Letters to the editor

Cartoon by Stephanie McMillan. www.stephaniemcmillan.org/codegreen/

More deaths

Deaths in custody in Australia continue and are also not limited to prison and police custodial jurisdictions. There were 2043 Australian deaths in custody from 1980 to 2007; 72 deaths in custody per year from 1980 to 2000; 75 deaths per year from 2000 to 2007. Eighteen percent are Aboriginal. We have one of the world's worst deaths in custody records.

However, four asylum seekers have died in the last week in Australia. Since 2000 at least 27 asylum seekers have died while in immigration detention. In the preceding decade there was only one documented death in this type of custody in Australia.

These rising human statistics are not being included in the Australian Institute of Criminology's National Deaths in Custody Data Program. Let us not forget those souls who have drowned at sea. Let us not forget the SIEV X which was turned back by [then PM] John Howard while it was Australia-bound in international waters. Three hundred and fifty-three people drowned at sea in the SIEV X disaster — 146 children, 142 women, 65 men.

The level of deaths in custody in Australia was considered avoidable by the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody — 46 of its 339 recommendations were directed to improving custodial occupational and safety practices and most of the rest indirectly and directly to eliminating racism, discrimination and other inhumanity.

Gerry Georgatos
Human Rights Alliance
Harrisdale, WA

Cartoon misdirected

I was disappointed at the recent GLW cartoon which showed “feel-good” solar panels being installed in a scene of environmental devastation.

We have solar panels. I guess we had them installed partly to “feel better”, just as we go to demonstrations partly for the same reason. We did it to “walk the talk”, to actually do something.

Getting them installed was instructive. We had to battle the council. They are not allowed to be visible from the street, in order not to disrupt Paddington's “roofscape”, as if we are living in medieval Florence. Bizarre! Like a scene from The Age of Stupid.

For this letter I tried to find out how many private houses actually have solar panels in this country. I could not find that statistic, but energy from solar panels here is at the most 0.2% of total energy generated (thank you Wikipedia). And you can see that it is only a handful of houses that have solar panels.

My guess is that most people with solar panels would be climate activists, not effete middle-class wankers, as the cartoon strongly suggested.

We definitely need to defeat the mining companies and stop mining coal immediately; in fact, yesterday. There has to be a just, and fast, transition to solar-thermal and wind power, as detailed in the Beyond Zero Emissions report.

This may well mean the whole system has to go because it shows no sign of adapting to a no-coal, 100% renewable energy, future.

In the meantime, please print cartoons that attack the real enemies: the mining corporations that are driving us to extinction.

Stephen Langford
Sydney, NSW

A man with real people skills

The constituents of Warringah once had a representative with great people skills, a man who showed great humane compassion as Immigration Minister when he faced an influx of asylum seekers many times greater than the numbers today.

That man was Michael MacKellar, Tony Abbott's predecessor.

Tony Backhouse
Narraweena NSW