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Minister for Women needs to embrace role

THE FORUM

Making the victim pay
I almost choked on my coffee this morning when I read Jennifer Duke’s article (“Super ‘lifeline’ for abuse victims,” The Age, 16/3) about women fleeing family violence being able to access their superannuation. This passes on responsibility to those who can least afford to carry it. As the article says, women are already severely disadvantaged in relation to superannuation, with many being forced to live in poverty as they grow older because their superannuation is so poor. It can take a woman several times to leave a violent partner so she could withdraw her superannuation, then, for all sorts of reasons, go back to the partner who would then benefit from superannuation. Women fleeing family violence require support, but surely as a civilised society her choice should not be between poverty in later life and safety.
Marg D’Arcy, Rye

Abusers getting a free ride
If a victim is fleeing a domestic abuser surely it is the abuser who should be paying out of their super to assist the victim. Why should the victim lose super for being a victim? It’s the same with support services. If a family violence victim has to use a shelter or relocate, the abuser should be sent the invoice to pay for it. At the moment abusers – the vast majority who are male – are getting a free ride. Make them pay for the consequences of their actions, not the taxpayer, charity or victim.
Lorraine Beyer, Woodend

Overtime deserved
Hospitals are facing legal action on doctor junior pay (The Age, 16/3.) By the time the salaries and performance bonuses for all the chief executives have been allowed for, it is possible there is not enough money for anything else. Nurses have never been allowed overtime. I do wish the doctors all the best, it is likely they could face some sort of discipline for even thinking about this action.
Anne Flanagan, Box Hill North

Clocking accountability
As a 25-year hospital emergency doctor, I now work at breakneck and unsustainable pace. Staff stress and misery is widespread. The straw that could well break this camel’s back is payroll querying a hospital doctor’s clinical urgency to do overtime and a senior doctor’s claim for call-ins to resuscitate patients. It’s time to arrest the malignant growth of the non-clinical and strategy-devising executive tier, deploying the saved hundreds of millions to nurses and doctors looking after patients.

Touch screen “clock in, clock out, paid break, meal break” real-time monitoring technology is intended to better remunerate workers for time spent at work. This includes overtime that could have been overlooked or ignored by employers in the past. This technology holds potential to minimise wage theft and ensures penalties are applied for working non-social hours and weekends. Stingy bosses will now be unable to shorten submitted work hours to contain wage costs, dissuaded by an electronic audit trail of time sheets.
Joseph Ting, Carina, Qld

Split shift
It is amazing that Christian Porter is allowed to delegate key parts of his job to others to keep his cabinet position as he pursues his defamation allegations against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan (“Porter to return as defamation fight looms,” The Age, 16/3). Effectively this means that the taxpayer is helping to fund his case. Of course he is entitled to the presumption of innocence but this is while women are being permitted to tap into their own superannuation accounts up to $10,000, which will disadvantage them in the later years. Perpetuated bias against women is both overt and covert and appears multifaceted and pervasive. No wonder so many women are outraged. Jan Marshall, Brighton

Stand aside
Excising the courts from Christian Porter’s responsibilities diminishes the position of Attorney-General and makes a mockery of the title ″⁣First Law Officer of the Crown″⁣. To preserve the institution, Porter should stand aside entirely, until his conflict of interest is resolved.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

Identity guesswork
Christian Porter’s defamation proceedings against the ABC and Louise Milligan apparently claims that, while unnamed in the original report, he was identifiable with accuracy by any reasonable person. I report here on an actual test of this claim. I had contacted a few friends to see who they thought was this man of mystery. All of us are avid followers of news, and made guesses as to the identity of the unnamed figure. My guesses were based on membership of cabinet, a birthdate based on the date of the allegations, and the location. This gave me a shortlist of two, neither being Porter. Another friend suggested a third and different candidate, also not Porter. So, based on this actual attempt, I would say that identification of Porter solely from the ABC report has about the accuracy of sticking a pin in a list of all 16 male cabinet ministers.
Don Newgreen, Brunswick West

Political nerds
Like Michael Douglas (“Tricky issues in Porter defamation suit”, Opinion, 16/3), my partner and I would probably qualify as political nerds. We had an ongoing debate over the breakfast table about the identity of the minister accused of rape, which was only settled when Christian Porter fronted his press conference. If it had been possible to identify him from the February 26 story, I think we would have done so.
Caroline Williamson, Brunswick

Not a denial
When confronted in Parliament with the allegation that his media unit had “undermined and discredited” the loved ones of Brittany Higgins, Scott Morrison said he had “no knowledge of that and would never instruct that”. But he didn’t deny it had happened. So, PM, who in your media unit authorised and conducted the undermining? Have you asked?
Stephen Williams, Wandin North

