Opposition to Voice fails to hear chorus for change

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

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Blow to referendum
The Nationals’ decision to oppose the Voice is hugely disappointing and poorly informed (“Nats oppose Voice to parliament”, The Age, 29/11). Their argument is that the many gaps between the experiences of First Nations peoples and non-Aboriginal Australians can best be closed by putting more money into Indigenous programs. Much of this money goes to programs that achieve a wide range of benefits, a lot of it ends up in white pockets, but, more importantly, because many of the decisions around this money are made by whitefellas, it perpetuates dependency and powerlessness.

A truly representative Voice has the potential to produce attitudinal change. All Australians will get a better picture of Aboriginal realities and their sustainable way of being in the world, but, more importantly, Aboriginal people will gain a greater sense of control over their destiny.
Howard Tankey, Box Hill North

Nationals have no moral right
A united, representative Indigenous Voice to parliament and local action are not mutually exclusive. Ideally, each should inform the other to effectively address Indigenous issues and progress national reconciliation.

The Nationals’ justification for not supporting the proposal, that local action will be more effective, is premised on the false claim that they are mutually exclusive. This is a smokescreen, and the latest attempt by conservative forces in this country to suppress social progress.

After almost a decade in government and with little progress on addressing Indigenous issues, the Nationals have little to be proud of. They certainly have no political or moral authority to sabotage the current proposal and its potential to begin to right longstanding wrongs, to unite us and to take us forward.
Russell Polson, Elsternwick

Destroyed by pursuit of perfection
Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price’s stance on the Voice is reminiscent of the Greens opposing Kevin Rudd’s climate change policy – the idea that because a change will not address everything, it should be voted down. The Uluru statement is being labelled elitist despite it being achieved through a hard-fought consensus by First Nations representatives across the country.

Is this another case of the perfect being the enemy of the good? Or is this a door that, once opened, will be leading to the opening of other more significant doors? We must decide. I’m for opening the door.
Tony Newport, Hillwood, Tas

False claims hamper progress
There seem to be many incorrect assumptions about the Voice. It is about government taking advice on laws and policies that affect Indigenous people. It does not mean Indigenous Australians will “be governed under a separate entity than the rest of Australia”, as stated by Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, or just “create another layer of bureaucracy” (David Littleproud). Nor will it be a third chamber, as some opponents claim.

We need to endorse this initiative to right the historical wrongs and disadvantage of more than 200 years.
Jan Marshall, Brighton

Range of views to be expected
The Nationals’ insulting, ignorant and divisive response to the proposed Voice to parliament should be derided by most Australians who respect the enormous effort and goodwill behind the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Of course, with more than 200 language groups in Australia, it is hardly surprising that there are some divergent views. It is a poor reflection on Littleproud’s leadership that he chooses to highlight such views.

Many Indigenous programs flowing from a mostly non-Indigenous policy machine have been appallingly costly failures. A critical way to establish trust in policies and to increase their effectiveness is to strengthen Indigenous input. A constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice is a key initiative in achieving that goal.
Norman Huon, Port Melbourne

THE FORUM

How can Morrison remain?
Censure be damned. It’s a slap on the wrist compared to what’s needed. How can Scott Morrison be allowed to remain smirking on the backbench? It’s bad enough to think of him retiring on an inflated parliamentary pension. It’s not only an embarrassment if his Coalition mates oppose the censure, as David Crowe points out (“Dutton faces nightmare on former PM”, 29/11), it sets an unacceptable precedent.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Royal commission needed
Admittedly the epidemic presented us with unusual challenges, but what is emerging now about the strains it placed on our political system borders on alarming. Who could have anticipated a silent push for power by the prime minister? Who could have thought the governor-general would go along with it? Luck rather than good judgment at the top seems to have saved us from a constitutional crisis. Former High Court justice Virginia Bell’s report is a start but to identify the faults in our system a full royal commission is required.
Tony Haydon, Springvale

Lack of respect
For the opposition to dismiss as a “political stunt” the government’s historic motion to censure the former prime minister over his secret ministerial appointments shows how little respect they have for parliamentary procedures and our democratic institutions.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

