Let’s put human rights before money and trade

Let’s put human rights before money and trade

04/22/2021

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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CHINA

Let’s put human rights before money and trade

Human Rights Watch and Stanford Law School accuse the Chinese government of committing crimes against humanity in its systematic persecution and incarceration of 1million Uighurs in Xinjiang (The Age, 20/4). How long can our government treat this as a side issue in its pursuit of trade and financial gain? If the Uighurs were Jewish, not Muslim, would this alter our government’s views on our relationship with China? Perhaps, though, the lessons of pre-World War II Germany have not been learnt by a Coalition government which clearly places no value in the humanities.
Jennie Irving, Camberwell

Civilised nations should boycott Beijing Games

In April of 1933, the Civil Service Act was declared in Germany; this excluded Jews from civil service employment. Ultimately, in 1935, the Nuremberg laws segregated Jews from Aryan society altogether. Despite this the world attended the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, allowing them to be a National Socialist propaganda exercise. In the wake of this, the most disingenuous phrase in the English language came into being – “sport and politics shouldn’t mix”. How often did we have to hear this during the appalling apartheid era? How can Australia or any other civilised nation even contemplate attending the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics after reading the report from Human Rights Watch and Stanford Law School on the treatment of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang?
Len Kliman, Armadale

China must focus on its own internal problems

The Chinese government should concern itself with poverty and disadvantage inside its own borders and stop trying to shore up its legitimacy through futile attempts at expansionary threats to Hong Kong and Taiwan. As a visitor to China a few years ago, I was appalled at the poverty and wide gap between the privileged few and the average worker. Beggars were everywhere to be found.

I have also visited Hong Kong (just before the current crisis) and Taiwan. One thing that stood out was that while Hong Kongers had accepted the new arrangements with China, they did not consider themselves as mainland Chinese. In both Hong Kong and Taiwan, I saw happy people rather than being confronted constantly by beggars. Pushing nationalism ahead of health and happiness in the community is the way of despots. It is up to the Chinese people to insist that their government focuses on internal issues and pulls back from the destruction of Hong Kong and threatening the wellbeing of the Taiwanese.
David Hassett, Blackburn

Will Taiwan become our next unwinnable war?

With troops set to withdraw from Afghanistan, the US military must be scanning the globe for fresh markets. The China/Taiwan dispute, having simmered for decades, needs just a little heating up in the popular imagination to provide a credible sales opportunity.

I can already hear the provocations, ultimatums and righteous accusations from all sides. A new generation of Australians, inspired to activism by stories from Hong Kong and Xinjiang, will take the moral high ground in advocating the defence of democratic Taiwan, even as blood is shed everywhere, from Tigray and Yemen, to Myanmar and Syria. Sadly for everyone, the rival superpowers are already bound by legislation to respond militarily if Taiwan erupts. And so the US economy may rebound on the back of a new unwinnable, “forever” war, with Australia trailing in its wake.
Patrice McCarthy, Bendigo

Preaching to the world while ignoring our shame

I love reading letters from people who point the moral finger at China while they stand on stolen land stained with the blood of the Aboriginal people. That is not the moral high ground – it is a moral swamp. If only all this righteous outrage were directed at deaths in custody or incarcerated children, we might not have such an international reputation as materialistic racists.
John Laurie, Riddells Creek

THE FORUM

Why our veterans suffer

Patriotism rears its ugly head again. Peter Dutton calls a Royal Commission into veteran suicides (The Age, 20/4). With due respect to our defence forces and their families, I cannot help but be sceptical about the timing. The political opportunism is obvious given this is not a new problem.
Let me save the government millions of dollars. Soldiers, generally young people, are sent to morally dubious wars where they are exposed to death and destruction. When they return, they are not looked after adequately by the people that were quite happy to send them there. They must be given every skerrick of help available. The Royal Commission will come to these conclusions but will the government act on them?
Robert Price, Preston

Act on recommendations

Unlike people in other occupations, a soldier sent into battle cannot be guaranteed a safe workplace. Thus, the government enlisting these soldiers need to provide full support and compensation for injury, death, psychological and other traumas experienced by returning troops. The Royal Commission’s recommendations must be implemented in full.
Gary Oraniuk, Geelong West

Great insurance rip-off

I look forward to hearing how David Koczkar, Medibank Private’s incoming chief executive, plans to achieve his aim of keeping health insurance affordable (Business, 20/4).

