Our shame: abandoning those who helped us

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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AFGHANISTAN

Our shame: abandoning those who helped us

Tragically, the Prime Minister is a master of “catch up”. Whether bushfires, quarantine or vaccine, it is always after the horse has bolted that he acts. But this late rescuing of Australians, and Afghans who supported Australians at the risk of their lives, is almost unbelievable. Veterans who served in Afghanistan plus former prime ministers warned early in the year about this impending tragedy in vain.

Scott Morrison saying Australia is doing everything it can but that it will not be able to rescue everyone has turned into a terrible reality. Now the government has stopped rescuing the stranded. But pictures of men, women and children wading knee-high in sewage trying to reach a gate to possible safety will continue to haunt many in Australia.
Judith Paphazy, Cape Schanck

The tragic outcome of waiting too long to act

The question remains: why didn’t we evacuate those Afghans who helped serve the war effort when we first started to leave the country? If we had afforded them that respect – and honoured our humanitarian responsibilities from the outset – we would have had a far more successful result, without putting our own defence personnel back in the firing line.

The plea by the Defence Minister and Prime Minister for people not to venture to Kabul airport in the face of the Taliban’s takeover of the city is indicative of a government that neither understands nor cares about the doomed plight of those it will leave behind.
Matt Dunn, Leongatha

How will our country assuage its conscience?

Thank you for publishing Virginia Haussegger’s insightful, if sad, article – “Female judges helping brave women in Kabul” (Opinion, 27/8) – that ends by imploring us, through our leaders, to look Afghan women in the eye. Regrettably that will never happen. Far easier for us to look away, send them our thoughts and prayers (that always works well), give money to charity (to assuage our collective conscience), read a book, watch television or maybe even write a letter to The Age. God forgive us, for the women of Afghanistan surely will not.
Tim Freer, Torquay

Whatever it takes to stop refugees coming here

A terrorist attack stops Afghan refugees fleeing to Australia by plane. Australian government rhetoric stops them fleeing to Australia by boat. Different methods but the same cruel result.
Cheryl Day, Beaumaris

Government must not play the fear card again

The 20th anniversary of the Tampa incident comes when once again we are faced with the consequences of our military involvements. Our Prime Minister, always mindful of political advantage, echoes the rhetoric of his divisive and racist language as immigration minister. The Defence Minister’s dog whistling suggests that “shifted allegiances” among some Afghans raises security possibilities. Not unreasonable, but needing to be handled in a less sensational way.

The overlooked, greater threat is the white, right-wing extremism spreading from our own suburbs and now responsible for “50per cent of our priority onshore counter-terrorism caseload”, according to Mike Burgess, director-general of ASIO (Editorial, 25/8).

The government must take greater care how it deals with the moral obligation we have towards those requiring to be rescued from Afghanistan and also those living precariously in Australia under temporary protection visas. We must keep a close watch to ensure it does not play the “fear card” for political advantage, so entrenched in our refugee policy since Tampa, while not facing the growing threat in our suburbs.
Maria Millers, Beaconsfield

Despite the rhetoric, we’re disloyal to our ’mates’

So the mateship forged in Gallipoli, and much vaunted by our government, has been thrown away for our Afghan mates.

Paul Webster, Burwood East

THE FORUM

The strength of the US

In response to the Kabul bombings, Joe Biden has stood up to the terrorists and made it clear that the United States will not be intimidated, nor deterred, from its course of action. By contrast, Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison have been intimidated merely by the threat of terrorism, and Australia has scampered home, leaving the task of helping those to whom we owe a duty of care incomplete. Not a day to be proud to be an Australian.
Ian Robinson, Cowes

Fear and uncertainty

Thank you, Waleed Aly – “Refugees through lockdown lens” (Opinion, 27/8). It is important that Australians, especially politicians, display empathy with Afghans stranded in Kabul while trying to escape the Taliban, and also with Afghans and other refugees in Australia. These people are living in limbo, without permanent visas, and fearing a deadly return to their own country. Our locked-down state may help us understand, even a little, how they feel. Visas granting permanent residence would help a lot.
Katherine Rechtman, North Carlton

Bipartisan prejudice

Waleed Aly’s article brought back memories of Tampa. I struggled to understand how this rejection of vulnerable people could happen in Australia. Then John Howard boldly reasserted its validity in the “We will decide …” speech to the faithful.

An upside was that a packed Melbourne Town Hall heard from a cross-section of speakers condemning the storming of the Tampa. The late Dick Hamer echoed the thoughts of those present, expressing dismay that opposition leader Kim Beazley supported the action.

On election night I screamed at the television coverage when it was declared that the Howard-led Coalition had won. How could we have supported this callous, self-serving man and set Australia on a downward spiral which has bipartisan support? It shows no sign of turning in favour of those who need us most.
Jim Aylmer, Mount Waverley

Wasted years and lives

“Please, Prime Minister, we need mass evacuation flights and guaranteed entry now” (Letters, 27/8). Millions of Afghans want to come to Australia, whose federal and state governments are crippled by record debt. Unfortunately you do not solve these international problems by continually shuffling people around the world to safe houses.

Twenty years and billions of dollars, lives and sacrifices were made by Western allied powers to install a democratic government and train 148,000 Afghan troops for this day. All for what? The Americans have every right to go home after 20 years. To be honest, it just ain’t their fight.
Tim Habben, Hawthorn

Remaining ever-vigilant

The Age and Sixty Minutes have produced valuable reports in exposing the world of the local neo-Nazis, and your editorial (The Age, 25/8) is compelling in its description of the dangers these extremists pose. Congratulations to the journalists who identified those individuals and organisations who not only promoted hate but planned to act on it.

