Independents can modify this partisan behaviour

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AUSTRALIA VOTES

Independents can modify this partisan behaviour
There has been a scare campaign running about independent candidates in the upcoming federal election. They have been asked to nominate who they would support given a hung parliament, before the election has even been held and they’ve had an opportunity to negotiate.

The last time this happened was when the choice was between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. The result was that Gillard won the support of the fairly conservative independents and formed arguably the most effective government we have had this century until it was undone by the most personal and vicious opposition campaign in living memory.

These independent candidates have the ability to modify the partisan behaviour of whatever government they choose and bring a more nuanced and rational approach than we have had during the past decade.
Kyle Matheson, Mont Albert

The election will focus on the wrong issues
Another federal election looms. We won’t hear much about a system of education for all that ignores parental wealth, or a health system that takes good care of everyone from the young to the very old, including dental care. The desperate need for a massive build of housing and rent regulation will be very feebly touched on, as will climate change. The frightful treatment of our refugees and asylum seekers will not be mentioned. We won’t hear much about the importance of Indigenous history, their current lives or their profound potential value to general governance.

We’ll hear nothing about the importance of the study of humanities and the arts in education for the development of a better society. Nothing will be said about rebuilding the tax system to fund the welfare of all citizens rather than greedy corporations.

owever, we’ll hear plenty about needing smaller government, increasing obsolete armaments, so-called “border security” and those nebulous creatures, the economy and growth. Finally, we’ll hear nothing about the general wellbeing of a society being the point of government in which there are no second-class citizens.
Jill Toulantas, Clifton Hill

Adopt this part of the US system
In the United States, the federal election is held on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November, such that it always occurs from November 2 to November 8.
Why can’t we do something similar in order to avoid the current electioneering fiasco?
Geoff Perston, Yarram

He should have already been in Canberra
When did Canberra cease to be the capital of Australia? The extraordinary and ridiculous drama of Scott Morrison boarding his private plane in Sydney, the scenes of the plane in the air and then landing in Canberra, and his almost royal cavalcade on the drive to visit the Governor-General and call the election, was TV at its very worst and most ludicrous.

He should have been living in Canberra. If Anthony Albanese can assure citizens that he will live in Canberra and govern for all Australia, and not just New South Wales, he might secure many swinging votes.
Marie Rogers, Kew

Wasteful exercise could be easily avoided
Haven’t Scott Morrison and David Hurley heard about Zoom meetings and scanning documents? The overly dramatic, time-consuming, emissions-producing and financially wasteful trip to Government House to call the federal election can simply be conducted with 21 st-century technology.

Plane flights, motorcades, personal staff and security costs for the Prime Minister’s trip all add up. No doubt he won’t reflect on the costs as it’s not an eye-watering account he will have to pay.
Des Files, Brunswick

THE FORUM

An absurd suggestion
Federal Liberal vice-president Teena McQueen’s comments on “core philosophy” (“Liberal warfare risks key seats, party elders warn”, The Sunday Age, 10/4), indicate how her party has moved to the right and become far more conservative.

In his memoir Afternoon Light, Robert Menzies stated that the Liberal Party, formed in 1944, was “to be a progressive party … in no sense reactionary”.

The reported suggestion from McQueen that Trent Zimmerman and Katie Allen are “lefties” is absurd. They are more aligned with the views of past Liberal leaders, including Dick Hamer at the state level in Victoria and former prime ministers including John Gordon, Malcolm Fraser and Menzies himself.

Conservatives have captured the Liberal Party and more progressive elements are not welcome.

The schism between progressives and conservatives seems irreconcilable and could lead to a dramatic realignment in Australian politics.
James Young, Mount Eliza

Taking the credit
Scott Morrison, in his electioneering video, claims that his government saved 40,000 Australian lives during the COVID pandemic.

Is that the same Scott Morrison who, together with his Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, worked tirelessly day in and day out to undermine the efforts of Daniel Andrews and the other premiers as they imposed the lockdowns that really did save lives?
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

A dangerous precedent
So Wimbledon is ready to ban world No.2 Daniil Medvedev from this year’s tournament over fears a Russian victory could boost Vladimir Putin’s regime (Sport, 6/4).

eriously? Medvedev will be holding a tennis racquet, not a Kalashnikov rifle. He is no more responsible for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine than you or me.

