Focus on details a trap for long-awaited Voice

Illustration: Andrew DysonCredit:

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Indigenous consultation
I read with bemusement George Brandis stating that transparency, like integrity, is usually regarded as a self-evident good in governance and so every possible ramification of a referendum on the proposed Voice to Parliament should be tabled and presented to the Australian people (“Only transparency can save the Indigenous Voice”, The Age, 3/8.) This is exactly the stance of those ideologically opposed to the success of any such Voice. Complicate the issue and create enough doubt so it won’t get up. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is very much aware of how the republic referendum was set up to fail.
It’s a very simple proposition – do Australians feel that our First Nations people should have a Voice to Parliament? Should they be consulted on matters especially when it affects them directly where they can bring 60,000+ years of wisdom and an alternative view to issues that have to date been the sole remit of white, middle-aged conservatives?
The details of this Voice can be “nutted out”. The referendum should concern itself with fundamental core values and principles. Complicating it with unnecessary details, “chooky looky” scenarios sets it up to fail, just like how John Howard orchestrated the republic referendum failure.
David Conolly, Brighton

Transparency a vital step
I agree with George Brandis, the road to a treaty should be clear. Since I assume it’s a two-way negotiation, each group requires something essential from the other. Setting out the full and final complete list of issues from both sides is probably what most Australians would want to see from the start. I definitely want to see the agreement from both sides. I think every Australian wants to see the final “fine print”.
Patrick Walker, Coburg North

Much to learn from Indigenous Australians
We all have so much to learn and admire about our Indigenous Australians. Their skills and achievements have been rightly recognised in just about every field of endeavour – all the arts, all the sports, business, politics etc. Their resilience in coping with the adversary that has resulted from colonisation is remarkable. We are finally recognising and utilising their particular skills in coping with the havoc climate change is wreaking on our country.
ABC’s Q&A on Monday should be compulsory viewing for our politicians to learn from the considered, respectful and measured manner in which the panel addressed and acknowledged the challenges that a Voice to Parliament presents for the many different First Nation communities. If only parliamentary question time, indeed our whole democratic process, could be conducted in such a level-headed manner.
Peter Thomson, Brunswick

What would Voice achieve?
By referring to a “mixture of enthusiasm and confusion”, George Brandis neatly encapsulates much of the mood surrounding the Indigenous Voice. While many people support the idea that Indigenous Australians should have input into matters that affect them, many questions must be answered to cast an informed vote in a referendum.
For instance, the link between the Voice and significant progress on the Closing the Gap targets must be explained. It cannot be assumed that receiving the input of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in the formulation of government policy will automatically lead to better outcomes. We already know that symbolic reconciliation has made very little difference to the lives of many First Australians.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills

The ‘GST referendum’ failed
George Brandis says the 1998 election, won by the Howard government, “was a de facto referendum on the GST”. Perhaps it was, but it was also an election in which the winner received only a minority of votes – 49.0 per cent. Had it been a real referendum, we would still have no GST.
Bob Muntz, Ascot Vale


Taiwan trip a provocation
Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is a clear provocation and not in line with the United States’ One China policy (“Undeterred Pelosi recommits support for Taiwan as Beijing lashes out”, The Age, 3/8). Both China and Taiwan maintain there is only one China; and Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations. This visit will only strengthen China’s hand in the long term by justifying its reaction and pushing the boundary even further to its advantage. Sadly, the loser will be the Taiwanese people, who will be subjected to trade sanctions, intense military exercises and incursions.
Australia should condemn such foolish and dangerous missions by our ally or run the risk of being dragged into a conflict we do not need. Also, the much-touted, rules-based international order catch-cry will lose its meaning.
Siraj Perera, Camberwell

Wary of powerful China
Former major-general Jim Molan’s fear of a surprise mass-attack on United States shipping and bases in the western Pacific, as explained by Peter Hartcher (“A Pacific doomsday scenario”, The Age, 2/8), strikes me as plausible. Today’s Chinese Communist Party regime is no longer a poor, ramshackle Maoist dictatorship but a wealthier, ruthless, corporate fascist state that might well think a rapid-strike war (a retread Pearl Harbour, if you like) is a risk worth taking.
If Chiang Kai-shek had one redeeming feature, it was having the foresight and skill to keep Mao’s claws off Taiwan. Today, Taiwan is probably the best constitutional democracy in East Asia.
Nigel Sinnott, Sunshine West

