There is no fundamental need to set up new laws to ban “conversion” therapy (“Bill on gay conversion is flawed, say doctors”, The Age 3/2) because there are already existing laws and regulatory bodies that deal with this. Informed consent is fundamental to medical practice. If a patient consents to an exploration of say their inner conflicts, it is by definition in the absence of duress and has nothing to do with a harmful notion of “conversion”.
This bill is most certainly flawed and in need of significant amendments.
Dr Larry Hermann, consultant psychiatrist, South Yarra
Potential harm from ‘talking and praying’
I am an Italian-born, happily bisexual baby boomer. When I was in my 30s and living in Australia, I visited my family in Italy. They invited their parish priest to their home, caught me unawares and asked the priest to pray over me, which he did, asking God to help me to “renounce the devil’s ways” and go back to “the way, the truth and life”.
It was not an exorcism. It was not conversion therapy. It was what the leading Islamic and Catholic leaders, in their letter to The Age (2/2), would define as “prayerful advice and guidance”. The anger and shame I felt that day, at the bullying and at myself for not reacting strongly (I feared that my leaving the premises would lead to a break-up in family relations) are still with me nearly 40 years later.
Victorian MPs, please be fully aware of the toxic effects, especially on vulnerable and susceptible young people, of any “talking and praying” not based on complete, unconditional acceptance.
Mirna Cicioni, Brunswick East
Bill ignores religious values
I have read the conversion prohibition bill, and my primary concerns as it is currently worded are twofold. First, quite shockingly, the consent or willingness of the person being spoken to or prayed for is irrelevant. Even if a potentially sexually confused teenager welcoming of the wise words of an older voice.
Second, although Victoria’s own charter of human rights affirms freedom of thought, religion and speech, the bill essentially directs that citizens must act upon both their sexual suspicions and gender-identifying tendencies, even if, deep within, those same decisions might go against a person’s own conscience, as to what might be culturally or religiously appropriate ethical and moral behaviour.
Peter Waterhouse, Craigieburn
Laws cause fear for families
The Victorian Labor government wishes to criminalise conversations within families and consenting adults seeking professional or pastoral help for distress with huge fines and 10 years in jail. Who would be willing to lend an ear to a friend or family member in distress when in five years’ time that person could have us locked up because they later found it harmful?
Cecilia Godwin, Hawthorn East
Open up on religion in politics
Here we have yet another example of fundamental religious politicians and religious groups refusing to listen to the science (“Liberal rift deepens over bill banning gay conversion”, The Age, 2/2); gay conversion is not only ineffective, but it can be harmful.
The best way the public would recover confidence in our political system would be if candidates declare their personal beliefs before they are elected.
Pieter Mourik, Wooragee
Little time left for ducks
The government claims to support “safe, responsible and sustainable hunting” (“Push to ban ‘cruel’ duck shooting”, The Age, 3/2). According to Dr John Porter from the University of NSW, aerial surveys over four decades have found that water bird populations in eastern Australia have decreased by approximately 90 per cent over that period, while wetland areas have shrunk from 650,000 hectares to about 80,000 hectares as a result of global warming. According to Dr Porter, as duck habitats shrink, ducks are forced to concentrate in smaller areas – making them easier targets and increasing kill rates. His research has shown that six of the eight so-called “game” species are in significant long-term decline. How then, is duck shooting “sustainable”? Where is Dan Andrews at?
Jill Sanguinetti, East Brunswick
Unwelcome city visitors
With a push to the bush (“Going bush: Melburnians flee city for the regions”, 3/2) now is not the time for the Andrews government to inflict three months of shotgun blasts upon the ears of rural residents. Ducks that survived last year’s drought and fires deserve a break.
The most vehemently opposed to duck shooting in the recent opinion poll were regional Victorians. Almost half (42 per cent) of them were “strongly opposed” with another 16 per cent “opposed” to the activity. So much for shooters’ claims that they are welcomed into country towns where they supposedly spend up big. The standout success of the Andrews government’s new tourism vouchers shows that regional Victoria has much more to offer than a cruel game of shoot-em-up.