Unlike an Olympian, Medvedev is not representing Russia. He is playing for himself. Making him sign some sort of anti-Putin form places him in an invidious position back home. It also sets a dangerous precedent. To play at the All England tournament should not include any political qualification.

Wimbledon will be reduced and compromised as a tournament if it disqualifies players like this. Putin is the villain of the piece, not a tennis player who happens to be Russian.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

It’s time they made a fuss
Saturday’s front-page news (The Age, 9/4) that most COVID restrictions will soon go, carried the kicker that’s always there: “Mask requirements will remain for hospital and aged care facilities …”

That throwaway caveat is automatic, even though regulations for these workers require much more than wearing a mask. Staff regulations have remained tough, despite public restrictions easing.

Spending a lot of time in the aged care home where my wife died, I saw and felt the problems in wearing protective gear. I could not go a full shift wearing all that stuff. For care workers it has been more than two years where you itch and can’t scratch, perspire and can’t cool down, and have to take 10 minutes to sneeze. Does anyone in government care about our health and aged care workers?

Health Minister Martin Foley doesn’t, flicking them off without a second thought, and automatically perpetuating their status as second-class workers.

Everyone takes it for granted that healthcare workers can just keep “taking one for the team”. Healthcare workers abhor striking, but it’s time someone made a fuss. This automatic second-class status for healthcare workers cannot continue.
Max Williams, Ringwood North

What cost integrity?
If this government had fulfilled its promise to establish a Commonwealth integrity commission, would the rush of appointments of Scott Morrison’s political friends to lucrative public appointments and the awarding of government contracts to companies without calling for tenders have passed muster?
Meg Paul, Camberwell

Wanton destruction
Windows on the remote past are rare and precious. The decision to rebury the 42,000-year-old remains of Mungo Lady and Mungo Man announced by federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley (The Age, 7/4) is wanton destruction of Aboriginal heritage.

These ancient remains are a book of genesis for Indigenous Australia, and are beyond the ken of contemporary custom and tradition. Does the minister understand what 42 millennia represent? These people lived 2000 generations, or 15 million days, ago.

We have squandered an opportunity to learn more about ancient Australia just as a new generation of analytical techniques for determining ancestral links and lifestyle have become available.

What was wrong with the idea of an Aboriginal-controlled keeping place “on Country”? This would have allowed an emerging cohort of Indigenous archaeologists to re-assess their past.

The decision to allow such erasure of Aboriginal history is a surrender to cheap popularism, undermining Australia’s heritage laws.

If such ancient remains – the crown jewels of ancient Australia – are to be destroyed, is there any point in having a Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area?
Mike Smith, Downer, ACT

Dropping the (rubbish) ball
Watching the prime minister on his journey through Canberra yesterday, I was struck by the cleanliness of the roadsides. I encourage members of the media following Scott Morrison on his coming campaign visits to Melbourne to let their cameras expose the disgusting state of ours. There is actually so much flotsam and jetsam alongside our freeways that if the wind gets up, there’s a real chance the prime minister’s car could get hit by some.

Yes, some of the rubbish has been dumped, but that’s absolutely no excuse for the responsible authorities to leave it there (“Where the blame lies”, Letters, 9/4). Aside from the visual assault and safety hazard, most will become pulverised and make its way into the waterways that our freeways run alongside.

Every time I hear our state government extolling its environmental virtues, I think of the state of our roadsides. The Garden State has become the Rubbish State.
Alex Judd, Blackburn North

Some things never change
The article “Qantas called to account for nightmare call centres” (Business, 8/4) suggests not much has changed.

In 1974 I was working in London and needed to clarify something with Qantas, but after being on hold for more than 15 minutes I had to leave for an important appointment. I explained my problem to a colleague and asked him to sort it out for me. However, when I returned more than an hour later, my colleague was still patiently waiting for a response.

