Thank you, Peter Hartcher, for giving us such a poignant and apt phrase, “the bonfire of corruption” to describe the trappings of big industry bullies (“Once Cowardly Nation Rise to BullyDec. 17). Governments have long cringed in the face of threats from the resource and club industries, mercenary, loud-speaking entities that, like many bullies, crumble as soon as they stand. Joan Brown, Orange
Peter Hartcher sums up the whole shameful mess of mining ‘rights’ in Australia. For too long, mining companies have had their way with what should belong to all Australians.
The mining and gas industry has convinced too many timid/compliant governments and citizens that the resources in the ground can be owned and exploited solely for the benefit of mining companies. If anyone disagrees, it’s “socialism” or “communism”. Meaningless planned insults. Billionaires are never satisfied. Common sense and justice tell us that people should of course be rewarded for discovering important minerals, but the discoverers neither created nor put them there. So they can’t really “own” them, and they can’t dupe us with “royalties” that they claim are enough concessions. They do not recognize that the wealth generated by natural resource extraction should benefit all Australians in health, welfare, education, construction and defence. It is well beyond time for the federal government to end this long-standing wasteful injustice. Kaimanola Tucker
I hope that Hartcher’s article on the energy industry’s push back on gas prices will soon have an article on the food industry’s push back on resisting sugar taxes and more effective government labeling requirements for processed foods. Henry Harrison, Paddington Bear
Poor little petals. Australia’s big three gas producers Woodside, Santos and Beach Energy say they are going through a “Soviet-style” crisis. crisis? “Russia’s profiteering invasion of Ukraine” while their stock prices soared? It must bring tears to the eyes of working people paying huge energy bills with wages that have stagnated for years. Catherine Hollins, Northmead
“Bullying” is the right word. This is the way to deal with bullies. I’m glad Hartcher didn’t limit his comments to the realm of resources. Let’s hope others show some backbone and don’t give in. David Rush, Lawson
Robot debt is a disgrace to public services
Misissued robo-debt resulted in a $1.2 billion federal payout, so it’s no surprise that no one has acknowledged responsibility (“Seek honest and fearless advice17 December). Civil servants know robo-debt is legally problematic, but the question is how widely this knowledge is shared. There are often competing factors.
Minutes of Cabinet meetings must be signed by the relevant minister. Scott Morrison told the royal commission it was inconceivable that the public service would hide such a problem from him, but said it happened. The royal commission’s findings should provide interesting commentary on how to advise ministers. The system has evolved from the Yes Minister agreement, but competition between public servants and ministers’ private staff remains. What has changed is that department heads are no longer entitled to tenure, but instead rely on ministerial approval. james moore
The report suggests that the choking of public servants in Canberra is largely a phenomenon of the past 10 years or so. Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison’s Liberal National Party may have reached the pinnacle of this misadministration, but it is nothing new. Unfortunately, in the 80s, when I was last in the public service, the willingness of the Menzies-era “seven dwarfs” and their subordinates to give ministers frank and fearless advice was not rigorously practiced, and there were Indications are that things are only going to get worse. I was once asked by a very senior official for my opinion on a legal matter and he told me, “The minister wouldn’t like that.” I sat in the same minister’s office recently , gave him some advice that I knew he might not like, and I took the liberty of repeating my views on the law, which angered the senior official. When advising the Minister earlier, his response to my inconvenient view of the law was: “Thank you for letting me know. Now I can make a decision based on all the facts.” Paul Fergus, Croydon
Why was the president dismissed?
I don’t know Shane Fitzsimmons personally (“Sacking Black Summer heroes is not personal, PerrottetDec. 17), but judging by his public image during extreme weather events, he appears level-headed, well-informed, reliable and trustworthy. Can we elaborate more on why this got fired? A letter from your correspondent (December 17) implying that he was the “Sacrificial Lamb” seemed closest to the target. Megwenya Matthews, North Tullamura
Dominic Perrottet spoke of supporting proposals to improve “disaster response,” so he made Fitzsimmons a scapegoat and fired him. I can think of another proposal to “improve” the state government’s “disaster (our)” response: voters to fire the Perrottet government next March. Fred Jansohn, Rose Bay
Thanks to Shane Fitzsimmons for his public service. I will remember your empathy, determination and skill. As usual, like teachers and GPs, you will be blamed and slammed for government policy failures, because the government puts gloss and slogans on the front of meaningful action. No wonder some of your employees burst into tears when they heard you were fired. I doubt there will be a similar reaction when we see the back of Perotet and his mob. Along the way, we will cheer. Mary Healy, Helstone Park
What’s all the fuss about having a citizenship ceremony on 26 January instead of a few times a year by Parliament (“Ruddock Challenge ALP Dates changed”, 17 December)?
I remember about 40 years ago, my citizenship was in the halls of parliament. I don’t remember the exact date, but it certainly wasn’t January 26th. It wasn’t until 1994 that January 26 became a national public holiday. A naturalization ceremony on January 26 won’t make someone more patriotic, but unlike me, at least they’ll remember the date. Mukul Desai, Hunter Hill
Of course, if the immigrant wishes to become an Australian citizen, only a certificate needs to be issued. Its presentation date is irrelevant. I’d have thought Ruddock would know all of this, instead of bothering with the date the citizenship certificate was issued. Doug Crawford, Cheltenham
move forward with history
Listen, listen, to your correspondent (Letters, Dec. 17). I taught a similar class to yours and remember showing the students my Year 3 (Year 9) Australian History workbook from 1972.
Throughout that year, the only mention of Indigenous involvement in our history was a point in a sentence we copied off the blackboard. It says “the locals are not hostile”, which is one of the reasons why the British chose Sydney Cove as their settlement. Things are changing, but there is still a long way to go. Enabling all Australians to understand the entire history of the land, and to value all perspectives, is vital as we move forward together and build a nation we can be proud of. Pam Timms, Suffolk Park
Luckily, the H&M show is now over (“Harry’s war with the royal family is irretrievableDec. 17). We carried on like normal people, and the rest of the royals continued as royals usually do, while the Sussexes laughed till the bank. Who won? Who cares? Barbara Fay, Grafton
I don’t understand why Harry and Meghan don’t understand the Royal Family’s need to protect this institution. Similar to any organization, if an employee does not work in accordance with the institution’s principles, beliefs or vision, then that employee will be asked to leave or be “killed”. Susan Chan, St Ives
In years to come, when Australia becomes a republic, people will be shaking their heads and wondering how the former head of state was born out of such a broken family. The Meghan and Harry circus is fun entertainment, but it symbolizes the wrong way Australians choose who to represent them at the highest level. Tony Ray, George Hall
Harry vs. the Royal War? yawn. Peter Miniutti, Ashbury
Online comments for one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday www.smh.com.au website
Australia ‘vulnerable’ to electricity bill shock until we break fueling habits
from cathedral: Australia is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources (solar, wind, coal, gas, uranium), yet we face an “energy crisis”. Another example of politicians not planning but only worrying about the next election.
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