Dutch government shows real leadership

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Dutch government …

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his entire cabinet have just resigned over a scandal involving the payment of childcare allowances and the government’s attempt to recoup the costs from the recipients.

Australia’s own scandal along these lines was perpetrated by the Morrison government (the so-called robo-debt scheme) – a scheme to claw back hundreds of millions of dollars from tens of thousands of impoverished Australian citizens.

After refuting the obvious for years, a full-scale investigation showed that robo-debt was a farce that devastated the lives of thousands of hapless Australians and the government is now committed to reimbursing those unfortunates hundreds of millions of dollars.

The difference? Rutte had the decency and honesty to resign. Scott Morrison and his government refused to do anything until robo-debt was shown to be the travesty that it was.
Malcolm Kreltszheim, Hallam

… shows real leadership
So the Dutch government has resigned over a scheme similar to Australia’s robo-debt fiasco.

Our government could not even apologise properly, let alone take that sort of responsibility for their actions on robo-debt, which caused great suffering to many.

It seems the concept of government responsibility is alive and well in Holland, but totally dead here.

We deserve better.
Tony Guttmann, St Kilda West

The damage is obvious
The Morrison government and Environment Minister Sussan Ley’s, reported refusals (‘‘Government secrecy hurting environment’’, The Age, 15/1) to allow community access through freedom of information laws to key environmental information and data appears to be taking literally the notion that if a tree falls in the forest and we are not there to see it, then it didn’t really fall.

They may have adopted this strategy of restricting access to environmental data but they can’t hide the environmental damage we are all witnessing — the catastrophic fires, the longer droughts, the severe floods, the intense storms and the increasing rate of biodiversity loss.

We are all closer to the falling trees than the government imagines.
Brenda Tait, Kew

A force for good as well
One may be accused of being ‘‘misty-eyed’’ in support of American democracy in the face of justifiable criticisms of its past and present transgressions (‘‘The country has form’’, Letters, The Sunday Age, 10/1).

But it is blindness to ignore its greater role in counterbalancing the threats to world order by autocratic and hostile regimes.
Edward Combes, Wheelers Hill

Don’t touch your super
Well spoken, Anne Heath Mennell (‘‘The importance of super’’, Letters, 15/1).

I, too, was fortunate enough that when I commenced work someone older and wiser than me had made superannuation compulsory in my workforce. I, too, would have taken the money and it would have been a very poor decision.

I have two pieces of advice for young workers: put money into super and don’t touch it. And why, may I ask, should workers be forced to choose between a pay rise or superannuation?
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir

Finding the balance …
It does seem inconsistent and cruel to accept tennis players for the Australian Open while we have so many Australian residents desperate to get back home from overseas as well as interstate. But who could question Victoria being ‘‘open’’ for business after the economic costs of our severe lockdown?

Clearly the Open is a hugely profitable event, so the financial costs of quarantining players will not be an issue. And it would seem easier to manage a bunch of players and their support teams in two or three locations with tight rules, regulations and threat of deportation than it is to manage residents desperate to get back from NSW and Queensland who will be expected to ‘‘self-quarantine’’ all over Victoria.

It is tough for stranded residents, especially those overseas, but these are extraordinary times. As your editorial suggests (‘‘Aussies stranded as VIP tennis stars arrive’’, 16/1), this situation highlights the urgency for the federal government to establish a national quarantine facility.

Meanwhile I’m trusting the Australian Open can be managed successfully. Isn’t this about finding the balance that has been talked about for so long?
Susan Mahar, Fitzroy North

… or rolling the dice?
Now that the Victorian government has all the bugs out of quarantine, it is time for the real test.

Let’s bring 1200 people from all over the world, including known COVID hotspots, not confine them to their hotel rooms, and prove we’ve got the virus under control.

Works for me.
Michael McBain, Ivanhoe

Nostalgic and eerie
When visiting NGV Australia last week, it was both nostalgic and eerie to see John Brack’s iconic Collins St., 5pm painting on prime display.

As the pandemic continues into 2021, I wonder when Marvellous Melbourne’s Collins Street will return to its peak-hour hustle and bustle, and indeed what artworks could now depict our CBD streets at 5pm during this time.
Stephanie Ashworth, Pascoe Vale South

A sad day for our city
Now it seems that peaceful protesters, the people who stand with those refugees locked up in hotel detention here in Melbourne since last February, face the prospect of a huge fine of $500 (‘‘Threat to fine ‘noisy’ refugee protesters’’, The Age, 16/1).

What a sad day for our city.
Marie Douglas, Camberwell

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