Need for independent integrity bodies clear

Need for independent integrity bodies clear

Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:

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POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY

Need for independent integrity bodies clear

The revelation (“Federal integrity body must be fit for purpose”, The Age, 9/11) that the government-controlled Finance Department outsourced its investigation into federal Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar to a law firm where Mr Sukkar had previously been a senior associate should demonstrate clearly to all the need for an oversight body to properly investigate alleged misconduct.

There can be no argument that the setting up of an effective federal ICAC in line with that of NSW, at the very least, is warranted, vital and urgent.

Should the Morrison government not do so, submitting a revised bill that still falls short of granting effective and transparent investigative powers, then members of the Australian public can justifiably say that this government has abandoned any concept of real accountability and has foregone acceptable levels of credibility to the extent that renders it unfit to continue leading our nation.
Edward Combes, Wheelers Hill

Victoria’s watchdog needs an upgrade
Without a powerful watchdog, corruption and improper conduct can run rife. That does not just apply at the federal level. Look at Victoria, where Labor has effectively thumbed its nose at IBAC over the red shirts scandal. More worryingly, as Adem Somyurek spills his guts over the rot in Victoria, Andrews again says people should co-operate with IBAC. That line is word for word what he said previously when Victorian Labor refused to co-operate. It is not just the federal level that needs an effective investigative body. Victoria’s watchdog should be upgraded to a white pointer, as should every state. Until then, Andrews will just mouth his empty words without fear or proper accountability.
Douglas Potter, Surrey Hills

Anti-democratic activities should be illegal
How is it that a minister who was the subject of a formal investigation into possible misuse of taxpayer funds, despite no adverse finding, can influence withholding publishing of the report?

The notion that investigation into political misbehaviour, actual or perceived, is “on balance, not in the public interest” is absurd. The suggestion of “balance” is farcical when politicians can effectively put their thumbs on the scales behind the scenes.

This is why, on balance, it is very much in the public interest that anti-democratic activities such as branch stacking, pork barrelling and diverting taxpayer funds for any other reasons than their intended purpose should be illegal and any IBAC/ICAC should be empowered to investigate such activities vigorously in the public arena, not behind closed doors.
Stephen Farrelly, Donvale

Resistance to commission no surprise
Allegations of improper behaviour were made against Liberal MP Michael Sukkar last year but went nowhere. Now further evidence has been published by The Age, which will also, most likely, go nowhere. Until we have a well-funded federal Independent Commission Against Corruption with big teeth, federal politicians will continue to engage in pork barrelling, misuse of taxpayer funds and other dodgy behaviour, knowing there are no consequences. Little surprise that the Morrison government refuses to establish one.
Grant Nichol, North Ringwood

Independent commission is just the starting point
It’s great to see The Age editorial has come out of the blocks in saying the federal anti-corruption model is not fit for purpose. Moreover, that the Morrison government has been led “kicking and screaming” to the table and is continuing to show no inclination to change.

However, in the context of revelations against federal Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar (“Sukkar knew of scheme that misused public funds”, The Age, 8/11), it is clear that the same rule of public accountability and transparency must apply to the federal government as it does to state governments. A federal anti-corruption body completely independent of the government of the day is the correct starting point.
John Fitzsimmons, Mornington

THE FORUM

White elephant policy
As the owner of an electric vehicle who lives almost 300 kilometres from the CBD I am underwhelmed by the government’s plan to install 50,000 chargers into private homes. This is a targeted policy toward a select few of the relatively well off. But more than this is the fact that such high speed chargers in the home are unnecessary white elephants. We installed one and even though we have driven more than 18,000 kilometres we have only used it once and that was to see if it worked. We prefer to plug our car into the existing 15 amp power point in the garage.

