Behaviour in Parliament House shames democracy

Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:

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The unmitigated arrogance of some of our senior federal politicians amazes me (“Lib staffer sacked over lewd video,” The Age, 23/3). They put in place rules and regulations that affect all aspects of our country yet are incapable of effectively administering their own totally dysfunctional workplace, which is daily looking more and more shambolic.
Roderick John Gibson, Redesdale

Now he’s listening
Watching the heavily scripted press conference called by the Prime Minister to discuss the situation in Parliament, it was amazing that he stated he talked and listened to family and friends about the issue (“Morrison says attitudes to women must change,” The Age, 23/3). From his past statements he obviously doesn’t want to listen or talk to his staff about the issues.
Peter Roche, Carlton

Support goes both ways
Prime Minister, we asked you to listen to us and believe us. You wouldn’t stand with the women outside Parliament House – now you expect us to stand with you? Give us a break.
Belinda Burke, Hawthorn

Wrong man for the job
A PM that viscerally recoils from answering questions or taking responsibility ought not be tasked with leading the significant reform of parliamentary culture and accountability that will be required. Roan Plotz, Preston

Transparency is fundamental
It started a few years ago with Scott Morrison refusing to answer questions about “on-water matters”. Now obfuscating and posturing on questions about sexual assault and harassment in high places, he is skating on thin ice.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

Disgusting behaviour
Who videos themselves doing that? And then shares it with their “mates”? And in an office? And in an office belonging to a female colleague? And in an office in Parliament House? Just exactly how entitled do you have to be?
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale

A problem fuelled by alcohol
Changes over the past decade have resulted in most workplaces now being alcohol free, and quite properly so, as employers recognise their responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Further, anyone intoxicated is sent home. It’s time for Parliament to become booze free (yes, even in the dining room) and for the security guards to be authorised to deny access to anyone who has, apparently, been drinking.
Heather Barker, Albert Park

An inspiration to hold on to
Thank goodness for our Prime Minister’s mother and wife who, “being the centre of his life”, have finally motivated him on the Parliament House sexual misconduct allegations. A pity he hasn’t taken more notice of the “values and faith”, he says he owes them, to sustain him over the many other issues on which he has been found lacking in leadership.
Jeffrey Kelson, Prahran

Time for outrage
I wish the Prime Minister appeared as equally outraged about the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins as he did about Liberal male staffers behaving like prepubescent schoolboys and reports they hired sex workers.
Donald Williams, South Melbourne

National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line: 1800 737 732. Crisis support can be found at Lifeline: (13 11 14 and, the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467 and and beyondblue (1300 22 4636 and


Climate change the link
In the past couple of years, we’ve had fires, COVID-19 and now floods. What will it take for our politicians to admit that we are indeed experiencing climate change? We have our Prime Minister bringing a piece of coal into Parliament, and telling us “Don’t be scared”. Climate change is affecting our environment, our wildlife and marine life are suffering, people are suffering. What will it take to make changes? Stop talking and take action as lives are more important than profit.
Jane Taylor, Newport

Flood risk
Who would have predicted that a block of land with a river frontage might suddenly find itself under water? Obviously not the town planners, land developers and people seduced by glossy brochures. We may be smart enough to put someone on the moon and maybe soon on Mars but basic common sense, especially by those who make decisions, is lacking. Even Noah could see what was about to happen and he could only count up to two.
Greg Tuck, Warragul

One percenters
That floods or fires are “one-in-a-100-year events” does not mean, as many seem to believe, there’s going to be exactly one such flood or fire in 100 years. It means there’s a 1-in-100 (1 per cent) chance of such a flood or fire occurring in a given year, and a 99per cent chance of one not occurring. You’d have to wait 70years before there’d be a 50:50 chance of one occurring, and even if you waited 100 years there’d only be a 2/3 chance.
Wayne Robinson, Kingsley

