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Credit: Illustration: Jim Pavlidis
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While I think Daniel Andrews has made the right decision to stop digging Victoria into a bigger Commonwealth Games hole, it does little to alter the perception that government projections are not worth the very expensive consultancy papers they are written on. The aphorism “What gets measured gets managed” should apply to all aspects of government spending. However, this would require scrutiny of the financials, which for some reason or other are never made public due to some spurious “commercial in confidence” or “privacy” flim-flam.
When governments spend taxpayer money, they should be required to provide the financials immediately showing how the cash is to be spent and to prove that the taxpayer is getting value for money.
Stephen Farrelly, Donvale
Beyond a broken promise
The defence by a number of your correspondents of Daniel Andrews’ decision to cancel the Commonwealth Games, on the basis that money can be better spent elsewhere or the Games are no longer relevant, misses the point. The government broke a billion-dollar contractual agreement with little, if any, consultation and worldwide implications. This goes beyond a broken promise. The premier needs to do better.
Mandy Morgan, Malvern
The Commonwealth Games fiasco reflects a bigger problem. Everyone wants more, but few are prepared to pay. All projects, large and small, seem to be plagued by cost overruns. From young couples building their first home to corporations, and governments providing major infrastructure, all face huge cost increases for reasons that include optimistic costings, labour shortages, rising interest rates, price gouging and an unstable geopolitical world.
While the Commonwealth Games Federation disputes the $6 billion-plus figure quoted by the premier, it seems to accept the cost had increased from $2.6 billion to close to $4 billion, which in itself is unacceptable. In the past, all would have expected the Victorian government to grin and bear it.
Andrews’ decision to not proceed was the correct decision, but as it was the premier who took on the Games in April last year, he must accept responsibility for a bad decision.
James Young, Mount Eliza
Daniel Andrews wants to leave a legacy. His legacy will be a lack of confidence and credibility in Melbourne as a major sporting city, one which has some of the finest facilities in the world. Let’s hope these facilities are used again and not ignored by the world’s sporting bodies.
Ross Barker, Lakes Entrance
The salutary lesson from the cancelled Games is surely that, like naive home borrowers who were coerced by commercial interests to get “in” on the home market on the presumption that low interest rates would persist, the government fell for this too.
Rob Park, Surrey Hills
Some provincial cities are going to do quite well out of the cancellation of the Commonwealth Games. They will get new sporting facilities and housing without the inconvenience of people to use them.
Sandra Torpey, Hawthorn
A convenient weapon
While much of the Australian media, with the notable exception of Greg Baum (“RIP for an event that was long past its prime”, 19/7) and opponents of the Andrews government are outraged at the cancellation of the Games, your letter writers seem overwhelmingly to approve of it. Even the British media don’t seem terribly worried. Could it be that the issue has been seized upon as a convenient stick with which to attack the government?
Mike Smith, Croydon
While the axe is out
Now that the Andrews government has axed the Commonwealth Games after its cost blew out to $7 billion, the federal government should also axe the stage 3 tax cuts for the wealthy. Doing so will save three times this figure in their first year and a whopping $313 billion over 10 years.
David Charles, Newtown
From August 1, my peak electricity rate will increase by 33 per cent, but my off-peak rate is increasing by 57 per cent. That’s one way to discourage off-peak usage.
Innes Hutchison, Highton
Share the solar
Free electricity will now be provided to eligible struggling families in WA (approximately 9000) between the hours of 9am and 3pm (“Free power during day for struggling WA households”, 10/7).
This will use the excess power from Perth’s rooftops and will save up to $500 a year per household. This on top of the $400 a year electricity bill relief payment. Sounds like a good idea to me, what about it Dan Andrews?
Michael Cleaver, Southbank
Niki Savva (“Dutton still lost in the heartland”, 20/7), poses the intriguing conundrum for Josh Frydenberg if he wishes to recontest the seat of Kooyong in 2025. He’ll have two “enemies” to defeat, Monique Ryan and Peter Dutton, assuming that Dutton remains as opposition leader.
