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Denial of what is factual does us a great disservice
The establishment of the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission, its commitment to work with the First Peoples Assembly and your special series, “A Time for Truth”, are welcome initiatives in order for the impact of colonisation and the associated injustices to be exposed and examined in detail so all Australians have the opportunity to learn about the true history of this country.
Truth is not something to fear, even if the knowledge may make some uncomfortable, but is necessary for Australia if it is ever to have a mature and honest relationship with its First Peoples and with itself.
For too long, we have heard those who stridently reject an open and honest recognition of the history of colonisation using the term “black armband history” to denigrate any attempt at truth telling. Certainly, there is much to celebrate about Australia since it was first colonised, and this must be acknowledged, but this truth of history should not exclude the impacts, initial and ongoing, of colonisation on the original inhabitants and their descendants.
All Australians deserve to have an honest understanding of history, and continued denial of what is factual does a great disservice to this country and all of its people.
Maire Mills, Glen Iris
No respect for an important site
The likely site of John Batman’s fanciful “negotiation” of transfer of Aboriginal land to his Port Phillip Association at the junction of the Merri Creek and Yarra River at Dights Falls now has dozens of plastic ropes permanently stretched across the river for kayak sports.
Apart from damaging trees and endangering wildlife, their pollution shows no respect for this important site and what it represents to Indigenous people (“Dispossession”, Extra, The Sunday Age, 10/10).
Lawrence Pope, Carlton North
The impact of this loss is a story untold
“A time for truth” (Insight, 9/10) was heartening to read, backed up by an inspiring editorial (“Let the truth of our history be known”). It is only by beginning with an understanding of a flourishing, healthy and superlatively sustainable civilisation that we can begin to appreciate the cultural genocide that has taken place.
Your article highlights corroborees, but the impact of their loss is a story untold. Central to these gatherings is diplomacy, relations between tribes and nations. After the ravages of colonisation, even basic tribal boundaries are disputed. From a fair amount of time spent with Blackfullas, I can tell you there is widespread cynicism and outrage at the RAP (Registered Aboriginal Parties) system.
An important reparation for colonial Australia to make is to facilitate corroboree. Help get the elders together, and let them decide together who speaks for them.
For too long, governments have cherry-picked accommodating voices to the detriment of communities. Obviously, we would not expect this initiative from government. I invite the AFL to spearhead a private-sector campaign. If footy ovals have taken over corroboree grounds, it’s only just they make cultural amends.
Michael Puck, Maffra
We have a responsibility to ensure justice is done
I would like to thank you for the series “A Time for Truth”. It is a very sad story of murder and disease inflicted on the First Nations people from the beginning of European settlement.
We need to know the truth because we have all gained from the loss that the original occupants of this land suffered when they were massacred, poisoned and displaced to make way for sheep, cattle, European crops and people. Of course, it was a different time but now we have a responsibility to ensure justice is done.
I want to know more of the culture, languages and truth of our First Nations people in Victoria, in particular. So let the stories be told, let us grieve together and move forward to a peaceful treaty.
Susan Kelly, Highton
This is bad practice
As a university academic for more than 35 years, I have unfortunate experience with students producing questionable medical certificates to defer their exams. Most doctors provide genuine certificates, but some of them just sign regardless.
Over time the problem grew to the point where many of the medical certificates I saw were not worth the paper they were written on. When 30 per cent of one class had medical certificates signed by the same GP, I questioned him, and I did not see any further certificates from that doctor in subsequent exam periods.
Allowing GPs to write vaccine exemption letters is dangerous to the community. Medical exemptions for vaccinations need to be approved by an external public health panel to be valid.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster
Be careful with this
While there is merit in the idea that elected and accountable MPs should sign off on public health orders in Victoria as is the case in other states, there must also be doubts about transferring the authority to those demonstrably more prone to being influenced by the often under- or uninformed opinions of voters (“Sutton may be sidelined in push to shift power”, The Sunday Age, 10/10)
If, as they say, they were being informed by independent public health advice, why has the NSW government significantly shifted the settings immediately after changing its elected premier?
