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The many layers of the Australia Post saga
The Christine Holgate saga involves several layers. First, is the disproportionate, unjust, aggressive, misogynistic grandstanding by Scott Morrison, who I doubt would have treated a male CEO similarly, reinforcing the issue of bullying of women in his party (“PM humiliated me’: Gender a factor in post exit, Holgate says”, The Age, 14/4).
Second, is the sharp contrast of this with his treatment of egregious allegations and behaviour in Parliament House in the past few weeks. Third, is the reluctance of Scott Morrison and Paul Fletcher to release the report exonerating Ms Holgate. This is consistent with the government’s default lack of transparency.
Finally, the visceral public reaction to the gifts of Cartier watches, which pale in comparison with bonuses in the corporate stratosphere, but are symbols of the increasing inequality stemming from neo-liberal ideology, and the unnecessary privatisation of essential services which has increased costs for all while enriching a privileged few.
Joe Di Stefano, Geelong
PM should apologise for humiliation
“I lost my job, a job that I loved, because I was humiliated by our prime minister for committing no offence” … part of Christine Holgate’s damning evidence to a Senate inquiry into Cartier watches she bought as bonuses for Australia Post employees. “I was bullied out of my job, thrown under the bus so the chair could curry favour with his political masters”. Holgate claims board member (and former Liberal Party director) Tony Nutt told her she was stood down at the direction of the PM. Holgate doesn’t know why Morrison “took the action he did”, but what an appalling indictment of our PM, especially now he is heading up the new women’s cabinet taskforce. Perhaps that taskforce could persuade the PM to apologise to Holgate for the humiliation and distress he caused her.
Neil Hudson, East Melbourne
A familiar story in portfolio
The story: the Prime Minister of a Liberal government, Minister of Communications, chairman of the board, and a CEO. The CEO rejects direct pressure from the chairman who has been leaned on by the Minister of Communications and higher ups. The CEO stands her ground and gets sacked. Sounds like the Christine Holgate affair playing out now after rejecting the Boston Consulting Group’s report. But no, I am actually talking about the ABC and the Michelle Guthrie, Justin Milne, Mitch Fifield affair. The parallels are staggering: Female CEO, Department of Communications, chairman used as a government puppet. The only difference so far is that Justin Milne did resign. Will the chair of Australia Post now do the same?
Kim Hassall, Thornbury
A clear case of gender pay inequity
Mr Ahmed Fahour was reportedly paid $6.8 million in 2017 and an additional $4 million in long-term incentives over 2015-16. Ms Christine Holgate was paid a fixed maximum $2.75 million with fixed base of $1.3 million. Recently, the Prime Minister expressed his ignorance of gender pay inequity. Says it all really.
Ellen Ryan, Soldiers Hill
Double standards on show
Scott Morrison has justified calling for Christine Holgate’s resignation on the floor of Parliament, saying his language was strong but he was concerned about misuse of taxpayer money. Yet he was comfortable with her being paid significantly less than her male predecessor. He expressed no such outrage over an analysis of 142 government departments, businesses and statutory authorities which found a quarter paid bonuses worth a collective $12.8 million in the 2019-20 financial year or the chair of ASIC being paid more than $100,000 to organise his taxation. But one woman CEO spends $20,000 on watches and it justifies public humiliation from the floor of Parliament. Glad to hear there is no gender influence here.
Marg D’Arcy, Rye
In removing 400 derogatory terms from its list of playable words, the owners of Scrabble have created a bit of a frenzy (“Scrabble-maker accused of ‘wokeness’ after banning hundreds of derogatory terms”, The Age, 14/4). It’s curious that “woke culture” is perceived in a negative light – considering what is culturally relevant as we learn more about each other is being embraced by society.
Like sticks and stones, in truth words do hurt. Mattel’s decision as a company to review opportunities to be more sensitive, culturally relevant and in tune with what is occurring globally is positive and encouraging. Removing derogatory words from Scrabble is a step in the right direction.
Stephanie Ashworth, Pascoe Vale South
The federal government put itself in charge of the vaccine rollout. It was supposed to procure the vaccines (preferably a range of them) and to organise the distribution of these. It has incompetently handled these tasks despite announcements to the contrary. It was late in organising contracts. It relied heavily on one vaccine with another for backup.
