Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng hold a flute of champagne after signing a deal to resettle refugees from Australia to Cambodia. Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng hold a flute of champagne after signing a deal to resettle refugees from Australia to Cambodia. Photo: Getty Images
On Friday Immigration Minister Scott Morrison signed a deal with Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng ("Ministers silent on details of $40m Cambodia 'pay-off', September 27).
Surely the $40 million is nothing more than a bribe for the Cambodian government to accept the secret deal, since the details have been withheld from the Australian people.
Since one aspect is known, that only those who are deemed to be refugees who voluntarily choose to be resettled in Cambodia will go there, what happens if not one of them makes that choice? What happens to the $40 million? Does Australia get it back?
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison recently signed a deal with Cambodia to resettle refugees there. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison recently signed a deal with Cambodia to resettle refugees there. Photo: Andrew Meares
Mila Yates Valentine
Australia's plans to send refugees from Nauru, which is bankrupt, to Cambodia is the last straw in the actions of a desperate and immoral government ("Fears for refugee children's future", September 26). It is well known that Cambodia is one of the most corrupt countries in the world – millions of aid dollars disappear each year.
We travelled to Cambodia two years ago and were appalled at the plight of families who lived on the streets of Phnom Penh, begging for scraps from the high fenced-off restaurant diners, many of whom were corrupt government officials, driving apparently unregistered Lexus 4WDs while the rest get about on old bicycles or walk. Graft and corruption is a way of life there. Our tuk-tuk driver had to pay extra bribes to ensure that his son was able to study at a senior high school level.
We donate annually for a water tank for Cambodian schools as well as to help pay for school children's dental care but we donate via the Buddhist Library, the only aid organisation that we can trust to deliver the aid where it is needed.
What possible hope is there for refugees, having to compete with the local Khmer people for jobs, the limited healthcare which comes at the cost of a bribe to the right officials, in a culture which is totally alien to them and which will do nothing to assist them to integrate. If the Cambodian government can't and won't help its own people, why would they assist refugees?
Eva Johnstone Marrickville
Our government is sending planes and military aids to the Middle East with reason to fight terrorism for our freedom. Is that also  the reason we sent refugee children to Cambodia detention centres so they can enjoy that freedom as well? I noticed that Scott Morrison toasted a drink to that deal with the Cambodian ministers.  Mr Morrison, how can you sleep at night?
Adriaan Tent Bonnells Bay
I'm sick with disgust to be a citizen of a country that through its wealth abrogates responsibility for those seeking refuge by bribing Third World countries. The new low is the deal to send refugees to Cambodia. On Morrison's own admission they are risk-taking, free-thinking individuals who will do well there. We know they are poor and would relish the peace and safety and the chance to work for our minimum wage. Good, we have a country nearly as big as the US, replete with dying towns desperately needing a fresh vision, abattoirs to be staffed, crops to be tended and no one here wants to do it. We have enough chemical engineers and PhDs cleaning or driving taxis now. How ethnocentric to think that with our riches and a black heart we just supplant foreign nationals into Cambodia, a country emerging from war and steeped in poverty. No economy to provide work, no welfare, no social services: a nation which cannot look after its own. Be proud Australia.
Phillip Atkinson Chippendale
Scott Morrison should know better than to persist  to speak of  "voluntary"  resettlement. Voluntary implies free choice, which is simply not the case for boat refugees sent to Manus Island, Nauru, etc and now Cambodia. For these unfortunate refugees, it is akin to  adding insult to injury.
Steve Ngeow Chatswood
Scott Morrison travels to Cambodia, seals a deal for refugees, sips champagne and allows photographs but refuses to answer questions. Why? Operational matters or embarrassment?
Michael Clayton Hunters Hill
I do not have a problem with Scott Morrison drinking champagne but toasting an agreement with Cambodia for just five refugees to be transferred to Cambodia can only be regarded as an absolute farce.
Forty million dollars is an enormous sum of money in Cambodia.  Is there a plan B if the system fails and no more refugees agree to go to Cambodia? The five refugees should be living in luxury but in a country where I have observed many locals living on the streets with no more than a sheet of plastic to protect them, I cannot see the Cambodians accepting refugees who will be granted many privileges the locals could only dream of.
Robyn Lewis Raglan
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop tells us that Cambodia is "keen" to be part of  a "regional solution" to the refugee and asylum seeker problem (ABC Insiders, September 28). How can Cambodia not be keen with the kind of money the Abbott government is offering its corrupt leadership?
Cambodia is "keen" so that's good enough for the Australian mob in power. Never mind its suitability as one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the region.
Why has the UN deemed the arrangement unacceptable if all is in proper order under the UN Refugee Convention as Bishop wants us to believe?
Rajend Naidu Glenfield

