Letters to the editor

Outstanding service

Fairfax columnist Gerald Henderson quotes Australian Workers’ Union leader Paul Howes concerning the family background of Greens Senate candidate Lee Rhiannon in the July 27 Sydney Morning Herald. I knew her parents, Bill and Freda Brown, since 1944, and I was privileged to be Bill’s campaign director when he stood for the federal parliament on several occasions.

Although our opinions concerning the former Soviet Union conflicted in the 1970s, it is essential to point out that in regard to most other issues relating to the peace movement, social services, unions, democratic rights and socialism, Bill and Freda rendered outstanding service to the Australian labour movement.

All available evidence clearly indicates their daughter follows in their footsteps.

Bernie Rosen,
Strathfield, NSW

Mr Ward’s gone forever

The $3.2 million awarded in compensation will financially assist the family of the late Warburton Elder Mr Ward. It will not bring him back. There was a shuffling of blame and abrogation of responsibilities by WA Labor and the Liberals over the death of Mr Ward.

WA Attorney-General Christian Porter is correct that the death occurred during the Labor Party’s watch. However, the shadow government, which tends to make up close to half the parliament, was on that watch. For two and half years the “State” let down the Ward family.

I am appalled at the political point scoring by shadow attorney-general John Quigley arguing that the payment was about $600,000 less than the “minimum”. What price is there on a human life?

Some financial compensation has been meted out to the family, and about time, thanks to the Aboriginal Legal Services and the Deaths In Custody Watch Committee. However the transport company G4S, in whose van Mr Ward died, is liable for compensation.

I respect Porter’s apology and his matter of fact statement that when the prisoner transport tender is up for review, G4S’s disgraceful record will be brought up. I would have preferred the G4S contract was ripped up at the time of the coroner’s findings.

Most Australians do not realise the number of deaths in custody and presume they are several a year. There have been hundreds of deaths in custody during the past decade.

Most are actually white deaths in custody, with Aboriginal deaths in custody occurring at disproportionately much higher rates.

Proportionately more Aboriginal deaths in custody occur in Australia than did all deaths in custody during the peak of South African apartheid!

Our parliamentarians could lead the way by addressing the issues that culminate in these high levels of deaths in custody — by eliminating systemic racism, maltreatment and improving existing policies and laws.

Gerry Georgatos
Harrisdale, WA
[Abridged]

Political education
Why is it that Australians and many media staff are so poorly informed about the reasons why Australia is politically caught in a vicious circle? The voters are again cajoled to choose between Tweedledee and Tweedledum!

One can hardly say anything positive about the current federal election. Many people are complaining about its populist character, the empty promises in marginal seats, the lack of vision and the cheap scaremongering by the mediocre leadership of the two party tyranny. Why don’t we see investigative articles to check out (a) the reasons for this (b) the possible remedies?

We need circuit breakers, urgently. We need an electoral system that provides genuine choice, genuine diverse outcomes, multi parties. This is not at all on the menu of the ALP or the Coalition, far from it. Therefore voters should no longer waste their precious votes on them.

Klaas Woldring,
Pearl Beach, NSW
[Abridged]

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