Write On: Letters to the editor

Cartoon: Chris Kelly.

Equal marriage rights

The Australian Human Rights Commission's call for same-sex rights couples to marry is a boost to the unstoppable mood sweeping this country.

Even just a year ago, equal marriage rights were still hotly contested. Today, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is championing this as a fundamental right — along with same-sex adoption rights.

This shows that a year of intensive campaigning and public discussion about this outstanding question of justice for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community has shifted a lot of people’s attitudes.

Julia Gillard is happy to declare she is not married and is not religious, but maintains that marriage is for heterosexual couples. She's not adversely affected — materially, socially and emotionally — because of her choices.

This is the nub of the problem: while same sex couples are refused the choice to marry, they are being denied rights that many others take for granted, and choose whether or not to exercise. The fact that these rights are denied to a section of the community is discrimination: it helps reinforce prejudice and bigotry.

In this coming election, vote for the parties that support marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples.

Rachel Evans
Socialist Alliance Senate candidate
Newtown, NSW

Voters' revolt needed

The precious right to vote has turned into a duty to vote for either one of two major parties whose leaders dish up a menu of platitudes, promises and scaremongering. Marginal seats get all the attention. Australian voters are badly served by their preferential system of voting, introduced in 1918, combined with compulsory voting (1924).

The preferential system delivers the major party that is the least objectionable. Both preferential and compulsory voting grossly favours the major parties, while creating a quite false image of diversity and democracy. There are remedies. Voters should cease voting for the major party candidates. Instead they should vote for candidates and parties that seek electoral reform.

As to reforms, proportional representation is high on the list. Almost all European nations use proportional representation and many others outside Europe as well, like South Africa and New Zealand. That means that parties gain seats in proportion to the votes cast for them. It couldn't be fairer. Furthermore, how about the introduction of voluntary voting, used in over 90% of democracies?

The right not to vote is as precious as the right to vote. The duty to vote merely serves the two-party tyranny in this country. Voters have the right to revolt against it. They have the opportunity to break the vicious circle.

Klaas Woldring,
Pearl Beach, NSW

The horrific death of Mr Ward

Racism cuts to the bone. The violence of the silence that systemically supports racism and bleeds compassion out of humanity demoralises our brothers and sisters, those disenfranchised and those downtrodden. When will our national identity stop denying its racist layers?

A man found death melted to the hot metal floor of the inside of the back of a prisoner transport van. Warburton Elder Mr Ward died in temperatures reaching past 50 degrees. Two and half years later there has been little remedy, and the cries for justice worn out by the ears that had been listening.

There are many deaths in custody, most of them our Aboriginal brothers and sisters. Somewhere in Australia an Aboriginal person has died in custody each month of the past 18 months.

If the revered Elder Mr Ward had been the offspring of elderly residents of Peppermint Grove I assure, believe you me, justice would have been served. G4S, Corrective Services and the criminal justice system would have been brought to account, to an education, and to hefty payouts.

The fact that it has taken such a horrific death for many West Australians to finally take some notice of how we treat one another is something we should really think about. We are all brothers and sisters. For those of us who have felt the wrath of racism every inaction in remedying wrongs is salt to our deepest wounds.

Gerry Georgatos
Harrisdale, WA
[Abridged]

Gospel truth

Tony Abbott now says that WorkChoices is dead and has been “cremated”. John Howard said that there would “Never-ever be a GST”. You know that you can trust Liberal leaders to speak the “Gospel Truth”.

Tony Backhouse
Narraweena, NSW