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THE LABOR PARTY
Remove the clutter, but do not abandon reform
In the lead-up to the last federal election, Bill Shorten made some bold policy announcements including the commitment to raise pay rates for childcare workers, free dental care and increased funding for cancer services. The childcare commitment in particular made me a little uneasy as, although well intentioned, it didn’t appear well thought through.
So I agree in part with Dennis Glover’s analysis (“Labor set on avoiding the old traps”, Comment, The Age, 7/8). As a first-time ALP volunteer on the phones in Chisholm I spoke to many people who didn’t know or care about these policies. In politics speak, they didn’t “resonate” with the electorate.
But I can’t agree with the abandonment of those policy elements that address the increasing inequality in our society, such as opposition to the grossly unfair stage three tax cuts, and the housing policy reforms, the need for which is again being demonstrated.
Labor needs to be wary of the traps set for them by the conservatives, but also show leadership by championing the policies the country needs. A less cluttered policy platform would aid that, but a barren one is an abrogation of the party’s responsibility to all Australians.
Tom Truman, Blackburn
Policy shift was a good move
Thanks to Dennis Glover for articulating why Labor should not lose support despite ditching reforms regarding negative gearing, franking credits refund, capital gains tax discount and tax cuts for high-income earners.
While those reforms are widely acknowledged as socially and economically justified, experience has shown that in an election atmosphere it has been too easy for conservative politicians to conflate them as “retirement tax” and “anti-aspirational”.
Glover makes a brilliant analogy between futile charges against Fascist machineguns in the Spanish Civil War and Labor providing an easy target for the Coalition scare campaign of 2019. Now that Labor is picking its fights better, there should be more focus on what the Coalition has done and will do.
Bill King, Camberwell
It takes more than wishful thinking
If Labor’s decision to abandon its opposition to negative gearing and tax concessions was electorally wise, it was foolish not to present positive policy replacements first.
Voters crave leadership more than slogans and empty promises. No amount of wishful thinking can bridge the policy gap.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale
A poor example of leadership
Anthony Albanese’s proposal of a $300 payment as an inducement for getting a COVID vaccination lacks maturity. We aren’t a nation of infants who need a “choccy” or an ice-cream to do something eminently sensible. Labor has never led explanations of how risk factors can occur in a range of illnesses, injuries or medical procedures in everyday lives to put the AstraZeneca vaccine in a context of being a measured risk.
The pattern of Labor just sniping from the sidelines at the Prime Minister’s shambles over the vaccine rollout has been a poor example of leadership. This vaccine bribe is just an irresponsible step.
Des Files, Brunswick
The members must decide the platform
Dennis Glover is completely off the beam. If we cannot formulate a manifesto from the grassroots up that outlines in detail what the ALP or any political party stands for and intends to do in winning government, parliamentary politics is doomed to fail.
It must be the membership of a party that democratically determines its platform, not a speech writer or wordsmith making all sorts of assumptions. Until the Labor Party fundamentally learns this lesson and stops arbitrarily mucking around with the policy, it will not, and deserves not to, be in government.
Henk van Leeuwen, Elwood
A deficit of incentives
Richard Marles (“Pacific’s people in peril”, The Age, 7/8) uses the words “climate change” seven times and details the destructive effects of rising sea levels on Pacific islands. His interest in the fate of our Pacific neighbours is highly commendable.
However, he is Deputy Leader of a party, the ALP, that is currently not prepared to spell out a 2030 emissions reduction target that would be strong enough to be of practical assistance in addressing the climate problems he identifies. These problems are, of course, not confined to the Pacific.
The ALP has allowed people like Joel Fitzgibbon to seriously weaken its credentials on climate change policy. This acquiescence is driven by short-term considerations and smacks of the same callous use of intergenerational theft that drives current Coalition climate policies.
When 18-to-30-year-olds vote at the next federal election, many of them will have in mind the hellish 2040-50 world they will be forced to live in without urgent action on global heating. They may be left with little incentive to vote for either the ALP or the Coalition.
Ian Bayly, Upwey
Simplify the mask laws
On my regular local walks I see many people wearing masks incorrectly or not at all. When asked why, people indicate real or pretend ignorance of the law, misinterpretation of the law, and often complete disregard of the law. The current exemptions and the on-again-off-again implementation leave too much room for confusion and deliberate avoidance.