Leadership mirage
Michael O’Brien joins the long list of opposition leaders elected by their party just after an embarrassing election loss only to find that it was all a ruse. The role was really only to be the political “night-watchman”, destined to be the fall guy.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South

Billion-dollar reminder
Michael O’Brien has claimed that as a former state treasurer he would make the most suitable candidate for state LNP leader, as he would understand the intricacies of state financial recoveries. This is the same bloke who deliberately left Victorians with a $1 billion debt after he did a watertight deal with the east/west tunnel developers.
John Cain, McCrae

Clear the roads
Melbourne traffic is making movement increasingly frustrating for many people. Solutions seem to always require massive infrastructure or costs. Maybe it would be better to make better use of what we already have. Why not open up the road space by making all 60 km/h roads within 20 kilometres of the CBD clearways all day. Most of these roads are major transit arteries and half closed by parked cars. We could double the available space for movement with the stroke of a pen. I can hear the small shop owners squealing already but why does the taxpayer have to provide business with free car parking.

Another possible measure would be to restrict right hand turns on these roads. It is a Melbourne culture that does not exist in other states that drivers expect to turn right at any time no matter what the effect on traffic. It is time for this practice to be restricted to turn right lanes only.
Philip Crowley, Canterbury

Discount wasted
I have discovered by chance I was not getting the 30 per cent off-peak discount granted on tram journeys until April 30. That was because – after being conditioned not to – we must touch off on trams to get the discount. I am not the only who has been missing out. On my tram this morning no one was touching off. Yarra Trams need to make on board announcements advising passengers how to get the reduced fare.
Jan Lacey, North Melbourne

Pokie hours
Regarding Anna Bardsley’s experience (“Pokies seemed like a good idea at the time,” Opinion, 16/3), 30 years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that the pokies would cause me any problems but in 2016, aged 64, I was sentenced to 18 months in prison and had lost more than $400,000 over seven years to the pokies. I got the help I needed through a Gamblers Help Counsellor in prison to understand the addictive nature of these horrible machines. I met many women in prison whose families had disowned them because of their gambling. I agree with Anna that nothing good happens in a pokies venue at 3am and shorter hours, reduced bet value, slower spinning and the addictive nature of the machines removed would have helped me and will help many others.
Carolyn Crawford, Frankston

Church out of touch
Once again the Pope and the Catholic Church ties itself in knots over accepting the possibility of homosexuality as a legitimate attribute acceptable to God. Similar archaic attitudes to premarital sex and contraception are driving young people away from the church in droves. If the church is to have ongoing relevance in a rapidly evolving world, it will need to accept that sexual pleasure, alone or with others of whatever sex, married or unmarried, is a fundamental human right. There is much to admire in Christian teaching: love, forgiveness, generosity and selflessness. That is where the emphasis should lie.
Peter Barry, Marysville

Wright stuff
How good a writer is Tony Wright? One only has to read two of his recent epistles, about the loneliness of long-distance seafarers (The Age, 6/3) and the entertainment provided by the British royal family (“A royal spectacle, just not the usual kind,” 13/3) to arrive at the obvious answer. Absolutely brilliant.
Richard Davies, Hawthorn East

AND ANOTHER THING…

Politics
Josh Frydenberg sees light at the end of the tunnel (“‘Light at end of tunnel’ as Treasurer eyes budget fix,” The Age, 16/3.) He is looking the wrong way: with so few achievements he must be looking at where he started.
Ralph Tabor, Pakenham

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

Thank you Prime Minister. It’s a great comfort to know that we won’t be machine-gunned if we march in peaceful protest in the streets of our cities and towns.
John Mosig, Kew

I suppose Scott Morrison is also grateful that he hasn’t been carted off to a secret location by the military. Happens in countries not far from here.
Jane Lovibond, Margate

How good is not getting shot!
Graham Spooner, East Melbourne

When Morrison speaks he is not addressing The Age/ABC crowd. His messaging is for a different crowd, and they love it.
Graham Fetherstonhaugh, Carlton North

Victoria
It appears Brad Battin’s average of nine is not enough to become team captain.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Will James Merlino be borrowing Daniel Andrews’ North Face jacket for his press conferences? Seems it’s hard to run this state without it.
Kevin Chambers, Greensborough

To correct your correspondent, (Letters, 15/3), Premier Daniel Andrews did not “go public” – he first went to Peninsula Private Hospital (not Frankston Public Hospital, which was just as close) before moving to the trauma unit of the Alfred Hospital.
Lindsay Cooper, Brighton East

Furthermore
The pandemic must be over: petrol is at pre-COVID prices.
Vincent O’Donnell, Ascot Vale

The recent statements of Mathias Cormann indicate that he has a core belief to match every situation.
Alan West, Research

Michael Gudinski, now Doug Parkinson. Maybe God is planning to tour?
Gerry Lonergan, Reservoir

Note from the Editor

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