On Xi and Mao

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Xi whiz! It’s Mao all over again” (Friday). Mao? Wow! Does Michael Sainsbury really believe that Xi Jinping is behaving like the Great Helmsman, or is it just a claim to make his comment more interesting?

On Pell

Rob Gerrand writes: Re. “Cui bono? Home field advantage in the inquisition of George Pell” (March 1). There are none so blind as those who will not see, and the forensic examination of Cardinal Pell by Gail Furness, SC shows two aspects of the proverb.

First, there is the blindness of the culture 40 years ago where people refused to believe a priest or teacher could sexually abuse a child. The victim was usually vilified as a liar. That culture unfortunately still manifests itself today, for example with the dreadful story of abuse by an orthodox Jewish principal in Melbourne of some of her students.

This blindness manifested itself in Ballarat and elsewhere, where even a mother would not believe her own son. And Pell showed his blind spot when a boy told him he was being abused and he only referred it to the school, and accepted at face value that the Christian Brothers would deal with it; he didn’t follow up further. And again, when Pell said that Gerald Ridsdale’s activities were of little interest to him.

But it also manifests itself in Furness’ own relentless attempt to trap the Cardinal. She appears to be blind to the idea that back then almost no one took reports of abuse seriously. Time and again victims’ harrowing stories show how getting authorities to believe them was almost impossible. Not only the Catholic Church hushed up and covered up allegations. So did other religious and government bodies, the scouts, the YMCA, and the police. The media also rarely ran the story. The fine movie Spotlight illustrates this well.

It is, unfortunately, all too credible that the Cardinal is telling the truth, and he was blind to the abuse that was occurring, was too eager to dismiss it as “difficulties”. It is disturbing that Counsel Assisting does not appear able to understand that.

On Turnbull, the let-down

Les Heimann writes: Re. “The Abbott legacy: Turnbull heads for the worst of both worlds” (Friday). Bernard Keane writes on his disillusion concerning Malcolm Turnbull; how he promised a fragrance not delivered after ousting the stink of Abbott. Myself and many others warned the poli-tragics that nothing would change with Turnbull other than style.

It is now the case that one longs for the artlessness of Abbott as Turnbull’s performance both in and out of parliament is of epic obfuscation mixed with simple lies and this makes the receiver angry. At least with Abbott we simply laughed.

Remember we said “Turnbull is not a leader — he is at best a hum drum barrister and a carpetbagger”. So now we see a leaderless policy-free rabble of mediocre men and women intent on ideology being “the plan” with a Rudd-like peacock scratching the sand around their barren barnyard.

Suddenly Bill Shorten sounds sensible and considered, and he is through the utterly obvious policy presentation around negative gearing and capital gains tax. This policy is crystal clear a winner. Simple and fair and the punters know it. Turnbull’s reaction to it couldn’t possibly better demonstrate his liabilities. Lies, exaggeration and hyperbole has provided us with another “Gretch” moment.

Look carefully at the opposition frontbench and you will notice intelligence and discipline; then contrast this with the government front bench. You don’t have to name them to know them as incompetent. There will not be double dissolution, there will not be an early election: this mob will want to cling to power as long as possible waiting for Labor to make a mistake. What sort of a government is that?

The enforcers

Nicholas Ryan writes: Re. “Border Force goes hard” (Friday). Somebody in uniform having a go at Masha Gessen about dirt on a bicycle at airport arrival would be somebody from DAFF Biosecurity, not the nice people from ABF. They were so famous for hazing frequent business flyers about dirt on their sneakers etc that even Max Wilton, then chair of Sydney Airport, had a large public moan about them.

Subsequently there was a government report, said to be far-reaching, the result of which was a name change for an organisation whose acronym was by then widely and well established. That organisation was AQIS, but no more. Now it’s DAFF(t) indeed.

Peter Fray

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