Joan Reilly, Surrey Hills
Not a real sport
I grew up in the country and at the tender age of 10 learnt to fire a shotgun, (it nearly dislocated my shoulder). I understand a 12 bore two barrel is the maximum power weapon permitted for duck hunters. I know that the shot from these weapons fans out, and therefore does not deliver a reliable, clean hit – pellets lodging in birds near the target bird, but not killing them immediately. I cannot see how this can be seen as a sport. Maybe if a rifle was used there would be some real skill involved and the birds would have a ″sporting″ chance. Given the loss of species on our drying planet, I believe that duck hunting should be banned, and plead for this outcome.
Jan Dwyer, Rosebud
Bigger than Collingwood
If people think racism is confined to one football club,they are dreaming. Racism is is everywhere in Australia. What sticks in my gall is the fact that only when it becomes public is there outcry. It has been happening since white people set foot on this land, and it continues to be ignored until someone bravely calls it out. It needs to be dealt with across the board now and always. Margaret Collings, Anglesea
Keep views private
Craig Kelly is an ignoramus who, like former president Trump, considers that he is an exceptional genius with insights not accessible by regular mortals (“Scott Morrison reprimands Craig Kelly over vaccine views”, 3/2). As an individual, he is entitled to his beliefs but as a person holding an office paid for by taxpayers, he should keep those views to himself and support the broader medical consensus.
Widespread and early uptake of vaccination – whichever TGA approved version we have to hand – can only help. If we get this right, the dubious and unsupported remedies recommended by the Member for Hughes would rarely come into contention.
Peter Barry, Marysville
Not all meat is the same
Peter Singer writes as though all meat products in Australia are derived from factory farming (“Case mounting up against meat”, The Age, 1/2). Sheep and cattle are normally raised on open country and treated humanely by our farmers. Many farmers in Australia are following regenerative agricultural practices where livestock production is part of an integrated system which develops biodiversity and improved soils which grow better crops. Emissions from farmed animals are being offset by agroforestry and healthier plant ecosystems.
Carbon neutral meat is a reality. Meat that is ethically and sustainably produced is available.
Jan Stewart, Bellbrae
Speak up to a bully…
Peter Hartcher (“Excuse China? We’ll be sorry”, The Age, 2/2) is absolutely right. It is amazing that China has managed to train the world over the years to tiptoe carefully when saying anything at all critical about the CCP. Why? No other nation screams as loudly as China at any criticism, however mild, which is always interpreted as “meddling in China’s internal affairs”. Only North Korea is as sensitive.
So we now find we are blaming ourselves for upsetting China, in that somehow we deserve the punishment it is inflicting by rescinding trade agreements and issuing demands that we give in. Nonsense. Which of China’s 14 demands should we apologise for and reverse? The government is right to remain firm.
Richard Harding, Port Melbourne
…why take the lead?
In an otherwise thoughtful analysis of the challenges facing Australia by the military rise of China, Peter Hartcher attacks the idea of too much ″nuance″ (better known as diplomacy) in our our relationship. But what did it profit Australia to have our Foreign Minister Marise Payne, backed by Prime Minister Morrison, take the lead in the setting up of the international inquiry into the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan? Like most other countries, we could have just voted for it. The fact that China is Australia’s largest export market might justify some diplomacy in the national interest.
Paul Ormonde, Northcote
Greens spokesman for justice, Tim Read, argues against pursuing fines for “a child who may have forgotten to wear their mask to the supermarket”. (“Call to waive ‘excessive’ COVID fines on teenagers”, The Age, 3/2). Indeed, who wants to see a forgetful child incur a criminal sanction?
However, having witnessed some “children” in action, perhaps defiant non-compliance, rather than forgetfulness is at play.
A major shopping centre: signs and announcements about mandatory mask-wearing abound. The young woman at the entrance providing sanitiser and masks is confronted by a group of towering youths without masks. Clearly intimidated, she lets them pass without comment. Another shopper, disgruntled, challenges her. The young woman, humiliated, says security will catch them at a barrier erected further in.
As the group approaches the security presence, bravado dissipates – briefly. They’re not challenged. They separate, detour, reunite: defiantly maskless.
