The Guardian 23 February, 2005

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Rau victim of systemic problems

Cornelia Rau's incredible journey through the bureaucracy nightmare would be classified as science fiction had it been a book. Sadly, it's a true reflection on the state of things in Australia at present. The announced inquiry would not do much good by definition - yes, it may work out how an innocent person finished up in prison and in detention but I'm sure it will all be put down to human error somewhere along the line.

Consider the following facts which surfaced after her story broke. "Cash-strapped Lifeline faces closure", is a headline in the Sydney Morning Herald (Feb 12-13, 2005). Telstra, whose head bragged about record half yearly profits of more than $2.3 billion decided to end its support for Lifeline.

No reason was given to the service which receives 1300 calls a day from people who evidently desperately need it. Last financial year the number of calls was 501,594. About 5000 trained volunteers staff the phones and another 5000 are involved in fund-raising and administrative work. So much for compassion from Telstra and the government, though.

Another story that drew my attention was in a weekly suburban magazine, which covers the central suburbs of Sydney. It was about an ever-increasing staffing crisis which is leaving homeless and mentally ill people out in the cold.

Cornelia Rau came across many people in her wanderings around Australia. Many of them were helpful and all of them recognised that she had a mental illness. It's not that there was a bad apple somewhere and that's how the poor woman ended up in a detention camp.

It's the system that let her down, not necessary the mental, immigration or any other service. It's all of the above plus a systemic failure of the society to respond to a person in need of help. It's called capitalism and no amount of patching will make it work.

Sandi Smith
Sydney, NSW

Rau victim of terror provisions

Being appalled by the shocking treatment of Cornelia Rau, it's well to remember that this occurred under the provisions of the federal government's terrorist-fright Migration Act, which stipulates that any citizen can be taken into detention because someone - (who?) - thinks that someone else is an unlawful 'non-citizen', and hence should be incarcerated and denied presumption of innocence and free access to family, lawyers and magistrates - our supposed civilised rights today.

So when is this undemocratic act to be repealed and the shocking structures surrounding it disbanded?

Ken O'Hara
Unemployment Networking
Gerringong, NSW

Call it confusion

There seems to be some confusion in the government between "interview" and "interrogation". Let me explain in simple terms.

An interview is a conversation between two parties. When it is over they are free to go either to a pub or somewhere else.

An interrogation also involves a conversation between the two parties. Usually only one side is asking questions. After the interrogation, though, one party is usually taken to a cell whereas the other is free to go to a pub.

I hope it's clear now.

Andrew Strong
Sydney, NSW

Media grip on information

Not much of my stuff is being published these days. I'm not alone in that, I know. Plenty of other letter writers furious at the dissembling of our posh suit wearing leaders and their apparent incapacity to feel shame or remorse at the grim consequences of their lies, are in the same boat, exactly.

Take our own self-righteous warmonger. Has he ever said sorry to anyone for anything? In common with other so-called leaders, he is out of that respectable, English-speaking, Bible-punching Christian mould, so beloved of those adoring but frightened flat-earthers and troglodytes who make up the support base of the Coalition of the Deaf and Tongue-tied.

Perhaps if the opposition were not so flabby, they might occasionally demand sensible answers as to why troops allied to ours in the Gulf can get away with using depleted uranium weapons to the detriment of friend and foe alike, not to mention the innocent infant bystanders.

Last night's (15-2-05) exposť on SBS was very revealing. How can any human who purports to have any concern for human rights fail to be angered at these awful consequences of mindlessness and war?

Dave Diss
Glengowrie, SA

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