They are just protecting their members’ interests

They are just protecting their members’ interests

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She needs to be reminded that the superannuation funds held are not owned by the government or are only the domain of private enterprise. Is it all right for the private sector only in her mind to determine how funds are to be managed or to seek to influence infrastructure policy, but not the funds that represent the bulk of Australia’s essential and often lowest-paid workers?
Ray Cleary, Camberwell

These funds are to be congratulated
Not only has this federal government shied away from seriously addressing climate change, but it insists that fossil fuel gas will be the salvation of the economy post-COVID-19. Fortunately, several industry super funds have committed to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

If the government won’t act, then industry must and go it alone if necessary. These super funds are to be congratulated, not pilloried, because they are investing their members’ funds in activities that will ultimately benefit us all, not just their members.

Jane Hume and her Coalition colleagues would be wise to take a lesson from their foresight and work alongside these funds, not against them.
Sue Bennett, Sunbury

Whose job is it, then?
Jane Hume says it is not the job of industry super funds to ‘‘rebuild the economy, create jobs, reframe the climate debate or require industrial relations changes’’. The obvious question is whose job is it and why aren’t they doing it?
Trevor King, St Kilda East

I’m proud of my fund
It is not every day you feel proud of your super fund. But cheers for UniSuper in moving firmly away from coal investments.
Tony Haydon, Springvale

So, it’s up to the market … until it isn’t
So, let me just check I have this right. Successive Coalition governments have favoured the primacy of ‘‘market forces’’ as an economic philosophy. ‘‘Market forces’’ contributed to the self-serving, unethical, profits-and-bonuses-at-all-costs culture in financial institutions exposed in the royal commission.

Once this was exposed, I shifted my money to an industry superannuation fund and I’m sure that I’m not alone in doing this. These funds are using their ‘‘market force’’ to invest more in line with the values of their members (i.e., favouring renewables over fossil fuels and incorporating climate change concerns into decision making).

This displeases the Coalition government as it does not align with their policy priorities, so the government is seeking ways of curtailing the industry superannuation funds’ power. So, the Coalition’s position is: ‘‘We will let the market decide (up until the point we – and our big donors – don’t like the market’s decisions).’’
Kathryn Robertson, Thornbury

The criticism is actually a badge of honour
What a badge of honour awarded to my HESTA – for “noisy” and “belligerent” courage on climate. So proud to know you.
Maria Bohan, Newtown


Bravery will be rewarded
Another clear-headed but bleak article from Sean Kelly (‘‘Cowardice: a united climate ticket’’, Comment, 19/9). At stake is the future of the planet and what action Australia should undertake to play our part in saving it.

To cowardice can be added dishonesty and obfuscation. There is so much of the latter that the majority of Australians believe that action is unaffordable and will come at a heavy loss of jobs.

Sadly, Labor has judged that fighting the government on climate change is therefore not a winning strategy. But business and science have a blueprint for meaningful action that also grows the economy and creates jobs.

The government may not want to acknowledge this as it clings to its fossil-fuel base, and Labor needs to do a better job than it did at the last election of explaining the opportunities of the new and compensation for the obsolete. Voters will respond to bravery, honesty and education.
Peter Thomson, Brunswick

A deliberate failure
There were mistakes made during hotel quarantine but they were not intentional. There was little time for reflection. And since then, measures have been introduced for our short-term and long-term recovery.

This is not the case with Scott Morrison’s gas-led recovery plan. The Coalition has had seven years to come up with an energy plan. Seven years to read the science and witness the effects of climate change. It has chosen a path, deliberately and intentionally, that fails spectacularly on a swath of national and global interests but delivers handsomely for its mates and donors.

This is a gross act of wanton irresponsibility. It is where our anger should be focused.
Jenny Herbert, Metung

How about a refund?
Yes, Carolyn O’Brien (Letters, 19/9), I’d also like to stop hearing from Qantas about a range of things. I would, however, welcome correspondence about a refund of airfares purchased last year.

