Biden hypocrisy in shooting messenger

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Biden hypocrisy in shooting messenger

While addressing world leaders at his recent Summit for Democracy, US President Joe Biden stated that democracy was under threat from dictators (“Biden puts heat on China, Trump”, The Age, 11/12). At the same time the US props up some of the world’s dictators, autocracies, monarchies and military regimes with weapons, military training and money.

Biden also said his administration would provide support for investigative journalists even though his country is pursuing journalist Julian Assange for exposing American war crimes.

If Biden wants to “renew faith in democracy”, the US should stop supporting non-democratic regimes and end the persecution of Assange.

Without action that truly matches his words, Biden’s Summit for Democracy will simply be a summit for hypocrisy.
Peter Martina, Warrnambool

MPs’ support welcome but more needed
Big thanks to independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie and Victorian Labor MP Julian Hill – sadly a tiny minority – for boldly speaking up for a fellow Aussie in danger of hideous entanglements in the US legal and prison system. I’d love to see one of those open letters signed by “concerned members of the Australian (or Victorian) Parliament” supporting Wilkie and Hill’s advocacy for our compatriot Assange. He’s one of us, for God’s sake.
Barry Lamb, Heidelberg West

Prosecution based on interests, not values
If the Chinese government demanded Assange’s extradition because he had leaked information which embarrassed them about the Uighurs rather than embarrassing the US over Iraq civilian killings, do we seriously believe he would even be in jail let alone subject to possible extradition to China.
Governments make decisions based on interests, not values.
Peter Keightley, Mount Martha

High Court ruling ignores important evidence
It took the bewigged courtiers of England’s High Court just nine minutes last Friday to uphold an American appeal against a District Court judge’s acceptance in January of a deluge of evidence that hell on earth awaited Assange across the Atlantic.

The recent confession of a crucial FBI informant and prosecution stooge that he had fabricated his evidence against Assange was ignored. The revelation that the Spanish-run security firm at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where Assange had been granted political refuge, was a CIA front that spied on Assange’s lawyers and doctors and confidants was ignored.

In their dismissal of the fate of Assange, two of the most senior judges in Britain referred to not one of a litany of truths aired at previous hearings in the District Court.

Their ruling in favour of the US is based squarely on “assurances” by the Biden administration when it looked in January like justice might prevail.

These “assurances” are that once in US custody, Assange will not be subject to the Orwellian SAMs – special administrative measures; that he will not be imprisoned at ADX Florence, a prison in Colorado long condemned by jurists and human rights groups; that he can be transferred to an Australian prison to finish his sentence.

The absurdity lies in what the judges omitted to say. In offering its “assurances”, the US reserves the right not to guarantee anything should Assange do something that displeases his jailers. In other words, as Amnesty International has pointed out, it reserves the right to break any promise.

Who among us is prepared to stand up rather than remain mere bystanders to an epic travesty such as the judicial kidnapping of Julian Assange? What is at stake is both a courageous man’s life and, if we remain silent, the conquest of our intellects and sense of right and wrong: indeed our very humanity.
Norman Broomhall, Port Macquarie


Independent views
In reply to your editorial (“Independents must detail policy, skills”, The Sunday Age, 12/12), why should independent candidates reveal which major party they would support? The Coalition under Morrison won with few if any policies declared, and currently Labor under Albanese is revealing little to create a “small target”. Surely the definition of independent means “unaligned”?

Veteran former independent MP Tony Windsor recently said that independent candidates should not reveal support for any major party, with sound logic supplied. If candidates reveal which party they favour, the other mob will spend extraordinary energy and funding to sabotage them. If support is not declared, major parties would probably behave better, in an attempt to gain support when the dust settles.

