Racism, the referendum and the Constitution

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Waleed Aly (Comment, 20/10) debunks the notion that racism was a cause of the referendum defeat. Australians, being an egalitarian lot, were never going to grant one sector of the community privileged access to government over everyone else, regardless of how long they occupied the country. Aly correctly points out that the “knee-jerk” 65 per cent positive reaction at the start of the campaign proves that most Australians recognised that Aboriginal disadvantage in remote communities was a fact and needed fixing. That does not indicate racist attitudes. The number plummeted to 40 per cent because people actually figured out that entrenching a Voice in the Constitution, and privileging one subset of Australians above all others, was not the way to fix it. Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully

The racist comments were many
Many correspondents have said that Australia is not a racist country. I beg to differ. I heard about 250 racist statements made about Aboriginals during my volunteer work. Sometimes the worst comments were made by the No volunteers. I fear that the referendum has given the ″⁣green light″⁣ to racists who, emboldened, will be out in force for the 2025 federal election but this time their bile will be directed towards migrants.
Samantha Keir, East Brighton

Marginalised and deserving better future
Your broken-hearted correspondent (Letters, 20/10) asks, ″⁣what do I know″⁣? This fellow despairing Yes voter would like to suggest she knows what it is to consider the wellbeing of a marginalised people, especially the children who deserve a better future. Jane Ross, San Remo

No campaigners baulked at constitutional change

After months volunteering with Yes23 and hundreds of conversations, this is what I know. Most people who voted No (including No campaigners) are not against recognition, reconciliation, or closing the gap. They simply could not agree on the constitutional change. Many LNP voters followed LNP advice. Others were genuinely concerned that the proposed change would divide us. No voters were anxious to explain that they still supported listening to First Nations people to achieve better outcomes. First Nations people need to hear what I heard so loudly during the campaign. We are all with them. Do not allow this result to divide us.
Katherine Baggaley, Oakleigh East

Last weekend, everything changed
What happens now with the ″⁣Welcome to Countrys″⁣ and the traditional dancers and musicians who have rightfully become an important part of our community ceremonies? It really felt that goodwill was growing, the community was learning and we were starting on the road to reconciliation. Last weekend changed that. Indigenous people would be entitled to feel devastated and unable to participate in these kinds of events knowing that their request for a Voice as a means to reducing their entrenched disadvantage was rejected. Where to from here, indeed? Louisa Ennis, Thornbury


Gardens of delight
What a brilliant idea: The Hanging Gardens of Jolimont (“Rarefied art of rooftop gardens”, 20/10). Civilisations have had celebrated gardens and parks. Melbourne is no exception, but as we overbuild our urban and suburban space, the rooftop garden makes perfect sense. Especially as our overheated atmosphere raises temperatures beyond the norm. It would certainly lift us up the world’s most liveable city ratings by making Greater Melbourne a cooler place in which to live.
John Mosig, Kew

Tax colossus of roads
The court decision to declare Victoria’s EV tax illegal has caused both joy and concern (″⁣Pallas ‘concerned’ by EV tax ruling″⁣, 20/10).
Victoria should be encouraging EV use not inhibiting it, so the removal of the tax is a good thing, however on the other side of the coin is the Victorian government’s concern over how it would replace the fuel excise tax which will, in effect, disappear if most vehicles were to become EVs.
The money for roads has to come from somewhere. The government will rightly review its position and no doubt will find a way to replace fuel excise income. One assumes that it will have to come to some arrangement with the federal government that will involve replacing fuel excise with a pay per kilometre rate perhaps including a recognition for vehicle weight as well to allow for the greater fuel use and road damage caused by heavy vehicles.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha

Taken for fools
Victorian Treasurer Mr Pallas suggested the recent EV ruling could pave the way for challenges to other state charges. The government’s zero and low-emission vehicles road user charge – designed to collect cash for roads from electric vehicle users not subject to petrol excise – raised $3.9million last financial year.
With electric vehicle use rising, the government was on track to collect $6 million from the tax in 2023-24. However the Victorian government has paid over $1 billion to the Grand Prix Corporation to support the annual four-day car race at Albert Park. The annual race fee has recently been increased to $100 million to prevent the event moving to NSW. And that is taxpayers’ money for the support of a fossil-fuelled event.
Geoff Gowers, Merricks North

Stumped by change
I am a 76-year-young cricket tragic who has attended every Boxing Day Test since it replaced the then traditional Victoria v NSW Sheffield Shield match over the Christmas period. I remember the wooden sightscreens on wheels, operated by an attendant sitting on a wheel axle of the screen at the southern end.
Batsmen, now batters, used to request him to manoeuvre the screen into the line-of-sight of the ball to be delivered. Technology has seen the demise of those attendants. Now, apart from the electronically operated screen, we see banks of seating on either side of the screens covered and to an inexplicable height of up to 15 metres in some cases.
For all that the number of batters who are distracted by casual spectator movement, despite the sheeting provided, is unfathomable. Face up and concentrate like those greats who were equally champions but were not so precious.
Peter Forehan, Murrumbeena

