I may need to review my membership – againJuly 28, 2021
Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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THE LABOR PARTY
I may need to review my membership – again
Forty years ago as a fresh-faced enthusiast for progressive politics, I joined the Labor Party. A few boring branch meetings later and with the rise of neo-liberal meanness, it all lapsed into disappointment and sadness. So, with renewed optimism and faith that from this COVID-induced crisis a new world (or at least local) order could be shaped, I rejoined the party.
It was deeply heartening to hear the excitement and commitment of those at the induction session speaking of their hope for climate change action, a defence of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, assistance for stymied, young, home buyers and a genuine hand for the socially excluded. Principles were espoused – fairness, social justice, equity – like in the old days but recast for the present.
But now, with the jettisoning of health assistance for pensioners, endorsement of tax cuts for the uber wealthy and deafening silence on climate change, I have to wonder again what Labor stands for. It looks like that membership, and that of many others, may well have to be reviewed again.
Louise Johnson, Newport
This is a victory for property investors’ greed
Labor’s decision to drop its policies on negative gearing and capital gains tax reform must be profoundly dispiriting for prospective first-home buyers. How can they compete with the heartless and misleading (yet very effective) fearmongering of the real estate lobby? Thanks to the continuation of a tax system that subsidises and drives speculation in land values, it will now be even harder for working people to buy a home – yes, a home, not an investment. A sweet victory for greed. How many houses does one need?
James Webster, Parkdale
The ALP is preparing to fight a modern war
History is littered with examples of countries with old military equipment and strategies trying to fight a modern war. It invariably ends in tragedy. Labor has finally caught on. Though outrageous to many, the reality is that Anthony Albanese and Labor are regrouping to fight a modern election campaign after previous surprise losses. Whether Albanese is hailed as John Monash or Douglas Haig remains to be seen.
Peter Thomas, Pascoe Vale
Party must show backbone or remain in opposition
Once again, Labor has rolled over, with voters being offered no real alternative policies. As well as its half-hearted position on tackling climate change and sitting on the fence about our horrific treatment of asylum seekers, it has decided that winding back negative gearing and opposing tax cuts for higher income earners is all too hard.
Instead of progressive policies, with well-thought-out and detailed plans, Labor is subjecting us to mealy-mouthed platitudes such as “providing certainty and clarity to Australian families” and “our focus is on making sure Australia emerges from this crisis stronger and more resilient”. Unless, it can show some genuine backbone, its fate may be that of the “Liberal-lite Party”, forever destined to remain in opposition.
Rita Thorpe, Coburg
The key policies if Labor is to gain government
The two policies that Labor needs to embrace to ensure success at the next election: implement an independent commission against corruption and binding climate change actions (both of which the Liberals say they will do but do not). The economic difference between the two parties are now minuscule.
Warren Jeffs, Olinda
A coalition with the Greens to win the election
With Labor walking away from its progressive, equitable, left-leaning tax reform policies, it surely has defeated its opportunity to win the next election in its own right. The only prospect to give the Morrison government the flick, and for Australia’s future, is for a negotiated Labor-Greens coalition. No doubt in such a centre-left coalition the negative gearing and capital policy measures will be restored as a pre-condition, together with a full basket of tax reform measures.
Henk van Leeuwen, Elwood
Necessary policy changes
Nic Beredimas says Gough Whitlam would be “spinning in his grave” as a result of the changes to ALP policy (Letters, 28/7). Whitlam would not have achieved anything had he not won government, and he did this by dumping a host of policies dear to the heart of the left but unacceptable to a majority of the electorate. The policies that have been dropped now were rejected by the voters and that is what matters. As Whitlam said, it is no good being pure if you are impotent.
Peter Shaw, Dromana
The forgotten people
Just when it appeared that Labor was moving away from the right back to the centre, it decides to feather its own nest again and pass tax cuts for the rich. Who are some of the biggest beneficiaries? Politicians, of course. In addition, Labor has scrapped its planned changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax, which will result in more largesse for the rich like themselves. It is clear there is no federal political party that is interested in ordinary people. What about the boy living with his single mother in a council house? He hasn’t a hope.
