Put politics aside and opt for respectful reflection

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BULLYING ALLEGATIONS

Put politics aside and opt for respectful reflection
Unfortunately, the outpouring of anger and disgust at the reported “mean girls” ostracising and at times vicious tactics from senators Penny Wong, Kristina Keneally and Katy Gallagher towards Senator Kimberley Kitching has come too late to remedy Senator Kitching’s situation, although it may help redress similar current, or future, behaviour.

However, there is a fine line between justified moral outrage and opportunistic weaponising of the situation for political purposes.

While it is tempting to claim the moral high ground and cast the perpetrators and those who shield them into the squalid mire, to politically exploit Senator Kitching’s death by implying or outright accusation that the alleged behaviour of the Labor trio was the cause is ugly, even dirty, politics.

Clearly, a thorough and proper investigation is called for. However, until Senator Kitching is laid to rest, instead of politicking, there could be respectful reflection, and renewed determination to ensure cruel, shameful bullying has no traction in any workplace, school, community, or family.
Deborah Morrison, Malvern East

The details will come out soon enough
All that is clear from Dr Henry Pinskier’s article is that he believes the Labor Party has treated the late Senator Kimberley Kitching and the late Labor MP Fiona Richardson “abysmally, shockingly” (“The lost lionesses of Labor”, Comment, 19/3).

He attacks Labor senators Penny Wong, Katy Gallagher and Kristina Keneally, so-called “mean girls”, for inflicting “terrible treatment” on Senator Kitching and calls Labor leader Anthony Albanese mealy-mouthed in his response to criticism of Labor in the controversy following Senator Kitching’s death. One searches in vain fo any details of how Labor is said to have treated Senator Kitching. The details will come out soon enough.

Dr Pinskier rounds off declaring: “If we are looking for the spirit of [Bob] Hawke in modern politics, she led the way.” Hawke was a great political leader, but one wonders if he would have so brilliantly succeeded if the details of his personal failings were as well known
as they are now.
Paul Ormonde, Northcote

Criticism of Albanese a little harsh
Henry Pinskier’s criticism of Anthony Albanese is a little harsh. An increasing number of Australians know that Mr Albanese is made of far better stuff than their Prime Minister.

Accordingly, it is a pity that he did not immediately demonstrate this in response to the hypocritical and insensitive attempts to wring some political advantage from Senator Kitching’s death.

He might have said: “I have already acknowledged that mistreatment of women in politics is not confined to one party – I did not need the Jenkins report to know that serious changes are necessary. However, attempts to derive some political advantage from Senator Kitching’s death are despicable. At an appropriate time, and subject to the wishes of her family, a proper investigation of any credible complaints will be undertaken. Now is the time to grieve and celebrate her life and important contribution to the nation.”
Norman Huon, Port Melbourne

Without full disclosure, Labor will lose the high ground
Revelations of alleged bullying by senior Labor women against Kimberley Kitching are more than just embarrassing, they are devastating to a party that has held a blowtorch to the government for its failures to stamp out harassment of women.

Instead of adopting the cowardly tactic of using Senator Kitching’s funeral as a pretext for not answering questions, Anthony Albanese and other Labor Party heavyweights should tell us exactly what they know about the behaviour of the so-called “mean girls”. Until they do, Labor will never be able to claim the high moral ground over the Coalition when it comes to respectful treatment of women.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully

THE FORUM

Look at it this way
Correspondents reporting from the front in Ukraine comment often on the slowness of the Russian advance, while being awestruck by the Ukrainian resistance.

This may overlook the possibility that Russia is bent not on conquest but on ensuring at least Ukraine’s neutrality and ideally its support in what for Russia is the goal of halting the hitherto inexorable spread of NATO influence and even control across Europe. Recent statements directly from the Ukrainian leadership in fact already imply that their goal of NATO membership may already be off the table.

A potentially life-or-death issue for the current Russian regime is keeping NATO from its borders, understandably so given that organisation’s familiar hostility to all things said or done by that regime.

To attribute the apparent slowdown in the conflict entirely to Ukrainian heroism and Russian inefficiency seems to miss the point that Russia may not be out to conquer Ukraine but to keep it out of NATO for as far ahead as we can see. If Russia’s goal were conquest, we would be seeing a different kind of onslaught.
Tony Haydon, Springvale

Parochialism on display
Members of the footy media are raving about when Buddy Franklin will join only five other footballers to kick 1000 career goals, but they forget one thing.

