Time to move on from paternalistic old ways

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Credit: Andrew Dyson

To submit a letter to The Age, email [email protected]. Please include your home address and telephone number. No attachments, please include your letter in the body of the email. See here for our rules and tips on getting your letter published.

In the 1967 referendum, Australians overwhelmingly voted to formally be able to count the Indigenous population and to legislate in relation to them. It did not go into the detail of how that would be achieved because that is the job of legislation.

Feeling pleased with ourselves, off we went, for 50 years, telling Indigenous Australians what to do and how to do it in order to fit into a country we had stolen from them, and imposing our perspectives and way of living on them. Throwing money at ″⁣our″⁣ ideas without proper evaluation as to effectiveness.

That was the way then, a paternalistic approach, based on our impoverished knowledge of the history regarding colonisation and the notion of assimilation.

My generation, and those before me, were taught a very sanitised version of Australian history. The Closing the Gap statistics demonstrate how our actions have left the Indigenous population living lives that are vastly inferior to the general population on
all measures.

If only the 1967 referendum had proposed that we could legislate in relation to the Indigenous population and in consultation with them. The current Indigenous Voice proposal in practice only makes that minor change, but with it brings the possibility of a major improvement in outcomes. Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn

There is really only one thing to consider
David Crowe (“Leaders do battle on the path to Australia’s future”, 30/8) succinctly sums up the core of the outcome of the referendum decision. He notes both sides want to close the gap and lift First Nations people out of poverty, and that the old ways have not worked. He concludes that a Yes vote would start a debate in federal parliament on the legislation needed to build a new approach to consultation, while a No vote would be followed by a policy vacuum.

Ignore all the extraneous matters brought up to cloud the decision-making process. What Australians are being asked to decide is which is the best path to close the gap. This is the question to be answered.
Bill Pimm, Mentone

The difference from 1967
The 1967 referendum regarding First Nations people resulted in a Yes vote. The 2023 referendum does not appear likely to achieve the same result. One difference that springs to mind is that it has been easy to create a perception, that by voting Yes we are creating a situation where one group has an advantage over another group in access to parliament. This was not the case in 1967, where really the average Joe couldn’t perceive that they were in anyway disadvantaged by a Yes vote. The people framing the Yes vote need to stress that no one is disadvantaged by the change.
Phil Labrum, Trentham

Change can start with No
A Yes victory would be a symbolic gesture like the Kevin Rudd apology that changed nothing. Success would feel as if the issue is finished. Rejecting this undefined castle in the clouds might start new discussion, particularly about achieving justice. No will be a new start for real change. Norm Pollack. Armadale

Referendums are set up to fail
Our conservative founding fathers set up referendum rules to fail and that is what we have seen in the statistics. A whispering campaign needs only to suggest that a Yes vote comes with unknown consequences. Just watch the innuendo from now until voting day.
Tony Haydon, Springvale

Australia’s reputation will suffer
Julie Bishop is spot on in supporting the Yes vote on the Voice. If Australia votes No, we will be forever tarnished with the reputation of a pariah with an outdated and backward stance towards the original inhabitants of this country.
Oriana Collins, Hawthorn


Burney a normal patient
It was very disappointing to read that Linda Burney felt she had to disclose her medical history to press and opposition scrutiny (“Burney reveals health setbacks”, 29/8). In my many decades of experience in health support and education, many patients have lots of education, but due to the stress at the time they only remember a few details and can easily make mistakes when regurgitating that education. Most people cannot easily remember dates, medications or side effects accurately. Burney is no different to the vast majority of the population and should be respected as a normal patient.
Shelley Durance, Beaumaris

Move doesn’t fly
What is going on with Labor to deny Qatar Airways more flights into Australia, while allowing Alan Joyce to walk away with millions in bonuses after destroying the reputation of the Flying Kangaroo. By allowing in more decent airlines and more flights, it will help Australians get better prices for airfares. Albanese should stop passing the buck and bowing down to greedy big business CEOs, like the Coalition did for years.
Dermot Mcintosh, Bacchus Marsh

Wrong call
Professor Allan Fells (“When corporate profits win out”, Comment, 30/8) makes a good point when he says that the government’s decision to block Qatar Airways needs to be independently examined. The reasons for the decision given by minister Catherine King have fallen under the catch-all phrase of national interest, which seeks to explain it away as something the community wouldn’t understand.