After the event
Scott Morrison has responded to critics of him taking on the extra five ministries saying: “I note that the criticisms of my decisions have been made after the event and with the benefit of this perspective.” Considering that his decisions were a secret, I don’t think anyone, except maybe clairvoyants, could have censured him in advance.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

He’s suffered enough
I thought from the moment Scott Morrison entered politics that he was a budding megalomaniac and history has proven that the case. But I don’t think a censure motion in parliament against him is necessary. He suffered a 6.6 per cent swing against him by the voters in Cook, and his government was dismissed by the Australian voting public and thrown out of office. His secret ministries are no longer a secret and he has been humiliated by this foolish desire for power.

Anthony Albanese should pursue changing the rules so that secret ministries cannot happen again but he could gain a lot of brownie points for himself and his government if he were to address parliament and say that he believes that Scott Morrison has suffered enough.
John Cummings, Anglesea

Condemnation deserved
Russell Broadbent will not cross the floor to censure Scott Morrison over his covert ministries because “the ultimate censure has been delivered by the Australian people …” at the last election (“Dutton faces nightmare on former PM”, The Age, 29/11). But the whole point is that the Australian people did not know about the covert ministries and nor, generally, did his government colleagues at the time of the election.

So, while the election result is a rejection of the Morrison government, it does not reflect a condemnation of Morrison for misleading the parliament and contributing to a “corrosion of trust in government”, as Virginia Bell concluded.
Brendan O’Farrell, Brunswick

Delusions in power grab
(“Addicted to power: key ally slams Morrison”, 29/11). What was really going on here? The former prime minister seized five additional ministries in the evident belief he had exceptional abilities that enabled him to be six ministers at once. He seems to have seen the power of this heady position as being not just as executive, but divine. For a while there, our national parliament seems to have been led by a self-styled messiah.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

Calm customer
Thank you Canberra for giving us senator David Pocock. What a breath of fresh air. We need more of the calm, reflective, empathetic and considered type who can understand and reflect our values to move this country forward, and less of the mouthy, shouty, divisive and angry ones.
Rod Eldridge, Derrinallum

Higher wages a burden
Independent senator David Pocock didn’t “save” the industrial relations bill. He’s been conned by Labor and the unions who have been claiming that company profits are at record levels and every employer can pay higher wages. Well, some companies may be making profits but the bulk of employers are medium and small enterprises who have been gutted over the last 2 years with the economy tanking as a result of COVID and massive lockdowns, especially in Victoria.

Higher salaries can only be paid for if the economy is doing well, productivity increases and employers can get business by selling their products and receiving income. If the economy is slack you don’t get the business, which means you don’t get the income and you can’t pay higher wages. That is the reality that neither Employment Minister Tony Burke nor ACTU secretary Sally McManus seem to understand.
Coke Tomyn, Camberwell

Consider the variables
Philip Lowe’s apparent apologia for loose talk on the likely direction of interest rates may provide a convenient scapegoat for over-committed borrowers now facing a higher mortgage burden (“RBA boss apologises for interest rate remarks”, 29/11). However, it should not be downplayed that, when you walk into a bank and sign a long-term loan agreement, the expectation is that you have performed due diligence on your own ability to repay over the term of the loan. Interest rates are variable and a responsible borrower must consider all possibilities, especially given the consequences of default. Dr Lowe didn’t sign your loan contract.
Angus McLeod, Cremorne

Major problems
It is interesting to note that roughly one-third of voters in the recent Victorian election saw fit to cast their primary votes for minority parties or independents. There must be a message here for both major political parties. That being that they are “on the nose” for a very significant percentage of the electorate; that neither major political party resonates with them.

