Crikey readers had a go yesterday at discussing the government’s controversial encryption legislation — given particular weight now that Labor is indicating it will support the bill. Meanwhile, there was debate around Julia Banks and the push for a women’s caucus in parliament, and that old reader favourite: the independence of the ABC.

On the government’s encryption bill

AR writes: Would it be too cynical to think that Labor is slavering at the prospect of getting its grubby hands on all these exciting new security toys when they stumble, clueless, into office? And we may be certain that they will not, absolutely categorically not, misuse them — it wouldn’t be in their DNA.

Sydney or the Bush writes: So Australia is the only Five Eyes country “without an effective parliamentary committee for overseeing the operations of our intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies”. I would be shocked, sir, shocked that the oversight of the USA and UK agencies was anywhere short of perfection.

BeenAround writes: I agree that Labor needs to come clean on its role in the Witness K & Bernard Collaery matter, and must also resist the faux urgency for the LNP’s ill-conceived encryption legislation, where the so-called “intelligence” community can trample individual rights, justified by paranoia without any structural oversight. I am fed up with the mindless fear of “terrorism” being the justification for massively corroding legitimate freedom. 

On Julia Banks and the women’s caucus

Robin writes: You make the point that there’s not much point getting more women into parliament if the women who got in are duds, but I wonder. After all, there are more than a few male duds in there already, and if we’re always bound to have a lot of duds, isn’t there at least some point in having a fair proportion of females among them? A successful female barrister used to say that she’d know that equality of opportunity had been achieved when mediocre women got just as much work as mediocre men. Doesn’t the same principle apply in politics?

RoRo writes: Indeed, Helen. If only we had more diverse people legislating to gut our welfare system, imprison refugee children and privatise Medicare, that would solve all our problems.

On the need for a new ABC charter

ex-ABC writes: Crikey asks “Why is its board stocked with financiers and corporate types, not broadcasters or journalists?” Probably for the same reason that the Woolworths board is not checkout staff. Broadcasters and journalists all have their roles to play in the ABC, and if there were more of the former and less of the latter, it would probably be a better “broadcast” organisation (it’s what the B in ABC stands for, after all).

BeenAround writes: Any review of the ABC Charter and funding must be set up and funded by government, but must not involve government, like a royal commission. The citizens of Australia own the ABC, not the government. Too often governments have demonstrated that they are incapable of understanding the real value and role of the ABC.

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Peter Fray

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