You think it’s boring? Try living in a safe seat

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AUSTRALIA VOTES

You think it’s boring? Try living in a safe seat
Many political commentators have remarked on just how boring the current the federal election campaign is. Try living in a safe seat such as Gellibrand. Here in Altona you could be forgiven for thinking the campaign is happening in another country – with next to no signage/corflutes to be seen anywhere.

The highlight so far has been a letterbox pamphlet drop from our local member, Tim Watts, and the most exciting event will be the opening of pre-polling at the local Finnish hall. Wow.

Vibrant democracy? Hardly. We all need to be living in marginal seats to get some attention from our politicians and political aspirants. Little wonder that the antiquated two-party system is on the nose with so many voters.
Peter Bainbridge, Altona

This is what I want in a leader
I don’t expect the leader of a political party to know fine details about every issue under discussion. I expect them to appoint people who will be able to competently and knowledgeably discuss the subjects of their portfolios and who will work together with the wider parliamentary team, in a productive manner, guided by their leader.

I dream about a leader who can communicate their party’s vision for our country, identify its pros and cons and the barriers to its implementation and inspire us as a nation to do our bit to support it. I want a leader who treats everyone they encounter with respect and humility, ready to learn from that person, and ready to have an open and honest discussion, listening and responding to their specific questions rather than steamrolling over the top of them with a
pre-prepared, often irrelevant statement (or half-truths and distractions).

I think these interpersonal skills will be vital if a minority government occurs and I know which current leader is more likely to be able to work well with independents and minor parties. I know who I will support.
Lucy Procter, Camberwell

A breath of fresh air
Even if the elected independent candidates do not hold the balance of power, their presence in the parliament will be a breath of fresh air.

Unlike their backbencher colleagues, they will have the freedom to speak their minds at all times, ask questions, introduce private members’ bills, listen to debates and vote on the merits of the arguments not blindly on party lines. Unfettered by party meetings and factionalism they will be responsible only to their constituents.

There are many issues the major parties are reluctant to address especially issues involving morality, ethics and religion. The independents can raise these issues for debate and public scrutiny.

This is why the major parties don’t like them; they have freedom of speech. Their prime loyalty is not to faction-driven parties but their electorate and the wider community. Go, independents.
Rod Mackenzie, Marshall

‘Business as usual’ isn’t working for them
Katie Allen questions the logic of voting independent in order to counter the influence of the right wing of the Liberal Party, saying that it will lead to the loss of moderates’ influence in the party (“The hard reality of a teal vote”, Comment, 7/5).

Firstly, it’s time the Coalition accepts its lack of support for women to run in safe seats has contributed to the gender make-up of the independents. Also, since the election of the Abbott government there’s been a steady increase in right-wing influence in the Coalition. So, it might be more insightful to consider, that for some, voting independent is a shot across the bows and a counter to Allen’s suggestion that more can be achieved by “being in the [Coalition] tent”.

If the Coalition continues with business as usual (e.g. downplays community concern on issues such as climate change, public scrutiny of government), it may find a further increase in those choosing to challenge from outside the tent.
Denise Chadwick, Soldiers Hill

THE FORUM

Piers under pressure
The Victorian government’s decision to restore the historic Flinders Pier (“‘Jubilation’ as historic Flinders Pier saved”, The Age, 6/5) was a welcomed one, and should now be a catalyst for reviewing all our piers and jetties.

Nearly one-third of Victorian piers and jetties are in below-average condition and may disappear altogether unless action is taken soon. For too long the value of our piers has been measured by their diminishing commercial purpose without regard to their growing tourism value and role as a community amenity.

Parks Victoria estimates that 37 million people will visit our piers and jetties over the next 12 months, yet the agency remains woefully underfunded to properly maintain these valuable maritime assets and it is time we follow the example of other states and re-assess the economic value of our piers and jetties through the lens of tourism and recreation.

