Not a riot

Keith Binns writes: Re. “Christmas Island ‘not a riot’ tests government doublespeak” (yesterday). You illegally imprison people and, when they react, brand them as “dangerous criminals”. If this government wasn’t so cruel it would be quite a joke wouldn’t it?

Don’t hold your breath for MyGov

John Richardson writes: Re. “MyGov is your problem” (yesterday). For some extraordinary reason Crikey seems to believe that it is the role of the Commonwealth Ombudsman to keep federal government departments and their operatives on the “straight and narrow”; to ensure that they provide the quality of service promised or that a meaningful remedy is provided when that promise is broken. Where have you been, Crikey?

The office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, like the Federal Police or any other agency of the federal government was long ago co-opted by the executive arm of government to serve the nation’s political class. We have moved on from those halcyon days when public servants fearlessly and proudly rendered service to the people of our Commonwealth; unflinching, unbendable and untroubled by tiresome parade of temporary political pretenders, safe in the knowledge of where “real power” lay. Our journey from substance to appearance was enabled by clever opportunists like Howard, Hawke, Keating and a litany of other ego-laden neo-liberal wreckers who succeeded in putting to an end the reliability and certainty of service delivery that came with the substance of an independent public service, underwritten by tenure, while ushering-in the new form of government based on appearance, whose managers focus their energies on making the “right decisions” to serve their own career ambitions.

We have already entered the final stage, where the political class don’t even need to worry about appearance. As Frank Zappa once sagely observed: “The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theatre.”

All too soon, those employed by government will not be burdened with the challenges of service performance, but concerned only with ensuring compliance on the part of those who once believed they were free. And the policy of not commenting on “operational matters” will become the only policy of government.

Eat your greens

Jackie French writes: Re. “Michelle Bridges is right, people who grow their own food are freaks” (yesterday). Dear Helen, I love your work but you’ve been watching the wrong gardening shows. Of course you can grow most of your your own fruit and veg in a Melbourne backyard, with no cost at all. Plants have been doing that successfully for more millennia than humans have been around without our help. Collect seeds; grow from cuttings; turn waste into compost or mulch or feed it to the chooks, then use their manure. The ‘high price high work’ edible backyard is a very profitable con. And now to pick  asparagus and spuds for lunch, plus avocados that have been growing for nearly 40 years with no commercial products whatsoever.

Peter Fray

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