Government should represent all citizens

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PARLIAMENTARY PRAYER

Government should represent all citizens

The daily recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in State Parliament blurs the division between church and state. This practice is not compatible with a secular society and discriminates against all of those for whom the prayer has no meaning, such as members of other religions and atheists.

Prayer is a personal matter and Fiona Patten’s proposal of a moment of silence (“Changing MPs’ prayer a reasonable move”, The Age, 3/8) to replace the Lord’s Prayer is appropriate. It will enable those who wish to pray to pray and other Members of Parliament may simply reflect on their obligations to the people of Victoria. In a modern society it is necessary for the government to represent all citizens, not just one particular group, and this practice is discriminatory and should be ended without delay.
Di Cousens, Mount Waverley

No place for Christian prayer in a secular society
While conservative commentators such as Kevin Donnelly like to highlight Australia’s Judeo-Christian heritage (“Reciting the Lord’s Prayer important”, The Age, 3/8), as a member of the Jewish community the only Judeo-Christian tradition I can recall is that of oppression, persecution and pogroms in the name of the Christian god who the Jews were regularly accused of killing.

In pre-war Poland my mother and her sister would hide in the woods on Good Friday so people couldn’t take “revenge” on their Jewish neighbours after church service. Australia is a multicultural, multifaith country. Time to remove the Lord’s Prayer from our secular parliaments.
David Zyngier, Caulfield North

If prayer works, it’s clear there is no master plan
No, Kevin Donnelly, reciting any prayer perpetuates the Stone-Age belief that there is an invisible entity controlling our lives. There isn’t. And if there were I can’t understand why it would be swayed by the entreaties of humanity. Believers in the supernatural contend that there exists some master plan devised by God. If that’s true then prayer won’t work. If prayer does work then the lord of the universe doesn’t have a plan at all.
Angus McLeod, Cremorne

Public prayer likely to irritate many
Kevin Donnelly has written a believer’s view of prayer, and it is appealing. If only prayer at the beginning of the parliamentary day had the effects that are claimed for it, but, unfortunately, it does not work like that, or parliaments would be places of civilised and respectful debate. Like so many “acknowledgments of Country”, which Dr Donnelly also lauds, public prayer is too often performed as a meaningless ritual.

For people of faith, public prayer that is not of their religion may cause discomfort, or even offence. For non-believers, public prayer is more likely to cause irritation than the humility and reflective responsibility that he wishes were encouraged by prayer. Representatives who feel their deliberations would be enhanced by prayer should pray silently at the beginning of their day, or whenever they feel the need, and not impose their prayers on others.
Marianne Robinson, Churchill

No harm in maintaining spiritual traditions
Dr Kevin Donnelly is correct when he describes the importance and legacy of the prayer before Parliament. The vast majority of Australians are of European origin, our political system is British and Christianity is the majority religion.

What possible harm can there be in taking a few moments to reflect on responsibilities and get a perspective on who we are, before starting work? And if the prayer is to go, so too must the Welcome to Country, a spiritual tradition of an important, although tiny, group of Australians. There’s no real reason to get rid of either. Let’s keep both.
Caroline Miley, Heidelberg

THE FORUM

Yarra Trams on song
We live near a tram terminus and want to compliment the management and staff of Yarra Trams for their efficiency and careful protection of passengers. The trams generally keep to a rigorous timetable and the drivers are sensitive to the safety of those alighting, even though some car drivers do not observe the warning signs.

During the COVID crisis, trams frequently carry cleaning staff who take pains to disinfect the areas that could be touched by passengers. We Melbourne residents are fortunate to have a well-run public transport service.
Ken and Christine Barnes, Glen Iris

Jab bonus applauded
A $300 vaccination bonus will have a multiplier impact on the economy as well as our health. Anthony Albanese must be congratulated for coming up with a great idea. Yes, everyone who gets vaccinated by December 1 should get a $300 payment from the federal government, as should those already fully vaccinated.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the Australian economy and the nation’s health. Many businesses are still in a recession with demand being reduced by lockdowns and border closures.