Step back from war
Molan offers a dire prediction of what will happen if we keep preparing for the wrong war as he sees it: preventing an attack on Taiwan rather than facing up to China’s main intent to end US primacy in the western Pacific. In this scenario, Australia, according to Molan, has under-resourced military capabilities and they would be sitting ducks. Hartcher gives little space to any alternative views such as that of Hugh White in his recent Quarterly Essay where he posits that it’s a wrong move to back the US attempt to retain primacy in the region by opposing China. He argues that the US and its allies can neither contain China nor win a war over Taiwan. Surely, we have learnt lessons from involvements in wars not of our making: from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi, the third most senior US political leader, has visited Taiwan.
One has to ask what is achieved by this unwise visit – one that Paul Keating described as foolish, dangerous and an unnecessarily reckless and provocative act.
Maria Millers, Emerald

Some rates stay low
When the Reserve Bank lifts interest rates, and banks set new world records for speed in passing on higher rates to borrowers, the media rightly reports this action. I wonder why there is not more scrutiny of the banks collectively failing to offer more attractive interest rates for investors?
I am no economist, but wouldn’t almost everyone benefit from better investment conditions?
Alan McLean, East Melbourne

AFL wears Betts trauma
Jack Latimore’s article, (“Betts reveals trauma of cult-like camp”, The Age, 3/8), is deeply disturbing in that it reveals what appears to have been an egregious training exercise, especially in relation to Indigenous players but also to the broader Adelaide Crows playing group in 2018. Shocking in its ignorance of the primary role of “respect” in Aboriginal culture but also in its promotion of an archaic masculinist template.
Where was the “due diligence” one would have expected of a modern AFL club in scrutinising possible psychological impacts on a multicultural workforce of an outsourced course?
Eddie Betts is an honourable and courageous Indigenous role model to be admired by Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Finals hits of sick nature
Ross Gittins continues to enhance his reputation as an insightful advocate for the flourishing of life (“Knock-on impact of sick nature”, The Age, 3/8). Prompted by the State of the Environment report, his incisive account of the inter-relationship between the economy and the environment is compelling. We rely on healthy ecosystems to provide us with clean food, water and air and to preserve our own mental and physical health. We degrade this web of life at our peril. The only bone I have to pick with him is his declaration that “we’ve hit the environment so hard, it’s started punching back”. It’s truer to say that the environment is on the ropes and that more frequent and extreme weather events are the death throes of the biosphere.
Only intensive care offers the possibility of its and our survival.
Tom Knowles, Parkville

Free market harm
How refreshing that Ross Gittins evoked Karl Marx when explaining why capitalist, free market ideology harms our ecosystems. Marxist economics values the natural world because adherents know that “everything is connected to everything else”. COVID-19 and the global pandemic is the very expression of the environment, “punching back”, with 6.4 million lives lost.
After two years of international pandemic, economic lockdowns, record floods and fires along with record student protests, the State of the Environment report should have alerted those in power: we should not be going back to normal. Yet, the renewed corporate agenda to gain profits through growth, plus the ideology that technology will save the day, is as deluded an idea as that we need more billionaires to be environmental saviours.
Leon Zembekis, Reservoir

Earlier target a must
The major political parties in Australia are adept at directing the national conversation about climate ambition towards longer-term targets and away from short-term accountability.
The Morrison government’s excruciatingly drawn-out process to offer some sort of commitment to net zero by 2050 meant it came under little scrutiny about its appalling 2030 target.
Now, the Albanese government’s adoption of an inadequate 2030 target has thus far allowed it to avoid it even having to nominate a carbon-reduction target for this current term of parliament ending in 2025. Accountability on climate policy is thus largely avoided.
The solution here is for the ALP to commit to — or to be forced to commit to – a 42 per cent reduction by 2025. This target is not only consistent with the climate science, but also entirely consistent with the ALP’s current election promise to meet and beat a 43 per cent target by 2030.
Tim Thornton, Northcote

