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My father was born in Batavia (Jakarta) in 1922 into generations of colonialists. The Dutch assumed they could recolonise the Indonesian archipelago after WWII but this did not eventuate. I have come to understand that colonialism also brutalises the colonialist. I saw my father’s struggle.
In Australia, inured to our colonial past, we lie to ourselves and to each other and avoid seeing the inhumanity caused to, and the disadvantages endured by, original Australians, often due to flawed policies and the wasteful misdirection of resources.
The words for the referendum come from the gracious and generous content of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. It contains invitations to: a future where law and policy is guided by the knowledge and wisdom of Indigenous Australians; recognise the people who have been here for tens of thousands of years in the Constitution (1901), which once specifically excluded the ″Aboriginal race″; learn more about our nation’s history and leave behind the dehumanising systems of the past.
Three per cent of Australians are Indigenous, but the referendum will be determined by the 97 per cent who are not. To know and care about what this referendum means is the right thing to do. It is not good enough to just not know how to vote on October 14.
Louise Kyle, Elwood
If you don’t like this one, Dutton’s got another
Let me see if I’ve got this right – Peter Dutton claims while it’s ″divisive″ for the Labor Party to hold a referendum on a Voice for Indigenous Australians to be written into the Constitution, it’s OK, if he wins the next election, for the LNP to hold a referendum on constitutional recognition for Indigenous Australians.
Audrey Stewart, Geelong
Who reads the details of a candidate in an election?
The obvious answer to all the propaganda suggesting that we don’t have enough information on the Voice is: how often did you study in detail the policy documents of the last party you voted for? Most of us are just tired of the fact that the issues and current policy ideas are not working to our satisfaction, so we make a change to what we think will be better. That’s all that is being asked for with the Voice. Don’t fall for the vote No propaganda.
Vaughan Greenberg, Chewton
A way to neutralise division
I support recognition of First Nations people. However, the failure of the government in providing details of the powers that the Voice will have is like holding an election without declaring who the candidates are. No details reduce trust in the process. A better solution would have been to extend recognition to all cultural/ethnic groups as a means of neutralising what has been described as a divisive referendum.
Geoff Oliver, East Malvern
Both sides can sing this anthem
The Voice anthem will be sung equally by Yes and No voters. It is refreshing to have anthems we can all sing with equal conviction, and John Farnham’s hit is no exception. Its universal appeal will also make it a weak hijacking candidate for either side of the referendum. The lyrics of taking the opportunity and refusing to be silenced, rejecting fear and standing up and being counted will be sung with gusto by all those currently intending to vote No as well as those voting Yes. It is surprising that music that speaks across the community should suddenly be the jumbuck stuffed into the tucker bag of one side of the political billabong.
The result may be unexpectedly positive in giving an anthem to unite our intentions when so much of this referendum is dividing the ″national choir″.
Fr Peter MacLeod-Miller, rector of Albury, St Matthew’s Anglican Church
Look to Singapore
Spencer Street Station, once the proud terminal for our rural and interstate lines, is now a windy, dusty and noisy collection of platforms with country lines intermixed with suburban lines. The western bridge is a windswept thoroughfare.
I recently returned from Singapore and the contrast between Southern Cross and Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit system is stark. Southern Cross is windy, cold, dirty, with poor access to platforms, little clear information and signage.
In Singapore the platforms are enclosed, airconditioned, clean, well-manned, with excellent updated information, orderly, with superb elevators and connecting corridors, and clean and comfortable seating for passengers.
The article “Spencer St, broken and struggling for a soul” (2/9) highlights the social and economic issues at Southern Cross. Perhaps if the station had remained focused on its purpose and been designed to offer excellent service for both suburban and country-interstate trains, we would have been able to achieve a facility that fulfilled the hype that greeted the design of the new roof in 2006. It is a poor reflection on our capital city.
Shayne Boyd, Marlo
And there’s Flinders …
Those criticising Southern Cross Station as unwelcoming and drab should look at our other main station – Flinders Street.
