Friday, 1 Mar 2024

Dutton has been told but he simply isn’t listening

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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The Voice: Dutton has been told but he simply isn’t listening

According to Peter Dutton the government is dividing the nation over the Indigenous Voice to parliament. The now opposition went to the last federal election with a policy of local and regional voices, a policy rejected by the Uluru Statement, and lost. The Labor Party supported the Uluru Statement, including a constitutional Voice to parliament, took that policy to the election and won. So who’s not listening? And who’s dividing the nation?
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir

Stop and reassess
It astounds me that after losing the federal election, two state elections and a byelection that the Liberal Party wouldn’t stop and reassess their policies and thinking. This is a very sad day for both the Liberal Party and Australia.
Marilyn Hoban, Mornington

Wrong again
So, Mr Dutton – the Voice requested and devised by many Indigenous people, that arose from the Uluru Statement from the Heart, is now the “Canberra Voice” and Labor is dividing Australia? Wrong again, good sir, please step out of the way and let the country progress.
Pip Denton, Darlimurla

A step in the right direction
Disappointing, but not surprising that the increasingly irrelevant Liberal Party are voting No. Voting Yes won’t fix more than 200 years of discrimination and generational trauma with the resultant poor social and health outcomes, but it is a small step in the right direction.
Belinda Burke, Hawthorn

Money better spent
Bothered by the concept and cost of The Voice, I found that according to the Parliamentary Library the Australian parliament has more Indigenous parliamentarians than the proportion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population (1.7 per cent higher). So a diverse elected voice is already there. The estimated $75 million cost of the referendum could have provided significant health and housing services for very needy Aboriginal people.
Frances Henke, Hastings

Finding a way forward
Simon Birmingham’s optimistic analysis (“After Aston: turning loss into learning”, 5/4) outlines a way forward for the Liberal Party, by modernising and adopting progressive policies including a bipartisan approach on climate change, taxation reform, home ownership and entrepreneurship.
However, to regain voter support there is a need to reassess the relationship with the National Party and remove a large number of right-wing MPs who will never accept real changes in these areas. This is most unlikely. Perhaps it is time to follow Menzies’ example and establish a new political party.
James Young, Mt Eliza

Leadership skills
To move the Liberal Party forward Senator Simon Birmingham should move to the House of Representatives. He is possibly the only person within the Liberal Party with the necessary skills to bring about the changes needed that can make it relevant, connected and acceptable to the community.
Glenise Michaelson, Montmorency

A broad church
Simon Birmingham is right, the Liberal Party needs to shake off the perception that it is intolerant, nasty and divisive. A start would be to expel Liberal senator Gerard Rennick, whose Facebook page contains the following post: “It’s very simple. If Trump becomes President he will seek peace in Ukraine and rebuild the influence and productive capacity of the USA and the West. The globalists don’t want this to happen. They want to start World War Three to destroy the West before transferring power to China.” It’s hard to change perceptions of the party when your “broad church” embraces members such as Senator Rennick.
Alan Whittaker, East Kew


Towers don’t make a city
Is Box Hill (“Box Hill hits fresh heights”, 5/4) really a new centre with “a taste for the high life”? It is indeed a crammed mass of high rise buildings, with more cranes on the skyline; but it has no heart. There is no city square, no surrounding parklands or gardens, like Birrarung Marr or Fitzroy Gardens; and there are no theatres, cinemas, pubs, bars, or other entertainment venues that breathe life into a city after the working day.

Even now, there are more proposals ahead to build 50 storey residential towers within the area. In the scramble to erect all these buildings, no space seems to have been allocated for a primary school or new outdoor spaces. Planning authorities need to take a deep breath and look at what they are creating.
Elizabeth Meredith, Surrey Hills

Unwelcome change
Your report extolled the virtues of a mega-development, high rise, high density, Box Hill. What was once “very much like a typical Melbourne suburb”, is now like a teeming, crowded metropolis, jammed with towers of 10 stories or more. Those on the side of alleged progress, like Whitehorse Mayor Mark Lane, boast of Box Hill “bursting with potential,” and “primed for a bigger development, for a bigger ‘CBD’”.