Another airline just contacted me to confirm it will not be honouring its agreement to fly overseas next month and will refund the ticket. Sorted. In two days. Call me, Qantas, even better, refund my money.
Rosslyn Jennings, North Melbourne

Debates ignore the data
The debates based on short-term thinking about when and how Victoria should open up as the COVID-19 numbers abate are ignoring the data coming from the UK, Europe and US, where the case numbers continue to rise exponentially.

Studies are showing that the burden of poor health that infected people can be left with will be high because post-viral syndrome is affecting a much larger proportion of people and lasting a lot longer than we are used to seeing with influenza and other illnesses. Opening up too soon risks another devastating wave.

We support the CHO and Premier in their resolve to lower the case numbers as a first step. Our daily case rates are on track to meet the 14-day average targets. And because we know COVID-19 can cause long-term incapacitating illness, the public health measures in place are needed to prevent the potential for literally thousands of working adults and others getting infected with the virus and then finding that they are left with significantly debilitating after-effects on their productivity, mental health and future life plans.
Dr Anna Nicholson, Bronwyn Carter, Professor Helen Keleher, Professor Rob Moodie, Victorian Branch of Public Health Association of Australia

Maskell’s timely thoughts
Duncan Maskell asks: What is our tolerance for death in this global pandemic? (‘‘Victoria faces question of life and death’’, The Sunday Age, 20/9.) He has voiced what some of us are thinking but can’t say in the current environment of public discourse.

It is timely to talk about how far we should shut economic activity down and hamper the careers of young people while directing intense effort into saving and preserving the lives of, e.g. the elderly.

And who gets to go to ICU in a pandemic? Expensive medical intervention may extend the lifespan of an elderly person but is it helpful to all sectors of the community if the aged survivor goes on only to further suffer the diseases of the aged? All lives are precious but some community sectors unfairly absorb the finite amounts of human resources and finances at the expense of more productive sectors, e.g. the young.

Young people must feel unfairly treated and resentful in this pandemic because their lives, ambitions, careers and hopes have been badly fractured while society’s attention is focused elsewhere.
John Fitzgerald, Glen Huntly

No ethical argument for this
Six months into this pandemic, it’s beyond tiresome to see various captains of industry and academics like the University of Melbourne’s vice-chancellor Duncan Maskell still trotting out the disingenuous argument that a robust COVID-19 response is a black-and-white trade-off between lives and ‘‘the economy.’’ There is ample evidence from around the world that a steady rate of pandemic deaths puts a bit of a dampener on consumer confidence.

It is even more galling to see Professor Maskell pontificate about quality-of-life-adjusted years and point to European countries with far higher caseloads and death tolls on the same day that Victoria recorded 14 cases and entered the home stretch of lockdown.

Why on earth would anybody look at cases spiralling out of control again in France or Britain and think that Australia should fling open its borders and follow their lead?

The higher education sector is undoubtedly facing a difficult period given its reliance on overseas students, but even putting aside the moral affront of prioritising profits over lives, I see no ethical argument for putting the interests of one single industry ahead of all others.
Mitchell Edgeworth, St Kilda

Listen to John Pesutto
‘‘Hardest calls for captains’’ (The Age, 19/9) suggests that the further you move to the right, the more spiteful and less empathetic you become in pursuit of your ends.

If the letters to The Age recently are representative of public opinion, the attack by the conservatives and their friends in the media on Daniel Andrews rather than the virus has resulted in a polarised population. Worse, the constant undermining has encouraged civil disobedience.

Victorians would be well served if the opposition were to adopt the principles of John Pesutto, who while being generally supportive of the efforts of our government, has offered constructive criticism and never shown malice.
Chris Pearson, Kyneton

If hospitals have failed …
Michael O’Brien suggests that businesses could open with a COVID-safe plan. Hospitals have had very strict COVID-safe plans, and yet have failed to prevent transmissions within the hospitals.

Does Mr O’Brien seriously think businesses would be more successful? It is time he contributed something constructive.
Margery Renwick, Brighton

Why the inconsistency?
I understand how the unlawful activity by members of just five households in a certain area of Melbourne has given politicians and government bureaucracy a problem (‘‘Two from Casey cluster in hospital’’, The Age, 19/9). I also understand how I, my family and everyone I know from here to Bendigo in the Victorian community have, to a very significant extent, complied with the restrictions.