A treasure bureau
Your correspondent (Letters, 23/3) correctly reminds us of the importance of Aunty ABC in times of weather emergency. But we should also remember the agency that provides all of us with what have become most accurate and timely warnings. The Bureau of Meteorology is truly one of our unsung national treasures.
Peter Price, Southbank

Different party
Fifty years after the end of John Gorton’s prime ministership, a statue was unveiled of the man whose political mantra was to create a world in which “meanness and poverty, tyranny and hate, have no existence”, (“Time to end the statue of limitation”, 23/3). The unveiling came only days before the JobSeeker allowance reduces to below poverty levels and not long after the Department of Home Affairs said Australian-born Kayaan Katyal, a six-year old with cerebral palsy, had been denied a visa because he would likely result in significant healthcare costs to the Australian community.
Would “Jolly John” recognise the current federal government, whose meanness towards the less well off seems to be a virtue, and which condones largesse to its supporters, such as the payment of JobKeeper to companies that reported increased profits and paid executive bonuses?
Maurice Critchley, Kenthurst

Gorton much missed
The Age remembers, 50 years after his departure, that our late PM Sir John Gorton aspired to strive for an Australia where “meanness and poverty, tyranny and hate, have no place”. Little wonder that the anniversary was overlooked by today’s Liberal politicians. Such aspirations are nowhere to be seen or heard and Peter Dutton waits in the wings to ramp up what Gorton sought to defeat.
David Allen, Bayswater North

Spinning out of control
Scott Morrison, the acknowledged master of spin, appears to have spun out of control, (“Spinning off the straight, proper path,” 23/3). Perhaps he should have recalled, and acted upon the adage, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive”. If the Prime Minister is so evasive in Parliament, he may have no qualms about deceiving the public about any number of issues.
Helen Scheller, Benalla

Prayer faction
Yes there are factions in all political parties (“Who’s who in the Liberals’ left, right and centre factions?“, The Age, 21/3) but now the Coalition has added a prayer group to the mix? Are they preparing us for a second coming? Is Jerusalem about to add an Australian embassy? Will we be in the hands of a higher authority if things get tough? Stand by for a call to prayer in the present flood crisis.
Moray Byrne, Edithvale

Rollup and rollout
Stephen Duckett speaks truth from long experience – too rare these days in public administration (“Clock ticking on vaccine rollout,” The Age, 23/3). The government is keen to roll up for photo ops; the public is keen to roll up for its shots; meanwhile the vaccine rollout needle seems to be stuck in the groove. Ensuring supply and encouraging demand are good moves for a start but quite useless without first properly enabling distribution. We cannot afford the delay.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Patience for jabs
The vaccine rollout is gathering pace, despite some initial hiccups. Of course we all want to get the jab as soon as possible but having waited a year or so, a few more weeks’ delay will make little difference in our current COVID-free environment. Ring your GP at the end of April and you are likely to get an appointment at a convenient time. Convincing the recalcitrants to do the right thing by themselves and the nation will be the biggest challenge.
Peter Barry, Marysville

Openness brings change
Your editorial flagging the need for refinement of our China policy is wise (“Deft touch required in China relationship”, 23/3). Australians who expected a change in the US policy towards China after four years of Trump’s “bomb throwing” diplomacy have been disappointed with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s tough verbals at the recent US-China meeting. Such aggressive language will never bring any sort of reconciliation between the two nations. If the US-China discord continues, our relationship with China will continue to suffer as will our farming and mining industries, hospitality industries and also our educational institutions. The US can afford to continue its stoush with China but as a small nation we cannot. Our main unhappiness with China is based on ideological grounds. If we are genuinely interested in affecting China’s ideology, we should encourage more Chinese students to come here to study. When they go back home, they may take our democratic values with them and both nations will benefit. Australia has suffered immensely due to its blind support of a deranged US China policy.
Bill Mathew, Parkville

