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Remove the politicians and the Voice is clearer

September 25, 2023 — 8.00pm

Cathy Wilcox

Cathy WilcoxCredit: .

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People will argue that Australians don’t care enough these days about issues, and they’d be right. By vacating the field many Australians are allowing radicals from left and right to dominate the space and the media. These people are not being challenged, not being asked to justify with facts what they are saying. Too many people are saying, It’s not my problem, or What’s in it for me? We may have compulsory voting but sometimes people get more excited about a democracy sausage than the issue that they vote on. This is the group that will be the hardest to sway for those wanting a change in the Constitution. This is the group that the No campaign are relying on. The No campaign’s biggest risk is that someone will go over the top and spout some extreme views that might just make the mainly apathetic majority stop and take notice. Jacinta Price all but did that by saying that there were really no drawbacks of colonisation for Indigenous people.
If the No campaign wants to guarantee a win all they have to do is gag certain elements so that the real thoughts of these people don’t hit the airwaves. How much better and more positive the debates between Yes and No advocates would have been if the politicians opted out. More people may have been interested and may have thought about the issue and less about the sausages on voting day.
Greg Tuck, Warragul

We must build on the Statement from the Heart
Progressives intending to vote No baffle me. I get frustration at the glacial pace of change, but if not on October 14, 2023, in which century is a Constitution founded in a racist past going to be altered to recognise Indigenous Australians? As a result of defeat of the republic referendum, the cause of the republic is so much weaker now. How will Closing the Gap not be harder without an effective Voice to parliament? How does repudiation of the exhaustive consultation to produce the Uluru Statement from the Heart help?
It is naive to believe defeat would not risk entrenching and indeed, increasing, limits to what governments are prepared to do to effectively support Indigenous communities. It is likely to act as a brake on overcoming disadvantage. Do we build on the remarkable consensus-building process that forged the Voice, or opt for harm and inertia that rejection will bring?
Jim Allen, Panorama, SA

Churches should just stay with preaching
Re the article ″⁣Call for a show of faith on Voice″⁣ (25/9), faith-based religions have no place playing politics by urging the faithful to vote yes or no in the referendum. Churches are not paid-up political affiliates of any particular party and should stay with preaching, explaining the word of God. Bishops or other leaders may have political agendas under the guise of compassion. We, the ordinary faithful, are not stupid and can make up our minds in the way we want to vote.
Gerard van de Ven, Mount Martha

Democracy has been damaged
Our politicians, and particularly on the right, have done us all a great disservice in the Voice debate, no matter what its outcome. The No side has been articulated by Peter Dutton in such a way that a generation of progressives will never forgive his intervention. The Voice to parliament referendum began life as a fairly straightforward request as the Uluru Statement from the Heart – a request for Australians, of whatever background, to walk in solidarity with the First Nations people of our continent.
The takeover by those who seek political advantage in this issue is a disturbing distortion, and those responsible will be condemned. Ultimately, it is democracy that has been damaged by political interference in a process that was never intended to be political.
Peter Moore, Clifton Hill


Pezzullo should go
The exposé regarding Michael Pezzullo’s alleged activities to influence political decisions and to build a massive empire via the Home Affairs portfolio is disturbing (″⁣Pezzullo’s power play exposed″⁣, 25/9). It smacks of excessive control and influence and of using all means available, including sympathetic Coalition politicians and employees to advance his cause.
At the very least he should resign, and if he chooses not to, he should be dismissed from his role on the grounds of unsuitable activity for a senior public servant. Denise Stevens, Healesville
(Pezzullo stood aside yesterday while an investigation is held, Ed)

Shadow government
What innocents we are. We think we know how we are governed. We think we know incidents of poor governance, if not when they occur, at least after the event. But all the time there’s a businessman and Liberal Party official, Scott Briggs, dining with prime ministers and other ministers. He’s been passing them messages from a head of department, seeking to influence ministerial appointments and seeking to achieve particular outcomes. If it were all above board, the head of department could speak directly to the PM and other ministers, couldn’t he?
Angela O’Connor, Glen Iris

Who was running things?
How Michael Pezzullo exercised his power has demonstrated both unethical behaviour and the degradation of the public service. It has also profoundly impacted on our democracy, government processes and important decision-making for the nation. That an individual had such influence and power begs the question, who was running the country under the recent Liberal governments? There are many questions to be answered.
Judith Morrison, Nunawading

Stealth fighter
″⁣We need to build a meritocracy by stealth and run government through the bureaucracy, working 4-5 powerful and capable ministers.″⁣ That says it all, and it was said by Michael Pezzullo.
Emma Borghesi, Rye

Passing on costs
Be careful what you wish for. Freezing grocery prices looks good in a headline, but you can bet it will not be the supermarkets that incur the cost. Just as they currently do with “discounts” and “specials”, any cost will be passed on to suppliers to ensure retail profit margins are never compromised.
Colin James,

Regional growth plan
Here’s a thought. Plan to build all of those new Melbourne houses in five major regional centres, then have a five-year program and spend $500 billion to build very fast rail to Melbourne from each of the regional centres, so the commute is no more than an hour. Then watch the Victorian economy take off big time.
Graham Bridge, Morwell

Resources are finite
Your correspondent (Letters, 25/9) rightly points out the massive expense required to service a burgeoning population, but the expense of providing services to an ever-increasing population is only one consideration.
La Nina has lulled us into thinking that rainfall is consistently adequate and that water is a plentiful resource.
More than 10 years ago the state government invested in a desalination plant on the back of an extended drought. Now we are heading into another El Nino weather pattern, the prospect of severe drought looms large.
Australia’s climate does not guarantee sufficient water for a continued growth in population.
Our environment is fragile, and thinking we have an infinite capacity to support continued large population growth is false logic.
Graeme Lechte,
Brunswick West

