Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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THE LABOR PARTY
A lack of strong policies and strong leadership
Labor is looking for strategies to take to the next election (The Age, 4/12) but it appears strong policies are off the list as they might alienate families whose main concern is financial security. What is apparent is the party’s lack of strong leadership. It has no vision to take on issues such as rising wealth inequality, climate change, housing, homelessness and increasing our manufacturing base.
Like the Coalition, it is tinkering at the edges of problems, with the main aim of catching votes. I hope that at the next election, there will be a good selection of Greens candidates, other progressive minor parties and independents who have a vision and commitment to the future of Australia.
Leigh Ackland, Deepdene
Help voters better understand the critical issues
Given Labor’s electoral defeat in 2019, it is hardly surprising that some right-wingers want it to simplify its policies and present a more socially and economically conservative face to mollify the fears of voters in the outer suburbs. While parties should be prepared to change (although the Coalition never does), the real problem is the understanding by a large number of voters of the economic, social and environmental problems that will shape the country over the next decade.
They show little capacity for critical thinking and, in their voting decisions, demonstrate a failure to see contradictions in what the government says it will do and what it actually does, or does not, do. Would it not be better to try to raise the standard of critical thinking among the ALP’s target audience? This would be a monumental task, given the predilection of much of the mainstream media to aim for the lowest common denominator. However, it would be possible with careful communication and argumentation.
Greg Bailey, St Andrews
Where is Labor’s social justice agenda?
It is said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Thus we have the ALP’s right wing pressing it to yet again follow in the footsteps of the Liberals and adopt their policies in the hope of getting elected. This did not work for Kim Beazley in 1998 and 2001, Mark Latham in 2004 or Bill Shorten in 2016 and 2019.
The ALP’s right-wingers are not trying to get elected so as to achieve anything other than power; they are not proposing to end climate change, make university education free or bring in a universal living wage, for example. They are complicit in the atrocities committed against the refugees and in the Aboriginal intervention. They have no social justice agenda and stand for nothing. If the ALP wants to win the next election, it will have a chance with Tanya Plibersek as leader.
Di Cousens, Mount Waverley
ALP, relax and let the Coalition mess things up
The ALP cannot resist navel gazing. The new book by 30 Labor Right frontbench MPs, unionists and faction activists really only needs one short chapter. It would say that voters are not very interested in reading lots of detailed policy proposals. Rather, they judge the performance of the government and if it falls short, they consider giving the other mob a go. But Labor is not content with that. It insists on being the party of ideas, book-writing and endless self-analysis. It should relax, look moderately competent and wait for the government to mess things up. It will happen sooner or later.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills
The urgent need to act on climate change
Climate change is presenting the ALP with divisive pressures akin to those around the ideological split of the 1950s. The driver is not the ‘‘commie under the bed’’ scourge but something more insidious in terms of the impact it will have on populations, transitions and the economy. Only time will tell whether the solutions being pursued – particularly a focus on jobs – will encourage the support necessary to win government.
However, when looking at the long game, all I can say is I would hate to be in my 20s or younger today unless I had a high competency in treading water.
Graeme Foley, Werribee
Our right to a safe home
The protests by Liberal planning spokesman Tim Smith and Stonnington and Boroondara councils – ‘‘Wealthiest councils fight public housing bid’’ (The Age, 4/12) – raised my hackles.
Yes, these are wealthy suburbs with high-priced houses but surely they underestimate the need and desire of people for a secure home. We should all, no matter the suburb or the regional town, embrace the goal of not only reducing homelessness but giving people a more aspirational future for themselves and their families.
I am sure there are fair-minded people in Stonnington and Boroondara who would agree with this. Unfortunately, the mayors and Tim Smith are not among them.
Pat Anderson, Airport West
A severe case of elitism
I lived in Camberwell for 30 years and I regularly visit my sister who still resides there. Much of the ‘‘character’’ of certain Camberwell streets has been disappearing for years with the demolition of old houses in favour of new concrete monoliths.
Neighbourhood ‘‘character’’ appears to be a very flexible term for the Boroondara Council. How does the inclusion of well-designed social housing cause the ‘‘loss of residential amenity’’? The success stories of community inclusion are manifold. I doubt that currently anyone has a say about ‘‘what gets built over their back fence’’ when it comes to large mansions. Council obviously approves. Do I discern double standards and elitism?
Anne Stapleton, St Kilda
House the homeless
What a Christmas present, Daniel Andrews – ‘‘Homeless told, you have to leave’’ (The Age, 1/12). This week I passed three older homeless men who were begging in Frankston. I gave them money because I thought, there but for the grace of God go I. Premier, put them back into hotel emergency accommodation until you find a safe place for them. You are spending millions on other projects, so why not a few more.
Jane Spier, Seaford
Vested interests win
A plan to ban cash payments of $10,000 or more has been dumped (The Age, 4/12). The logic behind the black economy taskforce’s recommendation to limit business cash transactions to this amount still holds but somehow it has been stymied by minority vested interests. The losers are the rest of us who continue to pay taxes while others are able to avoid their fair share by hiding income or worse still, hiding proceeds of crime.
When will the government make hard, yet fair, decisions on this and the other vexed question of negative gearing? Powerful vested interests win while we and government revenue are the losers. Bipartisan teamwork with the greater good of the majority in mind is needed urgently.
Roger Smith, Berwick
System not foolproof
The COVID-19 alert in Sydney highlights the fact that hotel quarantine arrangements, while carefully planned and executed, are not foolproof. Even the smallest outbreak can cause massive disruption to people’s lives as they need to be tested and then isolate themselves.
