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Credit: Andrew Dyson
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I am now old enough to have had the depressing experience of having to remove the children of the children whom I removed from families earlier in my career. Many were from First Nations families who were in crisis. The lack of choices available has been incredibly destructive – for years it was either care in a damaged extended family of origin or care under the department which had so damaged the previous generation. This perpetuates a repeating cycle of intergenerational disadvantage. The underlying problem driving much of this is a lack of consultation with and respect for the affected communities. There are now some new initiatives allowing care in extended family, maintaining connection to culture and family, which offer real hope but which are underused. This cycle of intergenerational disadvantage, rooted in disrespect and lack of consultation, is a prime example of why we must enshrine a permanent and representative Voice for our First Nations peoples in the Constitution, protected from the usual political chicanery. Only then will there be some hope of progress.
Dr Andrew Watkins, Olinda
The unchartered territory of a narrow Yes win
It seems the best the Yes case in the Voice referendum can now achieve is a narrow victory. Such a result would take Australia into uncharted political territory. Of the eight successful referendums since 1901, seven received the support of all six states. The state result in the eighth was five in favour, one opposed. The average national vote in favour of the eight successful referendums was 73.5 per cent. It is very unlikely similar results can be achieved in 2023. The 91 per cent support achieved in 1967 is a pipe dream. Australia is familiar with unsuccessful referendums. On 36 occasions, most recently in the 1999 republic referendum, the nation accepted the result and moved on. If the No case prevails in 2023, a similar response is likely. However, a narrow win for the Yes case could leave the nation divided over constitutional reform in a way it has never experienced.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills
The importance of hope
Increasingly tucked away in letters and articles on the referendum is the word “hope”. I can see what Peter Dutton and those who will vote No want, it is more or less clear what their aim is and what they wish for, but I can’t see what they are hoping for other than to embarrass Labor and leading Yes voters, and simply to win. Hope is a supremely important personal and social virtue, so easily dismissed by the cynics among us. It is clear to me that those who vote Yes actually do hope to achieve something that is inherently good and, dare I say, virtuous, not personally, but socially and culturally at the core of our national identity.
John Whelen, Box Hill South
A fact-checking forum would help voters
I endorse your correspondent’s (Letters, 5/9) suggestion that the Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney and the opposition spokesperson Jacinta Nampijinpa Price engage in a debate to assist in better understanding the essential issues of the Voice. However, perhaps in addition to this, there needs to be a fact-checking forum conducted by a credible organisation that lists the questions being raised in the community – some bordering on the fanciful, others thoughtful. The concerns would be addressed by a properly qualified panel (not politicians). A fact-checking forum would provide information to be considered when voters are making their decision.
Bill Pimm, Mentone
A fairytale wedding requires two partners
In likening the Uluru statement and Voice to parliament to a marriage proposal and wedding ceremony respectively, your correspondent (Letters, 6/9) forgot one very important step: what if she says no? There will be no fairytale wedding if one partner doesn’t want to go ahead with it, and that appears to be what the Australian public is saying right now.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully
After the Mabo/native title agreement, we were going to lose our backyards; we didn’t. The super guarantee was going to bankrupt business; it didn’t. GST was going to kill the economy; it didn’t. Same-sex marriage was going to destroy society as we knew it; it didn’t. The Voice will create an apartheid in Australia; it won’t.
Andrew Barnes, Ringwood
A small hope
On the morning of October 15, should the referendum fail to achieve the requirements for constitutional change, there will be a significant number of people who voted No who will not be happy so much as feeling relieved. They will not be bigoted, or racist or lacking intelligence or integrity. They will be caring and compassionate, and 12 months ago may have been inclined to vote Yes. They will feel relief because they always feel uncomfortable with “politics”, antagonism, argument or by being directly confronted by injustice and inhumanity. Their relief will be buttressed by references to “divisiveness”, “treating everyone the same” and “inclusiveness”, but they will know in their hearts that they voted in the hope that “people would just stop arguing”. A forlorn hope. My hope is that these quiet and good people take the next few weeks to reflect on questions like “is an advisory body in perpetuity so much to ask for?“; “is it likely that I will really be disadvantaged by its existence?“; and “will the absence of a Voice stop people seeking and demanding truth or treaty?” They don’t have to argue or advocate, just research quietly and think about what they believe is true, just and fair.
Richard Jamonts, Williamstown
The spirit is true
Qantas is the spirit of corporate Australia. CEOs pocketing millions of dollars in pay, shares and golden handshakes, while stripping workers of their rights and livelihoods, selling off assets, downsizing, eroding services, and maximising shareholder returns. Qantas represents all that is wrong in Australia’s corporate environment. Qantas is the current spirit of Australia.
Tom Stafford, Wheelers Hill
Heroes and villains
I’ve had my share of frustrations with Qantas over the years but, on balance, it has been a good ride. Problems abound, no doubt, but I can’t help thinking that those at Qatar Airways must be rubbing their hands with glee as they watch us tear down such a strategically and commercially significant Australian company. Alan Joyce and Qantas have often stood up for human rights, which are still elusive in Qatar. Reform at Qantas will happen, but in criticising it as the villain, let’s not make a hero out of Qatar.
Stelvio Vido, Kew East
Don’t knock the staff
I have never had a problem with the ground staff of Qantas. They have always behaved with courtesy; it is the management that has let down customers and staff. It is management that needs to lift their game.
Mary Wise, Ringwood
I am a parent of children at Glen Eira College in years 10 and 11 and my heart goes out to the boy injured on Monday, and to his family. But I was disappointed that The Age’s reporting (“Police search after teen ambushed”, 6/9) included comments from a parent alleging that “violence and misogyny and a really toxic sexual culture … and homophobia has just thrived” at the school. These comments have nothing to do with the incident and they do not resonate with my experience of this school over the past five years. Rather, I have found school leadership responsive to bullying and swift to respond to antisocial incidents. The inclusion of these unsubstantiated comments from one parent implied that the school was at fault when this attack happened out of school grounds.
School leadership has provided timely email updates to parents and access to wellbeing support for distressed students. They also spoke to students yesterday, providing tips for maintaining personal safety. I have found the school’s actions reassuring and suggest The Age’s reporting on this incident left a lot to be desired.
Kate de Bruin, Murrumbeena
Better options for housing
Re: “Golf course sale leaves residential zone plan mired in the rough” (5/9). Cutting down dozens of trees to build 800-plus homes on the former Kingswood Golf Course site is being framed by many as urgently needed to meet our housing crisis. But this simply isn’t true – there’s plenty of better options for housing available right now that don’t sacrifice our green, open spaces and impact the climate. Of course, we urgently need more housing stock. Kingston understands it needs to take its fair share of new development and we have developed a plan to meet housing needs through to at least 2038. This plan is awaiting the minister for planning’s approval. We can save our green spaces to help our climate and deliver much-needed housing close to train stations and activity centres. There are plenty of suitable sites ready and waiting – including at the Victorian government’s GasWorks site (Highett) and Level Crossing Removal Project (Cheltenham), not to mention the huge amount of growth expected in the future connected to the Suburban Rail Loop. Kingswood is not one of these though. We simply don’t need to lose golf course land to achieve this. Once these sites are gone, they are gone forever, and any changes must be carefully considered.
Cr Hadi Saab, Mayor,
City of Kingston
A feral problem
I was shocked to read that in Australia, feral cats kill almost 6million reptiles, birds and mammals every night (“Nation a hotspot for blight of invasive species”, 5/9). But as with feral horses, control and eradication policies in one jurisdiction differ from another. Australian lead author of the recent United Nations biodiversity report, Professor Phill Cassey, said a co-ordinated national agreement would work better. Let’s hope Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek can make this happen, and boost funding at the same time. Otherwise, we run the risk of becoming a nation of ferals.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn
There have been recent letters on the average to poor amenity of Flinders Street and Southern Cross railway stations. When you also consider Docklands and the problems in Elizabeth Street, you start to ask the question as to why Melbourne is the victim of so much poor design, planning and restoration? There has been planning for an upgrading of Flinders Street Station for decades. I don’t know the answer, but when you contrast it with football, tennis and other sports infrastructure, you do wonder why public infrastructure needs are never a priority.
David Fry, Moonee Ponds
So sad to hear that The Academy is closing (“‘Heartbroken’: Rance’s academy to close”, 5/9). It takes courage and vision to set up a school that thinks outside the box. We are forever grateful to Alex Rance and Luke Surace for creating an alternative to mainstream education. Schools have the power to change lives and The Academy changed ours.
Jacqui Goldenberg, Ormond
Careful with judging
A new wave of criticism is emerging regarding statements from an earlier time made by prominent Australians of that era (Letters, 6/9). While the views expressed 80 to 100 years ago are clearly not considered as acceptable by current society, current critics should bear in mind that their own views, seen as respectable today, may be equally unacceptable and out of date to Australians at the end of the 21st century. Time moves on and with it moves the standard of social values and ethics.
Brian Kidd, Mt Waverley
Deakin’s wise words
I recommend to your readers the passionate speech by Alfred Deakin, our first prime minister, given in March 1898, three years before Federation. In it, he urged the people to accept the proposed Constitution for a united Australia, acknowledging that he would have preferred something closer to his own ideals, but was prepared to accept it as written. He argues that this is not like the work of an individual artist aiming at his life’s achievement “which he would rather destroy than accept while it seemed imperfect”. I think there is a message here for all those nay- sayers who can’t accept the addition of the Voice to the Constitution because it is not yet “perfect”.
Sue Tuckerman, Kew
Haves and have-nots
Sorry, but I find the review of a restaurant charging $150 for an entree and $400 for a piece of meat rather insensitive in these financially challenging times (“$150 for an entree? The verdict on Melbourne’s newest, and grandest, dining room”, 6/9). I know a family that counts up the number of potatoes, onions and tomatoes that they can get away with for a week’s dinners and then has to worry about where that $30-a-week rent increase will come from. As the “haves” munch on their lobster, the “have-nots” dream about something other than mince or sausages. Just a reminder of how polarised our society really is.
Wendy Hinson, Wantirna
Scrutiny what matters
With all due respect to The Age, the only important issue for the public regarding the 2026 Commonwealth Games is who knew what, when? Tabulating the blunders of costing accepts at face value the government’s story – basically, “we only just discovered a multibillion-dollar error”.
Preventing similar debacles in future requires knowing if their version of events withstands
Alun Breward, Malvern East
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit: Matt Golding
It seems female CEOs are in high demand when there are reputations to be cleaned up!
Joan Segrave, Healesville
A simple sentence sums up Qantas: It should never have been privatised.
Noel Pullen, Hastings
Qantas should be owned by all Australians; we should all be shareholders. I have written to the treasurer urging him to allocate $5billion in each of the next two budgets to buy all the shares.
Warren Thomas, Ivanhoe
St Kilda Triangle
The latest plan for the St Kilda Triangle site (“Costings missing from St Kilda plan”, 6/9) should be renamed the St Kilda Full Circle: it’s back where it started from, again. Plenty of space, plenty of ideas, no money.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale
Maybe the proposed live music venue at the St Kilda Triangle can score funding from audiologists and hearing aid manufacturers. It’s a fail-safe investment in their future business.
Ralph Böhmer, St Kilda West
The recent abusive behaviour in the gallery of federal parliament (“Coalition refuses to condemn jeering pharmacy protesters”, 5/9) was disgraceful and disturbing. Is Trumpian politics coming to Australia?
Tim Douglas, Blairgowrie
The only answer to avoid exhaust pollution, Amy Hiller (Letters, 6/9), is to move to the country.
Humane decision by the AFL to welcome back Mark “Bomber” Thompson. The man has been through hell.
Kevin Rugg, Sandringham
Instead of following the US and calling our finals “play-offs” (Letters, 6/9), perhaps the AFL should adopt the US baseball practice and call it the World Series. After all, we’ve got the
18 best teams in the world.
David Parker, Geelong West
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