Barista at law
Correspondents have recounted confusion after giving a name to a barista. Spare a thought for barristers who are occasionally asked which coffee shop they work in.
Daniel Cole, barrister, St Albans

Craig v Greg
My brother Craig is a regular visitor to the US. Ordering coffee is a challenge as he has to listen for “Greg!!” as well as the all too rare “Craig”.
Peter McGill, Lancefield

Multi-sided debates
Alan Sunderland (Comment, 20/10) and other journalists are right to call out journalistic balance that relies on exquisitely finely measured equal time for both sides.
But the problem lies not with the level of accuracy of the minutes and seconds devoted to each side. The problem is the idea that there are only two sides to any debate.
To think that two sides are all there is to discussion is to replicate the idea that two major political parties are the sum of all possible argument on any issue.
″⁣False binaries″⁣ knock out any complexity of argument and consign development of intriguing non-mainstream ideas to the media wilderness. This is to the poverty of all political policy debate, as it ensures only the two loudest voices are recognised.
Surely in this age of diversity we can manage to develop and digest more than two ideas on any issue at any one time and give ″⁣equal time″⁣ to more of them?
Julia Thornton, Surrey Hills

Roots of conflict
The conflict in Israel/Palestine is much older than the Six-Day War and can be blamed on British imperialism and the West’s shame over not taking the Holocaust seriously during WWII.
Imperial Britain claimed Palestine as a British Protectorate and apparently thought it could dispose of it at will, allowing the UN to make a ″⁣gift″⁣ of central Palestine to all Jewish peoples as an exclusive Jewish state.
A wrong to right a wrong was misdirected against the innocent. It was natural for Jews to want Jerusalem back but the territory they regarded as God-given had originally been acquired by bloody conquest, if the Jewish testament is to be believed. Israel cannot be dismantled any more than modern Australia can.
It is shameful, though, that the continuing encroachment on Palestinian land and obstacles to Palestinian daily life never receive real sanctions from the West. Support for Israel is far too one-sided and unqualified.
I say these things while my heart is filled with sorrow and lament for everyone suffering on both sides and most of all the children. Hamas has made a terrible and wicked mistake.
Penelope Buckley,
Kew East

Despairing outlook
To your correspondents the conflict started much earlier, at least in the 1920s with the formation of groups such as Haganah and has not stopped since. The really sad thing is there has been considerable loss of life on both side and acts of terrorism from both sides. To me it is impossible to pick sides and I cannot see any possible solution. Laurens Meyer, Richmond

Will peace prevail?
Israeli and Palestinian children killed and injured in conflict is equally tragic. So, too, Palestinian and Israeli men and women also suffering and dying in these latest hostilities. Joe Biden and Anthony Albanese among others should always reference this as an elusive two-state solution is achieved and these decades-long hostilities cease. Innocent people in the Middle East deserve this and we all hope to witness long-lasting peace and justice for them in our lifetimes.
Tony Delaney, Warrnambool

Link is broken
I can relate to Catherine Xie’s article (19/10) regarding the inability to get through to Centrelink. I recently received a text from MyGov with a security code. As I had not attempted to access my account it indicated that someone was trying to hack it. It also advised that I should contact myGov if this was the case. The first attempt was a 30+ minute wait and when I finally got through the line dropped out. The second attempt was another 30+ minute wait and eventually I did get to speak with someone. However, I hasten to add that I cannot fault the assistance and advice given by the person that did answer.
Clearly the government departments involved do not have sufficient staff to handle the volume of inquiries they handle. I find it hard to believe that their management are not aware of this.
Ken Finley, Mount Martha


The Voice
With the results of the referendum the notion that Australia is the land of the ″⁣fair go″⁣ has been well and truly smashed.
Cheryl Day, Beaumaris

I am so proud of Shane Howard (″⁣Musician returns OAM in protest at Voice loss″⁣, 19/10).
Fiona Winn, Moorabbin

As equal Australians, I encourage Indigenous people to use the voice they have. Inundate your parliamentary representative with your community issues. Be loud and show everyone that your issues matter.
Edward Pettifer, Ballarat North

The land of Israel will only experience justice-based peace when both sides realise that hate-based violence and retribution triggers an escalating cycle of deaths, destruction and distrust.
Kevin Burke, Sandringham

Those who have recently questioned the relevance of Shakespeare might well reflect on this line from King Lear, in light of events in the Middle East: “Humanity must perforce prey upon itself, like monsters of the deep”.
Mike Smith, Croydon


If Victoria is unable to raise a tax for the use of its road structure, it’s simple, don’t register vehicles that do not pay their way. Nobody likes a tax but we all need to pay our way and pay for the infrastructure the government provides.
Keith Hawkins, Point Lonsdale

If you have a coffee in a cup at a coffee shop and do that regularly, you don’t need a name: I walk in, say nothing, and then a double espresso appears – with a smile.
Andrew O’Bryan, Noosa Heads, Qld

Re new Olympic Games events, what about egg and spoon and sack races? Add some fun – many of us don’t have a horse or rapier.
Margaret Skeen, Point Lonsdale

Private school wants to retain gender balance and promote diversity (20/10). They could always merge with the local public school.
Rosslyn Jennings, North Melbourne

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