A return to decency?
When I migrated here in the late 1970s from a failed democracy, Australia was about to enter a time of great optimism. During the past nine years, however, the rise of self-interest, mean-spiritedness, inequality and corruption has seen the retreat of human decency. You can “have a go” but only the favoured “get a go”. Exploitation of not just the vulnerable but those not judged to “belong” has become acceptable. Scott Morrison’s government has subjugated “people” to faceless entities such as “business” and “the economy”. Karen Middleton introduces us on the other hand to a man who seems to value humanity (“The four-quarter plan: Inside Albanese’s strategy to win”, May 14-20). It’s one of the greatest assets he would bring to government. If leaders can’t see beyond their own venal ambition, they will never serve with integrity. I have a fearful hope we may be on the cusp of decency again.
– Alison Stewart, Riverview, NSW
PM’s last-minute sell
Mike Seccombe (“What the Coalition is promising”, May 14-20) reports the Coalition economic promises are virtually matched dollar for dollar by the opposition. The beneficiaries are overwhelmingly people in higher income brackets. In a desperate last-minute bid to buy votes Scott Morrison has the edge, embracing socialism for the wealthy and releasing capitalism for the rest.
– Carmelo Bazzano, Epping, Vic
Wages and job security
The article by Paul Bongiorno (“The word is ‘absolutely’ ”, May 14-20) highlights the distress confronting wage earners in 2022. Since the introduction of enterprise agreements by a Labor government, the labour force has been decimated by the reduction in permanent hours for both full-time and part-time employees, and “casual hours” has become totally meaningless. WorkChoices has well and truly arrived and the days of awards protecting wages and conditions have long gone. Throw in low union membership and wage earners are extremely vulnerable. That an endorsement of a wage increase of 5.1 per cent that only reflects the inflation figure causes such grief to the Coalition defies belief. Workers need a government that will support the award system with increases in real wages, permanent employment and job security. The Coalition won’t do it and Labor will go some of the way, but employees need to be given a better deal than that offered by enterprise agreements and minimum wage systems. Labor should reinstate an award system that gives real wage increases. Employees can be protected from exploitation by joining employee associations. As a human resources and industrial relations manager, I saw firsthand the destruction of workers’ rights. The time to fix this problem is now.
– Daryl Regan, Eden Hills, SA
John Hewson’s comparison of today’s Liberal Party with the old United Australia Party in 1943 is indeed apt (“We are in the mud”, May 14-20). In her thesis on the demise of the UAP, Sylvia Marchant wrote that “it had nothing to offer the electorate: not leadership, not policies, not a future, only criticism of, or reaction to, ALP policies”. Allegra Spender’s grandfather, Sir Percy, commented at the time “we were a doomed party, with no basic political philosophy to bind us together, a patchwork quilt of disparate and irreconcilable personalities”. When the election came, the UAP’s rhetoric was mostly negative with concentrated attacks on the prime minister, John Curtin. After its defeat, the UAP collapsed and was replaced by the Liberal Party under Robert Menzies. The only way today’s Liberal Party differs from the UAP is that there is no Menzies capable of picking up the pieces.
– Peter Nash, Fairlight, NSW
A harbinger of change
Fred Chaney is to be congratulated for his commentary on the need for a paradigm shift in our acceptance of the status quo of government, by the party and for the party (“This is what the major parties need”, May 14-20). The prosecution of his argument that “reform requires an external shock” linked perfectly with Thomas Kuhn popularising the words “paradigm shift” in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. This phrase is also discussed in The Divine Dance by Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell: “Kuhn said that paradigm shifts become necessary when the plausibility structure of the previous paradigm becomes so full of holes and patchwork ‘fixes’ that a complete overhaul, which once looked utterly threatening, now appears as a lifeline.”
– Mark Golden, Wagga Wagga, NSW
Who gets a say
I find it incredible yet unsurprising that someone with the criminal history, documented episodes of domestic violence, known association with underworld figures, infidelity and drug use continues in the Seven Network’s top-shelf AFL commentary team (Martin McKenzie-Murray, “Resurrection of the ‘King’ ”, May 14-20). Perhaps all the more remarkable is the halo effect Wayne Carey continues to benefit from after all these years. The conflation of his football talent and his commentary ability is undeserved. His presence at the highest echelons of the AFL and media reminds all of us who really has privilege in Australia in 2022. We all remember the hostility directed towards Nicky Winmar, Adam Goodes and Héritier Lumumba for simply playing the game.
– Benjamin Ng, Balaclava, 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 May 21, 2022.
A free press is one you pay for. Now is the time to subscribe.