Writing letters to news editors that get published requires a bit of guesswork as to the likely topic of discussion that will interest readers. Usually readers will be looking for comment on the important news of the day, or a particular issue that’s all over the papers – even though it’s not news. Here are some sample letters to news editors.

8 January 2022

Letters Editor
The Sydney Morning Herald
[email protected]
1 Denison Street
North Sydney NSW 2060

Dear Editor

It’s astounding that Scott Morrisson would draw the world’s attention to the Park Hotel in Melbourne, a coronavirus incubator and home to refugees seeking asylum in Australia. One of the refugees, Mustafa Salah, was detained as a 14-year old when Morrison was Minister for Immigration nine years ago. Salah remains in immigration detention along with his father, Salah Mustafa. Now the world will know that Julian Assange is just one of a list of political prisoners Australia wants to remain in detention. Novak Djokovic is a celebrity detention, presumably unaware that he’s landed in a Pacific gulag. Perhaps he’ll show his appreciation by lending the services of his legal team to the Mustafa family.

Yours sincerely

Peter Breen


15 November 2021

Letters Editor
The Saturday Paper
[email protected]
221 Drummond Street
Carlton Vic 3053

Dear Editor

The article ‘Uneven Justice’ by Bri Lee (The Saturday Paper 13/11/21) got me going.

Finding a lawyer to run a worthwhile case involving a political scrap is not the problem with the political comment defence in defamation law in my opinion.

Rather, the difficulty is finding judges willing to develop the law since the foundation for the defence was laid out by the High Court in Lange v the ABC way back in 1997. Numerous opportunities to update the defence have arisen over the years, the latest just a few months ago in Leyonhjelm v Hanson-Young when the dissenting judgement of Justice Rares in the full Court of the Federal Court canvassed all the issues that need to be resolved. An overworked High Court refused leave to appeal.

If the judges are unable or unwilling to act, the politicians could do something themselves to help their voting constituents by amending the Defamation Act to make it crystal clear that political discussion is an occasion of qualified privilege. This was the original intention of section 30 of the uniform defamation law that came into force in 2006, but none of the judges I’ve spoken to seem to be sympathetic, arguing that their job is to interpret the law, not to make it.

Of course, suing in defamation has always been a nice little earner for politicians, so in the real world, we can probably expect reform of the political comment defence around the same time as political lobbying laws are updated.

Yours sincerely

Peter Breen


04 November 2021

Letters Editor
The Sydney Morning Herald
[email protected]
1 Denison Street
North Sydney NSW 2060

Dear Editor

Politicians like judges are part of the government. Sometimes they are required to make decisions involving perceived or actual conflicts of interest.

A decision for a politician or judge to recuse themselves from making a particular decision is a complex personal question that doesn’t always allow an opportunity to take advice. Judges are often asked to recuse themselves in a case and they refuse to do so in the interests of the administration of justice.

Politicians should have the same discretion as judges not to recuse themselves to prevent the business of government becoming a three-ring circus. The suggestion from Anthony Whealy that those of us who continue to criticise the ICAC ‘do not wish to see integrity sustained at the highest levels of government’ is disingenuous.

Generally speaking, our concern about the ICAC is the level of integrity involved in a government department choosing to hold a public hearing to obtain evidence of wrongdoing that was already revealed in a private hearing.

Yours sincerely

Peter Breen


29 October 2021

Letters Editor
The Australian
[email protected]
2 Holt Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010

Dear Editor

It’s hard to know what public interest was served by the ICAC asking Gladys Berejiklian in a public hearing about the intimate details of her personal life. Was anyone surprised to learn that the former premier did not have the same regard for Darryl Maguire as she had for her family?

As a private hearing has already revealed, the former member for Wagga Wagga was on a frolic of his own. The only question for the ICAC should be whether Berejiklian personally enriched herself or Maguire as a consequence of the government approving infrastructure projects for Wagga Wagga.

Why this question needs to be ventilated in a public hearing is a mystery with all the features of a soap opera that threatens to turn the business of government into a three-ring circus.

Sincerely

Peter Breen


22 October 2021

Letters Editor
The Australian
[email protected]
2 Holt Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010

Dear Editor

The more I read about the evidence tendered to the ICAC inquiry about pork-barrelling, the more I believe the inquiry is a waste of taxpayers’ money. Surely, all politicians do whatever it takes to get grants for their electorates in the form of parks, monuments, playing fields, community halls – and yes, clubhouses for local sporting groups.

Pillow talk may be one way to influence the process. But how is it any different from a series of long lunches, or a vote in support of a proposal in the parliament or a leg-up for membership of a particular committee of the house. Politics is about getting the numbers and politicians do all sorts of deals.

If the ICAC believes that the numbers don’t support a certain proposal ergo corruption then it fails to understand that some politicians have more influence than others. Will the ICAC now be investigating why most politicians agree with net zero emissions and yet a minority has so far agreed to do nothing about it?

Sincerely

Peter Breen