In the parliamentary life, some things don’t change4th July 2021
We know that the toxic culture of sexism and intimidation of women thrives in Parliament House. It is clear from Ms Banks’ account that not only does the Prime Minister tolerate this culture, he is one of its most enthusiastic exponents.
Fiona Colin, Malvern East
A sad account of a workplace anywhere
Julia Banks was quite correct in not bringing herself down to that level of atrociously bad behaviour she experienced while she was in Parliament. It is hard not to retaliate to such rudeness but you can, with effort, keep it in your head.
Such a sad account of a workplace anywhere.
Anne Flanagan, Box Hill North
PM’s rejection of claims is not surprising
Julia Banks, former Liberal MP, has alleged that she was touched inappropriately by a senior male colleague and subjected to a culture “underpinned by sexism and misogyny” during her time in Parliament from 2016 onwards when Malcolm Turnbull was still prime minister, and that when he was deposed by Scott Morrison in 2018, the current PM then tried to dissuade her from announcing that she would not be recontesting her seat by using a “Trumpesque tone”, and that he was like a constant, menacing, background wallpaper.
Ms Banks, furthermore, in her new book has said that there was backgrounding from the Prime Minister’s Office and other senior Liberal sources to the media that said that she was a weak, over-emotional woman who had not coped well with the coup week that led to Scott Morrison assuming the mantle of PM.
Australians knowing full well Scott Morrison’s propensity for being blind, deaf and dumb to any accusations levelled at him and his government should not be totally surprised therefore one iota that the PM “absolutely rejects” claims about the nature of his conversations with Ms Banks.
Eric Palm, Gympie, Qld
Elements missing from …
It seems Scott Morrison is not being up front about three key things in his plan for escape from COVID-19.
When will there be sufficient mRNA vaccine in the country to have two doses administered to 90 per cent of those under 60?
When will there be enough high-quality quarantine facilities operating to allow pre-COVID levels of arrivals from overseas?
There must also be a clear recognition that any estimate of the level of vaccination required to move to stage two will at best be unreliable. It must depend on the strain of the virus that exists at the time (and does not exist today). Sure, assumptions can be made, but these will be guesses.
He should be able to tell us a lot now about the first based on existing contracts. He should be able to tell us a fair bit about the second. And he should not avoid the last, it is fundamental.
Brewis Atkinson, Tyabb
… the PM’s plan
While Scott Morrison may be feeling a bit smug after announcing his “plan”, it is worth keeping a few things in mind.
One, this plan is no different to the plan of the previous 18 months. Namely get a vaccine and get vaccinated then we can move on. Second, we haven’t achieved this plan already because we didn’t, and incredibly still do not, have the vaccine supply to achieve the outcome of the “plan”.
In reality, this is just another marketing exercise with a pretty table from our chief marketing guru.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha
You must set goals
David Crowe’s last sentence contains the kernel of the message behind the federal government’s calamitous vaccination rollout to combat COVID-19. Namely, that “It turns out the old targets still matter the most”.
In other words, setting deliberate targets to achieve goals is both necessary and smart (“COVID transition plan looks concrete but there’s good reason to be sceptical”, The Age online, 3/7).
On the back foot, Scott Morrison’s “four-stage plan” – containing “no dates and no deadlines” – appears to be a hastily thrown together (i.e. reactive) plan that has been driven by the proactive demands of state premiers of a 50 per cent cut to overseas arrivals for the rest of the year.
So, as Crowe correctly asserts, there is every “good reason to be sceptical” of Mr Morrison’s four-stage plan, because nothing hitherto (including last week’s “dopey and damaging bun fight” over GPs advising young people to take AstraZeneca), remotely resembles competent crisis management, as exemplified by the failure to understand (fundamentally) the importance of setting targets to realise goals in the first place.
Jelena Rosic, Mornington
Publish reserve prices
Auction underquoting will never be stamped out until a simple new rule is introduced to require estate agents to publish their vendors’ reserve prices in all auction advertising (“Call for action on underquoting as auction results smash price guides”, The Age, 3/7).
Very simple, easily policed, and the problem of buyers being duped by rogue agents would be fixed instantly. Auctions would then have maximum transparency, and vendors’ price expectations would be self-regulated as they would not want to waste their money on expensive advertising campaigns if their reserves were set too high.
The equally deceptive but rarely reported practice of some agents overquoting to win a listing from a prospective vendor would also be stamped out and we would also have a more trusted and respected real estate profession.
John Keating, real estate agent and auctioneer, Woodend
There’s no excuse for this
Leah Calnan of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria says that the reason for underquoting property price ranges is low interest rates, government incentives for first home buyers and post-pandemic lifestyle changes.
Surely admitting to knowledge of these should mean that quotes should be much more accurate, not less.
Bob Graham, Yarragon
The Wright stuff
My favourite columnist has done it again (“So much to learn from a toddler’s adventures”, Insight, The Age, 3/7). Tony Wright was spot on with his beautiful article about his granddaughter and his sensible reminder about the vaccines from which we and our children have all benefited.
There is a risk in everything we do in life.
Gail White, Ferntree Gully
In praise of Doc Evatt
It was encouraging to read that the superb writer Gideon Haigh has written a reflection on the great Australian Herbert Vere Evatt, as reviewed by Morag Fraser (“A brilliantly compelling feat of resurrection”, Spectrum, 3/7).
Having been Australia’s longest-serving PM, Sir Robert Menzies’ reputation has over time unfortunately diminished his peer Evatt’s stellar achievements.
