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Pre-election, battening down reform hatches


Given that the Labor and Liberal parties in Victoria have had no hesitation accepting more than $500,000 of political donations from Crown over the past decade, it would appear that reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Parliament has been completely ineffective.

By contrast, as Charles Livingstone (Opinion, 5/8) points out, Crown’s largesse has been very effective in enabling Big Gambling to operate its lucrative and predatory business in Victoria, unrestrained by proper regulation or scrutiny. So much for “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil”.
Jenny Backholer, Clifton Hill

A bunch of projects do not constitute a ’plan’

The Auditor-General has confirmed what transport professionals in Victoria have been saying for years: there is no plan (The Age, 5/8). Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan apparently thinks “165 integrated road and rail projects that are currently under way across Victoria” constitutes a plan.

What a low level of public administration we have reached. With inadequate vision, direction and capabilities within the whittled-down Transport Department, local councils are making decisions about how roads are used (eg, with parking or not) that have dire strategic impacts on all transport modes. The absence of a plan not only affects which big, announceable projects are built (and how), but leaves the wider community without any basis for resolving the inevitable conflicts between local and regional interests.
Rob Morgan, traffic engineer, Bulleen

When will Victoria’s politicians give us a fair hearing?

Every “duck season”, we who live near normally peaceful wetlands are rudely woken by gun shots. It is disorientating and scary to experience when you initially believe a skirmish is taking place in your own backyard. What follows is the distressing realisation that men (predominantly) are shooting native ducks for pleasure.

The detrimental cost of their pleasure on nearby residents is simply too much. Surely the health and wellbeing of the many outweighs that of the few who shoot these gentle birds for a thrill? It is also a wicked waste of millions. Repeatedly, polls show it goes against community values, so why does the government continue to spend hard-earned tax dollars on this disruptive and cruel activity?
Sue Williams, Eagle Point


How things can change

It seems incredible that we had Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton celebrating a “zero” on Twitter on Wednesday morning (The Age, 5/8), and then we had the Premier announcing a lockdown on Thursday afternoon. I am not sure if everybody is singing from the same hymn sheet.
Mark Hulls, Sandringham

Let me decide, Premier

To quote Dan Andrews: “I am making these decisions in your best interests.” I would appreciate being allowed to determine what my best interests are and not be lectured to by an incompetent, arrogant politician.
Liz Irwin, Melbourne

Aim for bipartisanship

Let us hope that this time Michael O’Brien says he agrees another lockdown is necessary.
John Walsh, Watsonia

No jab, no work onsite

Well done, SPC, for making a stand, as an essential manufacturer, to mandate vaccinations for all onsite staff (The Age, 5/8). This is a positive step to secure safe work environments for all in the plant as well as the community from which they come. Let us all support and encourage other businesses to do likewise. We cannot wait for governments to act.
Lorraine Spies, Shepparton

Consult workers first

An interesting decision by SPC to mandate that all its onsite staff and visitors must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by November. It likely foreshadows the growing “no jab, no job” mantra in Australia.

My early response to this debate is to be guided by the underlying democratic principle that those affected by the decision, in this case workers and their union representatives, should be consulted prior to implementation.
David Jewell, Surrey Hills

Why the sudden closure?

My husband and I are due to have our second vaccinations later this month but we have received a text to say the centre we are booked into, in Reservoir, is closed and we will have to make our own arrangements for a second dose. To close a centre to the hundreds of people who were given a first vaccination at the same time as us makes no sense. Alternative arrangements are inconvenient for most.
Pat Jones, Eltham

Top priority groups

Jill Dumsday (Letters, 4/8) is correct that teachers should be vaccinated as a matter of urgency. As a parent, I do not want my child missing out on a quality education because her teachers are absent due to being infected by COVID-19.

As a teacher, I still remember the anxiety I experienced walking back into a classroom full of students last year when the pandemic started, thinking that any of them could be infectious. For the sake of teachers’ wellbeing and for the sake of what is in the best interests of students, make teacher vaccinations a priority.
Bernadette Sheedy, Bulleen

The privilege of private

Oh terrific. As if students at private schools did not already have advantages that other children do not have. But having “an unnamed vaccine provider” magic up “free leftover” vaccines from nowhere for Wesley College staff when Pfizer doses are in short supply – and foreshadowing also vaccinating their students – just takes the biscuit.
Marysia Green, Hawthorn East

Another ministerial failing

Alan Tudge’s professed ignorance in respect of the marginal electorate list (for commuter car parks) maintained by his office, is astounding. It tells us that either unelected civil servants are deciding how to spend public funds, or Tudge is incapable of performing basic ministerial duties. I am not sure which is more troubling. This scandal, along with numerous other ministerial failings under the Morrison government, suggests that the central principle of Westminster government – individual ministerial responsibility – is long dead.
James Grant, Richmond

I know who I believe

Alan Tudge treats voters as imbeciles. The Auditor-General leads an impartial, professional and non-partisan team and calls the shots as he sees them. Whose view is believable on this matter?
Greg Noonan, Bendigo

Easing the congestion

Most railway stations do not need more parking. What is needed is a network of frequent bus routes, especially during peak times, so that people do not drive two, three or four kilometres to the car park.
Aileen Hewat, East Melbourne

Maybe not ’world-class’

Paul Keating (Letters, 4/8) claims that following privatisation, the Commonwealth Bank became a “world-class” company. He makes no mention of the banking royal commission, which exposed bad practices at the bank.

