A sad and shameful day for our nation’s democracy

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A sad and shameful day for our nation’s democracy

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

To submit a letter to The Age, email letters@theage.com.au. Please include your home address and telephone number.

CHRISTIAN PORTER

A sad and shameful day for our nation’s democracy

Our federal government has no shame. Not content with the lack of accountability for any of its actions, or for allowing ministerial standards to sink to the depths, it now has overturned 120 years of parliamentary practice in its response to the Speaker’s decision that there was a prima facie case for the Privileges Committee to examine Christian Porter’s entries on the register of MP’s interests (The Age, 21/10).

The “debate” on the Opposition’s motion as a result of the Speaker’s decision reached a new low. Peter Dutton laboriously turned the motion into an attack on crowd funding, using Senator Sarah Hanson-Young’s defamation case against another senator as an example. He listed the names chosen by some of the donors to that fund, completely ignoring the fact he could read those names because the senator had followed accepted procedure, by entering each and every donor’s name on her register of interests.

Mr Porter declined to be so transparent. To vote against the referral motion was bad enough, but this was then followed by the government gagging debate about its actions. It was a sad and shameful day for democracy in our nation.
Judith Downie, Doncaster East

Smith must move a vote of no confidence or quit

Recently, Scott Morrison said Tony Smith had been “an outstanding Speaker, in the true Westminster tradition”. Anthony Albanese paid tribute to him as an “outstanding” Speaker who had improved standards, adding, “he respects the role of the Parliament in our democracy and has sought to enhance that respect amongst the public” (Opinion, 14/10).

If Mr Smith truly believes that a prima facie case exists to pass the consideration of Christian Porter’s blind trust to the Privileges Committee, he should stand by his belief. If he believes in the Westminster tradition and the role of Parliament in our democracy, he should force the government’s hand by moving, from the floor of the house, a vote of no confidence in it on this matter. If he will not do this, he should leave Parliament and disappear into obscurity.
Adrian Tabor, Point Lonsdale

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Clarifying what makes up a ’blind trust’

It would assist the accuracy of your reporting if you refrained from using the term “blind trust” in referring to Christian Porter’s anonymous donation arrangement. The whole point of a blind trust is that the funds it holds belong to the beneficiary. But none of the funds in Mr Porter’s arrangement are his. If you continue to use the term because he and other politicians do, I suggest that you use inverted commas to indicate that it is a quotation, rather than an accurate description of the arrangement. The first requirement of transparency is accurate information.
Kristine Hanscombe, QC, St Kilda

We demand a higher level of transparency

It is hard to believe that the overruling of the Speaker of the House did not warrant front page news. The main issue is not that Christian Porter’s blind trust “escapes” investigation as though that should bring a sigh of relief, but that never, since federation, has a government overruled the Speaker.

This action undermines and damages parliamentary procedure. The public deserves and demands a higher level of transparency from their elected representatives. The treatment of the Speaker reflects a government long on secrecy and short on scrutiny. Australians and the media cannot let this stand. Please give it the gravitas it warrants.
Marisa Spiller, Harrietville

Why is the government protecting Porter?

Parliamentary conventions and practices are there to make sure that our Parliament works properly. Every Coalition member who voted this week to protect Christian Porter is guilty of throwing out 120 years of accepted practice. Is there something really big to hide if they are prepared to do that? I am utterly disgusted.
Robin Lohrey, Howrah, Tasmania

THE FORUM

Our hard won freedom

When WWII ended, everybody celebrated. Businesses opened and people went out and about to enjoy the freedom won. A vast building program began.

So why are we moaning about a few lockdowns when from 1939 to 1945 the people had to endure years in a “lockdown”? There were food rations, but we shopped unhindered for groceries. Indeed, it is great to be back to some normality although I doubt our lives will be the same again.
Enjoy the freedom but do not take it for granted.
Anne Kruger, Rye

Sorry, you’re unwelcome

It seems unfair that the onus is on cafe owners and the like to police vaccination certificates – to the detriment of their business, and the risk of fines if they do not check compliance. The owner of a small, nearby cafe has been severely challenged by the new regulations, feeling embarrassed that he must turn away undocumented potential in-house diners who have become friends. Surely there is a more sensible solution to this?
Margaret Menting, Surrey Hills

A surfer, on his own

I started surfing in 1966 and will continue to surf until I can no longer stand on a board. But due to Daniel Andrews’ restrictions, I am not allowed to go surfing.

I have been vaccinated. I would drive to the beach alone and get changed alone, with at least a car width between me and the next guy.I would paddle out alone and wait in the line-up while paddling around to be in the best position, alone.

I would catch and ride the wave alone and paddle back to the line-up alone. I would be surrounded by turbulent, highly oxygenated water, buffeted by an off-shore wind. When I finish my surf, I would get changed alone and drive home alone. So why can’t I go surfing?
Eugene Docherty, East Bentleigh

It’s the people’s race

How can a Labor government allow only 500 of the general public to attend this year’s Melbourne Cup, with 7000 going to members and the rest to corporate sponsors and owners of competing horses (Sport, 21/10)? When the Victoria Racing Club and the Melbourne Cricket Club would not admit membership to women, Premier John Cain reminded them they they were tenants on Crown land. The rules soon changed. The current government needs to apply the same pressure. Five hundred tickets for general public is unacceptable.
Brian Powell, Middle Park

Benefit of membership

There is a reason why people pay $600 a year to be a full member of the Victoria Racing Club: to be first in the queue for tickets. However, even then we are not guaranteed a ticket. So to those who are upset about the ticket allocation to the Melbourne Cup, you can join the VRC too.
Jeff Barrett, Pascoe Vale

Limited cricket viewing

That the T20 cricket match against South Africa will not be on free-to-air television tonight only adds to the sadness which was our once compelling game.
Michael Thornton, Richmond

RIP, Doctor Syme

I am shocked and saddened to hear of Rodney Syme’s death. I had known Rodney for 25 years and worked with him in his fight for voluntary euthanasia legislation. He was a dear man, committed and caring, giving so much of his time and energy to the needs of seriously ill people. He will be greatly missed.
Kay Koetsier, Heidelberg

A worthy organ for Hall

It has been interesting to read letters about the extraordinary absence of an organ in Hamer Hall. There is a long list of major orchestral works that demand a concert organ. These cannot be performed in Hamer Hall.

