Listening to issues that matter to the voters

Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

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Listening to issues that matter to the voters

It is good to see a significant number of impressive candidates standing as independents in the federal election. Their focus is on the three main perceived failings of the government and, to a lesser extent, the policies of the opposition.

These are: effective action on climate change and associated matters, such as the electric vehicles policy; action on the poor treatment of women, particularly in the Parliament precinct but much more generally; and the establishment of a federal anti-corruption commission with teeth. I would suggest a fourth issue, that of the appalling treatment of asylum seekers, some of whom have been incarcerated for close to a decade. If Australia is ever to criticise other countries on their human rights record, we must put our own house in order first.
Tony Guttmann, St Kilda West

Independent MPs who are accountable to no one

Your correspondent (Letters, 14/12) says independents “will vote on the issues according to the wishes of the electorate” (Letter, 14/12). I am a constituent of Goldstein which has about 100,000 voters. To whom does the independent listen? The ones with the loudest voices?

It seems to me that those pushing for the voice of the independents are disillusioned Liberal voters who cannot bring themselves to vote for the ALP or the Greens, both of which have policies on the issues cited as of concern – climate change, an integrity commission and women’s concerns.

I would rather my vote count towards a party which can form a government of one persuasion or the other, than an independent who, in reality, is accountable to no one.
Margery Renwick, Brighton

Danger when MPs show contempt for the public

Tim Wilson (Opinion, 13/12) feigns scepticism, but it is no surprise that several independent candidates have a common complaint about the Liberals whom they hope to unseat: those MPs, including Wilson and Josh Frydenberg, uniformly fail in their primary responsibility to represent the wishes of their electorates, particularly in the area of climate change policy.

The recent YouGov poll conducted for the Australian Conservation Foundation found that 71per cent of voters do not believe new coal or gas power stations should be a priority for the federal government. However, our elected “representatives” ignore those views and waste public money on the polluting industries of yesteryear instead of investing wisely for a stable climate and safe future. It is true that citizens are tired of voting records that demonstrate slavish support for fossil fuel companies and contempt for the wishes of the people our MPs are supposed to represent.
Julia Croatto, Kew

We need to force the big parties to listen to us

Tim Wilson misses the point. Many voters are tired of a two-party system that includes the Coalition which is beholden to large corporations, and the ALP which is too scared to announce decent policies for fear it may lose voters. By electing an independent, I am expecting the major parties will be forced to listen to the wishes of local communities.
Robert Preston, McKinnon

Coalition seats are at risk from independents

I was interested in Tim Wilson’s observations about the crop of independents trying to enter federal parliament at the next election. His assertion that these candidates will take votes from either ALP or Greens candidates, and not Coalition candidates, must be challenged. He overlooks the obvious fact that all independents in the House of Representative bar one (Andrew Wilkie) hold seats that were previously Coalition seats. It was also former Coalition seat holders who supported the minority Gillard government. I suppose if you believe something hard enough it might come true, Tim Wilson.
Steve Griffin, West Coburg


Need for public scrutiny

Re “Coalition seats win big in $2.8 billion grants plan” (The Age, 15/12). Congratulations on achieving what Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, with all the resources of his department, claimed was not possible. His reticence is understandable given the brazen political favouritism in deciding which electorate benefits from taxpayers’ money. It is a form of bribery verging on corruption.

The fact that this practice is widespread and longstanding does not mitigate its pernicious undermining of democracy. It should no longer be tolerated, and the allocation of taxpayer-funded grants should be decided by an independent, non-politically aligned body based on prioritised community needs, with all details, including selection rationale, beneficiaries, funds etc, easily available for public scrutiny.
Leslie Chester, Brighton

ICAC’S first big job

Presumably the cattle in the Augean stables led happier, healthier, more productive lives after Hercules cleaned their quarters for the first time in 30 years. So when is our Hercules coming to Canberra to clean out the Parliamentary stables? Maybe by proxy through a federal anti-corruption commission? Dealing with all those barrels of pigs would be a truly heroic feat.
Elaine Hill, Warrnambool

