No support from PM for an Australian under siege

No support from PM for an Australian under siege

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

Julian Assange has been offered consular assistance which in reality has meant no assistance at all ("PM won't seek US pardon for publisher", January 6). Our record in helping stranded Australians has not been good. Did consular assistance help David Hicks, the Bali nine, Mamdouh Habib – all Australian citizens who were abandoned by our government?

Assange's crime: exposing the truth about Americans gunning down innocent journalists and seriously wounding two children in Iraq. Like John Howard, all Scott Morrison had to do to bring Assange home was to pick up the phone. The recently departed great journalist Alan Ramsay was quite correct when he once described our relationship with the USA as "America's tea lady". Ray Armstrong, Tweed Heads South

The Obama administration wisely decided that an extradition would result in a court hearing where evidence of US forces killing civilians, similar to our recent investigation, would be damming.
A smart move would be for our US ambassador to have a quiet word to Joe Biden after he is sworn in. Saves lots of embarrassment. Gavin Williamson, Narrabeen

Julian Assange acted unwisely in making public volumes of unredacted, confidential material: at the same time exposing atrocities committed by the US military overseas, for which he has already paid a heavy price. As an Australian citizen, with no criminal record or terrorist label in this country, he is free to return and live in peace.

However, absent a presidential pardon, what's to stop the US from commencing proceedings here seeking his extradition? What guarantee is there that our pro-US government will support a man with the potential for continuing to expose malfeasance at the highest levels? Fred Jansohn, Rose Bay

By definition, a journalist is someone whose job it is to report the news. They may work for themselves or another media organisation. Julian Assange is therefore a journalist and, despite how unsavoury the truth, reported news that we all need to be informed of: that US air crew were murdering civilians in Baghdad.

This is not a video game – this is real life. I need to be informed of this, and the messenger alerting me to this outrage should not become the casualty. Bill Young, Killcare Heights

Is Assange a journalist? Maybe. Do his actions of dumping material on the internet, without any critical analysis of its contents, show the hallmarks of journalism? I think not. Should Assange, his lawyers and other journalists have been looking for a judge in a lower-court decision to have made a sweeping decision regarding journalistic freedoms when the case was about whether or not to extradite Assange? Definitely not. Peter Butler, Wyongah

The unrestrained joy of Assange supporters is hard to follow. While on one hand, extradition, at least for now, has been avoided; didn't the court find that he was guilty of the charges that had been levelled against him? Ross MacPherson​, Seaforth


By refusing to seek a pardon for Assange our Prime Minister sends a clear message, right from the top, to every Australian who might be thinking of blowing a whistle. Do we call ourselves a free country? Rory McGuire, Pyrmont

Premier wants to lead NSW down privatise road

If Dominic Perrottet had his way, there would be no public sector and all services would be privatised ("Public hit with bill to outsource tax policy", January 6). This would mean huge and lucrative contracts to private firms and little government oversight. It would also mean higher prices for consumers despite proponents claiming productivity gains, better pricing and more satisfied customers.

Perrottet, whose role in the icare debacle has been brushed over, is the man who would be Premier. By then, however, NSW doubtless will have nothing left to sell. Alison Stewart, Riverview

Outrage on the announcement that there will be another outsource at a cost of $5.5 million. Would it be impertinent to ask how much KPMG donated to the government in recent years? John Greenway, Wentworth Falls

A $5.5 million contract to KMPG to replace stamp duty with an annual land tax sounds like money poorly spent to me. Either way it's a clear disincentive to home ownership and a burden to taxpayers in what looks to be an ongoing flat wage environment. The shade and shape of pink doesn't really matter – it's still putting lipstick on a pig. Peter Bower, Naremburn

Seeking the opinion of outside consultants with regard to abolishing stamp duty sets a dangerous precedent for the NSW government. They may now be inclined to investigate the problems caused by selling public assets, relying on public private partnerships that include secret clauses favouring developers, cutting public service wage growth and reducing government services. John Bailey, Canterbury

The latest dodgy decision to outsource stamp duty changes illustrates perfectly what is meant by systemic corruption. This government wants to keep hidden its rationale and its research into this controversial change to taxation, so it gives its industry mates another fat contract which will both disempower the public service experts and also keep discussions and data out of the reach of freedom of information laws. Accountability is effectively bypassed and party donors are enriched. Barry Laing, Castle Cove

I hope the review of stamp duty also includes the insidious stamp duty placed on buildings and contents insurance policies.

Presently the NSW stamp duty is another 9 per cent added on top of your insurance premium, emergency service levy and GST. As an example on a total insurance premium of say $500 this included stamp duty amounts to more than $41. With the introduction of GST this type of duty should have ceased long ago. With the huge increase in insurance premiums associated with natural disasters, having the added burden of this duty is unconscionable. Col Goodacre, Tathra

Qantas must issue refunds before resuming sales

Qantas is certainly optimistic in its decision to start selling international tickets from July 1 with a view to giving customers travel credits, refunds or rebooking if travel doesn't go ahead (''Government in flap after Qantas reopens bookings'', January 6). Given that many customers are still waiting for their refunds since COVID-19 first shut down flying in March last year, perhaps those initial outstanding refunds should be given urgent priority ahead of any new bookings and possible (probable?) subsequent refunds. Is the ACCC watching how Qantas is dragging its feet with regard to customer refunds for airfares purchased as long ago as 2019? Vicki Copping, Oatley

