From our readers: Australia’s heartbreaking ‘let it rip’ mentality

Feb 5, 2022
Scott Morrison coal
(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

In letters to the editor: what letting Covid rip says about Australia’s leaders and its policies on climate change and Indigenous affairs.

In examining how Australia’s ‘let it rip’ attitude to Covid also reflects our attitude to other important policy areas, authors Melissa Haswell, Lisa Jackson Pulver and David Shearman prompted some thoughtful responses from our readers on the nature of our country’s leaders this week. We also heard from you on the government’s investment record and more thoughts on when we should observe Australia’s national day.

We welcome your responses to our articles. To submit a letter to the editor, please email us at editors@johnmenadue.com, including your full name and town or suburb, and the article to which you are responding. Letters should be no longer than 200 words, and may be edited for clarity, style and length.

Hope in independents — Melissa Haswell, Lisa Jackson Pulver and David Shearman

‘Let it rip’ mentality underlies Australia’s cruelest policy failures

I fully agree that, when applied to addressing climate change, common Australian attitudes inherent within phrases like “she’ll be right, mate” and “let it rip” may well lead to our demise. The more I learn about the abhorrent treatment of our First Nations people and the intertwined ecological and climate crises, the more heartbroken I feel. The deceit, deception, and most recently, delay tactics that have emerged within our westernised capitalist culture and government as management of these issues, now permeates our country’s identity. Australia scored zero in the recent Climate Change Performance Index for climate policy. Our “leadership” is that bad. Yet, there remains hope for a better future. There is a groundswell of community activism relating to the climate crisis, environmental protection, and the treatment of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Many Australians are waking up. As Haswell, Jackson Pulver and Shearman so eloquently state, the growing independent candidate movement may just be the impetus we need to spur us to change. I sure hope so. — Amy Hiller, Kew, Victoria

This insightful analysis pulls together how the “let it rip” ethos has been a feature of Australian life from colonisation to Covid and climate change. From Macquarie to Morrison Australians — both Indigenous and settlers — have borne the brunt of this laissez-faire approach. Our current government’s laggard response to Covid, and its procrastination and denial about proactively addressing climate change, have left it with little respect in the community, many of whom are well aware of the impending threats. Labor promises more, but not enough. This article is a clarion call for honesty in government. If we cannot feel confident that either major party will govern with integrity, will be proactive to suppress what would otherwise be let rip, then those who can should grasp the hope offered by the “voices for…” independents. These capable individuals, called to politics from their own successful careers, could inject — should they hold the balance of power — a measure of decency and integrity into our political process. With their support and encouragement our government could again command the respect that a working democracy needs.  — Christopher Young, Surrey Hills, Victoria

Can-do capitalism — Dean Paatsch

Crony capitalists’ narcissistic rage prompts proxy advice ambush

The extreme efforts of  Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg to attack industry super funds and investment decisions that run counter to their anachronistic prejudices, is well illuminated by Dean Paatsch. The obvious subplot revolves around the blatant hypocrisy of so-called “free-market champions”, dare one say “can-do capitalists”, wilfully and brutally intruding into the financial services market on behalf of aggrieved company managers or owners. This is not merely distortion: it is the “theft” of information that possible investors may need to make investment decisions. Morrison and Frydenberg must believe ordinary Australians will find this attempt to curtail transparency and accountability by company directors either too boring or arcane. Labor may yet find a way to expose the anti-democratic aspects of this new regulation and the intent to “punish” investors who make “green” investment decisions, especially industry super funds on behalf of their members. The effort to distort the flow of investment advice in the financial market validates recent claims that Morrison is a “fraud”, and that Frydenberg’s “worship” of “Reaganomics” is just lip-service. Only people with authoritarian pathologies would endanger the reputation of Australian investment advice. — Robert Harwood, West Hobart, Tasmania

Finding another date — Pearls and Irritations

From our readers: A more inclusive date to celebrate Australia

As we leave January behind, any decision about Australia Day is even further in the distance. It’s hard to imagine any of our current political leaders having the courage to take on this debate or, for that matter, the recognition of our First Peoples in the Constitution. The different findings from various surveys have also been unhelpful. While the recent survey conducted by a conservative “think tank”, labelled by Henry Reynolds as the “poor old IPA”, found that “only 15 per cent supported changing the date” an earlier survey by the Australia Institute found that most Australians (56 per cent) didn’t mind when the day was celebrated. Most popular in that survey was the date when Australia became a nation or when, if ever, Australia becomes a republic. Bruce Kay’s proposal of May 26 to coincide with the successful 1967 referendum on counting Indigenous Australians in the census,= sadly coincides with the Mt Dispersion massacre. Similarly, January 26 is the date of the Waterloo Creek massacre. As hard as it is, another date must be found. We must start now. — Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Victoria

Consideration could be given to May 3 as an alternative date for Australia Day as this day in 1805 was the first time the word “reconciliation” was reported in The Sydney Gazette in an article about a meeting between Aboriginal women from the Darug Nation, Reverend Samuel Marsden and free settler John Kennedy. — Debbie Cummings, Greystanes, New South Wales

It seems to me that in our annual angst about Australia Day and/or about January 26 we confuse several issues. Firstly, there are questions about our national day. If we cannot agree that we have a country called Australia, then we have no starting point for any discussion, about national days, constitutional or any other matters. Secondly, while there may be debate about the detail, we can hardly deny that the assertive cultures of (mainly) Western European nations trashed the more benign cultures of the many Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal nations of what is now Australia. The “First Fleet” was but one expression of the assertive cultures of Europe and later North America. That fleet “arrived” in Port Jackson on January 25, 1788 (having earlier “arrived” in Botany Bay on January 20). I do not know exactly what it is that we celebrate on January 26: the first levelling of trees in 1788, perhaps; some expression of the pre-eminence of Sydney in Australia… Thirdly, we are fortunate to have (except that they will become hotter and drier) summers that are worth celebrating with holidays before we go back to the serious stuff of school, work, and the like. A holiday towards the end of January would make sense — and how very Australian? Nicholas Whitlam in The Sydney Morning Herald (letters, January 25, 2022) offers an elegant solution: keep the national holiday on the last Monday of January, as our mid-summer holiday instead of January 1 which (as it is the anniversary of the founding date of our Commonwealth) should become Australia Day. As the day after New Year’s Eve, it is commonly a day of reflection (!) so perhaps we could reflect then on the nature of our country? Whitlam’s solution would mean that we wouldn’t lose a public holiday and we wouldn’t have the disruption that the present focus on an irrelevant date causes in the last week of January. — Ian Bowie, Bowral, New South Wales

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