Don’t fear, stability can be built from minority

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Strategic voting
The Age Resolve Poll shows a third of voters intend to vote for a candidate not from the two major parties (“Labor leads at campaign halfway mark”, 2/5). There has been speculation about the prospect that neither major party will win an outright majority of seats. Both parties have sought to portray a minority government as unstable. Any global assessment of similar democracies would show this is not the case. Scandinavian countries rarely have a single party winning a majority of seats and Germany also has a government formed by a coalition. In Australia, possibly the best performing, and stable parliament is in the ACT with a Labor/Greens government. Voters should select their preferred candidate free of anxiety about one party winning a majority.
Peter Allan, Brunswick West

Consider the cost
I wonder if those of your correspondents plotting the downfall of Josh Frydenberg realise the consequences of their endeavours. If he falls it will lead to the ascendancy of Peter Dutton in the Coalition and its further lurch to the right. Should they be careful for what they wish?
Graham Devries, Camberwell

Getting louder
Both Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg have stated that they are targeting the “quiet Australians” in this election campaign (“Battle for the ’burbs”, 1/5). But who are these “quiet Australians”? Are they those Australians who have always voted for the same political party even though they can’t tell you why? Their parents and grandparents voted that way. Why should they change? Could it be that the political pantomimes of recent years have made them question the way that they vote? Being a swinging voter, I would like to think so.
John Cummings, Anglesea

Personal targets
The Teal candidates have said they are motivated to run by the lack of leadership and proper policy in both areas of global warming and corruption (among others). In every comment I have heard the Liberal candidates make about their Teal opponents, not one has been to respond by discussing their policies in these areas. Instead they have tried to imply there is some sort of shady conspiracy behind the Teals’ candidacy or some other form of character assassination. Josh Frydenberg’s latest “gotcha” with Monique Ryan when her mother-in-law supposedly endorsed him (“Like teddy, Kooyong needs a rest”, 3/5) says a lot more about him yet again playing the “man” and not the “ball”. Perhaps that is because Frydenberg et al know they have well and truly “dropped that ball”.
Andrew Hancock, West Brunswick

Nice doesn’t cut it
So … a little old lady (aged 87) thinks Josh is a nice person. Well, this little old lady (aged 90) expects more than “nice” from a person who has my children and grandchildren’s future in his hands.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

Feelings not considered
Chip Le Grand gives an interesting account of “the latest stoush over the silliest of things” but misreads its significance. There are plenty of unpleasant precedents and opportunities for private matters to become public targets, and if a candidate feels offended or threatened when that line is crossed, it’s not for anyone else to tell them it’s “a plainly ridiculous thing to say”.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Back the leading alternative
May I suggest to your correspondent (Letters, 3/5), who has yet to decide if he will vote progressive independent or Greens, and all like him that they vote strategically. If your hope is to dump your sitting member, vote for whichever other candidate has the best chance of winning. That person needs all the No.1 votes they can get. If the independents don’t get in this time, we may not get another chance to reform parliament for decades.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn


Stand a state treasure
The last thing Melbourne needs is to lose another heritage icon in prominent view (“Tigers vow Punt Road exit if stand demolition vetoed”, 3/5). As a compromise, consider marrying the old and new, or breaking into the abundant parklands that adjoins. Victoria can afford to lose some of the park, but not a state treasure.
Patrick Walker, Coburg North

Protect heritage
Let the Tigers exit Punt Road in a hissy fit, it will never be big enough for AFL matches even at double the capacity. Make it the home of the VFL and retain some tiny bit of Melbourne’s heritage that has not already been bulldozed.
Chris Pettifer, Hughesdale

Renovate the station
While I can understand the motives for the Richmond Football Club to want to upgrade the stadium, the upgrade that is even more urgent in the area is that of Richmond Railway station. This tired-looking station could be transformed into a modern, busy, appealing retail facility that integrates with the stadium and become a centre of business activity.
Robert Brown, Camberwell

