What we can gain from First Nations Peoples

Credit:Illustration: Badiucao

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VOICE TO PARLIAMENT

What we can gain from First Nations Peoples

Congratulations to Waleed Aly – “Generosity deserves reciprocity” (Comment, 29/7). This should be compulsory reading for all who care about Australia taking its rightful place in the world. A nation that puts right the wrongs of the past can only then move forward.

When we read the Uluru Statement from the Heart, we realised it was not what we non-Indigenous people could do for the First Nations People but what they could do for us, with their deep, spiritual connection with their land.
Jim and Tui Beggs, North Balwyn

It’s time for us to face the truth about our past

Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price says the racism narrative was peddled by white do-gooders who promoted the racism agenda to divide us. Does she honestly believe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have not suffered hugely from racism?

I am a white, middle-aged woman living in one of the whitest suburbs in Melbourne, and even I know that this is not true. The need to start Australia’s journey to face the truth about our past, and offer some hope for “mob”, has never been more real. Bring on the referendum.
Margaret Steel, Eltham

The Voice must not be ’another useless exercise’

I find it easy to understand Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price’s unwillingness to support the Voice to Parliament. In the late 1970s I worked in East Arnhem Land for the Commonwealth Health Department. Together with other health professionals, we obtained federal funding to hold a seminar with Indigenous leaders and health workers about the issues facing the communities in Arnhem Land.

The weekend was very productive – but did we get any ongoing funding to implement a program? No. Also, from my observations from outback travel since I retired, the health problems in Indigenous communities are significantly worse.

All Indigenous communities deserve a voice, and we owe it to them, but if that is all it is, it will be another useless exercise and will only serve as a “feel good” measure for our politicians.
Martin Monk, Kyneton

Now is the time for healing and for coming together

Australia’s land and creatures have been ravaged over the past 200 or so years, after 66,000 years of care by our Indigenous populations. Our Indigenous populations have been ravaged by an egocentric, uncaring society, as so beautifully encapsulated in the songs of Archie Roach, Ruby Hunter and many others. Now is the time for healing, and coming together. Come on, Australia, we can do this
Hilary Vaughan, Williamstown

Another important change to the Constitution

Could the referendum asking Australians if they support a change to the Constitution to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to parliament include the option of a simple mention in the Preamble of the prior occupancy of the Indigenous people? If the Voice is voted down, this recognition would, surely, garner almost 100per cent acceptance.
Barry Lamb, Heidelberg West

Hanson shows her disrespect and her bigotry

Well, the new parliament got off to a great start when Pauline Hanson walked out of the Senate before anyone had taken their seats. Her latest show of disrespect should not surprise anyone. This act of leaving the chamber because of her rejection of the acknowledgement of Country, and the inclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags along with the Australian flag in both houses, was a disgraceful act of bigotry and racism.
Anne Kruger, Rye

We can rely on Hanson to tell it like it really is

Thank god for Senator Pauline Hanson. As usual, she is the voice of the silent majority.
Lorraine Marshall, Benalla

THE FORUM

No business of the MPs

The Nationals’ Michael McCormack is talking rubbish when he speaks of “pointy-shoed and faceless bureaucrats” – “Minister ‘proud’ of region cash carve-up” (The Age, 30/7).

Ministers (and parliamentarians) have the opportunity to determine the parameters and amount of grants for special projects. Those parameters should be publicly available and subject to scrutiny – ie, pass through parliament.

Once established, it is then the job of bureaucrats to advertise, inform and assess applications in line with the established criteria.

This is the point at which I disagree with McCormack. He and other MPs should play no further part in decision-making. Do they decide who receives money from Centrelink? Of course not. Why should they decide who receives money from, say, sports grants?
John Pinniger, Fairfield

Stand up to the bullies

Managers at the Shrine of Remembrance have cancelled plans to illuminate it in rainbow colours “in the interests of minimising harm”, following threats and abuse to staff by bullies (Sunday Age, 31/7).
Why is there no consequences for these threats? This decision for “no rainbow-lights” at the Shrine may further embolden them.
Rosie Elsass, Brighton

Ideological exploitation

Like others who attend the Anzac Day dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance, I go to commemorate members of Australia’s armed services, such as my father, who served and suffered during wartime. Their politics, religion, ethnicity and gender, along with their sexual inclinations and activities, were and are irrelevant. Let us hope that this attempt to ideologically exploit the Shrine will not be repeated.
Bill James, Frankston

Ongoing lack of planning

The International Council of Nurses is right that we should train our own nurses and not poach them from developing countries (The Age, 30/7). Our health workforce planning is a perennial failure. But why?