It can only be as a result of the new leader’s perspective and ideological biases.
Parties of all persuasions have demonstrated a willingness to make decisions based on the likely reaction of the public.
It is worth reviewing current arrangements, but when talking about lives rather than dollars it’s not a change that should be made simply on the basis of what all the others do. As my mum used to say when I was a kid at school, “would you stick your head in the oven just because they do?“
Richard Jamonts, Williamstown
We should have kept it
Ross Gittins’ article in Saturday’s Age was very illuminating (“We wouldn’t be trembling in our boots if we had a carbon price”, 9/10).
Julia Gillard’s government was spot on in introducing a carbon pricing scheme in 2012. A change of in our collective behaviour was required if we were to keep global warming below 2 degrees.
Unfortunately, it was scuppered by a successful campaign lead by then opposition leader Tony Abbott. What a shame. Australia would have been in a much better place now if we had stuck with the “carbon tax” of 2012.
Paul Chivers, Box Hill North
The parents set the tone
I have a photo from last week of my grandson Soli climbing a very tall tree in Seattle, Washington. He is five years old and wearing a mask. He has worn masks for more than a year. His parents say he and his peers are quite matter of fact, grabbing a mask to put on whenever they go out the door. Like a hat or rain boots or a jacket.
The adults struggle with wearing masks much more than the children, who wear them during both school and play (“Young pupils to mask up as Premier fined” and “Care needed in masks for schoolkids”, The Age, 9/10).
Because he was alone in the tree, a mask was not necessary but because he had just left a playground full of children, he kept his on and didn’t worry about it.
Remember how resilient and adaptable children can be if not scared or put off by adult example.
Remi Messenger, Docklands
Looks can be deceiving
So, the Business Council of Australia has issued a call for Australia to reduce its carbon emissions by up to 50 per cent by 2030 (“Business push for aggressive emissions cut”, The Age, 9/10).
This is higher than the 45 per cent Labor proposed before the last election, when the BCA accused it of being “economy wrecking”.
This audacious about-face in just three years is gobsmacking but unsurprising. As long as the Coalition is in power the BCA will find a way to appear progressive while, all the while, really feeling comfortable with the (conservative) status quo.
Kevin Bailey, Croydon
This will benefit all of us
The imminent inquiry into the impacts of colonisation on First Nations people in Victoria warrants fully the attention your publication is paying to it.
Fifty-three years ago, the eminent anthropologist W.E.H. Stanner detailed in his Boyer Lectures what he termed the “great Australian silence” or “a cult of forgetfulness” in relation to the erasure of the Indigenous experience in Australia by the dominant white culture.
As your articles make clear, this denialism impacted on the Indigenous families’ specific knowledge of their personal histories and languages and has left an ongoing legacy for them of intergenerational psychological and physical trauma. A psychic scar has, in turn, affected the broader Australian nation.
White descendants of early white settlers who perpetrated tribal massacres are researching and having to confront previously untold and grisly family narratives. The “truth telling” process will be beneficial for all Australians.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza
The stand-out candidate
As a lifelong Labor voter, I couldn’t agree more with your correspondent (“If Labor wants to win, it must make Plibersek leader”, Letters, 8/10). As worthy as Anthony Albanese is, he just doesn’t seem to have the presence required to get the Labor message across effectively.
Of the other contenders, Tanya Plibersek stands out, being articulate, quick witted and assertive and she will not be bullied. Australia’s standing locally, in our region and on the world stage may take many years to recover should we be subjected to another term of the current government and its “leadership”.
Steve Yorston, Golden Square
The three politicians who are playing attention-seeking games regarding their COVID vaccination need to get over themselves (“Three MPs set to defy vaccine directions”, The Age, 9/10).
The two Liberal Democrats who claim to have been vaccinated but refuse to produce any evidence are like someone saying they have a fishing licence but refuse to produce any confirmation of this when officially challenged and the Liberal member refusing to be vaccinated is a disgrace and cannot claim to represent his electorate when more than 80 per cent of his voters have done the right thing by themselves and their community by accepting the jab. They need to grow up.