Breda Hertaeg, Beaumaris
The need for vaccination
Qantas Group employees have been sent a survey asking for their opinions on mandatory vaccination, with the airline pushing for all aviation workers to be vaccinated as requirement of their employment. Good to see Qantas looking at this.
It has been a constant source of amazement to me that flight crew are allowed to fly around the country unvaccinated, and are apparently not even tested for COVID-19 every shift. Surely airlines (and other essential businesses such as health, trucking, trains, buses, shipping) have a responsibility to manage the public health risks along with the federal government.
Annabel Pollard, Fitzroy North
Encouraging the jab
Along with the 14 or so per cent of Australians, I am fully vaccinated. If the “vaccination confirmation” that we receive from the Australian government began to count for something, more people would come forward for their jabs.
In the UK, for example, the vaccinated are able to move more freely provided they produce a vaccination certificate. The Wimbledon championships drew such a crowd. Also, Britain is now allowing entry without quarantine to fully vaccinated EU and US tourists. Perhaps for Australians, incentives such as only allowing those with certificates to go to the football and other popular events might make a difference to the jab rate.
Christine Vickers, Lockwood
Surely this is inconsistent
Generally speaking Victorians are a compliant group who accept the dictates of government without demur – as long as they pass the pub test. But preventing home visits while allowing people to meet in restaurants seems illogical and lacking in common sense. Why is one more vulnerable than the other?
Jim Dickson, Mount Eliza
Duty to protect others
Re “Vaccinated people should not have to be in lockdown” (Letters, 27/7). Fully vaccinated people can still infect others, particularly those who have not had the opportunity to be vaccinated.
My husband and I will be fully vaccinated shortly, but a 38-year-old daughter lives with us. She and her siblings and cousins have not been vaccinated. Their children are also not vaccinated. My husband and I will not be out and about until the younger cohort in our family and the general population are fully vaccinated.
The fully vaccinated have an obligation and responsibility to follow all the health advice to help the rest of the population.
Levina Snow, Chirnside Park
A lack of outrage
I am perplexed by the lack of media interest in the fact that MP George Christensen attended an anti-lockdown rally in Mackay, Queensland, last week. No retribution from the Prime Minister, the Coalition or even Labor. Strangely the King’s School in Sydney saw fit to suspend one of its teachers for the same indiscretion. Maybe the numbers are tighter for the government.
Mike Thorbecke, Castlemaine
Prioritise these groups
Thousands of truckies are crossing Victoria’s border each day without a permit and shunning testing requirements designed to guard against the NSW outbreak (The Age, 28/7). Well, here is a suggestion: Why not prioritise this group and vaccinate them? Surely this would assist in reducing the risk of another widespread lockdown.
Sue Goff, Northcote
An added protection
Joe Biden would probably let the “Trump wall” go pretty cheaply. Dan Andrews could buy it and erect it along the Murray River.
Ross Gillett, Daylesford
A moment worth reliving
There was one notable omission from Greg Baum’s list of memorable Australian gold medal performances (Sport, 27/7), and that was Matthew Mitcham’s performance in the 10-metres diving final at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His final dive to win the gold medal remains the highest scoring of any Olympic dive. The fact that he was largely unknown, the difficulties he had faced in his preparation, and the tension of that moment, ranks him among the all-time great Australian Olympians. Watching the footage now of his and the crowd’s reaction still brings goose bumps.
William Birch, Windsor
The more logical order
The recent kerfuffle at the start of the men’s triathlon at the Tokyo Olympics reminds me that the three legs are in the wrong order. It should be cycling, running and swimming for three good reasons: they are in alphabetical order, go from fastest to slowest event, and after all that cycling and running, there is a refreshing ocean swim to cool off. It would also avoid starting with a swim leg which always seems to be a “free for all”.
Glenn Hilling, Watsonia North
Let’s update our flag
Margery Renwick (Letters, 27/7), asks: “When, for goodness sake, are we going to get a new flag, one that more realistically represents who we are?” I agree. My suggestion is keep the current flag, have a green background with yellow stars, remove the union jack and put the Commonwealth star in its place. Increase its size.
Peter Tibbles, Elsternwick
Colours aren’t a problem
Margery Renwick says “how ridiculous that they (our Olympic swimmers) are very prominent in the green and gold, but then appear in front of a red, white and blue flag”. There are about 28 nations with their flag colours of red, white and blue. Some have different colours for their sports team. Orange for The Netherlands and black and silver for New Zealand come to mind. It is not a problem at all. It is distinctive.
