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The time for change is surely upon us

September 10, 2023 — 8.00pm

Andrew Dyson

Andrew DysonCredit: .

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While I remain hopeful that the Yes campaign will be successful, it is with a heavy heart that I read the article about Cheryl Drayton (″⁣Why Aunty Cheryl is saying No to Voice″⁣, 10/9). The parallels with the 1999 referendum on the republic are inescapable. People of goodwill desperately wanting change, however, not prepared to accept the wording because it doesn’t meet all of their requirements (in the case of the republic many voted No because they wanted a directly elected president). The Voice is not some government plot. It is a chance to allow Indigenous Australians to have a say and make recommendations on how to improve their lives. Worth a try considering that in spite of decades of government actions, Indigenous Australians still endure shorter life expectancy, higher rates of infant mortality, poorer health and lower levels of education compared with the rest of us. Surely, in 25 years we won’t still be waiting for change.
James Young, Mt Eliza

The Constitution does not deal in details
People who say there is not enough detail in the referendum vote on a Voice (10/9) should consider the fact that the Constitution does not deal in details. The Constitution sets out principles such as the one for free trade between our states. Imagine if full details were enshrined for all matters in the Constitution. They would have to be changed by referendum, quite frequently. The parliament decides on the operation and management of the Constitution’s principles. Thus it can make structural and operational changes as need be without us all being called to the ballot.
The Voice vote involves principles: agreement to acknowledge the original custodians of this land; agreement that the parliament is willing to be informed by them of matters relevant to them and to ask their advice. No detail of the Voice’s structure and working can be enacted until the parliament approves of it.
Elaine Hopper, Blackburn

A conscience vote says Yes
When major projects are launched by federal and state governments, does the public know the full details? Are we aware who is going to lead these major projects, who is going to be the link from these authorities to the respective parliaments, what is the boundary of their responsibility, let alone who is even going to make up these expensive and complex processes? No, nor do we particularly care. We see them as great nation-building projects. Perhaps there are things in the Voice that have not been fully understood nor can they be developed until the legislation is in place but, as a nation, our conscience should tell us it’s good for the country and on October 14 we should let First Nations people see we will vote Yes.
Nathan Feld, Glen Iris

No voters do not need to be patronised
I’m not sure how the Voice’s supporters will persuade prospective No voters to change their minds, but I’m fairly sure that a lecturing, patronising and morally superior tone whereby No voters are labelled as advocates for a White Australia or racists won’t help.
Peter Martina, Warrnambool

I do have a brain
In advocating a No vote, Aunty Cheryl Drayton (10/9) asserts that she can’t see how any normal person with a brain could vote for it. Is this her opinion of the Indigenous people who support a Yes vote? Does this mean that I’m not normal, or brainless?
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir

When the passing of time teaches little
I am 73 and like all of my age I have lived through many unsuccessful attempts to assist Indigenous Australians. Now, when we get a real chance for them to have their say on how they are treated, older Australians turn against them. Age and experience seems to have failed. Robert Yates, Rosanna


The deep end
I used to give a lecture to health students that asked, ″⁣Are human beings a successful species?″⁣ The deeply disturbing article on how deep-sea mining (″⁣Undersea riches to be reaped by the few″⁣, 9/9) is set to destroy yet another natural habitat provides us with more evidence, if we actually needed any, with which to answer my question. No. Evolution’s experiment in selecting for consciousness in a species without the necessary constraints on avarice and reckless self-interest is likely to consign our version of consciousness to the evolutionary dead end in which it seems to belong. Like all failed evolutionary experiments, it will end in extinction, taking our species with it. Not if. When. And how many other species will we take with us?
David Ben-Tovim, Carlton