Peter Barry, Melbourne
It can easily happen
I’m a devout mask-wearer. I’m also a walker, and when I walk it’s usually time to think. I may surface to say hello here and there, but on a quiet street, in a reserve or crossing an empty car park it can be generous to regard me as still with us.
Occasionally, when I get home my wife tells me I’m not wearing a mask and I only find out when she does. I’d cop a fine for that without question, say sorry and do my best to not have it happen again.
That takes care of me, but what has Dan Andrews got to think about before he starts a day’s work?
Ian McKail, Cheltenham
Incapable of nuance
So much hand-wringing by offended members of the federal government over social media “trolls”. Yet earlier this year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to speak out against dangerous misinformation and conspiracy theories peddled by Coalition MPs, saying “Australia is a free country” and “there’s such a thing as free speech in this country and that will continue”.
It was only after much pressure that Mr Morrison publicly distanced himself, telling Parliament that one of the MP’s views did not “align with my views”.
Could it be Mr Morrison is so cynical as to be sanctimonious about a particular shade of social media gossip but quite content to let conspiracy theories rip?
The latter, fuelling anti-lockdowners, anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers, have played conveniently into his government’s push for the economy to take precedence over health and welfare.
Mr Morrison does not appear interested in, or capable of, a mature and nuanced consideration of our freedoms and responsibilities. He has been reluctant to call out misinformation or disinformation, even when it is promoted from within his own party.
He is playing a dangerous game indeed, if our great and powerful ally is anything to go by.
Fiona Colin, Malvern East
An unhelpful intervention
Not content with destroying the political career of Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, and sabotaging the nation’s only successful response to climate change, Tony Abbott now seeks to derail our fragile relationship with China at absolutely the worst possible time.
We can only hope the Chinese don’t take him as seriously as he clearly takes himself.
His recent unsolicited trip to Taiwan with gratuitous criticism of China can only add to the friction between Australia and our biggest trading partner.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris
Painted into a corner
Scott Morrison has painted himself into a corner with regard to the Glasgow climate summit.
If he doesn’t go, he will be castigated from afar for not taking the climate crisis seriously, and if he does go, he will be castigated in person for not taking the climate crisis seriously.
Whatever he does, he, and his recalcitrant National Party members risk being scorned by Glasgow for their long-term lack of a coherent and ambitious climate policy.
Michael Meszaros, Alphington
AND ANOTHER THING
Tony Abbott in Taiwan
Someone should tell Tony Abbott that just because he once verballed Australian car manufacturers, which ultimately saw them permanently leave our shores, it doesn’t mean that while visiting Taiwan he can verbal China and expect China to leave Taiwan alone.
Phil Alexander, Eltham
Taiwan is safe from Chinese invasion as long as our ex-PM is there. Xi Jinping would never risk getting the shirtfront from Tony.
Peter McCarthy, Mentone
Expecting a government mired in eight years of questionable behaviour to voluntarily put the “grit” into integrity is fanciful in the extreme.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South
Giving politicians the power to make medical decisions during a pandemic is akin to government by lobby group.
John Mosig, Kew
NSW is poised to become the canary in Australia’s COVID coal mine.
Deborah Morrison, Malvern East
Two years ago, if you’d asked me who my favourite epidemiologist was, I would have given you a strange look indeed.
Peter Neuhold, Elsternwick
Dan Andrews, you could have saved yourself $400 by carrying an empty coffee cup.
Margaret Ward, Sorrento
Life in lockdown
The roads are busier, the case numbers are still going up, we see protests and hear about illegal gatherings … just checking, is anyone besides me actually still in lockdown?
Claire Merry, Wantirna
With so many rusted-on supporters detaching themselves from Labor, sales of WD-40 must be soaring.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda
So it seems things have to get personal for Barnaby Joyce to begin to understand the more complex issues that the world is currently facing. I’m not sure what the climate can do to Barnaby personally, but it needs to get cracking.
Julian Guy, Mount Eliza
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