Women can’t solve all the problems of men
Illustration: Andrew DysonCredit:
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The call for quotas in the selection of Liberal politicians as a solution to the appalling culture in the Federal Parliament (“Shift on quotas for women,” The Age, 24/3) fails to place the responsibility for the behavioural change of men with men. In single-sex boys’ schools, general workplaces and now in Parliament, many propose the strategy of increasing numbers of women to “civilise” the men. But it is not the job of women. Heal thy own. Regardless, women need to be 50 per cent of workplaces, as they hold at least 50 per cent of the work skills.
Jenni King, Camberwell
Bubble a moral test for women
Would setting quotas for the number of female Liberal Party MPs make the difference? It might, and in any case it would certainly make political representation more accurately reflective of the society it serves and leads. However, given the oft-cited, heady effects of high-octane, intense and often alcohol-fuelled action in the corridors of power, and the remote isolation of the “Canberra bubble”, how certain is it that women are more immune to its effects than men? Nevertheless, it is a good place to start. And no doubt we will find out.
Deborah Morrison, Malvern East
Quotas fail democratic test
Surely this proposal for a quota of female Liberal members of Federal Parliament is a complete negation of democracy. From my understanding of how our democratic system works, to be elected to Parliament is based on election by the people, not by whether one is flesh, fish or fowl. If women want better representation in Parliament, let them form a Women’s Political Party and present this to the general public for their approval or otherwise. A quota system sounds rather like tokenism, and not democracy.
William Pearce, Kensington
The Prime Minister knows about rumours of a sexual assault at News Corp (an allegation he later withdrew) but did not know about an alleged rape in Parliament House when three of his ministers, staffers, the AFP, Parliament House guards and members of his own staff knew about it?
Malcolm I. Fraser, Oakleigh South
What will the Prime Minister do?
Scott Morrison doesn’t get and never will that women aren’t interested in how he feels about his girls, wife and mother. Women want to know what he is going to do to stop some men from feeling they can treat women as badly as they do. Currently he is known for a “don’t ask, tell or do anything” approach.
Rita Reid, Port Melbourne
Problems were set years ago
Exactly a decade ago, the then leader of the Liberal Party was fronting the heinous “ditch the witch” anti-carbon tax rally outside Parliament House. His actions exemplified and further entrenched a contempt for both sensible government and decency that continues to guide that party’s approach to a wide range of economic, environmental, social and cultural issues. And our country continues to wear the consequences.
Nick Jans, Marysville
Julia Gillard called it out
For the first time, I have just watched Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech (from nearly a decade ago) in full. We should be ashamed that not much, if anything, has changed in the treatment of women. I would encourage everyone to watch it. Given the current situation it should be compulsory viewing.
Daniela Goldie, Camperdown
Ban the booze
Serving alcohol in workplaces has been out of order and far from the norm for decades. The Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate should seriously consider restricting alcohol in their dining rooms and cafeterias before 3pm or later. Ban the bonk and the booze.
Sally Mizrahi, Hawthorn
National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line: 1800 737 732. Crisis support can be found at Lifeline: (13 11 14 and lifeline.org.au), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467 and suicidecallbackservice.org.au) and beyondblue (1300 22 4636 and beyondblue.org.au).
Nick O’Malley’s article on vehicle emissions and Volkswagen (“Local rules stall cheap EV imports”, 24/3) quotes a response from the office of the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction that is a childish attack all too common in politics. The Morrison government would not be “lectured about vehicles emissions by a car manufacturer that has a track record of deceiving motorists and violating clean-air laws”. While Volkswagen has a chequered history, it is now moving forward and it’s clear that the lack of choice and progress in our vehicle market lies with the federal government.
More importantly, the Morrison government has made our car market a dumping ground for polluting vehicles and is doing nothing to encourage better internal combustion vehicles, let alone electric vehicles. Surely it is not difficult to implement world class emission standards and have a real policy on electric vehicles that will smooth the transition away from fossil fuels. After all, many countries and major vehicle manufacturers plan to cease sales of any new internal combustion vehicles in the next five to 15 years.
