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Fixing our federation is Australia’s main priority

Our current system has served us well
Amanda Vanstone thoughtfully touched on some of the resurrected chatter surrounding a possible Australian republic. However, I feel that this is on par with demanding that the AFL be disbanded because of a poor seasonal performance by an established team.

Our current constitutional state of affairs is a bulwark in times of both political upheaval and social precariousness. The Crown rightly keeps total power and authority from being exercised in an absolute sense by politicians. And let’s stop all this semantic nonsense about independence and an Australian head of state. We achieved independence in 1901 and today any Australian man or woman can rise to be our governor-general, our executive head of state.

Regardless of whether we find the British monarchy endearing or not, it has, by and large, brought about both a remarkable and unique form of governmental and social stability, and it does importantly keep us connected to our historic, Christian roots.

The institution will always be bigger than the individual, and so our current system of rule will ensure the people of this Great South Land can navigate their own unique cultural journey upon the faithful foundational building blocks that birthed this most enviable world destination.
Peter Waterhouse, Craigieburn

I hope Vanstone will lead the charge
Amanda Vanstone, for once, I think, is spot on. The comedy of the royals is irrelevant to the fact that Australia has every reason to ditch the monarchy and become a republic and to do it in the most straightforward way possible.

I hope she will lead the charge.
Rosemary Kiss, Rippleside

Both houses must have a say
For once I agree with Amanda Vanstone. Australia must become a republic so we can stand free as an independent nation, and we must do so with absolutely minimal changes to our current system.

The strength of our current system lies, as has been observed of Britain’s system, not in the power that the monarchy holds to exercise itself, but rather in the power that its existence denies to others.
This system seems to work far better than those systems in countries where presidents are elected and therefore the presidency is politicised. Our head of state must remain politically neutral.

The power to appoint currently resides with the prime minister, and Vanstone suggests that the PM’s awareness of his or her personal legacy would be sufficient to ensure the integrity of the appointment of an unpoliticised head of state. While this awareness may be strong for many PMs, I think that I, and many others, would feel more comfortable were the PM’s choice to be either recommended from, or reviewed by, a conscience vote from a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament.
Chris Young, Surrey Hills


GPs are ready and able
There are clarion calls for better vaccine rollout, mainly from people who know little about the subject, such as airport CEOs and licensed clubs, implying that venue limitation is a problem.

The time-honoured experts in vaccine delivery are GPs. With upwards of 43,000 GPs in Australia, and 4700 practices registered and ready, we could deliver 1.88 million vaccines weekly, at a convenient location near everyone, safely. Limitations include vaccine supply, discussed by many.

We have the trained experienced staff. We have been ready for some time now. Where do these proposed mass vaccination centres imagine that they will get their staff? McDonald’s knows all about service delivery, at a place near you, not in a central mega-centre. My practice is quietly administering 400 doses weekly, and could do more.

General practice has the experience, staff, proven ability, location and all infrastructure requirements. We could be better supported by a parsimonious government. The community certainly supports us. The discussion needs to move away from hospitals and imagined mass-vaccination centres to community delivery by people who are trusted and can actually do it.
Dr Clyde Ronan, Yarrawonga Medical Clinic, Yarrawonga

Where’s national cabinet?
Economists Steven Hamilton and Richard Holden plead with the federal and state governments to ″⁣Stop blaming each other‴⁣⁣ (Comment, The Age, 5/4) for the ″⁣unmitigated disaster″⁣ and ″⁣abject failure″⁣ of our vaccine rollout.

Their clear-sighted analysis recognises the dual problems of supply and distribution which the federal government controls. Their pragmatic approach requires the federal government to broaden its quest for high-efficacy vaccines and to authorise the states to manage the all-important distribution of them.

Where’s the national cabinet when it’s desperately needed?
Kevin Burke, Sandringham

It’s not just economics
A ″⁣Push for mass vaccination centres to lift tourism″⁣ (The Age, 5/4) somewhat misses the point. Of course we need many more of the centres, but COVID-19 vaccination isn’t about boosting particular industries. It’s about protecting health and saving lives.