Some of those five, thousand-goal players played in the VFL when it was a local state competition.

If we are including local state competitions then the media need to remember a bloke called Ken Farmer, who kicked 1417 goals in the South Australian league. And there was Austin Robertson, who kicked 1211 in the West Australian league, along with quite a few when he played in the VFL.

The wonders of parochialism.
David McRae, Kangaroo Flat

A reality check is in order
Duck shooting is cruel (“Swans flee nests as duck hunting season starts”, The Age, 19/3). Wildlife Victoria has lodged a complaint with the Game Management Authority about disturbance to nesting birds at Lake Bael Bael, near Kerang. Shooters like to hide among reeds and don’t care if they disrupt nests. Distressed parent birds circle overhead and eventually flee the breeding site.

In a brazen circular argument, our Premier says he supports duck shooting because it’s “allowed” – by his government. He claims the full force of the law will hit those who shoot threatened species.

Both police and GMA were at Bael Bael, where threatened species were shot, but it’s impossible to supervise what shooters do across an extensive area. The Premier needs a reality check and a blast from his constituents.
Joan Reilly, Surrey Hills

We must protect them
Your report on the start of the duck shooting season in Victoria is distressing. There are deceased endangered duck species, and swans are fleeing in fear from their nests.

These scenes are occurring when the wonder of the sighting of the beautiful birds and ducks of the Victorian fields and wetlands such as herons, brolgas, spoonbills and mountain ducks is becoming rarer and rarer and their protection from harm ever more important.
Jennifer McDonald, South Yarra

My friend’s not worried
Before the 2019 election, Scott Morrison said: “Bill Shorten wants to end the weekend when it comes to his policy on electric vehicles where you’ve got Australians who love being out there in their four-wheel-drives.”
How ironic that three years later and just before another election, after no electric vehicle policy of any significance from Mr Morrison, we are now asking ourselves “Could petrol rise put brakes on road trips?” (The Age, 19/3).

A friend of mine, a tradie with an EV ute, recently had a great weekend in central Victoria. Didn’t even need to charge the car and came back grinning.

On the job, he uses the ute to charge his power tools. He wonders if the Prime Minister might like to hold the drill.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

The kick we need
Maybe these record-breaking petrol prices will be the kick in the pants some people need to invest in a more fuel-efficient vehicle, or even consider other options such as hybrid vehicles, public transport and bikes.

Even if prices come back down for a while after the war ends, they can only keep increasing over the long term as fossil fuels become scarcer and scarcer.
John Howes, Rowville

Disturbing, not surprising
It’s most disturbing yet not surprising (“Ex-PM failed to take advice on sweeping tax reforms”, The Sunday Age, 20/3) that Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull decided to ignore Treasury advice on essential steps for a more effective and efficient tax system.

The issue is further exacerbated by Josh “Party of Lower Taxes” Frydenberg, and, of course, we can hardly expect Anthony Albanese to tackle the issue in an election year.

The consequences are dire – Australian companies have higher tax rates than their competitors , R&D levels – the key to productivity growth – are in decline, inefficient state taxes are retained and we have an unsustainable superannuation system that ultimately will be too costly for future generations.
The solutions are well-known in Treasury but our current crop of politicians lack courage, conviction and intellect.

Paul Keating and John Howard are now role models who strongly and successfully advocated for essential tax reform.
John Miller, Toorak

A timely reminder
The South Australian election results simply tell us that after a one-term Liberal government the electorate quickly realised that they were in better hands when Labor was in power and thus voted accordingly.

Rather than being a fillip for state opposition leader Matthew Guy here in Victoria, the South Australian result only serves to remind Victorians why the Coalition was booted out after one term here.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

Pondering notion of justice
Reports of the Northern Territory trial of Constable Zachary Rolfe for murder during the arrest of an armed, resisting offender focused almost entirely on a few seconds of violent struggle, in which the constable fired his pistol three times.

It’s easy to see how the jury could interpret the events of the moment as justifiable self defence. But there is a wider context.

We read now about court suppression orders that restricted information able to be considered by the jury (“Acquitted NT policeman’s texts released”, The Age, 19/3).