Sadly, anti-Semitism is at the heart of many of their abhorrent beliefs. Even when they rail against immigration and attack various ethnic minorities, they allege their real enemies are Jews, with conspiracy theories complaining that our immigration policies are a Jewish plot to destroy the “white race”.

The links to some of those demonstrating against COVID-19 restrictions are also concerning. Some demonstrators left behind stickers which showed a Jewish Star of David with “9/11” inside it, next to a QR code linking to a video which made the ludicrous claim that “the Jews” were responsible for al-Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 attacks.

Our leaders, security forces and whole community need to be aware of the problem and prepared to take appropriate action against violent racist extremists.
Colin Rubenstein, executive director, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Check in, everywhere

Morris Trytell (Letters, 27/8), I walk past the QR check-ins because I do not have a smart phone. I check in manually on the clip-board, with staff, or on a provided iPad. I am not alone. We are not roaming freely in the community. Please keep checking-in.
Wendy Brennan, Bendigo

The pressure is too much

While out walking yesterday, two young, very big guys without masks walked towards me. I muttered something under my breath and one of them came right up to me and screamed in my face. He was extremely intimidating and verbally abused me with a final, “I hope you get COVID and die”. I am in my late 60s and he was perhaps 30. I realise that I should not make comments, or at least pick my targets, but this incident highlights the state of people’s mental health.

All my family is fully vaccinated, but we still cannot see each other. I am a strong defender of Dan Andrews and the state authorities, but everyone I know is really struggling. We need to follow the lead of countries that allow some freedom to the fully vaccinated. We have done the right thing in Victoria and in many ways protected the rest of the country from outbreaks. But we need help. The damage to our mental health is now too great.
Anne O’Keefe, Collingwood

Correcting rule breakers

Bridget McArthur – “Blow the whistle on citizen policing” (Opinion, 26/8) – is right: there is a lot of unkindness in our world. Would you just walk past someone who had suffered a “wardrobe malfunction” and then snigger at them? Of course not. So a cheery but discreet, “Sorry mate, but your nose is showing”, or “Madam, just so you know, your mask has slipped a bit” is all it takes. A slightly defensive response is not unusual, so take a moment to sympathise that it can happen to anyone, it just needs to be fixed.
James McDougall, Fitzroy North

Lessons in resilience

The pandemic and lockdown have led to a pervasive sense of fatigue (and far worse) in our community. It has many of us feeling trapped on an endless, long-haul flight asking “Are we there yet?” The senior school panellists on Q&A (ABC, 26/8), doing it incredibly tough (as is my year 12 son), demonstrated inspiring resilience and hope for the future. More stories of resilience and how people are managing this long haul are needed in the media, as are the voices of young people.
Colleen Cousins, Alphington

Just one small request

As grandparents, we are vaccinated and our son and daughter-in-law, both vaccinated, are working from home with a two-year-old. All we want is to be allowed to fetch our grandson to allow his parents to do their jobs without interruption. Victoria, if this is problematic, what is our future with COVID-19?
Alastair Wright, Dandenong

Putting kids in danger

It seems that in the rush to “open up” and end lockdowns on the basis of more than 70per cent vaccination rates, the politicians, businesses and others are completely neglecting to consider the impact this may have on children under 12 who cannot be vaccinated. Children are at much greater risk from the Delta variant than they have been from previous variants yet no one seems to be factoring this risk into the discussions.

Bernadette Carroll, Ivanhoe

Please explain bonuses

I wonder what performance indicators entitled senior Australia Post employees (earning between $200,000 and $500,000) to $28.2million in bonuses (The Age, 25/8). Perhaps some of this money could have been used to deliver cheaper and more effective service to its customers. An example: it cost me $34 to send a medium-size book to the United States – more than the book cost new. Outrageous. Who earned a bonus for creating this rip-off?
Bill Wiglesworth, Castlemaine

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

World

Is Peter Dutton’s first test as Defence Minister a fail?
Hans Paas, Castlemaine

The message is crystal clear: never, ever rely on the Australian government in your hour of need.
Mark Harris, Lake Gardens

If the US couldn’t defend its own capitol, how did it expect to defend Hamid Karzai Airport?
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill

Sadly, Morrison didn’t put in as much time planning Afghan repatriations as he did into pork barrelling.
Ian Maddison, Parkdale

The chaos in Kabul is the legacy of Bush and Howard.
Peter King, Caulfield East

COVID-19

Some restrictions to be lifted soon in NSW? Dan needs to Zoom chat Gladys today.
Ian Cameron, Chelsea

O’Brien says we need hope and a plan out of lockdown.What is his plan?
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East

Can somebody tell me what these civil liberty and lockdown freedom fighters think about traffic lights.
Leighton Hipkins, Richmond

When Australia leaves its cave, could it leave behind its fossil fuels.
Jenny Smithers, Ashburton

Re NSW’s cases. Gladys has beaten Buddy to 1000 by kicking own goals.
George Djoneff, Mitcham

Furthermore

The definition of irony: Fox News accusing the ABC of bias.
Barry Buskens, Beaumaris

A lapse of reason for Fox News: resorting to cancel culture to shut down news when it doesn’t suit.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

David Teague, thank you for the job you did at Carlton under trying conditions. All the best in the future.
Rex Condon, Ashwood

Carlton could adopt Another One Bites The Dust as their unofficial anthem.
Ed Veber, Malvern East

Richard Pusey may be a pariah, but to give him more attention (27/8), is a pox on all of us. No more, please.
Wendy Poulier, Ferntree Gully

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