At a time when Australia was a provincial Anglo outpost, “Doc Evatt” remarkably became an internationally respected jurist and president of the United Nations General Assembly in 1948-49, having been a key figure in that organisation’s establishment.
His tragic ineptitude as an ALP party politician in a brutally partisan Cold War context should not now be a barrier to recognising his remarkable intellectual and visionary gifts, especially given the absence of such traits in modern Australian public life.
Evatt should be a role model for young Australians.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza
The power of pork
The saying “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” was attributed to China’s Mao Zedong.
In Australia, where sporting facilities and car parks were used to buy votes in marginal electorates, we know political power grows out of the barrel of pork.
Greg Tuck, Warragul
Be prepared to adapt
Entertainment and hospitality operators have complained about inconsistent rules devastating their industry (“Events industry pleads for fair go”, The Sunday Age 4/7).
While I sympathise with their predicament, and indeed, all businesses and people so affected, one must remember that the coronavirus itself is inconsistent and mutates and adapts so as to remain a threat or even become a more dire one.
If we fail to adapt to the changing character of the virus and don’t change the rules to resist the new challenges, we will be affected so badly that the earlier rules and lockdowns will be looked back upon with nostalgia.
It behooves every individual to do his or her part to get through this pandemic and every infringement only makes the job harder and less certain.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick
‘Car pork’ fiasco
As if “sports rorts” weren’t bad enough, we now have “car pork”, the Morrison government’s $660 million car park fiasco, to be gobsmacked by. I find myself reminiscing fondly about the Hawke government’s Paddington Bear affair that resulted in a minister resigning from cabinet over a minor customs declaration of a stuffed toy until he was judicially cleared, as I boggle at where we have landed as a society in terms of ethics and accountability since 1984.
It is so very disheartening for those of us who have tried to live life according to a moral code (albeit imperfectly at times) to watch those in government run roughshod all over their constituents, as they smirk and snigger all the way to their undeserved and generous parliamentary pensions.
Jennifer Gilchrist, South Melbourne
No longer ‘unprecedented’
They may seem a long way from home, but the heatwaves in North America are truly frightening.
In the past few days, the all-time Canadian heat record has risen from 45 degrees to 49.6 degrees: a staggering change. Hundreds of people have died of hyperthermia and now the town of Lytton is engulfed in flames.
Experts have deemed it an unprecedented, extraordinary weather event, fuelled by climate change.
How many more times do we need to hear the word “unprecedented” before we realise climate change is happening now?
Amy Hiller, Kew
A concerning revelation
The revelation that large sheets of steel have twice come loose and dangled from a tower in Box Hill is very concerning.
Coming after the flammable cladding problems, this indicates that there is a cavalier attitude by architects, developers and building contractors. Perhaps cost cutting is the reason.
To date we have not seen disasters such as recently occurred in Miami, but how long will it be before this sort of occurrence will happen in Australia?
Where is the adequate supervision of building plans, materials and quality of workmanship in the construction industry, particularly in high-rise projects? The public is surely deserving of the ability to walk on a street without the threat of a steel sheet landing on them.
The confidence of purchasers of apartments in such buildings must be compromised if they feel that they cannot trust the construction or may be liable for the expense of addressing building deficiencies.
Ralph Lewis, Canterbury
This has to be stopped
Your columnist Shaun Carney (“At the top, brazenness pays off”, Comment, 1/7) suggested that most of us have accepted pork-barrelling as part of the political process, perhaps because it is seen as endemic.
However, the size of the amounts being used to buy political advantage have become alarming, and there is little apparent concern that this activity deprives areas of disadvantage from funding, such as the NDIS and aged care.
The Australian National Audit Office must be properly funded to expose misuse of taxpayers’ money. Pork-barrelling on a grand scale has to be stopped.
Andy Breaden, Highton
A nice ring to it
I thought that “The ring of steel” sounded good, but “Fortress Australia” (Editorial, The Age, 3/7 ) sounds so much better; so much more reassuring.
Richard Opat, Elsternwick
AND ANOTHER THING
Beware, Scott Morrison. COVID-19 makes a fool of populism and unreason. So does climate change, just more slowly.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton
Handling the pandemic
It’s a great road map – except it’s missing distances, travel times and landmarks. Just the right sort of map to get me to Perth when I wanted to go to Portsea.
Ron Burnstein, Heidelberg
A plan without a timeline and allocation of responsibilities is just a wish list. Eighteen months on and nothing but spin.
John Everett, Eltham
Gladys Berejiklian, please do a gold-standard lockdown so we can travel and support your economy.
Lauryn Paget, Mount Evelyn
If Scott Morrison can’t even promote the “vaccination of a nation” without mangling the message, what can he do?
Anne Rutland, Brunswick West
Perhaps if the government mandated that all people arriving from overseas had to be fully vaccinated there would be no need to halve the already low number of weekly overseas arrivals to Australia
Garry Meller, Bentleigh
Tanya Plibersek, your country needs you. Now.
Barry O’Neill, Menzies Creek
Another thing the Prime Minister won’t hold is a job in marketing when he leaves politics.
Kevan Porter, Alphington
It’s winter and there’s no vaccine for a lot of Australians – this should be so easy for Labor.
Peter Walker, Black Rock
Victoria Police pursuit policy: Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.
Peter McGill, Lancefield
Maybe a vacuum truck to clean the streets (“Clean up our city”, Letters, 2/7) but not a pressure cleaner to wash it all into the waterways.
Michael McKenna, Warragul
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