Who is the government really working for?
9th June 2022

Credit:Illustration: Jim Pavlidis

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Who is the government really working for?

I cannot believe the Victorian government plans to threaten forest protesters and citizen science surveyors with 12 months in jail or $21,000 in fines – “Extraordinary bill puts logging over liberties” (Comment, 9/6). The Commonwealth must resume management of all national parklands before Victoria’s upper house approves this legislation and the state’s precious parklands start to disappear, too.

If there is a reason for invisible dotted lines going through what remains of our unique remnant natural forests to separate saved parkland from land for logging coupes and the benefit of export woodchopping thieves, any threatened species tempted to build their nests and shelter on the wrong side of the dots are doomed. It is no wonder plants and creatures have become extinct.
As Daniel Cash, the president of Lawyers for Forests, says: “If this bill is passed, we have to ask whether the state government is really working for the community interest, or the interests of the logging industry”.
Yvonne Francis, Apollo Bay

Premier, trees are critical to our very survival

My estimation of Daniel Andrews plummeted when I read of his threat – $21,000 fines or 12 months in jail – to people who peacefully protest against the cutting down of forest trees. Surely, I thought, he knows how critical trees are to our very survival, not to mention the wildlife they sustain. It is not surprising Australia is the extinction capital of the world.
Bobbie Holmes, Balwyn

Engaging with relevant agencies, without risk

Daniel Cash is wrong to suggest the Andrews government’s forestry bill aims to “prevent public scrutiny” of VicForests’ activities or citizen science surveys.

Citizen scientists survey areas before harvesting operations begin. That is their point – to inform future harvesting decisions. Rather than “desktop surveys”, VicForests and other government agencies carry out extensive field surveys before harvest.

The suggestion of a link between “direct action” protests and decisions to increase reserves is fanciful. These decisions result from rigorous, evidence-based assessments by the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council, not the actions and views of a few people undertaking risky behaviour that endangers themselves and forest workers.

There is no evidence to suggest current native forest harvesting is driving species to extinction. Suggesting that harvesting is managed by a “rogue” agency does a disservice to the many professionals involved in planning and oversight of harvesting operations. Those in the community with a genuine concern about forest use have many ways to engage with relevant agencies, rather than putting themselves and workers at risk.
Professor Rod Keenan, Victorian branch, Forestry Australia

Our taxes are being used to harm our forests

The world is facing a climate catastrophe. One of the causes is the destruction of our forests. The world is also facing a mass species extinction crisis. One of the causes is the destruction of our forests.

VicForests’ sole reason for existing is to destroy the state’s forests for profit. The catch is that VicForests runs at a loss and keeps going only because of government subsidies. Why does the state government spend our taxes to cause such harm?
Madeleine Curmi, Hawthorn

Victoria must heed the lessons of federal election

The momentous win for democracy in the federal election was all about the success of the independents and Greens candidates listening to their constituents who want integrity in government, transparency – not obfuscation – and immediate action on climate change. The win for these candidates demonstrated a vote for the next generation’s future. Critical lessons yet to be learned by Victoria’s Labor government that naively or otherwise is set on a course of eroding all ecological and biodiversity values within our native forest estate.
Rod Falconer, Eildon


Our right to protest

I live beside magnificent, forested zones north-east of Melbourne which include ash, box, mountain grey gums and stringy-bark. These forests have provided habitat for lyrebirds, koalas and small to medium mammal species, including Leadbeater’s possum, since for ever. Unfortunately, now we also see foxes, cats, deer, rabbits and pigs.

With the promised, great (alpine) national park on the distant horizon, we may have an opportunity to re-establish the massively depleted koala population. This would be great for them and a drawcard for tourism.

However, the park is not due to come on line for another eight or
10 years – too late. The foresters are responding with furious logging to get as much as possible before the forests are closed.

We all have the right to freely protest as we want – without Big Brother threatening us.
Graham Page, Buxton

Let the refugees stay

Congratulations to the new federal ministers for their common sense and compassion in swiftly allowing the Murugappan family to return to Biloela (The Age, 9/6).