Checking our cover with Medibank last year, I found that we, a couple in our seventies, were covered for pregnancy and assisted reproduction. Hoping to reduce our exorbitant premiums, I called the health fund, to be told if we removed pregnancy and IVF, we would lose pain management implants, as they come in a bundle of three. It has packaged together items from opposite ends of life. If Mr Koczkar wants to make health insurance more affordable, addressing this type of rip-off would be a good place to start.
Jill Rosenberg, Caulfield South

Turn to the NZ experts

The consent video (The Age, 21/4) is a disaster and proves how out of touch is our federal government, as well as the poor decision-making and misuse of public money. Clearly it needs to outsource creation and production of such videos to the Kiwis. They have a proven track record of brilliant, social education videos and campaigns.
Robyn Westwood, Heidelberg Heights

A waste of our money

The embarrassing taxpayer-funded “consent” videos make Christine Holgate’s four Cartier’s watches pale into insignificance. How can those public servants with their hands on our taxes be so out of touch with Australia? I know who should go.
Sandy Richards, Port Melbourne

But who gave consent?

The thing about the milkshake video is that someone briefed it, someone wrote it, someone approved the script, someone filmed it and someone gave consent for it to go to air. Who? (And if you think the video is inept, take a look at The Good Society’s website.)
David Mandara, Hepburn Springs

A mish mash of ideas

As a former teacher of sex education, I found the euphemisms used in the video confused and they obstructed open discussion of key issues. And now we have added a milkshake to the menu.
Kevan Porter, Alphington

Elderly must see GPs

I am a general practitioner in a large practice servicing 20,000 patients. We are being provided with 50 COVID-19 vaccines per week. The waiting list for these runs to September. For many of my elderly patients, visiting large vaccination centres is not possible.

Many cannot drive or do not drive to the city, have mobility issues and would find the whole process overwhelming. They should be seeing their own GP practice for these immunisations. Someone they trust, who is more easily accessible and who knows their medical history in detail. Our most vulnerable patients are hugely disadvantaged by the failure to properly use general practice to roll out this vaccine.
Dr Sarah Hume, Hawthorn

A sensible allocation

My husband is 67, a type two diabetic with a pacemaker, who had bowel cancer surgery and chemotherapy last year. We have no idea when he will be able to have the COVID-19 vaccination and he is yet to be notified re a flu vaccination. As a former nurse and nurse immuniser, I believe this rollout has been abysmal. Why hasn’t the Pfizer vaccine been redirected to those who are working in high-risk areas and the AstraZenica vaccine to nursing homes? Is this Scott Morrison showing he “cares” about aged care?
Liz Phillips, Hoppers Crossing

How to score more goals

The new European Super League appears to have failed, but Florentino Perez (its inaugural president) is correct when he says soccer has to change. There are too many poor quality matches. Too many teams go into a match trying not to lose. Defence is the order of the day; a goal is much easier to defend than score. The outcome is a boring match, possibly nil-nil. For many teams, this is a good result, if they are playing one of the top sides.

The stats measure possession, shots on target, but it is only goals that count. Soccer needs more goals. How to do it: make the goal posts 300 millimetres wider apart and 150 millimetres higher.
Alan Boltman, Blackburn South

Quick calls to families

Please, someone inject a bit of artificial intelligence into the AFL. A $20,000 fine because two injured Collingwood players telephoned their families during a match to let them know they were OK (Sport, 21/4). This was the right thing for them to do. If the AFL was worried about betting, it should have checked the phone numbers that were rung before it issued fines. I am very disappointed.
Godfrey Stevens, Cottlesbridge

Flexibility for all parents

Libby Lyons (Comment, 19/4) presents a strong case for universal, gender-free, paid parental leave on both social and economic grounds. In addition, further unpaid leave of up to three years – as is available in some Scandinavian countries – could provide greater flexibility to families. The teaching service in Victoria provides up to seven years unpaid family leave, which has allowed it to retain skilled teachers, and some other public and private employers also provide extended unpaid leave. This is the sort of workforce flexibility, along with part-time options, which can work well in supporting the employment participation of women and men through the early years of family formation.
Gill Riley, Doncaster East

