Write on: Letters to the editor


Civil rights activists of our time

Those who participated in the protests against the continuing pollution, which deliberately puts our futures at risk, at Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria over the weekend, are the civil rights activists of our time. They are standing up for our collective futures. They will be looked back upon in the same light as we see the anti-apartheid and American civil rights campaigners today.

Rowan Steele
Clarence Gardens, South Australia

Selective statistics

Bob Durnam (Write On #810) takes issue with Duncan Roden's selective use of statistics (GLW #809) in addressing racism in Australia. Durnam writes: "Over 80% of Aboriginal people appearing before the courts are committing offences when under the influence of alcohol and drugs."

Accordingly, he says that, by claiming the NT intervention "perpetuates myths of welfare dependency and drug and alcohol abuse", Roden is implying the statistics are wrong — "a serious disconnection from reality".

What Durnam doesn't cite, are numerous health studies that have shown that on average, a larger percentage of Aboriginal people are non-drinkers than in the non-Aboriginal community.

It's also true that, among Aboriginal people who do drink, many drink at harmful levels. This is why, as Durnam points out, "many Aboriginal people have been complaining about the detrimental impacts of … drug and alcohol abuse on their families and communities for 30 years or more."

Their cries have largely fallen on deaf ears. Furthermore, the NT intervention, as a top-down, non-consultative policy, has led to the undermining or defunding of many successful culturally appropriate community-based programs to tackle social problems, as UN Human Rights Rapporteur James Anaya recently reported.

By enforcing across-the-board measures such as alcohol bans and welfare quarantining, regardless of individual circumstance, the NT intervention not only brands all Aboriginal people as neglectful parents and alcoholics, it takes focus and funding away from programs that could actually positively impact on Aboriginal people's lives.

Emma Murphy,
Glebe, NSW

Australia's low standard of journalism

Australian journalists like to think that they are members of a profession. Faculties of journalism abound at universities, which would tend to prove this view. The Iraq war proves otherwise.

Australian mainstream journalists overwhelmingly supported the war but found that they could only do so by not analysing the issue that would have made this impossible: America invaded Iraq to gain control of its oil reserves. The only journalists to comment on this in depth were those opposing the war. This situation could only exist in a country with a low standard of journalism.

Tertiary faculties of journalism are supposed to exist to ensure that journalism maintains a high standard. Their academics need to be surveyed about the Iraq War coverage and in the process they should be questioned in detail about the oil issue. If they are to have any credibility at all they would be obliged to participate in such a survey, especially if it were well publicised.

Such a survey would result in the Iraq War being totally condemned and may lead to Australia developing a professional code of conduct for journalists.

Robert Bryce,
Elwood, Victoria