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SEX ASSAULT CLAIMS
All credit to the Prime Minister for coming out strongly condemning the alleged rape of a young Liberal Party staffer in 2019 (“‘We need to do better’: PM apologises for treatment of Higgins”, The Age, 16/2). Although long overdue it appeared his apology, and subsequent action, was heartfelt and sincere.
Two things are concerning, however. It beggars belief that the PM didn’t know of the allegation back in 2019. I would have thought something as heinous as an alleged rape would have been flagged with the PM’s office if not the PM himself at that time.
Finally, the PM has listened to counsel of his wife who apparently urged him to take stronger action, which is laudable. What I find a little disconcerting is his actions appear to be based on his thinking around what if this happened to his girls. Men in particular should not need to be reminded about the severity of a criminal action simply on the basis of being a husband and/or father. In my mind using the daughter analogy lessens the severity of the action. It suggests that there are two classes of women; wives and daughters, and others.
Jack Morris, Kennington
Case points to bigger ‘woman problem’
Liberals, you have a woman problem (“Sex assault claim rocks Parliament”, The Age, 16/2). Pious platitudes, window-dressing and damage control will never fix it; they only make it worse. Nothing will change until you recognise it’s not about image, it’s the need to recognise equal rights and power-sharing. The concepts of balance and respect are not just words: they are basic principles for any organisation and every workplace.
We elect our representatives to govern the country: it’s time for all parties to show you can govern yourselves.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale
A failure of leadership
It says a lot about Scott Morrison’s ego when he can only appreciate the trauma and criminality of a woman’s rape when it is linked to himself and his own family by his wife, Jen, who obviously recognises his limitations. Presumably, according to his explanation, if he didn’t have daughters he might have ignored the rape and moved on. Definitely not a leader.
Robyn Westwood, Heidelberg Heights
Two young girls apparently forgotten
Scott Morrison seems to have changed his tune about the alleged rape in Parliament House after a discussion with his wife, Jenny, that revolved around their two daughters. Perhaps Jenny could have a word with him about Priya and Nades Murugappan and their girls Kopika and Tharunicaa, aged five and three, imprisoned by his government on Christmas Island.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills
Compassion should extend to more daughters
How would Scott Morrison feel if one of his daughters was affected by unemployment and homelessness? Pursued by Robodebt? Faced the unfathomable consequences of climate change or was imprisoned as an object lesson to other refugees? He should run it past Jenny so she can tell him what to be thinking, feeling, and doing about these issues.
Tim Hartnett, Margaret River, WA
Folksy response suggests chauvinism
Empathy for alleged victims of rape comes from a place of genuine concern. Being a “father of daughters” is not a qualification. This folksy response from the Prime Minister to the shocking rape allegations by a Liberal Party staffer is exactly the chauvinist language that so infuriates women, especially those who fight for justice for victims of rape. What makes it more frustrating is that Scott Morrison has no idea how patronising his comments are. These latest deeply disturbing allegations again suggest that the provision of safety, respect and access to legal redress in the workplace still has a long way to go, particularly for female Liberal Party staffers working in Parliament House in Canberra.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris
If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636. For help in a crisis call 000.
Quarantine double standard
Various groups, including the Australian Medical Association, are calling for the same infection controls to be applied to hotel quarantine as apply in a healthcare setting. What is not clear is why the inconsistency in standards continues. Is it to do with a shortage of protective equipment? Resistance of staff to wear the full equipment? Poor structures of communication and governance? Individual incompetence? Or some other non-obvious reason? If the inconsistency is to continue, we need a much clearer justification.
Tim Thornton, Northcote
Why not Tullamarine?
The chief executive of Avalon Airport, Justin Giddings, has offered to provide a quarantine facility for international arrivals (“Avalon pushes remote quarantine proposal”, The Age, 16/02). If quarantine cabins can be erected at Avalon then why not at, or within proximity of, our dedicated current international hub, Tullamarine, that has already facilitated the arrivals of international passengers in a quarantine context?
Edward Combes, Wheelers Hill
Ring of steel
Your correspondent (Letters, 16/2) asks if the latest cluster had occurred in Bairnsdale or Horsham, would greater Melbourne have been locked down? The reason regional areas were locked down was to prevent Melbourne residents escaping; thereby protecting those regions. It follows that if a cluster occurred in a regional area, then greater Melbourne would also be locked down.
