Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox
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SEX TRAFFICKING RING
End illegal rorts of Australia’s visa system
Re your article about a global human trafficking syndicate – “Women shunted like cattle” (The Age, 31/10). Former Immigration Department deputy secretary Abul Rizvi says the revelations, along with data suggesting visa rorting had been exploding since 2014, suggested the Department of Home Affairs and former government had failed to take effective action. Overseen by then home affairs minister Peter Dutton, the former government allowed the illegal rorts of the visa system to flourish, leading to the sex abuse of many vulnerable women along with illegal drug trafficking.
Simultaneously, under the banner of Operation Sovereign Borders, that government cruelly imprisoned refugees and asylum seekers in both onshore and offshore detention centres and left thousands languishing on temporary protection visas in Australia.
What warped priorities were pursued by Scott Morrison, Dutton and co. Furthermore, the fact that Dutton is opposition leader indicates the Coalition still supports these priorities. It is time the Albanese government showed a genuine commitment to human rights by speeding up the process of granting visas to refugees, ending offshore processing and stopping the visa rorts that exploit the vulnerable.
Janine Laurence, Eltham
We need to rebuild our broken immigration system
Your reports on modern slavery, people trafficking and the myriad problems with the immigration system are disturbing yet hardly surprising. People are trafficked and exploited, while the criminals running these evil operations get permanent residency because they can pay whatever it takes. That is not a system; it is a scandal.
Clearly there are failures at all levels.
The public looks the other way because we do not really want to know who is picking our vegetables and staffing illegal, suburban brothels, and we do not want to pay the bill for proper wages for farm labourers and delivery drivers.
The immigration system is broken. It needs to be shut down and rebuilt from the bottom up. We also need a royal commission into our broken immigration system, and we need it now.
Peter Hogg, North Melbourne
Punishing the genuine, rewarding the unlawful
While we have spent billions of dollars discouraging genuine asylum seekers from getting in the back door, we have neglected the front door. With the help of dodgy immigration agents, at least 30,000 unlawful applicants have found it easy to get in. Figure that one out.
Tony Jackson, Fitzroy
When will we take action and allow justice to prevail?
Life is certainly full of contradictions: countless refugees and asylum seekers are refused entry into Australia and are languishing in offshore hell holes while Binjun Xie, reportedly the head of “a global human trafficking syndicate” resides, no doubt in considerable comfort, in a salubrious area of Sydney. How broken does our migration system have to become before substantive action is taken and justice prevails?
Marcia Roche, Mill Park
Our responsibility to eliminate modern slavey
The alleged misuse of licensed migration agents for importation of sex workers cannot be allowed to continue. The shameful backlog of response to applications by genuine asylum seekers for bridging and protection visas is compounded by human traffickers manipulating an already broken system. Egregious sex trafficking rorts linked to Asian crime syndicates undermine Australia’s responsibility to eliminate modern slavery in this country.
Neil Tolliday, Werribee
Feeding our students
I never thought I would say this, but I agree with Matthew Guy (The Age, 31/10). Providing free nutritious lunches, at least for disadvantaged students, is essential. For some students it may be their only proper meal of the day. You cannot learn if you have an empty stomach. And as for the cost, taxpayers’ money is going to private schools that have facilities the public sector can only dream about. Surely no one would object to diverting some of this money to such a worthwhile cause.
Barry Lizmore, Ocean Grove
The privileged families
About $300million to supply school lunches to all public school students? How much more will be given to families, many of which are on two incomes?
How hard is it to make a sandwich, add a piece of fruit and perhaps a treat just as mothers of yesteryear did without complaint? Even primary school-aged children (say those aged eight and above) have the ability to do this.
In contrast to the very generous offerings to families, aged pensioners, after a lifetime of working and paying taxes without the support of generous handouts, are left to survive on pensions that, in many cases, are inadequate.
Nola Cordell, Hoppers Crossing
Simple request made hard
Recently I tried to obtain a postal voting form online for my sister. It involved clicking on numerous links that did not lead where they claimed to, visiting numerous sites and downloading documents with names such as “document8.pdf‴ that had no information on where/how to submit. “Document7.pdf” referred to “the back of this form”, which did not exist.