We now await the next sign of common sense in granting them, and many other asylum-seeker families, permanent residency in Australia. Many worked tirelessly in essential industries throughout the lockdowns to keep businesses operating. To think of sending them back to the countries they fled years ago would be nonsensical. Actions speak louder than words.
Joan Schoch, Avondale Heights

Voting for compassion

The widespread support for the Murugappan family’s return to Biloela is not merely a matter of sentiment. To many Australians, this ill-treated family is a symbol of all that has been wrong with our refugee and asylum-seeker policies, for a long time.

Many people have been working tirelessly for a better deal for refugees, through organisations such as the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the Brigidines, refugee action groups and Grandmothers for Refugees.

Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party have no need to be afraid of frightening the horses in this regard. The horses have neighed – for humanitarianism and for change.
Gwenda Davey, Burwood East

Their faces said it all

Biloela’s Murugappan family were all smiles as they were whisked away from Brisbane Airport.
Reward enough for Anthony Albanese’s promise to govern for all Australians with humanity.
Kevin Laws, Thornbury

Facing up to the truth

To Chris Uhlmann (Opinion, 8/6): Here is the “inconvenient” truth you overlooked.

Without transition to net zero quickly, not only will the cost be even more expensive than taking affirmative action now, there will also be an even greater price to pay for the future of humanity.
Denis Liubinas, Blairgowrie

When colder is far better

“No one ever won an election promising to make voters colder, poorer and hungrier,” writes Chris Uhlmann. Maybe not hungrier, or poorer, but hasn’t he heard about the heat waves in Pakistan and India? Maybe there is the chance of a few votes there if you offer to make the climate cooler.
Bernard Cannon, Portarlington

Why home-grown is best

My father always had vegetables and fruit from his garden ready for his family to eat. We ate what was in season. Cabbages in winter, tomatoes in summer. A treat was cherries at Christmas. We were a very healthy lot.

Australians are very slack in growing food on their home blocks. It is not hard to put seeds into a container, water them and, in given time, pick the produce. This would reduce the food bills, help the environment, and the enjoyment of eating a just-picked pea is sublime.
Barbara Williams, Portland

Aggression is aggression

Two football players have a fight in an eatery (Sport, 9/6). So? Well …what should be the end of the matter is not. The media, frothing at the mouth, pounces on the “issue” as if it were another Pompeii-level cataclysm.

Footy players are, for reasons which are unfathomable, expected to be bereft of any weaknesses and to be saintly off the field. History, again and again, has proven this a lie. Aggressive people are aggressive people no matter what they do in their place of work.
Michael McNeill, Bendigo

An apology for an entree?

It seems that the Entrecote restaurant in Prahran, where two Melbourne players got into a fight on Sunday, is considering adding humble pie to its menu.
Bill Pell, Emerald

Let’s put the needy first

Amid all the quite challenging and fearful news of rising costs, I was heartened to read of the reinstating of funding for Victoria’s important From Homelessness to a Home program (The Age, 8/6).

The program started during the pandemic and involves providing not only shelter for the homeless, but also tailored support, including for mental health, drug and alcohol issues, and family violence assistance.

During these challenging times, our first priority should be those people who are most in need.
Betty Alexander, Caulfield

RBA’s obvious decision

I do not understand how any borrower who is financially sophisticated enough to qualify for a $1 million loan would be surprised by the Reserve Bank’s decision and the consequential interest rate cost increase.
Wayne Tonissen, Panton Hill

Protecting all animals

I agree with your correspondent (Letters, 9/6) regarding the cruelty involved in the killing of brumbies in the Barmah and Alpine
national parks.

Having said that, I was troubled by her accurate description of the method of killing – “under the
cover of darkness, using silencers on guns so people cannot protest is shameful”. My discomfort was triggered by the fact that this is exactly what happens in abattoirs all around Australia, without comment
or protest.

It seems there is a form of speciesism involved in selectively protecting animals from cruelty
by humans. I believe we can only have a convincing argument about cruelty to our brumbies if we also speak out about cruelty to all creatures. If abattoirs had glass walls, we would all become vegetarians.
Geoff Selby, Moorooduc

Finding the right balance

Regarding off-leash dog parks (The Age, 8/6): A group of South Melbourne ratepayers have lobbied the City of Port Philip for at least three years about an off-leash park impacting residents’ health, wellbeing and capacity to work from home.