It is often claimed that neoliberal “reforms”, such as privatisation, helped Australia avoid recessions. This is wrong. What saved Australia from recession during the 2008 global financial crisis was China’s demand for iron ore and coal, which it needed for projects such as its high-speed rail network.
Chris Slee, Coburg

Where our best are drawn

Your correspondent says that “as a ‘profession’, politics is a refuge for the inept” (Letters, 5/8). Indeed, it is a primary weakness of democracy that our best and brightest have no interest in politics, and instead immerse themselves in private practice in law, medicine and commerce.

It is the same at the coal face of the epic drama that is climate change. Our small ranks are occupied by middling nobodies like myself and rarely, if ever, do we meet a prominent citizen prepared to engage with the issue. Like so many issues, the great moral challenge of our time seems to be only of passing interest to the best-educated and highest paid in our communities.
Patrick Hockey, Clunes

Please, no more ’miracles’

Well said, Niki Savva, in your analysis of the Morrison government’s abysmal record in planning and executing a strategy to protect us from COVID-19 (Opinion, 4/8). Apart from his apparent ineptitude for the top job, maybe part of the reason for the serial failures is that he and his advisers have been preoccupied with planning a strategy to tear down Anthony Albanese as they did Bill Shorten at the last election. Could Australia stand another “miracle” win for Morrison?
Bill King, Camberwell

The leader we really need

Niki Savva’s column was a masterful assessment of a man who seems devoid of empathy, tact and other traits that voters expect from a prime minister. She seems to grasp what many Canberra-based columnists do not: the thoughts of middle Australians. It is no surprise she has tapped into what many female voters think about a male leader who seems bereft of compassion for others.

My only disappointment was the last line, insinuating that the damage Morrison has inflicted on himself is “not yet terminal”. This country deserves a leader who is visionary, yet pragmatic. One whose intelligence, empathy and self-awareness will enable them to reach out to constituents and reassure them in uncertain times. Sadly, we do not have such a leader when we need it most.
Sally Davis, Malvern East

Surely a basic human right

I noted with interest “Human rights breached” (The Age, 5/8), particularly the case of a woman in a wheelchair not having an accessible toilet at a COVID testing site. This rightly led to an investigation by the Ombudsman.

In 2019, I attended a Centrelink office as a support person. I was shocked to find there was no access to toilets for the public. I was told the reason was there were “too many problems with drug addicts using them”.

I was advised to go to a nearby community centre or church – both closed – so went to a cafe, bought a coffee and used the toilet there. Centrelink was full of people with children, the elderly and those with disabilities. Surely an onsite toilet is a basic human right.
Lynda Court, Glen Iris

Winning at all costs

When I read “One China, three flags: Beijing’s pursuit of dominance ramps up” (World, 5/8), my heart froze. Clearly China believes that athletic success correlates with success in war. This attitude is enough to omit it from future Olympic Games, along with the terrible way the country has treated the Uighurs.
John Mills, South Yarra

True sportsmanship

The women and men in the skateboarding showed the Olympic spirit during their events. The camaraderie between competitors was outstanding.
Helen Hayward, Wonthaggi

Let the family stay here

It was heartwarming to see how Australia has embraced the Sudanese refugee Peter Bol and celebrated his fantastic efforts at the Olympics: fourth-fastest 800-metre runner in the world. Gee, I hope Tharnicaa and Kopika Murugappan become world-class gymnasts or cricketers so that they, and their parents, will be released from community detention and allowed to live permanently, and with dignity, in Australia.
Brian Hood, Trentham

Clarifying who is who

Duncan Fine makes a sensible case for abandoning wigs and gowns – “Let’s move on and get wigs out of court” (Comment, 5/8) – but misses one point sometimes advanced in their favour. Sometimes the “uniform” can be the only way Joe Public can differentiate between barristers and their clients.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Advantage of 6 ’hands’

I am inclined to agree with Neil Lawson (Letters, 5/8) that the advert for the Kombi sends a poor message. But, in a lighter vein, I would like to point out that in the latter part of the video the “driver”, who has two hands in the air, does have a hand on the wheel. It can do so for all insects have six appendages.
Rob Lennie, Viewbank


Credit:Illustration: Matt Go.ding


Minister Tudge says the car parks were built based on need – a need to be re-elected, perhaps?
Pauline Thompson, Moonee Ponds

I misread your headline as “Cannibalisation legalisation push hits Labor veto” (5/8). I thought, wow, at last they’ve got a policy.
Rob Willis, Wheelers Hill

Can Paul Keating (4/8) name one privatised public asset or service that has delivered cheaper, more efficient services? I fear not.
Terry Boseley, Moonee Ponds

I’d rather $300 were given to someone for having the jab than $5000 for having a baby.
Kirsten Fox, Alphington

Did we just pay $1million for the pleasure of the PM humiliating Holgate?
Rowan Reeves, Eltham

Has our PM stopped seeing Labor and Liberal states and now sees just states of Australia?
Julie Perry, Highton

The census

What’s the bet the ABS’ computer can’t cope and crashes on census night?
Jen Gladstones, Heidelberg

When did the census turn into a religion referendum?
Kristen Hurley, Seaholme

Monica Dux (5/8), an alternative for those who try to live according to the Gospel message: Tick “Other” and type in “Christian”.
Wendy Brennan, Bendigo

Olympic Games

How disappointing Channel Seven interrupted its barrage of repeat ads and promotions with occasional Olympic events.
Rod Smyrk, Carrum Downs

Two weeks of wonderful viewing of inspirational young people. Hopefully these role models will have an effect on our community.
Diana Goetz, Mornington

A big cheer for Andrew Hoy’s magnificent mount,Vassily de Lassos, “the Usain Bolt of horses”.
Helen Hanrahan, Lower Plenty

I’m shocked (not) that once again male athletes have disgraced our Olympians with their behaviour (4/8).
Paul Webster, Burwood East

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