Slow dance of compassion by caring Muslim

I wish to describe an act of kindness by a Muslim in an Anglican nursing home.
We visited my mum in the elegant Elizabeth Bay nursing home in her last months.
Patients lay on daybeds, statue-like, before a permanently playing television.
One day, a young Arab nurse-assistant called Mohammed held out his hands to one such delicate old English lady, helping her totter to her feet. He hummed an old tune, whose words he must have heard her trying repeatedly to recall and consulted the internet to find the song.
"Sing with me," he coaxed, holding his dark hands to grasp her twisted pale fingers. She rose slowly, swaying her bent spine, rocking gently to the tune, as he began to sing: "Five minutes more, only five minutes more."
Very sweetly she joined in, the words surfacing at last, from a deep well in her memory, apparently empty as she sat silent through the long days. Their voices swelling, they danced around the room for several minutes: a unique, spell-binding couple: as if Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers had circled down the decades.
Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, this unlikely couple dance forever.
Lesley Campbell Double Bay

Culture of fear for most vulnerable

When I was in my late teens and moved out of home, I found the world outside terrifying and overwhelming. After a couple of minor psychotic episodes, I discovered drugs which seemed to give me protection from madness. However, that made me a criminal and an outsider in society. I realised I'd become someone who society would happily lock up in jail and would barely notice if I OD'd. I became terrified of the police. I believed they were out to get me, lock me up and throw away the key.
When I watch the Prime Minister stir up fear and discrimination in our country, I remember how being an outsider with mental health problems encourages you to believe you are outside the normal laws and protections of society. The authorities are out to get you and your biggest enemy is the police. If the police continue to become targets for mentally unwell people, it will be because of the PM's promotion of fear.
Beth Shelley Booerie Creek

Damned if you do ...

Michael Richardson (Letters, September 27-28) despairs of the inaction advocated by some in response to global terrorism. These same advocates who accuse Australian governments of "look over there" diversionary tactics themselves seek to divert our attention elsewhere, as if inertia or ignorance in one area justifies non-response in another. Whenever assistance is given in one area, cynics point to other dire situations also needing attention, be they threat of climate change, schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria (now largely forgotten by the West), indigenous disadvantage in Australia, youth unemployment in far west NSW, housing unaffordability and homelessness in Sydney.
Jesus's Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is commended as a model for engagement with humanity. When the samaritan chanced upon an injured man in his path, he did not say, "Sorry mate, there exist others who are just as needy." We are to be a "neighbour" to anyone in need of help in our daily encounters. Jesus says, "Go and do likewise."
Hendry Wan Alexandria

Alert and very alarmed

Thank you Robyn Dalziell for your intelligent letter in Saturday's Herald. Everything you said is how many of us feel and it was further enhanced by the sight of two policemen armed and wearing protective gear at Chatswood Chase on Saturday morning whilst we and other families shopped. It was a shock for us to see them and made us very aware of how far this government has turned the tide and changed our lives.
Kathy Bradley Wollstonecraft
Robyn Dalziell, the concentration in the media will remain as long as they continue to receive the types of overwrought letters like the one you wrote.
One of the real joys of living in Australia is that, politically, nothing ever really happens.
Unfortunately, this means we have to pump things up to make them look significant.
It is more than 10 years since we started to ban nail clippers on flights, we have surveillance cameras on street corners, random breath testing etc.
None of which can be said to restrict our liberties.  Do you think this tranquillity isn't partly due to the background vigilance of our authorities?
David Dolphin Summer Hill