We’d like to be able to drive to Canberra (nearest high speed charger, Cooma) but I doubt we’d make it. There is no public quick charging point on the Princes and Cann Valley highways between Sale and Cooma. Any publicly funded chargers should be accessible to all. The policy does nothing to encourage the take up of electric vehicles, such as reducing taxes. Just another photo opportunity for the man in the high vis vest with a flash promise which few will take up.
Dick Noble, Lucknow

We’ve a long way to go
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s long awaited electric vehicle strategy strikes me as lacking enterprise and efficiency. In Scotland, ScotRail, the national network is an all electric rail network powered by overhead high voltage cables that in turn are powered from renewables. In the city of Glasgow there are 125 electric buses, an electric underground network and an electric low level rail local network akin to Melbourne’s City Loop. Using existing infrastructure the council installed electric charge points for vehicles at every city parking meter, outside the courts, libraries and all council-owned municipal buildings. Nothing to do with the private sector, local governments with diverse politics working together with a national government to achieve a common good. We’ve a long way to go.
Simon Clegg, Donvale

Feeble EV support
Before the last election Scott Morrison claimed the electric vehicle would wreck the weekend. He clearly has not changed his views. While the rest of the world is moving on with their weekends in their EVs we in Australia will become the dumping ground for the most inefficient fossil fuel vehicles and the market of last resort for EV manufacturers. Morrison’s feeble EV support policy delivers little incentive to support EV take up, just more Morrison spin (“Grid upgrades on horizon to handle rise in electric cars”, The Age, 9/11). Morrison says “We will not be forcing Australians out of the car they want to drive”. These are hardly statements designed to encourage EV take up, showing Morrison is still wedded to the fossil fuel industry and simply trying to spin the line that he now supports EV.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha

Pull the plug
For the second time in just a few months, our electricity supply failed in a storm, not just for a few hours, but for days. When I phoned our supplier, Ausnet, their recorded message informed me that the expected time of resumption of supply was “unknown”. I was not even able to speak to anyone to ensure they even knew there was a supply problem in our area. It didn’t happen in the days the SEC was responsible for supply. It’s time the state intervened to penalise providers who take such a cavalier attitude to their responsibilities.
Ken Sussex, Lilydale

Flagging success
Wonderful achievement by Madison de Rozario to become the first Australian woman to win the New York City Marathon wheelchair event. And there she was on page 35 of today’s Age wrapped in the Union Jack. Will we ever grow up?
Geoff Wasley, Berwick

Updating history
My 1960s primary school history lessons said this happened. At secondary school it was these things happened, but by then it was obvious there was more to it. At university I was introduced not only to more comprehensive and conflicting ranges of views, but expected to reflect that in my written work. Pre-tertiary students should also be taught that history almost always has conflicting interpretations. Children are aware by degrees that their everyday world is like this, so it’s best to give them a more honest take on history from the start.
Mark Freeman, Macleod

Small steps
How do we reclaim our democracy? A good question by Phil Bodel (Letters, 9/11), and one response is: look at the ABC documentary Big Deal. It confirms our democracy is in trouble, and suggests that grass-roots action by citizens can be effective, as illustrated in Indi and Warringah – and elsewhere. The “voices” campaign is now widespread, and is a more constructive alternative than shrugging shoulders.
Peter Greig, Colac

Country music fan
Congratulations to the ABC for Going Country. As a country music fan for more than 60 years and one of the 40,000 fans that gather at Tamworth each year I can say the program did country music justice. Most people do not know of the rich history that traces the early history of this nation. Australia has produced some of the best country music artists of world standard. I look forward to when we are allowed to travel again and my next trip to Tamworth.
Cecily Falkingham, Donvale

Inspiring cricketers
How inspiring for Indigenous Australian cricketers and all their fellow custodians of the land that the WBBL and BBL will hold the first-league wide First Nations Round this season from November 19-21, and that each participating club will wear uniforms designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

The WBBL’s five indigenous players – Ashleigh Gardner, Hannah Darlington, Mikayla Hinkley, Anika Learoyd and Ella Hayward – are thus far proving to be exceptional role models for any aspirational First Nations cricketers yearning to play in all three cricket formats.
Eric Palm, Gympie, Qld

Motor sport conundrum
Will someone please explain to me why, when we are supposedly trying to cut down on carbon emissions, motor racing is still allowed, even encouraged. That includes not just cars but motor cycles, speedboats and aeroplanes. Running petrol engines at maximum capacity generates huge quantities of CO2. Surely it’s time to stop and think.
John Pannell, Falcon, WA

Call for rapid testing
It is time the Andrews government began to roll out Rapid-Antigen tests at secondary schools for close contacts who are fully vaccinated. I am a year 10 student and was identified as a close contact on Monday after a case attended my school. Despite being fully vaccinated and receiving a negative in the PCR test – three days after being exposed – I am still condemned to seven days isolation.

