MPs and overseas trips need greater scrutiny

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Trips scrutiny
Tik-Tok indeed (″⁣Globetrotting MPs rack up $150,000 on foreign trips″⁣, 10/9).
Surely the time has come to end to this blatant misuse of taxpayer money. At a time when Australians have been under considerable financial stress owing to increased interest rates and high cost of living, and even the Victorian government postponing or canceling projects, this can hardly be regarded as appropriate use of our taxes. The system needs to change.
Instead of MPs being automatically entitled to a $10,000 a year travel allowance, they should be required to submit a detailed application clearly explaining the purpose of the trip with specific reference to how it may be of public benefit and why the same objectives cannot be achieved employing one of the commonly used video platforms or other online resources.
Only if the application can demonstrate a significant benefit to the state should it be approved. Both the application and the response should be available for public scrutiny.

Leslie Chester,

The money always wins
The article ″⁣Thylacine of the sea faces extinction″⁣ (10/9) reminded me, rather sadly, of the perennial question asked on that long-ago game show Pick-A-Box, ″⁣The money or the box?″⁣ On one hand there is the endangered Maugean skate, which exists in Tasmania’s Macquarie Harbour and nowhere else in the world. On the other, the money (salmon farming). The outcome is brutally predictable.
Politicians and society in general will invariably choose the money. Once money becomes part of the equation, all other considerations fade away. Sorry little skate. You may have survived for 100 million years, but in a world where money makes the rules, you’re not worth enough to save.

Helen Moss, Croydon

Voice worth a try
The colonisation/Voice argument is a distraction that clouds the real urgency of this referendum decision. The effects of colonisation on the Indigenous population should be assessed using the evidence before us: lower life expectancy; less participation in education; poorer health; and greater incarceration rate of Indigenous people compared to non-indigenous Australians. These are facts.
Most Australians agree this needs to change. Indigenous Australians are asking to create a Voice – an advisory body – that speaks directly to the government of the day, to advise on what Indigenous Australians think could be done to close the gap.
It is a solid plan and worth a try. Nothing past and present governments have tried yet has worked to close the gap in any significant way. Enshrining the Voice in the Constitution will also ensure it doesn’t get shoved out the back door every time the government changes. Doing nothing can only ensure nothing changes.

Jackie Smith, Brunswick East

No equals nothing
I agree with Jacinta Price that there have been some positive outcomes of colonisation for some First Nations people. However there is nothing positive about the many massacres during colonial times, nor in the closing the gap statistics on health, education, etc. I will be voting Yes in the referendum. To vote No achieves nothing.

Elizabeth McKay, Camberwell

Lifting the veil
To answer Tony Wright’s question, ″⁣What have we become?″⁣ (″⁣The ugliest argument″⁣, 16/9), we haven’t ″⁣become″⁣ anything. This referendum is lifting the veil of self-deception and revealing who we are and who we have been for a very long time. It’s not a pretty picture.

Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn

Show courage
Constitutions by their nature rule from the grave. To maintain their democratic legitimacy – and hence longevity – they must be amended from time to time. But for Jacinta Price, this constitutes a divisive threat because our current Constitution – whatever its ″⁣constituting″⁣ political failures – is preferable to what is unknown.
The tragedy here is that without political courage – the will to start something new – there is only fear.
Kristy Henderson,
Munich, Germany

Tackle housing demand
Friday’s Age reported that Australia’s population was growing at 2000 people a day, fuelled by record-high immigration (″⁣Population skyrockets on back of migrants″⁣, 15/9).
Yesterday’s Age reported community concern over the development of the Sandown Racecourse into housing (″⁣Homes or horses? Struggle over site″⁣, 16/9).
Once green space is lost, it is gone forever. Developers claim that they can build 7500 houses on the site. Assuming a household size of 3 people per house it will accommodate about 12 days of population growth.
The loss of green space to have people living on postage-stamp size pieces of land with the resulting congestion and costs of infrastructure to be borne by society is not a good outcome.
Addressing demand, not supply, is the answer to the housing crisis.
Barry Lizmore, Ocean Grove

Questions for board
If the board of Melbourne Football Club doesn’t ask tough questions after four consecutive finals losses, the supporters must start questioning the board.

Tom Pagonis, Hawthorn

Can’t rule out collisions
How much further can the AFL tweak the rules? It’s always going to be a collision sport where occasionally players end up ″⁣where angels fear to tread″⁣.

Ian Macdonald, Traralgon

Keep this in mind
Some problems have simple solutions (″⁣What waste in which bin?″⁣ 16/9). For single-use plastic cups, do what my favourite cafe in Port Douglas does, and give money off for bringing a keep cup.

Peta Colebatch,

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