Harsh words
The inflammatory and insulting remarks to Western nations surging out of China reminds me of the World War II German propagandists Lord Haw Haw and Tokyo Rose. Thankfully only a war of words – at the moment.
John Powell, Melbourne

Consent costs
Sexual Assault Services Victoria welcomes the recent Victorian government announcement that from next month state schools will be directed to provide students with mandatory and specific classes on consent to address deficiencies in some education programs (‴⁣⁣We have to listen to students’: Consent education to become mandatory in state schools,” The Age, 21/3). Schools will be required to provide teachers with more professional development opportunities to assist them to implement this decision. But are the staff and structures actually in place to do this?
Currently the Department of Education and Training funds two part-time staff per region to run professional development for teachers and support schools to implement the government’s Respectful Relationships Education curriculum. This is simply not adequate to achieve the government’s goal.
SAS Victoria absolutely supports the government’s goal of ensuring all young Victorians are well informed about consent – that it needs to be given freely every time, that it is ongoing through the interaction, and that it can be withdrawn at any stage. However, additional resources are urgently required to deliver on this. We need Respectful Relationships Educator positions in every school and funded Prevention positions in specialist sexual assault services to support teachers, young people and their parents to have these important conversations.
Karen Hogan, board chair, Sexual Assault Services Victoria

Noisy cost
You are absolutely correct, Matthew Frost (Letters, 23/3). We have noticed a significant loss of native bird species due to the increase in numbers of the very aggressive and territorial noisy miners in our garden. For example we have not seen any white-naped honeyeaters or silvereyes for a long time now. These shy species have all but disappeared, which is very sad. Surprisingly, the beautiful crested pigeons are on the increase.
Tony Healy, Balwyn North

Mynah problem
I sympathise with your correspondent’s concern about an increasing noisy miner population, but they do have the mitigating feature of being a native species. In many areas the greater concern is a much more aggressive species, the introduced Indian mynah, which is expanding its range quickly at the expense of all small to medium-sized native birds. If the state government has a care for our native birdlife, it will establish a program to eliminate the Indian mynahs, and the sooner the better.
Ken Courtis, Golden Square

Convicted children
In 1993, two 10-year-olds kidnapped, tortured and murdered two-year-old James Bulger. What precisely does Renee Hancock (“Jailing children is a national shame”, 23/3) say should be done in such a case if the criminal law does not apply to people under 14? Calling on us “to intervene at the first sign of disengagement” is too late.
Chris Curtis, Hurstbridge

Matt GoldingCredit:



Parliament House of ill repute.
Ron Mather, Melbourne

Is it the Canberra “bubble” or the Canberra rabble?
Des Files, Brunswick

If approximately 40 women die a year by domestic violence and numerous others are stalked, raped and hurt, wouldn’t that qualify for a state of emergency?
Robyn Stonehouse, Camberwell

The PM wants to assure women that he has heard them. But does he believe them?
Gretel Lamont, Aireys Inlet

Scott Morrison is really pulling out the big guns now. Not only does he have a wife and two daughters – he also has a mother.
Ken Foxcroft, St Leonards

The revelations of sadly juvenile behaviour by Liberal Party staffers in Canberra explains why the most intelligent people in our society see politics as a career choice worse than suffering from dysentery for life.
Mike Francis, Fitzroy

The PM utters the right words, except admission of any responsibility.
George Reed, Wheelers Hill

More words and crocodile tears from the Prime Minister. But what action is he taking?
Peter Brady, Mount Martha

Scott, Harry Truman once said: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”.
John Rosenbrock, Mount Martha

Sex workers in Parliament House? Finally some honest workers in Canberra.
Andy Wain, Rosebud

Having seen quite a number of 50 and 100-year events, such as the NSW floods, in my lifetime, I am beginning to feel my age.
Tony O’Brien, South Melbourne

Your correspondent (Letters, 23/3) urges us to remember why Kennett was elected in 1992, but many of us are remembering why he was voted out in 1999.
Linda Skinner, Mooroolbark

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