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Abandoning citizens in India equates to racism
In describing the PM’s handling of the ban on Australian citizens of Indian background returning here as ham-fisted, Peter Hartcher, (“Failures built on complacency”, The Age, 4/5), effectively absolves Scott Morrison of what appears to be, at the very least, an implicit racial bias.
It should not be forgotten that our PM’s political success derived originally from his zealous exclusionary “Stop the boats” strategy as Immigration Minister in Tony Abbott’s pro-Anglosphere government from 2013 on. Old habits die hard. As even some conservative commentators are now acknowledging, abandoning Australian citizens in a COVID-ravaged subcontinent equates indisputably to racism. So much for our multicultural and high-minded democratic pretensions.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza
Ban not racist, but sign of incompetence
The move by the Morrison government preventing citizens returning to Australia from India is not a sign of racism. The travel ban is based on best medical advice to deal with the pandemic.
Those matters accepted, it is a clear demonstration of incompetence. We have needed a Commonwealth-run quarantine system, as provided for by the constitution, for more than a year. The health of Australians at home and our economy has been hammered by the outbreaks from not-fit-for-purpose hotel quarantine. The Jane Halton report last year called on the federal government to take responsibility for quarantine.
Nothing has been done. Now, adding to the toll on our health and the economy caused by a not-fit-for-purpose hotel quarantine system, its incapacity to function is now, disgracefully, used as an excuse to make criminals of Australian citizens wanting to return home.
Stephen McCredie, South Melbourne
Why can’t supply planes bring home Australians?
Surely even our uncaring federal government can organise for those Australians in India to be taken to Christmas Island since we know that we have no safe place in Australia for both returnees and the Australian community. Anything must be better than being in India at the moment. Citizenship must have rights as well as responsibilities.
Those planes delivering supplies to India can surely bring home Australians, not the type of air travel our politicians are accustomed to, but better than being left to die.
Doris LeRoy, Altona
Effective quarantine system the real issue
Surely the government can see the hypocrisy in saying the ban on travel from India is to protect the health of Australian citizens. An Australian citizen forced to remain in India who happens to catch COVID-19 could be in real danger of losing their life due to India’s overwhelmed health system. If they are allowed to return to Australia, which should be their right as citizens, they stand a chance of surviving if becoming seriously ill.
Does the government really believe the idea of endangering the lives of Australian citizens to hold on to our COVID-free status is worth it? Or is it just an admission that they have been sitting on their hands for the last year hoping it would all go away rather than developing an effective quarantine system for the long term?
Howard Duncan, Ocean Grove
Right-thinking Australians must show their outrage
On the question of the legality and constitutionality of the India travel ban arbitrarily imposed by the Morrison government on Australian citizens stranded in COVID-plagued India, I would take the word of eminent international human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson (“Famed lawyer attacks India travel ban as dictatorial”, The Age, 4/5) over that of the Prime Minister.
Mr Robertson says the ban undermines the rule of law and is unconstitutional. We can’t have that in our democracy. All right-thinking Australians must show their outrage.
Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW
Revealing historical truths
I graduated three years ago and the whitewashed version of our history was still “unshed” from the curriculum (“Schools at the forefront of change”, The Age, 4/5). By the time I was eight I knew “in Flanders fields the poppies grow”; the teachers were not shielding our young ears from violence.
Yet it was not until I was 15 and I took an elective unit that I learnt of the wattles that bud along the Black Line. A white sheet was draped over the genocide of this country’s First Nations. Relegated to the corner, this national shame was hidden from us in favour of assignments that rediscovered, reignited and kept alive a decidedly white collective memory: the plights of convicts, bushrangers and prime ministers. There may be fantastic literature and excellent websites students can access that tell the truths and maybe there always were, but we couldn’t find them until we knew they were there.
Leonardo Balsamo, Blackburn South
Pause for thought
Peter Caffin (Letters, 4/5) opens an interesting conversation when he asks, rhetorically, if an Australian could lease a port in China. Australians are unable to buy property in many countries.
However, the nationals of those countries can buy property here. The view that offshore buyers distort the Australian property market and push up prices has credibility on a basic supply and demand model.
