On the ground in Nigeria
Robert Johnson writes from Nairobi, Kenya:
Re. "Aussie media wakes up to schoolgirls
" (yesterday). The widespread media coverage from the outset by the BBC World Service, Al Jazeera English and others of the situation of the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls makes the Australian media’s belated coverage surprisingly out-of-step in comparison. By contrast, the Australian government’s belated and muted attention is -- incredibly -- not far out-of-step with that of its Nigerian counterpart. Despite its protests and spin to the contrary, the Nigerian government has been widely criticised for delayed, inadequate and even bungled responses. As late as last week, almost three full weeks after that April 14 abduction, it was announced that the number of girls kidnapped was in fact rather higher than initially reported, underscoring the Nigerian government’s increasingly perceived ineptitude in handling the situation. On Monday, as the BBC World Service was reporting another eight (now put at 11) even younger girls being kidnapped, the local chief of police reported not yet knowing anything about it.
Of course, a weak international reaction simply emboldens Boko Haram (translation: "Western education is forbidden"), and a quick and outraged reaction (especially Western) encourages them
. But part of the problem seems to be that women and girls as victims continue to fail to lead to adequate and forceful responses, and not just in Nigeria. The military court sentences
earlier this week in the Democratic Republic of Congo of just two of 39 government soldiers for the rape of 130 women is seen by many as "too little, too late" (in a country described as the worst in the world for such crimes) but by others as an albeit small and belated move in the right direction.
A potential conflict between national economic or diplomatic/political interests (in Australia) and women’s and girls’ rights (in Africa) is at risk of not playing out too well, be it a slow and muted response or the former outranking the latter. Given Tim Wilson’s recent tweet about McDonald’s human right to property
in Tecoma, perhaps Australian banks and even foreign "investors" will be claimed to have similarly prevailing rights.
Should we pay higher fuel tax?
Paul Hampton-Smith writes:
Re. "How the ANAO ended up costing taxpayers billions in lost revenue
" (yesterday). I can see that there is rationale behind raising fuel taxes. Aside from reversing questionable historical reasons for capping them, and the welcome revenue, there would be benefits too in encouraging people away from single occupant cars for their commute, and towards buying local products, thereby reducing carbon emissions.
But surely if tax increases are on the agenda, a GST increase and/or removal of exemptions would be fairer. Higher fuel tax would increase the proportional delivery cost of a melon far more than a mobile phone, giving it a much higher impact on low cost household staples.
Elizabeth Anderson writes:
Isn’t increasing the fuel excise the imposition of a carbon tax?
Niall Clugston writes:
What Bernard Keane's story indicates is that the federal government doesn't have a functioning records system. Contacting a former employee in order to locate government briefing papers is absurd.
Pictures still worth 1000 words?
David Moncrieff writes:
Re. "When photographers were always part of the story at Fairfax
" (yesterday). The decision to do away with staff photographers at Fairfax defies belief. Photo library shots will always be just photo library shots with only a vague connection with their stories. A picture is only worth a thousand words if it matches the words that go with it. The bean counters running amok!