Abbott is back with tired wrecking ball approach

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Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding

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The Voice: Tony Abbott is back with tired wrecking ball approach

The irony of Tony Abbott’s claim that the Voice “will leave Australia embittered and divided” should not be lost on anyone (“Abbott, Pearson divided over Voice”, 2/5). Over the past 20 years Abbott has done as much as anyone to create division in key areas including climate change, gender equity, a fairer tax system and the treatment of refugees.

Abbott claims the Voice would give 4 per cent of the population more of a say than anyone else, but it will simply provide an opportunity for the government to consider recommendations from Indigenous Australians on matters affecting them. This is a good idea considering how much that was previously done failed to improve their lot.

If, as Abbott suggests, Indigenous Australians want to comment on everything, then so be it. Governments receive commentary from a host of vested interests. After considering everyone’s point of view governments then make decisions. One more source of feedback won’t end the world.
James Young, Mount Eliza

The influential 4 per cent
In opposing the voice Tony Abbott says “it’s a mistake to give 4 per cent of the population more of a say”. There is no doubt the wealthiest 4 per cent of Australians have more of a say over government decisions. Abbott should object to that as well.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

From a point of privilege
Tony Abbott thinks it’s a mistake to give about 4 per cent of the population more of a say over how the government and parliament works. This is a typical comment from a privileged white man who hasn’t suffered the effects of colonisation, had his land taken, or suffered with deaths in custody, lack of services and lower lifespan.
Julie Ottobre, Sorrento

Grounds for discrimination
Nothing epitomises the woolly thinking of proponents of the Voice more than the recent comments by respected human rights advocate Frank Brennan. The professor believes we should all be ashamed that Sections 25 and 51.26, which give our governments the power to discriminate on the grounds of race, remain in the Constitution. But he supports the enshrinement of a new racially discriminatory provision, the Voice, in the Constitution itself.
Albert Riley, Mornington

Special access
I am more concerned about the inequitable power and influence of lobbyists, especially retired members of parliament, than about the Indigenous Voice. Not to forget the sectors of industry that also have unhampered access to both parliamentarians and the public service.
Denise Stevens, Healesville

Stick with the plan
Tony Abbott is at it again. He promised us a cheaper, faster, and shinier NBN but gifted us a lemon. Now he is doing his best to wreck the Voice. After 250 years it’s time to do the right thing.
Branko Drazenovic, Sandringham

Looking back
The 1967 referendum to recognise Indigenous people was passed overwhelmingly, but there were still 10 per cent of voters across Australia who disagreed. I always assumed these naysayers were racially motivated, but in the light of the debate about the Voice I wonder if they were possibly wise and cautious, like Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott.

Were they concerned about the details involved in the counting process or about hidden meanings in the wording of the referendum? Were they worried the measure would divide Australians or that the High Court would be flooded with related cases? They were so farsighted. There would be much less of a fuss all around if we had simply voted No in 1967.
Peter McCarthy, Mentone


Neighbours and friends
Surely it didn’t require top secret war-gaming exercises (“Top secret war-gaming intensifies China fears”, 2/5) for our government to find it would struggle to respond to Chinese military threats? It has been obvious since at least the Vietnam War that Australian armed forces are essentially tokenistic. Any of the obvious military threats to Australia – taking just North Korea as an example, could obliterate our navy, air force and most ground troops in weeks, if not days.

Our best defence is maintaining positive relationships with nations in our part of the world.
Daniel Cole, Essendon

Brazen warning
Your foreign affairs and national security correspondent tells us an unnamed source, familiar with the ADF’s secret war-gaming exercises review but not authorised to speak publicly, said “You’re f—ed”. I don’t need to hear that to appreciate the seriousness of the source’s message, even though the word was first published by The Age in full without coy hyphens more than 40 years ago and is frequently used by schoolchildren on trams.
Peter Price, Southbank

A failed system
Many correspondents extolling the virtues of our system for selecting a head of state say that it is working well and we should not meddle. And they point to Britain as a shining example of this wonderful system. They must be looking at a different nation from the one I see, which cannot see its future for illusory dreams of past glories.

Britain has gone through five prime ministers in the past decade, none of them effective or competent. Its electoral system routinely denies a say to 60 per cent of the voters in any constituency. It conducted a divisive Brexit plebiscite to placate extremists in the ruling party, whose result caused massive economic harm and denied the hopes and dreams of half the population.

Three of its four constituent nations are considering the merits of independence and freedom from English domination. The wonderful monarchy has not been able to slow this decline into irrelevance. I wish Charles III the best of luck. He is going to need it.
Ken Richards, Elwood

Out of the picture
The coronation is a show for the British people, not Australians (“King’s love for Australia is real”, 1/5). The overwhelming majority of the British public, a few pipsqueaks in Scotland and Wales aside, love the monarchy and its history, pomp and pageantry. No one in Britain will give a moment’s thought to what Australia thinks about it and if they do, they’ll probably wonder why a country as big and multicultural as ours has never had the gumption, drive or courage to cut the apron strings and become a republic.

Republicans here, of which I am one, should stop criticising the coronation and King Charles and work harder to ensure we become independent of Britain as soon as possible.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully

Cheaper option
Britain is the only nation in Europe to have a coronation service for its monarchs. The Netherlands has never physically crowned its monarch, although it does have a swearing-in ceremony in front of the parliament. This saves them millions of euros and no one seems to mind. Why does the UK bother?
Peter Williams, Alphington

Costly handover
Why does Gillon McLachlan have to hang around for six months (“Safe choice a game changer in a season of two popes”, 2/5) to hold the hand of his successor, the long-time AFL employee, Andrew Dillon? All while collecting what’s probably close to a million dollars for the role. The pockets of the AFL are seemingly bottomless. Until it comes to the building of a football stadium in Hobart.
Michael Gamble, Belmont

A monumental task
“Care system tore my family apart” (Comment, 2/5) is a tragic story of the terrible impact of intergenerational trauma on families and children. It is also a bleak account of the failure of our institutional intervention systems – legal and child protection — to ameliorate this trauma.
The reality is our statutory child protection system does not provide a treatment or support service for vulnerable families. The focus of child protection is to provide safety for the child, but not security. A child needs both.

The challenge for society is how to sustain households so that our parents can learn to trust and to give love, so that children are protected and nurtured.
Simon Gardiner, Camberwell

Traumatic experiences
The care system tore my mother and father’s families apart. My father’s mother was removed from her five young children and taken to the Kew mental asylum where she died of tuberculosis five years later. My mother was made a ward of the state after her mother was declared a drunkard and a loose woman. She was brought up by nuns in the Abbotsford convent. She never reunited with her mother. It must have been brutal and traumatic, but my parents made a good life for themselves.

What I find hard to take when I read Mikaila Frost’s story is there is no sense of her taking any responsibility for the tragedies that have unfolded around her: no remorse, no wishing she could have made better choices, no sense of having any agency. Sometimes I wonder if good old Catholic guilt may be a good thing.
Patrice McCarthy, Bendigo

Recognising wrongs
As a retired lawyer and secondary-school teacher, who also taught adolescent counselling and crisis intervention to youth work students at Victoria University and worked for 20 years as a government juvenile justice youth worker, I fully support an increase in the age of criminal responsibility. However, the apparent decision to exclude certain “graver” offences (“Teen crime spike poses a puzzle”, 2/5) makes absolutely no sense. In my extensive experience, a child is far more likely to recognise the wrongfulness (if not the legally defined “criminality”) of lesser offences than more serious ones, not the other way around.
Dennis Dodd, Wangaratta

Fellowship of op shops
I could not agree more with Jo Stubbings’ joy at volunteering at an op shop (Comment, 2/5). My Sunday shift is a most rewarding, enjoyable day. My manager is a delight, making me feel valued and customers are friendly and happy as they browse and find treasures.

We too have regulars we can chat to by name and indeed often the whole shop can share some banter. Our shop is bright, cheerful and welcoming; long gone are the days of musty, dim op shops. People often enter with a mission, for a party, a birthday, an office function, and so frequently find the grail; the op shop gods smile upon their followers. A customer will ask and lo and behold, look what has just been donated!

My only gripe is when people donate goods that are totally unsellable. Last Sunday a person swore at the manager when she said we could not accept the donations. We have no use for dirty or damaged clothes. “Don’t you go around and give them to the homeless?” said one customer. The useful yardstick is “Would you give the item to a friend?” If not, we have no use for it either.
Mary-Jane Boughen, Murrumbeena

More than meats the eye
I was shocked to read the report “Scientists back meat diet, call for end to vegetarian, vegan ‘zealotry’,” (1/5). So, who are these scientists? Described in the report as “dozens of experts”, the group was enlisted by magazine, Animal Frontiers, the journal of the American Society of Animal Science. The AMAS is, in fact, an organisation which, according to its own blurb, “supports the careers of scientists and animal producers in the US and internationally”. Maybe a conflict of interest here?

Claims, including that “removing meat and dairy from diets would harm human health” and that “women and children, the elderly and low income would be particularly negatively impacted”, are patently self-serving.
Judith Crotty, Dandenong North

Majestic, fragile world
What a contrast between, “Top secret war-gaming …” and “Tim Winton’s love letter to our ocean” (The Age, 2/5). The picture of Tim Winton and the beautiful, graceful and majestic stingray, offers us the opportunity to put into perspective the wonders of our oceans and an urgent reminder how fragile this wondrous underworld is, and the risk to it by climate change.

With this existential threat surely our priorities are out of kilter. Let us hear more about initiatives for a co-operative and peaceful world and saving our planet. This constant warmongering talk serves only to distract from what is truly needed. I can’t wait to watch Ningaloo Nyinggulu, knowing we will learn so much from it.
Judith Morrison, Nunawading

Routes will remain
Marion Terrill (Comment, 2/5) raises disturbing questions about the effects of truck emissions on western suburbs kids and the unwillingness of governments to confront the problem. But she is wrong to imply trucks will be off our suburban streets by 2025. The state government has made it clear that Maribyrnong streets such as Williamstown Road are permanent truck routes.
John Tully, Yarraville

Adversarial system
While police informant laws are being debated (“Deal struck on police informer laws”, 2/5), could someone please explain to me how justice is better served by a traditionally adversarial system than by a system which seeks first and foremost to arrive at the truth? I may be a layman, but cannot understand why a system persists that appears to allow misrepresentation of the truth, and allows outcomes to depend on the skill of silver-tongued debaters.
Joe Di Stefano, Geelong

Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding

And another thing

The coronation
I will swear on Saturday. But not allegiance.
Gretel Lamont, Aireys Inlet

When King Charles gets crowned I’ll be singing. But it’ll be the public chorus from the Angels’ hit, Am I Ever Gonna See your Face Again?
John Laurie, Riddells Creek

Re the coronation pledge, “May the King live forever!” Charles III or Ozymandias?
Ralph Tabor, Pakenham

For those unfamiliar with Christian doctrine, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s exhortation “May the King live forever” would indeed be confusing. But that is the promise of Christianity – for everyone, not just the King.
Samuel McMahon, Parkville

For Albo: a sensible COVID measure – mask up during the coronation oath-swearing cry-out. Keep the republicans and royalists guessing.
William Puls, Mentone

The Voice
Tony Abbott abhors divisiveness unless, it seems, he is the one who’s causing it.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton

Dividing our country on the basis of ancestry has been the very foundation of White Australia – thank you for your summary Mr Abbott.
Bryan Lewis, St Helena

Tony Abbott, a true monarchist, as fearful of giving the First Australians their Voice, as he is of installing an Australian as head of state.
Greg Pyers, Daylesford

Scott Morrison
If Scott Morrison accepts a position in a major British defence firm, he’ll have a wonderful selection of apparatus to shoot himself in the foot.
Greg Bardin, Altona North

Surprise, surprise another politician leaving parliament for a job at an organisation that has links with government.
Peter Roche, Carlton

I imagine Scott Morrison’s CV has glowing references from the ministers of home affairs, health, treasury, finance, and industry.
Paul Custance, Highett

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