Judges and judgement

Sam Kennedy writes: Re. “On Dyson Heydon” (yesterday). Interesting take by Ken Lambert on putting lawyers and judges on moral/ethical high ground. When GST was introduced I’m pretty sure the ATO didn’t see them as saints.

Fear v love 

Gavin Greenoak writes: Re: “Politics of love v politics of fear” (yesterday). With “a civil and dignified debate” in mind (together with Saint Augustine’s “Love and do what you will”), heterosexuality is instinctively preferred, preserved and protected  when peoples and communities are under threat or establishing themselves with some expectation of reasonable abundance dependent upon it. Once so established and abundance apparently assured, sexuality can diversify, and it must slowly but irrevocably dawn that sexuality is a personal matter with little of the collective future at stake in it. It might however be argued in view of data on global birth rates that the expectation of abundance is a dangerous perception. The only continent on which births exceed deaths is Africa. The West especially will face an increasingly aging population with all its attendant problems sooner rather than later. Personally, regarding same-sex marriage I only lament yet another slogan flapping in the gales of opinion which seems wholly unconscious of losing a once sacred meaning of marriage, between different sexes (whatever their gender).

On Japan and the military

Richard Middleton writes: Re. “Japan tries to re-militarise, China seethes, Australia caught in the middle” (yesterday). Michael Sainsbury should be aware that it is well recognised now that the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred as the Japanese High Command were discussing peace terms. They certainly marked the end, but were totally unnecessary. These weapons were used and approx 200,000 people killed in total, to demonstrate to Stalin, that the West (US in fact) had the capability. It was the dawn of the massively expensive and totally unnecessary Cold War. For all the appalling atrocities and mistreatment committed by the Japanese military against the captives, civilian and otherwise, is it just possible that the (fire) bombing of many of their cities, particularly the utterly unnecessary destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has ingrained a deep mistrust and contempt for others? With nationalism rising around the world as politicians facing the problems of population and environmental pressure seek to externalise their problems, can we be surprised?

You can’t pick and choose

John Richardson writes: Re. “The rich irony of crying ‘lawfare’ while surrendering our sovereignty” (yesterday). Bernard Keane is right to ridicule the “lawfare” game being played by the hypocritical rabble currently masquerading as our federal government. Not only does the odious bookshelf collector Attorney-General George Brandis offensively accuse those who have used the public interest provisions of the Environmental Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act to have the approval for Queensland’s Carmichael coal mine set aside of “vigilante litigation”, while his cabinet colleagues dishonestly spruik the merits of the TPP, the intellectual midget and caricature of our nation’s first law officer stands mute in the face of his government’s attempt to usurp our nation’s courts in order to strip Australians of their citizenship for alleged “crimes”, based on secret allegations made by anonymous and entirely unaccountable bureaucrats. No prizes for spotting the real “vigilantes”.

No secrets

Joe Boswell writes: Re. “FOI rollback the latest round in the war on transparency” (yesterday). Bernard Keane wrote, “The best case scenario from any FOI application is that no story ever appears as a result; the worst, that the minister is embarrassed and forced to defend themselves. That, plus the fact that it can be a pain in the backside to go searching through files for the documents possibly subject to the application while “real work” goes undone, means all public servants are fundamentally FOI-averse.”

Indeed. However, some in the APS are well aware of a simple and completely effective solution to the latter problem. Routinely publish everything except material that would not be released under FOI anyway. After that, FOI compliance is easy. All this information is supposed to be generated on behalf of the public, using taxes taken from the public. Let the public have it. The deep hostility to FOI in the Australian government and among senior public servants, which seems a lot more profound than in some comparable countries, perhaps derives from the government’s colonial origins when, on behalf of vested interests, it kept control of a population it neither respected nor trusted and often feared. How much has changed?

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Peter Fray
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