A $300 federal government cheque to every Australian will have a multiplier effect on the economy and help restore confidence in public policy.
John Glazebrook, Terang

Payment irresponsible
Anthony Albanese’s proposal of a $300 payment when each Australian is vaccinated lacks maturity. We aren’t a nation of infants who need a “choccy” or an ice-cream to do something sensible. Labor has never led explanations of how risk factors can occur in a range of illnesses, injuries or medical procedures in everyday lives to put the AstraZeneca vaccine in a context of being a measured risk. This vaccine bribe is just an irresponsible step.
Des Files, Brunswick

Prioritise the young
Before we talk about $300 incentives to get the COVID vaccine how about opening up eligibility to our mobile young people aged 16-plus. Many have customer-facing part-time jobs delivering essential services and are “essential workers”. Why are they second-class citizens when it comes to vaccines?
Kelly Reed, Kew

Approve rapid testing
How is it that a widely used method of COVID-19 detection, which is Australian made, can be sold to numerous countries and yet is not able to be used here? It can enable a fast and accurate diagnosis and thus lessen the burden on overworked contact tracers. The US, south-east Asia, the UK and other countries are utilising the test to navigate a recovery, both medically and economically. When will our legislators show some leadership and give our country some hope for recovery. Approve and use rapid antigen testing now.
Daniel Keogh, Middle Park

Travel exemption query
I read Patsy Sanaghan’s letter (Letters, 3/8) with interest and just have to hope that such carefree abandonment of restrictions is backed up by high vaccination rates and does not lead to disastrous consequences there. But my real question is, on what basis was Patsy able to obtain her travel exemption? With family in the UK, I would really like to know, and so would many others, I imagine.
Jo Featherston, Malvern East

Teachers at risk
Teachers seem to be regarded by governments as invulnerable beings during this COVID crisis. Throughout Australia they are swapped in and out of remote learning at the drop of a hat, becoming more and more tired each time this happens, and watching as the Delta variant appears to be infecting children more frequently. But nowhere has it been even hinted at that teachers and other staff in schools should be vaccinated as a matter of urgency.

It’s pointless vaccinating year 11 and 12 students if their teachers are out of action. Once Delta gets going among school students, teachers will be working in a viral sea and are bound to fall ill quickly. Teachers in the 25-40 age group are sitting ducks for COVID, having been warned off AZ and unable to access Pfizer. Before any student gets vaccinated, their teachers should be. Delta is out manoeuvring us while teachers sit and wait to be infected.
Jill Dumsday, Ashburton

Albo deserves a chance
In a cafe before the last election two “60 somethings” were complaining that Labor’s “retirement tax” would cost them their next trips overseas. It’s a shame Labor’s inter-generational fairness policies have been discarded just as younger Australians will have to pay the bulk of COVID-related bills. That said, the focus needs to be on the government’s woeful record on women, the vaccine “stroll out”, rorts and branch stacking. The next election is a struggle between authenticity and duplicity. Do we want a real, consensus-driven leader or one who relies on daily briefings from a remarkably interventionist God and/or taxpayer-funded focus groups? Given the chance, Albo will elevate the office of PM. Back in office, Scomo will further erode public trust in politicians.
John Carmichael, Hawthorn

Unfair restrictions
What I find unacceptable is that the government is going to allow crowds at the footy, but I am unable to see my recently born only grandchild despite my having had two vaccinations against COVID-19. There must be many other people in a similar situation.
David Orr, Croydon

Stop senseless killing
“Who calls the shots on duck hunting?” (Comment, 2/8) is right on the money. How is it the Andrews government continues to support duck shooting when the majority of Victorians don’t want it? It is unconscionable that this government is using taxpayers’ money to fund this hideous pastime. The question has to be asked who in government is benefiting? This government has a record of putting the interests of a few over the wishes of Victorians and the welfare of wildlife. What will it take for the senseless killing to stop?
Ian Slattery, Maldon

Right the wrong
I commend Kerrie Allen for the in-depth article on duck hunting. That so much money can be spent on a “sport” participated in by “less than 1 per cent” of Victorians while little is invested in mitigating climate change or protecting our forests, is abhorrent. I call on our Premier, whom I admire for his other initiatives and his leadership during the pandemic, to right this serious wrong.
Jan Dwyer, Rosebud

Where’s the vision?
So, once COVID restrictions settle, the federal government’s plan is to bring more than 200,000 immigrants a year into Australia.