That’s why government bungling and the snail’s pace of the rollout is so serious. It’s not just economics.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

Careful what you wish for
Amanda Vanstone is spot on. The popularity of the members of the royal family ought to have no bearing on whether our constitutional tie to the Windsors should be severed. Nor should it matter whether the Queen is still on the throne.

Speaking to friends from abroad, including Brits, one often encounters curiosity that a country as mature as ours should choose to have a foreigner who lives on the other side of the world as head of state. They think it can’t be good for our self-esteem, and they are right.

She is also correct in asserting a shift to a republic should entail only minimal change to our constitutional arrangements. Figuratively speaking, why not just go through the constitution, cross out ″⁣Queen″⁣ and write in ″⁣Governor-General″⁣?

Those who insist an Australian republic must have a directly elected president should be very careful what they wish for. Indeed, as much as I support, in principle, a change to a republic, I would vote against a proposal based on that model.
Sam Fisher, Ashburton

Unclear on the concept
Well said Ross Gittins (″⁣Wealth, happiness is not found in the search for meaning″⁣, Business, 5/4). Dogma should not be the order of the day.

Sadly many who claim Christianity fail to understand Jesus’ life and teaching is all about love and compassion for the other and not about self and wealth accumulation.

How can our Prime Minister and other Coalition members sprout their Christian belief and fail to understand the central tenet of faith to ″⁣love and serve the other″⁣.
Ray Cleary, Camberwell

A smart, kind proposal
Well done to Nationals MP Anne Webster. Your proposal for a pandemic amnesty for undocumented agricultural workers is both smart and kind. Under your vision, regional Victoria can be kept safe and more economically viable.

What a new look for our sometimes cruel Home Affairs Department if the Morrison government were to say yes to your conference motion. Please don’t give up.
Marie Douglas, Camberwell

I beg to differ
I take issue with two comments made by Amanda Vanstone in her article ″⁣Tread lightly on way to republic″⁣ (Comment, The Age, 5/4).

First, she claims that monarchists and ″⁣direct elect″⁣ republicans say we can’t trust politicians, which she claims is ″⁣superficial gibberish. We elect them. We can sack them″⁣.

Has she followed the case of Andrew Laming? In any other sphere of activity he would be sacked by now. If, as he claims, he will not seek re-election we have to wait until the end of the current period of Parliament to be rid of him. Everyone knows why he hasn’t been sent to the crossbench, the PM wants to retain his majority in the house. So much for the ″⁣we can sack them″⁣ philosophy.

The second point relates to Ms Vanstone’s comment ″⁣I’d leave as much as we can the same. Yes, I’d let the prime minister sack a governor-general and vice versa″⁣. Does this mean that she believes that it is acceptable for a non-elected official to sack a democratically elected member of parliament, who has been elected by his party to act in the capacity as PM? This would be one of the first things I would change in an Australian republic.
Brian Tait, Blackburn North

Lessons not learnt
I’m baffled by the recent incident at Kalkallo involving Victoria Police. Didn’t force command promise changes to prevent another Bourke Street Mall-like disaster?

Yet when armed officers, presumably also carrying capsicum spray and Tasers, ″⁣backed off″⁣ from a suspect carrying a knife, they unleashed a chain of events that resulted in still another dangerous and costly high speed chase (in a police car no less), unnecessary property damage and injuries to officers.

It reads more like a game of ″⁣rock, paper, scissors″⁣. The only good point here is that innocent bystanders were not hurt or killed this time, but that seems more like good luck than good planning on the police’s part. The lessons have been taught. Why aren’t they being learnt?
Mark Kennedy, Sebastopol

Give them some space
It is a joy to see kangaroos along the track to Bushrangers Bay (″⁣Peninsula anger over roo culls″⁣, The Age, 5/4). A sign of overpopulation is dead roos by the side of the road.

I have never seen any. I have, however, seen acres of farming land being converted into housing developments all over the Peninsula. The kangaroos have nowhere to go, because there are too many people wanting a slice of their paradise.

