This occupation dooms us to what we are seeing
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THE GAZA STRIP
This occupation dooms us to what we are seeing
The violent tragedy unfolding in Israel/Palestine is a vile stain on successive Israeli governments and the Palestinian Authority, compounded by Hamas, whose refusal to recognise the reality of Israel is an act of wilful, obsessive and destructive blindness.
Even in our local Jewish and Muslim communities, the pain, anger and fear we feel for our sisters and brothers in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, render us unable to empathise with the same emotions experienced by the other. This is not to equate the suffering on each side, simply to acknowledge it.
I am not a Muslim and can’t speak for that community or for those who support the Palestinian cause, but as someone within the local Jewish community who has watched the Israeli occupation fester over decades it is clear that this unending occupation can only ever have the consequences we have seen before, we see now, and will see again and again and again.
I yearn for the end of the occupation, the establishment of Palestine and a time when I can watch both Israel and Palestine settle in the region as neighbours. Where are the political leaders today prepared to say, in the words of Yitzhak Rabin in 1993: “Enough of blood and tears. Enough.”
Harold Zwier, Elsternwick
A disproportionate response
The right to self-defence requires a proportionate response to any security threat. The scores of children who have been killed in Gaza were not a threat.
These appalling deaths were no accidents, This is not the first such lawless disproportionality there. These victims, and the other 140 (and counting) Palestinians killed were not collateral; they were targets. Crimes against humanity are compounded by their denial.
Scott Poynting, Newtown, NSW
Hamas has utter disregard for its brethren
Your correspondent is spot on, Israel and Hamas are not “equal sides” (Letters, 15/5). Israel wants to protect its civilian population from terrorists who indiscriminately fire rockets at its cities and towns. Israel also invests heavily in technology to shoot down these rocket and mortar attacks to reduce civilian deaths and prevent carnage, while Hamas subjugates its citizens and invests in weaponry to maim and kill its neighbours. Hamas also stores its rockets and other arms in densely populated areas with complete and utter disregard for their fellow brethren. Indeed, these are two very contrasting and unequal sides.
Joel Feren, St Kilda East
Hamas continues to abandon democratic process
There have been no elections in Gaza since 2006, the year after Israel withdrew settlers from the Gaza Strip. Hamas has no democratic right to represent the Palestinian people, it is an illegal, undemocratic, terrorist regime.
Rather than holding elections Hamas continues to abandon democratic process and to ignore the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people. Until the people in Gaza are given the right to elect those who govern and represent them there is no prospect of either improved living conditions or peace.
Bill Anderson, Surrey Hills
Israel has done itself no favours
The bombing of the building housing both The Associated Press and al-Jazeera by the Israeli Defence Forces does the cause of Israel no favours.
They may assert that Hamas had some sort of residency in the building. Israel in all its defences has not acknowledged that the entire area of the Gaza strip which houses 1.8 million Palestinians is only 365 square kilometres. That is just a shade over half of the area of the greater Wollongong city (which has a population of about 220,000 people) and it is one of the most densely populated places on earth. Logic would assume that it would be impossible to separate the local civilian population and Hamas in such cramped conditions.
The other problem with bombing the offices of the two news outlets, is that it is surely evidence of suppression of the media attention in its operations.
Rob Park, Surrey Hills
Follow the Scots’ lead
Last week in Glasgow, the UK Home Office conducted a dawn raid to detain two Indian nationals who had both lived in the UK for a number of years. Both were working and both were accepted as part of the community.
Neighbours surrounded the police vehicles, word spread and the street was filled with protesters for eight hours forcing the police to release the two.
The First Minister (the Australian equivalent to a premier) of Scotland supported the protest and denounced the arrest attempt.
Meanwhile, in Australia, we have all sat idly by allowing both major political parties to lock people up for years when their only crime was catching a boat to claim protection in our country rather than catching a plane and indefinitely overstaying their visa.
We could learn a lot from the Scots regarding the real value of freedom.
Gary Sayer, Warrnambool
Why am I undervalued?
As a disability support worker I can empathise with aged care workers and their despair at the buckets of cash being poured all over the luxury-car-driving proprietors of aged care facilities.
