My wife and I have been loyal supporters of the Greens since the party’s formation by Bob Brown. At last year’s federal election, they again received our No.1 Senate vote, based on their overall platform including their determined support for the Voice as a constitutional amendment – not on our particular knowledge of the individual candidates. So in a small sense, we unwittingly assisted in Lidia Thorpe’s election as senator.
Now, her opposition to the Voice, and her consequent resignation from the Greens, is a source of dismay and regret. She has done good work in the past but her recent actions will be to her own disadvantage and that of Indigenous people’s rights, whatever the outcome. If the Voice referendum succeeds, she will no doubt retain her seat in the Senate, but with the perception of a loose-cannon outlier, her own ″voice″ in support of Indigenous rights effectively silenced by disregard. If her opposition contributes in part to its failure, she will forever bear the acrimony of most Indigenous people she purports to represent, and of those in the community who support them. If she truly wished to act with integrity she should not just resign from the Greens, but also from her position as senator, then express her personal views from outside parliament. Her present position is not only undemocratic, but also futile.
Ronald Burnstein, Heidelberg
No longer representative
Lidia Thorpe no longer represents her electorate, who voted for the Greens, nor does she represent most Indigenous Australians with regard to the Voice. She has lost sight of her responsibility as an elected member of the government.
Claire Merry, Wantirna
A fresh election should be called
When politicians who are elected for a party, and therefore that party’s platform, decide to leave, a new election for their position should be held. Lidia Thorpe was elected as a Green, not an independent, and should be made to face the electorate with her new set of values. Voters are treated like mugs every time a politician elected on one platform jumps ship for another.
Lyndall Black, Yarrawonga
We have to start somewhere
I am not a First Nations person, so cannot imagine what it would be like to have your land and rights taken away from you. But how long do we need to debate the Voice? This has been discussed for many years now and unless we start somewhere, nothing will be achieved. Remember the saying, “From little things big things grow.″
Jane Taylor, Newport
Have we, as a country, learnt nothing?
It would seem that those opposed to the Voice (as they are more than entitled to be) are relaxed about the Indigenous situation as it stands today and as it has stood since Federation. They are happy with the outcomes with regards to health and housing, and with disenfranchisement and opportunity and the way that governments, both state and federal, engage with First Nations people. Until this country faces the reality that what we have done in the past to the present has demonstrably not worked, Indigenous issues will continue to stop Australia from moving forward. The referendum is about respect and responsibility. If the Voice fails, then the country and its people will have learnt nothing, and the status quo will continue for another 100 years. And nobody wants that. I hope.
Philip West, Jan Juc
The senator has my support
I am a 70-year-old white woman who has strongly believed in treaty for more than half my life, and I don’t know why there are those who think the Voice is all there is. Lidia Thorpe is entitled to her view, and I stand with her. The Voice is basically a trinket that will mean little or nothing.
Marilyn Shepherd, Angaston
Rethink road design
Road design in Victoria stubbornly persists in failing to recognise cycling as a legitimate and sustainable transport mode, distinct from recreational bike usage. (″Call to fix ‘blind corner’ before more die″, 7/2).
Numerous bike lanes suddenly terminate, thrusting cyclists unexpectedly into a lane of motor vehicles, perhaps most prominently near the steps of parliament in Spring Street. The continued adoption of discredited ″shared paths″ combines commuter cyclists with mutually incompatible users such as dogs on leads and toddlers.
A recent glaring safety-in-design failure is the tram stops along the northern section of Route 96 in Nicholson Street, which squeeze cyclists onto narrow, steep ramps shared with cars and trucks legally travelling at up to 60km/h past waiting tram passengers and schoolchildren. It should not require further fatalities and coronial criticism to prompt a rethink.
Rod Duncan, Brunswick East
The ignorant link
Your correspondent (Letters, 7/2) criticises Anthony Albanese for linking those who are unconvinced about an Indigenous Voice being enshrined in the constitution with the January 6 insurrectionists in the US. But surely there is at least one basic link – ignorance.
Phil Alexander, Eltham
No change in the weather
In 1960, I was shocked to read a news article saying that Russia had shot down an American ″weather reconnaissance aircraft″. Later it was found to be a U2 spy plane that regularly traversed the USSR. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Paul Perry, Fitzroy North
Lyndall Thomas (Comment, 7/2) may not be loving it when she leaves her home charging station and heads for the country. There she may be waiting a long time at a station as multiple users take 40 minutes-plus to charge their vehicles.
Robin Schokman, Doncaster
Not so super
If Australia could redesign our superannuation system, it would be a lot different from the bloated mess we now have (Comment, 7/2).
In pursuit of deregulation and competition, Australia has now developed a huge super industry. Numerous funds, employing thousands of people, offer essentially the same service. The money spent on promoting their products and paying an army of investment wizards results in lower returns for the funds’ members.
As columnist Jessica Irvine says, the system could be much simpler and less costly to run. However, it is likely that we will continue to tinker with the existing system, making it even larger and more complicated.
It seems that the interests of the superannuation industry are more important than those of the millions of Australians who are compelled to have that industry manage their money, for better or worse.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills
An unhealthy view
The article “Medicare on life support” (7/2) clearly demonstrates the Coalition’s ideological loathing of a universal healthcare system. Under the Coalition government the average patient contribution to see a GP went from $26 in 2012 to $42 in 2022, with the government’s contribution increasing by less than $5, pushing thousands of patients into the emergency departments of already stressed public hospitals.
Peter Dutton argues Labor has failed on its commitments to Australians to keep a lid on prices. Is he kidding? It will take some time and considerable effort to fix up the mistakes and the mess left behind by years of mismanagement and deceit by the Coalition. We can only be grateful that people finally realised just how ineffective the governments under Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison were and how little they cared for those outside of their orbit.
