Scattered voters lose democracy sausage spirit

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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State election
Perhaps there is value in the scattered approach to election day as early voting has become standard. There’s greater freedom and that appeals to the Australian psyche; the crowds are less and that appeals to those who hate queuing; and the relentless party promotion eases a little earlier.

For all that, something has been lost in not having us gather at polling booths on a single election day. Everyone could count on feeding the kids with a sausage. Hovering by the barbecues, we had the chance to cement friendships formed in lengthy queues, and the opportunity to speak to politicians who had succumbed to the smell of onions and burnt sausages.

But what I truly miss is that great sense of political power as we surged into the primary schools and local halls of our electorates.
E.A. Gleeson, Kyneton

We are still recovering from pandemic years
My reading of the current state election campaign is that there has been a remarkable degree of civil heat, perhaps because this contest is not just political, but deeply personal and emotional for
many Victorians.

Casting our minds back to 2020 and 2021, hundreds of lives were lost due to virus mismanagement; students lost more than 40 weeks of precious face-to-face education; small businesses were decimated; and no one in a senior cabinet position ever apologised, only obfuscated, claimed amnesia, or blamed the wider citizenry.

Perpetual lockdowns ensured that families felt the pinch of having to effectively home-school and stay in residence, all the while being berated for daring to watch a sunset, speak to a fellow human being at a playground, or supposedly dice with death by sneaking in a risky walk after 9pm.

Daily press conferences featured snarls, pointed fingers, and the ultimate insult that staying apart kept us together if we all did our bit in obeying perplexing rules that were often absurd or cruel.
Relational people do not recover overnight from such a widescale communal upending. Rightly or wrongly, it is natural that frustrations will be translated into the political process.
Peter Waterhouse, Craigieburn

Difficult choices during difficult times
Your correspondent (Letters, 23/11) contends that “virtually all of Victoria’s 2020 COVID spike was traced back to the failure of the Andrews government to ensure that its quarantine hotels operated as intended”.

That may be true to some extent. But the question needs to be asked about why the state government was forced to find some form of quarantine facilities, and fast, in the first place. Answer – the Commonwealth failed to have quarantine facilities in place, as is its responsibility, thus buck passing that task onto others.

The next question would have to be, if not hotels, then where should Andrews have placed all those infectious people and in a mighty hurry? Maybe your correspondent could suggest what was the option that Dan, and the rest of the states, failed to take up?
Peter O’Keefe, Collingwood

Commonwealth bears greater burden for deaths
Your correspondent rightly notes failures in the Victorian government’s management of quarantine hotels during the peak of the pandemic in 2020. But he draws a long bow in linking the desperately sad deaths of 819 Victorians from COVID-19 to that one set of failures.

The vast majority of those 819 untimely deaths occurred in Commonwealth-funded and regulated aged care facilities. By contrast, there were only a handful of deaths – still too many — in Victorian government-run facilities.

I think he will find that the key quarantine management failure, in terms of deaths, was at those Commonwealth-regulated facilities. And in May, we held the responsible government to account.
Graeme Russell, Clifton Hill

THE FORUM

Put community first
You have to wonder why neither of the major parties will commit to pokie reforms, despite record losses in pokies by the Victorian community this year (“No reform of pokies, parties tell clubs”, The Age, 23/11). Is it because they don’t want to help those with shocking gambling addictions or is it because they don’t want to lose support of gambling donations?

Why is Daniel Andrews well known for his “friendly relations” with the gaming industry? This stinks of a lack of impartiality. When will community interests be put first by our major parties?
Sophie Paterson, Hawthorn

Gambling a problem
Gambling addiction is just that. The problem gambler needs support in raising awareness on what is controlling the behaviour. Shame on both sides of politics for proposing to allow this to continue by not changing regulations in the pub and gaming sector and allowing this to continue as normal. Most problem gamblers frequent the local venues, not Crown casino.

It marks a failure when it comes to looking after the wellbeing of its citizens, including their social and economic well-being. Responsible governments focus on the benefits to the electorate, not just gaining more taxes and political donations.
Christine Baker, Rosanna

Sour outcome
The news of the day is always a dish of sweet and sour, but yesterday’s flavours were particularly out-of-balance. On the one hand, the long-awaited legislation for a National Anti-Corruption Commission is making commendable, if still contested, progress (“Whistleblowers miss out on protections”, 23/11).

