We want leaders to set clear moral standards

Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

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PARLIAMENT

We want leaders to set clear moral standards

Scott Morrison, you would do well to read Joe Biden’s inauguration speech in which he said what a privilege it was to work for government, including that “people don’t work for us, we work for the people”. And very soon after taking office, he stated that anyone in his administration who was caught treating a co-worker without respect and decency would be fired on the spot. Biden was not mouthing platitudes, he was setting clear moral standards. Can you do the same?
Dianne Lennon, Bayswater North

Our right to have the best possible people in charge

The now almost daily revelations about abhorrent behaviour by parliamentarians and staffers must surely make us reflect on how preselection is conducted. Are people of integrity, intelligence, compassion and vision being selected or are people with connections, the “right school” and “their time is due” being chosen? The country deserves much better.
Tim Douglas, Blairgowrie

The importance of respectful relations at workplaces

A good start – requiring no legislation – would be for the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate to require respectful dialogue in Parliament House, especially in the legislative chambers. For members and senators to debate respectfully, without name calling and interjections, and to listen to what is being said. This would result in a more productive workplace. It is not up to women to bring cultural change to Parliament. It should start now.
Lecki Ord, Melbourne (former lord mayor)

The more things change, the more they stay the same

I spent 13 years in the Australian Defence Force in the 1980s and 90s. Back then it was men in overalls masturbating on women’s desks. Today it is men in suits masturbating on women’s desks. The only thing that has changed is the uniform.
Susan Ferguson-Brown, Black Rock

Why is alcohol freely tolerated in Parliament House?

The recent litany of misconduct allegations against women is not new. Many are disgusted by other alleged acts. The Commonwealth parliamentary precinct is a worksite and, as such, work, health and safety should prevail. It is now common for workers who operate machinery, or are police, ambulance, military and transport personnel, to have a zero blood alcohol concentration before entering a workplace. So why don’t Parliament House’s security staff have the right, and obligation, to enforce an under 0.05 BAC tolerance level for entry into the precinct?
Colin Pastakis, Pakenham

If only female MPs had acted over Gillard treatment

It is long overdue that the women in Parliament are speaking up. I cannot help wondering where they were when Julia Gillard was bullied in the most hateful, misogynistic way. (Julie Bishop even said she did not describe herself as a feminist.) Every woman from every political party should have walked out in protest at such vile behaviour. Their deafening silence must surely have contributed to the continued misogynistic behaviour of their male colleagues, leading to the issues that have come to light in recent weeks.
Louise Aaron, Toorak

The problem with the Liberals’ preselection process

What is the point of the Liberal Party establishing quotas for women when its selection process has produced such a spineless cohort of existing female members? That none have taken leadership on any of the issues engulfing our Parliament speaks volumes for the standard of the selection process.
Mike Pantzopoulos, Ashburton

True ‘equality’: dud men and dud women leaders

Quotas will stop being necessary when there are as many mediocre women in positions of control and authority as there are mediocre men.
Maxine Hardinge, Clunes

THE FORUM

It’s time to really listen

Just over 50per cent of the population are female but when I look at our nation’s leaders, I do not see myself reflected back. I do not see leaders who are willing to listen to women. Really listen. Our Prime Minister did not feel it was necessary to reach out to a young woman who was allegedly raped in the building, Parliament House, from which he governs.

I have no doubt that Scott Morrison loves his wife and daughters, but what about the rest of us? The 13million Australian women? We are crying out, yet he seems not to hear. If he truly wants to do better, I suggest he spends some time with victims of abuse and discrimination before he next speaks publicly about his commitment to the cause.
Julia Soumilas, social worker, Prahran

Living freely like men

Jenni King (Letters, 25/3) writes that civilising men is not the job of women. How right she is. There is a commendable focus at the moment on reforming attitudes to women in Parliament and other workplaces. However, the problem is bigger than that.

Domestic violence is another iteration of the same issue where often men feel they are somehow more superior, more entitled and women are not treated with respect. Misogyny is widespread.
Changing men’s attitudes needs to be done at the grassroots – starting in the home where parents foster and model respect for women, assisted by programs in schools and recognised by workplace inclusiveness and equal opportunities. Only then will women feel safe and be able to live their lives with the freedoms that men enjoy and take for granted.
Rhonda Ward, Mont Albert

Males’ self-education

I hope the concept of “educating our sons” about sexual matters goes beyond still leaving it to our daughters to set limits of male behaviour. Boys and men should be educated to recognise their own motivations when they think, talk about or interact with women.

Being able to identify whether they are acting out of sexual excitement, anger, insecurity or ego might help them recognise bullying, lust, self-centred persuasion, and the desire to assert their own will above all else. They must deal with these issues themselves, not displace them onto girls and women.
Morag Thorne, Mulgrave

Correct the imbalance

A balanced representation in Parliament is essential for developing soundly based policies. The discussion in the Liberal Party about establishing quotas for women is necessary given the existing system has failed to meet its stated objectives.

Our MPs are not balanced either from a qualification perspective – there are far too many legal graduates and far too few with STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) backgrounds. Government supports STEM subjects but its performance over decades has been to treat science with little respect.
Howard Brownscombe, Brighton

A shameful advertisement

How can The Age continue to publish the appallingly degrading advertisement for Pointsbet (Sport, 25/3)? This “women in red” grab for attention is offensive and should be withdrawn.
Mark Jessup, Ashburton

A deeply flawed system

If we accept two truths – that women and men are of equal merit, and that women are slightly more than half the population – then it logically follows that any system based on merit would produce about equal numbers of male and female MPs. The fact that the Liberal Party’s system does not do this means it is not based on merit as it often claims. What is it based on? Unconscious prejudice? Mateship? Jobs for the boys? Misogyny?
Ian Robinson, Cowes

Donald Trump, mark II?

I am missing reading about the delusional, divisive, farcical but entertaining events of the Trump administration. Only to be re-engaged with the Scott Morrison version, excepting it is not entertaining.
Warren Jeffs, Olinda

The ‘delay’ does matter

According to Professor Brendan Crabb, director of the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, “a delay of a few months [in the vaccine rollout] will essentially change nothing in Australia” (The Age, 24/3). In the “big picture, and from his perspective, he may be right.

However, from mine and the perspective of many Australians with families overseas, a delay in the rollout can mean the difference between being able to travel relatively safely to see our parents in the near future, or to attend or not attend their funerals. We have not been able to see our parents since 2018 and, given their age, each month does matter.
Angelika von Sanden, Port Melbourne

The long wait for vaccine

I have now spent several hours every day attempting to register, on the government website, for the COVID-19 vaccine. Although I am 76, with lung deficiencies, the earliest booking I have been able to get is July 6. My experience has been that appointments listed are “taken” or they say “we are not accepting booking from non-patients”. Now that we have supplies from CSL, when will a real vaccination program be set up?
Roger Byrne, Elsternwick

Risk of another wave

Most Australians have been compliant with government directives to control the pandemic. The resultant success is, however, causing dangerous complacency on the part of governments, all too eager to resume “normalcy”. I am all for opening up workplaces and the economy, but with great caution. One breach of hotel quarantine or slack hygiene by an incoming, infected passenger, somewhere in Australia, is all that is needed for many to be infected.

The improved contact tracing will help, but with the index of potential transmission being so high in the absence of restrictions and with any introduced case being more likely to be one of the new variants, it is probable we will confront a crisis before long.

It is also wishful thinking to assume that virus particles detected in wastewater samples are all due to harmless shedding by those who are no longer infectious rather than some reflecting undetected cases. The slow roll-out of vaccines adds to the problem. Masks and physical distancing are the main measures that prevent transmission. We should not give these up when going back to work en masse. We are not learning from past experience or from what is currently happening in Europe.
Trichur Vidyasagar, medical scientist, Kew East

Great idea, wrong location

At the community meeting on Wednesday night – “Parents warn of ‘damaging’ injecting site” (The Age, 25/3) – a heroin user bravely spoke up to say that he regularly uses the medically supervised injecting room in Richmond and that it has saved his life several times. However, he went on to say that he believed it is in the wrong place and needs to be relocated. I presume that Daniel Andrews does not use the injecting room. If an active and regular user of the facility states that it needs to be relocated, who should we believe?
Gordon Dorin, Richmond