An extra $10 a day for each of our loved and cherished is welcome, but where will it be spent? Will there be accountability or will there be trust in a broken system that has seen our beautiful grandmothers and grandfathers being shown no respect and not enough care because there are not enough workers and they are paid so little?
The average Australian hourly rate of pay is about $44. I am at the highest rate of pay in my field, 12 years of experience, and my rate of pay is $31 per hour. I know how valuable my work is, my clients and their families tell me every day.
Why am I undervalued by all the rest of you?
Nicholas Cailes, Williamstown
It’s hard to reconcile this
Public transport poses the greatest COVID-19 risk for Melburnians. Yet, there is no QR coding on our sometimes overcrowded trains, trams and buses. So, it’s very difficult to reconcile that owners’ corporations are required to have a COVID-safe plan. That’s, unless, they are hosting football crowds at Sunday lunch, which is not likely.
Char Weeks, Kew
We can’t all do this
The government’s intention to fine businesses that do not insist on patrons checking in via the official app, ignores the fact that not all patrons possess phones with Apple or Android operating systems.
My phone does everything I want but I cannot get the app to download. I used to be able to check into many businesses using their apps sourced from wherever, but no longer. My wife’s phone is basic and has no internet access at all.
A basic design criterion for any universal system is that it has to cater for the lowest common denominator of the hardware and software combinations that may have to access it. Particularly if it is mandatory and carries a financial penalty.
Michel Antoine, Ballarat North
The article by Brendan Crabb and Mike Toole (“Wise way out of the Fortress”, Comment, The Age, 17/5) should be compulsory reading for every single Australian.
This pandemic is far from over, and the vaccine is just one element in our arsenal, it is not the cure-all. There are so many unknowns, we are learning as we go and absolutely no one can predict how this virus will evolve while it is running rampant around the world.
We absolutely must be cautious in reopening our international borders and goodness me, how lucky we are to be in a position to do so.
Julie Perry, Highton
Posturing, not policy
Why is it that there are complaints about leaving a (budgeted) debt burden to future generations, but there is strong resistance to making the current generation contribute more through higher taxes, therefore reducing both the increase in debt levels and budget deficits?
Surely it comes back to political posturing rather than serious policy concerns.
Gary Heard, Jan Juc
Unclear on the reasons
I am unsure what the reason for Australia not bringing COVID-positive people home is? To protect others on the plane or to protect Australians already here?
Neither argument holds water. Planes are not super-spreading vehicles. And if Australia does not have the quarantine and hospital facilities to cope with the small percentage of people who will get sick that test positive after 17 months of this pandemic then the government has been sitting on its hands.
Building pandemic response capability is necessary for the current pandemic. But there seems to be a notion that once we get through this one we will be “home free”. But this is not the case.
There are more pandemics in the future and capacity developed now is not only relevant for COVID-19 but is an urgently required “future proofing” exercise.
Michael Langford, Ivanhoe
Spend the money …
Your story “$2b rescue package for oil refineries” (The Age, 17/5) tells us that “a multibillion-dollar rescue package for Australia’s two remaining oil refineries will attempt to secure the nation’s long-term domestic production of petrol and fast-track a switch to better quality fuel to allow the uptake of lower-emitting cars”.
Surely it would make more sense to encourage the uptake of no-emissions, no-petrol, electric cars. This would improve Australia’s balance of payments by considerably reducing the need to import oil and petrol, while allowing our almost infinite wind and solar resources to ensure our fuel security indefinitely.
Helen Moss, Croydon
… on things like this
For a government that espouses a market-led economy and minimal intervention it is fascinating to see yet more billions allocated to old technology and fossil fuels.
Fuel security and better performing fuels are important as a transition strategy rather than one that appears to continually support a privatised industry. Allocating this money to renewable technology, electric vehicles and big batteries would be a better way to ameliorate the risks associated with fossil fuels.
One can only dream of government leadership and innovation.
Denise Stevens, Healesville
Vanstone gets it right
Amanda Vanstone has hit the nail on the head (“Government cash can’t fix every social problem”, Comment, 17/5). Too much government money (our money) is doled out with no responsible oversight.