It failed to get the vaccines early and now the distribution has been poorly handled. The state and territory governments managed the control and almost elimination of the virus and now have to again take over for the federal government. Tell me again, why we need a federal government?
Greg Tuck, Warragul
We can’t hide forever
Arthur Sinodinos attempts to rationalise Australia’s disgraceful record on climate policy (“US summit push to fix ‘climate war’ damage”, The Age, 14/4) with obfuscation such as we’ve had to do it in ways that are more palatable, saleable and sustainable”. What rubbish. The Coalition has for two decades been craven servants of its donors, the minerals industry. With their backing and arguably Australia’s worst prime minister, Tony Abbott, they killed off the one policy that was working, the carbon price.
This was just a continuation of its brazen obstructionism, exemplified by undermining international efforts and by doing little or nothing policy wise. The refusal to commit to net zero by 2050 shows clearly where their heart lies. But we can’t hide forever as international opprobrium is now demonstrating.
Michael Hassett, Blackburn
Lose the jargon
With all due respect to Colin Chapman (Letters, 14/4), but he may have inadvertently hit the nail on the proverbial head with regard to school curriculum changes proposed by ACARA. Let’s make the teaching of maths relevant and engaging for children as a starting point and lose the high-brow educational mumbo jumbo.
Julie Perry, Highton
Enact a treaty
The Age editorial (“Incremental improvements not enough to end tragedy of high Indigenous incarceration rate”, 13/4) aptly encapsulates the enduring legacy of dispossession of Indigenous sovereignty (as First Nations Peoples) of Australia. Namely, “deep, inter-generational trauma”: stolen generations and severed ties to country; cultural erasure and pervasive truth denial based on the historical legal fiction of terra nullius.
Indeed, as though any more evidence was needed, our country’s greatest unresolved human rights travesty characterised by “the (disproportionately high rate per capita) at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people come into contact with the police, justice and prison systems” is appalling and indefensible.
So, merely saying sorry and tinkering around the edges of incremental change will never suffice. Instead, what is needed by our nation’s leadership is the resolve to enact a treaty and constitutional recognition of the true sovereign owners of our country.
Jelena Rosic, Mornington
I had my first AstraZeneca vaccination on Tuesday and so far I feel absolutely fine. But surprisingly, the clinic only gave me documentary confirmation of the vaccination when I requested it.
If we are ever to get the borders open again, despite Greg Hunt’s assertion that even if we are all vaccinated the borders may stay shut, travellers will surely need to produce proof they have been vaccinated.
There should be a standard Commonwealth approved certificate provided to all who receive the vaccine, and the Commonwealth should keep a database of all vaccinations.
Otherwise how will health and immigration officials know when it may be safe to allow Australians to travel freely again?
Danny Cole, Essendon
Clean up needed
One good thing about having the international borders closed is that no visitors can see the disgusting state of the Eastern Freeway. Walls and overpasses covered in bad graffiti, broken fences, rubbish and weeds everywhere. Last time I checked I did pay tax. Can we start using some of that money and clean up the place.
Peter Boone, Doncaster
Lax rules in Victoria
Having just returned from WA, I am bewildered at the Victorian government’s approach to preventing the spread of COVID-19 given everything that Melburnians have been through over the past 12 months. In WA, it is a requirement that when entering any establishment, one must check-in using their WA Safe App which stores your and others’ information. Here in Victoria, we are supposed to sign in if staying longer than 15 minutes and it seems that every second establishment is using a different form. Surely, as a nation, we can have the same approach in every state where everyone needs to sign in when entering any building and using the same app. It is something so simple and in doing so keeps Victorians just that little bit safer.
Brigit Keel, Surrey Hills
Heartening migrant story
Initially I was concerned with the ABC interrupting the Vera program at the weekend. However, the replacement program was interesting. It was about Philip – a Greek immigrant who made good. He changed his surname to an English-sounding name and married into a family of German background who had acted similarly. He worked as a seaman for a time but then became a high-class escort. Overall – a successful example of acceptance in multicultural Britain.
Tom Maher, Aspendale
The introduction of mouthguards containing high-tech chips that have the potential to detect and monitor the severity and frequency of concussive and other brain injury in players of Australian football appears to be real progress in preventing chronic progressive encephalopathy, the condition from which the late Danny Frawley and others have suffered. In the US footballers are required to wear protective padded helmets, some of which have the technology to electronically record and transmit the magnitude of trauma force to the helmet and potentially to the brain.