Paul O’Shea, Fitzroy North
Volkswagen’s Australian managing director Michael Bartsch cannot convince VW’s head office to make its mid-range electric vehicles available here because of Australia’s “embarrassing” lack of laws relating to carbon dioxide emissions. How embarrassed should we in Victoria feel with a government seeking to be the world’s first in making electric vehicles even more expensive by applying a discriminatory road user tax on the owners, who already pay far more tax than the owners of internal combustion engine cars because the only EVs they can buy here are the high-priced luxury models?
Helen Moss, Croydon
Your correspondent (Letters, 24/3) asks “What will it take to make changes?” Why is this country so stymied when it comes to climate action? I think the answer is state capture, which is “… a type of systemic political corruption in which private interests significantly influence a state’s decision-making processes to their own advantage”, as defined in Wikipedia. Until there is reform of federal donation laws, a federal ICAC with teeth and an end to the revolving door of staffers, MPs and lobbyists in and out of the fossil fuel industry, I don’t think we will see real change and Australia will suffer the opportunity cost of failing to transition in an orderly and sensible fashion. Sadly, I think both major parties have little appetite to make the break.
Lynn Frankes, Kew
Gimmickry isn’t art
Dark Mofo’s decision to cancel its plan to soak the Union Jack in the blood of Indigenous Australians (The Age, 24/3) is seriously damaging PR for the organisers. Notably, the backlash highlights how little the public will stomach wacky gimmickry as so-called art. It also calls into question the festival’s artistic integrity. When Christians were offended at giant upside-down crosses in 2018, we were told it was all fair game. The double standards will leave the public wondering what Dark Mofo really stands for and represents any more.
Kirk Weeden, Frankston
My mask stays on
The decision by acting Premier James Merlino to allow masks to be removed in shops and at venues is ridiculous. With winter coming on, masks are even more important to guard against the effects of the flu and colds. We have seen what happens overseas if mask-wearing is not enforced. In Asia, mask-wearing has been normal in winter for decades. I will continue to wear my mask when out and I encourage everyone to wear a mask at the shops and in crowded venues.
Adrian Jackson, Middle Park
Clear rules protect all
Too many men, and in fairness some women, are sleazy and inappropriate at work (“Senator Thorpe tells of harassment by MPs”, The Age, 24/3). What’s needed in every workplace is an avenue for colleagues to report such behaviour, and a clearly understood, graded series of sanctions: from a slap on the wrist and “we’ve made a note on your file” warning, through to sacking and reporting to the police. Everybody needs to know how to go about making a complaint as part of their induction into a workplace, and everyone needs to be clear about the consequences of inappropriate behaviour. A culture of minor harassment can make life miserable for the targets, and it’s a breeding ground for major assault. Too often, people who have been harassed have two options: to keep quiet, with perhaps a bit of private whingeing to trusted fellow workers, or to go public, with unpredictable consequences. Many of us over the years have decided it is best to keep quiet.
We need a cultural shift in the workplace. No more unwanted arms around shoulders, no more comments on people’s bodies, no more persistent invitations after a clear refusal. I could go on. A clear code of workplace behaviour protects everyone – even the aggressors, who can hopefully learn to behave themselves early on in their working lives.
Caroline Williamson, Brunswick
Go well, Wendy
It was with sadness but understanding that I read Wendy Squires’ final column (“These events are seared on my heart,” Saturday Age, 20/3). After years of following her views and many times shouting “yes!” while reading her statements, I too am feeling let down by the lack of progress on the issue of equal pay and respect for women in our society. After attending the March 4 Justice and speaking to many women about the collective outrage on women’s issues, I have been astounded by the response, including conservative women’s voices, that excuse the alleged travesty meted out to Brittany Higgins because “she was drunk”. More than a century after the establishment of the suffragette movement, women have not been heard, change is too slow and unfortunately the rancour is among our ranks. But we must continue to rally against this inequality and disrespect for as long as it takes. Thank you for your work, Wendy.
