Moral responsibility to compensate families

Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:

To submit a letter to The Age, email [email protected] Please include your home address and telephone number.


Moral responsibility to compensate families

Geoffrey Robertson’s article (‘‘War crimes must meet justice’’, 24/11) is an important contribution to our understanding of many aspects of war criminality. While Australia is not shirking its responsibility to investigate the alleged atrocities committed by some SAS soldiers, it is those atrocities that we must reflect upon and consider the culture from whence it comes.

That we have ratified the statute of the International Criminal Court, as opposed for example to the US in its refusal to adhere to any investigation of its war crimes, speaks volumes. Aside from the legal aspect of the alleged atrocities, we have the moral responsibility to compensate the families of the Afghan people who were murdered in our name.
Judith Morrison, Mount Waverley

Protracted legal process the enemy of justice
The eminent Australian human rights advocate Geoffrey Robertson issues a salutary warning, based on the example of public pressure against the prosecution in Britain of soldiers who killed civilians in Northern Ireland in the 1970s as to how legal delays can, over time, allow tabloid-driven ‘‘fog of war’’ defence arguments to take hold.

In relation to the alleged Australian SAS Afghanistan killings, we saw, even before Justice Paul Brereton’s revelations this week, tendentious commentary regarding AFP referrals coming from prominent defence establishment and media figures around war being ‘‘a messy business’’. A protracted legal process could yet be the enemy of accountability for alleged pre-meditated executions carried out by Australian soldiers.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Ethics fall victim to the doctrines of brotherhood
Take a group of young men, train them to be efficient killing machines, then toss them into a world where the rules of war are seldom adhered to. It is within this state that ethics can give way to doctrines of brotherhood. Value systems that dehumanise others for fear that in not doing so, the savagery inflicted couldn’t be countenanced.
Jaroslaw Kotiw, Strathfieldsaye

However sincere, apologies can only go so far
Australian War Memorial chairman Kerry Stokes has vowed to support the members of the SAS accused of war crimes (‘‘Morrison warns against trial by media on alleged war crimes’’, 22/11). If you are a current or former ADF member, or a relative, and need counselling or support, you can contact the Defence All-hours support line. But what about the Afghan families of the victims?

Surely we have a moral obligation to right the terrible wrong we have done to these people by a small but significant number of rogue soldiers in our name. There is such a thing as moral culpability. However sincere they have been offered, apologies from the Chief of Defence and the PM only go so far.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

Inevitable result of a culture of discrimination
I, like most Australians, am shocked, appalled and saddened by the news of the Australian soldiers’ alleged crimes in Afghanistan. But I am also ashamed of some of the responses by some politicians and commentators whose first thought is to insist that these are the actions of a few, and we should remember the wonderful example of the many other ADF personnel who serve, or have served with distinction and honour.

While I have no doubt that it is true that many Australians have done a fine job in Afghanistan, those who are alleged to have committed these atrocities come from a culture that shows little or no compassion for the victims of wars that they are forced to flee.

I am deeply saddened for the families and friends of the victims and I am equally ashamed and constantly disappointed by my country’s official ongoing attitudes to the people of countries that we deem as ‘‘other’’ than us. But let’s stop pretending that these devastating events are an aberration from our norm, but recognise that they are a direct and inevitable result of a culture of discrimination and intolerance.
Dr Cheryl Day, Beaumaris


Energy policy lacking
It is a bit rich for Angus Taylor to call for the states to unify their energy policies (‘‘Taylor puts heat on states over energy’’, 24/11). He needs to be reminded that he is the federal energy minister and it is he who should be leading and co-ordinating a national energy policy. A lump of coal on his desk is not a policy.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha

Permanency push
The Andrews government plans to introduce a $5 million ‘‘secure work pilot scheme’’ to provide casual and insecure workers in priority industries, including aged care, with up to five days sick and carer’s pay at the minimum wage. The pilot will not ‘‘solve the problems of insecure work overnight’’, Premier Andrews said, but we must take this out of the too hard basket.