The former organ had glaring faults: it was placed too high behind the stage, the public could not see the player and fatally, it was much too soft. A concert hall organ must be able to match, sometimes dominate the sound of a symphony orchestra. Our major concert hall needs a big, loud, beautiful looking instrument from a leading European builder. Nothing less will do the job.
Douglas Lawrence, Brunswick

Our right to treatment

I have strongly supported Daniel Andrews in the hard decisions he and his team have made to save the lives of Victorians. However, the re-classification of public and private patients, giving priority to public patients presenting with COVID-19 symptoms (The Age, 21/10), is probably based on the notion that only Liberal voters can afford private hospital cover.

Consequently, thousands of people on modest incomes, many of whom have supported Labor and made great financial sacrifices to ensure they can receive faster treatment for painful, serious, life-limiting disorders, are pushed to the back of the queue. The majority of COVID-19 patients have not been vaccinated but are given priority treatment. This discrimination against citizens who have tried to do the right thing is incredibly unfair.
Isabel Schofield, Mount Waverley

The nothing debate

Welcome to Australia’s energy policy debate. Barnaby Joyce, Matt Canavan and Angus Taylor say fossil fuels are good for us. Scott Morrison spruiks. Anthony Albanese says nothing.
Peter Cook, Essendon

Opting for an EV or...

A message to Stuart Moloney (Letters, 22/10) who was turned off buying an electric vehicle because “the salesman told me that I had to pay government tax on every kilometre I drove” in it. On the other hand, with an EV, you are not paying fuel excise of 42.7 cents/litre. And you can refuel at home – there is no need to visit that servo.

Even so, Stuart, this is a narrow prism through which to view your choices. I suspect the dealer wished to dissuade you from an EV because they will make more money, ongoing, from servicing an internal combustion engine vehicle.
John Heywood, Hillside

...even better, a bicycle

Henrietta Cook – “Making a difference can be in your hands” (The Age, 22/10) – makes some very good suggestions about how, individually, we can reduce emissions, including “invest in an electric car”. I would suggest it should be “invest in a bicycle” (and sell your internal combustion car). That way you get daily exercise (active transport). If you have small children or heavy loads (or both), they can be carried on a cargo bike, boosted by a small, non-polluting electric motor and small rechargeable battery.
John Merory, Ivanhoe

Tired of the PM’s slogans

The Prime Minister talks constantly about how “technology, not taxes” will enable Australia to reach the goal of net zero emissions by 2050. Will someone ask him the following questions?

What technology? More to the point, if it is not through taxes then who is funding the research to discover and then implement these “technologies” and where will it be undertaken? Surely soon we are going to need more detail than a three-word slogan?
Kate McCaig, Surrey Hills

We need action, now

The Prime Minister has somehow cobbled together a murky agreement to net zero emissions by 2050. However, the question of a substantial reduction in emissions by 2030 to match most developed nations seems to have two points of view. The Nationals mostly do not want to commit to this because of the fossil fuel industry job losses, together with the potential economic cost to the rural community.

The view of some Liberals is that by not committing to this reduction, there will be a potential cost of tariffs and possible rises in interest rates. Surely these two arguments are overshadowed when considering the environmental devastation (and financial cost) to our children and grandchildren by talking and doing nothing. (Even the Queen realises this.)
Ken Finley, Mount Martha

The royal tradition

The Queen, with her martini, is following the well-proven therapeutic lead of her mother who lived until she was a well-preserved 101.
David Kerr, Geelong

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Environment

The future of our beautiful planet held in the hands of a greedy few.
Kate Down, Forest Hill

How much are the Liberals offering the Nats so Morrison can go to Glasgow with a firm policy?
Lou Ferrari, Richmond

We expect net zero sensible emissions from Morrison, especially when he talks to Macron.
Tony Danino, Wheelers Hill

We have high vaccination targets for the community. Why not strong emissions reduction targets for the world?
Jenny Henty, Canterbury

On the contrary, Ron Burnstein (22/10), the dinosaurs in Canberra are in a race and Mother Nature is winning.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

Barnaby and co have left the PM hanging in the climate breeze.
Hugh McCaig, Blackburn

Victoria

Turmoil in the state opposition but once again Annika Smethurst finds a way to criticise Andrews (22/10).
Michael McKenna, Warragul

Daniel Andrews must be good at playing chess.
Ivan Gaal, Fitzroy North

Melburnians, exiting lockdown, understand only too well the song, Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Till It’s Gone).
Barry Lamb, Heidelberg West

Adelaide hosted the GP before Melbourne did. Surely now Sydney can have a turn.
Bronwen Murdoch, South Melbourne

Despite Matthew Guy’s promises, not all of the Victorian Coalition are fully converted.
Andrew McFarland, Templestowe

Politics

Have we reached the bottom yet?
Helena Kilingerova, Vermont

Can politics morph into government?
Keith Hallett, Gisborne

Mr “I’m the Prime Minister”, the rules are plain. Porter should declare who donated to his blind trust.
Joan Peverell, Malvern

Trump will launch rival to Twitter: TRUTH Social (22/10). Presumably it will be his version of truth.
Marie Nash, Balwyn

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