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Labour shortages
While I’m not opposed to the idea of young people learning the responsibility that comes with a part-time job and helping fill labour shortages (“Push to let teens help fill labour shortfall”, The Age, 31/8) there are already teens across the state prioritising their part-time jobs over their education. Is this what we want them to be doing – from an even earlier age?
Anthony Hitchman, St Andrews

Young people across the border exploited
Recently while holidaying on the Sunshine Coast we entered an ice cream shop late at night to find three young girls on their own serving. There was no adult in charge in case of an incident. Stunned, I asked their ages, which were 13 to 14. They explained that in Queensland at 13 you can work up to 20 hours a week with parental consent. I felt this was straight out exploitation. The idea to allow 13-year-olds to work needs to be very carefully considered.
Anne Maki, Alphington

Youthful activities sacrificed
Regarding the push for young teenagers to “plug shortages” in the workforce, why stop there? Put away the books, involvement in sport, volunteering and socialising. Time to start chimney-sweeping training at age 11.
Russell Harrison, Sandringham

Retrenchment regrets
How are the businesses that retrenched perfectly capable 50-somethings in the past few years feeling about the labour shortage?
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale

Who will offer guidance to the graduates?
What an insightful article by nurse Ellyn Richardson on the state government’s proposal to address health staffing shortages (“Nursing plan won’t fix what ails us”, 31/8). The government needs to address her concerns about overwork and nurses quitting. What will the inexperienced graduate nurses entering our hospitals in three years offer if there are not experienced staff to guide them?
Money allocated to waive fees to encourage people to take up nursing could be better spent supporting our wonderful existing experienced nurses and safeguarding quality care.
Christine Baker, Rosanna

Focus on students of today
The $270 million funding HECS debt for future nursing students is a great incentive to get more into the profession, but is it targeting the right issue? I’m in my first year of nursing and as much as I would love to finish my degree and graduate as a nurse, the lack of support from the government is offensive. My peers and I struggle with the idea of being expected to spend money we don’t have, take time off work, which we can’t afford, and yet we somehow should find a career in nursing desirable?

The lack of positions available at nearby hospitals means we travel great distances for placements and spend thousands on accommodation. The government should focus on the nursing students of today, not tomorrow.
Andre Vitti, Geelong

Reality check
Hospital training to be a nurse circa 1987: “You must work 10 days straight to earn two consecutive days off.” Split day shifts – 7am until 6pm with a 90-minute break in the middle. Twelve-hour night shift – 30-minute break. “Patients will hit you, spit at you and accuse you of prostituting yourself to the medical staff – this is nursing.” “If you join the union and participate in industrial action, you will not graduate.” “Medical staff will proposition and manhandle you – deal with it discreetly.” Task-oriented rote learning and unquestioning acceptance of doctors’ wisdom. Crying in the pan room – normal. Must not ever sit down. Must not run. Must accept “the keys” – in-charge responsibility as a second-year – we won’t pay you though, because you are “only a second-year”.

I could go on.
Michelle Goldsmith, Eaglehawk


A great leader lost
The sad passing of Mikhail Gorbachev means one of history’s great leaders has fallen. Although a product of the communist system, once he had the levers of power, Gorbachev set about implementing his two great changes to Soviet society – glasnost and perestroika – openness and reform. After a line of ageing communist warriors, out of the Kremlin’s shadows emerged an energetic, intelligent and decent humanitarian.

Gorbachev released thousands of prisoners of conscience and introduced freedom of religion and free speech to the USSR. Although a committed communist, Gorbachev worked with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher to bring about a new era of relative peace. Millions of people in Eastern Europe owe their freedom in part to this good and decent man. May he rest in peace.
Peter Curtis, Werribee South

A loss in 1991, and today
Vale to Mikhail Gorbachev, the extraordinary statesman who brought an end to the Cold War. If only he hadn’t been ousted from the USSR leadership in 1991, what a very different world we would be living in today.
Ross Chadderton, Mount Waverley

A bold act
Anthony Albanese’s pre-election promise not to scrap the “top end” tax cuts was made before the full reality of the deficit was known. A strong leader would recognise that going ahead with the cuts now is a bad decision and would reverse it. But does he have the ticker to do this – to do the right thing?
John Wallace, Breamlea

Brush up on Henry
Shane Wright correctly claims we need a broader tax debate rather than the current narrow focus on the fate of the stage 3 tax cuts (“Narrow debate fails to address broader economic questions”,
The Age, 31/8).