I believe it’s time to simplify the law on mask-wearing: at all times, whether or not in lockdown, if you’re outside and it’s not your own garden, you must wear a mask. Full stop. No exception, other than genuine medical exemption.
It is possible to talk on the phone or with your walking partner while wearing a mask. I know it’s possible for cyclists and runners to wear masks, because I have seen any number of considerate and caring people doing just that.
This would remove all confusion and leave people with no loopholes to use to their advantage. Wearing masks is an inconvenience, not a hardship, and it saves lives.
Anne Milton, Mount Waverley
They don’t already know?
If the AFL really wants to get serious about eliminating racism then it needs to start terminating those who make racist comments for gross misconduct instead of giving them yet another opportunity to learn from their “mistake”.
Really, they don’t already realise racism is wrong?
Samantha Keir, Brighton East
Sheeting home the blame
Your correspondent suggested that Premier Daniel Andrews and his “equally befuddled public servants” are closing down a state for “a few cases” and that the Premier “uses the health experts to do his bidding” (“The Premier’s management plan has failed again”, Letters, 7/8).
I suggest the only thing befuddling the public health professionals, tasked with managing a once-in-100-year pandemic, is the difficulty in getting a population to accept they are at risk and need to behave in a certain way to ensure that they don’t experience the catastrophe that has befallen many other countries.
I’m sure those same professionals will be thrilled when we finally see a vaccine delivered to all the arms of those that need it, at which time we can open up and learn to live with COVID-19.
Julian Guy, Mount Eliza
The only incentive needed
The only incentive people should need to get a COVID vaccination is the knowledge that they are making themselves, their family and friends and the community a safer place.
Anti-vaxxers need only look to NSW and now Victoria and Queensland to see how quickly this Delta strain of COVID is spreading. And the really scary thing is that this strain could mutant again to a more deadlier version.
Vaccination will not stop people getting the virus but the impact is nowhere near as serious and it dramatically reduces the chance of death. Isn’t that incentive enough?
Alan Leitch, Austins Ferry, Tas.
It’s about protecting others
Your correspondents advocating for a vaccine passport do not understand that vaccination may reduce the severity of the disease, however, it does not stop us being capable of carrying and passing on COVID-19.
This occurred recently in a hospital in Sydney – a new COVID-19 cluster began when one fully vaccinated and two partially vaccinated members of the nursing staff tested positive.
Bruce Watson, Clifton Springs
A stark comparison
What a stark comparison: Julia Baird’s joyful ode to the Tokyo Olympics (“Inflamed by freudenfreude: why these Games are truly joyful”, online, The Age, 7/8) and Chip Le Grand and Eryk Bagshaw’s more nuanced piece about the cost of the games to Japan (“The price of gold”, Insight, 7/8).
I, too, enjoyed the spectacle of human endeavour and triumph, and took pride in Australia’s medal tally, but the sobering prediction of “an unprecedented and explosive spread of coronavirus now under way in [Tokyo]” and 10,000 cases a day anticipated by August 18 is a high price for Japan to pay for Baird’s balm for the mental health of Australians in lockdown.
Robert Lang, Toorak
The IOC was right
When the International Olympic Committee announced its intention to include things like skateboarding, surfing and sports climbing into the program of events I thought it had lost it.
Having now watched portions of all of those sports I have to admit that it was an astute call. Judging by the numbers of young people out on bikes and in the skateboard parks during the Olympics and in the middle of a lockdown, the IOC was right in saying it was trying to appeal to a different, younger demographic.
These young people are true athletes and deserve every plaudit and accolade we accord ″traditional″ Olympians.
Tony Duncan, Berwick
To my fellow Boomers
As a Baby Boomer, I am a member of one of the most privileged generations in history. Thanks to vaccination, we avoided many childhood illnesses that killed or disabled previous generations.
We have a high rate of home ownership. Many of us have investment properties, thanks to negative gearing. On retirement, we receive tax-free incomes and even get tax refunds for tax we haven’t paid, thanks to franking credit refunds. We are a priority for vaccination against COVID.
However, I am ashamed of many of my generation. So used to privilege, they will not accept an AstraZeneca vaccination that has always been recommended for them, wanting instead to have Pfizer, which is necessary for other important groups. I have heard their arguments, which would do anti-vaxxers proud, even though they say “we are not anti-vaxxers”.