You cannot apply online if you do not have either a passport or driver’s licence (my sister has neither), so you have to phone. After at least seven options, I was finally put through to a real person. Why is everything so hard?
Vicki Jordan, Lower Plenty
The forbidden subject
When the Victorian election campaign began, I thought that fixing our broken ambulance and hospital emergency departments was the biggest issue. Now it is, how are we going to pay for all the big spending promises we are getting from our politicians?
Victoria already has more debt than any other state. Interest rates are rising, so debt is more expensive. It can only mean more taxes, a subject politicians are not talking about.
David Cowie, Middle Park
Our third-rate stations
With the promises by the two major parties to improve the rail network, where is the commitment to spend funds on the two major metropolitan stations, Richmond and Flinders Street?
Richmond is a windblown, concrete monolith from the 1950s with inadequate interchange passageways and narrow platforms. We need a vision to redevelop it to accommodate the growing number of people attending the MCG, the tennis centre and AAMI Park.
There has been a history of promises to rebuild Flinders Street Station. Clearly coverage of the platforms should be a priority. The passageway under the station, connecting Elizabeth Street to Flinders Walk, should also be widened. Travellers deserve to enjoy the most modern of railway stations, comparable to any in the world.
Robert Lowe, Blackburn South
Fact, fiction, lies
Who is telling the truth? I would like to use lie detectors on the leaders of both the Labor and Liberal parties before this month’s election. It would be better than a debate.
Ivan Gaal, Fitzroy North
Such terrible images
There are a lot of pros around Halloween for children. Trick or treat. Dress up. Community engagement. It is great to see children who are normally attached to their devices in their rooms, out and about engaging with their neighbours.
But the mirth of Halloween does not apply to everyone. For those who are grieving, the constant reminder of death, especially those of dead children being used as lawn decorations, is disturbing. For those of us who have had to bury a child, the sight of a grinning skeleton baby in a tiny casket is not funny, celebratory or engaging.
Many characters from mythology, fairy tales and even contemporary movies can be borrowed for dress-up and decorations – eg, spiders, pumpkins, elves, goblins, trolls, witches and zombies.
Let us be mindful of what our neighbours or people passing by may be going through. So vote with our wallets and say no to decorations involving depictions of the death of babies and children.
Anne Altamore, bereaved mother and counsellor, Croydon
A teacher’s turn, at last
Having taught for some 37 years, I estimate I have been on four to five camps per year, so about 150-plus in total. For many camps, I have been the organiser, teacher in charge, person who goes to the hospital with the sick/injured child. It has been part of my job and I have never really complained about playing my role in what I consider to be an integral part of a young person’s education.
However, with the new workplace agreement between the state government and the Australian Education Union (Sunday Age, 30/10), I now look forward to the time in lieu/back pay for all these camps and retiring to the Bahamas.
Stephen Brown, Hampton
Step one completed
Welcome back to the families who have been saved from the horrible camps in Syria. We took our time doing this and now it is time to free the refugees from detention.
Mary Fenelon, Doncaster East
Aim for a fairer society
We should stop looking on increased real wages as an obstacle to economic growth and recognise that in a fair society, it is the only purpose of economic growth.
Peter Acton, Hawthorn
Clamp down on cryptos
Most of these hacking ransom attacks are enabled by the anonymity and untraceability of crypto-currencies. It is time that these are brought under the control of the United Nations or the World Bank or Interpol, which could seize or trace an account being used for criminal purposes.
Any currency that will not allow this oversight should be blocked from operating in Australia, the European Union, the United States etc. Unless we do something like that, these attacks will keep getting bolder and more frequent.
Geoff Dalton, East Malvern
Big fines, better security
Insulting criminals (“dogs”, “scum of the earth”), as Cybersecurity Minister Clare O’Neil did over the Medibank hack (The Age, 27/10) is pointless and simply demonstrates impotence. Most hackers rely on human error to succeed – gullibility, complacency, technical ignorance etc. Unfortunately the “she’ll be right, mate” attitude is still all too common.
