Prescribing ABC ‘bias’ impairs independence

In the middle of a cogent argument for the independence of the ABC, its board member Joseph Gersh writes: “In my view the ABC should have more conservative voices” (“Bias and the public broadcaster”, October 24). Why? Surely the ABC needs to be filled with the most neutral, dispassionate critics of both – or all – sides of politics, not more voices barracking for one side or the other. The more shouters there are on any extreme, the more difficult it becomes for fairness and independence to be maintained. Don Munro, The Hill

Context is king

The thrust of your editorial is so important (“Robust debates start with ears kept wide open”, October 24). But it is not just about protecting the freedom to voice unpopular opinions, but also being prepared to listen for the unspoken cues about context – where speakers are coming from. The example of a prestigious university in the US cancelling a public science lecture because of the speaker’s views on diversity in academia looks problematic from this distance, but our response may be somewhat simplistic. We can’t fully factor in the current, highly charged political and social context in the US. The danger isn’t so much in science becoming politicised, which may to some extent be inevitable. The important lesson for Australia is never to descend to that depth of social division and tribalism if we can avoid it. Margaret Johnston, Paddington

Trust and blind faith

Christian Porter accepts more than $1,000,000 from unknown sources to defray legal costs incurred when he sued the ABC and the response from the Prime Minister is to allow him to resign from Cabinet and sit on the backbench (“A blind trust? Certainly we’re kept blind on Porter’s donors”, October 24). The government then rejects the recommendation of the House Speaker to refer this to the Standing Committee of Privileges and Members Interests.
Seemingly, there is no limit to the misdemeanours of his colleagues that the Prime Minister will not accept. Maurice Critchley, Kenthurst

Maley has shown the multi-dimensional irony of Porter’s “blind trust”. We are blinded to the identity of the generous donors and to what they might or might not expect by way of a quid pro quo. Any residual trust was eviscerated by Scott Morrison’s suppression of an independent investigation. Morrison does not even pretend to be acting for the common good. He is even prepared to entertain the possibility of politicians using taxpayers’ funds for their own benefit in any defamation action. Mark Porter, New Lambton

Device distortion

It seems that overseas travel will be more challenging, with COVID-19, than it was in 2019 (“Set for take off”, October 24). Your article says: “Along with your physical passport, your smartphone will be your most important possession”. What governments have not realised is that many people, like me, do not possess a smartphone. So, are we unable to travel? How about governments and travel agents tell us how to navigate the COVID-19 roundabout. We seem to be non-persons – I have no intention of buying one. In the past, all you needed was your yellow international vaccination book; so simple. Robert Pallister, Punchbowl

Corrective chauvinism

Amazing – class might be an element in how drug users are treated in court (“Courts go easier on cocaine than ice”, October 24). I’d be more amazed if the more affluent cocaine users weren’t less likely to be searched and arrested in the first place. The cheaper drugs of the lower classes may have nastier side effects in terms of violent behaviour and be more addictive, especially for those already disadvantaged, but trying to justify the different conviction/imprisonment rates partly on the prevalence of recidivism begs yet another question: if those more likely to be incarcerated are still more likely to reoffend, how “corrective” are Corrective Services? More reasons why all drugs should be treated as medical, not criminal, issues. Al Svirskis, Mount Druitt


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