If independents are successful, the major parties have only themselves to blame.
John Marks, Werribee

Sensible centre
The editorial yesterday was spot on. The candidates of “Voices for …” do need to elaborate beyond their attractive common policies on climate change, an anti-corruption commission and respect for women. But it’s ironic is it not that apart from Kooyong, each is opposing a progressive Liberal, who in general hold the more marginal seats as the conservatives have been gifted the safer seats. There is a profound difference between the values of the NSW state Liberals and the federal party, as in the former the climate change and integrity issues have long been resolved. Thus the independents stand as a means of restoring the sensible centre long deserted by most federal Liberals.
John Miller, Toorak

Chaplain accountability
I am pleased to see that there is to be a review of the school chaplaincy program. Although I know most chaplains are decent, intuitive and helpful people, I strongly believe that all school personnel should be trained in their field and should be systematically accountable to education authorities. Without these there is the opportunity for paedophiles and people wanting to push their form of religion on the children despite an approved curriculum. A working with children approval and teaching method qualification, including psychology, plus an approved curriculum, must be mandatory. Above all, accountability.
Jan Dwyer, Rosebud

Lacking realism
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is optimistic for our economic recovery, specifically, growth, investment and 60,000 jobs (“Economy set for lift-off next year: Frydenberg”, The Age, 11/12). But he is ignoring the economic consequences of the Australian Energy Market Operator’s forecast huge transition from most coal by 2030. He is out of touch with what must be achieved during the next eight years. As former environment and energy minister, he should know better. Why can’t he be a little more big-picture realistic?
Barbara Fraser, Burwood

Anti-smoking campaigns
Anyone applauding New Zealand’s move to protect children from cigarette smoking should also recall Australia’s ground-breaking contribution towards reining in Big Tobacco’s blatant efforts to promote their highly addictive product to young people by mandating plain packaging.

Hopefully they will also recall the role of one senior member of the Morrison government, namely the member for Goldstein, Tim Wilson, who actively worked against that Rudd-Gillard legislation while at the Institute of Public Affairs.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton

Vote for person, not party
It has been pleasing to see The Age giving some coverage to independent candidates for the upcoming federal election. The state of politics has become sclerotic with both major parties beholden to big money and promotion of factional apparatchiks. Consequently they no longer represent the interests of ordinary electors. While some organisations such as Climate 200 and Voices Of will be necessary to bring the public’s attention to independents, it is important for voters to remember that the drafters of our constitution wisely ensured that we are represented by a person, not a party. Please vote for the best person in your electorate.
Allan Dowsett, Preston

Interesting times
What keen Australian political observer in their right mind would have believed that in December 2021, and with a federal election having to be called by May next year, the Labor opposition’s climate policy has unthinkably been backed by the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group and other business entities normally supportive of the conservative side of politics …
Eric Palm, Gympie, Qld

Absence noted
Josh, too busy to attend significant events in your electorate? You represent a conservative but thinking electorate. As a career politician you should realise your constituents notice your absence and the presence of an independent who stands for the things your party ignores, e.g. action on global warming, women’s rights and truthfulness in governance.
Judith McNaughtan, Mont Albert

Circus funding
Thumbs down to the closing of Circus Oz. Yet again it shows the short-sighted attitudes of governments regarding patronage of the arts. With the grand prix and other non-cultural drawcards, you can bet your tax dollar will be there. Disgraceful.
Ian Anderson, Surrey Hills

Human rights duplicity
So one of our citizens in the UK who really needs our support is forgotten and is now facing extradition to the US. The government continues to treat refugees from overseas badly, yet it sides with the US in condemning China’s human rights record, can somebody please explain why?
Doug Springall, Yarragon

Rational thought
Helen White described her voting as a financially conservative Liberal because “When you’re a pensioner you have to be” (“After Hunt, will it be independents’ day in the fight for Flinders?”, The Sunday Age, 12/12). I would urge White to think about this question; what have the Liberals ever done that has benefited pensioners? Consider, for example, the Liberals’ actions in privatising aged care, cuts to Medicare or does she find the possibility of an Indue Card appealing? Do any of these make life better for pensioners? She should also remember that Australia’s economy on a number of measures (national debt, budget deficits, taxation, world economic standing) have been worse under Liberal governments than under the preceding Labor governments. How does any of this rationally justify a pensioner voting Liberal?
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha

It’s action that counts
I studied pure mathematics at university. We frequently used Greek letters in formulae and equations. How the letters were pronounced didn’t matter, how they were used did. How Omicron is pronounced doesn’t matter, what we do to overcome it and live with it does.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster

Stop hoarding vaccine
It is foolhardy and reckless to dismiss the Omicron variant as nothing to worry about and of little consequence. We are hearing that vaccine protection is less effective against Omicron and that we should get our third shot earlier than first thought.

The federal government boasts to doctors that we have stocks of 151 million doses. Do we need them all right now? Of course not. Every relevant international agency, especially the WHO, has demanded the world’s wealthy countries end their vaccine nationalism and distribute excess vaccines to poorer countries where vaccination rates are still in single figures. They have warned that COVID variants will continue to proliferate as long as vaccination rates are so low in poorer countries. “None of us will be safe until everyone is safe.”
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

Minimising harm
There is some merit in New Zealand’s proposed restriction of access to cigarettes, starting at those under 14 years old. This is an attempt to curb the early establishment of a smoking habit, especially among the Maori and Islander peoples. Some aspects could be introduced in Australia to good effect. Reducing the number of official outlets, eliminating nicotine and other addictive content as well as clamping down on chop-chop would make smoking more inconvenient as well as less alluring. Nicotine and other dangerous chemicals should also be banned from vaping, while remaining available as patches, tablets and lozenges under supervision. Smoking is a health hazard that should be minimised to the extent possible, especially in the COVID era.
Peter Barry, Marysville

Thank you taxpayers
As previously reported (“Aged care homes founded by bankrupt brothers to close”, The Age, 27/11), about 80 residents from the Chronos Care facilities in Mount Eliza and Alphington had to find alternative accommodation when their facility went into liquidation. The liquidation came about from the providers not having enough funds to pay out the refundable accommodation deposits owed.

Because the federal government guarantees these deposits, if providers become bankrupt or insolvent it picks up the tab. I would like to thank the Australian taxpayers for footing the bill for my mum’s new aged care bond of $400,000. Proper scrutiny was not given to the providers when they applied for the licence and it became a money-printing establishment which ended traumatically for residents and families. So, thank you Australian taxpayers for picking up the pieces of this train wreck.
Jenny Joyner, Mount Eliza


With COVID-19 described as a “Snakes and Ladders” virus, it makes sense to get the third jab on the first day the waiting period expires.
Meg McPherson, Brighton

The next COVID variant could be named “Morrison” to honour his premature re-opening of overseas travel.
David Kilpatrick, Cheltenham

Has the federal government got a problem with its supply chain again, this time with the boosters?
Barbara Lynch, South Yarra

Omicron? We cannot even agree on how to pronounce the letter H!
Malcolm I. Fraser, Oakleigh South

Supporters of Independents are not anti-authoritarian or naive – we are for candidates who follow constituents’ wishes.
John Hughes, Mentone

Morrison stands condemned for the way he dealt with the George Christensen issue.
Dan Drummond, Leongatha

First it was “We’ll be back in the black next year” – didn’t happen. Now it’s “‘primed for lift-off’ next year” – I’m not holding my breath. Josh Frydenberg gone next year – I’d like to see that.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn

You beaut – a big ute. The PM loves a distraction but fails to see the irony in the commemoration of an industry destroyed under his watch.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

Hey, PM. What about a Big Climate Policy on a stick?
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

In these days of cheaper seafood, we can abandon turducken altogether (Letters, 12/12). Forget the feathers: salute the scales for Christmas cheer and try some “salcrabamari” instead.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

How many anti-vaxxers could unwittingly spoil the aftermath of a lovely Christmas party.
Peter Johns, Sorrento

Poor martyr Julian Assange; so much for world tyranny.
Paul K. Murchison, Kingsbury

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