Alongside every other Australian, the minister’s own constituents in Ballarat must be scratching their heads as to why their local member would support keeping airfares 50 per cent higher than they need to be.

The minister had two simple options: ensure free competition and lower the cost of travel, or constrain competition in the airline industry, which would keep airfares high for all Australians. It was not a hard decision, yet she proceeded to choose the inflationary option.
Charles Reis, Flinders

Stark contrast
Two items in The Age (30/8) showed a stark contrast. In “Deputy PM faces flak for $3.6m VIP flights”, we learn that Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has spent a large amount on VIP flights but, also, that he was involved in a decision to prohibit the release of information detailing where VIP planes flew and who was on board.

Then, CBD notes that the ex-FOI commissioner, Leo Hardiman, had such limited resources that he was forced to catch a bus from Sydney every time he needed to visit Canberra. There seems to be little appetite for freedom of information, let alone whistleblowing.
Lawrence Thomas Cohen, Blackburn North

Strange similarities
Most of the reasons given for the likely sixfold cost increase of the Turnbull government’s Snowy Hydro 2.0 project (30/8) were largely similar to those given by the premier for the threefold increase in the cost of holding the Commonwealth Games in Victoria: increased wages, inflation and delays due to COVID-19.

The other reason – a failure to adequately account for geological conditions – is akin to poor planning and lack of due diligence, again an echo of the Commonwealth Games fiasco.
It seems that both major parties suffer from the same unfortunate tendency to enthusiastically announce big projects without taking the time to adequately assess the true costs before
doing so.
Kevin Bailey, Croydon

Climate and economics
Good on Michele Bullock for coming out swinging on climate change’s significant impact on financial stability (″⁣Climate key to rates, policy, warns Bullock″⁣, 30/8).

The link between climate and our economy is now so great that I am currently unsure whether Ross Gittins is an economics or an environment editor. His sorry story about the ″⁣bloodletting of our most important river system″⁣, the Murray-Darling Basin, is an excellent case in point (″⁣Sold down the river by entitlement″⁣, Comment, 30/8).

Both Bullock and Gittins comment on the long-term gains and opportunities inherent within environmental proactivity. We’d do well to shift our vision from myopia to hyperopia.
Amy Hiller, Kew

The city’s real problem
Like Scott Young (Letters, 30/8) I too find that “this once great town is actually quite depressing”. Unlike Scott (and others) it’s not the graffiti and rubbish that depresses me when I visit Melbourne, it’s the ever-increasing legion of homeless people sleeping on the streets. The paltry coins and notes I give some of the homeless people won’t change anything and I feel helpless.

Meanwhile, the government hands out billions for sporting events and subsidises fossil fuel industries, and corporations post record profits. That depresses me no end and tarnishes all my Melbourne visits.
Rohan Wightman, McKenzie Hill

Human contact gone
If you organise a society to cut out as many face-to-face contacts as possible there are consequences. If you require everyone to use unwieldy websites that can’t guarantee the safety of your personal details; if you keep customers waiting on the phone while telling them their call is important to you; if you cut down staff and make us check our groceries, then don’t be surprised if frustration builds and is taken out on the only humans we have access to. Everywhere in businesses and waiting rooms are signs saying “we do not tolerate aggression to staff”. Such signs were unthinkable a few years ago.
Marian Turnbull, Princes Hill

Misses the mark
To add to the perennial correspondence about likes and dislikes in trendy expressions, can I please raise an objection to the inverted logic of saying so-and-so “is targeted at” something or other? As far as I know the target is the thing aimed at, not the thing that is aimed. That used to be called an arrow. Imagine Robin Hood firing targets at his arrows. That would have challenged even Errol Flynn.
Trevor Hay, Montmorency

Tagtown anyone?
I nominate Graffiticity, Scribbleville or Tagtown as possible new names for Melbourne (“Yarra or Sprawl? It’s time to rename Melbourne”, Comment, 30/8). Not idiotic if recent reader complaints about the state of Melbourne’s streets are true.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully

Childcare assets a concern
The surging investor demand for childcare assets (30/8) should be questioned. Although the care in childcare is more thoroughly regulated by government to protect those needing care, than is the case for aged care, nonetheless the privatised aged care system has been identified by the aged care royal commission as having become a property industry to such severe detriment of the elderly needing care, that it is described as Australia’s national disgrace. The similarities between the two care sectors ought to be a consideration whenever any of us weighs up whether to use a profit-making care provider for a loved one, young or old.
Ruth Farr, Blackburn South

Imagine this …
Thank you Jo Rogers (“‘Education State’ is failing the reading test”, 30/8). Imagine if 30 per cent of recreational ovals had potholes that were left unattended, making them “below standard” for people to congregate, for kids to play and dogs to run. No doubt, community outrage would be palpable.
Where is that same outrage about leaving so many students lacking in proficiency to read? It is beyond belief that NAPLAN, or any result for that matter, can be considered “phenomenal” when 30 per cent don’t meet the standard. It is even more galling, though, that for decades empirical research has clearly demonstrated how novice readers, regardless of postcode, social disadvantage or any other factor, should be taught when learning to read. Neuroimaging data only confirms this further. We should (and can) be getting 95 per cent of children reading proficiently in the first three years of school, leaving the precious intervention resources for 5 per cent of students who were always going to need additional support.
Associate Professor Tanya Serry, Hawthorn East

Make ABC subscription
While commercial radio yet again outperforms the ABC, surely it is disingenuous to claim (30/8) the national broadcaster has clawed back listeners while acknowledging coverage at prime time breakfast and morning time slots has declined.

In fact the ABC rates lower overall not only in radio but in TV broadcasting. It is obvious the national broadcaster is not the preferred source for news or entertainment for the public. As these services are hardly essential services of government, it’s time for funding arrangements for the ABC to shift from taxation to subscription for those users of the ABC. This would provide cost-of-living relief for the majority of taxpayers from having to fork out for the ABC for services they do not use.
But a subscription service supplemented by advertising revenue would stimulate economy and innovation within the broadcaster, providing a more effective service to its users.
A win-win arrangement for both non-users and users of the ABC.
Martin Newington, Aspendale

There are other players
There are 649 players listed in the 18 AFL clubs participating in the 2023 competition – 648 of them are not Charlie Curnow! It is really time a couple of Age sports journalists gained a little perspective!
Brian Kidd, Mt Waverley


The Voice
Why define the Voice as a ruthless contest between two men (30/8), when it is simply a question of whether we collectively have a beating heart.
Jenny Bone, Surrey Hills

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit: Matt Golding

My recent electricity bill shows a 36 per cent increase in the charge per kilowatt hour. No explanation is given for the increased rate. We are told by “experts” that we should go “all electric”, and get rid of all gas appliances. Really?
Peter Fagg, Blackburn

The $12 billion for Snowy 2.0 pales into insignificance when you consider $368 billion for nuclear-powered submarines.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

In physics, what term describes entitlements that evaporate when not converted to flights? Answer: Qantas.
Peter Dann, Blackburn

Qantas: where the planes and CEO’s salary reach new heights.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

I like the new puzzles and weather layouts but I miss the international temperatures. Could you make room for that please?
Andrew Barnes, Ringwood

Why were we told what Erin Patterson was wearing on her visit to her lawyers (30/8)? What bearing does it have on the investigation at hand?
Helen Hilton, Armadale

I wonder whose responsibility is it to clean up the southern end of Elizabeth Street – the Victorian government or the Melbourne City Council?
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Tina Arena, you’re welcome to be openly critical of Premier Daniel Andrews’ handling of lockdowns, just as long as he can critique your dance moves on Young Talent Time.
Jae Sconce, Moonee Ponds

Maybe the reason for the theft from the Coles/Woolworths supermarkets is that those using the self-checkouts feel entitled to a staff discount.
Peter McGill, Lancefield

Patrick Elligett sends an exclusive newsletter to subscribers each week. Sign up to receive his Note from the Editor.

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article