The Health Department has a section which includes health training and workforce reform. Does part of the failure lie there or does it lie in the logjam created by the surfeit of education and training decision makers, public and private, state and federal?

Or perhaps the explanation is simply that there are no votes in good workforce planning but there are always votes in promising to do something about the problem.
Carol Williams, Forest Hill

Barrack for Team Oz

Could the monarchists please explain why “our” royal family is cheering for Team England, Team Scotland and Team Wales in the Commonwealth Games and not Australia? If nothing else, when we become a republic, our head of state will cheer for us at international competitions.
Viviane King, Milawa

Our unfair advantage

I beg to differ with your correspondent that “Australia always shines brightly and punches well above its weight” at the Commonwealth Games (Letters, 29/7).

Considering the public monies spent on various academies, political and social stability and general support, I would suggest we should expect nothing less from the athletes when compared to those from, say, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, the Cook Islands and Sierra Leone. Lucky us.
Wendy Hinson, Wantirna

I hate to say it but …

After watching the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, I begrudgingly admit our premier may have been insightful in securing the 2026 event for Victoria.
Susie Holt, South Yarra

Such unnecessary deaths

It’s strange, and alarming, reasoning by Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly that recent high rates of coronavirus deaths among the elderly are largely the result of the effectiveness of earlier pandemic restrictions, which delayed and reduced anticipated fatalities in the first two years of the pandemic (The Age, 30/7).

As if it were inevitable that now they would die. It is only inevitable due to the current policy vacuum. Thousands are dying, in large part, due to lack of new responses.

We ditched earlier strategies overnight without developing new ones, avoid COVID-19 discussion and action “like the plague” in the face of elections, and make absolutely zero attempt to foster mask use where it is crucial, for example on public transport.

If we were to implement a more comprehensive policy and education on mask use, many of those deaths would still be “delayed”.
Peter Fraser, Clifton Hill

The onus is on us all to act

As a doctor with a mother who is hospitalised and severely ill, I am horrified that we are not taking cheap, simple and effective measures to slow the transmission of COVID-19.

My mother can only have visitors for one hour per day, with one to two people. She has been isolated from cherished grandchildren, friends and family for weeks. These brutal rules were introduced because our health system is on the brink of collapse. Healthcare workers and patients are suffering.

Meanwhile, the public walks around indoor spaces unmasked and cafes keep their windows shut because it is chilly. This insanity must stop. Our leadership does not care but our population must understand that it is time to forget their previous mask phobias.

Put on a high-quality mask, and ask businesses to open their doors and windows. Wear your jackets and beanies. It is so easy to protect the vulnerable, and it is just so selfish not to bother.
Dr Anna Englin, Gardenvale

Please, I’m not dead yet

These days when you phone someone and they are not available, why do those who take the message ask “what was your name”? I usually respond with “it still is …” which, of course, usually goes straight over their heads
Andrew Summons, Armadale

High cost of my ’loyalty’

Mandy Herbet is not alone in being fleeced for electric vehicle insurance (Letters, 28/7). When contesting with a large insurer an increase of 47per cent in two years with no claim impact, I was told this was based largely on recent accident parameters in my district. The most significant of these would surely have been a pandemic-induced collapse in traffic volume and, hence, the level of accidents.