Extend TAFE plan
The Albanese government’s plan to offer apprentices advanced TAFE courses akin to university degrees to stop a broader decline in people signing up for trades (″⁣TAFE ‘degree’ bid to tackle skills shortage″⁣, 25/9) could be extended to more comprehensive courses, which would ideally eventually become nationally mandated, for all aged care workers.
Equipping aged care workers with a greater level of knowledge and training which would bring greater job satisfaction and job security would not only provide more appropriate care, of a quality more equal to all other areas of Australian healthcare, but would enable Australia to gradually create an appropriately knowledgeable and skilled home-grown aged care workforce
Such reform would also gradually reduce the aged care sector’s reliance on minimally trained overseas workers, who no matter how kind and diligent, are not equipped to provide the knowledgeable and skilled healthcare needed by Australia’s very elderly, and by their descendants, who must monitor the care of their parents in residential aged care while continuing to do their own jobs and raising their own children.
Ruth Farr,
Blackburn South

Change priorities
I agree with your correspondent (Letters, 25/9) that the cost of providing new infrastructure for new residents, at more than $100,000 for each resident, should be borne by the property developer and not the public.
For too long, it has been privatise the profit and socialise the cost. I think that the public has had enough.
I would take this one step further and have business, which does not invest in training Australians but instead relies on immigration to meet its workforce needs, contribute towards the cost of infrastructure.
Barry Lizmore,
Ocean Grove

Go EV in towns
If more small country towns put in more electric vehicle charging stations, it would mean EV owners would stop off in their towns for a short time to recharge their vehicles. While there, they might spend money.
I well remember when country towns were being bypassed and the talk was that they would die as a result of everyone going past them. So here is a good reason for country towns to get behind the EV revolution and install charging stations.
Ross Beale,
Moonee Ponds

COVID inquiry flawed
The idea that an inquest on the COVID response can be held without an examination of the states’ role devalues the outcome for future reference (“Human rights chief urges wider COVID inquiry”, 25/9).
In the face of the Morrison government’s vacillation it was left to the states to fall back on pre-Federation borders to run their own programs.
That all the results of these procedures are not gauged is inconceivable and leaves the Albanese government open to charges of political unworthiness.
John Mosig, Kew

Lack of credibility
The proposed COVID inquiry does not have credibility.
Any valid investigation would need to examine the actions of the states and the Commonwealth. This does not need to be a political blame game. Everyone was trying their best to deal with an unknown threat that was evolving rapidly. The inquiry would need to assess which responses were appropriate and effective and which, with the benefit of hindsight, were damaging, wasteful and unnecessary.
We need and deserve an honest appraisal, free of rancour or chest beating, to prepare us to deal better with the army of new pathogens marching our way.
Peter Barry,

Strained Voice
Your correspondent (Letters, 25/9) says that ″⁣the only thing parliament can’t do if we vote Yes is to abolish the Voice″⁣. Correct, but its stated simplicity is in fact its Achilles heel. Voters are left pondering if the Voice amounts to anything really at all, or if there might well be more to it than meets the eye.
Peter Drum, Coburg

Strength in permanence
While the Voice may not completely close the gap or solve all the problems, its most important aspect is that it is permanent. People raise the argument that there is already significant Indigenous representation in parliament, but politicians and governments come and go, and without inclusion in the Constitution there is no guarantee of Indigenous representation through these channels.
A case could possibly be made against one marginalised group in our society being given special access over other marginalised groups, but we have to start somewhere. Perhaps this can be the subject of a future referendum.
Claire Merry, Wantirna

Not all voices equal
It seems ironic that so many people are fearful of a First Nations Voice to parliament and yet are not at all perturbed by so-called apolitical high-ranking public servants, lobbyists and CEOs of private enterprise having the same opportunity for their voices to be heard.
I know whose voices I fear more.
Claire Hogan, Northcote

A new pride
I’ve been, and am, an ardent Carlton supporter of many decades. Although the Brisbane Lions stopped the Blues reaching the grand final, I am suddenly overtaken by a strange desire for Lions’ success, particularly next Saturday. I wish them well with a huge win. If not huge, then by one solitary point.
Geoff Lipton, Caulfield North

Shoe on other foot
It’s weird. Every time a scammer calls me, and I ask them for their bank account number, they quickly drop the call.
Matthew Hamilton, Kew


Employed by government for advice frank and fearless, Michael Pezzullo instead chose devious (Editorial, 25/9).
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

A humble public servant or Liberal powerbroker?
Paul Custance, Highett

We need Ange Postecoglou to coach the Wallabies.
Tim Durbridge, Brunswick

Waking up yesterday morning, it was difficult to decide which was creating the most disappointment. Was it the Wallabies or the Australian cricket team?
William Wallace, Ascot Park, SA

Why has the Wallabies’ failure in the World Cup garnered more media attention than the Diamonds’ win in the World Cup?
Cheri Lee, Brunswick East

Now we are all Brisbane supporters.
Phil Bodel, Ocean Grove

Yes. Such a simple little word that has been made so complex and complicated by politics and celebrity.
Eric Kopp, Flinders

Anthony Albanese’s concept of a COVID inquiry is the equivalent of entering a rocking horse in the Melbourne Cup – a foreseen negligible decision.
Des Files, Brunswick

Anthony Albanese is not ″⁣the man for the people″⁣ he promoted before the election (″⁣Human rights chief slams COVID review″⁣, 25/9).
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill

The photograph (Letters, 25/9) about education shows a child who hasn’t been taught how to hold a pencil properly.
John Manfield, Blairgowrie

″⁣Untrained dogs being used in schools″⁣ (25/9) is a bit of a worry. How many students will be saying ″⁣the dog ate their homework?″⁣
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine