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Questioning Albanese’s suitability is entirely fair
Peter Hatcher’s article (“Can a bulldozer double-pike vault?”, Comment, 14/5) makes much of Scott Morrison’s attacks on Anthony Albanese’s capacity for the top job.
Morrison – and many others too – hold valid concerns that Albanese, good bloke as he is, might not be up to the full scope of being prime minister given his obviously weak grasp of economic and strategic cornerstones of responsible government.
Political change is healthy, but it only makes sense if the incoming leader and their ministers are demonstrably better than those being voted out. People rarely buy a car that is worse than the one they already have.
Albanese’s campaign has been peppered not with “gaffes” – as conveniently described by media – but with public declarations that he’s not across the detail, sometimes woefully. Time will tell if he is actually “up to the job”, but Morrison raising this very question is entirely right with just six days to go.
John Simpson, Melbourne
The PM appears to be in the midst of an identity crisis
Is it significant that Scott Morrison’s metaphors often involve vehicles? As treasurer in 2016 he said “we don’t intend to run the economy with a rear view mirror”, whatever that means. More recently he has repeated this “philosophy”, saying he always looks through “the front windshield”. We have seen numerous photo ops with a variety of air, land and sea vehicles. Now it appears he has actually been a bulldozer, soon to metamorphose into what? We don’t actually know.
The prime minister appears to be in the midst of an identity crisis: should he be strong like a “bulldozer” because it is what he thinks the job demands, or should he change gears, simply to save his political career.
The nation is not well-served by a man who has such a simplistic, binary approach to the job. This is a job that requires consistency, nuance and an instinct to unite and build connections, both with people and ideas.
Fiona Colin, Malvern East
This is what I want in a leader
A bulldozer with the possibility of gear changes? I don’t want a mechanical prime minster, I want them to be a person with an incorruptible inner moral compass, an indestructible commitment to democratic processes and structures, and an unshakeable commitment to a fair and just society and planet Earth.
This requires an intellectual capacity and imagination to create and enact a vision of a greatly improved society and planet regarding these measures, a team of MPs who can follow suit and the maturity to constructively work with both supporters and the usual backlash from those who want things to stay the same.
Jennifer Gerrand, Carlton North
It means what it says
The oft-repeated “independents can’t do anything” claim shows an ignorance of how politics has always worked in electorates where communities claim back control from the major parties and make the electorate marginal.
There is understandable analysis and media attention being given to the growing “teal” independent movement, but little as to why the incumbent independents (bar one) remain distinct from that movement. The answer lies in their wish to remain unencumbered by any allegiance except to the Commonwealth and their electorates.
In 2013, Cathy McGowan and the Voices for Indi movement succeeded in removing Sophie Mirabella and then saw her off for good in 2016. It may have been forgotten that Mirabella’s primary vote in 2004 was 63 per cent, making Indi among the safest conservative seats in the country. The electorate, however, lost faith in her for reasons not worth rehearsing, and she now sits on a $380,000-a-year government-appointed job in Canberra.
Three elections on, Helen Haines, the only independent to succeed an independent, is up against a Liberal candidate who recently acknowledged in a public forum that he enrolled to vote in Indi in January 2022. No prizes for guessing who knows the electorate.
Will Twycross, Mansfield
It makes economic sense
Your correspondent (“Our values, our vote”, 14/5) has arrived at the station: Voter responsibility.
Her directing her vote for the alleviation of inequality and the elimination of unfairness is not only a “conscience vote” but it is a vote for economic commonsense.
Directing funding to the poor, the homeless, the low-paid essential workers, the unemployed, both boosts the economy and lifts people out of the poverty trap. It is the opposite to tax cuts for the rich, who accumulate wealth at the expense of the poor.
I salute her.
Ken Rivett, Ferntree Gully
Limit campaign spending
Another building block is needed to complete effective campaign finance laws advocated by Jon Faine (“Money talks, and loudly”, Opinion, The Sunday Age, 15/5).
Stringent caps on campaign spending as used in most state and territory elections and other nations relieve the pressures on politicians and party officials to beg for donations to fund extraordinarily expensive political advertising.
Caps on spending to equal, moderate limits by all candidates make for greater fairness, reduce the risks of donors expecting favours in return and would strengthen Australian democracy.
Ken Coghill, Surrey Hills
Hold them to account
Social media has become a hunting ground for bullies of all persuasions. If a social media platform allows truly anonymous users, then it must be held accountable for any damages caused by the comments of “unknown’s” opinions that they make money from by passing them on. If the platforms can identify who the perpetrator is, obviously any legal matters can be taken up directly with the author.
Over the years of contributing to the “letters to the editor” I have been comfortable with your guidelines of having to provide identification details as a requirement for publication. This management lends authority to the level of discourse Age readers have come to enjoy over the years.
The rampant, destructive side of social media must be curtailed if rational, productive action about the world’s greatest challenges is to progress. People who generate nonsense promote confusion, successfully destroying coherent arguments, but then replace them with half-truths or worse.
This bottom-feeding activity has been the most dangerous product of social media.
Unscrupulous politicians have seized on this nonetheless powerful mechanism and refined it into a mainstream art form, in fact based whole election platforms on it. Accountability for social media publishers is long overdue.
Rob Ward, Lake Tyers Beach
A matter of priorities
Your correspondent (“Finding commonsense”, 14/5) praises the teal candidates for highlighting the existential risk of climate change, but thinks they shouldn’t be voted in, as it would cause the abandonment of the other major issues.
Now if I were to rank these things in terms of priorities, an existential risk should supersede a major issue. So commonsense states that we should vote the teals in and have a hung parliament.
And the letter writer is correct, commonsense is not that common.
