Parliament needs to fall in line with ‘ordinary’ work practices
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SOBRIETY ON THE HILL
Parliament needs to fall in line with ‘ordinary’ work practices
Josh Frydenberg says Parliament is an “unusual” workplace. Alcohol is freely used especially at night to help people stay awake (“Alcohol limits, breath tests in Parliament floated as MP quits over bad behaviour”, The Age, 29/3). I suspect there are not many quiet Australians who would agree that alcohol enhances one’s decision making skills, or indeed that the workplace is an appropriate place to be using it. Imagine if a pharmacist working late was dispensing while under the influence of alcohol, or if a teacher was writing reports or testimonials when tipsy, or a tradie was trying to do straight plastering when pie-eyed.
The complete banning of alcohol, and breath testing at the entrances of Parliamentary workplaces would soon stop the culture of drunkenness. The closure of Parliamentary offices from 11pm to 6am would bring these “unusual” workplaces into line with the great majority of “ordinary” workplaces. We quiet Australians deserve better than having our parliament run by people who need and use alcohol to make decisions for the country.
Jill Dumsday, Ashburton
Clear-headed, critical thinking required
Alcohol is strictly prohibited nowadays in many workplaces. Furthermore many also have routine random drug and alcohol testing. It is time for such practices in our Houses of Parliament.
They aren’t just any old workplaces. They are entrusted with considerable control and important decisions over our lives. We deserve the best thinking of all their employees, unclouded by alcohol or drugs.
Mark Freeman, Macleod
Three steps for a Parliament House fix
There are three things that would go a long way to fixing Parliament House’s continuing disrespect for women.
Firstly, make Parliament House, like every other serious workplace, zero tolerance alcohol and drug free. And breathalyse anybody suspected of having imbibed.
Secondly, make it a 6am to 10pm workplace (except in the case of emergencies), and thirdly bring in more women, both as staff and parliamentarians, using quotas which have been shown to work.
These changes could happen immediately and the effect would be huge.
John Fisher, Brighton
Time to stop tinkering around the edges, PM
All the soft shoe-shuffling and side-stepping the goings on in Parliament is not going to fix the issue. The PM’s eyes on breath tests and quotas is his usual tinkering around the edges and will not pass the pub test. I’ve watched three women from the LNP over the past couple of days being asked the same question on whether Andrew Laming should quit the party now. It was disappointing to see them all reply from the same Party script. Where has the Minister for Women been all this time? We haven’t heard a peep from her.
Dermot Mcintosh, Bacchus Marsh
We deserve better
Electors can only vote for the candidates on the ballot paper. Which pushes the onus back onto the parties and their preselection processes.
Assuming they do not actually want people of dubious character as their candidates, they need a much more thorough vetting of possible candidates, including standard pre-employment psychometrics and deeper questioning of referees. In far too many cases lately, we deserve better than what is being served up.
Jim Spithill, Ashburton
End memorial waste
The $500 million revamp of the iconic Australian War Memorial in Canberra seems to me to be a hugely excessive exercise. If memory serves me correctly the project was initiated by the then CEO, Brendan Nelson some years back. Surely the Australian taxpayers must have serious reservations about the scale of the project.
The federal government has invested billions of dollars in helping Australia deal effectively with the coronavirus. But the Job-Keeper scheme ended over the weekend, and may be up to 250,000 people will suffer enormously as a result.
My late father served at Gallipoli in 1915, and he said there needed to be a limit to the scale of War Memorials. He felt that Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance was “the right scale”.
The Australian Government needs to call a halt to this project.
Len Millar, Newstead
Lack of awareness
Kristine Ziwica’s article (29/3) said it all: the Minister for Women, Marise Payne, had not attended or addressed a meeting, called by the PM, of 400 Coalition staffers, to discuss their “female situation.”
The PM says he listens, he wants to talk to women, to introduce a healthier, safer workplace, but how can he do that without the input and guidance of the Minister directly involved: did he not think of asking her or did she have more important things to do? Either way it showed a dreadful lack of awareness.
Mary Cole, Richmond
Words matter. Our media refers to our politicians as “Leaders”. This reinforces their sense of entitlement.
Democracy depends upon representatives who understand the distinction, from whom we hope leaders will grow.
Our Parliament has become dominated by career politicians. Our bureacracy has lost much of its sense of service in favour of careerism and incentives driven by political patronage and
Corporations are not citizens or voters, their capacity to distort democracy by donation, lobbying, and sinecures for retired politicians needs to reined back.
We electors need to attract more real talent by choosing and electing representatives with a vision for future, community and environment, rather than self interest.
John Poppins, Mount Waverley
I met the anaesthetist in the operating theatre reception five minutes before my major surgery. She informed me that I would be charged an out of pocket fee of $350 for her services. What options did I have? At this late stage I was not in a position to say that I didn’t agree and wish to employ the services of another specialist. On receipt of the invoice I note that she had charged Medicare and my private health fund a total of $1949. Still she demands a further $350. My surgery lasted 215 minutes, her total fee was $2299; not bad for a little more than three and a half hours work. Who else gets paid more than $656 an hour? I consider this outrageous.
Michael Higgins, Erica
Growth the real monster
The climate change debate rages on. Meanwhile the monster that causes the debates around CO2 emissions, plastic waste, deforestation, chemical pollution, dwindling fish stocks, species extinctions, ocean acidification, is meticulously avoided.
Climate believers and deniers are totally united in pushing onward with new technology for economic expansion. But massive growth in new wind and solar will simply extend the disaster of massive growth in old coal, oil and gas.
