The serious problems are swept under the carpet

The serious problems are swept under the carpet

Off By

Irene Goldwasser, St Kilda

A purely punitive measure

Jacqueline Maley is spot on. As if being unemployed isn’t challenging enough, this self-described “compassionate conservative” federal government (how good an oxymoron is that!) wants to drug test 5000 people on Newstart and Youth Allowance. With what purpose if not to punish them for “leaning not lifting” in society?

For those subjected to such an indignity, it will sadly lead to further stigmatisation, discrimination and humiliation for those already struggling in life. And this government says it is serious about mental health.

We are all painfully aware that drug taking is rife in society at all levels – employed as well as unemployed. Why is this government so keen to subject people on Newstart to this added punishment and degradation if not to serve as a distraction from their own inability to manage our failing economy. We need leadership and vision from our government, not punitive distractions like drug testing welfare recipients. They are being made scapegoats to fill the vacuum of the government’s lack of a vision for all Australians – the quiet ones as well as those with a voice.

Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

Alcohol is the real problem drug

Jacqueline Maley’s article is to be applauded. The drug that does the most harm in society is ethanol in all its disguises. Its addiction is crippling to all that have to live with it and those coping with loved ones that cannot kick the habit.

Decision making for an addict is difficult, so I commend Maley for her references to the politicians who have admitted to drunkenness in Parliament. If a politician is over .05 then that person cannot vote on legislation for 24 hours; incapable of driving therefore incapable of voting on legislation – QED.

Erik Vahl Meyer, Geelong


No place on our streets

I read Aubrey Perry’s article (“Putting the brakes on scooting at our peril”, The Sunday Age, 15/9) in my Berlin hotel room and felt the need to provide my experience with these things here.

While the scooters appear to be useful and fun to ride, the idiots who use them in Berlin are nothing more than pests. The scooters are dumped all over the place and are ridden at high speed through large crowds. I’m staying at a hotel very close to Alexanderplatz and see these nuisances weave in and out of the large crowds that gather here each day.

Now, one can always describe Berlin life as “organised chaos”, but these dangerous, silent missiles take the chaos to another level. And to boot, the riders are not compelled to wear helmets – these things can move quicker than people on a bike.

No, this toy has no place in Melbourne. There is enough stress and conflict between cyclists and motorists without introducing another menace on our roads.

Peter Wiegard, Wheelers Hill

Pure Gold(ing)

Matt Golding’s cartoon in The Sunday Age (15/9) is pure Gold(ing). After I stopped laughing I realised how insightfully he raised the Newstart issue’s implications for many other occupations and situations.

Where will this lead and where does it all end?

John Paine, Kew East

The food of the future

The federal Agriculture Minister and deputy leader of the Nationals, Bridget McKenzie, in the article in The Sunday Age claims not to be against plant-based protein foods (“Nationals seek food label overhaul”, 15/9).

I trust not, because in her powerful position she can encourage animal farmers to diversify into high-tech hydroponic – to preserve our precious water – vertically grown vegetables in huge sheds utilising solar for power.

Billionaires Bill Gates and Richard Branson are investing millions into plant-based food. Huge American animal-product companies such as Tyson and Cargill have added massive vegan arms to their businesses as they see the writing on the wall and want to be part of it.

Consumers are aware of the human, animal and planetary health benefits from vegan foods and will not be influenced by unnecessary name changes.

Diane Cornelius, Seacliff Park, SA

Truth in advertising

The Nationals claim it’s dishonest to label almond milk, soy milk etc as “milk”.

Well, if this is all about honesty in labelling, all milk cartons should bear a label stating, “Cows milk is produced by cows for the nourishment of their young. The newborn calf for whom this milk was intended has been slaughtered”.

Jenny Moxham, Monbulk

Not a shrewd move

The Prime Minister’s appointment of Pauline Hanson as deputy chair of the contentious family law inquiry beggars belief (“A call Morrison may regret”, Comment, 20/9).