Children playing football are also susceptible to concussive episodes as 5 per cent of American teenage footballers are concussed each year. Convincing evidence at this time that helmets prevent concussive episodes in Australian Rules footballers of all ages is lacking, but some prominent AFL players do wear them. It seems the helmet issue might be another potentially fertile area for sports medicine research and advancement in prevention of chronic progressive encephalopathy.
Adrian Polglase, Armadale
PM’s blind spot
Fran Bailey, Brittany Higgins, Christine Holgate … their shared commonality is to be strong, capable women who have been wholly underestimated, misjudged (and in part mistreated) by this Prime Minister. In so doing, Morrison’s habitual diminution of women is revealed for all to see. At the same time he is misjudging and underestimating the entire electorate. No amount of empathy training can address this man’s innate blind spot. Not even Jen’s wise counsel can change him.
Royce Bennett, Baxter
The presentations at Tuesday’s Future Melbourne Committee revealed that once again Melbourne Council’s renewal project has botched the latest plans to update Queen Victoria Market. Community speakers exposed that neither of the two new buildings planned for the latest $40 million proposal, will be fit for purpose. Nor, evidently, have the 2014 Renewal Plan, the 2017 Business Case, or the 2019 Economic Justification been updated, to account for the devastation that COVID-19 has wreaked on the CBD.
Council has spent millions so far in an attempt to change the market into an event space and entertainment precinct. It’s now time to drop discredited former lord mayor Robert Doyle’s legacy renewal and introduce market management that will protect and enhance the traditional market that is so valued by Victorians.
Dr Miriam Faine, secretary, Friends of Queen Victoria Market
Free speech guise
Deborah Morrison criticises the “virtue-parading, victim-extolling, de-platforming, cancelling woke mob” and their “hypocritical, self-indulgent, bigoted and destructive” agenda (Letters, 14/4). I remind her that four years ago, the Australian right hounded Yassmin Abdel-Magied out of the country for daring to raise Australia’s appalling human rights record on Anzac Day. Contrast this with the right’s free speech defence of cartoonist Bill Leak for his depiction of gay rights activists as Nazis, and First Nations Australians as child-neglecting alcoholics.
If Deborah Morrison wants to examine hypocritical, destructive agendas, she should be less concerned about those who criticise Prince Philip for his gaffes and more about those who cloak their bigotry under the guise of defending free speech.
Thomas Richardson-Smith, Tynong North
AND ANOTHER THING …
Christine Holgate lost her job for spending less money than Stuart Robert’s internet bill. I hope Jen and the girls are treading carefully.
Les Anderson, Woodend
Christine Holgate calls a spade a spade, while the PM keeps digging.
Jenny Bone, Surrey Hills
What would Jen be advising Scomo to do if Christine Holgate was his sister? Jen has a good insight into these things.
Michael Brinkman, Ventnor
Holgate is bullied out of her position while Laming remains in Parliament despite offensive behaviour. Double standards, PM.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch
Wearing suffragette white, in one fell swoop Wonder Woman skewers the bullying bloke, his sycophantic supporters and their secret privatisation plans.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South
Worst ever since Julia Gillard’s characterisation by federal parliament. Learnt nought. Christine Holgate, I stand with you.
Marg Welsh, Abbotsford
First Grace Tame and now Christine Holgate have given Scomo a verbal belt around the ears regarding the treatment of women. Will he learn anything from that?
John Cain, McCrae
Peter Walsh (Letters, 14/4) believes the vaccine rollout is working because he and his wife are getting the jab. Millions of Australians would beg to differ.
Phil Alexander, Eltham
There’s a saying, “An unaimed arrow never misses”. Seems the federal government has adopted this with regard to the rollout.
Teresa McIntosh, Keysborough
Given past form, I suspect the only Australians that can feel assured of getting a promised shot in the arm are those in marginal seats.
Martin Klavins, Crafers West, SA
Hmm, a Magpie debutant who isn’t the “son of a gun” and hasn’t been traded into the club? Is this a new, emerging selection formula?
Gary Sayer, Warrnambool
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