The lure of big profits

“Solar export limits to be imposed by energy companies to safeguard the grid” (The Age, 25/3). What a joke. These companies have had decades to upgrade the grid but they have sat on their hands. The more likely scenario: limits to be imposed and charges made for export to safeguard profits. Who in the government is on the side of the consumer rather than the side of large energy companies?
Jeff Moran, Avenel

Reducing total emissions

The solution to grid congestion from too much domestic roof-top solar is still being treated as a grid-to-customer issue (Opinion, 25/3). It also ignores the needs of renters and the poor. A public investment option in solar farms and massive batteries, linked back to the investor’s retail power bill, would help balance the grid, apply feed-in credits to individual power bills, and reduce total emissions.
Tom Danby, Coburg North

Cull these noisy pests

The Australian miner bird (noisy miner) is in plague proportions due to the destruction of forests and proliferation of grasslands (its preferred habitat). It is highly aggressive and attacks other native birds. They “mob” birds of all sizes (including magpies), not just potential predators. They “mob” waterbirds (which are generally fish eaters) that are not competing for the miner’s food.

I live near a park where they have become so prolific that other native birds have disappeared from the area. My quality of life has suffered because their constant, high-pitched calling means I have to retreat indoors most of the time. Let us stop procrastinating and begin culling these birds immediately.
Claudio Tiné, Bulleen

Standing up to China

Bill Mathew (Letters, 24/3), the behaviour of China now is different to even a decade ago due to the rise of Xi Jinping. He has made it clear that he wants to right so-called “wrongs” against China, including the re-incorporation of the successful and democratic Taiwan by force if necessary. Xi removed the term limits for leaders of the Communist Party, so he has essentially become leader for life with no curbs on his power and ambition. The increase in aggressive military behaviour and expansion in international waters is linked to this ambition, and intimidation against other Asian countries is widespread.

I agree that Australia should not unnecessarily antagonise China, and also that Donald Trump’s erratic behaviour did nothing to help. But Australia needs to fulfil its duty to defend democracy and work with countries that share these values. It also needs to work with them to oppose countries that are trying to undermine democracies and rule of law.
David Dean, Caulfield North

Cleaver for our next PM

I nominate Cleaver Greene (from the TV show, Rake) to take over in Canberra and clean out the Augean Stables. He knows a thing or two about shenanigans in high places.
Eugene Schlusser, Carlton

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Canberra

There’s insufficient carpet in Parliament House to cover all the scandals.
Brian Williams, Vermont

The marketing man is struggling to sell anything to the public. Is he entitled to the presumption of relevance?
Trevor Martin, St Leonards

And in the meantime, who is running the country?
Megan Walton, Beaumaris

I have something in common with Morrison. Neither of us has any idea of the next outrage to be perpetrated by Liberals.
Stephen Dinham, Metung

PM, it’s time to pick up a hose, mate.
Maria Millers, Emerald

Scott has just realised half his customers are woman and they are not impressed with his sales talk.
Bob Graham, Yarragon

Those against quotas for women should remember for how long the quota was 100per cent male.
Julia Thornton, Surrey Hills

How many women will change their votes and consign these Neanderthals to the dust bin?
Ken Boddington, Mount Eliza

I haven’t seen the PM so outraged since Christine Holgate gave away a few watches.
Barry Breen, Miners Rest

I’ve been swamped with questions from oversees friends and relatives about what on earth is going on. I’m lost for words. PM, advise me what to say.
Ruth Davis, Carrum

Will Morrison call an emergency meeting of the parliamentary prayer group in response to the latest misbehaviour?
Garry Meller, Bentleigh

Victoria

Well, it’s hotel quarantine, take three. Here’s hoping.
Chris Murphy, Hurstbridge

David Hayward (24/3), a declining population in Victoria will have little impact on the loss of arable farming land that has already occurred in the name of “development”.
Marcia Roche, Mill Park

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