Those less enamoured of such a seismic shift in their home town feel it is being turned into a foreign landscape, driven by vested and overseas interests, and held hostage to the likes of the migration industry, property development, and education as a consumer product.
Deborah Morrison, Malvern East

Friendly spaces
With talk of a second CBD it is maybe timely to reimagine Melbourne’s city centre. How about banning cars and making it people friendly with outdoor cafes and more green spaces? This has already happened in a number of European cities.
Jane Desailly, Brunswick

Extra feature
Your correspondent, in promoting the facilities in Werribee (“Second choice obvious”, 5/4), forgot to mention the Werribee sewage treatment plant.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Plans shelved
Your correspondent (“Lack of action”, 5/4) hits the nail on the head. Rupert Hamer’s green wedges of the 1960s and the Melbourne 2030 plan of 2002 have been reduced to theories gathering dust on shelves. Melbourne’s growth, both expanding boundaries and density increase areas, have been determined by where developers have seen a profit to be made, with governments caving in to developer demands. Community needs, not private profit, should determine Melbourne’s future.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn

Turned away
“Melbourne Airport ready for rush” (The Age, 4/4)? Maybe not. On the Labour Day long weekend, I arrived to take up my two-week pre-paid spot in the long-term car park and was turned away because it was full. I was “upgraded” to the short-term car park. But after driving around for 25 minutes it was clear it was full also. I drove to Melbourne, left my car with a friend, and caught a taxi back, nearly missing an international flight. Sure enough, the Ts and Cs say that space availability is not guaranteed. Good luck everyone.
Penny Hawe, Lorne

Avoiding spotlight
In most workplaces around Australia these days, being gay is as important as the colour of your eyes. But Gillon McLachlan reckons “gay AFL players have chosen not to come out publicly to avoid the burden that would come from being first” (“Gay footy stars ‘avoiding spotlight’,” 5/4). In most sporting codes around the world, gay players who have come out have been warmly supported and embraced. Why is the AFL workplace so different? Are the bigoted, homophobic minority of AFL fans calling the shots? The AFL has got a lot of work to do.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

Our priorities
Retired Admiral Chris Barrie puts the issue of future Australian security in perspective: “Only a nuclear war could be more catastrophic” than the security risks of climate change (“Push for release of climate risk report”, 5/4). Australia plans to spend $368 billion on nuclear powered submarines to please the United States and to counter a perceived threat from China while we should be countering “the possible collapse of societies because of starvation or lack of fresh water and shortages of food supplies” to say nothing of supporting Australians living in flood plains and bushfire zones.

The government needs to release a public version of the report on the national security risks of climate change and rethink our priorities on where and how we spend our money.
Anne Sgro, Coburg North

True inclusion
Simon Birmingham demands that the Liberal Party should be a party of inclusion (Comment, 5/4). I note that he cites the “family and small business”. Maybe they could also consider the wage earners, whom they have ignored for decades and inclusion could include an end to their war against the unions.

Birmingham also recognises the need for consensus on climate change action after years of delay by his party. He also suggests that appealing to the various “fringe movements” is not good policy – it is precisely what he refers to as “nasty politics”. This is a huge request! Maybe a more realistic option would see Birmingham joining the Labor Party.
Keith Brown, Southbank

Pay GPs fairly
It may well be that Medicare is no longer fit for purpose (“Medicare needs urgent and intensive care”, 5/4). However nowhere in the editorial do I see a reference to the poor bulk billing rate Medicare allocates to GPs. This must be as urgent a reform as fraud in this matter. GPs have had to start charging a bigger gap rate for their services. This results in some patients being unable to see their GP and health needs not responded to in a timely manner. The symptoms then escalate causing more distress and expense. GPs are the gatekeepers to better health and their remuneration needs urgent attention.
Jan Marshall, Brighton

Doctors unfairly tarred
Yesterday’s letter advising of the lost trust that Health Minister Butler should have in our country’s health professionals (Letters, 5/4) tars all of us with the brush that should only be applied to the few, and ignores the reality that the rapidly diminishing numbers of GPs continue to be valued by their local communities.

