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THE STATE OF OUR POLITICS
Let’s take responsibility for the people we elect
Jacqueline Maley (“Morrison’s reflex is to spin when there’s a threat to his reputation”, The Sunday Age, 7/11) makes the point that “Voters have a notoriously low opinion of politicians and assume most of them lie a lot. Strangely, this helps them get away with lies …”
Whether true or false – but likely true – is this not really a statement about the voters themselves? For voters to assume politicians lie is to refuse to take any responsibility for the people they elect to represent them. It feeds into the kind of apathy that is so strongly associated with the stereotyped category of the “quiet Australian”.
Instead of just placing a blanket condemnation on politicians who may or may not be lying, would it not be better to join a party and get involved in the preselection process or turn up at your representative’s office day after day until they agree to meet you. This would at least invest the voter with some level of minimal responsibility for the future of the country.
Greg Bailey, St Andrews
At the moment, shorter terms look good
The proposal by your correspondent (“Extend the term”, Letters, 8/11) to enable more governing and less electioneering by extending the government terms to four or five years does have plenty of merit, but there is another side to that coin: What if the people discover that they elected a government that’s bad for them and the country and have to wait many more years before they can correct their error.
Currently, the short three-year tenure looks like salvation.
Ralph Bohmer, St Kilda West
Our two-party system is no longer fit for purpose
With a federal government held hostage by the mining and fossil fuel industries and both the Labor and Liberal parties under investigation by anti-corruption agencies, it’s clear our two-party political system is no longer fit for purpose. How do we reclaim our democracy?
Phil Bodel, Ocean Grove
Maybe we need to change how they are recruited
Another day, another headline about a stupid or possibly corrupt politician. Maybe we need to change how these people are recruited.
Merryn Boan, Brighton
It wasn’t always like this
Politics is regarded as a career, and a very lucrative one at that, but I do remember the time when potential politicians didn’t see it that way.
They had a career that they expected to go back to one day and that attracted a different type of candidate than it does today. There would be very few people in Parliament today that only intend to serve for a few years. The pay is very good, the superannuation is ridiculously high and perks abound. But, as in many careers, it doesn’t always attract the right people. And that is why today people with the wrong agendas are controlling the way we are governed to suit themselves.
Pertinent questions go unanswered, often with a sly grin. Embarrassing reports get hidden away. Promises are made and then forgotten.
Agreement is given that we need a broad-based anti-corruption commission with teeth in Canberra but we all know it will never happen. Robert Menzies must be turning in his grave.
John Cummings, Anglesea
Because it’s expected doesn’t mean it’s acceptable
Jacqueline Maley says that voters expect politicians to lie and wonders why we get upset when they do. It’s quite simple. Expecting lying is very different from thinking it acceptable.
Mark Freeman, Macleod
Demonising doesn’t help
I am dismayed at the demonisation of unvaccinated people, which is not helpful to encouraging them to reconsider their position.
They cannot all be classified as anti-vaxxers. Many are not, they have had all other recommended vaccines and so have their children, but they are seriously concerned about the long-term effects of this one on their bodies. Despite the caricature, most are not drug users or sport tattoos.
Others have a needle phobia, and this needs to be dealt with in a supportive way, without queuing but by going to a GP clinic that is sympathetic to their fears and where they can have the vaccine into a different part of their anatomy, as I did.
A small number are simply oppositional but most are not, and many have chosen to give up their jobs, knowing the terrible economic impact this will have.
The majority of us respond better to the carrot than the stick. Better public messaging with specific targets, under advice from social workers and psychologists, could do much to overcome reluctance whatever the reason for it.
Charlotte Brewer, Shepparton
Members must stand up
After previous revelations about Michael Sukkar’s office I wrote to him as a concerned voter in his electorate to express my displeasure about alleged attempts to use taxpayer money to undermine Liberal parliamentarians who are less socially conservative than he is but more in tune with my views.
He did not address any of my questions. Instead, I received a standard statement, which claimed that he had been exonerated.
