Thursday, 1 Oct 2020

Another political tactic, not a true policy position

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Another political tactic, not a true policy position

Scott Morrison’s latest China-bashing exercise, not so subtly disguised as a federal power grab for control over foreign deals with state and local governments and institutions (The Age, 28/8), is a stunt. It has three virtues from the Prime Minister’s perspective. It aligns with the Trump agenda to bash China, it helps to distract from Morrison’s failings in aged care and COVID-19 and it also provides a sly kick at Dan Andrews for his constructive relationship with China. Welcome to government by spin over substance.
Graeme Henchel, Yarra Glen

Federal approval for the BRI in other countries

Earlier this year, your paper reported that ‘‘Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has left the door open to Australia partnering with China on infrastructure projects in other countries under an agreement it signed (in 2017) with Beijing covering the controversial Belt and Road Initiative’’ (The Age, 17/6). Yet now Scott Morrison disapproves of Victoria having done the same. It is not unusual for our state governments to make agreements with foreign governments.
Peter Harkness, Mont Albert North

Australia must decide where its priorities lie

The Chinese Communist Party is an autocracy that does not share our democratic values. Appalling human rights record, opaque justice system, disregard of international law with the militarisation of the South China Sea and the repressive measures in Hong Kong attest to this. The guiding principles are self-interest and control, employing tactics such as intellectual property theft, cyber attacks and subtle infiltration of institutions in order to promote China’s influence.

Victoria’s Belt and Road agreement is part of this push. Does economic growth and prosperity supersede our democratic values, human rights and international law? We should not render ourselves vulnerable to economic intimidation and blackmail by being overly dependent on trade with China. Diversification and agreements with other liberal democracies should be the guiding principle.
Leslie Chester, Brighton

‘Foreign’ relationship with many sister cities

Under these proposals, what will happen to the overseas sister cities relationships which Australia has signed up for? There must be many of them.
Jill Anwyl, Princes Hill

Commonwealth’s right to override these deals

The federal government is to be commended for its intention to cancel unwise foreign agreements made by states and territories. How Victoria’s Belt and Road agreement and the sale of the Port of Darwin were allowed to proceed in the first place has always been mystifying, given the Commonwealth’s powers under Sections 51 and 61 of the constitution to override any such deals.
James Ogilvie, Kew

When some acquisition by China is acceptable

Scott Morrison’s sudden concern about Victoria’s cosying up to China should be compared with the unopposed acquisition by China of huge tracts of arable and grazing lands and the ownership of the Port of Darwin for the next 99 years.
Manfred Frese, Heathmont

Distracting voters from branch stacking claims

Viewed against the impoverished human rights of our Indigenous and refugee communities, Kevin Andrews’ anti-Chinese spray looks like hypocrisy writ humungous. Could the timing be related to revelations about branch stacking in the Liberal Party?
David Melzer, Ocean Grove

Confucius programs are in our schools too

Scott Morrison announces legislation regarding foreign influence. The Age and others suggest this will apply to the Chinese government-controlled and funded Confucius Institute programs in our universities. Why is there no mention that the program is currently in some Australian state schools?
Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn


Time to serve the public

We should not let Australia Post get away with pleas about operating costs (Business, 28/8). It is a first and foremost a public service (and squarely a federal government responsibility under Section 51 of the Constitution).

To talk of its letter delivery arm as a ‘‘loss-maker’’ is not the point. Neither is its competitiveness with commercial carriers – unless Australia Post is worried by poorer parcel service and slower delivery rates, particularly in rural and regional areas.

Why, for example, is it acceptable for non-metro Australians to wait 10 days for letter delivery? Why is it acceptable to deny home parcel delivery in many non-metro, suburban areas and insist that they be collected from a post office (at full charge)? Talk of economic viability seems code for preparing to sell Australia Post, regardless of public need.
Sue Bertucci, Sunset Strip

Long wait for scripts

I refer to Australia Post’s ‘‘struggling letters division’’ with a large loss over the full year. As a GP, I have faxed or emailed prescriptions to pharmacies but patients still require the scripts on hand for repeat dispensing. I have to warn them that mailed scripts and letters may take up to three weeks before receipt.

Consequently many patients have opted to risk attending the surgery to collect their scripts, or I have hand delivered these to local pharmacies. This has increased both the health risk to my patients as well as depriving Australia Post of revenue up to $100 a day from our small group practice. Do the maths over GP practices in Melbourne alone.
Dr John Lazdins, Box Hill

An obligation to deliver

A kilogram of coffee beans has finally arrived from Queensland. It took 20 days. Now that is a long time between drinks. Well done, Australia Post. Perhaps chief executive Christine Holgate is claiming ‘‘immunity from an obligation’’ (The Age, 27/8). The obligation to deliver."
Lee Guion, Portarlington

My mixed messages

Why is it that Yarra Valley Water is unable to text me about possible contaminated drinking water but does text me whenever I am late on my quarterly water bill payment?
Helen Tsoutsouvas, Balwyn North

The Minister’s confusion

I read with dismay and anger that the Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister had introduced a bill to Parliament that would change laws which bar the Clean Energy Finance Corp from investing in fossil fuels and remove a rule that prevents it from investing in loss-making projects (The Age, 28/8). What is it about Angus Taylor that he confuses the word ‘‘reduction’’ with ‘‘increase’’
Michael Weadon, Lake Wendouree

Vested interests rule

The title of Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction is confusing under a Coalition government and perhaps even an oxymoron. Let’s just cut to the chase and change the title to Minister for Vested Interests. It probably would not even need to change when a Labor government comes to power.
Phil Labrum, Flemington

How does this compute?