We need to vaccinate children, young people, and those who for genuine medical reasons cannot have AstraZeneca. These groups need Pfizer.
My message to Boomers is to stop being precious and be vaccinated with AstraZeneca now, to help your children and grandchildren. Please, leave Pfizer for those who need it.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster
Just take the train
Your South Yarra correspondent (“But where do we park”, Letters, 7/8) complains that the lack of car parking spaces in the CBD make it too hard for him to drive in for a quick meal.
Can I point out that trains from South Yarra take only seven minutes to Flinders Street Station. And there’s free convenient tram travel anywhere within the CBD.
Peter Kay, Carlton North
Lock the state down
Surely it’s time that Gladys Berejiklian acknowledged the need for a statewide lockdown. Her unwillingness to do so in the face of relentlessly rising numbers of infection and deaths, and the effect on the whole country is disturbing.
She keeps stating that the solution is increased supplies of vaccine and calling for special treatment. In the meantime we all suffer increased lockdowns because of her inaction.
John Hannah, Castlemaine
Good luck to him
The article about Jock Zonfrillo (“Knives out”, Good Weekend, 7/8) doesn’t seem to reach any definitive conclusions regarding the veracity of all his claims and details of his life as he says it has transpired. This is despite being damned with faint praise by Marco Pierre White, a previous employer.
n balance though, it reveals he is a master at something at least, and that is as a gifted storyteller, which we all can respond to.
The multitude of conflicting accounts regarding the same events give one pause for thought. Of course, “never let the truth get in the way of a good story” seems to have been the motto of a diverse group of many others before him.
Bob Dylan is a prime example of one who uses reinvention, ambivalence and outright fantasy to supposedly reveal himself in some way.
Zonfrillo may be an artist in a way well known to us all, an entertaining bullshit artist. Good luck to him.
John Paine, Kew East
It’s not looking good
The signals from the north tell me that NSW is heading for a very long, and broadening, lockdown until vaccinations kick in and that Premier Gladys Berejiklian has lost heart to pursue the goal of zero cases in the community.
The inevitable result of this will be significantly increased cases and deaths and greater economic cost when compared to the elimination strategy.
Brewis Atkinson, Tyabb
Refusal beggars belief
Is there any equivalent in modern medicine where a highly efficacious and legal medical intervention, with rare but serious side-effects, is denied to fully informed and consenting adults, a-la the AstraZeneca vaccine currently?
The refusal of some medical practitioners to provide the AstraZeneca vaccine to willing and informed younger Australians beggars belief, particularly given the precarious situation all Australians find themselves in now with the Delta variant.
Andrew Melville, Clifton Hill
AND ANOTHER THING
Gladys Berejiklian says everyone should lock down at home, Dan Andrews says they must … two words make a world of difference.
Rob Evans, Glen Iris
Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:
Brad Hazzard, there will always be non-compliers to your efforts to curb COVID-19, but simply relying on the public’s so-called good sense is a great and deadly way of prolonging your problem.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick
At least we are not all bolting to the supermarket to stock up on toilet paper any more.
Craig Tucker, Newport
COVID-19 outbreaks rapidly get out of control for two reasons, population density, and the density of the population.
Scott Stewart, Lower Plenty
Vaccines and vaccination
If AstraZeneca had been presented without confusion and misinformation but with consistent scientific fact and perspective, most Australians would by now have received a double dose of this effective and locally produced vaccine. What a national (P)fizzer.
Jill Toulantas, Clifton Hill
Of course it’s a stupid idea to give $300 to everyone who gets vaccinated. How dare the opposition put forward a program that doesn’t target marginal seats?
Philip West, Jan Juc
Sports grounds and car parks are right up Scott Morrison’s street.
Clarence Mitchell, Brighton
Waste of resources testing Michael O’Brien, he will always come back negative. Bryan Fraser, St Kilda
When Scott Morrison says “Australians are the winners” with car parks (The Age, 6/8), does that make me a stateless loser?
Harry Zable, Campbells Creek
Thank you, Japan.
Belinda Burke, Hawthorn
Some politicians (such as Senator Alex Antic from South Australia) are confusing bias with criticism. We criticise in the hope of an improvement, it is not necessarily bias.
Joan Peverell, Malvern
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