We have saved Flinders Pier, but we now need the government to review the maintenance funding of all our piers and jetties. We need to act quickly before any more of them fall further into disrepair and potentially vanish without a trace.
Charles Reis, Flinders

This says it all
In the interview with Scott Morrison (“Miracle man?”, Insight, 7/5), the second last paragraph says it all: ’What’s the difference between us and Labor?” he asks. “I just don’t have the same faith and belief in government. I have a greater faith in Australians and their families and communities …”

This explains Morrison’s complete lack of interest in any long-term visions or planning for a better future for Australia in the face of so many challenges, climate change, a health system under strain, care for an ageing population, to name just a few.

He doesn’t have any faith in government. He prefers to leave it all up to individuals. It’s not his responsibility.
Catherine Miller, Chewton

It could be worse …
The Coalition tell us that they are the superior economic managers. Interest rates are rising, inflation is skyrocketing, wages are stagnant and the budget is deep in the red.

Thank goodness they know what they are doing otherwise we would be in deep trouble.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

People over parties
In reporting on the debate between Monique Ryan and Josh Frydenberg (“Kooyong conundrum laid bare”, The Age, 6/5), your reporter observed that perhaps the question that got to the “heart” of the matter was: “Isn’t the country and community better served if you both keep your current jobs?”
I believe the more important question is, how do we actively encourage people to go into parliament who have had successful and longer-term careers outside politics.

The current model for all major parties is to employ and promote young staffers who have joined soon after university, then find them seats to their launch political careers. Consequently, we risk that our representatives in government will have no significant experience outside the Canberra “bubble”, are tied to party lines and don’t know or understand the communities they represent.

Maybe it’s time for a shift away from voting for a party to voting for a person, someone who knows our concerns, is empowered and free to speak out strongly as our representative and has recent experience of the day-to-day pressures that those in their community face.

This might just be achieved by the election of more independents.
Nettie Harper, Clifton Hill

At least they have a policy
Labor’s policy on ending the live sheep trade might be vague, but at least it’s on the table (“Super top-up turfed as Labor sits on sheep”, The Age, 7/5).

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud’s supporting argument that “we do it better than any other country in the world” comes off a very low base, as we saw with the unforgettable suffering of heat-stressed Australian sheep on the Awassi Express in 2017.
Jan Kendall, Mount Martha

Earning the moniker
In June 2021, my daughter, working in low wage retail, unable to work due to Victorian COVID lockdown, was denied federal government support. Why? Because in the eight years that she had lived out of home, renting, in minimum wage jobs, she had sensibly budgeted and lived frugally to save towards a deposit for a place of her own.

Our member for Kooyong decided that people like my daughter ought to have their aspirations crushed, setting her eligibility for federal government support dependent on her having dwindled her savings to below $10,000.

Then the residents of NSW shortly found themselves in similar peril and Frydenberg stepped up and removed the asset test on federal government support for those whose incomes were lost due to COVID lockdowns.

I will never forget the failings of the member for Kooyong towards Victorians in this regard. He has earned the moniker “Treasurer for NSW”.
Laurie Atkinson, Kew

The common denominator
The government seeks re-election on the grounds of being the better economic manager and a stronger focus on keeping Australians safe. The first claim has been debunked by the incoherent mess being left for future governments to solve.

It has also failed at the latter. At the beginning of Scott Morrison’s reign, less than four years ago, we had very strong diplomatic relations with China, France and the Solomon Islands. These relationships all are now in tatters.

There may be two sides to every argument but the common denominator is Scott Morrison’s dismal (non)management of these developing crises (“How to lose friends and influence in our region”, Insight, 7/5). The evidence does not support the government’s competence claims.
Peter Thomson, Brunswick

A persuasive argument
Katie Allen, I was encouraged when you crossed the floor on the religious discrimination legislation.
However, I do not recall any Liberals crossing the floor to force action in key areas such as climate change, a corruption commission with teeth, accountability for expenditure of public funds or the robo-debt debacle. Not you or other “moderate Liberals”.

This is at the heart of Fred Chaney’s contention that moderate Liberals have shown they tolerate the agenda of the more extreme elements of the Liberal Party and its Coalition partner and that this is why change is needed (“The Liberal Party I served has lost its way”, Comment, 4/5).