David Conolly, Brighton
Not a service for all
Why do we still have a Christian religious service to mark the start of the parliamentary year? Australia is a secular nation made up many different faiths. Time to remove this anachronistic practice and replace it with something non-religious and inclusive.
Dean Virgin, Strathmore
Do not open
I support your correspondents (Letters, Open-plan classrooms, 7/2) by sharing my 1980s experiences of teaching VCE literature accompanied by a year7 drama class impersonating volcanoes, a year 10 debating a controversial issue, and a teacher redressing the advent of a mooner. Partitions were hastily cobbled together and the adventure abandoned.
The next college I worked in introduced the “new” concept with a fanfare. Literally. A science teacher measured the noise level in the sumptuous area at 112 decibels in the first week.
The powers that be who know about hands-on delivery of curriculum could be better engaged in going back to their whiteboards, which, incidentally, do not alleviate the problem.
Rosalind McIntosh, Camberwell
Let’s fly this idea
I hope Australia will immediately buy some type of anti-balloon defence system from the US. I am terrified that “you know who” are spying on us. I am sure something around a billion dollars would be workable.
Ken McLeod, Williamstown
The cause of the cause
I am not the first to note that control of alcohol is an end-point intervention in Alice Springs.
We should remember the social determinants that have led to the abuse of alcohol in the Indigenous community (and others) in that town.
Not so long ago, Professor Sir Michael Marmot delivered the 2016 series of the ABC Boyer Lectures, in which he reminded us to ask about the causes of the causes. He urged us to consider the conditions in which people are born, live and age, and how that affects their lives and health outcomes. Please listen to these inspiring lectures if you have not heard them before.
We can apply these determinants to any community, but the focus right now is on the Indigenous community of Alice Springs. We are looking at the sad and frustrating outcome for people deprived of country, language, education and appropriate housing.
The solution is at the source, not the end point.
Jennifer Milne, Armadale
A critical fact
Good on Lidia Thorpe for objecting to the Voice ″unless I am satisfied that First Nations sovereignty is not ceded″. No amount of window dressing can alter this critical fact, which will remain there festering until it is addressed.
Peter Drum, Coburg
It’s a pity a small number of high-profile Indigenous people are calling for a No vote; they are giving an excuse to people who want to vote No but do not want to be seen as racist. This is going the same way as the republic referendum, when different groups in favour wanted different alternatives and the end result of the vote was no.
Phil Mackenzie, Eaglemont
Our health, education, childcare and aged care systems are in crisis, our roads are crumbling and housing is unaffordable for most.
But where is there no shortage of funding? Defence.
What is the point of spending billions on submarines and mines to be supplied in decades when there is a dire need for money to provide essential services to the Australian community right now?
Daniel Cole, Essendon
The suggestion re plastics by your correspondent (Letters, 7/2) highlights an anomaly in the state government’s single plastics ban. The ACT government has banned the use of lightweight plastic bags, so you won’t see them in supermarkets for loose fruit and vegetables. Fellow shoppers in Canberra recently advised me to buy a pack of reasonably priced reusable bags and were incredulous such laws were not uniform throughout Australia. Naively, I thought our state governments and territories adopted a consistent approach to protecting our country’s environment, which overlaps state borders.
Sally Davis, Malvern East
The ascension of Tony Abbott into the ranks of the climate change denialist advocacy, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, is hardly a surprise (″Tony Abbott joins leading UK climate-sceptic think tank″, 7/2). His politically ultra-conservative way of thinking, where the scientific concept of falsifiability is viewed as an inconvenience that gets in the way of transforming untruths into righteous truths, will be a good match for this organisation.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South
According to the Explainer (7/2) about Medicare, ″former prime minister Gough Whitlam introduced Australia’s first version of universal healthcare with Medibank in 1975″. It then seamlessly goes on to state that ″the scheme became Medicare under the Hawke government in 1984″ without the slightest mention that between the two events the Fraser Coalition government abolished Medibank in 1981.
Dennis Dodd, Wangaratta
The swoon’s a balloon
I don’t recall a balloon in Jules Verne’s novel. It was producer Mike Todd’s idea for the film. Lends itself to a gentle, dreamy tune but not a safe way to cross mountains, and unpredictable time-wise for a man in a hurry.
John Mathew, Melbourne
AND ANOTHER THING
Good on Lidia Thorpe. I still can’t work out why the people in Canberra are insisting this is a party-based issue and not one of following one’s own conscience.
Trevor Nock, Torquay
Lidia Thorpe will yet be the first president of an Australian republic.
Bill Pell, Emerald
Has Lidia Thorpe “thorpedoed” the Greens?
Deborah Morrison, Malvern East
Elected by voters as a Greens senator, now self-elected as an independent, Lidia Thorpe should resign and face a byelection so the people can decide her future.
Geoff Oliver, East Malvern
Lidia Thorpe is “free to speak”, but will anyone listen to her voice?
Steve Dixon, North Melbourne
It’s time to move on from the voice of Lidia Thorpe.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch
Greens leadership at present is suffering a big case of buyer’s remorse.
Tom Stafford, Wheelers Hill
Could someone please tell me what is ″a black sovereignty movement″?
Wendy Brennan, Bendigo
I reckon it’s going to be a very cross bench.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East
Peter Hartcher (Comment, 7/2) makes me ask, why do our government and media accept the inevitability of war with China? We will not win. It’s not too late to pull back from the brink.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn
Tony Abbott in a think tank. I’m sure there is an oxymoron there somewhere.
George Houlder, Cambrian Hill
″Ugly thistle garden″? Does your correspondent not know that the thistle is the national flower of Scotland (Letters, 7/2)?
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East
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