Cost of wildlife trade
Now that the Huanan market has been identified as the likely source of COVID-19 (“COVID’s origin: experts say search is over”, The Age, 3/8) the World Health Organisation must immediately abolish unsanitary wet markets and their crowded animal cages as well as stamp out illegal trading in wildlife throughout the world. Mother Nature has spoken.
Jan Kendall, Mt Martha

Dare to wear
At a wedding on Sunday, my husband and I were the only masked people. I refused to eat and drink – it was a cocktail reception with finger food – and my sisters thought me over the top.
One sister has now sent a message saying I always was the smarter sister. She, her son and daughter-in-law all have COVID-19, and she knows now that we all should be wearing masks.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster

Staying current
Your correspondent (Letters, 3/8) describes Madeleine King as the “erstwhile resources minister”. No, she’s the current resources minister. “Erstwhile” means “previous”, not “worthy” as many people mistakenly presume. It’s worth getting it right, especially when you use the word as a sarcastic backhander.
Monty Arnhold, Port Melbourne

Unleashing havoc
The concept of retirees being allowed to earn more without reducing their pension has merit (“Farmers urge tax break to unleash grey army of fruit pickers”, The Age, 2/8). However, the image of these ancient ones swaying at the top of a ladder as they reach for barely accessible fruit or trudging along with a heavy basket on their osteoporotic backs is concerning.
Peter Barry, Marysville

Two tiers
Retirees working is all very well for those fit enough. Have we deteriorated into a society of the fittest and damn those unfit?
Doris LeRoy, Altona

On our bikes, kitted out
I do grasstrack motocross racing, and it has very healthy numbers of female participants. I quite regularly get my posterior handed to me (and a lot of other blokes, too) by female riders.
Unlike The Leatherettes though (‘“Girl gangs’ rev up motorbike scene”, The Age, 1/8), these females are kitted out, top to toe: Eye protection, full-face helmets, boots etc. I am, of course, just going on the photo in the article, and sincerely hope that they, and any other motorcyclist, are using full protective gear when riding. I love the name, and I hope to see a bunch of them at Phillip Island for the MotoGP, which is back in October.
Shaun Dunford, Mt Gambier

Desperate for teachers
As an educator of more than 30 years, I am seeing first-hand how schools are suffering from a shortage of teachers, which only grew during COVID-19. The federal and state governments, with the private and university sector, must seek to increase base teaching salaries to incentivise more people to pursue teaching careers. This should occur in conjunction with reviewing the skilled migration program to enable more skilled people from overseas to teach here, especially in the fastest growing suburbs, which often have the greatest shortages.
Karim Noura, Altona North

And another thing

State politics
How quaint. Andrews and Guy facing off like swordsmen in the battle over integrity.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

Illustration: Matt Golding Credit:

Careful Matthew, you might just spin out of control.
Graham Cadd, Dromana

The secret of success is sincerity. If you can fake it, you’ve got it made. Much like integrity really.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

No point campaigning on integrity unless you can show you’ve got it.
Alan Williams, Port Melbourne

Someone should tell Matthew Guy that integrity is not acting on something unsavoury only after you have been found out.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

If you order a lobster you pay for it, whether you eat it or not.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton

Nuclear energy So, Peter Dutton, a nuclear power plant for the seat of Dickson? If not, you’re just playing games.
Tim Durbridge, Brunswick

Ode to Dutton: You have not listened/You have not learnt/If you push nuclear/You will be burnt.
Joe Nieuwenhuizen, Somers

I cannot wait until the Indigenous voice we hear comes from the mouth of our first Indigenous governor-general.
Dick Verwey, Richmond

Pauline Hanson and Lidia Thorpe, both shameless attention-seekers. Ignore them both.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully

Bravo, Nancy, for following through with your planned visit to Taiwan against the threats from the angry bully Panda.
Roger Christiansz, Wheelers Hill

With the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri, I’m sceptical as to how this will affect al-Qaeda’s presence and activities. I would imagine there would be other like-minded extremists ready to fill his shoes. I sincerely hope I’m proven wrong.
Greg Bardin, Altona North

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