Kate McCaig, Surrey Hills
Julie Bishop’s time in the Liberal leadership team was ended in favour of Scott Morrison in 2018. Now, looking like a million dollars, she is chancellor of the ANU and chair of “a global forum of business and political leaders” in London (“Bishop astounded at Andrews’ call”, 20/7). She continues to have a voice in Australian politics.
Looking like a disgraced former prime minister, Morrison is now a backbencher in a depleted opposition. His recent reported public political statements are mainly denials of wrongdoing. A better example of political karma would be hard to find.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills
Until the federal government does something about the excessive profits that companies are making, inflation will not change. It’s hard not to see how Australia will avoid going into a recession if the Reserve Bank continues to raise interest rates. The only thing that the Reserve Bank is doing is making sure that people with mortgages are going into debt that they will most probably never recover from. The government is not looking after the people of Australia.
Rita Reid, Port Melbourne
Front and centre
While it may be true that “Bosses need to trust the WFH way” (Comment, 20/7) the real test for working from home will come when the next recession starts to bite. Those employees ensconced in their tracky daks and Ugg boots might well find themselves permanently on the couch in front of the telly when they become casualties of redundancy. There’s no doubt that visibility in the office and being in front of the boss is the way to secure your position and, when the inevitable economic downturn arrives, those who aren’t in the office will be easy staff to shed. The boss won’t see your permanent absence as anything different and out you’ll go. Be warned.
Angus McLeod, Cremorne
Off the leash
It deeply saddened and upset me to read about the killing of the black swan in Reservoir (“Grief turns to anger as swan killed in dog attack”, 20/7). I also live in a bushland suburb with abundant wildlife. We too have several dog parks. Yet, I am often distressed to see dogs running around off-lead chasing birds, kangaroos and sometimes wallabies. But I’m also continually surprised at the attitude of some dog owners. They are indignant that their dogs should wander freely, oblivious to the terror and injury they inflict on our native wildlife. This behaviour is not only a threat to wildlife, but to the dogs and drivers as they run around near or across roads.
It amazes me that those who live in these beautiful places with an array of wondrous wildlife show such utter disrespect for nature and our precious native animals. As if our unique wildlife don’t have enough to contend with already with the climate crisis, extreme weather, habitat loss, roads and other human developments.
Steven Katsineris, Hurstbridge
You were warned
Over the years many studies have been undertaken on the impact of sea level rises on Port Phillip Bay – starting with a rudimentary one-metre inundation model in 1987. Since then more sophisticated modelling has refined and reinforced earlier findings. Yet, 36 years later, we’re now alarmed (“Alert on sea level threat to homes”, 20/7). I find that alarming.
Jenny Bone, Surrey Hills
Spirit of the Voice
Anthony Albanese says the Voice referendum is not about treaty or compensation (“PM concedes that Voice support has slipped”, 20/7). As these comments seem to be at odds with the spirit and substance of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which the PM has said he endorses 100 per cent, I hope he is able to provide a clarification. I also hope that prominent Yes proponents, Professor Megan Davis, Thomas Mayo, Greg Craven and Noel Pearson can advise voters whether they agree with and support the PM’s latest remarks.
Adrian Hassett, Vermont
Ears wide open
In his radio interview with Ben Fordham, PM Anthony Albanese stated “importantly, it’s about … listening to Indigenous Australians about matters that affect them” but also said his government would reject advice from the Voice to change the date of Australia Day, for example, if the body proposed it.
While no government can be expected to act on all the advice it receives from the Voice, Albanese sounds like more of what Linda Burney described as governments making “policies for First Nations people, not with First Nations people”. For Albanese the Voice appears to be more about recognition than listening, however, he also stated that Indigenous Australians have “said they don’t just want recognition, the symbolism of recognition, they want something that will make a practical difference to their lives”. Like changing the date of Australia Day perhaps?