How to confuse drivers

Recently on a trip from the Geelong Bypass to Bacchus Marsh, I counted 23 changes of speed limit in that 55-kilometre stretch of rural road. Quite apart from the new barriers now installed in the centre of this two-lane road, which prevent overtaking even on straight stretches with good sight lines, is this a recipe for frustration?
Lindsay Cumming, Woodend

Lacking in balance

I have often enjoyed Anson Cameron’s contributions to The Age but his recent Easter article (Spectrum, 17/4) left me feeling personally mauled. I would have no objection to a robust attack on Christianity based on his opinions and a careful consideration of ideas but his attempt did not rise much above a literary sneer. It was so lacking in balance and in any presentation of the wide spectrum of beliefs held by Christians, as to make it meaningless and insulting.
Jan Collins, Doncaster East

We’re all so offended

These days it seems that some people are able to be offended by anything. But to be “outraged” and “offended” by Anson Cameron’s column is going too far (Letters, 19/4). He is one of Australia’s finest writers and I found this letter to be deeply offensive.
Phil Bodel, Ocean Grove

Morrison’s deep thinking

The Prime Minister says net zero emissions will not be achieved at “cafes, dinner parties and wine bars of our inner-cities”. Oh, that’s a shame. So we can’t eat and drink our way out of the global climate crisis? Who knew? I can’t wait for the next insightful announcement. Maybe an emissions target? The government had better be careful not to set the (wine) bar too high.
Jackie Smith, Fitzroy North

We’re all doing our bit

Many people walk and cycle to inner-city cafes and dinner parties where they discuss installing batteries to supplement their solar panels and other energy saving measures over soy lattés and vegan meals. They know that every action counts towards reducing emissions, while lamenting the federal government’s lack of leadership to do the same.
Jackie Fristacky, North Carlton

Sadly, it’s too true

In the comedy, Utopia, (ABC TV), the “National Building Authority” is ignored by politicians who want the kudos of announcing grand projects. Life follows art as the Grattan Institute reports that of nine large projects it examined in Victoria, five were committed to without a business case. Of the remaining four, business cases were either done after the government promised to build the project, or at the time it committed to them (The Age, 20/4).
John Hughes, Mentone

Individual responsibility

Surely the rubbish on road reserves (Letters, 19/4) is a symptom of a population that has little regard for others and expects anyone but themselves to take responsibility for the litter they discard from their cars or dump anywhere but a bin. You cannot outsource all your responsibilities to the government.
Helen Hilton, Armadale

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Politics

I want to be “dictated to” by climate scientists. I don’t care about where they live or their of choice of beverages or dining venues. They’re the experts.
Jane Wright, East Malvern

I’m amazed and despondent that 50per cent of respondents rated Morrison’s recent performance as good or very good (21/4).
Tony Ralston, Balwyn North

The poll magnifies the need for Tanya Plibersek to lead the ALP. Step aside, Anthony.
Michael McKenna, Warragul

I vote for Gladys as PM. She’s direct, sensible and credible.
Andy Lloyd, Acheron

Scott Morrison has missed a wonderful opportunity to lead.
Kerry Tsonis, Alphington

Another royal commission, another diversion from owning responsibility for systemic policy and implementation failures.
John Sale, Glen Waverley

The Age

I like Anson Cameron (Spectrum).
Pamela Pilgrim, Highett

I agree re Leunig’s misogynistic cartoon (19/4). However, I nominate Wilcox as a living national treasure.
Ro Bailey, Hawthorn

I saw a comment on grammar and spacing in Leunig’s cartoon. Gender wasn’t involved.
Wendy Knight, Little River

Furthermore

Vaccinations, where the bloody hell are they?
Dirk van Florestein, Geelong West

Does Australia Post’s decision to stop delivering perishable food (19/4) have anything to do with smartening up the books for a sale?
Jeff Moran, Bacchus Marsh

My six-year-old grandson would get a lot out of the milkshake video.
Patricia Rivett, Ferntree Gully

Will the NZ bubble extend to the 150 asylum seekers Jacinda Ardern offered to take annually?
Lucille Forbes, East Brighton

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