During the pandemic, people working multiple jobs between workplaces were identified as drivers of the virus spread, not being able to afford to call in sick without entitlements to paid leave. Not surprisingly, Workplace Relations Minister Christian Porter sees the plan as ‘‘a business and employment killing approach’’, suggesting a better approach would be if people had a greater choice between casual and permanent employment. Any opportunity to move from casual to permanent would be welcome by most – convincing employers might be more problematic.
Neil Hudson, East Melbourne

Hypocrisy on show
No doubt Tim Wilson, the erstwhile ‘‘Freedom Commissioner’’, thinks compulsory superannuation represents state interference in people’s financial autonomy (‘‘Ex-RBA chief backs home super scheme’’, 24/11). It seems, however, that Mr Wilson is all for state interference when it enriches some at the expense of others. Think franking credits as just one example.

The Liberal Party has long been hostile to broad equity measures such as Medicare and compulsory superannuation. This is just another tawdry example of its hypocrisy.
Michael Hinchey, New Lambton, NSW

A need to talk
It’s good that it is acknowledged that residents of aged care need people to talk to but why bring in staff who only do that? Rather than bring in former flight attendants (‘‘A new life takes off: caring for the aged’’, 24/11) for the less physically demanding work, wouldn’t it be better to increase the number of aged care workers and nurses so that they all had time to talk to residents? After all, they are the ones with knowledge of the individual needs of residents and aged care training.
Helen Pereira, Heidelberg Heights

Win-win for residents
After the horror stories which have been all too prevalent in many nursing homes, it’s wonderful to see one very happy resident, Jean Sarsby, enjoying the attention of visitation assistants working at the Regis East Malvern nursing home. It’s a win-win situation for those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and those receiving the benefit of their life experience, special training, and most importantly, their compassion.
Helen Scheller, Benalla

Neutrality call
As a self-professed Dinkum Aussie, Scott Morrison would be familiar with the term ‘‘two bob each way’’. Australians are apparently OK with Mr Morrison’s duplicity, but the Chinese government will be a little harder to convince (‘‘Australia won’t be deputy sheriff in US-China tensions, argues PM’’, 24/11).

The heat must be on, from many of his supporters who rely heavily on trade with China. It’s a good time to declare neutrality.
John Marks, Werribee

Privatisation pitfalls
The article by David Hayward (‘‘Soaring deficit, but don’t panic’’, 24/11) provides a common sense explanation regarding the trials and tribulations of privatisation. As he indicates, most previous government services, now outsourced, cost taxpayers more than when we ran them ourselves. Health, education, child care, aged care, energy services, transport, and the list goes on, have all suffered as a result of privatisation with much of the profits now going offshore.

One can only hope that the disruption caused by COVID-19 can allow us to once again consider how we can best support our community by allocating our resources appropriately and to remember that there is more to life than just making a quick profit.
Denise Stevens, Healesville

A new broom for Pies
Collingwood’s ‘‘fire sale’’ is far from complete. A new beginning starts at the top (with board members and, in particular, club President Eddie McGuire). High-profile Collingwood entrepreneurs are merely echoing what we long-suffering Collingwood supporters have been advocating for the past five years. McGuire’s achievements have been well-documented at Collingwood but it’s time for ‘‘a new broom’’.

Why not be progressive and replace McGuire with a woman? Lord Mayor Sally Capp would be a stand-out! Our chances of playing finals in 2021 are looking remote so let’s use this time to ‘‘get our house in order’’.
Noel Butterfield, Montmorency

Media freedom
ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose’s oration at the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation demonstrates why she is the right person for an extremely difficult job. Namely, her fierce advocacy for a properly funded public broadcasting service that holds those in power to account. The opposite to the Morrison government’s ‘‘calculated’’ funding freeze amounting to death by a thousand cuts (‘‘ABC the embodiment of Australia’’, 24/11).

Indeed, Buttrose’s assertion that: ‘‘There is a strong link between healthy democracies and strong public service media’’, not only makes good common sense.
Shouldn’t ‘‘media freedom’’ be protected in the law, so that the AFP can never again ride roughshod over investigative journalists reporting in the public interest?
Jelena Rosic, Mornington

Pandemic update needed
How about the public amenities used by local and tourists alike be improved. As a regional Victorian I travelled to a few towns around the state in the past few weeks. Some toilet facilities have old taps that need to be turned on, toilets that need manual flushing, non-existent sanitising dispensers and hand dryers.