But I am no longer surprised by this. About 10 years later I was working for a major Australian company that had employed one of the huge multinational management consultants to review our operations.

My division received a large number of telephone inquiries, which we handled quite promptly. However, our consultants advised how we could make significant savings by establishing a call centre. The reason? Their extensive studies had shown that about 30 per cent of callers gave up before finally receiving a response.

The accountants in our company accepted this recommendation.
Jeremy Grant, Somers

Release this family
Now the election has been called, is it possible that Immigration Minister Alex Hawke may now sign off on the Murugappan family and release them from community detention and allow them to return to their home in Biloela? We may even see the release of more refugees from detention in the coming weeks.

I will feel a mixture of very strong emotions if this happens – overwhelming relief for the end of such unnecessary cruelty for so many for so long and the weight of shame and disgust that so many of us, as Australians, have carried on our shoulders.
Marie Douglas, Camberwell

First order of business
The first action for the next government should be to tighten the electoral act particularly in relation to how much money it is permissible to spend on advertising.

On top of this, all advertisements should be strictly vetted for obvious fabrications. There have been blatant lies bandied about – had these been for a commercial product there would have been heavy fines issued.

Australia needs responsible, reliable government not founded on response to fabricated marketing campaigns.
Doris LeRoy, Altona

An unhealthy substitution
When I grew up in the 1970s, tobacco advertising in sport was pervasive. It took many years for sporting bodies to take a principled stand and wean themselves off the revenue.

Unfortunately, the deficit has been filled with gambling revenues, and a new generation now watches sports such as footy through the lens of a new social curse.

Until the AFL can decouple itself from gambling, it cannot maintain any shred of virtue on its progressive social agenda. The custodians of what was once a genuine family game now rank inclusiveness and diversity above the interests of kids who are subjected to a deluge of gambling ads; every game, every round, all season.

I call on parents like AFL boss Gillon McLachlan to stand up for what’s right and ban gambling advertising from sport.
Dave Cameron, Brighton East

Desperate measures
Poor, desperate Dave Sharma. He makes an attack tweet claiming that the ABC is supporting his opponent only to realise, embarrassingly, that none of the three people mentioned actually work at the ABC any longer (“Sharma withdraws attack on ABC, Spender over Alberici campaign link”, online, The Age, 9/4).

Meanwhile, a Coalition colleague Sarah Henderson, also a former ABC journalist, is sitting in parliament.

By Sharma’s logic the ABC must be a right-wing haven. Hard to believe this guy was a brilliant student and former diplomat. It’s amazing what a new career in politics does to your IQ.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha

AND ANOTHER THING

Politics
As they power into the home straight, the starter’s gun has finally been triggered.
Joan Segrave, Healesville

Credit:Matt Golding

I’ll take Anthony Albanese’s alleged inexperience every day of the week over Scott Morrison’s track record of experience.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

One would have thought UAP leader Craig Kelly would be very used to having egg on his face by now.
Greg Bardin, Altona North

Government by focus group?
Barbara Lynch, South Yarra

Scott Morrison says “this election is about you, no one else”. Sums up the man’s character.
Tony Haydon, Springvale

Roadside rubbish
Your correspondents who bewail the lack of action by VicRoads seem to overlook that it is ordinary people who leave the litter beside roads. Deal with them first.
Ralph Lewis, Canterbury

Furthermore
Let me get this straight: If you don’t like a sport that results in significant noise pollution to those living nearby and that puts a public park out of action for several months of the year, you are a pleasure dodger, killjoy or member of the fun police (“The killjoys emerge”, Letters, 9/4).
James Proctor, Maiden Gully

Finally
There is something very wrong with our democracy when mischievous billionaires like Clive Palmer can spend some $70 million (maybe more) on disinformation. The subsequent election result will confirm how gullible – or not – the voters actually are.
Sally Davis, Malvern East

What’s become of this world’s humanity? From this country to Ukraine, it’s politics ahead of progress, equivocation ahead of achievement, economics ahead of courage, ambivalence ahead of humanity and fabrication ahead of truth.
Jeffrey Kelson, Prahran

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