Letters / I care about Collaery!

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“Columnist Robert Macklin asks ‘Who cares about Bernard Collaery?’. Well, I do, for one,” says WENDY WHITHAM, of Hawker. She’s not alone, either. 

In his article on Bernard Collaery (CN, August 22), Robert Macklin asks “Who cares?”. 

Well, I do, for one. I’m appalled at the government’s actions against two men who’ve shown great principle and courage in sticking up for our small neighbour, Timor Leste, and seeking to do the right thing by them, in the face of totally unprincipled behaviour by our Federal government.

Robert Macklin quotes Mr Collaery as saying: “Witness K has been put through six years of seclusion, harassment and questioning”, and Collaery himself is still involved in fighting charges. What kind of government does this to citizens who should, instead, be rewarded for their actions? 

Wendy Whitham, Hawker

Praise brave Witness K

ROBERT Macklin has an article titled “Collaery battles on, but who cares?” (CN, August 22).

I for one am most upset about the clumsy way our government is handling this extraordinary national embarrassment.

On the best information available to me, it seems unlikely that the case against Bernard Collaery will succeed. On the other hand, Witness K has pleaded guilty.

We should all be enormously grateful to Witness K for making us aware of how venal, indeed depraved, lacking any moral compass are some of our most senior politicians. As a community we should be praising the bravery of Witness K. 

How might the minnows like me demonstrate strong support for Bernard Collaery and Witness K, but especially the latter? I am prepared to write letters, march, donate, etcetera.

Tom Hayes, Campbell

Collaery a man of courage

ROBERT Macklin’s article (CN, August 22) identified the courage shown by Bernard Collaery in his continuation to defend his actions and the actions of “Witness K” against a vindictive and disgraced government’s actions following the airing of Australia’s crimes in the “East Timor” bugging. 

It does your newspaper credit in keeping this as a public item. The comparison to the cricket “ball tampering” was noted as well, both indicating a serious degradation in our values. Australia will never recover its reputation until the actions by Bernard Collaery are aired for all to see and judge. More strength to you all.

 Rex Williams, Springwood, NSW

Assembly needs better accountability

 JON Stanhope, in a letter in the August 15 edition reflecting on Michael Moore’s August 8 column that explained the benefits of an alliance of independents in our parliamentary system, suggests we need an upper house for review and improving the government’s accountability.

Maybe. Clearly the systems for accountability needs improving. But whether an upper house automatically will give us this outcome needs further thought. Our MLAs are accountable to us, the people, for the outcomes of their policy decisions that in theory are for our benefit. However, as is commonly canvassed in these pages, they are not.

We need a broader conversation among the Canberra community about how we the people can best hold the Assembly (government and opposition) to account. 

This accountability needs to be for individual performance on each policy issue and program roll out. The “we can vote them out if we are unhappy at the next election” myth is too blunt a tool.

Further, how do we the people get to help set the agenda for what we want the Assembly to focus on? How can we help with the prioritising and decision-making processes? How can we also get skin in the game at this level, given it is we collectively who have to live with the consequences of these decisions?

So rather than jumping to a possibly useful structural solution, let’s unpack further some of these bigger, deeper questions so we can design something that delivers what we want.

Peter Tait, O’Connor

Protest at the weekend

MS Berry as you, your Cabinet colleagues and your Education directorate are so keen to support school kids protesting against supposed climate change, may I suggest such protests be on a Saturday or Sunday so as not to interrupt their learning.

It would be interesting to see how many kids were still so concerned on a weekend.

Michael Attwell, Dunlop

Responsibility comes with power

SURELY the majority of Australians support the principle of “freedom of the press”. But such freedom must surely require an accompanying “responsibility” lest it be open to unsubstantiated opinion? 

Thus the mainstream media’s recent collusion in defence of journalism being questioned about “State Secrecy” turns one to the “power of the media”. 

We are often confronted with headlines about vested interest when a business or union lobby come on strongly about an issue affecting them. Now we see the media coming together with a much larger combined muscle to argue that they are “only doing their job – in the public/national interest”. 

The question is – what is their job? Is it to bring us legitimate, properly researched and accurate news or investigative commentary – hopefully, more positive than negative? Or is it to expand on the trend of feeding off anonymous leaks and whistleblowers who may or may not be pursuing their own agenda? 

“Just doing their job” begins to wear a bit thin when it comes to seeking ratings, enhancing profit or promoting political agendas, whether it be commercial or public media. 

Granted, the media has an important role to play in our freedom-of-speech society, but being in the public or national interest must surely go beyond sensationalism, just as our right to know cannot always transcend the need for national security and for essential in confidence issues. 

We elect governments to act on behalf of us all. But not all will always see beyond their own vision or wants. It is not the media’s job to circumvent genuine secrecy or to play politics and ignite controversy. 

Len Goodman, Belconnen

The contradiction of ‘overdose’

INTERNATIONAL Overdose Awareness Day has just passed. But it’s not too late for the community to know that the term “overdose” when used in relation to illicit drugs is a self-contradiction. 

Why? Because there is no medically determined or approved “dose” (safe) for any illicit, mind-altering drug. 

So, although the outcome is tragic, to speak of overdosing on such drugs is untrue and misleading. It can be used if speaking of pharmaceutically approved drugs that declare a safe dosage. But that’s another story.

Colliss Parrett, Barton

 

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