It is argued many homes are bought by foreigners when their children study in Australia, subsequently encouraging more frequent visits by family and friends and therefore stimulating other sectors of the economy. It may, but it also introduces more competition to our housing market and look at what’s happened to affordability in the past 20 years. In the past foreign students found accommodation in share houses, on campus or as family-stay boarders, an experience they shared with local students.
The principle of reciprocity is a good place to start a conversation and is timely as Australia has a pause in international arrivals and questions the operation of significant national infrastructure by foreign countries.
Geoffrey Conaghan, St Kilda
Times are a-changing
I’m a 53-year-old woman who has just been transported back to when I was an 11-year-old gymnast in a regional club competition. I too was told I was fat, lazy and physically inflexible by an adult male coach, who also insisted on regularly “inspecting the proper fit” of my leotard. The abuse scandal of Australian gymnastics is just another shameful example of the societal and cultural scourge of the misuse and abuse of girls and women. More power to those calling it out. The times they are a-changing, I continue to hope.
Michelle Goldsmith, Eaglehawk
The fact that fewer than 7000 Victorians were vaccinated on Monday despite the opening of mass hubs to over-50s is deeply disappointing. The level of hesitancy and complacency is also highly disrespectful to people living in countries such as India who are dying waiting for doses, while we can barely be bothered to wear masks on public transport any more. To all of you who are eligible and have not yet lined up, either get it together or get out of the way and let those who want the jab take your place in the line.
James O’Keefe, East Melbourne
James Massola says: “At least 13 former Liberal MPs and political staffers have been appointed to plum federal government jobs” so far this year (“Labor dubs 2021 ‘year of the mate’ for Liberal appointees”, The Sunday Age, 2/5).
Appointments to the Fair Work Commission are included; one is former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella on an annual salary of $387,960. The appointment of Mirabella, who supported Howard’s Work Choices, is incomprehensible. Labor’s Tony Burke said, “I’m not sure if Christian Porter is trying to stack the FWC or just discredit it, but this appointment will do both … and send a chill down every worker’s spine”. The “stacking” of the FWC dates to 2013 when any balance between employer and employee representatives was abandoned by Abbott. Under the Morrison government, accountability is immaterial, taxpayer funds are there to support Liberal mates and ideologues at the expense of workers.
Neil Hudson, East Melbourne
Taking aim at tagging
Melbourne has clearly become the tagging capital of Australia and it appears to be steadily getting worse with nothing being spared the moronic scribbles of these urban vandals. Some councils provide a removal service but surely what is needed is decisive action from the government, with far stricter penalties.
London provided an example of how this can be done where the 2012 Olympics provided the authorities with the impetus to clean up the city in what they considered to be a “quality of life” issue. Much stricter penalties were applied and they had the desired effect. We have a wonderful city but it is such a pity to see this destructive mindlessness. Governments do need to step up.
Rod Evans, Parkville
Shame on war-mongers
We have had to endure massive social disruption and anxieties living with the threat of COVID-19, which still has a long way to go, yet Peter Dutton and now Major-General Adam Findlay think it is a sage act of wisdom to hype up talk of the possibility of war with China.
This could seriously backfire as the CCP is bereft of any benevolent tolerance. This smells of a cynical election campaign ploy by the Coalition to confect a dependency of the electorate on them to save us. Shame on Scott Morrison for allowing this open public talk of war to spook the electorate just when there is a hint of sunshine that the worst of COVID-19 is behind us.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South
Horrific live trade
Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council chief executive Mark Harvey-Sutton claims: “We have full confidence in the standards the Australian live exports industry upholds.” Really?
I come from a fourth-generation farming family of sheep and grain, and I know how sheep should be handled and slaughtered with as little stress as possible and, trust me, live export trade standards don’t come close to complying to our Australian animal welfare standards.
Sheep that go on these long-haul voyages (up to three weeks) to the Middle East are subjected to horrific suffering and stress. With the deployment of Independent Observers (IOs) on live export ships paused since March 2020, except one report from the IO who accompanied a shipment of sheep to Kuwait in June 2020, it seems the public is simply expected to believe all is well.