On one hand, the federal government increases funding for language classes for permanent residents and citizens with poor English (The Age, 28/8), and on the other takes away funding for students of English in an arts degree. Go figure.
Marion White, Alphington

A misplaced blame

The Republican National Convention sounds like a launch by an opposition party: ‘‘We will fix everything that is wrong when we are in charge’’. The party, and Donald Trump, seem to have forgotten that they have been in charge for nearly four years.
Sarah Treacy, Highton

Lack of understanding

Re. Melania Trump’s speech at the convention. I could read intelligently and with composure a speech on metaphysics from a teleprompter and give the impression I knew what I am talking about. Yet, I would not have a clue.
Ruth Davis, Carrum

Accountability, senator

When the Senate asked important questions yesterday about the tragic failures in aged care, Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck, the guy in charge, simply walked out of the chamber. What would happen to ordinary Australian workers if they staged a walkout? They would be reprimanded or even dismissed. Our government ministers need to join the rest of Australia and do their jobs.
Doug Steley, Heyfield

Peril of social distancing

You would think that after so many weeks and stages of lockdowns, the ‘‘rules’’ could be clearer, even when they are discriminatory or ludicrous. No, stupidity reigns: I had a flat tyre which I went to get repaired – it was an ‘‘emergency service’’. I brought a book along but could not sit in a waiting room with my mask on because some bright spark bureaucrat had determined that chairs must be removed under stage four. I had to stand or just walk around outside in the bitter cold while I waited for the work to be done.
Laurie David, Camberwell

Lures to be tested

If you have a sniffle, why would you bother to be tested for COVID–19? There is a good chance you do not have it and, to be tested, you have to go out into the dangerous world. The test is uncomfortable and you have to self-quarantine until you get the result. If you leave home and are caught, you will be fined. If we want more people to get tested, we need to provide some carrots. Perhaps the big commercial winners such as UberEats, Coles, Amazon and Netflix could provide gift cards.
Bruce Campbell, Williamstown

Longing for an end

Thank you, Ben Groundwater – ‘‘Why can Europeans travel but Australians can’t?’’ (Comment, 28/8) – for your realistic summary of our situation with restricted travel. Having been fully supportive of the measures taken to keep the virus under control, I am starting to question them in the same way as you.

This applies to travel and all restrictions. Continued disruption to schooling (and it seems term four will be that way too), businesses crumbling, and community sport general wellbeing affected, to name a few. Summer looms and what will it look like?
Jane Buckingham, Apollo Bay

We’re on the right track

It is understandable that Ben Groundwater, as a travel writer, is enthusiastic about lifting our travel restrictions. But do we really want to imitate the current laxity of European restrictions? COVID-19 cases are soaring once again in Italy and France, with a fair chance the Tour de France will be cancelled. The way Victoria’s numbers are falling, with strict lockdown measures yielding encouraging results, we will soon be able to visit lots of nice places within our state and, if we stay on course, we may soon be able to travel interstate again. The rest of the world can wait.
Mike Puleston, Brunswick

We’re putting lives first

Probably the main reason that Europeans can travel and Australians are restricted, Ben Groundwater, is that they are prepared to accept mortality figures such as, per million of population, the United Kingdom 610, Italy 581, Sweden 580, whereas Australia’s figure is 23. New Zealand’s figure, with travel limitations similar to Australia, is four. These are rounded but indicative figures. A pretty compelling reason, don’t you think?
Henry Askin, Hawthorn

Neglecting its duty

The implication of your front page article – ‘‘Church received ‘exorbitant’ rent from St Basil’s home’’ (The Age, 27/8) – is that the federal government, through its charity regulator, failed to notice a near doubling of the rental value of an aged care facility. This neglect of presumably tax-free income is in addition to its neglect of health care standards and of a pandemic plan in the aged care sector.
Bruce McLaren, Balwyn


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


We will decide who interferes in this country and the circumstances in which they interfere.
Adrian Cope, Gisborne

It’s tempting to say the Liberals have gone bolshie re China but that seems like a contradiction in terms.
Geoff McNamara, Newry

Will ScoMo’s treasure hunt find the Port of Darwin’s 99-year-lease?
Geoff Gowers, St Kilda

It’s time Morrison started to help Australia and stopped trying to hurt Victoria.
Barbara Lynch, South Yarra

When scientific opinion is influenced by politics, it is not science.
Chris Rider, Blairgowrie

Why must Victoria be the only state not to have legislation to enable the protection of public health?
Eileen Ray, Ascot Vale

Could the virus be managed worse than it is under Dan and Scott? Yes, if our leaders were Tony and Jeff.
Graeme Lee, Fitzroy

If Trump wins, will that give the Democrats the right to say: ‘‘The election was rigged’’?
Philip Bunn, Beechworth

Tony Abbott

Maybe he received a travel exemption because his mate, Dutton, thought his new job was as an au pair.
Andrew Dods, Ascot Vale

Move on, Abbott haters. The UK government wouldn’t have employed him if it didn’t think he could do a good job.
Diana Goetz, Mornington

Abbott is obviously seeking to ingratiate himself with his mother country for a knighthood.
Glen Hunter, Ocean Grove


Tanya Day (27/8). Black lives don’t matter in this country. Deep condolences to her family.
Helen Hewitt, St Andrews

I reserve the the book title, Life on the Back of a Tram Ticket – How I Spent Lockdown.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

Wasn’t the ‘‘1990s-era Wallis inquiry’’ (28/8) a little late to achieve anything concrete about Edward VIII’s abdication?
Les Aisen, Elsternwick

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