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Indigenous people don’t need more rejection

September 28, 2023 — 8.00pm

Jim Pavlidis

Jim PavlidisCredit: .

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Andrew MacLeod (Comment, 28/9) does not feel that individuals who vote No can be accused of racism. I guess that is true – among those voting No there are people who feel that an advisory group without power will not necessarily improve outcomes. However, if the Voice is rejected it will be indicative of the systemic racism which Indigenous people face daily – that even a simple request to the community to be heard cannot be accepted. It certainly will be how the world interprets it. Louisa Ennis, Thornbury

A minimalist approach to change
Andrew MacLeod is surely being disingenuous in arguing that the referendum might fail because Australians prioritise an aversion to ″⁣constitutional tinkering″⁣ over racial discrimination. There is, in reality, a racial factor at play in the politicking of many No camp advocates. The proposal for an advisory Voice to parliament is, as attested by a brace of distinguished Australian legal luminaries, a decidedly minimalist proposal and poses no threat to the 1901 Constitution authored by white men. The gaps in Indigenous outcomes in relation to longevity, education, health and justice, along with the tragic trans-generational legacy of historic massacres, have been documented in depth. The proposed constitutional amendment does not carry the import imputed to it by MacLeod. It is merely an initial step towards finally acknowledging this nation’s Indigenous population in our ″⁣founding document″⁣.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Referendum is about completion
Andrew Macleod warns of the ramifications of ″⁣cementing the views of the day into permanency″⁣ in a constitutional referendum. The Voice referendum surely is about completing the Constitution. It’s enhancing it by enshrining the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the Indigenous inhabitants of the land. It’s including this in the birth certificate of the nation. These views are not ″⁣of the day″⁣. They have been 122 years in the making and asking. Indeed, the matters in the Constitution are permanent. So too should acknowledgment of our Indigenous history ″⁣last well beyond our lifetimes″⁣. Russell Crellin, Greensborough

Looking for the meaning of Australian
Just wondering what it means to be Australian. Would have thought that looking after each other was pretty important. Seems as though we don’t really care about our Indigenous brothers and sisters who obviously find it tough. What sort of country are we? For years I have not celebrated Australia Day; the country is broken. Nothing unites us apart from being divided on every issue put before us.
John Rome, Mt Lawley

Only three things to consider
This is my attempt to simplify the Voice debate. First, I ignore the mistruths promoted by some politicians, sections of the media and the social media. I also reject the ″⁣need to know the detail″⁣ argument. Why? I don’t usually examine every bit of potential federal or state legislation, I’ve got better things to do. But I do take notice of whether it works or not, but it has to happen first. So, let’s get to the heart of it. There are only three things to consider. The first, why a change to the Constitution? The first reason is a recognition of 60,000 years of Indigenous culture. The second is the advice from the Voice cannot be silenced by the parliament by abolishing the legislation that it created. The third is the Voice is advisory. The parliament will decide what advice it accepts, modifies or rejects.
Dave Robson, Port Melbourne

Surely it is time for a leaders’ debate
Given the opposition’s stance on the Voice and claims of deception from both Yes and No camps, is it now time for the PM and opposition leader to hold a televised debate?
Leon Burgher, Stony Creek


Yes, women dress to impress – themselves, or perhaps their friends. They certainly don’t want unsolicited assessments of themselves by random male strangers on the street, any more than they wanted the revolting wolf whistles from men on building sites (Kerri Sackville, Comment, 28/9). It’s not about what columnist Christopher Bantick wants (Comment, 27/9); that old paternalistic world of pandering to what men want is disappearing. Next time you want to compliment a woman you don’t know, just don’t. It’s creepy and unwanted.
Robyn Westwood,
Heidelberg Heights

Just ‘gorgeous’
Re the general rule that a man should not compliment an unknown woman (28/9), I do hope the obverse does not apply. I was walking my dog in a city park when a young woman directed a glance to me and my dog, smiled and then said: “Gorgeous.” I courteously thanked her, asking: “And what do you think of my dog?” She had the good humour to laugh. As a mere male you only get one opportunity like that in a lifetime.
Thomas Hogg, East Melbourne