On the other, the major parties contesting the Victorian state election have assured the hotels and clubs lobby that they will do nothing to limit the estimated $3billion losses suffered by poker machine players this year (“No reform of pokies, parties tell clubs”, 23/11).

If ever there was evidence of state capture by vested interests that bleed the public dry, this is it. Tom Knowles, Parkville

Evidence of harm
Every time I drive onto the Westgate Freeway from Power Street I am reminded of the planning harms of the previous Coalition state government.

Open slather was given by the government to developers/land holders to make enormous profits and is now evidenced by high rise developments jutting into a skyline from a typically low-level small industrial area of Port Melbourne. This land was rezoned from industrial to high density residential almost overnight and before strict planning controls were put into place.

There was a complete failure to plan for transport and other key services, open space or affordable housing and with no clear benefit to Victorian taxpayers.

And who was the planning minister who allowed this travesty to occur? Matthew Guy.
Jim Barnden, Richmond

Lack of planning
Your correspondent decries a lack of trust in Matthew Guy over his Phillip Island planning decision (Letters, 23/11). Guy’s untrustworthiness for that folly can be counted in millions of dollars.

Are we supposed to trust Daniel Andrews as he refuses to disclose the true costings for his train to nowhere? The premier’s untrustworthiness for this folly will ultimately be counted in billions of dollars.
Ken Smith, Richmond

Vision rewarded
The Liberal Party is not really visionary. To wit, Jeff Kennett disbanded SEC and Gas & Fuel and closed the primary schools in the inner suburbs. Now, Guy wants to ditch the metro plans. It would be a retrograde step.

When the Paris Metro and the London Tube were built, many detractors, like Guy, would have railed about the costs, economic benefits and lack of patronage. Every time I’m in Paris, I envy their Metro, which allows me to go to the four corners of the city, and the waiting time is always about 5 minutes. It’s immensely useful to the Parisians.

Let’s hope Guy becomes a visionary if he wins the election.
Philippe Yow, Ferntree Gully

Candidates ill-equipped
“Guy closing the gap on Andrews … [but] with the trend towards the Coalition at risk following revelations about the views of some of its candidates” (The Age, 22/11). This seems to be a reference to electors’ recent experiences of doctrinaire far-right politicians sabotaging good government in Australia. The Liberal’s infiltration by members of ultraconservative churches rightly rings alarm bells about whether the Coalition would govern Victoria effectively.

Politicians driven by prejudice, righteousness and religiosity are ill-equipped to deal with the complex ethical, social and economic issues facing modern society. Climate change, anti-abortion agitation, LGBTQ issues, opposition to a First Nations Voice and inequality of income, wealth and opportunity are a few that come to mind.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

Dangerous language
Angry Victorians Party candidate, Catherine Cumming, claims that calling for Premier Daniel Andrews to be turned into “red mist” was a “euphemism”. Quite a disturbing attitude to violence. Or, perhaps she doesn’t know what a “euphemism” is.
Deborah Morrison, Malvern East

Heckler shut down
Your correspondent’s mention of the Menzies retort that he would put an “H” in “ousing” (Letters, 23/11) reminded me of another response by Menzies to a heckler at a political meeting. Heckler says: “Tell us all you know Bob it won’t take long”. Menzies replies “I’ll tell you what we both know, it won’t take any longer”.
Ken Bamford, Berwick

Hear the voices
According to CSIRO’s State of the Climate report, “Australia’s weather will become even more chaotic in coming years and decades” (“Drier, hotter, wetter: Weather to worsen” 23/11). Thus, it is heartening to read survey results that demonstrate strong endorsement of policies that will reduce carbon emissions while tackling cost-of-living pressures (“Voters most want cost-of-living help”, 23/11). Two-thirds of voters support $2 caps on public transport fares and investment of public money in renewable energy. And 60 per cent support banning logging of native forests and an 80per cent emissions target by 2035.
Karen Campbell, Geelong

Build many more
I welcome The Age’s recent emphasis on the dire situation of housing in Victoria. Shane Wright and Rachel Clun reminded us that the “Affordable home crisis worsens” (The Age, 22/11) and the editorial suggested that “Labor’s housing offer has the edge” (23/11). The editorial contains the year’s understatement that “Neither side has been adventurous or imaginative” in the housing area. In 2020, we were given hope when the Andrews government committed to build 12,000 social and affordable dwellings as part of its $5.3billion Big Housing Build. But sadly Victoria still has the lowest percentage of social housing of any state in Australia.