The same centre: a young couple – one maskless, one wearing a mask – approaches security. Both stare ahead. The mask-wearer deliberately and conspicuously pulls her mask down. Both are totally ignored by security, who when queried, say: “We don’t have any power to enforce COVID requirements.” These are “children” and this is “security”.
Deborah Morrison, Malvern East
While I sympathise with parents (“Childcare costs punishing parents”, The Age, 3/2) about the cost of childcare I’d like to make my own case for a government subsidy for a decision which is, effectively, a lifestyle choice. I recently saw a Maclaren 675LT Spider supercar for sale. The cost of this if I borrow the money is $361 per week, which I can’t afford.
I’d like the government to pay for this: it will put money into the economy, it will provide ongoing expenditure for insurance, maintenance, tyres, fuel and so on, which is positive for employment in skilled occupations. It is half the cost of putting two children through childcare and, over its life, it will produce much less pollution and environmental degradation than two offspring. This sports car would greatly enhance my life, self-esteem and would certainly make my neighbours envious. Where do I apply for my handout?
Angus McLeod, Cremorne
The cost of lockdown
Chris Uhlmann says “Lockdowns have already exacted a price that cannot be measured in dollars or over the short term and the yo-yo imprisonment of cities will eventually cripple communities economically and psychologically,” (Comment, 3/2). It is easy to try to be wise after the event but what would the costs, economically and psychologically, have been had tens of thousands died if we had followed a soft touch policy like in the US or UK.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha
Test of leadership
Scott Morrison’s recent talk about the need for technology is just more of the policy void that has marked his government’s approach to climate management measures.
If there was any serious intent and commitment there would have been a package of measures (“‘We need incentives’: Technology alone not enough to meet PM’s climate target”, 3/2) with a timeline.
We already have the technology to drive from the present 30 per cent renewables to 80 per cent renewables but we need the incentives and above all the commitment of leadership to drive this transition.
Robert Brown, Camberwell
Old growth untouched
Anne Heath Mennell (Letters, 2/2) can rest assured that there is no destruction of Victorian old growth forests. On the November 7, 2019, the Victorian government announced the “immediate end to harvesting of old growth forests”. The exquisite hardwood products that Victorian consumers desire for flooring, furniture, buildings, etc, come today from renewable, sustainable, certified, local, native forests, around 80 years old. Only a minute 0.04 per cent of our total forest area is harvested annually – and all areas regenerated by law.
Alastair Woodard, Wood Products Victoria
AND ANOTHER THING
Test is a failure
The pub test – a nebulous and ill-defined guide to appropriate conduct – is supposed to reflect the opinion of Aussie men gathered in a pub and lubricated with a few ales (“New gig ‘doesn’t pass the pub test’,” The Age, 3/2). In this age of supposed gender equality, why is this blokey standard so often used to award a pass/fail mark to figures in the public eye?
Lionel Parrott, Croydon
Presumably, the people of Hughes who elected Craig Kelly as their MP are satisfied with his performance. What would make them dissatisfied?
John Walsh, Watsonia
Heritier Lumumba’s interview on the ABC on Tuesday was heartfelt, considered and articulate. Eddie McGuire’s media appearance, with his insensitivity, tin ear and foot in mouth on full display, highlighted his club’s toxic mindset. Positive change will happen when informed people such as Lumumba are involved in prominent roles to implement reforms.
Mary Cole, Richmond
Does Eddie McGuire actually say anything he really means? There seems to have been an awful lot of back pedalling over the years.
Would the real Eddie please stand up?
Michael Carver, Hawthorn East
Peter Walsh says banning duck shooting means “making it impossible for people to enjoy their recreation” (“Push to ban ‘cruel’ duck shooting”, The Age, 3/2). Why not make vandalising trains legal, too? A lot of people seem to enjoy doing that as a form of recreation.
Rosemary Davison, Moonee Ponds
Sport requires the competition between two individuals or teams. Duck shooting is not sport.
Nicholas Melaluka, Fairfield
Bill Shorten had the right policies but he and his team couldn’t sell them. Now Albo has nothing to sell.
John Walsh, Watsonia
Falling ill makes sense, but falling pregnant or falling in love are surely uplifting?
Rod Matthews, Fairfield
Note from the Editor
The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.