If Scott Morrison is not willing to do something about this, it’s time for Liberal Party members in the Deakin electorate to stand up for what is right and do us all a favour by preselecting someone else.
Ivan Glynn, Vermont
Keep on speaking up
What on God’s green earth makes Alexander Downer think anyone cares about what he (a failed leader) has to say (“Downer tells Rudd, Turnbull to move on”, The Age, 8/11)? The arrogance of the man.
I applaud Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd for speaking up and putting on the record what most in the community are thinking with regards to our current incompetent Prime Minister.
Frank Flynn, Cape Paterson
An option denied to many
Voluntary assisted dying legislation has been a welcome end-of-life option for many terminally ill Victorians for more than two years. However, it has not been an option afforded to all those that may desperately seek this choice while they are suffering terribly at the end of their lives.
Overriding federal legislation, that prevents doctors from discussing VAD via a carriage service, Telehealth, has proved to be a huge and unfair impediment for those living in rural areas and too ill to travel vast distances for medical consultations.
Many people, including the late Dr Rodney Syme, fought so selflessly and courageously to achieve this historic piece of legislation for all Victorians.
I implore the federal government to repeal this piece of legislation. The resultant inequity of access to VAD consultation, for some Victorians, paradoxically results in further unnecessary prolongation of suffering. It is inconceivable to think that this compassionate law has proven to be discriminatory for some of the very people it intended to help.
Jane Morris, Dying with Dignity Victoria, Glen Iris
Something’s wrong here
There is something wrong with our parliamentary democracy when the National Party, which drew 4.5 per cent of primary votes at the last election, has so much power in our government. Even if you include, say, half of the Liberal National Party votes in Queensland, where there is no separate National Party, this goes up to 8.8 per cent, still considerably less than the Greens’ 10.4 per cent of primary votes.
The Nationals have held the country’s future to ransom with their Faustian bargaining over a 2050 net zero target, while politicians who actually understand the catastrophic future we all face if subsidisation of fossil fuels is not immediately halted are marginalised and mocked.
Even Mathias Cormann is now calling for action in his new international role. Perhaps he now lives in a political ecosystem where truth and reality preside over spin and myth-making.
Jenny Grounds, Riddells Creek
A mistake in the making?
They say that you learn by your mistakes. So recent learners would probably include Bill Shorten, who mistook the nation’s mood on franking credits; Chris Bowen, who said “If you don’t like our policies, don’t vote for us”; and Scott Morrison, who said, about supplies of COVID vaccine, “It’s not a race”.
But what new mistakes are on offer? Overreach in claiming that your policy is practical, perhaps.
Would it be a mistake, for example, to say it was practical to put off doing anything about methane, the sprinter among greenhouse gases in its short-term power to boost global warming? Time will tell.
Meanwhile, how likely is it that a majority of voters would agree with your judgment? You might have less than eight years to discover whether Gaia is with you – or not.
John Gare, Kew East
Chilling and alarming
The interview yesterday morning of Resources Minister Keith Pitt by Hamish Macdonald on the ABC’s AM program was a chilling and highly alarming experience.
Here we had a person of considerable power strongly advocating that Australia should continue to mine, locally combust and export coal for decades into the future. He is fully prepared to allow our children, including my grandchildren, to live and possibly die in a hellish world rather than leave coal in the ground.
It is difficult to understand how this man can be so callous and reckless towards the future wellbeing of Australians.
It illustrates how extreme the Nationals have become and that they intend to thumb their nose at everything that COP26 was supposed to stand for.
Ian Bayly, Upwey
Thank you, Jon Faine, for your article (“The very awkward nuclear embrace”, Opinion, 7/11). We live in a country where we can’t even agree on where to put our small amount of, largely medical, nuclear waste. Where the Australian people have consistently rejected nuclear options.
Yet Scott Morrison has linked us to a nuclear future with no community debate. This is a mammoth decision and the almost lone voice questioning this development seems to have come from Malcolm Turnbull, who from a position of knowledge, pointed out some of the consequences.
