Letters to editor


West Papua needs solidarity

It was incredibly heart wrenching to watch 7.30’s report on August 27 and see the terribly oppressive situation the indigenous people are suffering in West Papua. I knew the plight of West Papuans was not good under Indonesian rule, but was shocked at the level of brutality.

I hope others who witnessed this report will act and urge fellow Australians and the Australian government to condemn these atrocities taking place there. Australia is supporting and training sections of the Indonesian army and has a duty to make sure Australia is not aiding this repression.

Australia should not cover up, excuse, condone or abet human rights violations in West Papua. For too long Australia pursued similar policies over East Timor, until forced to do something. Don’t let it happen again. The Indonesian army has a long, sordid history of abuses and other appalling actions.

Since the 1960s over 100,000 West Papuans have been killed. West Papuans are being arrested, beaten, imprisoned and killed for expressing their opinions or for taking part in peaceful protests.

The region’s is rich in resources of timber and minerals that are being plundered, but West Papuans are not getting the benefits. Indonesia wants the resources, but can do without the native people.

In fact the West Papuan people and their culture are being swamped by Indonesian settlers and the Papuans are being further pushed aside. It is imperative that concerned people raise their voices for these neglected people who have already suffered so much. They desperately need help.

Steven Katsineris,
Hurstbridge, Vic.

Taxi bosses exploit racism

Taxi drivers are indeed the most disadvantaged workers in the community (The Age, ‘Taxi drivers struggling to earn a living’, August 28). Former deputy prime minister Brian Howe is right to say that the problem stems from state governments allowing sub-contracted taxi drivers to be defined as “bailee” drivers, not employees.

This is sham contracting as it plays on the use of language to disguise the exploitation of taxi drivers by calling employees “self-employed” (sub-contract) workers.

While sham contracting is illegal in work places covered by federal jurisdictions, successive state Labor and Coalition governments in Victoria have ignored the problem, as have other state governments, because taxi drivers are generally foreigners, international students or migrants.

Employing vulnerable people in an industry with little knowledge of the local culture, their legal entitlements, not to mention geography or language, however, goes well beyond indifference by government — it is racism.

The biggest stakeholder and beneficiary from the taxi industry — the state government — has been attacking industry stakeholders while ignoring a fundamental relationship that compromises standards, but nonetheless serves government revenue needs.

John Glazebrook,
Endeavour Hills, Vic.

Disappointed by Greens on dental scheme

I'd like to express my disappointment with the Greens endorsement of Labor's new dental health scheme.

Although it is a good move forward overall, sections of the Greens have compromised the package such that it is a step backwards for people like me.

The Chronic Diseases scheme has now been abolished, which means that people with illnesses like Type 1 Diabetes (such as myself) no longer have financial support for oft-needed dental work.

Under the scheme, I could have had just over $4000 worth of treatment every two years. With its abolition, I will need to pay privately for my next 4 or 5 check-ups (and more, if the check-ups reveal any other work that needs to be done). Regular check-ups are essential, as people with diabetes are prone to "microvasular damage”.

Sometime in 2014, I may receive some assistance up to an unspecified amount (but less than I have been entitled to), and only then from public sector providers. I wonder just how long the queue for an appointment will be.

The existing scheme for chronic diseases (it expires in a few months) had a high take-up, provided millions of dollars worth of treatment and helped people with chronic illnesses to get much needed treatment. It was slandered as "costing too much" (surely a good thing, if you want people to get medical treatment) and being “rorted” by dentists (no dentists have been charged with any "rorts").

Labor (and the Greens) just turned their back on people with chronic illnesses.

Shame on you.

Dale Mills
South Sydney Greens (writing in a personal capacity)


Merce Cameron g'day. Just recently chanced upon your article on Cuba-US debacle in Green Social Thought (Fall 2015). Have you learned of any update on the situation there? Toward recognition of sovereignty, for example. As an American I am incensed over US interventionism in many places! I will focus on public awareness of our behaivour toward Cuba. I was a campaign activist for Senator Bernie Sanders here. Cheers.