Holding elites to account

Your commendable investigative piece on funding in coalition seats goes right to the heart of everything that is wrong with governments in Australia. The damning figures paint a disturbing picture of dirty deals at the highest levels. The story is also a solemn reminder of the fourth estate’s integral role in ensuring powerful elites are held to account.
Matt Dunn, Leongatha

Community comes last

“A broken grants system”? Rather it is large-scale corruption by the federal government using taxpayers’ money to buy votes and retain power. Integrity and best interests of the broader community do not get a look-in. It is outrageous and shameful.
Anne Sgro, Coburg North

The voters’ responsibility

It is sickening to read that Coalition-held seats receive more than three-and-a-half times the grant money as Labor seats. But what if those living in these unfairly privileged electorates said: “My vote cannot be bought. I choose to vote for the party that offers the greatest equality, integrity and honesty”?
David Mandara, Hepburn Springs

Why bother touching on?

Your article says “public transport use has fallen sharply in every major city, even in centres such as Perth where disruptions caused by COVID have been minimal” (The Age, 14/12). How were passengers counted in Melbourne? Please do not tell me it was by the number who touched on with Myki. For many who use trams and buses, it seems to be a free service.
Bev Touzel, Carlton North

Unseasonal greetings

A good friend of mine has lived for some years in comfortable and pleasant 1970s public rental housing in Port Melbourne, just opposite the expensive, private Beacon Cove estate. On Tuesday she and her fellow tenants received a letter, dated December 4, advising them that they “will be required to relocate” next year and their housing will be demolished.

Oh yes, someone knocked on her door from Homes Victoria the day before but, by the time she answered it, they had left – clearly not understanding how long it takes for someone with chronic health problems to get up and answer the door. So much for their understanding of vulnerability.

Oh yes, Homes Victoria will be offering housing somewhere else. That will make everything all right – not. Ironically, it does not understand the difference between housing and home. Shame on the ALP.
Tim Gilley, South Melbourne

Never ending sacrifices

I wholeheartedly agree with Joan Logan’s comment that nurses who want to upskill to ICU positions should be supported by commonwealth subsidies (Letters, 14/12). As well as the $15,000 course fee, they also give up a day’s pay every week to attend university. We are asking them to make even more sacrifices.
Gladys Grigg, Forest Hill

More details, please

A heartfelt plea to all news services – print, radio, television etc. When reporting on tornadoes in the US, could you please list the states which are affected. Not just “five states were impacted but Kentucky was the worst hit”. Many of us have family and friends in those states and it is always a heart-in-mouth scramble to contact them and find the relevant information.
Georgina Simmons, Mornington

Sick double standards

What a sick world we live in. Tornados rip through the US, destroying property and injuring and killing people, and the world cries and expresses its sorrow. Meanwhile, the superpowers keep making nuclear weapons to do the same or worse and no one gives a damn. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.
Stan Thomson, Sandringham

Raking in the fees

I can vouch for the validity of Stephen Duckett’s concerns – “Home care hit with $1billion admin blowout” (The Age, 13/12). The provider administrating my father’s level-4 home care package is charging a third of it in fees ($1130 per month out of approx $4000 per month).

This fee has doubled in the last 12 months and bears no resemblance to the fees indicated on the My Aged Care website for comparing providers. If the Grattan Institute is using data from that site, the real situation is much worse.

I and my family organise the staff, rosters and services needed to meet my father’s particular needs. The company appears to do absolutely nothing other than handle invoices once per month from our three service staff. In addition, the company refuses to provide an invoice for its “work”. The actual coal-face providers are paid appallingly, but the private “money managers” are raking it in. The system is broken.
Catherine McDonald, Sunshine

Celebrating our music

It was great to see such a comprehensive article by Martin Boulton covering the sad loss of seminal Melbourne musician John Nolan (Arts, 15/12). Through EG, Sticky Carpet, album reviews and the like, The Age used to be such a strong supporter of the Melbourne music scene, but recently this support has been lacking in a time that musicians and fans need it the most.

