Trying to undermine trust in our electoral system
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Trying to undermine trust in our electoral system
Peter Dutton’s response to the Electoral Commissioner’s explanation of the acceptability of ticks and crosses on the Voice referendum is outrageous (The Age, 24/8). The system has been in place for many years both at federal elections and for referendums. Why have claims of unfairness not been raised before? What is the “clear advantage” Dutton claims will be given to the Yes campaign? It is reported that a minuscule number of votes (0.86per cent) in the 1999 referendum were informal, and only a few of these related to people using either a tick or a cross.
Dutton, consequently, suggests that there is plenty of time left to legislate changes to rectify the situation. One might ask what situation? Parliament has far more crucial matters to address. By employing a classic Trumpian tactic, Dutton is effectively attempting to undermine confidence in the integrity of our electoral system which has stood Australian democracy in good stead for many years.
Jennifer Quigley, Balwyn
Dutton is resorting to Trumpian tactics
Peter Dutton argues that a cross on a ballot paper should count as No, if a tick means Yes. However, a cross is ambiguous because on many forms it indicates agreement or affirmation. Because it is ambiguous, it could mean Yes. The Australian Electoral Commission has good reasons to continue what it has been doing for 30 years. In stating that the AEC’s practice will give the Yes campaign a clear advantage, Dutton is using Trumpian tactics to discredit a Yes result. Will Dutton argue that a Yes outcome will have been stolen or fraudulent?
Denis Robertson, Windsor
Ensuring that all voters’ wishes are recognised
If the Voice referendum paper had spaces shown for a Yes or a No vote, then a word, a tick, a cross or a numeral in the appropriate space would show a voter’s intention.
Des Files, Brunswick
The need for unity to overcome division
The Voice is likely to do exactly what your correspondent (Letters, 25/8) calls for – provide a transparent and accountable process for those with first-hand experience of Indigenous disadvantage to develop solutions. Those articulate and forthright Indigenous leaders rightly identify the urgent need to close the gap.
A constitutional requirement for parliament to set up the process for advice on doing that is a positive step forward. If all those who desire closure of the gap look beyond politics and point scoring to the almost 250 First Nations people who proposed the Voice, and the more than 80per cent support for it in First Nations communities, unity can overcome division and progress can be made.
Sophie Delaney, Brunswick West
Opening our hearts to the less privileged
As an older Australian, I am saddened by the No campaign’s selfish and divisive attitude towards our Indigenous people’s right to have a Voice to parliament. The No Australians, many of whom are fortunate to have good employment, financial stability, comfortable housing and life choices, decry the basic right for others not as privileged as themselves to be heard. What has happened to our spirit of generosity and our mantra of giving a fair go to all? I despair.
Heather Roche, Soldiers Hill
Tackle the issues instead
I agree with your correspondent (Letters, 25/8) that “the referendum has brought out the worst” in terms of racist comments. However, I do not believe a Voice will alleviate the problem. The damage has already been done by the government calling the referendum, resulting in Australia becoming more divided over Indigenous issues.
A better option would have been for the government to forget about the Voice and instead go about solving the problems facing our Indigenous citizens.
Tony O’Brien, South Melbourne
Yeah, nah, I don’t know
There has been a lot of discussion about what constitutes a valid vote on the referendum paper. Ticks and crosses are apparently inconsistently valued. The proper answer is to write your response in English, if you please. However, the sample voting papers I have seen do not provide sufficient space to write “Yeah, yeah, yeah, nah”.
Julian Robertson, Mount Eliza
Putting the locals first
Canada is considering capping the number of foreign student visas to free up housing (The Age, 23/8). This concept makes so much sense. The enormous number of young students living in Australia occupy much of the scarce housing stock plus line the immense pockets of “business entities” – universities. Yes, I do not think this issue was foreseen initially.
However, now that we are aware thousands of locals are without an affordable roof over their heads, it is time to rethink our priorities. Cap overseas student numbers and free up a greater supply of housing for the people who call Australia home.
Veronica Wright, Mount Martha
Holistic care from GPs
In the discussion regarding shortages in the health workforce (The Age, 24/8), it is apparent that most people have forgotten what GPs actually do, including, dare I say it, federal Health Minister Mark Butler. A GP provides care of the whole person, and has done at least
10 years’ training.
A prescription for blood-pressure tablets is easy to write, but consideration of heart health, diabetes, smoking and weight must at least be thought about, if not discussed with a patient. A prescription for antibiotics for urinary infection is easy to write, but what if the woman has instead a sexually transmitted infection, a pregnancy or appendicitis?
This scenario will happen all day in relation to different conditions. A pharmacist or nurse is not trained for this role. Their skills are in other areas. It is doing patients a disservice to provide an allied health professional when they should be seeing a GP. It will lead to poorer health outcomes in the long term, and nasty mistakes in the short term.
Dr Julie Faragher, Soldiers Hill
Why is no one listening?
We need to have a royal commission into Australian universities regarding job security, pay, workloads, flexible working arrangements and limiting restructures. Staff and students have suffered enough.
Essentially, the problems come from the vice chancellors and boards, the ones ultimately responsible for good and fair management. Many of the former are on huge salaries and have plush offices, while the latter seemingly have little idea of what is going on “down below”. I have seen this stuff first-hand. Is anybody listening? It is a national disgrace.