Peter Martina, Warrnambool
The whole Heart
“Albanese argued that establishing the Voice was not about treaty or paying Indigenous Australians compensation for colonisation.” It is true that the referendum question is solely about the Voice. However, The Uluru Statement from the Heart has wider ambitions.
It claims that sovereignty was never ceded or extinguished and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown and seeks constitutional reforms to empower Aboriginal people to take their rightful place and to have power over their destiny. It calls for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution, a permanent lobby group to influence government decisions on matters that affect Aboriginal people. It also seeks a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history. In effect, it calls for Treaties to recognise the adverse effects of British colonialism and to provide reparations. It expects Australian history to be taught in our schools from an Indigenous perspective.
The referendum question, which focuses solely on The Voice, is inconsistent with the prime minister’s promise to implement The Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.
Peter Fenwick, East Melbourne
I wonder how life would be for us all today if Indigenous culture had taken over the European invaders. We might have learned how to care for our environment, how to share without ownership or aspirational materialism, and how to be fundamentally nourished by our beautiful land while belonging to a large and deeply connected community. Sounds OK to me.
Jill Toulantas, Clifton Hill
I would have been over the moon if “the biggest problem in classroom management was getting to know students’ names” (“What was your name”, Letters, 20/7). As a former secondary school teacher myself, my take on what was challenging about creating a harmonious environment conducive to learning (apart from providing engaging lesson content) was the combination of students with vast differences in abilities, life experiences, mental health and resources. Not a word was uttered about this in my teacher training, I had to learn the hard way. I now work as a counsellor and psychotherapist and my job requires me to have on-going supervision. I have often thought of how much that would have helped me as a teacher.
Trish Thompson, Northcote
The real number?
The claim in the ad in Wednesday’s Age that 200,000 Victorians including members of trade unions believe that the right to enjoy duck shooting and outdoor recreation was under threat, deserves to be fact checked. If the number of duck shooting licences issued in 2022 is a guide to support for duck shooting, including among unionists, only 23,000 were issued and only 11,500 used.
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood
After the Lizzo concert on Tuesday my friend and I walked to Flinders Street to catch taxis at the rank there. There were about eight taxis lined up but all refused to take us. One wanted to charge me $60 for what would be a $30 fare, so not using the meter, and my friend $40 for what would be a $15 or so fare. As far as I know, not using the meter is illegal. I recognise they need to make a living, but refusing to take a fare isn’t going to help in this case.
Amanda Bresnan, Newport
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding
Good old Daniel Andrews. He’s got us out of those expensive Games. Um, who committed us to those Games in the first place?
Arthur Roberts, Elwood
Where are the letters supporting the Commonwealth Games? Letters saying they are a great sporting event bringing together the world’s elite athletes. Hmm.
Michael Brinkman, Ventnor
But I already had Games tickets for the quoits in Colac.
Ian Macdonald, Traralgon
Spin the wheel. Commit to hosting the Commonwealth Games to benefit regional Victoria before the election. Win the election. Spin the wheel again. Cancel the Games.
Christine Baker, Rosanna
I don’t see why the opposition pollies are hyperventilating – it’s not like Andrews cancelled a $90 billion submarine contract with France.
Theo Richter, Bentleigh East
What a glorious opportunity for the Victorian opposition to show that it still exists and can hold a secretive and bungling government to account.
Thilo Troschke, Blackburn
For Andrews, sorry seems to be the hardest word.
Paul Miller, Albury
Trump being investigated by a grand jury (The Age, 19/3)? As a supporter of law and order he will no doubt welcome the chance to prove his innocence.
John Hughes, Mentone
Lower pay for working from home? Rather, businesses owe workers for the transfer of utility, cleaning and connectivity costs.
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale
If some sports clubs wouldn’t exist without poker machines, then they shouldn’t exist.
Huw Dann, Blackburn
Interesting that Australia ranks a distant equal second (with France) as UK’s closest ally. The US is way ahead – despite fighting a war to break away and Australia retaining the same monarch. Perhaps it’s (not) cricket?
Jim Picot, Altona
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