Letters

Letters to
the editor

All voices needed in violence debate

Martin McKenzie-Murray’s recent article “Inside men’s rights groups” (March 21-27) raises some important questions around constructions of violence, masculinity and femininity in Australian society. A line in his final paragraph was particularly telling, “...the various parties in the debate are arrayed in mutual contempt”. While domestic violence is a gendered issue, we must move beyond the temptation to blame or exclude an entire gender. The Women’s Legal Service in Queensland recently voiced protestations against Q&A for allowing more men than women on a panel discussing domestic violence (the balance was 3-2). Yet it is imperative that men are included in the conversation. More broadly, it is the social forces, such as the problematic notion of “masculinity” and the unattainable construction of “being a man”, that must be addressed. These forces change men for the worse. They change from happy, endearing, sensitive, content little boys to confused, scared, angry, defensive adolescents. Why is this happening?

– Luke Vanni, Aspley, Qld

Other ways to rein in medical costs

How refreshing to read Ray Moynihan (“Doctor’s overorders”, March 21-27) on medical waste because of unnecessary, often useless and occasionally harmful, tests and treatments. Overarching the views of specialist groups in this area are two important general matters. The sorry failure of the potentially invaluable medical e-record potentiates the needless repetition of tests by specialists when GPs have already recently done them. Easy but protected medical access to all recent investigations would save a bundle of money. Second, the prevalence of defensive medicine, performing tests “just in case”, more to protect the doctor than the patient, in circumstances where discussion of the risk would safely resolve the matter; or the adoption of a “no-fault” insurance scheme to operate where genuine harm has occurred, as in New Zealand, would again save millions of dollars.

– Dr Rodney Syme, Toorak, Vic

Patients play their part

I, like many in the field, welcome the motivations of the Choosing Wisely report. I agree that some self-scrutiny from the medical profession is refreshing. However Ray Moynihan forgets to include the most important stakeholder in healthcare: patients. Patients are behind some very important factors contributing to increased use of services (tests, prescriptions, etc). Most importantly, a growing culture of libel is staining the Australian healthcare landscape. With greater access to (mis)information through the internet, patients feel they are more informed and are therefore more confident to not fully accept a physician’s advice. Further, with a greater abundance of healthcare services available, patients can “shop around” until they find a physician willing to either submit to their demands or likely to hold the same opinions. The Choosing Wisely report will go a long way to reducing unnecessary services but caution must also balance the hype. Aggressive screening programs have a proven record of reducing mortality (think breast, prostate or bowel cancer prevention) and treatment of pre-disease states can actually reduce future long-term healthcare expenditure. Above all, when patients are fully involved in their healthcare is when the most improvements in outcomes are achieved.

Alexander J. Rodriguez, Department of Medicine, Monash University

Can Turnbull prevail on media laws?

Rupert Murdoch’s “war” on Malcolm Turnbull is not unexpected (Sophie Morris, “Murdoch’s fresh war on Turnbull”, March 21-27). Any foolish knave who would stand between Rupert and a pot of gold is usually toast. Rupert’s wrath with Malcolm is, however, comparatively mild because there has not been an equivalent 1975 edict of “kill Whitlam” – as yet. Rupert’s News Corp Australia accounts for 59 per cent of sales of all daily newspapers. That one press baron has such a stranglehold constitutes an urgent case for revamping media ownership laws to ensure greater media diversity. The US has sufficient media diversity to ensure Mr Murdoch’s Fox News channel, plus newspapers, have a limited electoral influence. Australia doesn’t enjoy that luxury, with Mr Murdoch’s publications historically influencing election outcomes. Mr Turnbull is exactly the man to overhaul media ownership laws, but it is feared he would be crushed by the Coalition’s hard right, sympathetic to Mr Murdoch.

Bob Barnes, Wedderburn, NSW

Time for action

The drivel that passes for political comment by the feral Abbott-haters is a disgrace. They sweat on every word he utters for a “gotcha”, and ignore the same quotes from Labor politicians. Meanwhile, they mostly support the senate rejecting sensible measures to prevent our slide into a Grecian quagmire. What will their children think in 10 years, saddled with Labor’s projected debt of $100K a household and high youth unemployment?

– John Shailer, East Lindfield, NSW

Last drinks, please

Could the editors of The Saturday Paper please consider a moratorium for, say, six months on journalists writing descriptions of their own or their interview subjects’ beverages that are consumed while waiting for one or other’s appearance at the rendezvous cafe of choice, during the interview, or at any other time. All this scene setting using lattes as a character frame is descending into cliché. Romy Ash gets a free pass, given that David Lynch (“A free Lynch”, March 21-27) raised the topic of milkshakes to start with.

Keith Duddy, West End, Qld

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 28, 2015. Subscribe here.

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