Maria Irminger, Mt Waverley
Pure science has limits
Richard Marles argues that Australia needs a much greater emphasis on STEM subjects if we are to be a “centre of innovation” (“Push over ‘life beyond Earth’,” The Age, 24/3). In this I think we mostly all agree, as did George Orwell (see for example his 1945 article “What is Science?“) He did so with a warning: scientific education is good in so far as it encourages “a rational, sceptical, experimental habit of mind”. He also noted that science seemed to have offered little deterrence to a virulent nationalism among many scientists in various countries in the previous few years except perhaps those with “some kind of general cultural background, some acquaintance with history or literature or the arts – in short, people whose interests were not, in the current sense of the word, purely scientific”. Should we perhaps expect our future scientists to have a little of the humanities in their training as well?
Robert Attrill, Balwyn North
Life beyond Earth
Marles does not need to discover life beyond Earth. The proof that other intelligent life exists in the universe is the fact that they are too intelligent to show themselves to us.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick
Regenerate dead space
The Victorian government is to be congratulated on its ambition to create 6500 hectares of parkland across Melbourne. (“Councils ‘priced out’ of parkland,” The Age, 23/3). This is important for recreation and essential for the survival of our city in an era of climate change. The City of Yarra where I live and the City of Melbourne both have urban forest strategies and are making great progress in planting trees and reducing the heat radiated from roads and buildings. Both councils told the hearing of the Inquiry into Environmental Infrastructure for Growing Populations that there are substantial shortfalls of open space in their areas. But they already have 43 hectares on their doorsteps! The Melbourne General Cemetery, which is inside the City of Melbourne boundary and abuts the City of Yarra, is barren over large areas owing to excessive spraying, has less tree canopy cover than the abutting Princes Hill and North Carlton, and is a heat island on sunny days. It is a neglected space that could become a beautiful, green environment. Unlike elsewhere in the Cities of Melbourne and Yarra, there is no active plan for tree planting or providing canopy. An imaginative approach to planting the cemetery with trees and smaller plants would help with a climate change response and provide a pleasant area for residents to walk. As it sits on Crown land and is managed by a trust, it escapes the influence of local councils. What can be done?
Jane Miller, North Carlton
Birds of a feather
Your correspondent (Letters, 24/3) is absolutely right to deplore the common or Indian myna. However, its native namesake far outdoes it in terms of aggression against other birds, a point made by the biologist Tim Low in his books. Naturally, it was European settlement and radical changes in land use that allowed both species to begin their respective reigns of terror.
Matthew Frost, Armadale
Shaun Carney writes that the aged care royal commission was not necessary (“Morrison needs more than spin,” The Age, 24/3) because those involved in aged care already knew the extent of the problems. French critic Andre Gide wrote that things that have already been said need to be repeated because no one listens. This aged care royal commission did get more people listening. For reform to be implemented by the federal government, more people than just those who have direct experience of the sector need to take interest.
Ruth Farr, Blackburn South
Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:
AND ANOTHER THING…
Scott Morrison wants more Liberal women MPs. What for?
A human shield?
Linelle Gibson, Williamstown
Has Morrison finally seen the light and listened or is it just another example of political pragmatism?
Peter Heffernan, Balaclava
I have no doubt that Morrison is sincere when he says his wife, daughters and mother are the centre of his life. However, if he wants to legislate on behalf of Australian women he really needs to consult more widely.
Stewart King, Carnegie
It is white male privilege to pull the “family is important to me” card. I’m sure the PM cares greatly about his family, but when women discuss their children at work they are generally considered unfocussed and unable to perform.
Robyn Stonehouse, Camberwell
It appears that the PM is reluctant to tread on the so-called “big swinging dicks” whose opposition to Julie Bishop’s prime ministerial tilt paved the way for his rise.
Dick Noble, Lucknow
I am surely not the only voter wanting to know which Liberals are current or past members of the “big swinging dicks” club?
Peter Thomas, Pascoe Vale
How long before Peter Dutton throws a friendly arm around Morrison’s shoulder and says “This is my leader and I’m ambitious for him”.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch
Woe betide an Australian PM who takes on News Corp. You would think Morrison would know this rule.
David Fry, Moonee Ponds
Which part of flood plain do planners not understand?
Ralph Tabor, Pakenham
Kennett, Stockdale and Guy – bereft of fresh talent, the Liberals’ idea of renewal is to resort to the recycle bin.
Peter Bennett, Clifton Hill
Memo to AFL footballers: Hairdressers have reopened and are ready for your business.
Paul Miller, Albury
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