Both the Labor and the Liberal parties need to address this if we are to enjoy stable government in future.
Michael J. Gamble, Belmont

Welcome reversal
It is gratifying that the Liberal leadership contenders have walked back from Matthew Guy’s decision to inform Renee Heath that she isn’t welcome in the party room. It’s true she’s from a very conservative church and that revelation could have alienated middle of the road voters like me. However, Guy’s quickfire approach demonstrates why he was never a “leader”. She was given no chance to explain her position. She was simply dumped.
Ivan Glynn, Vermont

Contenders a problem
John Pesutto, Brad Battin, Ryan Smith, Richard Riordan: it will fall on the shoulders of one of these middle-aged white men with business, finance, and politics backgrounds to completely fail to understand why the modern Liberal Party is so out of touch with voters.
Halo Jones, Brunswick West

Hysterical history
Your correspondent (Letters, 29/11) says the attacks by the Murdoch press against Daniel Andrews were the worst in his lifetime. Sadly the sustained and hysterical attacks on the Whitlam government in the early 1970s has (in my opinion) never been bested. The attacks on progressive governments are always sustained, vile and rarely supported by evidence.
Ross Beamsley, Moe

Votes wasted
Once again, when counting votes at the election I have had to disallow ballots where the first preference was clear, but a mistake or omission had occurred due to the necessity to correctly enter all the other numbers under Victoria’s exhaustive preference system. If a single no.1 sufficed for a valid vote, with other numbers available to those who wished to exercise a preference, far fewer mistakes would be made. Counting would be simpler and quicker. In addition, like some independents, I do not wish to ascribe any value to some candidates.
Loch Wilson, Northcote

Blueprint for change
Congratulations to the organisers of last weekend’s Queenscliff Music Festival. The music program was terrific but the most impressive aspect for us was the effectiveness of their “war on waste”. Under an ingenious recycling system all food and drink was served on/in plates and cups that, after use, were placed in strategically located receptacles. These were collected at regular intervals, washed and returned to the food outlets for reuse.

Festival attendees were also encouraged to fill their own water bottles from large containers provided. The very noticeable effect was virtually no litter.
Michael Gonzales, Penny Jones, Hawthorn East

Hail to my heroes
Last week I collapsed in the park while walking my dogs. A lady I had just met, and a stranger with a toddler called for an ambulance and stayed with me until I was taken to Box Hill Hospital.

I received superb responses from strangers and immediate assistance from Ambulance Victoria who verified I was COVID-positive. Both an ambulance and a MICA (mobile intensive care ambulance) arrived and the driver of the MICA, David, caught my two border collies, took them to my car, and drove them to my home, before walking back to the park for his car. What extraordinary care and positive action. These paramedics are the heroes of our society. David, you, plus Peter and Kate, saved me on that day.
Jenny Mooney, Balwyn

And another thing

Indigenous Voice
How will we close the gap between the National Party and common dignity?
Dennis Richards, Cockatoo

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price purports to be arguing against division in the community but she is fostering profound divisiveness.
Colleen Keane, Montmorency

Leaders can unite and leaders can divide. Littleproud and Joyce, through their misrepresentation of the Voice to Parliament have unfortunately chosen the latter.
Lisa Gundish, Elsternwick

Does the National Party also reject the voice of business lobbyists?
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood

Politics
The Coalition claims a censure motion against Morrison is a political stunt. Maybe so, but secretly taking over five ministries is the mother of political stunts.
Patrick Alilovic, Pascoe Vale South

One-pilot cockpit? Sounds almost as dangerous as a one-politician cabinet.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton

Morrison’s favourite hymn: “We are one, but we are many …”
John Archer, Black Rock

Matthew Guy’s legacy will live on in Renee Heath, who he smuggled into the upper house with the promise that “she wouldn’t sit in the party room”.
Tim Durbridge, Brunswick

Sport
Greg Norman, Cam Smith, and now Nick Kyrgios: all bought by Saudi Arabia (“‘Bag’ trumps Davis Cup for Kyrgios”, 29/11). Makes me proud to be Australian.
Tony Andrews, Seacliff

If Maradona’s farcical 1986 World Cup goal is the “hand of god”, the claim from Portugal’s Ronaldo that he made contact with the goal against Uruguay must surely be the “hair of god”.
Nick Jensen, Canterbury

Finally
Thank you Besha Rodell for your review (“Fine Food, Friendly Faces”) in Good Food this week: knowledgeable, informative, and deliciously written. I felt as though I were there!
Dawn Evans, Geelong

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