Failures seeded 24 years ago
The aged care royal commission’s damning report concludes the system is broken, and recommends a starting point is to tear up the 1997 Aged Care Act. During the hearing the royal commission discovered a 1997 cabinet memorandum that foreshadowed costs might reach a level greater than what the government was prepared to spend, in which case it raised the option of quotas to control the numbers receiving aged care, and the levels of care. Despite this the government passed the act, which introduced partial privatisation and eliminated most of the regulations covering staffing levels, training etc. It therefore changed this essential service so that instead of increasing funding to meet the essential needs of the aged, they would only receive whatever limited care fits the funds allocated. The shocking results of this neglect are now exposed.
Ray Pilbeam, Canterbury
Returning to a Medicare levy increase
Once again there is a proposal to increase that old workhorse, the Medicare levy, to pay an increase in government support for aged care. This is a ruse to avoid a government saying they are increasing taxes. The Medicare levy covers only a fraction of government health outlays; it is fully decoupled and quite meaningless. Government outlays should be presented as line items in the budget and tax rates set to make such payments sustainable.
Peter Barry, Marysville
Caring required in aged care
Abuse in aged care is being widely condemned, but tragically, regulations will not ensure such facilities are great places for residents to live in. What can’t be easily addressed is ensuring all who own, manage and staff such facilities are truly caring people.
John Weymouth, Ringwood East
First, eliminate the profit gougers
Instead of slugging taxpayers for the necessary improvements to aged care, Morrison could start with outlawing obscene profit gouging by private for-profit aged care owners. Yet another example of private failing the community on essential services.
Judy Loney, Drumcondra
Presumption of innocence
I do not think that the “presumption of innocence” means what Josh Frydenberg thinks it means (“PM refuses to open rape inquiry,” The Age, 2/3). It does not mean that people cannot form opinions as to the likelihood that an alleged offence actually occurred. It does not mean there is no public interest in exposing the details of a serious allegation against a holder of high office. It does not mean we should disbelieve the complainant in the face of the reported denials of the accused. And it certainly does not mean that her death frees the alleged offender of any consequences from his past actions. The presumption of innocence is simply the legal principle that, in the event of a criminal trial, the onus lies with the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
Mark Summerfield, Northcote
Clear the air
Bill Shorten had the integrity to name himself in 2014 in response to allegations about behaviour in the 1980s when he was 19. There was an investigation that cleared him. The current cabinet minister should show the same level of character.
Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn
It is the appalling failure of the regulatory authorities that stands out from the plethora of royal commissions, inquiries and reports over recent months, particularly in aged care, mental health, the gaming industry and the banks. Conveniently, the government of the day hides behind the finding of the reports, which have often revealed the totally inadequate surveillance and monitoring of the activities by the regulators in these sectors. Most of the regulatory bodies have acted like “paper tigers”. Whatever future changes and improvements are made to their operations as a result of these inquiries, the independent regulatory watchdogs need to have far more power to call providers to account without fear or favour. Only then will we learn from our mistakes.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris
When Julia Gillard and Bill Shorten were accused of “crimes” that occurred decades before their entry into parliament, the Coalition government instigated a royal commission to investigate the allegations. Despite knowing the exercise was a political stunt, Gillard and Shorten fronted the commission, which had the optics of a public shaming exercise. In the end the commission found neither were guilty but yet still managed to slur them with accusations of “occasional evasiveness, or non-responsiveness, or irritability”. The allegations of a decades old rape perpetrated by an unknown cabinet minister are far more serious, and a serious investigation is warranted.
Graeme Henchel, Yarra Glen
What does the PM do?
We have heard our Prime Minister tell us he doesn’t hold a hose, he asks his wife what he should do when a former staffer alleges she’s been raped in a minister’s office, he doesn’t read letters alleging that another woman has been raped by a member. It leaves the question, apart from barracking for the Cronulla Sharks, what does he do?
Juliet Flesch, Kew
Charge the source
The increase in plastic entering Port Phillip Bay (“Rising rivers of plastic polluting bay,” The Age, 2/3) is indeed of major concern. While the impending state government phase-out of single-use plastics is a step in the right direction it is nowhere near enough to ameliorate the enormous cost to our environment. The producers and distributors who cause their product to exist in the environment are getting away scott-free from contributing to the cost. It is time for the federal government to impose an environmental charge on these companies.
Allan Dowsett, Preston
An audit is needed of the municipal and industrial landfill levy Victorians have paid since 1992. Why, with a wide range of recycling codes, are so many plastic containers not fit to be recycled? If they are not recyclable why are they permitted? It is inordinately difficult, as a consumer and waste generator, to do the right thing.
Angela Munro, Carlton North
Meek on Myanmar
Peter Hartcher is right to call the Australian government “meek” in its response to the military coup in Myanmar (“Inaction gives comfort to regime,” The Age, 1/3). How many thousands need to express their support of the elected government and how many need to die or be imprisoned for peacefully protesting before Scott Morrison will reject this military coup as an illegitimate seizure of power. As an important power in the region Australia should stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar.
Denise Nichols, Fitzroy North
Former PMs, stand down
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, on ABC discussing the rape allegation against a sitting minister in the coalition government, asserted the woman’s suicide was “counterintuitive”, raising many implications. On his website, Turnbull states “he enjoyed successful careers as a lawyer, investment banker and journalist”, and I find it staggering his vastly experienced legal mind fails to comprehend that in our legal system everyone irrespective of position or status is entitled to a presumption of innocence. Turnbull’s malevolence towards his successor and the Coalition government has no bounds as he takes every opportunity to to sink the boot into Scott Morrison.