Get out there, find out
Teachers and educators frequently get robust feedback about the life skills we are failing to teach our students. I can, however, comprehensively say that we always teach our students that ″⁣if they don’t know″⁣ they should find the information they need. We would never say ″⁣if you don’t know, just remain deliberately ignorant″⁣.
We consistently teach children to fills gaps in their knowledge and understanding by seeking out more information. We teach them to source that information from reliable sources. We teach students to be curious and questioning learners. Civics and Citizenship is taught – it’s an integral part of the curriculum.
If you didn’t know when the train was leaving, what time your doctor’s appointment was or whether you needed a pass to get into a ski resort, you’d find out – you know the details exist – it’s highly unlikely you’d say, “well I don’t know, so I won’t go”.
So, if you legitimately don’t know, for goodness sake get out there and find out, because deliberate ignorance does not respect our democratic system of government.
Jacquie Walpole,

Disregarding life
Never mind the environment, is it not enough that humans have pillaged the world’s resources, left behind untold environmental destruction and with only token attempts at rehabilitation, sometimes with success but mostly not that good.
So now we are intending to mine the sea for precious metals, the destruction of ecosystems, deep sea vents, pollution, and the creatures that live there won’t matter.
Gerard van de Ven, Mount Martha

Massive failure
Peter Hartcher (Comment, 9/9) highlights another monumental failure of privatisation to deliver for taxpayers. The next time any government threatens to privatise a government entity it should be forced to give at least one indisputable example of a privatisation that has worked for consumers. That should kill any new proposal in its tracks.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha

Landlords’ lament
Re the article about tenants’ rights in residential properties (9/9). Certainly Scott’s story of his treatment by his landlord would not meet any reasonable person’s idea of appropriate service. However the article only listed 11 of the Minimum Rental Standards introduced in 2021, all sensible things that anyone would expect. In the last paragraph the Real Estate Institute of Victoria says the minimum standards are “too stringent”, pushing landlords out of investing. Most people reading the article would think the Real Estate Institute and landlords generally are being tightfisted to not want to provide the 11 sensible minimum standards listed.
However, other new minimum standards are in fact pushing landlords out of the market. Previously you could not put up a picture hook without permission. Now tenants can redecorate without consultation with the owner. Previously landlords could stipulate if pets were allowed, now you cannot refuse. Owners are also now faced with the extra expense of replacing heating so it is energy efficient and cheaper for the tenant to run.
Added to this the separate issue of interest rate rises and demands from the Greens for rent freezing means that many ″⁣mum and dad″⁣ investors like myself are getting out of the residential rental market as quickly as we can.
Carolyn Easdale, Ocean Grove

Young talent’s time
On Saturday I had the privilege of watching the Victorian State Schools Spectacular. It was amazing and a credit to everyone involved. The scale and logistics of the event were impressive but the talent of the young performers was mindblowing. Congratulations to everyone involved. Victoria, you’ve got some serious talent.
April Baragwanath, Geelong

A royal putdown
So King Charles’ fashion look is from another century. The entire concept of kings and queens is from another century and it is time we moved on (everywhere, not just Australia). And as for writing a 75-year-old person should have a more modern fashion feel, older people know what we like and what suits us. Stop being patronising.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster

Praise for GPs
It’s hard to see the healthcare benefits of the Pharmacists’ Guild’s argument to stick with 30-day scripts. With chronic issues requiring daily medication for the rest of my life, my healthcare isn’t improved by a monthly discussion with my well-meaning neighbourhood pharmacist, untrained on my health issues, in a busy open-plan retail setting. This is why I have a GP who knows my issues and how to manage them.
Name and address supplied

Sydney Road’s woes
The article (9/9) on Acland Street’s decline reminds me of an ongoing debate about revitalising Sydney Road. In Acland Street, some traders blame their woes on about 50 car parking spaces being removed to make way for a tram super stop and space for people walking and dining. Note that one tram can carry over 200 passengers and many of Acland Street’s bike hoops are occupied.
In Sydney Road, locals are campaigning for wider footpaths, protected bike lanes and accessible tram stops. This would mean cars could no longer park along Sydney Road. Some traders oppose such changes. This is despite the thousands of car parking spaces nearby, and most of their customers walking, riding or using public transport.
In Acland Street, the loss of car parking has sparked rumours of more crime and other “undesirable activities” – even though police say it’s actually safer. Sydney Road traders take heed. Fearmongering about changes that make life easier for people to walk, ride or take a tram may have unintended consequences.
Andrea Bunting, Brunswick