Don’t overthink this
It is all getting so very precious and complicated. Kerri Sackville counters Christopher Bantick’s lament that it is hard not to be misconstrued when making a compliment to women. Sackville issues rules on ″⁣if the woman is a friend″⁣ and ″⁣if there is no power imbalance″⁣.
As I age, if I have taken the time to match my outfit, or look respectable, or make an attempt at style (and this is getting rarer), I feel heartened when someone, man or woman, makes a positive comment. Far from being creepy, I feel acknowledged. The person is saying positively, ″⁣I notice you″⁣.
Let’s not overthink this and complicate things with rules. People try to be positive by making a compliment. It is small talk akin to the weather or footy banter.
The response is easy: ″⁣Thanks for noticing″⁣ and smile.
Mary-Jane Boughen, Murrumbeena

Sexist labelling
Does Kerri Sackville instantly assume that all men she meets on the street are a threat? Is she saying that a female manager can compliment an employee on her dress, but a male manager can’t? As a gay man, if I told her that “You look fabulous!” I would not be trying to get into her pants. Are we really going to require all men to smile and step aside when they encounter women on the street? Is that what equality looks like? To me, that is what sexism looks like. The wholesale, automatic labelling of all men as threats is sexist.
What men, like me, would like help in understanding is why – in our efforts to reach equality – are the genders required to act in different ways? If I stipulated such restrictions on women in the workplace and in public spaces, I would be accused of being sexist – and rightly so.
Walter Ashfield, NSW

A smile will do
Kerri Sackville provides helpful hints for men who wish to give compliments. As a young 71-year-old, I have found the safest and most respectful way to compliment is to ″⁣say it with a smile″⁣. No words are necessary.
Making brief eye contact (lest it become a leer) in a non-threatening way, wearing a kindly smile, says all you need to say.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

Not an object
I’m glad Christopher Bantick never approached me in the street and ″⁣complimented″⁣ me on my outfit, or anything else for that matter. It’s little different from the wolf whistles that made me feel uncomfortable when I was a young woman. ″⁣Women are not a costume″⁣ is not just a slogan; and what we wear or how we look is not an invitation for an approach from an unknown man.
Don’t objectify us. Ever.
Ann de Hugard, Chewton

Nuclear is long term
The climate change challenge will not be extinguished if and when we get to net zero.
It will continue indefinitely as countries like ours balance the need to stay at net zero and the need to supply the necessary energy to maintain and improve the standards of living to which
we aspire.
That will require us to deploy all the available technologies and to take advantage of new and improved ones so that we can stay at net zero or aim for even better outcomes as efficiently and as inexpensively as possible for the foreseeable future. The current anti-nuclear argument is that ″⁣it takes too long to build″⁣ and it will ″⁣crowd out renewables″⁣.
These arguments have little credibility in a future where how long it takes to apply a new or better technology is less important than being able to apply it when it is needed.
That is how nuclear power should be considered: not as a short-term competitor to renewables this year or by 2030 or up to 2050 but as a long-term energy source that can complement the sources on which we are relying to get us to net zero in the short term, that is, by 2050.
For that reason, and because our standards of living depend more than ever on technologies, the federal government must remove the prohibition on nuclear power so that proposals can come forward as they are needed or as nuclear technologies advance or as their costs fall.
Michael Angwin, Surrey Hills

North is best defence
With the only possible threat to southern Australia being an invasion by a pod of humpback whales or a raft of penguins from Antarctica, it makes perfect sense that the Australian Defence Force relocates 1000 defence personnel from South Australia to its bases in the Northern Territory and Queensland.
Eric Palm, Gympie