Workplace discrimination
In her research paper, Victoria Rawlings clearly identifies the main reasons for female umpires being driven from football (“Boys’ club among umps ‘bigger issue than dissent’”, 3/5). Namely, sexual harassment is not a “once-off”, but a repeated pattern of abusive behaviour that negatively impacts their ability to perform their umpiring job. Put simply, it’s an occupational health and safety issue and it will take an action plan with teeth to stamp out the toxic masculinity that underpins the abuse women umpires sustain in this workplace.
Jelena Rosic, Mornington

Bigger picture
Is anyone else tiring of the daily diamond-encrusted “carrots” from both of the major parties in their election campaigns? Wouldn’t it be refreshing to be offered the wider picture of what each party actually values, and believes in, and hopes to leave as a legacy? If bribing voters with carrots is what it takes to get elected, then as voters, we should be embarrassed, and should be holding ourselves, and the political parties, more accountable.
Claire Merry, Wantirna

Personal matters first
Simon Birmingham, Josh Frydenberg and Scott Morrison can quote all the carefully selected numbers they like to say how good the government is making the economy, but it is the number at the petrol bowser, at the supermarket cash register, on the utility bill and the rent or mortgage amount that the public will be looking at. These are the numbers that will come to mind of voters come election day.
Greg Tuck, Warragul

Give and take
In February Scott Morrison made a grand announcement of two $400 bonus payments to aged care workers but didn’t announce that the bonus would be taxed. The net result for these poorly paid but essential workers is $400 minus $138 tax, equalling $262. Sleight of hand at the very least.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

Housing a time bomb
John Howard says there is no Australian housing crisis – what a relief for many battlers. More than 116,000 people are homeless on any one night in Australia. In October 2020 there were 430,000 people on public housing waiting lists. There was a shortfall of 450,000 social housing units. Capital city housing affordability in the private sector is among the worst in the world.
Lack of emergency accommodation sends many women back to abusive relationships. The OECD finds the survival of the middle class threatened by unaffordable housing – many young Australians never expect to own a home. Many recent purchasers will be under enormous financial stress as interest rates rise. Nothing to see here, Howard. Tax concessions to owner occupiers and private landlords far outweigh the federal government expenditure on social housing, homelessness and rent assistance. The inequity, over-investment in non-productive assets and social division are – if not a crisis – a ticking time bomb, national disgrace and tragedy.
Norman Huon, Port Melbourne

Paying the price
We’re told that 40 per cent of voters are unwilling to pay a personal cost to reduce emissions, and that this number is growing. (“Voters believe they’re doing their bit on climate but want government to do more”, 3/5). The challenge here is not for Albanese or Morrison; it’s for Australia.
The cost of the major, unprecedented environmental catastrophes this century, from the Millennium Drought, through the Black Summer firestorms, to the east coast “rain bomb” floods has been calculated in the hundreds of billions of dollars and wrecked the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Australians. And our political leaders and our public debate through the media are still arguing whether we can afford to act or not.
John Mosig, Kew

An inspiring life
Thank you for the wonderful obituary for Dr Moss Cass (6/3). What an inspiration and a timely reminder of the hopes and plans of 50 years ago for a more equitable Australia with healthcare for all and respect and care for our environment. What a contrast to our current dismal political landscape of big money and small ideas where the only question asked is what’s in it for me.
April Baragwanath, Geelong

Chemical dreams
We cannot imagine the new chemical technologies that will be invented in the next thousand years. But they will certainly include sophisticated uses of the fossilised organic matter that took millions of years to accumulate. And the remaining advanced humans will curse those fools who, over just a few hundred years, burnt nearly all of it.
Ralph Böhmer, St Kilda West

Lost policies
The Climate Council’s finding that, on average, one in 25 Australian houses will be uninsurable by 2030 is further evidence of how those who can least afford it are most affected. (“Climate change is making houses uninsurable”, 3/5). The Australian Council of Social Service reports that low-income earners already spend a greater proportion of their household budget, almost twice as much, on energy and water. Struggling to pay rising costs, now many who bought on cheap, low-lying land find they are becoming uninsurable. What plans do politicians have to address this growing inequity?
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