Millions of Australians, 9000 vets and the RSPCA want this trade banned but Agriculture Minister David Littleproud is supporting the minority who make money from the industry.
Anne Leeson, Willetton, WA
Fix NDIS age anomaly
The age discrimination inherent in the NDIS is highlighted by Bill Moss (“Call to remove NDIS age ‘bias’”, The Age, 3/5). I share his alarm. The polio epidemic saw thousands of us contracting this disease and developing the disability that follows. Now, at 65, Iam supported by the NDIS while most others are ineligible, having been over 65 when the NDIS came in. They are therefore reliant on an over-burdened aged-care system. Some with higher support needs have been told they are better suited to a nursing home. The aged-care system is not designed for those with life-long disabilities. The Productivity Commission made a number of recommendations regarding the NDIS and the age cutoff is one that Senator Reynolds’ spokesman referred to in the article. Ageism, unconscious or otherwise, clearly had a part in this recommendation and subsequent decision. Just as the government is addressing other social issues, this one can be rectified. All people with disabilities have the same rights regardless of age. The NDIS should deliver on this.
Liz Telford, Clifton Hill
Right to be safe at work
The suggestion that parents will be banned from schools for two weeks (“New laws to ban aggressive school parents”, The Age, 4/5) if they abuse or assault staff is insulting and a reflection of a lack of understanding of teaching. Even in the world of football people who are abusive are banned for life, not just until the next home game.
Teachers, and any workers, have the right to be able to work safely, an idea challenged by many over the COVID times. It seems a combination of self-importance and arrogance. We need to be better.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill
I came to Australia by boat from Greece in the 1960s. My parents brought me to this country for a better life and because Australia needed factory fodder to feed the manufacturing industry. I don’t have a birth certificate and don’t know how to get one from Greece. Many years ago I won a prize as a sales professional to receive an award in Hawaii that required me getting an Australian passport. I went through a number of hoops to get one. I have never let it lapse. Now I wonder what that prized possession is worth. Not a lot I fear under the current draconian laws.
Jim Valle, Malmsbury
A question of colour
Does anyone recall Peter Dutton’s 2018 plan to resettle white South African farmers in Australia under a special humanitarian intake? Does anyone imagine that if the Murugappan family, taken by police from Biloela, were white South Africans they would still be on Christmas Island? Does anyone think that if the predominantly dark-skinned Australian citizens trapped in India were Caucasian, they might be steadily repatriated?
John Howard, with his “children overboard” Tampa election win, started this shameful, ongoing period in Australian history that is so contrary to our self-professed “Australian values”.
Norman Huon, Port Melbourne
AND ANOTHER THING …
Quarantine is a federal government responsibility. Know your role, do your job.
Belinda Burke, Hawthorn
The truth is out. There was no medical advice to impose harsh penalties on Australians returning from India.
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick
Scott and Greg should face a simple fact about India return travel – you got it wrong.
Brian Morley, Donvale
An Australian passport used to mean unconditional support when overseas. Not any more.
Sean Geary, Southbank
Please explain Mr Morrison why you are still not fully using the Howard Springs quarantine facility. You accepted those Halton Report recommendations over six months ago (see page 31).
John Boyce, Richmond
“I am, you are, we are Australians,” unless you are a citizen in India wanting to return home.
Bruce Dudon, Woodend
Males in khaki know nothing about diplomacy (“Top general warns of likely China conflict”, The Age, 4/5). Come back, Julie.
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill
Australia now threatens China with war and China is the aggressor! Something just doesn’t add up. Oh yes, America’s interests.
Ken Mcleod, Williamstown
Australia could play the role of credible small power. It seems to want to play loud-mouth spear carrier to the chief.
Chris Boon, Nunawading
Dan let’s secede and give Canberra the flick. You’d get a promotion, to President.
Bill Trestrail, St Kilda
How kind of the Prime Minister to find $371 million to protect us from pests which, I assume, includes members of Parliament.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick
Could we do a swap and have Jacinda Ardern as our PM?
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East
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