All quarantine hotel staff need to be employed to work fortnightly (or longer, by agreement) shifts and accommodated in the hotels themselves, without permission to venture out. At the end of their stint, each worker will be tested, which must clear them before they may return to the outside.
William Puls, Mentone
Strangers, crammed in
You would think by now we would be serious about COVID-19 controls. However, Qantas is obviously not if a flight on Friday night, from Canberra to Melbourne, is the benchmark. We were asked to wear masks in the departure lounge and for the duration of the flight, plus social distance while getting on. Then it went pear-shaped.
The plane was full so we were seated hard up against each other with the separation distance lucky to be 0.2metres. Then snacks and drinks were served so off come the masks for at least 10 minutes. How is this allowed, given all the restrictions and messages about keeping your distance etc?
Tony Llewelyn, Diamond Creek
Sorry, MPs, you’re fired
Scientists face losing their jobs as a result of missing out on ‘‘last chance’’ government funding, with at least 7000 research jobs directly at risk (The Age, 4/12). How shortsighted of our politicians. In these times, we need all the scientists we can get. Perhaps it would be better to cut the number of politicians who are overpaid, underworked and undertrained.
Doris LeRoy, Altona
Listen to the scientists
Scott Morrison gloats about taking scientific medical advice in addressing COVID-19 matters, yet he does not accept climate science advice in tackling the problems of the planet, a more serious matter. My conclusion is he takes this line so he will have someone to blame if failure resulted. Of course, it is to be expected that a prime minister who is a science (honours) graduate would do better than this.
For years Coalition budgets have reduced funding to the CSIRO. Now in the final medical research funding round of the year, 7000 researchers are about to lose their jobs. So much for the Coalition’s commitment to science and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education.
Howard Brownscombe, Brighton
It’s my card, my money
I have just completed year 12 and was ready to head out on a celebratory trip with friends. Yesterday I went to my local Commonwealth Bank branch to withdraw funds for the trip, only to have my credit card swallowed by the ATM. Inside the bank, my card was retrieved but I was told it had been cancelled, without my authority. The reason given was because it ‘‘was not used during COVID-19 for six months’’. The local branch has no means of overriding this decision.
I am bitterly disappointed with the lack of consideration for customers, especially youth, during the pandemic. How is this morally and commercially acceptable? I have been given a temporary travel card but will have to wait a week for a new credit card to be issued.
Allie Currie, Clifton Hill
What next, Mr Morrison?
The image of a boy in short pants with a megaphone railing against our largest trading partner only ever had one outcome. So, for our exporters, and the tourist and university sectors, what is plan B?
Andrew Sinclair, Travancore
China, holier than thou
We should not over-react to provocateur Zhao Lijian’s repugnant tweet. Instead, we should emphasise that we have owned up to the crimes our soldiers committed in Afghanistan and that they will have to face up to the allegations against them in court. Our Prime Minister should ignore any further tweets from the Chinese side. As an Australian citizen of Chinese heritage, I have always condemned the Chinese government for the atrocities meted out on its non-Han Uighurs and non-Han Tibetans.
I have also condemned it for its blatant disregard for international norms of behaviour by declaring that all the seas and artificially created militarised islands within the Nine Dash Line in the South China Sea is Chinese territory. The government’s ‘‘holier than thou’’ attitude is despicable.
James Tan, Vermont South
Offensive, not humorous
Andrew Leung (Letters, 3/12) calls the fabricated image of an Australian soldier ‘‘satire’’ and says it is extensively used by Australian cartoonists. The Cambridge Dictionary defines satire as ‘‘a way of criticising people or ideas in a humorous way, especially in order to make a ‘‘political point’’. There is nothing humorous about the image. Rarely do The Age’s cartoonists produce offensive cartoons and when they do, they are called out.
David Fry, Moonee Ponds
Rethink our attitudes
Re. the war crimes. We need to accept we have lost the high moral ground and must accept the consequences until we rethink our attitudes to race and the region in which we live.
Val Pollard, Woodend
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
Coming from the makers of The Crown, the story of the Trump circus will be called The Clown.
Graeme Henchel, Yarra Glen
If Trump pardons himself before he’s charged with anything, it would be an admission of guilt.
Peter Heffernan, Balaclava
I’m less concerned about our poor management of the China relationship than our silence on Trump’s evil, anti-democratic tendencies.
Chris Boon, Nunawading
NSW might have a ‘‘gold standard’’ contact tracing system, but it allowed someone to work at two hotels.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris
If I have the vaccination and the area where I live has an outbreak, will I be exempt from any lockdown?
Paul Wilcock, Blairgowrie
Travellers returning from overseas should be quarantined at places that are isolated and in the open air, such as Christmas Island.
Brooke Martin, McCrae
I wish the average Australian had Rupert’s ‘‘back channel relationship’’ (4/12) with politicians."
Thomas Van Der Zee, Doncaster East
Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil. China will not change. We have to just get on with it.
Ruth Wilson, Ringwood North
Watch your back, Albo. Yond Chris Bowen has that ‘‘lean and hungry look’’.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East
Well might China fear our ‘‘dumping’’ as its uncouth behaviour may cause us to ‘‘dump’’ it as a trading partner. We can do better elsewhere.
Mark Hill, Middle Park
Peter Dutton, you must know it would be so dangerous to send the Biloela family back to Sri Lanka.
Lyn Mitchell, Black Rock
Even a hide as thick as Morrison’s must eventually feel the pinpricks and agree to a policy of net zero emissions by 2050.
John Walsh, Watsonia
Qantas’ new logo: ‘‘See your job flying away’’.
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine
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