Saturday, February 2, 2013

My election wish list for both parties

Illustration: John Spooner.
Illustration: John Spooner.
JULIA and Tony, now that the campaign is under way I would like to submit my wants to you.
As a self-funded retiree I don't want any pork barrelling and want you to concentrate on policy issues, not personal attacks, as we voters find them a turn-off. I want adequate funding for first-class education and health outcomes for all Australians. This can be easily funded by tackling tax avoidance by those at the top end of town, phasing out tax breaks for negative gearing and family trusts, and raising the GST to 12 per cent.
I want policies that benefit future generations, including tackling environmental issues such as climate change and our excess reliance on fossil fuels, by extending the carbon tax coverage and increasing the minerals resource tax.
Illustration: Ron Tandberg.
Illustration: Ron Tandberg.
It is way past time issues with our indigenous population were adequately addressed. May I also request a more civilised approach to the way genuine refugees are treated. And for good measure, I wouldn't mind a republic and an Australian flag minus the Union Jack.
Glenn Stanmore, Cohuna

Time to sort out spin

EIGHT months' notice is good for our democracy; it gives the public and media outlets time to sort the spin, hyperbole and fearmongering from the facts. We may even have an election fought on policy rather than on a media blitz about personalities and shaky promises. Who knows, by September it could be Bill versus Malcolm; eight months is a long time in politics.
Peter Topping, North Melbourne

True to form

MEDIA outlets are already reporting that Tony Abbott has rejected calls for detailed policy costings. It wouldn't be a fair dinkum federal election unless the opposition stonewalled on costings right up till the actual election date … and beyond.
John Kirk, Camberwell East

Long gone

TONY Abbott stresses in his Press Club speech what his government will not be: ''The mining tax will be gone, the carbon tax will be gone'' (''Abbott has time to prove he's a leader - but is it enough?'', 30/1).
I don't want to sound like Mr Abbott but, if the election goes his way, I think we can add a number of things to his list of ''gones''. Environmental protection: gone. Sustainable energy: gone. Educational equity: gone. Humanity: gone. Separation of church and state: Gone.
Stewart Monckton, Mont Albert

Babies do grow up

THE early slogans of Mr Abbott's campaign are ''Hope, Reward and Opportunity''. Ah, now I get it. Tony Abbott hopes women will be so pleased with his paid parental leave scheme that they will reward him with their votes in September, giving him the opportunity to slash the school kids' bonus. Can someone please remind Mr Abbott that babies grow up to be school kids.
Liz Temple, Mount Clear

Two peas in a pod

THE geniuses who masterminded the Gillard coup should be asked to explain in what essential ways Julia Gillard differs from the still publicly popular Kevin Rudd.
The PM's poll ratings are lower than his were after he junked the promises on climate change policy. Gillard has broken another promise, this time the budget surplus.
In her recent arbitrary decisions (on Nova Peris and setting an election date) Ms Gillard has acted without reference to her parliamentary party in the same manner Rudd was accused of - a criticism used to justify his removal.
Thomas Hogg, East Melbourne

ALP lacks the ticker

JOHN Spooner makes it clear Julia Gillard will be executed well (Comment, 31/1). If the polls are an indication, Gillard hasn't a snowflake's chance in hell of winning the next election. It is difficult to pinpoint the reason as she has good policies. Sadly, the parliamentary Labor Party appears to lack the ticker to change the leadership before it is too late.
Bill Mathew, Parkville

Designed to mislead

THE government says a ''12 per cent pay rise for teachers over three years would cost Victorians $13 billion'' (''Teachers' pay rise 'unsustainable','' 31/1.) It is not the pay rise that would cost $13 billion but the total payroll for all the state's 40,000 teachers for three years, assuming an average salary for each teacher of $100,000.
Please, can we have some estimate of costs that is not designed deliberately to mislead. I put the difference in the first-year cost between the 2.5 per cent the government is offering and the 4 per cent the teachers are claiming at about $60 million. Almost exactly the cost of the Grand Prix subsidy.
Irwin Faris, Torquay