However, the question that arises is could a fairer option be adopted than locking down regional areas, such as encircling greater Melbourne with a “ring of steel”.
Doug Shapiro, Doncaster East
The scandalous state of Victoria’s recycling exposed by Chris Vedelago (“Bin there, done that: Can Victoria rescue its recycling?” The Age, 16/2) highlights the need for a serious consumer-led movement to refuse to accept goods in environmentally unsound packaging. The government is either ignoring or moving at glacial speed to take a regulatory approach to this problem. We should be enacting producer responsibility laws and banning non-recyclable food containers, single-use non-biodegradable plastic bags and plastic micro beads. Tax breaks should be available to industries making plant-based disposable packaging, and innovation grants to manufacturers investigating novel ideas in sustainable packaging.
Vikki O’Neill, Ashburton
The vast majority of the population is acutely aware of the benefits of a proper recycling program but is failed by lack of relevant information on packaging. Why can’t I look at a piece of packaging and know instantly that it is designated as landfill or recyclable? What is the meaning of the virtue signalling labels used by many food processors “Please dispose of thoughtfully”? Excessive packaging includes the cockroaches of recycling, the ubiquitous indestructible adhesive labels attached to fruit – why aren’t they manufactured in biodegradable material?
Why doesn’t my recycling bin lid identify which of the 7 RICs (Resin Identification Codes) are acceptable in that bin? As a collective group municipalities have the political heft and lobbying ability to bring about a national regime in which every single piece of packaging carries its own epitaph but remain inert.
Chris Wallis, Albert Park
Doubling down on Court
Serena Williams is the best ever, her coach says (The Age, 16/2). Margaret Court’s 40 grand slam doubles titles add a little perspective. Serena has 14. The International Tennis Hall of Fame has Margaret Court as the undisputed best of all time. (As an aside, Monica Seles had eight grand slams by 20, Williams had one.)
Nick Gibson, Hesket
All juiced up
The problem identified by Alan Attwood (“Night out with fist-pumping Nickheads”, 15/2) is unfortunately more widespread. Last year my mother and I left before the end of the wonderful match between Dominic Thiem and Alex Bolt because we could no longer stand the behaviour of the young men sitting next to us. These patrons (and many others) were clearly not drinking fruit juice, despite the label on the container they were passing around, and their shouting and boorish, one-eyed barracking eventually became intolerable. My mother loves tennis, and so do I, but we won’t be returning to the Australian Open any time soon.
Lindsay Zoch, East Melbourne
Dingo culling a trap
The conflict between dingoes and sheep farmers is long-standing and vexed (“Spot the dog? Study shows the diversity in dingoes”, The Age, 16/2). Are sheep a “pest”? Should they be grazed in dingo country? Victoria is to be commended for banning the toothed steel-jawed trap but the existing law permits a dingo to be tightly held by the foot (and non-target kangaroos, wombats and wallabies) in a rubber-jawed trap without food or water for three days in most of eastern Victoria. No non-target species can be released after such a lengthy period and no dog, dingo or other, should be made to endure such a prolonged end. The 24-hour trap inspection rule should be reinstated.
Lawrence Pope, North Carlton
Remote learning costs
This time last year, the idea of our schools closing and our children partaking in remote learning was unthinkable. Could our Premier please remember why that was? The importance of our children having a consistent experience of learning cannot be understated. When there are so few cases, why are they being locked out again, while childcare continues as usual? Our children are the forgotten warriors in this giant mess.
Melissa Ort, Fitzroy North
2020 not happy for all
Andrew Fuller paints a romantic picture of Australian children as robust and resilient during COVID-19 (“Ask the kids about 2020 and you’ll hear three unexpected words: fun, good and happy”, The Age, 16/2). It’s a heart-warming proposition that allows us to believe that no matter how terrible 2020 was for most adults, that “the kids will be all right”. That children are naturally optimistic and will just “bounce back” from hardship is a well-worn fiction that masks the reality that many children have difficult lives affected by abuse, neglect, disadvantage and racism. The effects of disadvantage flow into their adulthood and across generations. While we do not know yet how COVID-19 has really affected Australian children, it is likely that it will have life-long effects for many and compound the challenges already experienced by the most disadvantaged.