Alan Rainer, North Carlton
Surely a flag for our times
Alas, our flag accurately characterises the backward-looking, conservative and timid society that we have become: a society that unthinkingly continues to bow its knee to a monarchy from the other side of the globe, and resists rather than embraces the opportunities of a changing world.
Nick Jans, Princes Hill
What about the victims?
Re “No jail for man who sexually assaulted four women in public places” (The Age, 27/7). Instead he was put on a two-year community correction order with conviction. He must complete 250 hours of unpaid work and undergo a program to reduce the risk of reoffending. This sends a heartbreaking message to women and girls who hope for any sort of justice after experiencing sexual assault. Do not bother reporting it and putting yourself through the humiliation of legal procedures. You simply do not matter.
Marian Weaving, Research
Futility and cost of war
Peter Hartcher presents a sobering account of Australia’s involvement in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq – “A twist in the US alliance tale” (Comment, 27/7). Thousands of soldiers and civilians have died. Iraq has been devastated and destabilised, and in Afghanistan the Taliban has gained ground. Our involvement was for what? There seemed to be no end plan and the result has been death, destruction, destabilisation, trauma and huge numbers of refugees.
The Pentagon estimates the cost to the American taxpayer as more than $US2trillion. What is the cost of Australia’s involvement? Imagine how those funds could have been spent to alleviate poverty and provide healthcare, housing and education. What if the money had been put into foreign aid and peacekeeping?
Now Australia is being edged into aggression towards China and towards a conflict that would devastate the entire region and that no one could win. Hartcher is right. We must not “blindly follow America’s strategy”. A good first step, apart from toning down the rhetoric, would be to ensure that any future decisions to go to war be taken out of the hands of one person and be debated and decided in Parliament.
Anne Sgro, Coburg North
The environment first
I am surprised your correspondents – “Absurd power plan” and “Power imbalance” (Letters, 28/7) – do not see the domestic production of solar power as its own reward. Doing the right thing does not require an economic payback.
Michael Angwin, Surrey Hills
Please explain the rise
Forget the rise in electricity prices. The real villains are the petrol companies and their mystical “discount cycle”. No other vital commodity could ever justify or contemplate a 30per cent price rise overnight, particularly when oil prices are relatively stable.
Roger Holdway, Sorrento
Respect for our elders
We people in our sixties, seventies and eighties are often called oldies, seniors, elderly and even geriatrics. Our First Nations people use the most appropriate and respectful word – elders.
Bill Clark, Melbourne
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
With its dumping of many socially progressive policies, one can only wonder what the ALP stands for.
David Eames-Mayer, Balwyn
Has Labor become Liberal-lite? Where is the choice and differentiation?
Serge Bobbera, Curlewis
Labor is guaranteed to be elected to government by forming a coalition with the Liberals and Nationals.
Owen Rye, Boolarra South
What’s the biggest difference between Labor and the Coalition? The name.
Max Nankervis, Middle Park
Berejiklian, after being pumped up by Morrison, is now chucked under the bus. When does he ever accept responsibility?
Bob Whiteside, Warrandyte
Why not insist that truckies entering Victoria have been vaccinated?
Keith Graham, Ringwood
Gladys: “I did it my way”.
Meg McPherson, Brighton
Maybe they weren’t protesting. Maybe they were on their way to a MENSA meeting.
Christian Barrington, St Kilda
Hey, Gladys, is the extra four weeks of lockdown compulsory or optional like the last ones?
Wayne Tonissen, Kangaroo Ground
I had a terrible nightmare: Gladys was Premier of Victoria. Please, no.
John Hennessy, Montmorency
Pride comes before a fall, Gladys.
Margaret Sullivan, Caulfield North
Has our federal Health Minister gone on holidays?
Murray Stapleton, Darraweit Guim
As we emerge slowly from lockdown, let’s not forget those Australians who are unwell and fighting COVID-19.
Louise Edwards, Sorrento
An Olympic performance of the highest order – super effort, Ariarne.
Mark Herrmann, Bentleigh East
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