He, like Kevin Rudd, should take a leaf out of the books of Robert Menzies, Bob Hawke and John Howard and resist the temptation to engage in a running commentary on the government of the day. Will Muskens, Bardon, Qld
The editorial (“Leaders foolhardy to shun teen climate fears,” The Age, 2/3) reminds us yet again of the lack of federal government leadership on the climate crisis. The young people challenging the federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley are exposing the contradictions of the minister, who believes the climate is changing due to human activity, yet wants to have a new mine operating. The minister may believe she does not have a “duty of care”, but she does have a moral and ethical responsibility to protect future generations from the severe consequences of her decisions.
Judith Morrison, Mount Waverley
Carbon capture a dream
Energy Minister Angus Taylor is offering $50 million to organisations to undertake research into carbon capture and storage technology. Even the most basic knowledge of thermodynamics will tell you that the energy required to capture, compress and store the carbon dioxide from the flue gases of a coal or gas-fired power station is such that any remaining electricity left will be exorbitantly expensive. One has to ask whether Taylor has consulted any credible experts in making this proposal.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris
Mixed gender schools
In response to your correspondents on the merits of single sex schools, (Letters, 2/3, 1/3) in the 33 years I taught in mixed gender state secondary schools, the rarest problem was the relationship between the boys and girls. Boys fought boys sometimes and the same with girls but not once in all the thousands of students I worked with, did a sexual assault take place. In fact hand-holding was ridiculed by contemporaries. Swearing and abuse were occasionally the case with both boys and girls. Mixed schools are much preferred educationally because they are the setting to teach students to live and work in an adult world.
Graeme Lee, Fitzroy
What is greatness?
The headline of Peter Hartcher’s article, “A fixer with his eyes on greatness” (The Age, 27/2) requires a reality check if we assume Josh Frydenberg’s “greatness” refers to a person able to inspire all streams of society, with fairness and demonstrated commitment to principles. Hartcher’s view is apparently that “greatness” is leadership of the Liberal party. Frydenberg’s predecessor in Kooyong, Petro Georgiou, fiercely opposed the refugee fear-mongering tactics of his own party, the Howard government. Kooyong has been a traditional stepping stone for leadership of the federal Liberal Party so his stance was not without personal cost.
As the responsible minister in the Turnbull government, Frydenberg developed a broadly accepted strategy that balanced environmental progress with affordability and reliability of the energy sector. When Turnbull was replaced by Morrison, the strategy was dumped without a whimper from Frydenberg. He was rewarded with the roles of deputy leader and treasurer. What was the view of the fiercely conservative electorate of Kooyong at the last election? Frydenberg received the lowest Liberal primary vote in 97 years.
Andrew Taylor, Canterbury
A shining light
Michael Gudinski (along with his great friend and ally Molly Meldrum) did more than anyone to give me and other Mushroom bands of the ’70s the opportunity for a lifelong career in music. To have Gudinski in your corner was a gift. In 2006, when the Countdown Spectacular Tour put bands from all over the country together for three weeks of concerts, the guy next to me on the bus one day was the lead singer from an iconic Sydney band, and he told me the non-Victorian bands always talked enviously about the closeness and family vibe of Melbourne bands (especially Mushroom bands). ″Just four words,″ I said, ″will sum up the reason why – Michael Gudinski, and Molly Meldrum.″
I’ll miss you Michael but I’ll have so many good memories from when St Kilda Beach was our Mecca, and by the age of 18 Gudinski was putting on and promoting more gigs than all his competitors combined. Love you Michael.
Billy Miller (the Ferrets), Yarraville
National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line: 1800 737 732. Crisis support can be found at Lifeline: (13 11 14 and lifeline.org.au), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467 and suicidecallbackservice.org.au) and beyondblue (1300 22 4636 and beyondblue.org.au).
AND ANOTHER THING…
Well of course he denied it, Prime Minister! What did you expect – “It’s a fair cop, guv’nor, take me away”?
Malcolm I. Fraser, Oakleigh South
Liberal MPs claim the rape allegation is a witch hunt. Yes, it is. Which minister?
Chris Burgess, Port Melbourne
How can the Morrison government be seeking to raise taxes to fix an aged care sector after bragging about the tax cuts it has given to the Australian people and the likes of Harvey Norman, which receives millions in JobKeeper funding and isn’t required to give it back?
Bruce McMillan, Grovedale
I wonder how much of the huge increase in funding announced by the PM will end up boosting the profits of the private sector rather than helping those in need?
Dave Torr, Werribee
Medicare surcharge, now an old age surcharge. Surcharge is just another name for tax.
James Lane, Hampton East
An extra $10 daily for food is not the simple answer to malnutrition in aged care. Many residents can’t eat food unaided, and it takes time and staff, both of which are in short supply.
Megan Stoyles, Aireys Inlet
Good to hear about the investigation into nursing homes, but let’s also hear stories about the good ones. Some residents are being looked after very well.
Diana Goetz, Mornington
How did the Golden Globes overlook Donald Trump yet again? His sustained effort to stay in character, even after he was written out of the script, and his attempts to fake sincerity are right up there with the all-time greats.
Gary Sayer, Warrnambool
Trump’s fervour will only increase the Democratic vote, ensuring he will never be re-elected.
Gary Bryfman, Brighton
With apologies to Bette Davis: fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a Trumpy ride.
Wendy Batros, Templestowe
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