His argument is independents who have expressed strong convictions on key issues would force whichever party wins the election to be answerable to the electorate is a persuasive one.
Sidra de Zoysa, Glen Iris

It’s umpire school for you
As a trainer of junior netball umpires, one of my first pieces of advice is that umpires should be relatively invisible – control the game but never take over from the players or make themselves the main event.

Looking at the way some journalists have conducted themselves during this election campaign, I think they would do well to attend umpire school.
Donna Wyatt, Wyndham Vale

It’s more about the man
Your correspondent believes Malcolm Turnbull, as an ex-politician, is simply looking for an extra 15 minutes of fame and is irrelevant (“Yesterday’s man?”, Letters, 7/5).

However, I think his comment is more about who is delivering the message as I notice he didn’t level the same criticism at John Howard.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Not coming to the party
It is hard not to feel for the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, as he battles for his blue-ribbon seat. The notion that there is no such thing as a safe seat would rattle many MPs – though not necessarily Kim Beazley, who repeatedly scraped by, nor John Howard, who was spared the indignity of forcing a byelection by losing at the polls.

Could it be that the Voices movement is a reflection that our representative democracy is not representative? That perhaps the party system – not mentioned in our constitution until a 1970s amendment – is not working for constituents?

Although parties are a logical conclusion of any democratic system – from the demagogues of the Athenian agora to the modern “representative” democracies of the Western world (and those following in their footsteps) – it would be nice to see true representation in our democracy.

This is what I hope for from the Voices movement. Real independents: Voices for their electorate, not the party they represent.
Michael Puck, Tabulam, NSW

Ex-pat votes at risk
Due to pandemic restrictions, the majority of ex-pat Australians will need to resort to postal voting, as most consulates and embassies are not offering in-person voting.

But also due to the pandemic, overseas mail is taking several weeks (recently more than four weeks from Hong Kong to Brisbane for mortgage documents), making it unlikely the postal voting forms can be received, completed, witnessed and returned by the deadline of 13 days after the election.

As this situation seems to be unaddressed, thousands of perfectly eligible and willing Australian voters will be denied a vote in 2022.
David Wootton, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Where are the masks?
What is it with the football crowd not wearing masks on trains? People piling onto Saturday’s trains before and after games with not a care in the world.
No wonder flu and COVID cases and deaths are increasing.
Christine Hinton, Glen Huntly

The most pressing issue
There are many important issues in this election. The most urgent is transparency, because without it we electors cannot believe anything we are told, so the policies are irrelevant.

And as Stephen Charles, QC, and Dr Catherine Williams, in their book Keeping Them Honest, have said, the Coalition model is not good enough.
Margaret Lothian, Middle Park

AND ANOTHER THING

The campaign trail
Anthony Albanese’s “gotcha moment” wasn’t when he couldn’t name the Labor Party’s six National Disability Insurance Scheme policy points, it was when he was handed the policy and it revealed half a dozen vague aspirations. No plan or policy there.
Brian Plummer, Wagga Wagga, NSW

Scott Morrison could do a photo op at an architect’s office and show us his plans. How good would that be?
Barry Kranz, Mount Clear

How much more of this are we to endure. Clive Palmer proposes ideas that are totally unrealistic and unenforceable. Of course all engaged electors will preference him last after all other candidates.
Andrew Connell, Newtown

Sorry, Tim Wilson, I might now not be door-knocking for what you call a fake “independent”, if you weren’t a fake “moderate”.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton

The best election gotcha moment so far was Tanya Plibersek’s interjection on Insiders: “I don’t want to interrupt you, David, please go on.“
Peter McCarthy, Mentone

Live exports
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud’s argument that “live export will happen, whether we like it or not, from another country” is like saying it’s okay to persecute minorities because other countries do it.
Charles Davis, Hawthorn

Furthermore
What’s the statute of limitations on bad tweets? Reporters raising questions about them ought to explain what their thinking is, so we all know what the issue is.
Ross Crawford, Frankston

Finally
Australia is crying out for qualified, experienced health professionals, meanwhile, the Department of Home Affairs is shuffling papers across desks and Iraqi refugee and qualified physiotherapist Thamer Alkhammat is living in limbo in his “fight for survival” (The Sunday Age, 8/5).
Wendy Brennan, Bendigo

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