The broader issue of the power imbalance
12th November 2020

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Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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MINISTERIAL STANDARDS

The broader issue of the power imbalance

This issue is not about a whether a person’s private life is of public interest. It is about a person with considerable power engaging in a relationship in the workplace with their subordinate. Alan Tudge’s former adviser alleged bullying and intimidation in a system that failed to support her and other staff (The Age, 11/11).

People – mostly men – need to listen to what women are saying, not just in this instance but in many others. Everyone should be able to go to work without fearing for their well-being. Over recent years, there have been numerous situations of women coming out about harassment that they have been subject to by men who were their bosses and who had the power to fire them. Parliament and parliamentarians are not exempt from these rules and laws.
Amanda Bresnan, Ripponlea

Stupidity, hypocrisy and a sense of entitlement

Well, who would have thought it: senior government ministers espousing traditional family values are having sex with their younger staffers. This indicates their hypocrisy and an astonishing sense of entitlement. It points to a lack of ministerial probity.

But there are other, arguably more, important points in terms of their ability to exercise judgment. What was displayed was stupidity, over-confidence, immaturity and risk-taking due to a failure to grasp the obvious – the media landscape in which they move. We also saw a lack of personal insight in the parties involved, all of whom were adults. Such deficits of judgment are not desirable qualities for ministers who wield real power. No doubt the first thought in government circles will be a retaliatory strike against the ABC.
Donald Newgreen, Brunswick West

So, do only Coalition MPs have affairs with staffers?

Are we to believe the Four Corners’ program is an example of unbiased journalism? Investigate the personal, inter-office relationships of only Coalition MPs. Discover a couple of examples of extramarital affairs to demonstrate a ‘‘toxic’’ culture. Invite commentary from ministerial offices and when a number of those responses question whether the content passes the public interest test, you get to shout gross government interference. Gotcha.
Libby Wray, Hawthorn

No surprise in the Prime Minister’s attitude

Please, Scott Morrison, do not patronise us. Australians understand ‘‘human frailty’’. What they dislike is your hypocrisy. If the two ministers in question were from any other political party, you and your preferred media outlets would have been all over them quicker than a rash after falling face first into a mass of stinging nettles.
Daniela Goldie, Camperdown

The double standards of many in our society

It is curious to witness the public anger at the sexual misadventures and youthful tomfoolery of Alan Tudge and Christian Porter. Sure, we have got a long way to go to challenge cultures of sexism, but how can we possibly lecture our leaders when our culture is fine with promiscuity and drunken shenanigans?
Kirk Weeden, Frankston

Morrison must ask the Attorney-General to resign

In a time when truth, honesty and decency are so easily cast asunder by people in power, it is critical that our politicians should lead by example. Moral perfection is not expected but abuses of power and poor behaviour towards women should not be tolerated or brushed aside. Christian Porter, the most senior law officer in the land, has been called out. Scott Morrison should ask him to resign his post or else be guilty of accepting double standards.
John Murphy, Swan Hill

What else is there to do when you are in Canberra?

The same as with many MPs over the years, what happened is completely understandable. You have to kill time somehow in the most boring capital city in the world.
Bosko Marojevic, Newport

THE FORUM

The Prime Minister’s test

On Monday night, the gloss was removed from the shiny Canberra bubble and the ugliness of male power and privilege was exposed. This is the test for Scott Morrison to show if he cares for integrity and values. Or will he dismiss all concerns for the protection of the Canberra swamp and its Trumpian dwellers?
Caitriona Prendergast, Black Rock

How pure are any of us?

How fair was it that Four Corners delved into Christian Porter’s university days in its portrayal of him? How many people would be willing to have their activities, when they were students, scrutinised?
David Fry, Moonee Ponds

Hidden costs for parents

The report that it now costs more than $1100 a week for a couple to raise two children (The Age, 11/11) is a serious underestimate.