The real monster is unbridled growth itself; growth in production and demand for known “stuff”, growth in population, and growth in expectation for new tech “stuff”. That’s growth cubed!
Advertisers constantly insist we buy their latest fads or gadgets to fix our miserable and incomplete lives. If I believed that, I would see my 1950s wild and free (but poor) childhood as horrible. But it wasn’t!
Robbert Veerman, Buxton
Where’s the frontline?
The latest outbreak of COVID-19 stems from an unvaccinated doctor treating coronavirus patients. If medical staff treating COVID patients are not at the absolute front of the line for vaccinations, who is? If the doctor had a reason for not being vaccinated they should not have been working with COVID patients. The hospital should have ensured all staff working with such patients were vaccinated.
Dr Ralph Frank, Malvern East
It is unfair to charge solar homes and businesses when big coal and gas-powered generators don’t have to pay for pumping electricity into the network.
Solar households should be rewarded for the economic, environmental and health benefits they provide, especially as feed-in tariffs are dropping.
Georgette Courtenay, Mount Martha
Ending JobKeeper and JobSeeker will increase unemployment, poverty and social inequality at the very time there are not enough jobs (“Job hunt gets tougher as more compete”, The Age, 29/3). It is essential that the federal government urgently incentivises new clean energy businesses with consequent jobs for techies, marketers, managers and trainers.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood
The funniest thing about Rebecca Shaw’s article on Daryl Somers (“An old white man walks into a bar. Have you heard this joke?”, The Age, 28/3) is her self description as a comedy writer.
Shaw proudly states she was part of the team that gave us such comedic gems as Tonightly with Tom Ballard (fronted by a white bloke), Hard Quiz (a show fronted by an old white male who specialises in insulting his guests) and The Weekly, a typically unfunny ABC “satire” fronted by a white bloke.
Hey Hey may be dated now but it was a ratings blockbuster for decades and is fondly remembered by a great many Australians, most of whom would not give Ms Shaw’s efforts a second glance, let alone a laugh.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully
I saw thousands of people marching through the streets on Sunday, protesting outside the “prison” on Swanston Street, where refugees who just asked for help are still locked up in hotel rooms. Surely by now most Australians understand this cannot continue?
If it is not covered by the media the refugees are truly doomed.
If you think this cruelty is OK, do nothing.
Melissa Vollebergh, Alphington
Big power play
The autonomy that comes with generating and, sometimes, storing your own electricity was always anathema to big power companies, who found themselves losing market share.
Instead of upgrading outdated infrastructure to incorporate roof-top solar, they have found a way to discourage clean, home solar – charge for contributing excess electricity to the grid.
Bill Burns, Bendigo
Let her speak
How can we can believe the Liberal Party’s commitment to addressing gender inequality and discrimination when in 2013 the then prime minister Tony Abbott appoints himself to the ministerial role of Minister for Women and now we have Marise Payne who appears to be gagged (“Payne’s silence speaks volumes about the Liberal Party”, The Age, 29/3). Still no voice for women.
Sharon Allan, Castlemaine
Just what has someone got to do to be expelled from the Liberal Party? How bad does it have to be?
Counselling or courses won’t change life-long attitudes and values that are unacceptable and harmful. Poor behaviour should lead to the exit, regardless of the balance of power in parliament.
Stephen Dinham, Metung
Intellect in the shadows
Tony Ralston (Letters, 29/3) calls for a leader with vision and the ability to make their party
appeal to voters. He says Morrison is becoming less convincing by the day. Recent history tells us Labor’s Bill Shorten, didn’t appeal to voters, he lost the unloseable election. I fear it could be the same with Anthony Albanese.
Labor has two MHRs of character, intellect and competence who could deliver the new Australia we need. Both are women: Tanya Plibersek and Clare O’Neil. They are tough and authentic human beings, not saleswomen.
Paul Ormonde, Northcote
AND ANOTHER THING …
If Scott Morrison was ethical he would sack Andrew Laming, but as numbers control parliament ethics are put to one side.
Lou Ferrari, Richmond
Dr Laming knows the requirements of sick leave certificates. What is written on his?
Dr Sean Geary, Southbank
Parliament House in Canberra to introduce a “naughty corner”?
Margaret Skeen, Point Lonsdale
Morrison has belatedly discovered the importance of empathy in politics – once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.
Mark Summerfield, Northcote
I thought JobKeeper had finished. It appears the PM has a new version running in Canberra for Liberal MPs.
Simon Gould, Arawata
Empathy training or conversion therapy, neither work.
Brent Baigent, Richmond
People need to know they will be caught. Install security cameras with microphones. Let the offenders know they will be heard.
Melanie Bennetts, Lower Templestowe
To lose one minister may be regarded as misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness
(apologies to Oscar Wilde).
James Ogilvie, Kew
Will the Prime Minister create a Minister for Empathy and Return to Work in the latest reshuffle?
George Reed, Wheelers Hill
Drug and alcohol testing for our leaders and their cohort. It seems they need psychometric testing at preselection.
Mary Wise, Ringwood
Was Craig Kelly chosen on merit?
Bernd Rieve, Brighton
If the PM wants to be taken seriously in tackling Liberal’s “woman problem” he must stop talking and start walking. His first step should be appointing Katie Allen as Minister for Women.
George McGregor, Malvern
Melbourne is almost certain to endure another lockdown. No social distancing, less than 50 per cent of people on trains wearing masks.
Malcolm I. Fraser, Oakleigh South
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