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Yesterday, readers applauded the High Court snuffing out what they considered an affront to democratic process: the NSW government’s attempt to severely limit third party campaign donations and thereby neuter unions and groups like GetUp. Elsewhere, readers weighed in on the Melbourne University Publishing board resignation scandal and DFAT’s less than impressive record.

On the NSW government’s High Court loss 

Glen Davis writes: Did the High Court make the right call? Yes! But the High Court has only been asked so far to rule on the NSW bill. There are more important electoral decisions awaiting opportunity for ruling, e.g: why should political parties benefit from any advantage at all, whether in campaigns, funding or ballots? Why didn’t the minority ruling of Justice James Edelman receive the unanimous support of the bench? I was about to say that supporting Edelman was the best thing Brandis ever did, but that’s an exaggeration. Supporting Edelman was the only good thing Brandis did in his political career, and of course he did it for all the worst parochial reasons.

Ian Hunt writes: Of course the High Court made the right call. Attempts by sitting governments to use their power to muzzle potential opposition voices is clearly an illegitimate regulation of free speech.

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Lee Tinson writes: The High Court was absolutely right to find as they did. That the decision was unanimous I think makes that doubly clear. And good on the junior magistrate who called it for what it was: an attempt by a government to subvert democracy. One wonders whether the Coalition will ever wake up to realise that probably their best and most reliable source of money would be donations from the public, but that won’t happen until they start doing what the public wants.

On the MUP board resignations

Jim Hart writes: Louise Adler has certainly published some significant books in her time at MUP but she could have done that working for any commercial publisher, assuming they were profitable titles. There is no obvious reason for a university to run a commercial general publishing business any more than it should run a commercial legal or medical practice. The old argument for a university press was to make available important academic works, consistent with the university’s role as a cornerstone of educated society, maintaining traditions of scholarship, keeping alight the beacon of knowledge, etc etc, but even that seems dubious in the digital age.

On DFAT’s mishandling of the Yang Hengjun arrest

John Byrson writes: DFAT was made inconsequential by Alexander Downer and has remained so since. I was covering the Hong Kong Handover in 1997, when the number of DFAT personnel present was in saturation, claiming to be working for trade, but doing nothing other than gravy-training Australian politicians and their caravans.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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