Newly restored cabinet minister Bridget McKenzie (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Several topics have got right up Crikey readers’ noses recently, not least the treatment of Witness K and the fact that notorious “sports rorter” Bridget McKenzie is back in town.

On Bridget McKenzie

Geoff Smith writes: Bridget McKenzie back in federal cabinet? Only 18 months after the “sports rorts” scandal? Nothing quite like rewarding bad behaviour! [I] expect little of our politicians, and in this respect I am rarely disappointed.

Anneil Ewart writes: Australian politics is slowly and inexorably sliding into the muck of American political standards whereby anything goes, lies are accepted, corruption goes on and the corruptors get rewarded … and no one cares. If they do speak out they are labelled socialists, communists intent on destroying the established order, i.e. the rich get richer and the poor get forgotten…

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All of the above can easily be cut and pasted into the Coalition government. A prime minister who lies without any shame. Bridget McKenzie, who should be in jail. Barney Rubble masquerading as deputy PM charged with sexual harassment. Potato Head disregarding advice from his department and awarding millions of taxpayer “Safer Communities” funds to Coalition seats. $33 million paid to Liberal donors for land valued at $3 million. But all that is OK because that is the “right” of politics in Australia. Dan Andrews got it right when commenting on the shameful and appalling questions by the right” of politics in Victoria, and Sky News, that he was faking his illness — those questions were the sort of gutter politics prevalent in America.

Bob Pearce writes: Bridget should not have been returned to cabinet, she should have been kicked out of Parliament and taken to court for misappropriation of funds.

Roger Laws writes: Sadly, like so many Liberal/National politicians past and present there is no such thing as accepting responsibility — it’s always someone else’s fault. Well, Ms McKenzie, if our GG had the guts and/or integrity to do his job as prescribed in our constitution, you would not be back as a minister.

On religious freedom

Rosemary Jacob writes: Australia’s constitution provides all the “religious freedom” Australians need. It also indirectly denies Australians services that could be provided by finance which would be available if government’s favourable treatment of religious organisations was less generous …

Sexuality is not a binary issue — fact. Allowing members of the LGBTIQ community to be vilified by those who — like global warming deniers — are refusing to accept the science is unacceptable. Now 85, I have always believed that education is a lifelong pursuit. I grew up in a Christian household but am now an agnostic — but I still acknowledge the moral teachings which tell us to treat others as we would be treated.

On Witness K and Timor-Leste

Marc Hudson writes: Every time I think that the Australian government and security apparatus has sunk as low as is possible — that there are no further depths of moral and financial corruption to plumb — along comes more reality to tell me how naive I am… Thank you for your reporting. I’m subscribing on the basis of it.

Rod Kippax writes: Witness K, I stand in solidarity with you and my heart breaks at your treatment. When the dominant class imposes secrecy you can be sure that there is only one interest at stake — their own. I am sorry Witness K, but I nevertheless admire your courage, integrity and honour. Hopefully there will come a day when we all look back on this with shame, but your name, and what you have done for this country, shines out like a bright beacon.

Robert Hardwood writes: Does Australia want to condone a culture of secrecy and duplicity? A political culture embracing unaccountable actions by elected ministers? A sanitised history of ministerial accomplishments? Most thinking Australians would definitely answer “no”; while, sadly, a majority of Australians, imbued with generational apathy, would react with a “so what?” And yet, the secret prosecutions of Witness K and his lawyer represent that worst aspect of repressive and dictatorial government: the secret trial. This slippery slope to totalitarianism, for this is what it really is, is of course aided and abetted by media complicity, by a failure of the fourth estate to ensure open democratic and judicial norms are adhered to.

Also sadly “missing in action” is any outraged response from opposition parties, themselves elected representatives of not only constituents but also representatives of Australia’s purported liberal-democracy (with all the values that that “idea” encapsulates). All of us should be afraid, very afraid. It is entirely possible that secret trials of journalists, academics, or union leaders, for example, might be held in a dystopian political future, all in the name of a spurious “national interest”. After all, it’s already happening right now and right here, in Australia.

Caroline Graham writes: The protests against nuclear weapons in the UK once involved (from memory) setting up a people’s court to try the enablers and we should do something along these lines here: a people’s trial of Downer and others who were the real criminals in the Timor Gap affair. This would need much publicity, and a proper courtroom and judge, but could be really effective in drawing attention to the truth and helping to exonerate K and Collaery, who could also be presented with trophies or medals from “the people”. Please keep addressing this gross injustice and corruption.

Ian Melrose writes: The Australian politicians and key public servants involved in ripping off the Timorese must also have their day in court and a royal commission is needed to uncover the rest of the Australian politicians’ and public servants’ illegal activities (it is clear there have been more illegal activities). Timor needs to be repaid the billions the Australian government and various companies have stolen from it. If the Timorese move to accepting China as a better option than Australia as a Pacific island partner, Australian will likely have a Chinese military and navel base on our doorstep. This is not a good move for our international security and can be avoided by our government coming clean and repairing our relationship with the Timorese. I have met with Timorese prime ministers and I always say it’s not the Australian people who have stolen from Timor, it’s the Australian government, and the people of Australia support the Timorese.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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