This is not a shrewd move made by a savvy politician, but an insult to the intelligence of we Australians who ultimately fund these inquiries and commissions.

Shame on you, Scott Morrison. May your erroneous decision come back to haunt you. For the record, Zali Steggall is eminently more qualified for the position.

Sue Bennett, Sunbury

A scientific issue

Dan Tehan seems to think that rather than shaking the government from its lethargy by attending climate rallies, schoolchildren should be in school learning and not participating in political events.

There are two salient points that he seems to ignore. First, if this government was committed to climate change action there would be no need for the young to take time out of school to demonstrate, and second, climate change is not a political issue, it is a humanitarian and scientific issue.

Dan Tehan and his government colleagues have turned it into a political one, by first denying the issue exists when Tony Abbott was prime minister and now by continually lying about meeting Paris targets.

Brian Tait, Blackburn North

They did us proud

We should all be very proud of our schoolchildren for initiating and taking part in the climate change action march on Friday afternoon. Those whom the media interviewed for TV news spoke articulately about their concerns and were well informed and concerned about the future of the planet.

One young woman I spoke to was very passionate about the issue and well informed as well. She said there were many more people at this march than the one earlier this year. This shows these schoolchildren have influenced their elders to take action.

We just have to hope politicians on all sides will listen to us and start more urgent action to increase alternative energy provision and reduce our reliance on coal. These alternative sources of power can be a good source of employment for the future.

Jan Marshall, Brighton

You forced their hand

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is quite right that these children should be in school. However, because this government is deaf to the effects of climate change these students have been forced to sacrifice a day of their education in an attempt to make the luddites listen.

Ian Gray, Benalla

PM’s puzzling advice

It seems puzzling that the Prime Minister would think it a good idea to tell big business to stick to its knitting and not critique the government’s performance.

After all, boards and CEOs are (thankfully) not accountable to the government. It is up to shareholders to decide whether or not they want their companies to express broad views on matters including the extent to which the government has failed to deliver on a policy agenda for the future, or for that matter on specific issues – such as same-sex marriage.

Scott Morrison may well prefer those views to be expressed privately, but why shouldn’t shareholders and people who may purchase the goods and services of those companies know how well their social, environmental and ethical values align.

Brandon Mack, Deepdene

Disgraceful and insulting

Hundreds of thousands of Australians of all ages march in the streets to send a message directly to the government about their feelings on climate change (for everyone who marched there are many more at home who share the same views).

They display their belief in the science; their anger and frustration at the lack of action; their fears of the catastrophic changes already occurring; their pleas for acknowledgement of the crisis and leadership to urgently and significantly address the issues.

The response from the most senior politician in the land, Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack would have filled all marchers with despair – a “disruption” that should have occurred on a weekend. What a disgraceful and insulting assessment of the message.

If the government intends to waste three more precious years, maybe the only small hope to take from the march will be a strengthened opposition stance to retain its more meaningful policies.

Peter Thomson, Brunswick

Integrity on the line

The manipulation of political discourse through clever misuse of language continues. “Ensuring integrity” as opposed to new opportunities to constrain and undermine ALL unions looking for a fair deal for employees.

Now we have the “payment integrity bill” (“Canberra revives plan to extend wait for Newstart”, 21/9) as opposed to another way to undermine the dignity and confidence of those briefly in need of a safety net.

What next will the Coalition look to undermine through application of their special brand of “integrity”? Wages integrity, climate integrity, asylum seeker integrity, democratic integrity, journalism integrity to name but a few.

Wendy Tanner, Footscray

Highly instructive

Terry Leith’s letter (21/9) suggesting climate protesters “eliminate their consumption of foods that cause flatulence” was highly instructive.

His letter made an excellent example of how those who fear change often rely on fatuous arguments rather than scientific facts. It also highlights the importance of explaining to the Terrys of the world that they have nothing to fear by climate action — the worse that can happen is that the world becomes a better place.

Warwick Sprawson, Brunswick West

*Sign up to editor Alex Lavelle’s exclusive weekly newsletter at:

Most Viewed in National