While some problems stem from incorrect structures – like in the aged care industry – much more money is wasted because of lack of supervision of how it is spent. Setting up a supervisory system does not work unless that system itself is constantly questioned.
It would be great if government ministers acted as Ms Vanstone says she did – getting down to where and how the money that is allotted is actually spent.
Doris LeRoy, Altona
Do the early birds miss out?
So, the Coalition is “quietly” talking about a scheme enabling high-carbon-emitting businesses to buy emission credits from farmers who promise to improve the carbon sequestration ability of their land by introducing new vegetation to low-use areas (“Coalition farm policy quietly grows alternative climate plan”, The Age, 17/5).
Apart from the dubious ability to verify the promises are carried out, this scheme raises two questions. First, given the Coalition has categorically ruled out any sort of punitive incentive to reduce carbon emissions, such as a carbon price, what will happen to businesses which prefer not to invest their money in such credits?
Second, many farmers saw and acted on the need to improve the carbon sequestration of their land long before even the more enlightened members of the Coalition government. Will they miss out on the bonanza?
Bill King, Camberwell
Don’t forget rural women
While there has been great enthusiasm for mental health reform following the release of final recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, limited attention has been given to the specific implementation needs of rural women.
Rural women experience higher rates of family violence and sexual assault than their metropolitan counterparts, necessitating access to local services. This is particularly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has increased women’s exposure to men’s violence.
Even when seeking care, women continue to experience sexual harassment and incidents of sexual assault as patients on our mental health inpatient wards. Ongoing and gender-responsive consultation throughout redesign phases is required.
Finally, barriers to access for perinatal mental health services in rural areas should be prioritised. Currently, no recommendations made by the royal commission offer specific implementation solutions for perinatal services in rural and regional Victoria.
Ultimately, delivery of genuine reform for rural women and their mental health requires a gender-responsive state budget and ongoing commitment and support from a gender-responsive government. Rural women must not be forgotten.
Skye Kinder, Rural Doctors Association of Victoria, Dr Tahnee Bridson, Shepparton
This required courage
Congratulations to the Victorian Treasurer for his budget initiatives to recoup a larger slice of increasing land values for the community.
To take on the real estate industry and its deep public relations pockets requires courage and conviction.
The changes will over time reduce reliance on productive business activities (through the payroll tax) to raise revenue and very reasonably look to the windfalls on land values to fund community needs.
The increase in land tax on non-owner-occupied property might even get a few more properties onto the market.
Those sectors concerned about ″supply″ should start with addressing land bankers, holding swaths of stock back from the market as they wait for prices to rise.
James Webster, Parkdale
AND ANOTHER THING
Department of Words
Are we living in an Orwellian society? Two breasts bad – one chest good.
Kevan Porter, Alphington
Josh Frydenberg, your budget’s $10-a-day increase could make a significant improvement to residents’ food quality. Please don’t just let it line the pockets of aged care providers.
Michelle Leeder, Trentham
If Josh Frydenberg’s budget is “Labor-lite” and Anthony Albanese’s reply was “Liberal-lite” (And another thing, 17/5) then, mercifully, we are headed towards consensus – hallelujah.
Roger Green, Ferntree Gully
I agree with Bill Burns’ policy suggestions for Labor (Letters, 17/5), however, I fear he gives the average voter far more credit than they deserve.
Peter McGill, Lancefield
The states should insist on a competitive tender process for awarding all contracts and refuse to pay for land costing more than an independent valuation of it (The Age, 17/5).
John Hughes, Mentone
Enjoying being a Melbourne Demons fan and member at the moment. If we manage to win next week and make it to 10-0, that’s the same number of wins as the entire 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons combined.
Huw Dann, Auckland, NZ
Sixteen hours is eight less than the 24 hours needed daily for nurses in aged care homes.
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood
As more and more revelations unfold around almost unbelievable parliamentary goings-on, I think many of us can relate to that old Stealers Wheel hit: “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”
John Paine, Kew East
We letter readers now will miss another passionate letter writer, Helen Scheller. Out there in the cosmos, she joins a formidable team of correspondents who have “gone before”. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
Andrew Moloney, Frankston
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