Minister not living up to responsibility

THE delay in delivering on commitments on school bullying is unacceptable (''State accused of lagging on school bullying'', 31/1). The recent report by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, ''Held Back - the experience of students with disabilities in Victorian Schools'', found that students with disability were three times more likely to be bullied than the general school population and that two-thirds experienced bullying or harassment.
Further, international research highlights the devastating consequence bullying can have on children, including high rates of physical and mental health problems and, in extreme cases, self-harm or suicide.
Minister Martin Dixon has more than one reason to make this work a priority. As well as being Education Minister, he has been appointed a ''Disability Champion Minister'' for COAG's national disability strategy. In this role he has committed to identifying and advocating opportunities for inclusion of people with disability.
Stephanie Gotlib, executive officer, Children with Disability Australia

Real truth is taboo

ROGER Howard's explanation for the violence in Mali is simplistic (''High population growth a seed to rising unrest'', Comment, 1/2).
The fact is this violence has been fostered and triggered by a radical interpretation of the Islamic religion. The men who committed systematic atrocities against the Malian civilian population chose to do so and this choice was based on religious belief.
Howard then states it is ''taboo'' to expose his reality; that rapid population growth has caused these atrocities. No, it is politically incorrect to expose the real truth; that this is a result of a flawed religious belief system. If you doubt this, direct me to the corresponding unrest in Singapore, China and India.
Max Dunn, Kew

Easing our conscience, but that's about it

THE linking of high population growth with international violence raises the issue of where Australia can get best value for its aid dollar. At present we are committing ourselves to billions of dollars of future expenditure to accommodate refugees, the consequence of high birth rates and limited resources in the conflict zones.
If that money was instead put to tackling the causes of the turmoil by providing resources for family planning we could have some impact. With 80 million people born into poverty each year, taking 20,000 refugees may ease our conscience, but will not solve the problem.
Peter Liston, Southbank

Price of growth

PROBLEMS with population growth - driven by an unsustainable immigration program and an unwillingness of state governments to decentralise - have arrived in Australia, too, in the form of high rents, house prices and council rates, and congestion on roads and rail and so on.
Wait until we have diesel shortages when peak oil turns into another nasty oil war in the Middle East or when Mother Nature throws so many fires, floods and storms at us that our power supply breaks down. People living in high-rise flats - where much of the additional population is crammed - will be especially hard hit.
We have seen during the Queensland floods how quickly shelves in shops can turn empty when trucks come to a standstill. When will these lessons be learnt?
Matt Mushalik, Epping, NSW

System is broken …

BILL Howard (Letters, 30/1), while I respect your opinion I do believe our constitutional monarchy system is ''broken''. Chief among my reasons is that no Australian citizen can be our head of state. That, of course, means that neither you, your children nor your grandchildren can be our head of state. I love the fact that our Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, is our first female Governor-General. I would love it even more if she were our head of state.
Susan Hayden, Cheltenham

… and overloaded

WHILE it is distressing and dangerous for discharge summaries to carry the wrong diagnosis (''Patients discharged with wrong diagnoses'', 31/1), one must also examine the cause of the problem. This is a symptom of our overloaded hospital system, staffed by overworked doctors.
Our reliance on hospitals to fix all our health woes is outdated and ignores the fact that many admissions can be avoided by good investment in community-based care and preventative services.
Bo Li, Preston

Grievous omission of ABC reporter's coup

I LISTENED to Jon Faine on ABC radio on Wednesday morning when he interviewed Leigh Sales on her coup of interviewing Hillary Clinton. He was so pleased for Sales and it was a pleasure to hear them speaking about her US experience.
I later watched the ABC television 7pm news; no mention of Sales. I then watched 7.30 and still no mention. Thank goodness The Age picked up on the story and printed a photograph (''Clinton puts in one last Sales pitch as US Secretary of State'', 31/1). Well done, indeed, Leigh Sales.
Carolyn Reynolds, Lake Boga