It is a disgrace. It still has the ″facilities″ of the steam train era, with its open roof, providing no protection from the rain. The wet platforms in winter can be treacherous for anyone but the most able of foot. Then there’s the skeletal remains of the former suburban parcels delivery area at the end of platform one, surely this eyesore could at least be removed and the area cleaned up. Those using platform 13, can attest to the leaking roof in winter and the unwelcoming appearance of this bitterly cold area.
Perhaps PTV can tell us where the $100 million has been or is being spent on the revitalisation of the station. Its publicity said this was going to “improve the passenger experience”. Apart from the removal of a few vendor counters from the platforms to provide more space, little appears to have been spent on improving the facilities for those passengers using this busy station.
Some may not like the roof line of Southern Cross, or see it as dreary, but at least you can stay dry while waiting for your train.
Mike Trickett, Geelong West
Symbol of respect
Peter Hartcher (Comment, 2/9) effectively demolishes the argument that there is something unusual about an advisory body by listing the many advisory bodies covering all areas of government. Yet the question remains why is it to be enshrined in the Constitution. In practical terms it is not necessary, the Voice can be established through legislation alone. But the Voice is not just any advisory committee. The inclusion of the Voice in the Constitution is a symbol of recognition and respect. In practice, as Peter Hartcher shows, the Voice will act much like any other existing advisory body. But what is different is the rationale for its existence. It has come about because for 235 years the First Nations people have not been recognised nor had a formal right to be heard in matters of government that affect them. The Voice is a tangible and natural consequence of recognition. Including the Voice in the Constitution is a powerful and enduring symbol of that recognition. In putting the Voice forward in the way that they have the Aboriginal people have signalled that they don’t just want to be “recognised”, they want to be engaged and their views respected. We should accept their invitation.
Graeme Henchel, Yarra Glen
If Indigenous people had been consulted as to whether they wanted their children taken from them, they probably would have said No. That’s an argument for voting Yes.
Claude Miller, Castlemaine
Not an election
I just don’t understand why Peter Dutton has made this a political football. It’s a referendum for all Australians to make their own decision. Simply cast your vote like the rest of us. Remember, this is not an election campaign.
Ross Barker, Lakes Entrance
Unlike your correspondent, I hear ″try and understand it″ (Letters 4/9) as a gentle request from the 3per cent of our most marginalised and disadvantaged people to the 97 per cent of people who are non-Indigenous to try to understand that they need a voice. It’s not hard to do.
Belinda Burke, Hawthorn
Until now, the proponents of the Yes and No campaign have been preaching to the converted. I don’t think this is helpful in informing everyday Australians about the Voice and how it will operate to help close the gap for Indigenous people who are clearly very disadvantaged. I think it’s time for the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, and the opposition spokesperson, Jacinta Price, to engage in a respectful debate to help voters understand the essential issues requiring decision when they cast their vote on October 14.
I hope both these highly respected and intelligent women will agree to such a debate and that a media organisation will arrange for this to occur in the near future. Adrian Hassett, Vermont
If you don’t know, vote No is the catchcry of the No campaign. After ploughing through the case for voting No in the referendum booklet, I was left nonplussed.
In Australia, education is valued and seen as the way to better lives and to encourage active participation in civic processes.
The majority of our young complete 13 years of education during which they are encouraged and supported in learning many skills which will stand them in good stead as they confront their futures.
These skills include how to research, to gather valid evidence, to find answers to questions, to make discoveries, to weigh up claims and counter claims and to articulate the reasons for opinions.
In view of this, why does the No campaign, spearheaded by Peter Dutton, champion such blatant acceptance of ignorance in its catchcry, ″If you don’t know, vote No″.
Concern not shared
I don’t share Kate Halfpenny’s apparent concern for the welfare of Harry and Meghan’s two children (Comment, 2/9) and their deprivation in not being surrounded by their extended family in England.