Once we include loss of employment income, the associated superannuation, and career advancement, the real cost amounts to roughly double or more the cited figure. Over the years needed to raise children, total losses can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. These costs are usually borne by women, and are a major reason for the financial difficulties many women experience in later life, especially if they become single again.
Freya Headlam, Glen Waverley

Tough love for the needy

Those on JobSeeker must feel like they are on a medieval rack – every beneficent time extension by the government, with a decrease in the amount of the payment, tightens the screws of poverty and increases their powerlessness to compete for the scarce jobs. The screws will be further tightened at the end of March if the JobKeeper payment ceases and throws thousands more onto JobSeeker, consigning an estimated 1.8million Australians (The Age, 11/11) to living in poverty.
Vince Corbett, Glenroy

The economic-climate link

Having quit his shadow cabinet position in protest at Labor’s climate policy and tax policy (The Age, 11/11), Joel Fitzgibbon is playing into the greatest lie the Liberals have told for years: that environmental and economic sustainability are mutually exclusive. Fossil fuels are on the way out, along with the handful of jobs they create. But investment in sustainable energy could set Australia up for generations as an exporter of clean power to the world, locking in long-term jobs in regional areas and providing an ongoing boost to tax revenue.

However, I agree with Fitzgibbon on one thing: Labor has disenfranchised working Australians. Not because of poor policy, but because of poor communication and continually allowing the Liberals to define the conversation. You do not have to be a ‘‘tree hugger’’ to see that a healthy climate and a healthy economy are inextricably linked. If Labor told that simple truth well, it might actually win an election.
Eamon Siggins, Carlton North

A time to show courage

Joel Fitzgibbon is thinking of his own career rather than the national interest. The public is crying out for visionary leadership and this includes ‘‘going for broke’’ on emission reductions. According to Deloitte Access (The Age, 2/11), unchecked climate change will reduce Australian economic growth by 3.6 per cent a year and cost 310,000 jobs annually by 2050. By 2070, the economic cost will have almost doubled to 6 per cent, or $3.4 trillion in present value terms, and 880,000 jobs.
Show courage, Joel Fitzgibbon, put your job on the line and fight for what is best for Australia. It is not about winning elections, it is about leadership, and this means net zero emissions by 2050.
Ian Cooper, California Gully

An MP’s warped priorities

Now let us get this straight. Joel Fitzgibbon’s political future is more important than the health of planet Earth, and the future of our grandchildren. Any argument on that?
Barry Jones, Wonga Park

Mask up, Melburnians

At Torquay beach, where I was fortunate to enjoy some family time on Monday, mask-wearing was the norm rather than the exception. From my socially distanced vantage point on the sand, the only people not wearing masks were under 12 or frolicking in the ocean or enjoying their fish and chips. However, in Melbourne, there were many noses poking out over the top of the masks.
Joanne Dietrich, Oak Park

Health risk of masks?

Recently I visited the GP with my teenage daughter who has an angry facial rash that is not responding to treatment. Apparently doctors are not permitted to give mask exemptions for anything other than a respiratory problem. We then went to see her school nurse who said she was seeing new cases daily of rashes and over-active sebaceous glands. With warmer weather now more prevalent, isn’t it time we took a common-sense approach to mask-wearing?
Lara Blamey, Mount Eliza

A cautious optimism

It is good news that Pfizer reports it has a COVID-19 vaccine with a 90per cent effectiveness rate (The Age, 11/11) but a few words of caution. The media reports provide little detailed information.

We are not told if the effectiveness rate is, for example, uniform across all test cohorts. The results have still to be independently peer reviewed. And remember, vaccines are often significantly less effective when given to older people, the group most vulnerable to the virus. Their immune systems are usually more difficult to stimulate than that of younger people. Let us be hopeful, but there is still a long way to go.
Dr Rob White, South Yarra

Overlooked isolation

I am delighted to be out of lockdown, and am hoping it lasts after taking my 12-year-old son to be tested this week at a drive-through site operated by the Department of Health and Human Services. Of the three medical professionals who took his details and swabbed him, not one mentioned isolating until we got the results. It was my son who pointed that out as we drove away.
Clare Lawson, Heidelberg

Importance of fresh air

If hotel quarantine is to be reinstated in Victoria, please put returning travellers in hotels with windows that open to prevent negative impacts on their physical and mental health.

