Top-down poor leadership
Paul Bongiorno is eloquent about Scott Morrison’s multifaceted failures of leadership, including his ongoing, appalling dismissal of women (“The secret life of Scott Morrison”, September 11-17). Does the PM really not get it or is he simply, as with the many issues the piece identifies, shirking responsibility? He sets the tone for change through legislation and action in all areas, including gender parity. Yet we see how women are passed over for winnable lower house seats. We see the paucity of legislation that would bring men to account. We see the withdrawal of funding for women’s critical services, including childcare. We see the pitiful wages in female-dominated sectors and the widening gender pay gap. We see the perpetuation of all-male exclusive clubs whose membership enjoys patronage at the highest levels. Such “leadership” gives Australia permission to perpetuate stereotypes. His government has not earned the right to another term.
- Alison Stewart, Riverview, NSW
Transparency on party donors essential
John Hewson (“Backbench presses”, September 11-17) laments the Morrison government’s inaction on key policies where action is clearly needed – climate change, aged care, women’s safety and Indigenous disadvantage. Paul Bongiorono highlights the PM’s dogged resistance to establishing an effective anti-corruption commission. Surveys show strong public support for action on all of these issues. What influence is strong enough to hold a government back from undertaking popular reform? Many voters know in their hearts that something is rotten in our political system. Trust in our politicians is low. The public needs to know, in real time, who is donating how much to whom. This transparency is essential to informed voting. The absence of this disclosure highlights why we need a strong, effective federal anti-corruption commission.
- Chris Young, Surrey Hills, Vic
Climate bill must be debated
John Hewson is correct that what voters really want from their government is thorough action on huge current problems such as deadly climate change. This one has dragged on for far too long, and it is extraordinary that the public hadn’t seen it as a priority in past voting until they apparently do now. It is likely to be a vote winner. As a former Liberal leader, Hewson suggests that “an active backbench” could insist that Zali Steggall’s climate bill be brought forward now for debate followed by a conscience vote. This could be a wise, science-based move out of the present paralysis, as it could solve political problems here and for Australia at COP26. As the PM might say, how good would that be!
- Barbara Fraser, Burwood, Vic
Deciding who fights where
Karen Middleton’s excellent but depressing article on what should happen after 20 years of war in Afghanistan has ended (“After the war on terror”, September 11-17) should give fresh impetus to those calling for something akin to the Greens’ bill on whom to give the final say on whether troops are to be deployed to armed conflicts abroad. At present it is the executive, namely the prime minister and cabinet, but the Greens are calling for the requirement to be agreement in both houses of parliament. After the decisions taken in the cases of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, most rational people would argue that the Greens’ bill deserves some serious thought.
- Peter Nash, Fairlight, NSW
The tough job of being school principal
Over 30 years I worked with many principals (Jane Caro, “A matter of principals”, September 11-17). Most of them did their job well, three shone brightly and the schools lit up, and one nearly destroyed us. Despite multiple attempts by parents, teachers and the Teachers Federation to be rid of them, the principal clung on, eventually finding a new school to ruin. I saw the effect when one of our lovely teachers was put on an improvement plan by another principal. The teacher didn’t deserve the treatment they received and like Jim’s wife was marched off school grounds. Organisations designed to protect us can hurt us by the steeliness of their procedures and gaps in their compassionate use of them. Most teachers I know would never want to be a principal. They want to be with the kids. Management is hard enough. Leadership is another thing altogether.
- Beverley Fine, Pagewood, NSW
Driving a better way forward
A switch to new electric cars will clearly have benefits for the environment, but Mike Seccombe’s article overlooks an issue that I find a little troubling (“Generally electric”, September 4-10). I’ve long thought that a greater carbon footprint might be created in manufacturing all of the parts in a new car and in delivering it to the point of sale than will actually be created in operating it throughout its life. If this is true, will new electric cars really be a solution? Can anyone present credible data that compares the carbon footprint of manufacturing cars to their actual use? Perhaps it would be environmentally better to properly maintain an existing petrol car, but use it much less, than to buy a new electric car? It would also help if we were to fix the way we let developers shape our suburbs, and thereby improve the way we commute.
Allan Tonks, Taringa, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on September 18, 2021.
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