How about installing foot plates for the doors, automatic flush toilets, taps and dryers to minimise contamination for this and future pandemics.
Lynnette Patullock, Tatura

Increase fuel excise
The levying of a tax on electric cars by some state governments is a sad reflection on the federal government for not having any overarching plan for a transition. Eventually, it will be necessary to charge a levy on electric cars. Somehow the maintenance and building of roads will have to be paid for.

If the Federal government had a plan, the better tactic is to increase the petroleum excise to encourage the take up of electric vehicles. Once this is achieved then it will be time to switch to a levy on electric cars.
John Rome, Mount Lawley, WA

Jetting around Europe
Mathias Cormann left the Senate in October to run for the job of secretary-general of the OECD. He is travelling around Europe at the Australian taxpayers’ expense on a Royal Australian Air Force Falcon jet to rally support. Makes Bronnie’s helicopter ride to Geelong pale into insignificance.
George Greenberg, Malvern

End hotel quarantine
At last we hear (‘‘New calls to move quarantine facilities’’, 23/11) Associate Professor Philip Russo, president of the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control and chair of the federal government’s Infection Control Expert Group, say moving infected people away from population centres ‘‘just makes logical sense’’. In the same excellent article, we read the federal government’s national review of hotel quarantine, released in October, recommended a national quarantine facility be set up at the Howard Springs facility in the NT or one of a number of government owned facilities.

It is to be hoped the government acts on these recommendations. It would certainly be much cheaper than closing down the whole country every time the virus inevitably escapes from hotel quarantine. There have been few complaints from people who quarantined at Howard Springs, and the rest of us could get on with our lives, no lockdowns, no border closures, no loss of lives and livelihoods.
Liz Harvey, Mount Eliza

Cultural shift on masks
Now that mask wearing in the open has been relaxed and the recommendation is to wear one outside where it is crowded and difficult to socially distance, maybe it is time to consider shifting our culture on mask wearing permanently: as we move further into COVID normal. We should be considering the welfare of others and choosing to wear a mask in public when we have a sniffle or a cough so that we actively choose not to infect others. In the past, pre-COVID, seeing people wearing masks was often frowned upon. Now it is time we stood up and personally choose to look after the welfare of others by wearing a mask whenever we are not well.
Barry Talman, Burwood

Road safety
There has been much criticism of the proposed tax on electric cars. Many appear to ignore the salient fact that when fuel sales decrease, so too will revenue for maintenance of roads. No doubt, electric cars will benefit the environment, but until our electricity supply is totally from renewable sources, they will contribute to carbon emissions. Any extra tax is unpalatable. However, money is needed to keep our roads safe for all users.
Sue Bennett, Sunbury



Flag-wearing PM
Our image-conscious PM keeps wearing his super-patriotic Aussie flag mask upside down – that’s the international signal when in distress.
John Boyce, Richmond

If the PM insists on debasing our Australian flag by wearing it as a mask, can he at least put it on the right way?
Marg D’Arcy, Rye

Well said, Ita. Are you interested in Scomo’s job? It would be a good fit.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

The Morrison government’s anti-China rhetoric ramped up at the same time the Trump administration began its China-bashing. Sounds like a deputy sheriff to me.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

When external pressure becomes greater than internal discomfort, then Morrison reacts. Leadership on climate change in its purest form.
Joan Segrave, Healesville

For the PM to talk of safeguarding the planet while promoting a gas-led recovery is hypocrisy of Trumpian proportions.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

Mathias Cormann
RAAF flights for Cormann’s OECD bid – what happened to the end of the ‘‘Age of Entitlement’’?
Hans Paas, Castlemaine

Is Scott Morrison paying for Cormann to fly around Europe to lobby for the OECD job his reward for knifing Malcolm Turnbull?
Les Anderson, Woodend

Only Victoria Police would think they could get away with ‘‘the computer did it’’ in this day and age.
Neville Wright, Kilcunda

Trump 2024? I wonder if that can be done on day release?
Pete Sands, Monbulk

Please, no bridge over the Daintree River. The beautiful rainforest has already been spoiled by the road being made.
Mary Fenelon, Doncaster East

No, no. Not Albonga, Wodongalbury!
Angela Thomas, Ringwood

The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.

Most Viewed in National

Source: Read Full Article