Our nation’s unheralded influence on the world

Credit:Illustration: Badiucao

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Nick Bryant’s masterful analysis (“A nation oblivious to its influence”, The Age, 25/2) needs to include one or two additional endearing qualities about us Aussies.

We are instantly suspicious of those who blow their own trumpet (like the American namesake) and dismiss those who do the dirty on their mates in whatever context. We prefer authenticity, humility and loyalty above all else.
Nick Toovey, Alice Springs

Time to get over ‘happy detachment’
A thoughtful article by Nick Bryant comments on Australia’s influence on and legacy to world politics. As he comments, parliamentarians in other countries are apparently invoking our actions to validate their own preferences.

Our focus should be on what is valuable and useful for our own country. As Bryant remarks, we are in a very different phase of world politics just now, when the locus of interest has shifted to the Indo-Pacific and in particular to Asia and more specifically China. It would be folly to court the world’s attention for its own sake and fortunately Anthony Albanese is entirely focused on our national interests.

We as citizens need to get over our “happy detachment”. Progress on climate change action is still slow and the emissions “Safeguard Mechanism” proposal seems insufficient. We could do better.
Another example where Australia can lead with “best policy” would be with the passing of the referendum to enshrine the Voice in the Constitution to ensure some equality for First Nations people to ensure past wrongs are ameliorated.

If this is successful it will be wonderful for Australia and if it impresses any country overseas, that will be of secondary importance.
Jan Marshall, Brighton

Leaders learn not to poke their necks out
Nick Bryant overplays his hand in suggesting that progressive New Zealanders, by implication in contrast with self-effacing Australians, coped with a prime minister of Jacinda Ardern’s “global star power”.

The recent political demise of Ardern suggests that we Aussies are, for better or worse, still like our Anzac cousins. Ardern’s fall from grace came quickly as, notwithstanding her empathetic values, it was her superficial media exploits and mundane policy failures, such as a shortfall in public housing, that brought her down.

Surprise, surprise. Kiwis were not, after all, internationalist in their thinking. Like Australians, they, too, seek out “tall poppies” and bring them down. Mediocrity rules, OK!
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Voting not entirely compulsory
In his The Nation article, Nick Bryant states that “More recently, it is Australian compulsory voting that has caught the American eye”. It is compulsory to register to vote, but you do not have to vote.
It is worth noting that a citizen can choose to not attend to cast a ballot (at the risk of a fine), or to simply attend and place the ballot paper, unmarked, into the ballot box.
George Djoneff, Mitcham

Authority could bring genuine integrity to voting
Before the US adopts Australia’s principal of compulsory voting it needs to set up and maintain an organisation with the powers, integrity and respect of the Australian Electoral Commission. Too many US politicians work hard to stop people registering and voting. And gerrymandering was invented there.

An authority like the AEC may help to reverse that trend, if the politicians can be kept out of the way.
Adrian Tabor, Point Lonsdale


Range of options
Thank you Ross Gittins (“Why not share the economic pain around a lot more fairly?”, 25/2) for your clear explanation of the alternative to monetary policy. Governments have the responsibility to use fiscal policy that includes taxation, budget initiatives and spending alongside rising interest rates.

The stage 3 tax cuts on the highest income levels from July 1 can only mean less spending on health, education, housing and other essential services for our communities in the long term as well as more mortgage and rent stress. Why can we not see the outcomes? Is it because we simply respond to the loudest voices?
Ray Cleary, Camberwell

Dream fading
Resolve Strategic polling showing that three-quarters of young Australians believe they will never be able to buy a house is a damning indictment of government policies (“Young buyers fear being locked out of house market”, 26/2). Unsustainable population growth, tax policies favouring investors and a lack of investment in social and low-cost housing have made some very wealthy but caused misery for others.

This is not the Australia that I came to in 1980 where everyone had a fair go.
Barry Lizmore, Ocean Grove

Bearing the brunt
I’m not sure if Anthony Albanese has the bottle to implement changes to taxation, superannuation and negative gearing but unless something is done soon the rich will just get richer and the rest of us, including our grandchildren, will struggle as we bear the brunt of inflation and interest increases for years to come.
Paul Chivers, Box Hill North

Free of a mortgage
It is time to rethink the premise that you need to own your own home so you don’t live in poverty when you are old (“Bold policy vital to lift home ownership”, Editorial, 26/2).

