Letters to
the editor

Value of compulsory voting

Rick Morton’s article “Trump 2020: This is how you steal an election” (October 31–November 6) is a powerful vindication of Australian electoral law. Because casting a ballot is mandatory in Australia, preventing anyone from doing so – by misinformation, menace or any other means – is illegal.

– Juliet Flesch, Kew, Vic

No longer looking to America

Rick Morton’s piece on the United States presidential election revealed the ugly new normal of “free and fair” elections in America. In response, it is tempting to join the chorus of demagogues pointing the finger at a failure of the system. However, the real problem is that for too long, and for obvious strategic reasons, we have culturally regarded Washington as the beating heart of a free and fair society. Democracy isn’t the problem – it’s our American fetish. Regardless of who becomes the next president, we need to look inside and elsewhere for political inspiration.

– Kirk Weeden, Frankston, Vic

AA rating for Victoria

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have proved to the world exactly what is necessary to control this pandemic (Paul Bongiorno, “A Chipp on the shoulder”, October 31–November 6). Had perennial spoilers Josh Frydenberg, the PM’s cranky attack puppy; Innes Willox, ex-Liberal staffer turned Australian Industry Group tape-loop; and Michael O’Brien, caricature Victorian opposition leader, had their way, Victoria would instead be in a vastly bigger mess than it began with – certainly not recording nil Covid-19 numbers. Their urgings for early reopenings were alarming, the consequences of which would be clearly catastrophic, as the US response illustrates. Meanwhile, with their illogical bleatings, grandstanding for all the wrong reasons, the aforementioned trio have exhibited their sheer unsuitability for leadership of any nature.

– Rod Milliken, Greenwell Point, NSW

Build efficient housing

Kevin Rudd’s “After the virus: A green recovery” (October 31–November 6) is good. One addition to the mixture in the “use less energy” category is appropriate housing. On the outskirts of our cities we see swaths of new houses, poorly designed, appallingly oriented, with heat-absorbent charcoal-coloured roofs, and designed to run on heating and airconditioning. Good regulations could fix this, starting at the subdivision stage where blocks must be of a size and shape to allow properly oriented buildings.

– Charlie Carter, Alice Springs, NT

Wrong direction by Andrews

Jon Kudelka’s cartoon (October 31–November 6) said it all. Just as I was applauding Dan Andrews for his tough stance on lockdown restrictions, the Djab Wurrung tree was being cut down, and all to save three minutes of driving time.

– Susan Munday, Bentleigh East, Vic

Time to restore public service

An interesting juxtaposition of articles – Royce Kurmelovs’ “Hotel baggage” and “Penal failure” by Mike Seccombe – on October 24–30. Both highlight present-day problems stemming from decisions made by the Kennett government in the heyday of privatisation in the 1990s, intended to provide services that were “cheaper, better and more accountable”. In the case of prisons, Victoria now has the most expensive prison system in the country, and Queensland has decided to take back prison control. In the case of changes to public management more generally, the move to generalists rather than specialists in senior positions, and multiple functions contracted out to the private sector, is seen as a factor in apparent flaws in decision-making about and implementation of the hotel quarantine program. And the pitfalls of privatisation of the aged-care sector through Commonwealth decisions following the same fad have been exposed elsewhere. I sincerely hope that as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic there will be a recognition that a well-resourced public service is in fact more likely to be the “cheaper, better and more accountable” way to provide basic community services.

– Christine Pinniger, Fairfield, Vic

Standing with the reef

I grew up and still live in Far North Queensland, just like Claire and Brooklyn (Anna Krien, “New research links Adani mine to Great Barrier Reef bleaching”, October 24-30). I, too, have wanted to take action to reduce harm to the Great Barrier Reef since I was a teenager living in Townsville in the 1980s. How excellent to see these two young women standing strong for our magnificent reef. I am proud to stand beside them, and I can only wish their team all success. It is high time Minister Sussan Ley overturned the approvals made by Greg Hunt in his former Environment portfolio. The reef has little to no time left.

– Ellie Bock, Mena Creek, Qld

Palaszczuk’s return no answer

Queensland voters just elected a government that, in order to assist Adani, extinguished native title, gave access to water and delayed royalty payments. It has effectively increased our greenhouse gas emissions as well as the risk to the reef. Presumably voters did this because they saw the government as the least worst option, something that should sicken us all.

– Don Owers, Dudley, NSW

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 November 7, 2020.

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