Cut the logging delay
How good to hear that Tasmania has become carbon negative as a result of the closure of the Triabunna wood-chip mill (The Age, 3/5). If only the Victorian government would bite the bullet and direct VicForests to bring old growth forest logging to an end this year. The government’s self-congratulations on the planned 2030 close-down of the industry are vacuous. Immediate action is necessary. Professor Mackey and David Lindenmayer’s research has shown that protecting forests can “have a huge impact on state and national emissions”. In justice, the end to old-growth logging must be accompanied by proportionate support for logging workers and their communities.
Tom Knowles, Parkville

Why the shortage?
Why do we have a critical timber shortage when trees are so easy to grow? We have abundant sunshine, so the problem must be water, and a lack of investment in timber products. There is plenty of water for thirsty cotton, vineyards and nut plantations, but you can’t build houses with any of them. Another Australian “critical planning uncertainty”.
Jeff McCormack, Javoricko, Czech Republic

Cut the vines
Peter Hartcher’s columns should be compulsory reading, particularly for Australia’s Defence Department. “Urgency needed in Pacific plan”, (3/5) provides yet another intelligent insight based on history, into strategic possibilities in the Pacific. What do you do if a tendril of a poisonous vine threatens to overrun your backyard? You chop it off! According to Hartcher, setting up a strategic defence with an Australian base on PNG’s Manus Island would be able to prohibit the sea lines of communication from China to the Solomons in the event of a conflict, rendering it useless to China.
Julie Chandler, Blairgowrie

What poison?
Peter Hartcher likened the signing of a security pact between China and Solomon Islands to “a poisonous vine growing its tentacles into Australia backyard”. Of course our government should take this development seriously and act strategically. However, it is wrong and harmful to use offensive and emotive language to describe a country. What poison did China spread? It is worthwhile to reflect on the human sufferings, death, and refugee crisis caused by wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Afghanistan and the bombing of Serbia, where China played no role. Also it is arrogant to call the Pacific islands our backyard. They are poor but sovereign countries.
Lilian Hui, Forest Hill

Learning from history
As Peter Hartcher points out, current events are sending out a powerful message about the enduring and instructive resonance of historical precedent. China’s current playbook in this region owes much to the Japanese Imperial Army’s naval designs in the 1940s. Similarly, Russia’s assault on Ukraine’s east has, albeit ineptly, replicated Adolf Hitler’s strategy of using Sudeten German-speaking enclaves in pre-World War II Czechoslovakia. Of our modern prime ministers, Paul Keating’s honouring of the ongoing significance of the 1942 Kokoda campaign stands out still as reflecting a prescient leader who saw the vital link between Australia’s past and present.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

And another thing

Federal election
I agree rising interest rates are unrelated to government policies. However, falling rates demonstrate their brilliant economic management.
David Kerr, Geelong

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

Doesn’t view everything though a political lens? Scott Morrison has been to so many photo shoots, he has become prismatic.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

Why is it that the ingredients of PM’s latest curry seem to get more air time than his policies? Is it that his policies won’t stand the heat?
Meg Paul, Camberwell

My letterbox over the past week has again demonstrated who are the real winners in any election. The printing industry!
Brian Kidd, Mt Waverley

Maybe Josh Frydenberg would do better if he shifted from “Keep Josh” to “Keep Mum”.
Barry Miller, Kyneton

If all these extravagant promises that the Coalition is currently announcing to targeted demographics are such great initiatives, why weren’t they implemented during the course of the government’s term of office?
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

Simon Birmingham says that the NSW ICAC is all about “grabbing headlines”. They certainly grabbed some when they exposed Eddie Obeid.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

“Bleary-eyed magpies find the trill is gone” (3/5) … along with sun-faded curtains, another good reason to abandon daylight saving time.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

In reference to magpies losing their trill because of lack of sleep, a quick look at Judith Wright’s lovely poem, Magpies, will remind us how their joyful warbling rouses us from our own downy slumber into the certainties and surprises of a new day.
Ann Rennie, Surrey Hills

If Qantas can afford to buy new aircraft, perhaps they could also buy a new switchboard that has automatic call-back capability.
Stephen Wilbourne, Kilcunda

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