Patrick Alilovic, Pascoe Vale South
China’s bad timing
China has picked a bad time to deploy a ship for “intelligence gathering” off the Australian coast. During the election period intelligence is in even shorter supply than usual.
However, if it wanted to gather lies, scaremongering, hypocrisy and double standards, our political leaders can provide them, in abundance.
Peter Martina, Warrnambool
My vote means this
Come Saturday when polls close, votes counted and a government formed, please do not misinterpret my vote and claim a mandate, because I will be voting for the least-bad option.
Could we please have a government and an opposition who engage in intelligent and respectful debate to bring about the changes necessary to educate our people, care for those who can’t care for themselves, manage our environment and have a decent standard of living for all.
Angela Milne, Beaumaris
The urge to splurge
I resent the invention of all manner of expensive projects every election time that were never previously thought pressing.
I want our representatives to wisely husband our finite resources like prudent housekeepers rather than splurging (or promising to splurge) like crazed drunken sailors, just to win votes.
Barry Lamb, Heidelberg West
COVID inaction fatal
It is unconscionable that our governments have allowed, if not facilitated, a situation where Australia has the highest per-capita caseload of all countries with a population greater than 1 million.
The federal and state governments’ fear of speaking about COVID during this election cycle has resulted in it largely falling from the news cycle and out of people’s awareness, at the same time as the experts are crying out for more preventative action to be taken.
Australia is now seeing an increasing average of 40 COVID deaths a day, twice the number that there was in March, and as the experts have said this is entirely due to increased, partially preventable, transmission. Still the governments will not intervene for fear of any intervention being unpopular.
What our governments may not realise, is that their inaction and refusal to acknowledge a worsening situation is being judged very harshly in many sectors and may well come back to bite them.
Claire Merry, Wantirna
I’m not voting for me
Your correspondent (“Make it OK, Boomers”, 11/5) asks the ageing demographic to consider those in the younger generations. I’m one of those Boomers, and I’ll be dead in 20 years, based on average life expectancy. So I will escape the almost universally predicted worst effects of human-induced climate change.
Lucky me. But I have children, aged in their early 30s. They will see much more of the disasters to come … they hopefully will live until 2080 or thereabouts, and they will be confronted by bushfires, floods, cyclones, famines and uncontrollable refugee waves driven by these disasters. What will their lives be like?
But there is more. I’m soon to become a grandfather, and I expect and fervently hope my grandson will live a happy life until early in the next century. What disasters will he be confronted by?
So I’m voting for the climate. Not for me, but for my children, my grandchildren and all the lives that are expected to be damaged by a problem that humans are causing, and that humans can fix.
Peter Moore, Clifton Hill
He helped make the mess
I was heartened your editorial calling out the attacks on “fake” independents and explaining their popularity is due to the many moderate small “l” Liberals who feel the Liberal Party no longer reflects their values (“A wake-up call for the major parties”, 14/5).
But I was surprised it also said Josh Frydenberg “a substantial person of talent” might lose his seat “amid a mess of his party’s making”.
It doesn’t matter how much talent you have, or which party you belong to, if you don’t represent the concerns of your constituents, you will be voted out.
By consistently failing to stand up for the core concerns of his fiscally conservative but socially progressive electorate, Frydenberg has created the conditions for someone else to better represent Kooyong.
I think it would be a pity if the voters of Kooyong stick with someone they know rather than seizing the opportunity to vote for Monique Ryan, who has demonstrated she has the smarts, tenacity and motivation to fight for better outcomes on issues they are concerned about such as climate and integrity.
Matilda Bowra, Fitzroy North
It’s a healthy sign
Australian citizens have nothing to fear from a so-called “hung parliament”. This expression does not appear in the constitution. It is used by a major party to give the impression of chaos and uncertainty.
In fact, a minority government formed by negotiation is the sign of a healthy democracy. It means the voters are being properly represented by their elected members, instead of by some arrogant, cynical backroom party operatives that lost touch long ago.
Matthew Hamilton, Kew
It sounds like one to me
The Age’s editorial says it does not endorse either Monique Ryan or Josh Frydenberg for the seat of Kooyong and yet says the Liberal Party would be diminished if it lost a substantial person of talent like Frydenberg from its ranks (“A wake-up call for the major parties”, 14/5).
Sounds like an endorsement tome.
Alan Inchley, Frankston
AND ANOTHER THING …
If Robert Menzies were alive today he would not vote teal (“And another thing”, 14/5), he would have formed a new “liberal” party, to which many teal candidates and voters would be attracted.
David Gorman, Parkville
Bulldozer? Hand lawnmower is more like it.
Belinda Burke, Hawthorn
You can’t change gears in an automatic.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton
You said it yourself, Scott Morrison, when Anthony Albanese sported a new look back in March: “Leopards don’t change their spots.”
Grace Brisbane-Webb, Skye
Scott Morrison insists we vote for him because, unlike Anthony Albanese, what you see is what you get, until after the election when he will change. I’m confused.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch
“Help us. Save us. We’re moderate Liberals.” No, that’s not our job.
Penny Smithers, Ashburton
Hoping the heir apparent loses his seat: is that Frydenschade?
Scott Poynting, Newtown, NSW
How ludicrous is it to have an official launch a week before the election when Scott Morrison has been campaigning for the best part of the past year.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn
Congratulations, Greg Baum, on a superb article (“The difference between a mistake and murder”, Sport, 14/5). No one in their right mind could term the murder of Jamal Khashoggi a mistake. It was brutal and heinous.
Roger Christiansz, Wheelers Hill
There is a reciprocity in any mother-child relationship. Right now, it is nature that is the fragile mother in critical need of a much more caring and less selfish attitude from us, the children.
Jim Spithill, Ashburton
Maybe Peter Dutton’s afraid the Chinese will claim we’re terra nullius.
John Laurie, Riddells Creek
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