I would have thought there was a whole world of other deprived children she might have written about, in single-parent families or living in poverty. It seems a bit much to be so absorbed in the lives of these immensely privileged children living in the US.
David Fry, Moonee Ponds
Yes, we all make mistakes. However, selling tickets for flights that have been cancelled, grounding planes during COVID and so stranding Australians abroad, having flights take off without passengers’ luggage, tardiness in refunding flight credits, piles of lost luggage, sacking workers and attributing long queues at airports to passengers not being “match fit” is hardly synonymous with “unfortunate instances that are causing passengers understandable angst” as asserted by your correspondent (4/9).
Mangrove Mountain, NSW
Revelations the state government called upon the caravan industry to produce 10,000 vans to house Commonwealth Games workers, but with no means to actually pay for them, is emblematic of larger problems. Indeed, the whole Games debacle speaks of a government for whom management of major events, let alone a state, is something for which it lacks the necessary skills. It would be so easy to say turf them out at the next election, but what to do when the alternative seems worse? Matt Dunn, Leongatha
Subtract the multiples
Yes, it’s time to reduce the many “multiples” (Letters, 4/9). It creates a false impression, when what is meant is a non-specific term like “many” or “several”, whereas “multiple” implies a precise function of a known quantity. Perhaps this is a multiple complaint.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale
Words on paper
Like your correspondent (Letters, 4/9), I, too, hope Paul Graham and the Albanese government do not give up on snail mail. For me, even though I am a Millennial, letters are the only way I can keep in touch with my friends, whether in Australia or abroad. Nothing is as heartfelt or as meaningful as words put on to paper. Yet for all the cold business decisions that look good on paper, sometimes I wish CEOs and analysts could see how these affect real people, such as your correspondent and me, and the countless others who delight in written correspondence.
Anders Ross, Heidelberg
AUKUS? Nuclear-powered submarines? New coal mines? Stage 3 tax cuts? Qantas? Labor, you’ve lost me.
Fay Maglen, Abbotsford
Just not right
The gift of $10 million in shares to the departing CEO of Qantas is gobsmacking. The mere idea that in a cost-of-living crisis, coupled with the abysmal service given to Qantas customers, the CEO should be rewarded by more money than most can imagine spending in a lifetime is unacceptable.
Juliet Flesch, Kew
Not made for loving this
In relation to the grand final, to say that I’m more than a little Kissed off, would be an understatement.
Philip Wes, Jan Juc
AND ANOTHER THING
How many sides of the fence can Peter Dutton not sit on?
April Baragwanath, Geelong
Peter Dutton says defeat the referendum so we can have another referendum. You can’t make this stuff up.
Ross Hosking, Blackwood, SA
The lyric ″You’re the Voice, try and understand it″ is the perfect message for the referendum campaign. In other words: ″If you don’t know, find out.″
Sarah Russell, Mt Martha
If we had enough guts, even Sadie the Cleaning Lady would get the Yes vote over the line.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton
It will take more than John Farnham to make me vote Yes. In fact, like most Australians, I’m capable of making up my own mind.
Trish Young, Hampton
Contrary to Peter Dutton’s claim, the song lyrics are not feeling confused. Rather, they affirm that you are capable of action, you can make a difference for good.
John Boyce, Richmond
So, if the Voice referendum fails, just as Peter Dutton wants, he will have a referendum to recognise Indigenous people despite that being what the referendum wishes to achieve.
David Raymond, Doncaster East
Alan Joyce did not save Qantas from bankruptcy (Letters, 3/9). It was Australian taxpayers.
Peter Neuhold, Elsternwick
It’s interesting that we do not hear about any wage overpayment scandals.
Viviane King, Milawa
Letting down car tyres is vandalism. Doesn’t matter where or what type of vehicle, it is vandalism, pure and simple.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully
Will Saudi Arabia bid for the Boxing Day Test?
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood
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