The tiny park is surrounded by apartments and dwellings. Last decade, it was appropriated as an off-leash park. This decision discriminated against the diversity of residents who utilised the park. It has become unviable and oversubscribed by the volume of dogs and their owners.

Some shift workers who cannot sleep during the day have moved due to the unmanaged barking at all hours. Others are considering selling due to incapacity to work from home because of barking.
Residents have had to put up with abusive behaviour from entitled dog owners.

This park should be returned as a sensory garden. There are plenty of bigger, and less residential, spaces for dogs and their owners.
Sally Apokis, South Melbourne

Community before ’mates’

I had to laugh when I read Barnaby Joyce’s article – “Watchdog will manacle political vision” (Comment, 7/6) – having just returned from the office where I had completed a “conflict of interest” training course. What is it about such matters that Joyce does not understand?

I urgently recommend he complete such a course and learn that looking after your own political interests via pork-barrelling and those of your fossil-fuel mates is quite different from having a political vision for all Australians.
Robert Campbell, Brighton East

Such illogical rules

Our house is within a heritage overlay, however, if we were to renovate and add an extension, according to our council, it would need to be different to the current house, not blend in and be easily seen from the street.

Yet if we were to install solar panels which may benefit the environment and planet, these would need to be placed in an area not to be seen. Isn’t it time we moved away from these age-old rules and move into the 21st century?
Jane Taylor, Newport

Clarifying the languages

As bahasa merely means “language”, presumably your correspondent (Letters, 9/6) would like Anthony Albanese to speak Bahasa Indonesia as well as Bahasa Inggris.
Marcia Roche, Mill Park

What more can I do?

Yesterday, I spent more than two hours on the phone telling my energy provider that I was moving to a new address. I wanted to retain its service at the new address. You would think this would
be easy.But no, the company required proof of my existence, passport, driver’s licence and Medicare card.

After much delay and being passed from one person to the next, I was told that my credit rating was not high enough and the company was unable to provide a service to my new address. I have been with this provider for more than 20years and have never been late in paying my account. Is this bureaucracy gone mad? By the way, the energy provider is AGL.
Pauline Duncan, Maffra

Too casual by half

Haileybury’s new private online school will have “a more relaxed uniform with a polo top rather than a blazer” (The Age, 9/6). There will be hell to pay if students turn up to class in
their pyjamas. Saturday detention, supervised by parents, should follow.
Paul Gooley, Ringwood East


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


A integrity commission should ensure our politicians live up to their title of ″⁣honourable MP″⁣.
Tony Ottobre, Forest Hill

Biloela family: Another victory in the battle against blah humbug.
John Edwards, Vermont South

Prime Minister, you have made us proud.
Mary Keating, Flemington

Albanese keeps referring to “my government”. It’s “our”, the Australian people’s, government.
Stuart Gluth, Northcote

Will the subject of substitute subs be submitted to a subcommittee?
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda

I thought Dan always followed the health advice. Masks?
Brian Wallace, Glen Iris


Rather than tax the profits of gas-supply industries (9/6), nationalise the industry to ensure it operates primarily for the benefit of Australia.
Brian Kidd, Mount Waverley

I can understand coal-fired plants breaking down but not a shortage of coal, especially in Victoria.
Barry Culph, St Leonards

We need an independent authority to report on daily emissions and a scale showing how far we are from reaching the point of no-return.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East


Harvey Norman lights my fire.
Beverley Campbell, Castlemaine

Those who defend the right to obtain military weapons are defending the right of those who would slaughter schoolchildren.
Matthew Hamilton, Kew

Maybe police officers should have a selfie stick to encourage them to turn on their body-worn cameras (9/6).
Robin Jensen Castlemaine

Is this the same Philip Lowe who said there wouldn’t be an interest rate rise until 2024?
Kevan Porter, Alphington

Real mortgage stress is when interest rates hit 17per cent.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill

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