Our tax system is a proxy for the kind of society we are. Dusting off, updating and implementing the Henry report, published in 2010, would make a good starting point towards ensuring all citizens and businesses operating in this country pay their fair share towards the health, aged care and other services we expect while also containing the national debt.

It’s a bipartisan scandal that the Henry report, with its more than 100 recommendations for a fairer and more efficient tax system, has been so long neglected. Australians have voted decisively for progressive parties and independents to begin the task of repairing a decade of Coalition inertia and neglect on so many fronts.
John Carmichael, Hawthorn

The value in students
Let’s be clear. The main reason why Australia is keen to attract overseas students (“We told them to ‘go home’ — now we must plead with them to stay”, Comment, 31/8) is that they pay higher fees than domestic students, making it more profitable for the universities to take overseas students. Leigh Ackland, Deepdene

Saudi hypocrisy
I’ve never thought of Greg Norman as a “great Australian”. There are many greater ones treading the pavements of our nation every day. Oppose we should, the glorification of the Saudi empire via the benign sport of golf (“‘It was an offer I couldn’t ignore’: Smith, Leishman join LIV Golf”, The Age, 31/8). After all, there’s the killing of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, and the oppression of women
and more.

That all notwithstanding, let’s not forget that Western nations, our governments, continue to fall over themselves in the rush to sell the Saudis weapons. The trade never stops. But we’re somehow supposed to be outraged about a golf tournament?

Every time you fill your car up, think about where that stuff came from. If you want to protest against the Saudi oppression of women and other things, buy an EV.
Steven Strange, Mentone

Electric storm
No wonder Australia’s car market is lagging technologically. Three years ago, it was the Coalition government’s Michaelia Cash telling us their political rivals were coming for your utes. Now it’s Sussan Ley wrongly telling Sky News (26/8) that “no one in the world is making an electric ute”. In fact, there are currently four models on sale and another half-dozen in development. And by the way, on British TV these days nearly every car advertisement is for an EV.
John Boyce, Richmond

Let Shaq speak
I find the criticism of Shaq O’Neal offensive (Letters, 31/8). I would prefer he didn’t do gambling ads but that in no way means he hasn’t got the right to express his view about the Indigenous Voice to parliament. Are we going to say people who gamble or take drugs can’t vote in the referendum? Stop being so precious. As Anthony Albanese said, the mere fact he did what he did would probably make tens of thousands of young people aware of the issue and hopefully vote for the Voice.
John Rome, Mt Lawley, WA

Why wouldn’t he?
What’s the big deal with Shaquille O’Neal? Yes, he’s a bigger than life basketball legend and he’s here to promote a gambling company. But him endorsing the Voice is a no-brainer. I mean, isn’t that the least we can do?
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

Big distraction
The irritation expressed by some letter writers to The Age about the largely innocuous comments made by Shaquille O’Neal on the Voice shows just how easily people can be sidetracked when engaging on the big issues.
Brandon Mack, Deepdene

Different but the same
In his latest betting ads, Shaquille O’Neal contends how Australians are built different. Then makes a connection to his gambling sponsor. Australians may well be built different, as O’Neal himself is, but mug punters are the same no matter what country they come from.
Peter Roche, Carlton

A muted Voice
Your correspondent complains it is insulting for the prime minister to invite an American basketball player to help promote the Voice. Yet it is the Voice itself which is manifestly insulting.
First Nations people should not be offered simple blankets and beads but recognised in the Constitution, and an honest deal struck with them for our continued occupation of their lands.
Peter Drum, Coburg

Do the right thing
I’m with your correspondent (Letters, 31/8) – what’s the point of paying to ride on a tram or train if no one else does? I use the Lygon Street No.1 and No.6 trams, and less than half of the passengers touch on. What is the PTV doing? It’s an insult to the people who do the right thing and pay to ride.
Peter Kay, Carlton North