The years before old age give so much opportunity to achieve, contribute, discover and enjoy. Their energy, inspiration and huge variety of choice should not be hijacked by the perceived need to earn the number of dollars necessary to pay off a high mortgage. Their potential should not be diminished by the time-consuming, energy-sapping process of doing so.
Ruth Farr, Blackburn South

Word a bond
I beg to differ with the idea that “Good leaders will break their promises” (Letters, 24/2). Opportunistic, self-serving, ones will. The public is on a slippery slope if it elects a political leader whose promises and policies are not worth the paper they are written on. It is a precursor to authoritarianism. The democratic process is based on transparency and accountability.
Michael Gamble, Belmont

True to their values
Parnell Palme McGuinness seems to suggest that the Albanese government continue the non-government approach of the previous Coalition administration (“The three mistakes Albanese’s government continues to make”, 26/2). With regard to superannuation, the LNP has a history of attempting to undermine it.

Labor is seeking to preserve it as a future retirement stream, and not allow it to be turned into a piggy bank for short-term need. Certainly superannuation was never intended to be a tax dodge for the super wealthy, and shutting that loophole hurts no one in any substantive way.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha

Restore super system
Our dysfunctional super regime can be attributed to John Howard’s meddling, which turned a basic compulsory retirement system, centred on salary-based contributions and a Reasonable Benefits Limit (about $2.5 million in today’s money) into a tax and estate planning behemoth for the benefit of his “middle class base”. Ideology driven, but enabled by his delusion that we were in a “60-year super cycle” mining boom.

Alas, not to be. The good times have been over for quite a while. It’s time to respond accordingly; just as we did by ending free tertiary education. The absurd tax concessions must be removed, as they are inequitable and unsustainable given expenditure needed for aged care, etc.

Other Howard era relics such as franking “cash-backs” and generous capital gains tax discounts also need to be discarded.
Carlo Ursida, Kensington

Alienating allies
Lidia Thorpe seems intent on offending and distancing any on the progressive side who might have supported her Blak Sovereignty crusade. She was on the warpath against bleeding-heart-on-sleeve, “white progressives” in her ABC National Breakfast interview with Patricia Karvelas on Thursday, potentially alienating a good part of the audience. Now she has disrupted the Pride Mardi Gras parade with a lie-down stunt in front of a float, which earned her boos and catcalls of protest (“Senator Lidia Thorpe ‘moved on’ from Mardi Gras march by police”, 26/2).

Thorpe has passion aplenty, but a severe Achilles heel in the judgment department.
Susan Caughey, Glen Iris

Great expectations
Your correspondent asks why our young sportsmen are faced with “ludicrous and hypocritical” expectations regarding drug taking, and also why they should be paragons apart from their sporting prowess (Letters, 25/2). I will tell you why. My young grandson idolises Jack Ginnivan just as and I am sure many young boys look up to their football heroes. These young sportsmen are role models for their young fans and their behaviour is observed both on and off field.
Julie Ottobre, Sorrento

Selective attention
Your article (“Hunting season shortened”, 25/2) states that 260,000 wild ducks are shot during the season in Victoria. Meanwhile, more than 600 million chickens are raised and slaughtered in Australia every year and countless male chicks are “euthanised”. Over 8 million domestic ducks are also slaughtered each year after being deprived of water in which to wash and swim.

Where is the outrage? Who is distressed by this massacre of birds unable to fly, or even run, from their killers. What about sheep and cattle? People shoot wild ducks because they provide a natural and sustainable food source for a limited period each year. They are difficult to shoot!

