A hard idea to get across the line, but worth striving for
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MATTERS OF STATE
A hard idea to get across the line, but worth striving for
Waleed Aly has hit the nail on the head (“Elder statesmanship can work”, Comment, 23/9). We love the pomp and circumstance that the monarchy trots out on big occasions. We love the non-political “otherness” that monarchy represents, but the notion that the King of England, a non-citizen, “reigns over us” by some medieval right is impossible for this republican to swallow.
But an embracing of a First Nations head of state on the clear understanding that this is a non-executive but ceremonial role could lead us all to better embrace ceremonial cultural aspects of the forebears of this land in a way that our friends in New Zealand do with the Maori culture. That idea, however hard to get across the line, is well worth striving for.
Julian Guy, Mount Eliza
A tantalising aspiration
As your correspondent (“We will know when the time is right for change”, Letters, 23/9) explains, “it is clear there is not one common view about Australia, what it is and what it should be”.
In her recent book The Idea of Australia, the Queensland academic Julianne Schultz describes the threads of our history, and in the process underlines how far away we are from reconciling them. A bigger question is whether we really want to achieve such reconciliation, even in the limited accountancy sense of balancing the books.
But the aspiration in her summary is tantalising: “to create an Australia that knows its past well enough to foster an enduring open, innovative, generous society”.
Jim Spithill, Ashburton
Way down the list of concerns
For the record, I think Australia should be a republic, but at this point in time, I think our approach should be “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
We have so many things that are broken in this country. Our health system, our aged care, our education system, our immigration and taxation systems. Not to mention the planet we live on.
There are dozens of areas we need to spend our time, energy and money on more urgently and the issue of the place of the monarchy in Australia is way down the list.
Margaret Steel, Eltham
A primitive system of hereditary rule by divine right
A few years back, the Barmy Army sang for us at cricket matches. One of their favourites was “God Save your Queen” – a mockery designed to remind us of our continuing nominal subjecthood.
Seriously – if we were to sit down today to agree about a head of a brand new Australia – would we even consider attaching ourselves to the symbolic residue, in a declining country on the far side of the planet, of a primitive system of hereditary rule by divine right?
Of course, Australia is not brand new, and the Crown represents our history. But our historic contributions to “deeds that won the Empire” include the bloody takeover of this continent by right of might. And how does that help us in reconciling with the descendants of the dispossessed who live among us?
Colin Smith, Glen Waverley
It’s here to stay
COVID-19 is here to stay and it doesn’t make sense to not wear a mask if you’re unavoidably near a considerable number of strangers, especially in a confined space.
Public transport is only one example of many where, government mandated or not, mask wearing makes it safer for everyone. That’s the advice of medical experts (“Asia a lesson in protocols for masks, says Sutton”, The Age, 23/9).
Why would you listen instead to politicians who are more concerned about business and economics than your personal health? Why care about disapproving looks from virus denialists pretending that it’s all gone away?
Think of judicious mask wearing as a new form of civil disobedience.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills
Nuclear power idea …
Farhad Manjoo’s article (“Nuclear’s power play is ending”, Business, 23/9) brilliantly outlines why renewables, rather than nuclear power sources, should be our objective.
However, there are those who will argue for nuclear power and those who still see fossil fuels playing a role in our energy grid. Too often this leads to political rhetoric and adversarial tactics rather than scientific analysis and debate.
What we need is an Australian climate summit, where, after scientists present the latest research data and predictions, a consensus is reached on the best way to tackle what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres describes as the “global calamity” caused by climate change.
Graeme Lechte, Brunswick West
… a dangerous distraction
Thanks for a measured assessment of nuclear power’s role in addressing climate change.
Peter Dutton might be banging the pro-nuclear drum but calls to embrace domestic nuclear power are out of tune and time.
Recent research from the CSIRO and the national energy market operator AEMO clearly shows that renewables are the cheapest energy source in Australia while nuclear would be the most expensive.
Renewables are effective, proven, popular and exist. Current nuclear technology is high cost and high risk, while the much promised “next-generation” nuclear simply does not exist in the commercial world.
We cannot afford to waste more time in transitioning to a low-carbon future. Nuclear is a dangerous distraction to effective climate action.
Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation, Carlton
The loop must not be built
The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office is the latest independent agency to report the SRL business case does not stack up (“Suburban rail loop benefits could be overstated”, The Age, 22/9).
The business case has not been submitted to Infrastructure Australia and Victoria’s Parliamentary Budget Office has serious misgivings about it.
Major infrastructure projects such as the Suburban Rail Loop that will cost a generation’s worth of spending should not be tied to election campaigns.
The Suburban Rail Loop must not be built. It is not in the interests of all Victorians to do so.
Yvonne Bowyer, Surrey Hills
Not hooked on the idea
The Victorian government has committed $35 million to get more people fishing and, to lure children, they are being offered free fishing clinics and free fishing rods?
What is behind all this? Surely it would be more beneficial for children to be offered free footy clinics and free footballs? This would encourage vigorous and healthy exercise and – unlike fishing – would not encourage cruelty to animals.