Now, I’m no mathematician, but if we have a large housing shortage now (not to mention unaffordable to average folk) how is bringing more into the country going to fix this problem and let’s not even get started on the environmental degradation added numbers will cause to our already shrinking arable land, water resources etc.

Where are the politicians with a vision for a sustainable future rather than an eye on winning the next election at any cost?
Chris Hargreaves, Forest Hill

Health is our responsibility
First, the vaccine rollout is bungled, then politicised and now there are calls for it to be incentivised. Both COVID testing and vaccinations are already on the public purse. There is enough evidence that vaccines work. Besides, one’s health is one’s responsibility – in this case to oneself and the wider community. Simple.
Helena Kilingerova, Vermont

Gittins right – and wrong
Ross Gittins is right in arguing that the bare transfer of public monopolies to private ownership via government privatisation too often permits new private monopolies to raise prices, forgoing the efficiencies which would otherwise flow from competition (“Why government reforms are not always for the best”, The Age, 2/8). But he is completely wrong in suggesting that “the Keating government stuffed up the privatisation of capital-city airports, particularly Sydney’s”. The Keating government did no such thing. Indeed, it did not privatise Sydney Airport or any other airports to private investors. Sydney Airport was privatised and sold by the Howard government to Macquarie Bank on a 99-year lease in 2002.

For the first time in the federation, as Prime Minister, I established a national competition policy – the policy Gittins correctly lauds. Indeed, in 1995 I established the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the body now headed by Rod Sims.

As Prime Minister I privatised a number of government institutions; the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, CSL and Qantas. All are competitive institutions. The Commonwealth Bank and CSL went on to become world-class companies. Qantas was saved a death at the hands of the capital-adequate Middle Eastern carriers by me rolling Australian Airlines into Qantas, giving it the domestic carriage Qantas never had, thereby preserving it as Australia’s sole international carrier.
Paul Keating, Potts Point, NSW

AZ debate an indulgence
Apropos AstraZeneca and possible side effects; we take a risk to our health if we engage in long-haul flights, over-imbibing on a regular basis, ditto for saturated fats, anaesthetics, smoking, indulging in illicit substances, climbing mountains, swimming in open waters and casual sexual experiences. So, if you haven’t engaged in any of the above, then you have a point. Otherwise, it’s free and has given the UK a chance to get moving and hope to millions around the world. Ongoing debate about AZ is a First World indulgence.
Glenn Marchant, Pascoe Vale

AND ANOTHER THING …

Credit:

Coronavirus
We’re already getting a generous bonus with our free vaccination: not dying.
Tim Durbridge, Brunswick

Keeping one state open may yet shut down the nation.
Gary Sayer, Warrnambool

Britain and Israel race to offer booster jabs – Australia left at the first hurdle.
Joe Wilder, Caulfield North

I’m fully vaxxed, and channelling old Pooh-Bah from Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado: please Albo and Simon Birmingham – insult me with $300. I’ll swallow my pride.
William Puls, Mentone

Co-operate; Be a mate; Vaccinate.
Jim Dickson, Mount Eliza

Tokyo Olympics
With the well-deserved praise for our successful Tokyo Olympic athletes, let’s see some recognition for Andrew Hoy, our equestrian champion now in his eighth Olympic Games. A true champion.
Judith Troeth, Armadale

Feel for the exhausted runners in Tokyo having to climb all those stairs after their races.
Tim Nolan, Brighton

We hope that Alex Porter’s bike which fell apart as he rode it in the men’s team pursuit event at Tokyo was not made in Australia.
Hugh McCaig, Blackburn

Politics
Playing political games is just nasty when Scomo, Albo and Gladys are aware of the outcome.
Sharyn Bhalla, Ferntree Gully

Can’t they just come in, sit down and start working?
Ralph M. Bohmer, St Kilda West

Like Baldrick (in Black Adder) Scott Morrison now says “I have a plan”.
David Lyall, Mount Eliza

Furthermore
The key to rising house prices is cheap money.
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood

Jason Dunstall would make a brilliant president to heal a broken Hawthorn. Goodbye Kennett.
Michael McKenna, Warragul


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