As an example of our commitment we have provided over 50 per cent of COVID vaccines but to do so involved participation by GPs in the “free” mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Training Program, which involved at least 10 hours of training, unpaid.

Before people pile in boots and all, it is prudent to consider that while all systems get rorted, they do not get rorted by all. Clearly a widespread review of Medicare is required, but we should avoid demonising the entire health workforce, especially at a time of fewer and fewer medical graduates entering general practice.
Dr Greg Malcher, Hepburn Springs

Review rebates
There may be some evidence of cheating Medicare but there is much more evidence of doctors under-charging for their services. For example, most patients prefer to be bulk-billed but those doctors who bulk-bill are forfeiting a significant proportion of the value of their service.
And those doctors who provide assisted dying services are required to spend about 8 hours of non-patient contact time, arranging things with the Health Department, Care Navigators and State Pharmacy, for which there is no Medicare rebate.

It is certainly time Medicare rebates were reviewed.
Dr Harley Powell, Elsternwick

Lack of oversight
The problem with Medicare appears to be a lack of oversight by governments. When money is involved the temptation to game the system rises tenfold. If the government is serious about stopping the haemorrhaging then they need to put a rocket up the public servants in charge of running Medicare and start prosecuting the fraudsters.
Paul Chivers, Box Hill North

Content for free
Most people know they can borrow books for free at the local public library. Today’s libraries also offer free movie and music streaming services, and free audiobooks and e-books. You can read newspapers and borrow magazines, use computers and WiFi, and access digital resources from family history to online training – all for free.

Lessen the pain of tightening your belt (“Give yourself a ‘haircut’ to make ends meet”, 5/4) and join your local public library today.
Angela Savage, CEO, Public Libraries Victoria

The way we roll
I was delighted by Non Sequitur (The Age, 5/4) reviving the old argument of which way the dunny roll should hang. I am ashamed to admit I started a furious flurry of correspondence to The Age letters page around 40 years ago, sparked by a Leunig cartoon depicting the roll installed in what I argued was the wrong way – rolling under.

The correspondence became heated, espousing both sides of the argument, with one writer even taking a swipe at me for committing the solecism of using the word “loo”. Recently I came across a copy of the original patent application of 1891, including a drawing of the proposal clearly showing the roll unwinding over, away from the wall. Proof at last! But I think it is a healthy sign that in troubled times we can find distraction in such humorous trivia.
Courtney Pern, East Malvern

And another thing

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Dutton’s Liberals
My apologies to an admirable animal, but in opposing Labor’s “wording” to the Voice the Liberals are just using weasel words.
Loy Lichtman, Carnegie

Simon Birmingham correctly identifies a number of important areas that the Liberals need to address, but significantly misses one that I believe the majority of his target audience really want to see the Liberals engage on, the Voice.
David Brophy, Beaumaris

The Liberal Party’s decision to oppose the Voice will almost certainly be the final nail in the coffin of the referendum. However, it is likely to be the final nail in the coffin of the political career of Peter Dutton and indeed the Liberal Party itself.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

For years “white fellas” have been telling “black fellas” what they need. Surely it is time via the Voice that blackfellas can say what they want.
Michael Brinkman, Ventnor

It’s fine for Simon Birmingham to now call for “change and action”, but he was at the very core of Liberal Party inertia and inaction for almost 10 years.
Frank Flynn, Cape Paterson

Donald Trump
News from the US is dominated by the devastation caused by two wind systems: tornadoes and Trump.
Barrie Bales, Woorinen North

Will Trump’s splendid quiff become a run-of-the-mill crew cut?
Tris Raouf, Hadfield

How on earth can an evangelical Christian man like Mike Pence support Donald Trump with a clear conscience?
Roger Christiansz, Wheelers Hill

Now that Australia has placed bans on TikTok I would expect similar action against Facebook, which has been proven to spy on users worldwide.
Ken Mcleod, Williamstown

Easter brings three certainties – hot cross buns, chocolate bunnies and surging fuel prices.
Brian Kidd, Mt Waverley

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