Nevertheless, the consultant told me there was some “wiggle room” and we finally agreed on a substantially reduced premium. So the premium increase is an ambit claim: another loyalty penalty.
Stephen Higgs, She Oaks

End reliance on plastic

The agony of our destructive indulgence with plastic is highlighted in Anson Cameron’s article (Spectrum, 30/7). We need to own the destruction caused by plastic, and our leaders need to galvanise us into actions that reduce its use.
Joy Stapleton, Darraweit Guim

Four years and fixed terms

So, we are going to have a referendum. Can I add one item to the list, please? Fixed four-year terms for the federal government like most states and territories and many countries. Three-year, non-fixed terms are not in the national interest. It is hard enough to get governments to take the long-term view when formulating policy without a new election looming every three years or less.

Some politicians will disingenuously claim that any government putting forward such a referendum is trying to hold onto power for longer. Privately, most would concede the machinery of government would work much better if it did not have to come to a grinding halt every three years.
Robert Foster, Ellinbank

What was that street?

I am a volunteer with the L2P learner driver mentor program. My learner and I have just finished the required 20 hours of night driving. On freeways and on many other roads around Melbourne, the reflective road signs have been graffitied – you can read them during the day, but at night they are illegible. It is a dangerous and confusing situation, especially for learner drivers and P-platers.
Claire Rodier, Glen Waverley

Friendships, then trade

The economy faces difficult challenges and it is not going to be easy for Treasurer Jim Chalmers. How to control inflation of 6.1per cent? If the prices of goods and services increase and wages go up, the cost of living will rise too. Maybe the only solution is to develop good relations with other countries and export more Australian goods to them.
Mariano Coreno, Coburg

Pepping up our spirits

I must agree, as a humble and grateful audience member, that the State Theatre is magnificent and does not need a revamp. There are many more urgent things that need “fixing” and the limited resources should be utilised prudently.

But maybe because there is a gloomy outlook with so many problems that need to be fixed, splashing $1.7billion is like buying a nice lipstick in bad times.
Gracie Warner, Kooyong

Surely dumb and dumber

Thank you, Heather McNeill and Holly Thompson, for your article on the botched attempt to smuggle drugs into Australia (The Age, 30/7). I do not usually engage in schadenfreude, but your story elicited the best belly laugh I have had for months.
Brenda McKinty, Oakleigh East

Walk a mile in their shoes

Kate Halfpenny (Comment, 30/7) asks “if there’s a cure or survivors’ group” for her “hall-of-fame Karen” outbursts. It is simple. Have a care for the poor sods who are trying to manage their meagre jobs instead of always putting your own petty grievances first.
Patsy Sanaghan, North Geelong

Let’s agree to disagree

Is there anything our political parties agree on, apart from not agreeing?
Ron Mather, Melbourne

AND ANOTHER THING

Archie Roach

Vale Archie, an inspirational activist and wonderful musician. A person who suffered so much but managed to turn his life around. RIP.
Mary Fenelon, Doncaster East

What a loss to Australia and Australian music. He was one of a kind.
Peter Russo, West Brunswick

Archie Roach’s tormented life is a sombre reminder of why we have long needed an Indigenous Voice in parliament.
Diane Maddison, Parkdale

Politics

Re the Voice to Parliament. Waleed Aly (290/7) expressed it so well. I read his article twice, teared up, live in hope.
Eldert de Graaf, Wheelers Hill

Apparently Putin wants to be the star of his own show. He’s going to call it Dancing with the Tsars.
David O’Reilly, Park Orchards

Axe the stage 3 tax cuts. Raise the JobSeeker rate. Simple and fair.
Chris Morley, The Basin

You have to feel for Matthew Guy. With extreme right-wingers standing in November, a brave face will not help. Teal candidates will be his ruin.
Michael Brinkman, Ventnor

Citizens who believe Albanese is tip-toeing too tentatively to policy change promised at the recent election may be persuaded to back the Greens next time.
John Marks, Werribee

The highlight of question time was Angus Taylor’s display of care and compassion for ordinary Australians. Where was he for all those years?
John Stewart, Ararat

Furthermore

How can swimmers that are behind “make up ground”?
Peter Long, Mornington

At last, an uplifting story about gentle brumbies (30/7). Thank you, Leslie Scott.
Jan Kendall, Mount Martha

The Dockers were purple-striped shockers on Friday-night footy. Who designed these uniforms?
Glenda Johnston, Queenscliff

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