What I don’t understand is how Daniel Andrews can stand before the media and say that none of those individuals will be prosecuted. I also don’t understand when it became the right of the state Premier to decide who and who does not face charges for unlawful activity.

Others have been reported as being fined, what’s the exception to the rule here? With the inconsistency over the penalties imposed for breaking COVID-19 health regulations, the magistrates of Victoria are going to be very busy granting appeals to anyone who brings them forward.
Simon Clegg, Donvale

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, US Supreme Court judge, gutsy champion of democracy, rights for women and equality for all, epitomised the sort of American who really did make her country a better place, and I mourn her loss.

In that tiny body lurked a generous heart and a giant intellect that will cause history to rank her in the pantheon of great world figures. A truly great American.
Dick Honor, Bowral, NSW

The greater rights incursion
The Victorian opposition finds aspects of the government’s coronavirus response heavy-handed. Most recently it called for the curfew to be lifted and for the Premier’s scalp.

Since 2001, the federal government has introduced more than 80 anti-terror laws, increasingly draconian and sometimes unworkable. This intrusion into our lives and curtailment of human rights is certainly heavy-handed. I am not aware of any opposition to Peter Dutton’s increasingly intrusive measures from Daniel Andrews’ very vocal critics.

Victorians have more chance of being knocked off by the virus than by any terrorist or foreign agent.
Norman Huon, Port Melbourne

Macquarie gets it
Macquarie Group chief executive Shemara Wikramanayake is positive about private capital funding public projects (‘‘Infrastructure pandemic splurge needs private funds’’, 19/9).

Unlike the Morrison government, Ms Wikramanayake emphasised the opportunity for decarbonisation and the role that renewables will play in recovery.

Having raised the Goethals Bridge in New York to protect the asset from the effects of climate change, it’s clear that Macquarie means business.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

A perplexing position
I was a bit perplexed when John Wylie told The Age (19/9) that the airport link was at the top of his wish list, yet also mentioned it’s possible a suitable COVID-19 vaccine may not become available. If this were the case I can’t see the airport bursting with travellers for quite a while.

If the link does go ahead it’s vital that it’s done properly. That means it has to be a part of the regional rail loop and separate from the suburban rail network. We already know that due to the virus many regional centres are set to boom. If air travellers fail to bounce back at least we will have the certainty of domestic train travellers.
Kevin Ward, Preston


Gas-fired power

I hope the government will choose the same firm building the new submarines to build the new gas-fired power station. Surely the knowledge from building one white elephant will help in building another.
Patricia Norden, Middle Park


Plenty of cheap gas around when Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor are talking energy policy.
Laurie McCormack, Northcote

The COVID-19 response
Now for something completely different from the government: Everybody thought Somebody was in charge; in the end, turns out it was Nobody. Tickets to the show are free.
John Massie, Middle Park

I knew all my years of watching Dad’s Army weren’t wasted.
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill

Ring of steel? Ring of copper, surely?
John Ackerman, Keilor East

Great to see there will be a consistent approach to contact tracing. Clearly the government-backed app didn’t work.
Prue Gill, Carlton North

I took off my face mask, savoured our home-made egg and bacon pie (with hot chutney), watched the world news and said how fortunate we were to live in Victoria.
Robin Martin, Coburg

It takes a huge amount of hubris for Jeff Kennett to be unnecessarily nasty to beleaguered Daniel Andrews given his own wanton devastation of Victoria during his time as premier. Ask any old teacher.
Bill Cleveland, Kew

It’s ironic that those who protest against lockdown restrictions are penalised, but those who actually break restrictions and cause a COVID-19 outbreak are not (‘‘Two from Casey cluster in hospital’’, The Age, 19/9).
Susan Caughey, Glen Iris

I wish I had the energy to conjure an opinion about Leunig’s cartoon (Spectrum, 19/9). So sad, so true.
Phillip Hankin, Camberwell

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