Be wary of words

Graham Perrett MP writes: I write in response to your Insider edition dated March 9. The subject line to the email included the words “ASIO chief warns of new yellow peril”. As you would be aware the phrase “yellow peril” is a very offensive term which originated in the 19th century with the immigration of Chinese and Japanese labourers. That term is loaded with stereotyping, xenophobia and racism and has no place in contemporary Australia.

As the federal member for Moreton, a very multicultural electorate, I am aware of the delicate balance of respect necessary to maintain a vibrant and successful multicultural society.

I ask that your website take seriously the privileged position it holds as a news provider and write responsibly for all Australians.

Something sounds familiar 

Joe Boswell writes: Jon Altman has argued that the defunded communities would just be neglected, saying, “governments do not close communities”. Perhaps he overlooked examples like the government of our war-time ally Uncle Joe Stalin. It forcibly closed many communities that lacked his approval and moved their people elsewhere. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Abbott’s and Stalin’s early years are curiously similar in several important ways: both born outside their chosen countries; both trained  in a seminary before taking up politics; both noted for seeing issues in stark black and white; both confident, aggressive and gifted at intimidating opponents. Their political beliefs are oddly parallel too. Strong government in everything; their own party is the only one entitled to govern; all opposition to the party is illegitimate and immoral; not voting for the party is disloyal and may be punished; the rule of law, the constitution and state institutions should all be subordinate to the party; science is not permitted to contradict the views of the party; economics is bent into a shape that suits party prejudices; arts and culture is attacked viciously and careers ruined for straying beyond limits acceptable to the party; a huge unregulated secret state security apparatus and blanket surveillance of the population is necessary.

That’s not all. The recent vindictive Senate estimates grilling by Liberal Party senators of HRC President Gillian Triggs (her crime: acting independently) was apparently inspired by Stalin’s famous Moscow show trials of the 1930s, complete with abuse, bullying and shouting down inconvenient testimony. And one can wonder how much jealousy is involved in Abbott’s obvious resentment towards Putin, who is as near to being Stalin as anyone today.

Abbott’s government works tirelessly to treat various despised groups of people as badly as it can, with help from various states. The Barnett government’s brutal record with Aboriginal people speaks for itself. Still, Abbott and his allies have little hope of getting anywhere near Stalin’s league in several very important respects, not for lack of trying but because government here is still restrained by what is left of our liberal democracy and its irritating rights and freedoms. (Be not afraid — Bill Shorten is our bulwark.)

The beautiful thing about closing communities that cost the government money, if it is extended rigorously across all Australia, is that ultimately there would only be communities that can support themselves without any government intervention. Then Abbott would achieve one of his dearest goals. He could cut taxes and government services to zero, leaving everyone to fend for themselves. The state would simply wither away… where have I heard that before?

Nancy Williams writes: Re. “Homelands under the hammer, again, from the aspiring PM for indigenous policy” (yesterday). I was in north-eastern Arnhem Land in the 1970s  when Aboriginal people were making plans to move back to their own clan lands. They were told by representatives of government that they would be provided with the same services that all Australian citizens were entitled to no matter how “remote” their country was.

The PM is getting a lot of criticism about removing government funding from remote indigenous communities, mostly because it’s obviously racist to pick solely on indigenous communities. So Abbott could do worse than drop that aspect, and instead simply stop funding any remote community that does not pay its way. This could quickly make a very useful improvement to the government’s finances. For example, from Crikey 02.02.15: ‘… tax-payers of the Australian south-east fork out around $4 billion a year to keep the NT running. Divide that number by the 220,000 people in the NT — about the population of your local shire council but without the productivity and contribution to GDP – and the figure is around $18,000 per head.’ For most Australians the NT is definitely remote, and Abbott must see that living in the NT is as much a lifestyle choice as living anywhere else, so how about it?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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