Empathy deficit
George Megalogenis’ insightful analysis (Comment, 9/9) raises a thorny question: would Peter Dutton experience “wrecker’s remorse” if the Voice was defeated?
There may be implications for Dutton in the next election – as Megalogenis describes – but he is going ahead regardless.
This “wrecker” tactic appears not only in parliament but on certain media channels. It is propounded by right-wing think tanks and former politicians, who seem to have imported the negativity of Donald Trump in an effort to undermine progressive governments everywhere.
As Professor Marcia Langton described in her address to the National Press Club, the education, health and housing gap between Indigenous Australians and the rest of us is widening. Our empathy deficit may also be widening.
Fiona Colin, Malvern East

Bring on good government

Some of your correspondents seem to miss the point. We can have social justice and cheaper air tickets at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive. All it takes is good government. And incidentally, whether airfares are high or low, the needs of the socially disadvantaged, and the solutions, remain the same.
Peter Burton, South Melbourne

Anti-Pie in AI
The Bot got three predictions correct (″⁣Footy tipping made easy: AI predicts the AFL finals″⁣, 7/9), but was wrong in tipping Melbourne. Clearly some anti-Collingwood bias is built into AI.
David Charles, Newtown

Not all black and white
It’s staggering how many entrenched views there are of a simple football incident that occurred in a split second on Thursday night. Everyone has a single black and white view (pun intended). No discussion to be had. But there is a lot of discussion necessary isn’t there?
I can’t help but look at this as a metaphor for everything going on in the country at the moment. We barrack for a position without any intention of changing our view. We should always be willing to discuss an issue and even change our point of view. All of us.
Julian Guy, Mount Eliza

Red cards are needed
Like other viewers, I saw a careless act on Thursday night result in the injured player being stretchered off with yet another concussion. Surely the AFL should allow the umpires to ″⁣red card″⁣ the offender (as in other football codes) and order him to leave the field for the rest of the match. Any further punishment for the offence should then be up to the AFL Tribunal. This may make players more cautious in their playing style.
Rob Evans, Glen Iris

Outrageous fee
A $22 booking fee for each ticket booked for the AFL finals is outrageous. Someone is making a killing.
Christine Hammett, Richmond

Sumfink from nuffink
Sumfink? Nuffink? The Cockney dialect is a treasure, which inevitably came to influence spoken (rather than academic) Australian. Hear the original, and enjoy.
Simon Thornton, Alphington


Yes, being able to kick straight in AFL is important, however actually getting the ball is required beforehand. Hence speed and agility are primary.
John Groom, Bentleigh

Where’s the sending-off rule, AFL?
Jane Spier, Seaford

Why do I find myself supporting every non-Melbourne side in the finals? Couldn’t be the Melbourne umpires, the number of free kicks given or those frees given in the goal square surely, could it?
Ross Hosking, Blackwood, SA

To the AFL, see if cricket’s Snicko is being used at the moment. With all your resources, what you have is pathetic.
Darryn Hannah, Gorae

Re King Charles’ image problem in that he looks to be from another century, it’s not unlike the monarchy in general. Out of time, relevance and purpose in the 21st century.
Dorothy Galloway, Mentone

The feral cat problem is well and truly out of the bag.
Chris Burgess, Port Melbourne

The privatisation of our public assets has been a disaster for this country. It has resulted in poorer service delivery, job losses and increased costs to the public.
Bill O’Connor, Beechworth

Education is not about getting top marks in NAPLAN.
Barbara Lynch, South Yarra

I, too, was unsure about what I was actually voting for. So, I went online, did some research, listened to one podcast and that cleared things up for me. I will be voting Yes.
Caroline Johansson, Sorrento

The pro-nuclear Nationals are determined to stay in opposition until we reach net zero.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

Not to mention the missing “d” on “Wensdays”.
Ian Dale, Rosebud