Friday, 24 May 2024

Fervent ABC critics are living in the past

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Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding

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The media
I agree, generally, with much of what Stuart Littlemore and David Salter (“Partiality aside, ABC’s woes start with grammar”, 22/5) wrote about their dismay with some aspects of the ABC’s presentation, including the styles of various program hosts. But listeners and letter writers condemning the styles of those presenters must accept time has moved on and younger listeners have different tastes (not always mine).

How long would Peter Evans, the high-rating and much revered morning host of the ’70s and ’80s on what is now ABC 774, survive today with his grumpy and often bitter approach that included lengthy periods of silence. Living in the past is often attractive, but not viable as life moves on.
Bill Pimm, Mentone

Who’s the problem, exactly?
If being “part of the problem” is calling out the toxicity of racist trolling on social media and institutional inertia when challenging the sacrosanct narrative of the English monarchy that’s protected by convention, then Stan Grant has done a superlative job as he bade farewell for much needed emotional/psychological recuperation (“‘I’m part of the problem’: Stan Grant delivers powerful speech on Q+A”, 22/5).

The hate dished out to Grant and his family by way of intimidation and threats is about the ignorance and arrogance of people who don’t want their world view challenged.
Jelena Rosic, Mornington

Unflinching pain
The face of Stan Grant as he spoke to all of us at the end of Monday’s Q+A was the face of our First Nations brothers and sisters: stricken, yet unflinching; sorrowful, yet unvanquished; clear eyes looking into ours with unutterable pain. Knowledge meeting hatred with a steadfast, gracious love that cannot be silenced.
Rose Marie Crowe, McKinnon

Behaviour out of order
What an insightful article by Isabel Lo (“Rein in the trolls or no one will be safe”, 23/5). I feel such shame that, as Grant revealed, every week he and his family have suffered vitriol and abuse by the cowards online. When will we, as Australians, learn that such insults are just “not on, mate!”
Wendy Poulier, Ferntree Gully

Impartial perspectives
The Age, the ABC and the rest of the Australian media needs a guide on how to revamp journalism. Look no further than our national treasure Michelle Grattan. She asks hard questions and delivers clear, incisive results. As many others have said, I’ve been reading her for decades and have no idea of her personal opinions or how she might vote.
Mark Freeman, Macleod

Was coronation controversy not anticipated?
The belated apology on behalf of the ABC to Stan Grant was necessary. But who takes responsibility for programming a session in the coronation coverage on the downside of the British Crown for Australia, particularly for First Nations people? Perhaps this is what produced outbursts from some viewers and made others turn off. Was it not foreseen it might provoke such a response?
Cate Lewis, Clifton Hill

Fuel for the haters
Stan Grant’s exit from the spotlight leaves us a little poorer and I fear it will only embolden the haters. Australia is at risk of becoming a US-style faux democracy where those who shout the loudest and pose the greatest threat to public safety become the rulers. It can be seen in the cancellation of drag queen story times because of the mobs attacking local councils, and the disinformation being spread on the potential risk posed by the Voice.

I hope, for all our sakes, Grant makes a quick comeback. We can’t afford to lose a commentator who is brave and compassionate enough to speak about these truths.
Matt Dunn, Leongatha

THE FORUM

Costs aren’t borne equally
How predictable (“Big business on the hook for state’s COVID debt burden” 23/5). Since not later than July 25, 2022, when Roshena Campbell argued “we are not all in this together” in The Age, the disparate treatment of the real economy and the public sector by our treasurer has been writ large. The state’s public service is proposed to lose up to 4000 jobs – about 1.25 per cent of the 320,000 total.

But the real economy is to incur increased payroll tax and land taxes in the order of $8.6 billion – 2.15 per cent of the approximately $400 billion state economy.
Douglas Shirrefs, Yea

‘A massive impact’
In 2012, the Baillieu government slashed 4200 public servant roles. Minister Pallas said at the time “Carving this many jobs from departments will have a massive impact on the delivery of key services.” I am curious how slashing 3000 to 4000 roles will be any different? Perhaps limiting cost blowouts from major infrastructure projects would have been a tad more strategic.
David Metcalfe, Newtown

Jobs of the future
Darren Chester’s claim that there would be “thousands of job losses” if Victoria ceased native forest logging must be called out (“Legal advice casts doubt on logging deal”, 20/5). The large majority of jobs in Victoria’s timber industry are in plantation timber, not native forest timber. Further, the job opportunities in tourism, for choosing to protect our Central Highlands Forests, vastly outnumber those in the timber industry.

State-owned VicForests lost $54 million logging native forests last year. The future of logging is in sustainable plantations.
Julia Croatto, Kew

Outrageous price rises
“Food prices rising faster than overall inflation” (The Age, 23/5) shows that not only are the banks doing extremely well profit wise but so are the supermarkets. One example of outrageous price rises, since COVID began, is the increase in price of home brand butter, which has gone up from $4.50 to $6.40 (a 42 per cent rise).
As the prices of essentials skyrocket, the supermarkets have been advertising a range of junk foods that are being held at the same price for a set period. Big deal.

I hope the farmers are getting a fair share of these increases.
Phil Mackenzie, Eaglemont

A step forward
Peter Dutton claims The Voice will “re-racialise Australia” (“Anger at Dutton’s Voice ‘scare’,” 23/5). Obviously he thinks Australia is not racist right now. Maybe he should talk to Stan Grant or any number of Indigenous Australians to understand Australia is a racist nation.

The Voice won’t end racism but it’s a step towards ending racist policies within the government, which will eventually lessen cultural racism.
Rohan Wightman, Muckleford

Sad approach
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton in his speech to parliament on Monday falsely claimed that a Yes vote to the Voice will mean “some Australians are more equal than others”. These types of gems were being expressed by none other than Pauline Hanson way back in 1996 as she was railing against her perceived preferential treatment of Aborigines.

It is perplexing and saddening that scare mongering is now the way the opposition under Peter Dutton approaches an issue as important as the Voice to Parliament.
Doug Shaw, Sunbury

We can listen
A large representative meeting of our First Nations people have asked the recent occupiers of this land, such as me, to give them a constitutional Voice. If we say Yes we are committing ourselves to carefully listen to them. Should that be so difficult?
Bruce Tonge, Clayton

Attempt to divide
Peter Dutton’s claim that the Voice will create a superior class of citizen appears a calculated attempt to divide the community.

To suggest that constitutional recognition will mean First Nations people – who have a lower life expectancy than the rest of the country, who battle disadvantage and hardship – will make them “more equal” to the rest of the community is ludicrous.
Jill Rosenberg, Caulfield South

Why I say No
I stand shoulder to shoulder with those who urge recognition in our Constitution of our Indigenous forebears as the original inhabitants of our land. It is the truth and should be fairly acknowledged.

However, I am unable to support including the Voice in our Constitution as it would not only embed a privilege based solely on race. It would in my view constitute an affront to our democratic values which embrace the absence of all hereditary or arbitrary distinctions.

Yes to Indigenous constitutional recognition but with apposite parliamentary legislation and a genuine follow up vehicle to support all of our disadvantaged, Indigenous and non Indigenous alike.
Brian Marshall, Ashburton

No threat
Does Peter Dutton believe his own rhetoric when he thunders that some Australians will be “more equal than others”? He is talking about our First Nations people who are proportionately the most incarcerated on the planet, the sickest, poorest and most marginalised in Australia, their own country.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a moving document that seeks Voice, truth telling and treaty so that we can all move forward together. The proposed referendum seeks to take the first step.

Discussion and debate are welcome, but is the Voice a threat to our democracy as Dutton states? I don’t think so.
Anne Sgro, Coburg North

Empty promises
Several prominent Aboriginal people question the value of the Voice. This is not surprising when they have experienced empty promises and lies from governments of all persuasions over the years.

However, this new promise has several hopeful elements. It is to be written into the Constitution, it will provide the most representative First Nations body ever created (trusting Aboriginal people to come up with a good arrangement), and it has the eyes of all Australians focused to ensure it works.

Aboriginal people developed a unique way of relating to each other and the natural world, that will add to any discussion about what the future world should look like.

If managed well and reported on accurately, the Voice has the potential to enrich the lives of all of us.
Howard Tankey, Box Hill North

They were family
When I began teaching almost 50 years ago, my school had three wonderful cleaners. The school was spotless. The floors shone. Nothing was too much trouble. They were part of the school family. It was their school as much as that of the students and teachers.

Then along came the Kennett government and it was like many things, contracted out. Thirty years later, we are still dealing with that dreadful legacy (“Review aims to tidy school cleaning mess”, 23/5). If school cleaners were employed by each school council they could return to being dedicated members of the school family.
Chris Curtis, Hurstbridge

Would you tolerate this?
Woeful cleaning practices and shoddy maintenance has always been a feature in government schools. I once returned to a school I taught at for 30 years after a summer break to find a squashed meat pie on a building wall had simply been painted over by the company hired to paint the school. The art department was affectionately known as “the swamp” for its infestation with bugs and mosquitoes. The sewer backed up one day, forcing kids out of the classrooms as they couldn’t cope with the smell.

Unfortunately we just had to accept it as ageing infrastructure. I wonder what other industry would put up with that?
Frank Flynn, Cape Paterson

Value eroded
Libraries are not only places for books but much more, which is why I applaud the recent decision to not close the historic Geelong West Library. But the decision to reduce its hours is a bad one.

The library is a meeting place for mothers, children, the elderly, disadvantaged, students, people learning English and more. It is warm, friendly and there is human contact.
Graeme Dent, Geelong West

Font of learning
It is sad to see many of our suburban libraries so empty. Since COVID it would seem that many regular members have failed to return. These fonts of learning offer great services such as computer use, technological support and of course books.

Hopefully things will improve and these highly valuable resources will once again flourish.
Paul Murchison, Kingsbury

Sitting in the middle
Replying to your correspondent about heavy vehicles tailgating on the Princes Freeway (Letters, 19/5), I’m a truckie who uses it daily and get incredibly frustrated by drivers who sit in the middle lane at 80-90km/h. We cannot use the right lane, and changes in momentum at high speed take an unnecessary toll and costs on breaks or fuel. While I don’t condone tailgating, I will flash my lights at the slowest to remind them of the law to keep left unless overtaking.
Jayson Argall, Northcote

Take a bow
My mother always told me to leave the party when they’re begging you to stay. Obviously Damien Hardwick’s mother did the same (“‘Love you to death’: Hardwick era ends with cameras, security and high emotion”, 23/5). Take a bow Dimma. You’ve played a blinder. Thanks for the good times.
Jill D’Arcy, East Melbourne

Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding

And another thing

Stan Grant
Stan Grant, if all Australians could only learn from you, we would be a much better society. Thank you.
Pat Rivett, Ferntree Gully

News Corp is a strange business. One arm attacks Stan Grant through the media while another publishes his new book.
Ian Powell, Waverley

State budget
Up to 4000 public sector jobs to be cut: more business for the big four consulting firms.
Joe Wilder, Caulfield North

Interesting that the state’s top schools will no longer be exempt from payroll tax. I can’t understand why they were exempt in the first place. Thirteen years on from Gonski, education funding is still shamefully inequitable.
Thomas Reyment, Fitzroy

Is the “we want” society demanding better public transport, roads, education, NDIS, medical services and fast rail service to the airport the same people complaining about the deficit?
Bruce Dudon, Woodend

The Voice
The implication of Dutton’s comment that the Voice proposal will “re-racialise” Australia is that we had been “de-racialised”. When did that happen?
Serge Bobbera, Curlewis

In keeping with their usual response to issues, Australians seem to be having a bet each way on the Voice by saying “Yeah, nah.”
Graham Cadd, Dromana

Dutton fears the Voice will create a divided country. Isn’t that exactly what he is attempting to do?
Joan Segrave, Healesville

Furthermore
Two heartwarming obituaries (The Age, 23/5). Two amazing people (Margaret Bowman and Brian Pyman) who have made such a significant contribution to public life.
Julie Frazer, Melbourne

Well done, Dan Andrews, on knowing when to stop flogging the dead horse of the timber industry in our native forests.
Carmel McNaught, Balwyn North

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