It is shamefully embarrassing that a prosperous state like Victoria has 24,000 homeless people. Kevin Burke, Sandringham

Scraping the surface
Jenna Price is correct in saying that reportage on#MeToo only scraped the surface in this country (Comment, 23/11). Having worked for over 20 years in book publishing (and now thankfully retired), I remain amazed that individuals in this industry have escaped comment/notice.

Is this the desire for vengeance on my part? No. It is the desire to hold to account people who caused enthusiasm to die and young people to look elsewhere for a career in order to make a difference.
Carmel Boyle, Alfredton

Help eroded
Despite the political rhetoric about an increased health spending, the reality is that money has been again reshuffled. Medicare support for mental health care in private practice provided by psychologists, from December 31, 2022, has been halved from 20 to 10 sessions a year. That’s less than a session a month for a mother of three trying to muster the strength to escape extreme domestic violence, a lady with a panic disorder so severe that a trip to the letterbox is impossible, a 20-year-old coming to terms with a debilitating illness and a woman whose young adult child unexpectedly died in the night.

This makes it difficult for those of us trying to service these patients well and preventing a worsening of their diagnoses and fallout for their families. This was an unwise decision by people who can obviously afford to access treatment without Medicare rebates and have never had to choose between their mental health and food.
Ilona Zagon, Clinical Psychologist, Glen Iris

Terrorising teals
Teal is Australia’s word of the year (The Age, 23/11) but it doesn’t save our beautiful native ducks. Official figures show an average of 128,399 grey teal and chestnut teal ducks are killed by “recreational” shooters each year in Victoria. It’s estimated that some 40,000 additional “teals” are crippled by gunshot. Most other states have banned this “sport” because it’s cruel.
Joan Reilly, Surrey Hills

Development damage
Liam Mannix (The Age, 22/11) highlights how deforestation is linked to spillover of zoonotic viruses such as the Hendra Virus. An undetectable variant of this virus, spread by flying foxes, has killed hundreds of horses in Queensland and New South Wales.

Flying foxes normally feed on eucalyptus flowers where they are unlikely to come in contact with other mammals susceptible to their viruses. However, replacement of native bushland with cattle pasture means that hungry bats are more likely to live near fruit orchards and infect farm animals and humans. Although it’s difficult for humans to catch, it has a death rate of 50 per cent.
Andrew Smith, Leongatha

And another thing

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Weather
Summer is almost here, with only a few more days of balmy spring weather. Or was that barmy spring weather?
Julian Robertson, Mt Eliza

State election
The winner of the debate between Daniel and Matthew was democracy and decency – good manners, collegiality, robust policy. Bravo, chaps.
Nina Wellington Iser, Hawthorn

It seems many voters want them both to lose.
Tommy Puckett, Ashgrove

Community Clubs Victoria may have received “letters of comfort” from Labor and the Coalition supporting the status quo on poker machines. Where is the comfort for those addicted to this gambling and those so egregiously impacted by their addicted family members?
Deborah Rogers, Seaton

No wonder pokies reform is not in major parties’ sights, both get too much money from gambling taxes.
Glenise Michaelson, Montmorency

Furthermore
On paper, France outmatched Australia. After 10 minutes, score: Australia 1 France 0. Then France found that piece of paper.
John Hughes, Mentone

Will News Corp pursue the details of Glenn Maxwell’s accident with the same ferocity as that of the Dan Andrew’s fall?
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda West

Single-pilot airlines might reassure passengers by having a photo of Leslie Nielsen on the back of every seat.
John Rawson, Mernda

I laughed at your correspondent’s letter about pilots working from home, until I realised that much of the war in Ukraine is being fought by remotely piloted drones.
Dave Torr, Werribee

Toddlers prepared me for teenagers. But nothing prepared me for the joy of a grandchild.
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East

There’s a lot of guessing these days. “I guess” punctuates speech almost as frequently as “like”. A small thing, but I guess I wish it would, like, stop.
Nonie Sadler, Mont Albert

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