I can only hope this article is the beginning of a return to days of old when The Age was at the forefront of chronicling, reporting on and celebrating one of the world’s most vibrant live music scenes – Melbourne.
Ben Cornall, Mount Martha

Sincerely reaching out

Peter O’Brien asks: “Who else remembers when yes and move was said instead of absolutely and transition?” He forgot the new, touchy-feely and sickening expression used in place of “contacting” or “phoning’ – “reaching out to”.
Margaret Ady, Avondale Heights

Time to control drones

On Tuesday, my 74-year-old wife was riding her bicycle along the Yarra when, out of the blue, she was hit by a drone. Fortunately she is a skilled rider and managed to avoid a nasty spill. The clown operating the thing called out to her, asking if she was unhurt. My wife, being a gentle soul, called out that she was OK but suggested that the operator be more careful in future. As it turned out, she had a cut on her forearm, but only noticed it a few minutes later.

What are the laws specific to this situation? In this case, the drone was being operated in a high traffic area with many cyclists, rowers and pedestrians. Getting hit by one of these annoying things is not much fun, not to mention highly dangerous if one happens to be on a bicycle. If I had been there I would have grabbed the bloody thing and thrown it in the Yarra.
Ray Lewis, Carlton North

Labor’s muted voices

Sean Kelly (Opinion, 13/12) has gone right to the heart of Labor’s problem. If it has a compelling message it is not getting through. Kelly says Labor must make climate change the issue. Most voters understand that the planet is in danger. The Coalition seems committed to doing as little as is politically possible.

Labor knows what it should do but is too scared to say it. If it decides to seize the moment, it needs voices people will listen to. Anthony Albanese is surrounded by talent – Tania Plibersek, Chris Bowen, Jim Chalmers, Tony Burke, Penny Wong, Clare O’Neil. Bring them forward. I am not sure people are listening to Albanese.
Paul Ormonde, Northcote

A future investment

Our British ancestors caused tragic loss for the First Nations people – human lives and land. Hence, the First Nations people paid a barbaric price. If reconciliation costs as well, so be it. That said, if we consider the long-term vision, those who play the monetary card are ignoring that changing the name of the Moreland City Council (The Age, 15/12) can be viewed as future investment. Social cohesion drives economic wealth, the experts say. So really, such a prosaic financial argument against getting rid a name that echoes slavery falls flat.
Anna den Hartog, Coburg

Proof of all three jabs

The digital vaccination certificate only shows the last two vaccinations received. I had my booster on Monday, so my first vaccination no longer appears. An overseas customs officer might deduce from the gap between the vaccinations that one of them is a booster, but it is not the same as being able to view all three.
Anthony Redden, South Yarra

Blame Mr Howard

Your correspondent (Letters, 14/12) suggests the letter H is pronounced as an un-aspirated “aitch”. She forgets the John Howard effect: the growth of the aspirational class.
James McDougall, Fitzroy North


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


The Liberal Party, the party that just keeps giving to itself (15/12).
Dirk van Florestein, Geelong

Your analysis further exposes endemic corruption, not just trivial pork-barrelling. Outrageous.
Rosemary Kiss, Rippleside

How good is cheating?
John Bye, Elwood

Make sure you analyse grants under state and (prior) federal Labor governments. I think you’ll find Labor’s friends are way out in front.
Helen Leach, Bendigo

A broken grants system equals institutionalised corruption equals a banana republic.
Chris Young, Surrey Hills

Re the multi-billion dollar grant system. Rent a pollie?
Ralph Tabor, Pakenham

Why is Morrison promising tax cuts? Doesn’t he realise it will result in less money for the Coalition’s traditional pork barrelling?
Vivien Wertkin, St Kilda

Yippee. Gazillions to be spent on self-propelled artillery systems – just when my home-made catapult was on its way out.
Harvey Mitchell, Castlemaine

If only the ABC’s Total Control was a documentary rather than a work of fiction.
Maria Nield, Richmond

Mr Palmer and Mr Kelly, what are you actually proposing to do for the voters in Australia?
Iain Carmichael, Richmond


Congratulations to the VCE cohort that had it tougher than any other. Rest assured, not many employers hire people based on their ATAR.
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale

Will CityLink users be offered compensation for the offence caused by driving past the Moreland Road exit sign?
Don Relf, Mentone

Could the outgoing Taipan helicopters be adapted to fight bushfires, filling a gap in aerial fire-fighting capacity?
Clarence Mitchell, Brighton

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