LETTERS News Weekly
, October 1, 2011
Following Michael Arnold’s letter (News Weekly, September 3), criticising my article, “Britain ashamed of Waterloo” (News Weekly, August 6), I did indeed take his advice and consulted the website www.Waterloo200.org.
In the section headed “Questions and Answers” I found, inter alia (this is not a satire):
“Q. How is Waterloo relevant to today’s multi-cultural society?
“A. Waterloo was fought by armies of different cultures working closely together in teams and coalition armies. People of many races and nations, of several religions, both sexes and different orientations fought at Waterloo….
“Q. Is Waterloo not just another story of dead white men?
“A. ‘Dead white men’ is a sweeping statement which distorts the event by looking at it from the wrong end of the telescope. Armies comprising many races and nations, several religions, both sexes, different orientations and varying skin colours fought at Waterloo. We certainly intend to commemorate the dead.…”
I think that perhaps no commemoration at all would be preferable to this.
Hal G.P. Colebatch,
Premier Ted Baillieu
In a recently published article about Victorian Liberal leader Mr Ted Baillieu, a friend of mine, Jeffry Babb, referred to the aggressive behaviour of some MPs during abortion debates in the state’s Parliament.
I hope that your readers did not infer that Mr Baillieu contributed in any way to such behaviour, I am sure that he did not.
Although we certainly have different views on life before birth, Mr Baillieu was always respectful, courteous and kind in his dealings with me. In fact, I never saw him behave otherwise to anyone.
Furthermore, soon after my loss at the election late last year, as the newly elected premier, Mr Baillieu telephoned me with extremely generous remarks. I was particularly impressed that he was so kind when he had nothing to gain from it.
DLP member of Victoria’s Legislative Council (2006 to 2010).
Shutting down debate on free trade
Why is it that The Australian on its front-page (August 23) resorts to alarmism in its acknowledgement of its own editorial bias?
Every time public debate begins about reconsidering the lack of protection we give to vulnerable industries, we can depend on The Australian to shout “protectionism”.
It is the addition of “ism” to the word protection that I am complaining about. Adding this to a word implies taking an idea to an extreme — such as we’ve done with free trade ideology.
What Australia needs is more protection (-ion not -ism) for vulnerable but strategic industries.
Could The Australian kindly refrain from stifling debate with its own brand of alarmism about warranted and strategic protection?
Gorbachev not admired in Russia
Further to Joseph Poprzeczny’s article, “Gorbachev denounces Putin for ‘castrating democracy’” (News Weekly, September 3), the unpopularity of Mikhail Gorbachev in his own country seems little known in the West.
In 1996, he came seventh in his bid for election as Russian President, receiving only 386,069 (0.5 per cent) of a total of 74,387,754 votes cast.
Undoubtedly, he received much favourable publicity in the West during the latter part of his rule. Indeed British Guardian newspaper’s Moscow correspondent, Martin Walker, was so impressed that he wrote a book, The Waking Giant: Soviet Union under Gorbachev (Abacus Books 1988).
The post-communist collapse of the Russian Federation as its assets were privatised and looted, on the advice of the leading Western economists, showed how completely wrong Walker’s book was. I don’t recall any Western journalist predicting communism’s total collapse in the USSR.
While the Western media told of the “wonders” of Mr Gorbachev, Christian victims of communism, whom I knew, said that the system was rotten and would collapse shortly.
One of them, a Russian sailor, called at Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to say he wished to seek asylum here. A departmental officer referred him to the Department of Immigration, saying, “You probably won’t get asylum. Things are alright in your country now you have Mr Gorbachev.”
My friend’s reply was, “As a sailor, I visit many countries where people tell me how wonderful Mr Gorbachev is. In his own country we don’t think he is wonderful. But we know him from experience and you don’t.”
Peaceful demonstrators in Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi, Georgia on April 9, 1989, had a taste of Mr Gorbachev’s (sic) love of democracy, when they were attacked by spade-wielding Soviet special forces who killed 19 protesters, 17 of them women.
President Gorbachev slammed “actions by irresponsible persons” for loss of life. He said that the disturbances sought to overthrow the Georgian government and stir ethnic tension in Georgia (Associated Press, Toronto Star, April 13, 1989). The photographs of the dead protesters and films taken by observer told a different story.
Please try, if you can, to find more reliable sources of information about Russia.
Patrick J. Gethin,