Bruce Hurst, Fitzroy North
At least half the people I saw on my exercise walk today were not wearing a mask properly, or at all. It seems if you don’t wear a mask and make a big fuss about it the police arrive and start making arrests, but if you keep quiet, there are no consequences.
Peter Neuhold, Elsternwick
The world’s premier climate scientist, Michael Mann, claims that climate change denialism is a spent force and that real action is being hampered by distraction and “doom porn” (“Climate denialism, ‘doom porn’ and the new war”, The Age, 16/02). Sounds a lot like the Greens’ climate emergency. It’s about time the Greens pulled it out of their election propaganda arsenal.
Brian Sanaghan, West Preston
At what cost, minister?
A Tamil family of four from the small Queensland town of Biloela, who have spent almost three years in immigration detention, will remain in Australia for the immediate future after an appeal by the federal government was dismissed and the government ordered to pay more than $200,000 in costs (“Tamil family in limbo on Christmas Island after appeal ruling”, The Age, 16/2). This farcical but cruel saga can be stopped by the Home Affairs Minister granting this family a valid visa to remain in Australia as permanent citizens.
This has to be one of many cruel, seemingly senseless, but very costly, cases for which our Home Affairs Minister is responsible. The payment of costly damage awards to various groups of asylum seekers as a result of our detention policy contravening aspects of human rights are well documented. Costs don’t seem to worry our minister but any opposition to his draconian policies does. Is the family from Biloela a danger to our safety? There seems to be no limits to the money he can spend nor to the cruelty he inflicts nor to the shame he brings to our country.
Eileen Hayes, Northcote
Albanese fails test
It looks like the Labor Party has abandoned good and common sense policy because of a expected government fear and misinformation campaign around both capital gains tax and negative gearing. It is acknowledged that under the Bill Shorten-led Labor Party, the selling of changes to both these policies was less than ideal, but the intent of the proposed changes was right.
Now it looks as though Anthony Albanese has abandoned both policies. If that is the case, it points to a weakness of character and his capitulation to the NSW Right of the party. It simply proves he is not PM material.
Jack Morris, Kennington
Credit to taxpayers
Where did your correspondent (Letters, 16/2), get the idea that shareholders receiving franking credits pay no tax? My franking credits are the only reason why I still pay tax. Without this income from money I have earned and invested, I would qualify for the age pension. Thus putting a further burden on the taxpayer. Undoubtably there are many people in a similar situation. Be very careful what you wish for.
Trish Young, Hampton
AND ANOTHER THING
The sordid events of the past 24 hours in Canberra have shown that behind every great man there stands an even greater woman. Jenny Morrison for PM.
Mark Kennedy, Sebastopol
Peter Dutton being proud of his integrity (“PM defends Dutton over pork-barrelling accusations”, The Age, 13/2) makes you wonder what sort of temptations he had the integrity to resist.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East
Stop trying to blame Morrison for seemingly anything and everything that goes wrong in Australia. He can’t be at fault when he hasn’t done anything.
Gary Sayer, Warrnambool
So the Smeg fridge (“Choice names $4000 retro-style fridge as worst ever”, The Age, 15/2) is all show and image, costs too much to buy and run, and doesn’t actually do its job.
They should rename it the “Scomo”.
Graeme Henchel, Yarra Glen
Well may you say “the eagle has landed” about the arrival of vaccines, Greg Hunt, but the bird has already flown the coop.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East
True leadership from the PM and Health Minister Greg Hunt, would be to take the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine in public and not the Pfizer vaccine, to demonstrate that both will be effective.
Andy Wain, Rosebud
Premier Daniel Andrews has apparently and conveniently delegated responsibility for all lockdown decisions to Victoria’s Chief Health Officer.
Rod Matthews, Fairfield
Could the media stop using the word “jabs” for COVID-19 vaccinations? It’s distressing for those of us who fear needles. And Australians have always used the word “shots”.
Brian King, Southbank
Memo to Harry and Meghan: It never reigns in southern California.
Paul Custance, Highett
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