The right to an opinion

Katherine Stuart writes: Re. “Racing to conclusions” (yesterday). Richard Zachariah’s comment on Bernard Keane’s article begs the question: who does Richard Zachariah think he is? The arbiter of who is to be “granted” the freedom to express an opinion and who is not? On what basis? Could we remind Zachariah that freedom of speech is one of the fundamental freedoms on which we base our democracy, in which we all, not just some, get to have a say. Just because Zachariah (or anyone else) does not happen to like hearing what Keane has to say about racing (for which there is copious evidence, even if Zachariah does not happen to like that either), Keane should be stopped from writing about it? Zachariah should perhaps take a look around the world at places where the right to express an opinion is “granted” — by an elite and corrupt few solely to retain their privileged position at the expense of — most likely — the likes of Zachariah and Keane. Perhaps Zachariah should take a trip to North Korea, for example.

Joe Hockey’s manifesto

John Richardson writes: Re. “Crikey says: parental leave a no-win for Abbott” (Tuesday). “Addressing the ongoing fiscal crises will involve the winding back of universal access to payments and entitlements from the state. This will require the redefining of the concept of mutual obligation and the reinvigoration of a culture of self reliance”, said Joe Hockey, unveiling the barren promise of life under Abbott.

Given that Uncle Joe and his pals have already refused to take steps to wind back the welfare entitlements bestowed on John Howard’s “battlers”, and given that the principle of “mutual obligation” doesn’t apply to the pantheon of corporate rent-seekers contributing to the coalition’s election campaign, it would seem that the only way open to Hockey to claw back a few bucks to balance the books will be to pillage the underprivileged.

Hockey’s manifesto is probably the only thing that just might keep Gillard in the Lodge.

 The other sustainability 

John Bushell writes: Re. “Fantasy budget: Keane on the slow path to sustainability” (Tuesday). Bernard Keane’s fantasy budget might achieve financial sustainability but certainly not  environmental sustainability. How about a drastic reduction to the  $11 billion per annum taxpayers fork out to the fossil fuel industry in production or consumption subsidies?

We have a carbon tax of $23 per tonne of CO2 emitted to atmosphere payable by big emitters yet, at 2012 emissions of 552 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, Australian taxpayers are subsidising the production of all greenhouse gases (not just CO2) at $21 per tonne. Stopping this particular roundabout would seem to be a first step both financially and environmentally.

Peter Fray

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