Leave our kangaroos some space, don’t kill them.
Jan Kendall, Mount Martha

Peril in the skies
I have a photo that fell out of my brother’s RAAF logbook of a group of trainee pilots at Point Cook in 1950.

I was told one young man in the group was killed when his Wirraway crashed into a tree shortly afterwards. Another died in Korea and two, including John, my brother, were lost in later training incidents. One man was critically injured while crop-dusting on leave, an occasional undertaking by RAAF pilots in those days.

The deadly perils of non-combat flying back then are underestimated. Thanks, Tony Wright, for another evocative article (″⁣In memory of the pilots and planes″⁣, Insight, 3/4).
Peter McCarthy, Mentone

Improve the training
Platitudes abound in aged care workforce discussions (“Call for shake-up in aged care staffing”, The Age, 5/4).
The education of personal carers needs a tectonic shift. Until the 1970s nurses learnt their vital skills under an apprenticeship model. It worked well with strong employer investment and commitment. But nurses moved on to a university education to place them on a par with their colleagues in the other health professions.

It is now time for personal carers, the dominant aged care occupation, to move on from traineeships to apprenticeships. Such a move would deliver enhanced status and rigour to this Cinderella occupation.

The development of the aged care Certificate III curriculum needs to be freed from the logjam of overloaded committees and multiple jurisdictions. The authority for course approvals should be given to a national body such as the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council. It would probably make infection control a compulsory unit.
Carol Williams, Elder Care Watch, Blackburn

Laissez-faire lunacy
It’s the job of the Commonwealth government to properly fund secular education – and that includes at the tertiary level.

Not content with trying to destroy public education, the ABC, and the rights of workers, the Morrison government is now idly watching the destruction of independent, comprehensive university education (″⁣Uni set to slash subjects and jobs″⁣, The Age, 3/4).

This is laissez-faire to the point of lunacy. I could not believe at the time that a majority of voters selected these vandals to pamper themselves while their country sank.

There’s no doubt fear and greed will still feature at the next election, but surely we won’t get fooled again?
John Laurie, Victoria

No place for politics
Reading Madeleine Boulton’s ″⁣Sobering lesson in the politics of miscarriage″⁣ (online, The Age, 5/4) made me wonder what exactly is at play controlling women’s ability to terminate a pregnancy safely.

Having to drive 160 kilometres (while juggling work and small children) to a pharmacy that is able to dispense ″⁣that kind of medication″⁣ is unfathomable. Why could she not access it locally? Why are these particular chemists not registered to dispense it?

Politics should have no place where it should be a matter of reasonable and safe healthcare for all women, no matter where they live.
Jessica Hill, Burwood


Empathy training
I couldn’t give a fig about Andrew Laming’s demise. Do I need empathy training?
Jon O’Neill, Waurn Ponds


Empathy training? Simple. Have the assessment boxes ticked. Done. You’re now empathetic.
Bruce Watson, Clifton Springs

Higher education
What’s the point of encouraging high school students to select STEM subjects when universities can’t afford to teach them at tertiary level? Will we have to import our next generation of scientists like we do our cars?
Margaret Ludowyk, Brunswick

The republic debate
Amazing. I never thought that I would ever agree with Amanda Vanstone (“Tread lightly on way to republic”, Comment, 5/4)
Ray Jones, Box Hill North

Australia needs to become a republic, but we don’t need to elect or appoint a president.
Peter Hendrickson, East Melbourne

Donald Trump
For letter writers Donald Trump was the gift that never stopped giving. For some of his supporters his was the team that never stopped taking.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill

Just how bad would the federal Coalition be if the Liberal Party didn’t select its politicians based on merit?
Phil Alexander, Eltham

DA’s “Quick” crossword is getting dangerously close to cryptic. Number 1042 had me reaching for the dictionary more often than I prefer. My initial reaction was to throw the bloody thing out but I refuse to let him beat me completely.
Maureen Goldie, Blackwood, SA

As a pensioner, I can’t wait for our missile defence system to be up and running.
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill

JabSeeker …
Garry Adams, Corio

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