War on terror comes to Bendigo

I speak on behalf of the Vietnam Veterans Bendigo sub-branch expressing dismay at the demand of authorities to close off all streets with solid barricades to give access to the route of the Anzac Day March and commemorative services.

We find this to be offensive to us as veterans of war to have to hide behind barriers to march and pay homage to those that paid the supreme sacrifice so that we could live in peace.

In a truly democratic society, life is all about taking risks driving in a car, walking across the road entail risk.

Those of us who went to war took a risk, we laid our lives on the line in defence of our way of life.

We see the imposition of barriers to hide behind on Anzac Day is a disgrace and a moral victory to those who wish to oppress us.

Democracy is all about freedom of speech and movement, being able to  move freely and gather in the public domain.

Authorities can be risk averse to the point of ridiculousness, individual public safety is important but not at the expense of undermining our democratic rights.

We believe the authorities that instigated and demanded the positioning of these barriers are out of touch with what “real Australians” believe and feel, and should be sacked.

The everyday Australian would be appalled at this so-called safety strategy and see it as a strategy that borders on cowardice.

To propose this nonsense and then expect the participating community agencies to foot the bill adds insult to the Veterans that will participate in our important traditions on Anzac Day.

Paul Penno, President, Vietnam Veterans, Bendigo Sub Branch

Silent councillors

I was shocked to read Michael McKenzie’s letter in the Weekly, April 5, titled“Higher priority”.

I had no idea of the imbalance in council spending. It is hard to imagine how Bendigo council could possibly employ 40 EFT people in tourism related roles which brings in $300 million, whereas in agriculture and food processing council employs 3.5 EFT people which brings in $250- $350 million and hundreds of millions in food processing.

And to make matters worse, tourism budgeted net losses are in the order of $10 million annually. At least the Livestock Exchange is no drain on the ratepayer purse.

These weird spending differences makes no sense at all and demand an explanation.

I notice no one from council has attempted to correct Mr McKenzie’s figures so I presume he is on the money once again.

It is a sad indictment on our councillors that no one has spoken out on this massive disparity.

Colin Carrington, Heathcote

Curious entertainment

Regular letter-writer Helen Leach often contributes an amusing dog’s breakfast of poorly articulated conspiracy theory, illogical argument and outright misinformation, of which her letter of April 12 is a fine example.

She asserts that “a vote for Bill Shorten is a vote for open borders”.

The fact is that the Labor Party agrees with the Coalition’s punitive policies of boat turn-backs and seemingly indefinite off-shore detention for asylum seekers, including children.

The only fundamental difference is Labor’s recent acceptance of medical transfers for the seriously ill.

Any voter who seriously values the decent and humane treatment of vulnerable people seeking asylum on our shores, as is their lawful right, would not be voting for either Labor or the Coalition.

Ms Leach’s next concern is that Mr Shorten is, apparently, about to allow a “powerful foreign entity” to “decide who will come to Australia, and in what numbers” by signing the “United Nations Global Compact on Migration”. Once again, a few facts are warranted.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, is the correct title of a new inter-governmental negotiated agreement prepared under the auspices of the UN, and is described as “covering all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner”.

The compact was formally endorsed by the UN in December 2018, and is nonbinding under international law.

The agreement recognises the principles of national sovereignty, reaffirming the right of states to determine their own migration policies.

There are 23 objectives and commitments listed in the agreement, including collecting and using accurate data to develop evidence-based migration policy, ensuring all migrants have proof of identity, encouraging co-operation for tracking missing migrants and saving lives, ensuring migrants can access basic services and making provision for both full inclusion of migrants and social cohesion.

Despite Ms Leach’s preoccupation with the evils of a potential Shorten Labor government, she was very vociferous during last year’s state election in assuring voters that she was standing as a candidate for the “real Labour party”.

Reading her letters and following her forays into public life is nothing if not curiously entertaining.

Michelle Goldsmith, Eaglehawk

Another swipe

In her letter “Too significant”, Weekly, April 12, former councillor Helen Leach has taken another swipe at the despised ALP.

She claims that “a vote for Labor is a vote for open borders” on the premise that if Bill Shorten signs the United Nations Global Compact on Migration, “A powerful foreign entity will decide who comes to Australia and in what numbers.”

Both her claim and the premise it rests on are inaccurate. Ms Leach has misread and misunderstood the purpose and function of the Global Contract.

Point 15 of the Vision and Guiding Principles of the Compact, produced under the auspices of the United Nations, states the following:

“The Global Compact reaffirms the sovereign right of the states to determine their national migration policy and their prerogative to govern migration within their jurisdiction, in conformity with international law.”

In other words, provided that a member state of the United Nations is not breaking any international laws, it is quite within its rights to determine its own national migration policy.

So, under this agreement, no big bogey or unnamed “powerful foreign entity” could cause a national government to alter its national policy on migration unless that policy contravened international law.

And that is where this issue becomes very interesting. An online perusal of the compact reveals that the United States of America, at the behest of Donald Trump, did not participate in agreement negotiations.

And Scott Morrison on Australia’s behalf would not be party to the agreement because he feared that Australia’s “strong border protection” could be undermined.

So, what do Donald Trump, Scott Morrison, and Helen Leach have in common here?

It seems that none of them wishes to conform to international laws on migration issues. Thus for them the easiest way to sidestep all of that obligation is not to be party to the compact in the first place.

Hence Trump’s border wall, hence ScoMo’s jaunt to Christmas Island, and hence Helen Leach’s invocation of the “open borders/foreign entity/ALP damage” spectre.

Has it never occurred to any of these people to think of the benefits that migrants can bring to their country of settlement?

When will this xenophobia be seen for what it is? The biggest risks would seem to be avoiding change and closing our borders, our eyes and our minds to the future.

Julie Hopper, Bendigo

Climate change election

This is the climate change election. When will our political dinosaurs realise that renewables are best for the environment?

Schoolchildren and young people are showing us the way.

Native species are being extinguished. The rivers and oceans are greatly under threat. Dead fish in the Murray Basin is a calamity.

Contradictory attitudes from parties who seem to prefer coal, do not take a firm stand on the Adani mine.

Our politicians have no credibility on the climate issues nor about their close association with Chinese billionaires.

Denials and negativity are probably going to be the hallmarks of the election campaign.

Let’s hope that electors see through this.

Wendy Hebbard, Woodend