One order referred to Rolfe’s text saying his job was “a sweet gig, just get to do cowboy stuff with no rules”. Another order prevented the prosecution from bringing up details about Constable Rolfe’s conduct during several earlier arrests that it argued showed a tendency for him “to use excessive force and to make false statements in justification”.

We are left to ponder the rules of evidence and the notion of justice.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

Foxes in too-hard basket
There has been considerable recent publicity about the terrible havoc foxes and feral cats are wreaking on our native wildlife. I live in the inner west and on my regular early morning walk I often pass through the gated and fenced Sandy Point Nature Reserve near the Newport boat ramp close by the mouth of the Yarra River.

As well as splendid native plants and birdlife, I have discovered a family of four foxes that have established their headquarters inside this small reserve, and I regularly come across one or more of them as I stroll along the sandy paths. Recently I found three of them munching on a huge sand mullet, possibly washed up on the shore or perhaps tossed out by one of the fishermen who use the boat ramp.

This issue has been reported to the Hobsons Bay rangers and the Hobsons Bay Council, but it appears the problem has been placed in the too-hard basket. Tough luck for the wading birds and other local wildlife.
John Maxwell, Newport

She won’t need help here
Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck plans to cut physiotherapy and podiatry services in aged care homes (“Government takes aim at allied health in aged care”, The Age, 19/3). Apparently some aged care home providers agree, believing yoga and tai chi classes run by “lifestyle officers” are a far better option.

Since my elderly mother can’t stand without the use of a walker, tai chi would be useless. Also, she can’t get up off the floor without assistance, making yoga equally impractical.

Severe arthritis prevents her from reaching her toes, so giving herself a bit of a pedicure is also out of the question. She does, however, remain mobile with weekly physiotherapy, together with an individualised exercise program devised by her experienced practitioner.

But there is one thing she can still do without assistance and that’s vote, and it won’t be for the Morrison government.
Monica Clarke, Port Melbourne

Don’t hold your breath
Like your correspondent (Letters, 19/3), I, too, am sick of the pre-election election campaign but until Scott Morrison names a date, we taxpayers foot the bill for his and his ministers’ jaunts around the country telling everyone how great they are and what a great job they are doing.

Once he names a date then the costs are the responsibility of the political party. Don’t expect the date to be announced until the very last minute.
James Gordon, Glen Huntly

Things have changed
Your correspondent (“The world is ignoring the lessons of history”, Letters, 18/3) says that we should learn from history and Hitler’s aggression and draw a line despite the risks of nuclear war.

I don’t believe history is a great teacher because each era has its own individual parameters. There were no nuclear weapons in 1939 and in 1939 they had the precedent of World War I, again totally different in terms of the technology of destruction.

In 2022 a nuclear attack would wreak even more devastation than WWII, difficult though that is to comprehend.

World leaders are rightfully conservative in their reaction
David Fry, Moonee Ponds

AND ANOTHER THING

Politics
Interesting to see Scott Morrison working through the Village People’s cosplay catalogue.
Bob Whiteside, North Warrandyte

If acting Education Minister Stuart Robert had empathy training, it was obviously delivered by a “dud teacher”.
Barry Kranz, Mount Clear

Stuart Robert is as informed about education as Richard Colbeck is about aged care.
Ian Maddison, Parkdale

Some female politicians have been named as “mean girls”: did they borrow the manual from their “mean boys” colleagues?
Mary Cole, Richmond

There is certainly a higher percentage of dud politicians than dud teachers.
Niko Melaluka, Footscray

Former Liberal treasurer Joe Hockey famously said that the age of entitlement is over. Remind me when that kicks in for fossil fuel subsidies.
Matthew Hamilton, Kew

The economy
The inflation horse will have bolted if we wait until July or August to lift interest rates.
Malcolm Cameron, Camberwell

A few months ago we were only allowed to travel 5 kilometres and now we can’t afford the fuel. Go e-bikes, and charge them with solar power.
Cherie Forrester, Gembrook

I’m off the hook
Thank you, Sussan Ley, for proving in court that adults don’t have to care for children. I can’t wait to tell my kids.
Grant Morgan, Hurstbridge

Furthermore
Vladimir Putin wouldn’t be the first politician to avoid prosecution after supporting illegal military actions.
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood

Finally
Instead of shooting ducks, hunters should be paid a bounty to shoot feral cats and foxes. Everyone wins.
Michael Brinkman, Ventnor

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