Australian letters

15 July 2017

9:00 AM

15 July 2017

9:00 AM

Disraeli switches gears

Sir: Malcolm Turnbull’s statement that Liberals are not Conservatives finally settles a question that has puzzled me ever since I first began to study Australian politics. If the Liberals and the Conservatives were the two rival powers for all of nineteenth Century British politics, how could the Liberal party in Australia consider itself Conservative? Gladstone and Disraeli were the leaders of these two parties and their rivalry for government dominated much of Queen Victoria’s reign, yet there was this anomaly that the Australian Liberal party was actually Conservative!

This struck me as being a contradiction in terms.   Now Turnbull has clarified the situation in his own terms, but where exactly does this leave the Coalition government? The obvious solution would be for the Conservatives to break away and form their own party, just as Cory Bernardi has done, but this would inevitably lead to splitting the opposition and to Australia being governed by the Labor party for many years to come. Unless the basic differences between Liberals and Conservatives are settled by a public display of unity within the party, defeat will be inevitable in the next election and the Coalition will have nobody but itself to blame. “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party” Indeed!
Noreen Pryor
Yandina, Qld

Scotch scotched

Sir: Further to John Elsegoods’ article concerning Qantas, we were astonished to find on flights Sydney to Dallas Texas and return, Scotch whisky was not available. Bourbon and Irish Whiskey only. In 40 years of international flights we cannot recall an occasion where Scotch was not available. Prejudice Mr Joyce.
Howard Hodgetts and Fe Coleman
Jindera, NSW

Political corruption

Sir: Corrine Barraclough’s assault on Political Correctness endorses how most of us see recognise today’s abusive/activist world. But the very term itself is submission to the very cause: what we are being assaulted with is Political Corruption. The Politically Correct are a body of the past; today’s poison is Political Corruption – of the very language and our lifelong values.
Dallas Swinstead
Frankston south, Vic

Technical education

Sir: I am grateful to Robert Tombs for highlighting the baleful use of ‘declinism’ as part of the anti-Brexit campaign and the persistent underestimation of the United Kingdom’s strengths (‘Down with declinism’, 8 July). It is ironic that the heirs of the old 19th-century Liberal party, the Liberal Democrats, are among its principal proponents, for declinism goes back even further than the 1880s cited in his article. Fearful of the advances demonstrated at the Paris International Exposition of 1867 by continental countries in engineering (e.g. the giant Krupp cannon) and the sciences generally, the Liberal minister Robert Lowe in 1870 opened the debate on the Education Bill — the first to introduce more or less universal primary education — by lamenting the backward character of British education, especially technical education, compared with France and Prussia. If one thread runs through a long-running debate it is that of concern that the United Kingdom was backward in technical education compared with its major rival. How much more ironic, then, that one of the positive proposals emerging from the wreckage of the Conservative manifesto was the biggest boost to technical education for generations.
John Stevenson
Crediton, Devon

Rod’s wrong this time

Sir: I am a rabid admirer of Rod Liddle and think he is the most sensible person on the planet. But his attitude to smoking has made him slip back a notch (‘Being anti-smoking damages your mental health’, 8 July). I loathe smoking — not for any ideological reason, not because I am a Nazi, not because of beliefs about health risks, but simply because tobacco smoke stinks.
Brian Willis
Bicton, Australia

The new news

Sir: Ian Katz says that the public increasingly doesn’t believe the news (‘Media culpa’, 8 July) but he fails to acknowledge the difference between traditional media and social media and the increasing impact of the latter on news. When there were but relatively few media outlets — a handful of national newspapers, TV and radio stations — people were forced to trust journalists. There simply was no other way to get the news or to understand its significance. Now that a smartphone gives access to untold points of view, it’s perfectly natural and sensible for people to ‘curate’ their own news and to try to take in as many views as possible. This is not about an increasing lack of faith in journalists. A structural change is taking place with regard to information flows and news analysis. In that sense, the traditional role of the news journalist is coming to an end.
Steffan Williams
Hammersmith, London

On Islamic law

Sir: I was pleased to read James Fergusson’s assessment of British sharia councils (‘Sharia for feminists, 1 July) and think such research should be more widely reported. Indeed sharia, and fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) in general, are vast concepts that go well beyond simply ‘an eye for an eye’. Britons would benefit from learning about Islamic law in order to embrace its positive contribution to our country, and I eagerly await the publication of the government’s report.
George Cairns
London SW17

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