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POLITICS, RELIGION AND CONSENT
PM’s beliefs make him unfit for secular office
LNP voters in 2019 undoubtedly had the reasonable expectation that their successful PM would be working for them and hopefully all Australians. But no – by his own words Pastor Morrison and his wife are performing God’s work (“PM warns of ‘the evil one’ online”, The Age, 27/4). His homily at last week’s Christian Conference was an outrageous indulgence from a man leading a secular country … and on taxpayer time.
It’s fine for our PM to hold firm religious beliefs, as many have done over the years but his utterings here are well beyond the pale. For him to say he is doing God’s work, imply he’s fighting against the devil and to infer when he meets and greets people in need he is laying on hands – well, this beggars belief.
Morrison extols and believes in practices and imaginary beings that are totally foreign to the overwhelming majority of Australians. Perhaps the quiet Australians will now see this man for what he really is – thoroughly unrepresentative of themselves, their beliefs and aspirations and therefore unfit for any secular office.
Royce Bennett, Baxter
Consent education needs to start at the top
Public debate has been raging in recent times about consent and the need for education about what is appropriate and inappropriate touching. But that doesn’t stop our PM from “laying hands” on people while “praying in various situations”, apparently without their knowledge or consent – people suffering after a disaster who just think they are being comforted in the normal way. Evidently consent education needs to start at the top.
Jennifer Borrell, Coburg
Morrison and I believe in a different God
Scott Morrison believes that social media is being used by the “evil one”. I’m not quite sure what he means by the “evil one” but I presume he doesn’t mean the leader of the Labor Party.
He also admits that he asked God for a sign during a difficult run on the 2019 election campaign and believes God gave it to him. If God is going to listen to a “happy clapper”, then why doesn’t he listen to many other seriously devout Christians who pray to him for assistance? I also wonder what his God thought about the actions of the Morrison prayer group that met just before Malcolm Turnbull was ousted, two days after he put his arm around Turnbull declaring exuberantly, “this is my leader and I’m ambitious for him”. I think Morrison and I believe in a different God.
John Cummings, Anglesea
Surreptitious ‘laying on of hands’ outrageous
I was outraged to read that while Scott Morrison was ostensibly comforting cyclone victims with a hug he was surreptitiously practising the “laying on of hands”. This, even more than his forced handshakes after the Victorian bushfires, demonstrates an incomplete understanding of consent.
All individuals have the right to protect the integrity of their bodies. Leaving aside the issue of whether or not the hugs per se were welcome, I suspect not too many would have willingly lined up for a Pentecostal ritual had he done them the honour of asking. It’s going to be a long battle to get the Prime Minister to address the toxic culture in Parliament House if he thinks this is something to boast about.
Anne Mitchell, Australian Research Centre In Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University
Clear examples of inappropriate behaviour
I was discussing the teaching of the meaning of “consent” with my teenage granddaughter. My thoughts went to an image of a Prime Minister meeting weary firefighters after the 2020 bushfires. When seeking to shake one hand, he was told clearly “No, I don’t wish to do that”. He took the non-offered hand regardless. Was this inappropriate behaviour? To my mind, most certainly yes.
Today I read the same Prime Minister practised his evangelistic, Pentecostal ritual of “laying on of hands” when hugging unknowing and unconsenting cyclone victims. Was this inappropriate behaviour? Again, most certainly yes.
Dr David Hay, Greensborough
Steps to barbarism
It is impossible not to despair despite the innumerable advantages this country enjoys. We spend our taxes on expanding the Australian War Memorial while starving funds to the National Archives, which protects the evidence on which our historical memory depends. We fail to provide adequate funding to the Office of the Auditor-General and the ABC, weakening our defences against corruption. We fund fossil fuels while climate change receives only lip service from the federal government.
The same government tries to buy women off with budget concessions while failing to address the structural inequality at the heart of women’s issues. We push asylum seekers, even a couple with two young children, offshore, instead of providing refuge. And still, we fail to accept that a treaty with our Indigenous people is the only way to begin to deal with our entrenched racism.
Failing to protect our collective memory by neglecting our national archives is a certain further step to barbarism. If we truly value humanity, democracy and equality, we must stand up against these successive gross examples of misrule.