We have learnt that these new submarines will likely require high-grade, weapons-quality, nuclear material. What will we do with the spent fuel when the 30-year life of the fuel rolls by? Where will these submarines be docked? Do we want a nuclear sub in Sydney Harbour or Western Port or the Port of Darwin? What happens to the nuclear load if one of the submarines is attacked?
I don’t know, and that is the point. We as a nation don’t know. How can such a monumental shift in policy have happened in such amanner?
Margaret Blair, Healesville
It might become confusing
David Hastie recommends a balance between curriculum ideologies in teaching Australian history (“Key to a good education is balance”, Comment, 8/11).
While this approach seems reasonable, in practice it could become very confusing with every topic treated as “some people say this happened, but on the other hand, some people say that happened”.
The end result could be lots of students saying, “I’m not really sure what happened”. As unsatisfactory as that seems, maybe that’s what history actually is.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hill
An option for Labor
If the Labor Party unequivocally pursues two policy initiatives it will deserve to win the next election and may well do so.
First, legislate an anti-corruption commission similar to NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption. While many people are distrustful of politicians generally and take for granted that they will lie, pork barrel and often behave in a corrupt manner, it is possible we have reached a tipping point and the electorate may finally decide that enough is enough.
Second, legislate to reduce carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2030. The Morrison plan to get to zero emissions by 2050 is nothing more than a plan and a pipe dream. Furthermore, 2050 is too late, we have to take action now.
It may well be that voters will realise that the cost to them of the negative impacts of global warming that we are experiencing already, will far exceed the costs of affirmative action.
Bernard Towson, Brunswick
Perhaps the time is right
Highly respected business executive Andrew Liveris is pushing the need for a price on carbon in the fight to reduce emissions (“Business leader’s carbon price push”, The Age, 8/11).
He has the backing of many world-leading business figures including Australia’s Andrew Forrest. The converted Mathias Cormann, now head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, is also on board.
The main obstacle to establishing this seems to be weak-kneed politicians whose fear of losing votes trumps any vision for our future. Maybe the climate is now right for this idea to resurface.
Jon Smith, Leongatha
A variation on a theme
The use by Michael Sukkar’s office of public funds to employ staff for political work that boosted the power of his faction seems unremarkable (“Sukkar knew of scheme that misused public funds”, The Age, 8/11).
Politicians in general and ministers in particular clearly spend much of their taxpayer-funded working hours on getting themselves re-elected. While this goes on, good government perforce, plays second fiddle to self-interest.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills
AND ANOTHER THING
Is any more evidence required for the need to establish a proper federal anti-corruption commission with teeth.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South
Surely there are a broader range of occupations of an aspiring politician than a ministerial adviser?
Rosslyn Jennings, North Melbourne
Memo to Sean Kelly (“ALP’s test: reason in shouty times”, Comment, 8/11): Anthony Albanese is not the Leader of the Opposition; he is the Leader of the Agreement. To find opposition you have to go to the Greens or some independents.
Mike Puleston, Brunswick
Jane Hargreaves believes everyone, including Tim Smith, deserves a second chance (“Ex-Frydenberg staffer shapes as front runner to take Kew seat”, The Age, 8/11). That certainly wasn’t Tim Smith’s philosophy.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick
Ordinarily I would agree with your correspondent’s letter about federal politics “Extend the term” (The Age, 8/11), but not right now.
Hans Paas, Castlemaine
Scott Morrison, please cancel the order for nuclear submarines and instead order 25 million yellow submarines. With global warming it won’t be long before we all live in a “sea of green” in our yellow submarine.
Roger Christiansz, Wheelers Hill
So the ABC’s umpire (the internal complaints division) has ruled that no bias was shown on their two-part program Fox and the Big Lie. Fancy that.
Neville Wilson, Rosanna
In Saturday’s Dicey Topics (Good Weekend, The Age, 6/11), Brian Cox tells Benjamin Law that he “feels sorry for young men nowadays because of the #MeToo situation” and he asks how his youngest son should approach women: With respect, Brian.
David Main, Heathcote
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