Enlightening coverage

I AM appalled that Jon Faine was admonished by managers for using his legal knowledge to point out to Julia Gillard's accusers on the AWU affair, how and why their claims were spurious (''Presenter censured on coverage'', 31/1). That is not bias. It is information that enlightened many of us. Faine is a fair interviewer with a broad general knowledge and should be valued by the ABC.
Graeme Lee, Fitzroy

Egregious misuse

MORE of concern than the overuse of certain words is their egregious misuse, particularly by reporters and commentators. These days, a player is ''bought'' on to bowl rather than ''brought'', and we hear about ''the amount of times'' something occurs rather than ''the number of times'', and that people are ''vunerable'' to something instead of ''vulnerable''.
Jeff Gray, Trafalgar

Brought up short

I MUST have cured a generation of children from asking, ''Can I go to the toilet, please?'' My answer was invariably, ''I expect so at your age, but do you need a hand?''
Countless red-faced little boys soon learnt to ask if they may go to the toilet. My response was then shortened to ''You can, the question is may you'', usually bringing them up short as they made to leave the room. Oh, the joys of teaching.
MaryAnne Needham, Traralgon

Private matters

IF NICHOLAS Tonti-Filippini (Comment, 30/1) wants to keep his club private and only employ select folk, then society doesn't have to pay his way by awarding his club tax-free status.
Lee Matthews, St Kilda

Regain some good will

THE Insurance Council of Australia's chief executive Rob Whelan says that councils and government need to spend more on flood-prevention methods such as levees. He estimates that a relatively small investment, typically $15 million to build a levee around a mid-size town, may be recouped 100-fold over the life of the levee. This is money that would be mainly paid out by insurers.
Perhaps, then, Australia's insurers should tip in the millions required. It would seem an excellent investment. And as a bonus they would regain some sorely needed public goodwill. Seems like an ideal win-win scenario.
Ross Hudson, Camberwell

Spare us one-liners

PLEASE save us from eight months of pithy one-liners. The column ''And Another Thing'' should be quarantined from political comment until after the election.
The Age could also stipulate that political comment directed to the Letters page contain a minimum of three complete sentences. We could then take the opportunity to teach our politicians how to better communicate their ideas and ideals.
Guy Hoschke, Sunshine North

What's more...

CLEVER move, Julia Gillard; there is no way Tony Abbott can stay positive for that length of time.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East


I'LL show you mine if you show me yours. We're off to a good start.
Richard Opat, Elsternwick
THE man who said climate change is ''crap'' and that the post-GFC stimulus was ''waste'' now says the big issue is the Prime Minister's judgment.
Neil Hauxwell, Moe
IS AN allegation of ''running a protection racket'' not actionable? Ask a Rhodes scholar perhaps?
Norman Morton, Kew
IT MIGHT be time for all Labor politicians and their union friends to go through a probity check to see where the money trail leads.
Hans Majewski, Thomastown
IT'S not that Julia wants to lock Kevin out, she wants to lock Tony in.
Robert Pizzari, East Brunswick
ONLY in Australia do we whinge about having a set election date. In many countries people dream of being able to have a free vote.
Michael Dawes, West Footscray
AFTER eight months of standing for election and running for office, all candidates will be more desperate than ever to become sitting members.
Barry Lamb, Cairns, Qld
RICHARD Lustman (Letters, 1/2), since when were we obliged to consult a minority group before we could set a date for something as important as a federal election?
Victor Radywonik, Ascot Vale
I WOULD like to remind all voters, including our Jewish friends, that there is such a thing as a postal vote. It certainly will be a day of atonement. But for whom?
Sue Johnson, Terang


RECEPTIONISTS asking ''What was your name?'' imply that most clients are using an alias.
Brian Bywater, Warrnambool
DID I buy something from the internet or off the internet?
Lesley Rank, Lalor
THE term ''denier'' is also a measure of thickness (in the hosiery industry).
Vikki O'Neill, Narre Warren South

And finally

SBS, you have made my day, and my footy year, by programming Marngrook Footy Show. Intelligent footy discussion, great music and a good laugh. What more could I want.
Pauline Santillo, Altona North

My election wish list for both parties


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