Rosemary Kiss, Rippleside
Volunteers no substitute
The problems being faced by the National Archives stem from cuts to funding and staffing. The suggestion to use volunteers to make up this shortfall is not appropriate (Letters, 27/4). While volunteers provide a vital role in charities and not-for-profit organisations, they are not a source of free labour at the expense of paid employees.
The National Archives already has a volunteer program. While this allows the archives to expand its services, it should not be seen as a substitute for adequate funding.
James Proctor, Maiden Gully
True Anzac spirit
So much is said of the Anzac spirit and sacrifices made by so many and yet the AFL, MCG, Essendon and Collingwood football clubs, and Channel Seven must all profit from the day. I’d love to see them sacrifice all their profits from the Anzac Day match to organisations that support returned servicemen and their families. There must be plenty of projects and groups that are crying out for funds. That would truly be in the Anzac spirit.
Wies Danielewski, Inverloch
Where’s the vision?
Graeme Henchel in his clear analysis of Scott Morrison’s modus operandi really nails it (Letters, 27/4). The puppet of the mining companies and fossil fuel magnates Morrison just has to stay in power. He does this by employing division in the community, scaremongering, by avoiding responsibility and claiming credit for success by the state governments. Neither he nor his cabinet show any leadership or vision for the future of Australia.
Gael Barrett, North Balwyn
Spend where it’s needed
Does Mr Tudge (“Quality of teaching, not funds, key: Tudge”, The Age, 27/4) realise that in Britain public funds are not spent on private schools? In Australia, a lot of public money is directed away from government schools. This money could be used to better resource the schools for which the governments have responsibility, and which the majority of the population use.
You could be the best teacher in the world, and fail to make much headway in an overcrowded, under-resourced classroom with more than its fair share of disadvantage. Unfortunately, if you cut funding, you cut resources. I look forward to Mr Tudge’s plan for spending public money where it is most needed.
Chris Pearson, Kyneton
Equity the key
Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge’s views on funding make me angry, not because I’m a teacher and I’m fed up with experts continually blaming teachers for poor results but because the answer to why students fail to achieve their potential is in plain sight – a lack of equity.
Mr Tudge, everyone knows that students who attend wealthy schools (government and non-government) do better. Why? Because they have the social, economic and structural supports which make learning possible.
In one way, Mr Tudge, you’re right, increased funding won’t lead to better results – unless that funding leads to increased equity. And until now that hasn’t happened.
I work in a government school that has been in deficit for the past 10 years. Each year teachers are made redundant because the school can’t afford to keep them. We lack adequate resources – the photography class has 20 students and five cameras, and the science block is the same as it was in the 1960s. The teachers I work with are quality teachers doing their best to overcome the inequity stemming from successive government’s education policies. So, instead of one more talkfest about how to improve teachers, how about talking about how you can increase equity?
Judith Crotty, Dandenong North
Every three or four years a sizeable proportion of the adult population of Australia votes, on one Saturday between the hours of 8am-6pm. In suburbs, towns and cities across the nation people come out, line up, have their identity verified and move to a cardboard booth to cast their vote. It’s a sequence that most Australians have participated in many times and the conduct of our democracy is trusted to it.
Could we apply a similar process to the vaccination of COVID-19? Especially considering that vaccination is likely to be an ongoing obligation for a booster inoculation beyond the initial roll-out. Vaccination Day. Followed 12 weeks later by Vaccination Day Mark 2 and if required Annual Vaccination Booster Day. Anyone with a valid Medicare card would be eligible to participate.
Sausage sizzle and cake stall optional but likely to be popular after voting or vaccination.
Kate Norris, Launceston, Tas.
User pays system
People are suggesting that to tax electric cars is ridiculous because electricity is an environmentally better fuel than petrol, especially if it is derived from sustainable sources. At present the excise on petrol that fuels most cars pays for our roads and their upkeep, it is not there as a tax on a bad fuel. It is seen as a fair user-pays system. Those who use the roads more, use more fuel, pay more excise which pays for the upkeep needed. Electricity-powered cars will still use the roads which will still need building and upkeep. What is the alternative funding source?
Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn
We need to attract the best possible candidates to enter the teaching profession. That also means that they need to be paid at a rate commensurate with the importance of their role, and to be teaching in up-to-date, well-funded schools, with appropriate resources. Increase funding for government schools to ensure their students have the greatest opportunity for success.
Jean Andrews, Cheltenham
Michael Bachelard’s important article (Comment, 26/4) reminds us that refugees flee their home countries to escape dangerous and horrific situations, and look to richer countries such as Australia to give them a haven. Bachelard explains that this appeal to kindness is sometimes met with indifference, with politicians in richer countries running a different narrative for political purposes.
For years now, Australian governments have spent billions holding boat people in detention centres to appeal to those voters who believe in tough borders, rather than working with the international community to process refugees in the countries to which they first flee, such as Indonesia, which was the successful approach used by the conservative Fraser government 40 years ago.
The current Australian approach of indefinite detention causes great suffering and will surely become even more unsustainable as climate change causes greater instability and refugee movements in poorer and climate-vulnerable regions of the world.
Andrew Trembath, Blackburn
Making it safer for cyclists
New road rules legislating a minimum one-metre safe passing distance from cyclists quietly came into force last week. As a cyclist, I do not expect much will change. Considerate motorists will continue to pass cyclists safely, and impatient, selfish motorists will continue to put cyclists’ lives at risk. Victoria Police has signalled that this will be a difficult road rule to enforce. Post-pandemic roads are busier than ever with more commuters and cyclists sharing them. Busy streets with kerbside parking are a dangerous place for cyclists. Vehicles should be parking within 30 centimetres of the kerb, but lax attitudes and poor driver training mean that it is common for vehicles to park a metre or more away. Why are council bylaws officers not gobbling up this easy revenue stream? More courteous parking would translate into more road space and safer passing distances. Come on councils and motorists, let’s all make the roads a safer place.
Dave Barter, Hawthorn
Support also an issue
The report of the recent tragic death of Christina Lackmann and that of Kylie Cay in 2016 while waiting for ambulances has primarily focused on the failings of our public health system (“More ambulance wait deaths feared”, The Age, 27/4). I do wonder though why we are solely focused on government services to the exclusion of community support. It is tragic that two women have died alone while waiting for emergency care. But were there no others they could have contacted in the meantime? Family members, friends, neighbours to come and sit with them or take them to hospital if the ambulance was delayed. In my view, it is somewhat limited to blame public services when the care for those we know is also lacking, to the extent that perhaps those in need resist seeking their support in emergencies. That is perhaps the bigger tragedy.
Heather D’Cruz, Geelong West
AND ANOTHER THING …
The Coalition is in love with coal and the ALP is terrified to renounce it. The Lucky Country will never be the Clever Country.
John Walsh, Watsonia
“The government is considering sending oxygen and respirators to India.” What’s to consider? Just do it … now!
Peter Barry, Marysville
It’s no wonder Morrison couldn’t hold a hose, he already had his hands full with his Bible.
Anne Rutland, Brunswick West
Someone should tell our Pentecostal PM that politics and religion should never be mixed.
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East
I’m sure the devil in me would strongly resist Morrison’s healing hands.
Judith McNaughtan, Mont Albert
So bushfire victims refused to shake Morrison’s hand but he was able to perform the practice of laying on of hands on them? I smell something, and it’s not fire.
Daniela Spadaro, Newstead, Tas.
PM, just about anything can be used for evil. It’s not exclusive to social media.
Chris Boon, Nunawading
The PM should be reminded that his religion has no place in our politics.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch
Refugees in indefinite detention? The devil made me do it.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South
Scott Morrison, always seeking a scapegoat, has found the ultimate culprit to blame – the devil!
Geoff Wigg, Surrey Hills
Is Scott Morrison suggesting that we are better off with the devil we know?
Evert de Graauw, Wantirna
Floods, fires, pandemic! How many signs from God does our PM need?
James Young, Mount Eliza
I might have missed it, but I can’t remember seeing our PM “soaring like an eagle” at any time since he took on the job. Is he just not eagle material, or has the evil one clipped his wings?
Lindsay Zoch, East Melbourne
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