Recently I travelled back to New Zealand from Melbourne to visit my father who is ill and had to spend two weeks in quarantine in Auckland. I was put in a hotel without windows, with constant air conditioning. Two weeks after quarantine I was diagnosed with a deep vein thrombosis, which I think most likely occurred due to my quarantine experience. Being in a small environment with recirculated air for two weeks is pretty much like being on a plane for two weeks, even with exercise breaks outside. The lack of fresh air in my room also impacted my mental health, by making me tired and creating a brain fog.
Linda Sule, Docklands

Not all are reunited yet

The safe easing of COVID-19 restrictions is a cause for happiness. There are numerous stories of relief, delight and reunion. However, largely missing from the commentary on the opening-up is recognition of the situation of older Victorians in residential aged care, those who are living in disability accommodation and the staff who support them.

Significant visiting restrictions wisely remain in place for their protection. Residents, their families and workers in these contexts continue to confront a very altered daily life. The psychological and emotional experiences are likely to be deeply felt. Acknowledgement and gratitude are owed to the staff who are doing the best they can for residents and their loved ones, juggling technology and COVID-19 guidelines to promote connection. Let us not forget the many Victorians who will be late to the party.
Dr Jane Sullivan, Kew East

The ABC of conceding

Instead of destructive tweets, Donald Trump would help ‘‘make America great again’’ by carefully listing to the late John McCain’s 2008 concession speech after being defeated by Barack Obama. It was truly inspirational.
Russell Harrison, Sandringham

Why Trump is waiting

Donald Trump is not an idiot. Sure, he is extremely upset but he knows full well he lost the election. The reason he is not conceding is obvious. He is biding for time. Every recent president has pardoned a number of people in high office (but none themselves). Trump is angling for one more deal to pardon himself (and some of his circle) from prosecution of a range of offences. If that is agreed, he will go quietly.
Robert Jongebreur, Princes Hill

Safe here in Australia

Whilst Donald Trump seems to incite a ‘‘high noon’’ showdown between his supporters and those of Joe Biden, we can only watch in horror. I am happy to be here.
Glenda Johnston, Queenscliff

The next failure venture

Those who are asking ‘‘what next?’’ for Donald Trump need only look to his past. A failed businessman seeks redemption playing a parody of a businessman on a reality show. A failed president seeks revenge playing a parody of a president on…take your pick.
Leon Burgher, Leongatha

True democracy in action

David Charles – ‘‘Make them want to vote’’ (Letters, 10/11) – I was one of many who offered to transport people who wanted to vote but were unable to get to the polling station. I took an elderly lady and waited for her to cast her vote.

On the way back to her home, she asked me if I wanted to know how she voted. I replied: ‘‘Only if you want to tell me’’. She said: ‘‘Every time I vote, I vote the same way. I write ‘‘rotters all’’ on the ballot paper’’. Now, that is exercising your democratic right. I thought what a shame the rotters do not see her vote.
James Guthrie, Hawthorn

AND ANOTHER THING

Four Corners expose

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Is the LNP the new Australian Sex Party?
Campbell Aitken, Brunswick

I’m surprised that everyone is surprised.
Rosslyn Jennings, North Melbourne

Is Christian Porter singing from Donald Trump’s hymnal?
Lindsay Donahoo, Wattle Glen

After the program about goings on in Canberra, Labor MPs must be laughing all the the way to the bonk.
John Collins, Seaford

It takes two to tango. We can say no and walk away.
Christine Hammett, Richmond

Politicians are human beings and their personal life should not be aired in public.
Diana Goetz, Mornington

Women in Parliament House, stand up to, and name, MP creeps. Only then will women be respected.
Lorna Jensen, Eastwood

Climate change

Joel Fitzgibbon: a reason to vote for the Greens.
Ivan Glynn, Vermont

Joel should contest the next election for One Nation or the Nationals. Good riddance.
Chris Murphy, Hurstbridge

The pathetic irony of Fitzgibbon’s question: ‘‘How many times are we going to let climate change kill us’’?
Phil Labrum, Flemington

Turnbull banned the bonk. It would be great if Morrison banned the frack.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

Trump

Amazing how many times he’s ‘‘drained the swamp’’, with most being his own appointments.
Ian Collings, Highton

It is senior Republicans’ responsibility to counsel Trump to gracefully concede defeat.
Jean Andrews, Cheltenham

If he received more votes than any previous presidential candidate, does that make him The Biggest Loser?
Patrick Hughes, Toorak

Trump behaves like a would-be dictator and dictators rarely leave office of their own free will.
Denis Croke, Glen Iris

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