We need a bipartisan approach to ICAC

Credit:Illustration: Megan Herbert

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INTEGRITY COMMISSION

We need a bipartisan approach to ICAC

Of course the prime minister has broken his promise to introduce a federal ICAC. It is up to the government of the day to find a workable model that both sides can agree on (and, if necessary, negotiate on). Just saying “this is our proposal, take it as it is, otherwise we will not table it” is autocracy in action. If that is the new model for bipartisanship, then we no longer need a parliament.

As it stands, the ICAC model proposed by the government has been criticised by many, including integrity experts and lawyers, and some Coalition MPs. The real reason the prime minister has not tabled it in parliament is because he knows he might not get it passed by his own party, let alone Labor. It is easier to obfuscate, lie to the electorate and deflect blame onto Labor.
Roan Plotz, Preston

Surprise, surprise. Coalition MPs don’t want it.

The story about seven Coalition MPs saying voters are not focused on an integrity commission (Sunday Age, 17/4) is hardly newsworthy, and certainly not demanding of the front page. Of course they would say this. If The Age asked seven Labor MPs the same question, their answer would be the opposite. So what?

But polling suggests people do care. This is a story designed to counterbalance the prime minister’s poor press on an integrity commission. One wonders how the seven MPs were chosen.
Ian McKenzie, Canterbury

An important issue despite not being ’top order’

So, on the basis that a federal anti-corruption body isn’t a “top-order issue” for voters, it should be shelved, according to seven Coalition MPs. This is akin to saying we should let democracy slip because voters do not think, day to day, about the functioning of democracy. Absurd and disturbing.
Anna Ridgway, Abbotsford

The real issues that are confronting many voters

Regrettably, I must agree with the Liberal politicians that many voters do not care about an integrity body. For those who understand what it means, it is pie in the sky stuff compared to the real issues they are confronting. These include the rising costs of living, obscene house prices, job insecurity and underdevelopment of infrastructure.

Also, many people will downplay it as an issue because of the common view that “all politicians are crooks and all politicians lie”, so why do we need an anti-integrity commission. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant. It is a widely held belief that appeals to emotion rather than reason. Nevertheless, a Commonwealth ICAC remains an imperative.
Greg Bailey, St Andrews

The risk of our money being used to buy voters

An effective federal ICAC is crucial to my vote and to my future. We need one to ensure that taxpayer funds are directed to those who are most in need, rather than used as playthings by political parties prepared to entice votes at any cost.
Peta Colebatch, Hawthorn

We need to remove the ‘stench’ from politics

I was taught that you do not break a promise. If you do, you should have a very good reason. That voters do not raise the issue of an effective ICAC with politicians as a reason for not having one, is like saying I do not believe we need a responsive police force because I have not been robbed.

A federal ICAC that has the authority to investigate public officials and public authorities would remove some of the stench from politics. Of course jobs, roads, infrastructure and the economy more widely are matters that are front of mind for many voters.

However, corruption by those people who implement policies relating to important areas means a few, rather than the nation as a whole, benefits. Scott Morrison may wish Australia was a one-party state, but it is not – yet.
Marguerite Heppell, East Hawthorn

THE FORUM

Our right to a fair go

I am amazed that people do not care about getting a federal ICAC. However, if that is the case now, perhaps they will care when they do not get the roads, swimming pools and other infrastructure they deserve because they are in the wrong electorate, a safe seat or one that does not need pork barrelling perhaps.
Helen Russell, East Brighton

Protecting the gullible

Integrity is axiomatic to the foundation of a liberal democracy. While smoke and mirrors, snake oil and other potions are used to massage voters’ perceptions of their electorates’ candidates, a referee is needed to guide the gullible away from near truths and outright porkies, and to impede the merchants of guile from disseminating half truths in slogans. Such a referee is an integrity commission with teeth. As a corollary, the commission’s teeth need to have a dedicated and respected dentist.
Erik Vahl Meyer, Geelong

Keeping my distance

So Russell Broadbent, my local MP, says no one has brought up the issue of an integrity commission with him. Maybe that is because, as far as I know, he is still unvaxxed against COVID-19 and people may not want to go near him. I have been staying away from him.
Frank Flynn, Cape Paterson

ALP, get your act together

It is beginning to look like Labor will struggle again in the upcoming election. Who on earth is advising Anthony Albanese on strategy? Here are a few pointers for him.