Increasing fines could be a way to get companies to take cybersecurity seriously and constantly “pressure test” their systems, stay up to date with hacker technology, and most importantly, educate operatives to take the necessary time and care to keep interfaces secure. There is no such thing as “good enough” in cybersecurity.
John Laurie, Riddells Creek
Going online? Really?
Medibank sends its customers many “updates” on how to proceed and how to be careful. But on a no-reply email, where the only recourse is to go online. I hope that is safe. To use the Australian vernacular, I just can’t hack it.
Luise Mock, Tawonga South
The growing cost of debt
Nowhere near enough coverage is given to just how much it costs our federal and state governments to service their ever growing debt – ie, how much of the revenue they collect goes straight to paying down principal and interest thereon. The feds are still promising income tax cuts, thereby further eating into revenues needed to repay our debts. This does not compute.
Judy Trinham, Surrey Hills
Like Maree Harrison (Letters, 26/10), I have a Virgin flight credit for about $1500 as a result of a cancelled flight to the US due to COVID-19. I was hopeful of resuming my trip to see my daughter in Los Angeles after learning that Virgin had resumed “flying” to North America.
As it turns out, this is illusory. The flying is being done by United Airlines with Virgin selling code-shared tickets for these flights. After checking with Virgin, my travel agent informed me that my credit could not be used on one of these flights. So it appears I will be forced to fritter away my credit on a domestic flight that I otherwise would not have taken. Poor form, Virgin.
David Fox, Beaumaris
Just another rort, premier
Re the new sponsorship of the Diamonds netball team (The Age, 31/10). Daniel Andrews can try to cloak this use of $15million of, ultimately, taxpayers’ money in any high-tone language and argument he cares to but this cynical ploy is in the same league as the former federal government’s car park and sports rorts.
Mark Morrison, Kew
Obsolete and unwanted
The US Air Force will deploy nuclear-capable B-52 bombers near Darwin (The Age, 31/10). These bombers are obsolete in the age of missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missile which can reach anywhere in the world.
Only a missile defence is right for Australia. Both defensive and offensive systems are required to counter attacks by autocratic regimes. A relatively short-range bomber with limited capability is not in our best interest. They will simply annoy our neighbours to the north and make us a target.
Brett Osborn, Mornington
Surely a win-win plan
Now here is an idea. Why doesn’t the federal government limit negative gearing to those whose investment properties are only available to social housing tenants? Two birds, one stone.
Linelle Gibson, Williamstown
AND ANOTHER THING
The reported human trafficking (31/10) involves violent rape on an industrial scale. Stopping it must be an urgent priority.
Gail Greatorex, Ormond
Tony Abbott, please come out of retirement and shirt-front Vladimir Putin.
Peter Thomas, Barwon Heads
Free lunch for schoolchildren? Or is this really play lunch from desperate politicians?
Margaret Ward, Sorrento
Matt Guy has debunked the theory that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Michael Brinkman, Cowes
A matter of time (31/10)? More like time is running out for the Liberals to have people of diverse backgrounds before the party folds.
James Lane, Hampton East
The power that politicians gain requires more purity than is ever required in achieving it.
Cam Wright, Rye
The privatisation of energy supplies: greed and short-term gain, but long-term pain for consumers and industry.
Arthur Pritchard, Ascot Vale
Gamble responsibly? More to the point – advertise responsibly.
Jude Davies, Hampton
Would the world come to an end if the Reserve Bank were to raise interest rates by 0.37per cent today?
John Pritchard, Melbourne
It’s great that cruises are back, just so long as they don’t bring viruses with them.
Doris LeRoy, Altona
With the proverbial 40 days of rain falling, I’m really worried when I hear the birds calling “ark, ark, ark”.
David Baylis, Drouin East
Large businesses with millions of customers must protect their private details, thus saving us further anguish and pain.
Wendy Poulier, Ferntree Gully
Just what outstanding quality has David Warner demonstrated to make him a chance for leadership “parole” (31/10)?
Brian Morley, Donvale
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