A wild duck has an average lifespan of two years after surviving birds of prey, foxes, feral cats, phone lines, toxic chemicals, sickness and starvation, etc. Duck hunting pumps revenue into rural areas and gives landowners a reason to preserve wetlands rather than drain them for pasture. If people would concentrate on the destruction of feral cats rather than a few licensed hunters we and the ducks would be much happier.
RN English, Doncaster

Lack of sense
The duck shooting debate: money versus compassion and good sense. If hunters were merely concerned to put food upon the table for their families; if they were scrupulous about identifying and protecting rare species; if they could be relied upon to make a clean kill so that wounded birds were not left to die slow and agonising deaths; if lead pollution of the lakes were not an issue – then perhaps there might be a case for continuing this so-called sport. Why has the government been so reluctant to veto it?
Vivienne Player, Beaumaris

Traumatic task
I will join the brave rescuers at the opening of the duck shooting season this year. What makes them brave? It’s not being within range of shooters who yell filthy abuse for rescuing injured birds deliberately left in the water to avoid bag limits.

The greatest challenge is the emotional suffering for rescuers. The greatest trauma I witnessed was during shooting after sunset. This is no hunt. About 10 shooters lined up around the shoreline and shot heavily as the birds came in to roost for the night. In the twilight it was impossible to tell how many were injured and not retrieved. Despite this, and nil government support, the volunteers will return.
Helen Breier, Brunswick

The cost of roads
Governments have known for nearly 30 years about the deadly health impacts of vehicle emissions (“The other road toll”, 24/2). In 1995 the Koonung Mullum Forestway Association, the peak body campaigning against the Eastern Freeway extension, sent a report to the Kennett government covering a major study prepared by Dockery and Pope from the Harvard Medical school. It gave precise figures for the increase in deaths for each quantum rise in fine particle concentrations.

Governments, corporations, and individuals find it difficult to respond appropriately to information that is going to challenge their power, profits or lifestyle – as long as the threats don’t impact on them directly.
Howard Tankey, Box Hill North

Marine protection
It is wonderful news that the Australian government says it will triple the marine park around the World Heritage-listed Macquarie Island.

Macquarie Island, 1500 kilometres south-east of Tasmania, and the Southern Ocean are havens for an array of Antarctic wildlife that have struggled to cope with the pressures of industrial fishing, pollution and human-induced climate change. The expanded park will provide extensive and much-needed protection.
Brian Measday, Myrtle Bank, SA

Your correspondent (Letters, 25/2) asks how “…the revisionists plan to deal with Shakespeare?” One has already made such an attempt. In 1818 Thomas Bowdler published a sanitised Family Shakespeare. Given that bowdlerised editions of Shakespeare are rare as hens’ teeth, the exercise does not seem to have been a success.
Arthur Roberts, Elwood

And another thing

An architectural feature of the double-storey unit next to our back fence, is the constant view of a toothbrush, gazing down through a frosted glass window.
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood

Re: “Home dream out of reach” (26/2) many when we were young (in the ’70s) started with units and later progressed to homes. Why can’t today’s younger generation start with a unit?
Lou Ferrari, Richmond

When someone can afford $391,000 for a place to park their cars while others are becoming homeless because of rental increases, it shows how unequal and unfair our country has become.
Barry Lizmore, Ocean Grove

Federal politics
Andrew Laming, female voters are not Australia’s “largest and most influential minority”. According to the 2021 census, nearly 50.7 per cent of the population identifies as female. We are the majority.
Elizabeth Long, Collingwood

Am I just naive, or is it reasonable to expect a government that came to power on an “integrity” platform to keep its election promises?
David Cowie, Middle Park

It was great to see Anthony Albanese supporting the Mardi Gras. This is a creative, colourful, fun-filled event. Of course the Opposition (to everything) Leader did not attend.
John Bye, Elwood

Senator Thorpe’s actions at the Mardi Gras parade may see her relevance being brought into question. If she has a message she wants to deliver, there are ways that don’t taint that message.
Greg Tuck, Warragul

You can’t please all of the people all of the time: Daniel Andrews should ban duck shooting, altogether.
Dawn Evans, Geelong

Where are all the rowdy advocates for freedom and human rights? I don’t and won’t, but if I want to put 10 $50 notes into a poker machine I should be free to do so.
Ian Braybrook, Castlemaine

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