Tony Gould, Elwood
Time to give back
Qantas has posted a $2.5billion profit (The Age, 24/8). Perhaps the company can now afford to pay interest on the money it refused, for three years, to refund us for our trip, which was cancelled when COVID-19 hit. Also, what about Qantas compensating the taxpayers for the government aid it received during the pandemic and which contributed to this “profit”?
Clelia McCutcheon, Elsternwick
No, Greg Tuck, it certainly isn’t just you. (Letters, 25/8). Some supermarket products have remained at the same price but they have been reduced in size or weight.
Marcia Roche, Mill Park
Devoted to Trump
Six out of eight Republican presidential hopefuls have pledged to support Donald Trump if he becomes their party’s nominee, even if he becomes a convicted felon in the criminal trials ahead (The Age, 25/8). These crimes are so serious and unprecedented that it makes a mockery of the Republicans’ claim to be “the party of law and order”.
Ross Chadderton, Mount Waverley
That ad, again and again
I was on the phone yesterday to a company and I hung up after more than an hour of waiting. I only waited that long because I was wearing a headset while working on my computer. During that time, I heard the same two ads ad nauseam. This is not an isolated incident and I can’t help feeling that this is not good for anyone mentally. Clearly, these organisations need to hire more staff.
John Cummings, Anglesea
The survival of life
“Doing zip” may be the only way society can go forward. Waleed Aly’s thoughtful piece on tax reform (Comment, 25/8) prompts questions about the need for restraint in growth and productivity overall to ensure a world in which humans can live and work sustainably. The pursuit of profit above all else is obviously not the way for survival of life as we know it.
Geri Colson, Mentone
Other ’knowledge gap’
Education Minister Natalie Hutchins says that initiatives such as the school tutoring program are useful to address knowledge gaps (The Age, 24/8). She says this is one of the ways the government is helping the students identified in NAPLAN tests as needing support. It is ironic then that the state government isn’t funding the tutoring in schools program after this year. That sounds like a “knowledge gap” right there.
Leigh Andressen, Heidelberg Heights
Come clean on subsidies
Re “Why we won’t quit coal – just yet” (The Age, 25/8): The Victorian government has signed secret deals with AGL and EnergyAustralia. The state government forgets that this is our money and taxpayers should know by how much we are subsidising these fossil-fuel dinosaurs.
Max Sargent, Thornbury
The new ‘contribution’
Waleed Aly is spot on – Australia has a massive tax problem. As part of the solution, how about we introduce an inheritance tax on estates above (say) $2 million. It would have to be at the Commonwealth level, so that the states did not compete for wealthy residents. The dutiable estates could exclude the family home, but should cover trusts and assets stashed in tax havens. To help sell it politically, it could be promoted as a “millionaire recovery contribution’ – definitely not to be referred to as a death tax.
John Hughes, Mentone
Thank you, Melissa Mason, (Comment, 23/8) for sharing your story and highlighting how modern anti-depressant medication has helped you better manage your challenges with anxiety and related issues. As a GP for 40 years, I found your article refreshing and affirming.
A most satisfying aspect of general practice is to initially diagnose, then successfully treat patients with anxiety/depression, often with the aid of modern anti-depressant medications. There is much negativity regarding such medication which results from ill-informed media sources.
This, in turn, prevents sufferers from receiving effective treatment. I hope your article will prompt more people with mental health challenges to discuss their issues with a GP and make an informed decision regarding treatment options.
Dr Chris Fildes, Lilydale
Back to the future
During Mark Twain’s speaking tour of Australia in 1895, his view of Australian history was: “It reads like the most beautiful lies.” It seems that 130 years on, not much has changed.
Mark Hulls, Sandringham
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding
There are more “coincidences” (invariably fatal) in Russian politics than in a Dickensian narrative.
John Skaro, Malvern
It certainly doesn’t pay to have Putin as an enemy.
Marie Nash, Balwyn
Prigozhin’s last words: “Tell Vlad it was only business, I always liked him, he knows that.“
Paul Johnson, Clifton Hill
It looks like Putin is using Stalin’s playbook.
Dirk van Florestein, Geelong West
Putin’s “good side” – a mirage.
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill
Putin is looking for a new chef. The last one retired due to illness. Applications invited.
David Lyall, Mount Eliza
I wonder if Prigozhin was feeling smug, drinking tea and looking out the window when his plane ″fell out of the sky″.
Pete Sands, Monbulk
I suggest the forensics team looks for Putin’s fingerprints on the plane wreckage.
George Djoneff, Mitcham
Another gremlin in the Kremlin.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East
Two wrongs may not make a right (24/8) but I suspect they make a far right.
Helen Moss, Croydon
Spend the $9.7 billion yearly on building public housing, not on explicit fossil fuel subsidies (25/8). A win-win for the economy.
Jenny Smithers, Ashburton
Re the Treasurer’s Press Club speech and answers: one must conclude we have a Tory opposition and a Tory government.
Ruben Buttigieg, Mount Martha
A tick should never be used for voting. It’s too easy to turn it into a cross.
Joan Peverell, Malvern
Imagine Qantas’ profit if it provided a reliable service at a more reasonable cost.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch
Recently there were four gambling ads in a popular one-hour program. The barely audible, three-second warnings were ineffective.
Betty Alexander, Caulfield
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