Jennifer Moxham, Monbulk
It must go deeper
Premier Daniel Andrews has generously promised to fund improved acute health facilities. Good news, but the Victorian government needs to go deeper, as your correspondent points out (“Too little to fight gambling”, Letters, 22/9).
In the last year, Victorians lost $2.2 billion on pokie gambling alone. Credible research shows these losses lead to at least $7 billion in social harm every year.
To change this outcome, Victoria could follow Tasmania’s lead and introduce mandatory pre-commitment in community pubs and clubs across the state. Such a simple measure would prevent or mitigate immense suffering while allowing the pokie industry to continue to operate.
Mandatory pre-commitment, or “cashless gambling”, will enable people to understand gambling risks better and to make informed choices about whether and how they gamble. Right now gamblers have their brains captured by machines designed to addict, and the losses incurred are often irrevocable – poor mental and physical health outcomes, family breakdown, poverty and worse.
The government’s deceptive “responsible gambling” mantra leads only to blame and shame. It should be: “You matter, not the machines.”
Kate Sommerville, Richmond
An apology is in order …
Premier Daniel Andrews made what looks to be a “captain’s choice” and got it wrong. He should demonstrate some character and admit his mistake, renaming Maroondah Hospital after Queen Elizabeth II was a gross error of judgment.
When will politicians understand that an apology is not a sign of weakness but strength.
Henry Gaughan, Richmond
… for this costly call
If you want to hand out a new name for a hospital, hand it out to a new hospital. I’m sure Melbourne could use one.
Besides, think of the money you’ll just be burning on new signage, stationery, uniforms, etc at an existing hospital.
Barry Miller, Kyneton
The Voice comes first
If we can relate to your correspondent’s longing for a “steady hand that unifies” (Letters, 23/9) perhaps she gives us a clue to the KPIs of our future head of state.
We can probably all agree that it will be best if he or she is free of political attachments. This would seem to leave the field open to someone capable of bringing out a commitment or loyalty to something recognisable as distinctly Australian.
For this reason we might be thankful that the government has declared a pause on our consideration of the republic until we have come to terms with the need to make a convincing decision on the historic issue of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
John Gare, Kew East
Spend where it’s needed
The federal Labor government must live up to its long-held principles of a fair and equal society.
Forget the new submarines and the stage three tax cuts and put money into our most precious resource – our people.
Credit Suisse’s annual report on global wealth says that per head of population, adult Australians are the wealthiest in the world and, in US dollars, we have 2.2 million millionaires (“Why we rank top in world wealth”, The Age, 22/9).
Yet in 2020, Australian Council of Social Service research showed that 3 million Australians were living in poverty with 774,000 of these being children under the age of 15. A further 424,800 were young people aged from 15 to 24.
Let us put resources and work hard as a society to give them the services and help they need to live a decent and fulfilling life.
Meg Paul, Camberwell
The fact that James Hird’s ghost looms large at Essendon is bewildering. His desire to coach the club again is entirely self-serving. It is bizarre that he continues to see himself as Essendon’s saviour and his interest in the vacant coaching role has divided the membership base of an already fractured club.
Reappointing Hird as coach would be a significant step backwards. His presence would be a constant reminder of the darkest period in Essendon’s proud history.
The board and coaching committee must look elsewhere for the club’s next coach.
Joel Feren, Caulfield
Years in the making …
Buddy Franklin (2014) and Patrick Dangerfield (2016) were recruited by their clubs to win a premiership. Years later, one club will finally succeed.
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick
AND ANOTHER THING
Outdoor dining in the city
Let the cafes keep the public outdoor dining spaces for free in exchange for opening up their private indoor toilet facilities to the public. Win-win.
Ralph Bohmer, St Kilda West
The war in Ukraine
A chorus of members from both sides of Australian politics is calling for further sanctions against Russia. They would do well to remember that the greatest result achieved by sanctions so far is a massive energy crisis in Western Europe.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris
Does anyone believe anything Vladimir Putin says?
Vera Lubczenko, Geelong West
The United Nations
No country should have veto rights at the United Nations.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick
Spare a thought
Those who might feel the pain of skyrocketing oyster prices, spare a thought for families who can’t afford a basic Christmas dinner (“Food sector warns of Christmas crisis”, The Age, 23/9).
Annie Wilson, Inverloch
Let Maroondah hospital be. When a much needed new hospital is built name that in honour of Queen Elizabeth II, a mutually respectful outcome.
Mary Cole, Richmond
Instead of changing the name of Maroondah Hospital (which would be another slap in the face to our First Nations people), we could call the Royal Children’s Hospital the QEII Hospital.
Geof Carne, Moonee Ponds
Interesting to see so many people on the Bayside beaches enjoying a public holiday “mourning” the death of the Queen.
Ian Maddison, Parkdale
A republic doesn’t automatically require a president, elected or otherwise. Let’s look at all options.
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale
I read with interest “A footy city transformed by the desire for a ‘Geechange’” (The Age, 23/9) and it reminded me of the time I had the misfortune to attend a St Kilda v Geelong game at the Cats home ground as a Saints supporter down from Moe. I learnt that it’s true, you can be lonely in a crowd.
David Mitchell, Moe
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