Not being Scott Morrison is not going to be enough to win you the election. Please learn all the policies – in minute detail – that you are putting forward. Speak from the heart. We know you are a decent human being, so remaining tight lipped at important moments with the media will not work.

Also, Scott Morrison does not, and never has, allowed common decency to get in the way of winning. Just look at his frontbench and some of the people who are representing his party at the election. Time is running out and Labor needs to mobilise before it is too late.
Teresa Burdeu, Mitcham

Keep it sharp and snappy

Anthony Albanese, this was a good line: “The reason why this prime minister doesn’t want an anti-corruption commission is sitting on his frontbench” (Opinion, 15/4). It was short, sharp and spot on. I am keen to see more of this in the next five weeks. The electorate knows who these frontbenchers are and can picture their faces.
Nora Sparrow, Canterbury

The leader Labor needs

Michelle Grattan, in her article assessing Anthony Albanese’s performance in the first week of campaigning, says big questions have been raised (The Age, 15/4). Surely the biggest is: The ALP could have had Tanya Plibersek, a coherent and popular woman, as its leader. Why didn’t it?
Howard Duncan, Ocean Grove

Let the poor eat cake

Reading the list of government ministers’ visits, with their associated new version of their 2019 sporting grounds and club houses promises, I was sorely reminded of that truism from the Roman Empire. “Give the people bread and circuses”.

These days, trying to live on JobSeeker is akin to living on bread. Meat of any kind is a fantasy and attending a sporting event is, I assume, meant to distract.
Pamela Bores, Eltham North

Bucking the stereotypes

Peter Hartcher’s analysis of the Coalition and ALP “daddy” and “mummy” stereotypes (Opinion, 16/4) rings true. Daddies (or men) are breadwinners, global thinkers, protectors and apologists for institutions that benefit them. Mummies (or women) are nurturers, emotional, domestically oriented and financially average.

These stereotypes clearly feed into unconscious biases at the ballot box. It is no accident that daddies are more likely to be voted in at the federal “head of the family” level, while mummies are voted in at the state or day-to-day operational level.

It is also no accident that women are less likely to vote for the Coalition whose reliance on these stereotypes rankles, especially with young, professional women. The rise of the teal independents will be interesting as they attempt to break these stereotypes and position “mummies” in a less binary form. Let us hope they do not create a new stereotype.
Donna Wyatt, Wyndham Vale

Not marvellous Melbourne

Congratulations to lord mayor Sally Capp for her efforts to clean up rubbish and graffiti in the city (The Age, 16/4). Graffiti is vandalism and has no relevance to art. Areas of Melbourne look to be Third World and graffiti contributes to this perception.

In other jurisdictions in Australia, authorities are aware that vandals have a tag that they sign their graffiti with and, by mounting a register of these tags, can quickly identify and deal with the errant offenders.

The good work now under way by the City of Melbourne needs to be supported by a whole of government approach, including the state government, police, town planners, courts and community supervision of offenders. The long-term appeal of the city is at stake.
Gary Longman, Ivanhoe

Don’t drop your litter

Sally Capp says that “city cleaning says a lot about who we are as a city”. I agree but reject experts who say the rubbish on the streets, and the graffiti, is “an explosion of frustration” following the lockdowns. In Coburg North, it is Moreland Council’s decision not to provide enough rubbish bins, and the arrogance of litter droppers who will not be tamed.
Patrick Walker, Coburg North

Showcase our wildlife

I agree that “hunting and tourism simply do not mix” (Letters, 16/4). It is worth noting that the 2026 Commonwealth Games in regional Victoria will coincide with the annual duck shooting season. We should be showcasing, not shooting, our unique wildlife.
Kim Stacey, Black Rock

Shame on The Age…

The story about a new BMW (Drive, 16/4) included a comment on its harsh seating. The author underscored the point by saying that “geriatrics need not apply”.

Really? In a week when so much has been said about The Age’s vaunted style guide, one wonders how this choice phrase got through. Either your paper is part of the ageism problem or part of the solution. Right now, it looks like it is the former.
David Gunn, Montmorency

…for its ageist approach

Your reviewer describes Ray Martin’s documentary on Norfolk Island as a “fitting sunset years project” (Green Guide, 14/4). How belittling of the documentary. And how belittling and patronising of Martin – as if it was something he cobbled together as a last hurrah, and it’s not bad for an old codger.