Go you good things

Given the Herald's success rate in relation to the AFL's kiss of death ("To avoid Herald kiss of death – go the Hawks!", September 27-28), could you please see if it works in the ARL – and throw all your support behind the Bulldogs? (Thank you).
Marietta Hopkins Woolooware

A price too high

Peter Hartcher argues the need for Australia to increase its population in order to be able to afford the taxes required to pay for the upkeep of its elderly ("Trouble times three for Lucky Country", September 27-28).
Unfortunately, most of the increase in Australia's population has been occurring in its capital cities, such as Sydney, with some undesirable effects. The price of real estate here has taken it beyond the reach of most younger potential buyers. Families now face the options of raising children in high-rise apartments or in houses on Sydney's perimeter, resulting in long work commutes. Traffic congestion is getting worse and the state government is continually playing catch-up in trying to build enough railway lines to service the growing population. Even municipal golf courses are under pressure to be redeveloped as apartment blocks.
Is it really worth living in overcrowded cities just to avoid having to pay higher taxes to support the elderly?
Bruce Johnson South Turramurra

Silence breeds mistrust

What a conundrum for our Governor-General and for our government ("Cosgrove past stays past", September 27-28).
By refusing to release information, the National Archives damns Sir Peter Cosgrove without one skerrick of adverse or praiseworthy information relating to his earlier days at RMC Duntroon being released.
If you restrict information in a democracy, you no longer have a democracy. Hiding information from the community engenders suspicion and mistrust.
Chris Rivers Port Macquarie

Greed wins out

The various tiers of government in NSW certainly don't like to miss out on any opportunity to grab another slice of revenue from any possible source. Their eagle eyes and sponge-like treasuries have now lit upon Airbnb ("Councils threaten home owners with huge rental fines", September 27).
Our recent holidays overseas included both hotels and Airbnb. As we were not on a state or local government junket, with provided accommodation, the economies of Airbnb allowed us extended holiday time and the spending of much money within the local economies of various cities and towns. Airbnb meant that we met local people, not other tourists in a hotel chain. The hosts were varied in character and all were helpful and informative (one was a refugee from NSW governance).
NSW government agencies seem set to kill off this important access for visitors. Airbnb hosts in NSW won't have the political sway of multimillionaires, who can get government rules, favours and subsidies twisted to their advantage, so one would not like their chances in this mean-spirited exercise.
Donald Hawes Blayney

Star performer in Z-grade politics 

So Scott Morrison is a "one of the Coalition's star performers". ("Morrison may take reins on terrorism as part of overhaul"  September 27-28). In the same way that Bela Lugosi was a "star performer" in the Z-grade movie Plan 9 from Outer Space.
Richard Mason Newtown

Art of conversation

When the voiceover on Guildford Station today announced that police were targeting antisocial behaviour, I hastily put away my mobile phone and started chatting to the stranger next to me.
Helen Purdy Guildford

Abbott's emptiness

The large number of empty seats at the UN during Prime Minister Abbott's address last week, shown in the photo accompanying the article "PM skips climate change in UN speech" (SMH - September 27-28, 2014), seems to indicate that the world was not very interested in what Abbott had to say.
Rubens Turini Ashfield

Spring in the air

Along with the enjoyment of this warm colourful vibrant showy spring Rick Kemp, (Letters, September 27-28) may I suggest a few whoops of thankfulness.
Julie Robinson Cardiff

Sad Saturday loss

What a disappointing Saturday arvo. The Sydney Swans lost in the AFL grand final and Tom Jones wasn't bombarded with women's bloomers.
Carolyn Wills Cremorne