Go younger
Your correspondent (Letters, 31/8) suggests replacing Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton. Those of us anywhere near their age group would strongly advise choosing someone at least a decade younger. Experience matters but mental acuity matters more.
Tony Haydon, Springvale

Forget Clinton
A Hillary Clinton comeback in 2024 would merely guarantee another comeback by Donald Trump, with almost certainly the same result as in 2016. Clinton and her “deplorables” statement should stay where they belong: in the dustbin of history.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully

A nearer option
Following Nick Bryant’s observations about Joe Biden (27/8), there could be an interesting option other than Hillary Clinton. A woman with strong Democrat history, who is currently the US ambassador to Australia – Caroline Kennedy.
Brian Kidd, Mt Waverley

Space benefits
It is too simplistic, as your correspondent suggests (Letters, 31/8), to suggest stopping space travel and rocket technology and placing the funds elsewhere.

There have been more than 2000 examples of space-developed technologies that have since found beneficial uses on Earth, including cordless power tools, freeze-dried food, flame-resistant firefighter gear, the integrated circuit, lightweight insulation, improvements to kidney dialysis, lightning detection, and automated credit card transactions. NASA tracks spinoffs each year across a wide range of topics spanning transport, public safety, consumer goods, energy, the environment, health and medicine.
Bruce D. Watson, Clifton Springs

Power to move
Rocketing home energy costs are reportedly set to drive British workers back to the office. I predict the same thing will happen here. If it costs a fortune to heat your home office, power your PC and boil your kettle, why not get it all paid for by the employer? You know, like in the good old days.
Kevin Rugg, Sandringham

Highway a dump
I drive frequently from Seymour to Melbourne. The roadsides along the Hume Freeway are a disgrace. There is rubbish and litter all along the road. This road is the entrance to our capital city and deserves better maintenance. Why is VicRoads performing so poorly? And why is the Minister for Roads, Ben Carroll, not insisting on better standards?
John Thompson, Seymour

Risk remains
The death of young Max McKenzie from anaphylaxis is an absolute tragedy. Hopefully, Melbourne’s new National Allergy Council will reduce the chance of it happening again (“Calls for change after death of teen in hospital”, 31/8).

What is needed as much as better education for the medical profession is education for the hospitality industry. Like Max, my granddaughter has always been vigilant about her nut allergy. But we have lost count of the times she has been assured, in a café or restaurant, that the meal she has ordered contains no nuts, only to find, to her great cost, that it does.

It should be mandatory for owners and staff to undertake training to understand the dangers.
Jill Rosenberg, Caulfield South

And another thing

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

“Zombie” Greenland ice sheets melting, a third of Pakistan under water, new Catastrophic level fire warning – This Is Serious Mum!
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

NASA’s Artemis 1 is a grasping-at-straws act as our planet from which it departs subsides into an environmental Armageddon, vanishing, like Earth’s fauna, flora and glacial ice sheets, into oblivion.
Michael Oxer, Fitzroy North

Tax cuts
Anthony Albanese’s tax cuts are a massive betrayal of working people.
Vaughan Greenberg, Chewton

“This is not the Labor Party I voted for,” your correspondent writes (Letters, 31/8). Labor said before the election it would retain the tax cuts, or did you expect it to reverse its decision after being elected?
Les Aisen, Elsternwick

Who would have thought a government would be criticised for pledging to keep a pre-election promise?
Vicki Jordan, Lower Plenty

Peter Dutton
I heard Peter Dutton on radio this morning espousing matters he said were important to be discussed at a conference he couldn’t be bothered attending. Very constructive!
Len Early, Fraser, ACT

George Brandis writes that Dutton “is cold-bloodedly ruthless” and “knows that politics is a blood sport not a beauty contest” (Comment, 29/8). Most of us were hoping for bipartisanship and the future advancement of Australia.
Shirley Purves, Gisborne

When it is suggested 13-year-olds join the workforce, we need to question what sort of a country we have become.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch

Vale Mikhail Gorbachev, a truly worthy awardee of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Michael Kennedy, Pipers Creek

Vladimir Putin, just one dark photon in the shadow of Gorbachev.
Colin Suggett, Venus Bay

A name for regulatory bodies that never regulate (Letters, 31/8)? NINJAs – No Interest, No Justice, go Away.
Rob Willis, Wheelers Hill

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