These days people are – thankfully, though still too slowly – becoming more sensitised to the negative impact of language in relation to gender and race.

However, it seems it is still open slather when it comes to talking about older people. You do not hear of people being shamed or “cancelled” for ageist language. The simple story (forget “sunset years”) is that Ray Martin is merely getting on with his life and seeking out what interests him and gives his life meaning. As do we all at every stage of life.
Heather Hill, Yarra Glen

Protecting our people

Considering the likely dire consequences for Australians currently living in Russia if we “kicked out” Russian government representatives, as your correspondent advocates (Letters, 15/4), it is a no brainer for our government not to have a knee-jerk reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Michael McNeill, Bendigo

Now for stage 2, Premier

Congratulations to the Victorian government for its great work in removing level crossings around Melbourne. The benefits are clearly obvious. Let us hope the next stage in this work is to cover railway station complexes – new and old – with solar panels which provide free charging of electric vehicles left parked there during the day. After an often short commute home, the EV battery could be used to supplement house power overnight.
Stuart James, Leneva

High price for my trees

Megan Backhouse says trees are “beacons of hope” and urges all to plant more (The Age, 15/4). However, some advice to those in Stonnington Council areas: stick with your box hedges and roses.

More than 50 years ago I planted several Australian gum trees in my backyard. Over time I have nurtured them through droughts and storms, and they are now large, sturdy, and a very beautiful haven for birds and animals, so much so that Stonnington Council (unasked) has put them on a “significant tree” list.

Each time I have them pruned to maintain them within my boundaries, I must pay council a fee simply to write a permit to allow it. That is before paying an arborist to do the actual job. I am a very elderly, disabled pensioner and my home is my only asset. Any wonder that I think it’s unfair?
Jo Connolly, East Malvern

The ally we may not want

Australia may have dodged a bullet by cancelling the submarine contract with France if it were to elect far right candidate Marine Le Pen as their next president.
David O’Reilly, Park Orchards

Glory days of mullets

Ever since the mullet hairstyle came back into vogue, more footballers are kicking bags of goals. All those rule changes were unnecessary. All the AFL had to do was introduce a “mullet mandate” for full forwards. Memories of Gary Ablett snr, Paul Salmon, Jason Dunstall, Warwick Capper and Stephen Kernahan, rugs flapping in the breeze as they lined up for goal number 10.
Ken Richards, Elwood

Knowing left from right

The Bulldogs’ goal-kicking efficiency would improve if they stopped kicking to left-footers in the left forward pocket.
Brian Kilday, Jeeralang Junction

AND ANOTHER THING

Leaders

Craig Kelly, our next PM, proclaims the advertisement (15/4). The Age should warn readers that these ads may cause anxiety and even heart failure.
Tony Devereux, Nunawading

Is anyone prepared to open a betting book on who will replace Albanese as Labor leader?
Martin Newington, Aspendale

If I had a blackboard and chalk and I listed all of Morrison’s slip ups, I would have a whiteboard.
Peter FitzGibbon, Inverloch

Integrity commission

We’re awash in a flood of corruption and the PM offers Australians a dinghy to save us.
Linda Skinner, Mooroolbark

For me, integrity is a primary concern. Without it, decisions are made for political advantage rather than the public interest.
Ian Pitt, Brighton

An effective federal ICAC must be the main priority for the new government.
Jennifer Gerrand, Carlton North

Albo promises an anti-corruption commission yet refuses to bring to account the “mean girls” who allegedly bullied Kitching.
Pam Swirski, Berwick

Why do we need an integrity commission? Simple. As Don Chipp said, to keep the bastards honest.
Ian Braybrook, Castlemaine

Furthermore

An unemployment rate of 4per cent? Really? According to The Australia Institute, youth unemployment is at 9.3per cent.
Chris Durie, Hawthorn East

An idea for an attention-grabbing bumper sticker: “I brake suddenly for texting drivers”.
Roderick Carmichael, St Kilda

Easter is a time of renewal when it’s worth focusing on the good in all people. However, it’s hard to isolate any good in Putin.
Meg McPherson, Brighton

Thank you, Michael Leunig (16/4), for your inspiring contribution to the nation’s mental health.
Chris Goddard, Ivanhoe

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