Wrong targets
I think the vandals who are deflating the tyres of random four-wheel-drive cars are taking the easy way out by pursuing the soft target. Why don’t they go after the companies that are making these cars or the fuel companies?
The inconvenience caused by their actions can be huge: school delivery and pick-up, getting to that second job you work at night, making that medical appointment you’ve waited weeks for, taking your parents shopping when public transport is out of action.
People who have to park their cars on the street are not necessarily wealthy tractor drivers. Many of those cars are bought because they accommodate large families and are considered safe.
Kathy Diviny, Coburg

Wrong priorities
Maybe Daniel Andrews retired because he finally figured out that he’d got it all wrong. All that money on infrastructure, so that cars can move faster, and on rail extensions where there is not the greatest need for them.
What is seriously needed is social housing, more medical facilities and better public schools.
Elizabeth Pearce, Hawthorn

Right priorities
Victoria is growing at more than 300 people every day, so in 10 years when our population is more than
1 million greater than it is now, people will be so grateful that the Andrews government removed so many level crossings and built the new road and rail tunnels.
Malcolm Fraser, Oakleigh South

Will history repeat?
Greg Hardy (Letters, 27/9) was right to remind us of the fine legacy of Rupert Hamer who came to the leadership in 1972 after the retirement of Henry Bolte, the longest-serving Coalition premier. Bolte had a similar dominant persona to Daniel Andrews and a similar penchant for using state debt to build things. Bolte, like Andrews, kept winning elections but was not universally admired; indeed, the left despised him. Bolte, like Andrews, was smart enough to know that his time was up, and he anointed Hamer as his successor.
Hamer was a refreshing contrast. He proved to be a progressive leader who worked hard and did great things.
He was universally respected by the public but not by his own parliamentary colleagues. He was undermined by the conservative wing of his own party and having lost party-room support, resigned in 1981. He was replaced by Lindsay Thompson, who was a competent but uninspiring politician leading a tired government. A year later, the Coalition lost office.
If there is such a thing as history repeating itself, then Jacinta Allan is well placed to replicate Hamer’s successful premiership.
Graeme Henchel, Yarra Glen

Tending to Victoria
Each time I don’t have to queue at a railway crossing, I give thanks to Daniel Andrews’ determination to get things done. At the time of the COVID-19 crisis, he took the best advice available to him during a period of great uncertainty.
All leaders make mistakes. Andrews achieved a lot for Victoria and one hopes that the new premier will have the drive, vision and courage to forge ahead with those projects which benefit Victoria.
Robert Scheffer, Bayswater North

Bolte’s lessons
To those bemoaning the debt legacy of the government led by Daniel Andrews, perhaps they should look at how Henry Bolte’s government managed.
Bolte understood that debt was necessary and his government had a relatively high percentage of debt to GDP. He also didn’t have COVID-19 to contend with.
Phil Labrum, Trentham

Love their way
Collingwood fans will be singing along tomorrow if ″⁣Frampton Comes Alive″⁣.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda West


Jacinta Allan is elected leader unopposed and it is reported it was a “messy battle”. John Pesutto was elevated to the Liberal leadership by one vote.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

Let’s hope the new female premier is judged on her performance and policies this time, not her dress sense.
Marsha Merory, Ivanhoe East

Thanks Daniel Andrews. Someone was needed who would grasp the nettle of massive infrastructure programs.
John Walsh, Watsonia

Dictators build palaces for themselves. Daniel Andrews’ Big Build is for Victoria.
Glenda Johnston, Queenscliff

Daniel Andrews would’ve been voted back in tomorrow if he had run again.
Joanne Seidel, Sunbury

COVID is our third most likely cause of death. We must acknowledge the lives saved by the leadership shown prior to universal vaccination.
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale

It appears the Qantas board is suffering Joyce lag. Like jet lag, the board is optimistic the effects are minimal.
Peter Thomas, Pascoe Vale

A compliment can be just that, a free expression of appreciation, or delight, no strings attached.
Deborah Morrison, Malvern East

Petrol cheaper in Geelong than Melbourne is all you need to know.
Ian Macdonald, Traralgon

Could it be ″⁣Frampton Comes Alive″⁣ and Lions have to eat ″⁣Humble Pie″⁣.
Haig Poulson, Ashburton