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Letters to the Editor:
Walk for me
My young friend who is now in his third year behind wire in one of Australia's detention camps on Nauru writes to me most eloquently of "freedom". Maybe we cannot imagine what it is like to ask for protection and find yourself locked up without hope. Walk For Me Walk for me Out of your house Through big cities Cross busy streets Walk for me To any big restaurant Feel people talking happily Order something out of routine "What should I send you?" My pen friend wrote to me Can you send me the feeling of a bird? When it flies in the vast open sky But when he does take that fateful flight back to Afghanistan, he will be facing the same terrors that compelled him to run in the first place. There will be no chance to pursue his love of physics and language. There will be no chance to find a wife, marry and feed his children. The Taliban are back. The country is in ruins. What verbs will this young man use to characterise his actions then? "hide"? "scurry"? "freeze"? "starve"? "tremble"? He longs to have his intellect, hopes and happiness "soar" like the bird. Australia, Australia, what are we doing? Elaine and Geoff Smith
West Haven, NSW
We understand that the ALP has serious reservations about the Free Trade Agreement apparently soon to be concluded with the US. The Progressive Labour Party is completely opposed to the FTA and has made that clear in its submission to the Senate Inquiry earlier this year. Our question is: Does the ALP have a commitment to NOT honour the Treaty if there is no Parliamentary approval for this Treaty and will it make this clear to the public prior to signing? Secondly, will the ALP call for a Referendum on the proposed Treaty so that the voters have an opportunity to record their position? In terms of the Constitution Parliamentary or popular approval is not required for foreign treaties. The position is similar for engagement in war and we have just experienced the making of such a seriously flawed decision by the Howard Government this year. It seems to us that the potentially far reaching nature of an FTA requires that it cannot be left to the Government alone to decide on such matters without a clear mandate. Klaas Woldring
National Secretary, Progressive Labour Party
Seeing John Howard hugging relatives of the Bali bombing victims was a sickening reminder of Argentine General Galtieri expressing sympathy with the Mothers of the Disappeared in the Plaza de Mayo, when his policies were directly responsible for the deaths of thousands in Argentina's Dirty War. The Howard Government enthusiastically joined Britain and the US in this illegal war, which, as predicted, has resulted in a tragic fiasco. Nearly 200 US lives have been lost since George W Bush declared war's end, countless Iraqi lives have been snuffed out, about A$750 million has been sucked out of Australian education, health and welfare, Iraq is now irradiated with depleted uranium and unexploded ordnance, Islamic jihadists have been inflamed and Australian tourists have been massacred in Bali as a direct result. Let us hope the Kuta memorial to all those innocent Australians will become the epitaph to a criminally negligent and hubristic government that has consistently dumped human values in favour of profits, prestige and power. Gareth Smith & Maxine CaronBack to index page
Byron Bay, NSW