Get tough on travel

We have a highly transmissible virus in our country and our current management is all wrong (''Road trip puts NSW regions on alert'', January 6). We need to make a mandatory travel limit for everybody from their residence. If one wishes to travel outside that limit for holidays or other purposes a mandatory test needs to be done and permission granted if the result is negative. This would save the majority having to queue for testing and businesses forced to close down. Barry O'Connell, Old Toongabbie

The residents of the northern sector of the Northern Beaches LGA will have been in lockdown for 23 days if the government decides to lift the current restrictions on Saturday. This lockdown is unprecedented, unfair and discriminatory. No other area within NSW has been subject to the same restrictions. We are told that it is a precautionary measure, but where are the precautionary measures in relation to the cricket and the situation in Berala? The acting Premier says no more lockdowns, but what about the forgotten residents of the northern sector? The concerns expressed by our local politicians is deafening in their silence. Charles Hill, Elanora Heights

Is the NSW government seriously considering allowing thousands of cricket fans to attend the Tests during this critical stage in this pandemic, when it could be televised? Will spectators change their masks each time they cheer? Are there four square metres between urinals? Natalia Bradshaw, Potts Point

John Barilaro has discouraged people from regional areas from attending the cricket. Attendance risks carrying the virus back into regional communities. Does it not matter that people from Greater Sydney might also carry the virus back to their homes and suburbs? Catherine O'Grady, Forest Lodge

What's the difference between attending the SCG for a cricket match while wearing a mask and attending the BLM march in Sydney while wearing a mask? Cricket attendees are treated with respect and care, while protesters are widely criticised? Signs of times with double standards and skewed values. Josephine Grieve, Bronte

Given that it is cricket being played, residents of Rookwood are probably there in their thousands (Letters, January 6). I know that I would have to be dead before I watched a game of cricket. David Neilson, Invergowrie

Big government

David Hayward's analysis is spot on (''Government grows as lines blur'', January 6). He identifies the drivers that got us to where we are, from political and ideological to ad-hoc creep. Yes, there has been huge additional government expenditure. But in theory there is greater flexibility and some savings. What he doesn't mention is government determination to shed some of the burden of employing armies of permanent public servants. Not just their salaries but personnel management costs. Once service delivery is outsourced, all that bother can be offloaded too. That is possibly as powerful an argument as any in giving us the opaque mixed arrangements we have at every level of government today. Whether we have achieved greater efficiencies and improved service delivery is very doubtful, but it looks like there's no going back. Margaret Johnston, Paddington

Missing link

The proposed diversion of the Harbour Bridge cycleway for the redevelopment of Fort Street Public School is incomprehensible ('''Flawed': Outcry over cycleway diversion for Sydney Harbour Bridge'', January 6). It ignores the dangers to cyclists diverted down Watson Road in the face of upcoming construction traffic and puts them in conflict with the many activities in Kent Street. Why would the government waste money and create unnecessary disruption to Millers Point in the face of objections from the school council, the local member, the City of Sydney Council, Bicycle NSW and Millers Point residents? They all agree that the long-standing promise to properly complete the city's missing cycleway link across the bridge should be built now on available state-owned land. Our COVID and climate crises just underline the need for the Premier to step in now on the side of sensible community planning. Caroline Pidcock, Millers Point

As President of Fort Street Public School P&C, I write in support of a more considered and expedited plan for the Harbour Bridge cycleway that addresses the concerns of families attending the school as well as the local Millers Point community. The cycleway has been a major safety risk to school families with cyclists crossing paths of cars and children at drop-offs and pick-ups, and travelling at high speed down the footpath adjoining the Western Distributor. It is extraordinary the $53million redevelopment of FSPS results in a larger student cohort but provides no clarity on when the new cycleway will be built. The unsafe interaction between cyclists, cars and families walking to school needs to be addressed through proper separation. Luke Lee, Pyrmont

Revolution over reform

The article on the toxic disputes clogging the family court illustrates the scandal of the court process, the lack of judicial control of litigants and lawyers, the vast expenditure of the parties and the lasting harm suffered by their children (''Reforms aim to fix court clogged with toxic disputes'', January 6). Sensitive reform will not cure it. We need a revolution. Michael Green, Newtown

Lesser evil

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

President Donald Trump says he doesn't drink. Pity. He should start. Alcohol would have to be a much safer addiction than his apparent craving for absolute power (Letters, January 6). Mary Julian, Glebe

Beyond boredom

I have been reading with interest the letters regarding the most boring novels (Letters, January 6). Most identified have been from non-Australian authors, though we do have our own home-grown "masterpiece" of boredom - Xavier Herbert's Poor Fellow My Country - at more than 1400 pages. Wonderful remedy for insomnia.
George Baias, Summer Hill

What about Finnegans Wake by James Joyce as a book to avoid? There is no full stop at the end and the last sentence runs into the first. Nearly 700 pages. Started off as fun many years ago but with eyesight not being what it used to be I've put it away. No reason to rejoyce. Peter Skrzynecki, Eastwood

There have been a few surprises in the letters nominated, but none more so than Ian McEwan, who in my opinion is one of the most accomplished authors of our generation. My nomination for the most turgid and dense novel of all time is Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, a tome that transforms novels like Silas Marner into light and breezy comic book reads. Don Carter, Oyster Bay

Faulty faculties

The vodka bar contributed to many long hours and extra years at university (Letters, January 6). Leo Oostveen, Murarrie QLD

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on
China blocks WHO investigators’ access to Wuhan
From Meadow Man: ‘‘When China’s assurances are contradicted by its actions, the message to the rest of the world is: ‘We are not accountable to anyone but ourselves.’ Why are we not surprised.’’

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