorted” by some “unscrupulous employers”. But if Adam Bandt claims the same thing, Bernard reckons this makes him part of a “sordid triangle of xenophobia”? With Scott Morrison? Please. Maybe is still sore about the Greens saying “a pox on both your houses” to the Malaysian and Pacific solutions.

Venise Alstergren writes: Enough with the intolerable bullshit on the never-ending saga of the so-called “queue jumpers”. What kind of animals are we? Why not prevent anyone not travelling on a genuine Australian passport from entering the country? The ensuing traffic snarl would cause the country to come to a standstill. During the weeks it would take to reverse this decision from the xenophobic, lunatic, hate-mongering Right wing, Australians might begin to realise that people matter more than their lilly-gutted conservatism.

Some of the most xenophobic people  are recent arrivals, with England and northern Europe, providing some excellent examples (the worst one I’ve ever met was a Dane). Having arrived safely, these people proceed to bucket other aspirants — most successfully. Because we are a lazy people we don’t protest against these fear-mongers. We should.

Vale, Hugo Chavez — or good riddance

Mike Crook writes: Re. “Rundle: Chavez dies, and the West hates some more” (yesterday). Having visited Venezuela in 2008 and seen for myself the incredible social advances brought about by the empowerment of ordinary people taking control of their own communities and workplaces, I can only mourn the passing of one of the great figures in human development. Despite the incredible vilification and plotting by the US to topple him, he stayed true to his commitment to a different model of societal organisation.  He termed it “21st-century socialism”. The people of Venezuela are the richer for his support in providing a sustainable model for their future. Would that we had leaders with his vision, we certainly need them.

Martin Gordon writes: I have grown to expect little of Guy Rundle, but even he occasionally is a bit critical of authoritarian regimes, even if he is sympathetic to their politics. Having heard Venezuelan diplomats in Canberra, it is clear their government agenda is broadly Marxist. It is not democratic, and the tirades of abuse directed at anyone who does not sufficiently enthusiastically embrace the regime sounds more Stalinist and Maoist (once most Leftists were broadly supportive of their regimes as “progressive” as well) than in any way acceptable or agreeable.

Rundle helpfully referred to an item of his last year that in part read: “Nevertheless there has been a gradual takeover of many public institutions by the Chavez forces, from judiciary to media, by fair means and foul, and Western leftists have sometimes been slow to criticise the moves, which have increased in the last few years, as economic problems of output have increased.”

I am aware that various statistics can be fabricated (Greece and Argentina of late). It is clear that the economy of Venezuela is considerably smaller than it would have been without Chavez. What gains that exist (and I am happy to give him credit) have all come on the back of an oil price boom, a democratic cost, and enormous economic cost. The likes of Rafael Correa in Ecuador shooting strikers and arresting journalists, with similar authoritarian and economy shrinking policies, has many parallels in the developing world: Sukarno of Indonesia, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Saddam Hussein of Iraqcome readily to mind. It is easy to wreck a country yet be very popular at the same time.