Surely, after spending the most time in remote learning out of any Australian jurisdiction, you’d think the government would move to keep student disruption to a minimum. The utilisation of Rapid-Antigen testing for close contacts a day after they receive a negative from the PCR test would be the most feasible approach. If the student tests negative then they can return to school; however, if they test positive they must take another PCR test. If this methodology was in place, my time lost from school would be one day rather than five.
Thom Kruspe, Parkville

Tell the whole story
Undoubtedly Western civilisation has its crowning glories, parliamentary democracy, the separation of church and state and social welfare prominent among them. But no history curriculum is complete that ignores the cruelty inflicted on indigenous people during the imperial colonial era by Britain and European powers; together with economic exploitation, environmental destruction, slavery, clumsy and often harmful missionary work, the effects of which are redounding on us to this day.

By all means celebrate what we in Australia have to be proud of, but let us tell the whole story and not some empty “she’ll be right mate/the Australian way” myth. We might in the process discover some new things to celebrate.
Michael Read, Carnegie

Hip pocket voters
With the federal election looming, the race is on to see who can promise the most tax cuts (“Stage set for battle over tax cuts at poll”, The Age, 9/11). If we go by the last election, the Coalition had little to offer in policies, ideas and vision, compared with Labor, yet they won the election. Tax cuts were what gave them the upper hand.

We may well see a repeat of the last election where reduced taxes were the deciding issue for Australians. Maybe that is why Morrison is not too concerned about climate change, social justice, education or health. These issues are all irrelevant to his party getting re-elected if all that really matters to voters is their hip pocket.
Leigh Ackland, Deepdene

Law needs clarifying
Jane Morris (Letters, 9/11) correctly says that federal legislation prevents doctors from using telehealth to discuss voluntary assisted dying (VAD). Federal legislation forbids inciting suicide or discussing details of how to suicide on carriage services such as telehealth. However, doctors assessing eligibility for VAD under Victorian law do not incite suicide, the decision to die being totally made by the patient. Doctors, by law, must not suggest VAD as an option for a dying patient. Instructions on the use of the medication for VAD are always given face-to-face and never by telehealth.

Nevertheless, many doctors are hesitant to use telehealth for VAD eligibility assessment which means dying patients face the cruel difficulty of having to attend face-to-face. It’s time the federal law was clarified.
Harley Powell, Convener, Doctors for Assisted Dying Choice

AND ANOTHER THING …

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Politics
Surely any politician or staffer using taxpayer funds to further their party purposes is participating in theft? Why can’t the police be called in? Seems simple to me …
Mick Webster, Chiltern

Can we be rid of ScoMo at the end of Movember when nearly every other mo will be gone?
Kester Baines, Belmont

The government’s future fuels and vehicles strategy is true to form. No vision, ham-fisted – and aimed at shovelling money to its mates.
Colin Mockett, Geelong

Please, not another career politician for Kew. How about someone with a passion for community concerns rather than the next step in “my career”.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn

While I would always have agreed with Alexander Downer’s view on former leaders holding their tongue, the ineptitude of our PM must be driving them to despair. I feel the same way.
Uschi Felix, South Melbourne

Bipartisanship is on hand when it comes to establishing a federal anti-corruption commission.
Gary Bryfman, Brighton

Could there be a causal link between political party factional work and memory loss?
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick

Kevin Andrews
Kevin Andrews: yesterday’s man, hopefully not tomorrow’s Speaker.
Paul Custance, Highett

If Kevin Andrews is elevated to Speaker, with a salary boost of $75,000, does that also mean he goes out with an even larger superannuation paid for by the public purse?
Lou Ferrari, Richmond

Furthermore
So Fox News has accused the ABC of prejudice. Pot – kettle. Hilarious. Rightly deserving of contempt.
Jan Dwyer, Rosebud

Finally
I think we’ve had enough of Jeremy Zits. Surely he’s grown up by now.
Anne Lacey, Tecoma


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