How can we know Dutton is sincere in his apology?

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

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Stolen generations

So, the Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has once again apologised – this time in the parliament – for boycotting Kevin Rudd’s apology to the stolen generations on behalf of the nation 15 years ago (“Fifteen years later, Dutton apologises”, 14/2). While one hopes that his apology is as sincere as it appears, unless he follows through by announcing that his Liberal Party supports a yes vote for the referendum on the Voice, that hope will be rendered false.

Rather, other politically motivated reasons will rear their ugly heads: improving the Liberals’ chances in the upcoming Aston byelection, softening his “hard man” image and, most importantly, closing his own, ever-widening gap when compared with the prime minister’s popularity.
Kevin Bailey, Croydon

Wrong side of history
Despite his apology for walking out of “the apology” 15 years ago, it appears Dutton must enjoy being on the wrong side of history. His attitude to Voice to parliament seems a case of “rinse and repeat”.

Actions speak louder than words, and clearly the pivotal significance of this point in Australia’s history eludes the Opposition Leader.
Joe Di Stefano, Geelong

A deliberate act
Peter Dutton’s apology to the stolen generations is a cynical attempt to rewrite history and whitewash his execrable behaviour. He says “I didn’t attend the chamber for the apology”. While technically correct, he actually walked out prior to the apology in a histrionic middle-finger up to Aboriginal people and the Rudd government. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten his reputation.
Angus McLeod, Cremorne

An informative perspective
Could you get a more cogent example of how to confuse voters than your correspondent’s “More detail, please PM” analogy, comparing a restaurant’s lack of menu specifics with the referendum on the Voice (Letters, 14/2). Peter Dutton’s tactics have inspired this type of response.

The Voice does not lock parliament into an outcome, it simply informs it of factors that it should take into consider when making a decision.
Bill Pimm, Mentone

Details left to those in charge
Your correspondent (Letters, 14/2) draws a false analogy in his assertion that a vote on the Voice without the subsequent proposed legislation is like handing the choice of food in a restaurant to the waiter.

To use their analogy: Voting on the establishment of the Voice is like choosing to enter a restaurant.
What details appears on the menu is decided by the restaurant management, just as the details of the Voice will be decided by the members of parliament.
Juliet Flesch, Kew

An element of trust
I will often go to restaurant and let the chef decide on the meal and staff to match the wines, because l have elected to go there and l am trusting them to know what they are doing. I trust this government to do the right thing on the Voice.
James Lane, Hampton East

A welcome evolution
Asking for details about the Indigenous Voice before voting yes is understandable but has an unintended consequence. It locks the Voice into a particular model. History shows us that the model of representation for First Nations people is likely to evolve, which is desirable.
So voting yes without knowing the details gives certainty of representation but also flexibility to improve that representation.
George Walpole, Soldiers Hill


Investors have the power
Some people are just not grasping that having a place to live in, a place to call home, is more than just an asset (“Freedom to do what we want with our assets”, 14/2). A home is essential for shelter, security and the wellbeing of its occupants. The system is currently skewed way too much in favour of investors over first home buyers or those seeking rent, both groups who are being driven to despair. The simplistic mantra of increasing supply is futile if new homes are being scooped up by investors.

First home buyers should have similar tax advantages so they can compete, or tax advantages that favour investors should be gradually wound back. The current lax rental laws need to be strengthened to plug loopholes for landlords and enforce compliance with the provision of habitable long-term accommodation. This will weed out opportunistic investors from the oversubscribed property investor pool who will find it’s no longer an easy lay-down misère investment.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South

Assets carry social duty
Are homes really your correspondent’s asset? I subsidise his property portfolio. I also chip in for the mining industry, a private schools hypobaric chamber, horse racing, so many stadiums, franking credits, and every swimming pool on the North Shore just to name a few. Where’s my cut? I don’t get to use them and they’re all tidy earners.

In our society, owning something doesn’t give you the right to act against the greater good. You have the right to own a jet ski. You don’t have the right to endanger paddling children, scare away the fish, and let your hooning disturb the peace for the hundreds of other people at the beach.
It’s called social responsibility, not ″⁣What’s yours is mine and what’s mine’s my own.″⁣
We’re in a nationwide housing crisis that’s having a negative impact on quality of life and the circulation of wealth, so land banking is clearly against the needs of the people who fork out the cash that allows them to do so.

If your correspondent wants to abandon the social contract on the grounds of “I can do what I want” then the rest of us want our money back.
Simon Cleary, North Fitzroy

Not a wealth tool
Housing should never have been allowed to become a wealth creation tool encouraged and supported by successive government policies such as negative gearing and allowing self-managed super funds to invest in housing. Affordable secure housing should be viewed as a basic human right and not a mechanism to create personal wealth.
Julie Perry, Highton

Essential difference
Your correspondent’s comparison between houses and cars doesn’t wash. People can easily live without a car but everyone needs somewhere to live. I hope governments do start to change what is done with empty dwellings.
Susan Digby, Geelong

Economic dysfunction
The current controversy regarding the governor of the Reserve Bank and his role in interest rate control is an example of dysfunction in our democratic system (“Reckoning is coming for RBA and Philip Lowe”, 13/2). While not a statutory function of the Reserve Bank, manipulation of interest rates seems to be the only lever currently being used to influence inflation.

The repeated increases are having a devastating effect on those who can least afford it. The wealthy are virtually immune to these effects. Yet we have a government slavishly sticking to the policy of the previous government of tax cuts, that are universally recognised as benefiting the wealthy, and are very costly.

Why? Political fear is the only answer. Surely the electorate could understand that it is a better policy to ditch the tax cuts and use the savings to invest in inflation reducing policies such as low cost childcare, cheaper university education and public housing in a time when housing is in short supply.
Ron Scholes, Panton Hill

Driven away
Both major parties (“Safety grants Libs pledged weren’t vetted”; “ALP stalwarts score lucrative federal contracts without open tender”, 14/2) side-stepped due process on spending government money — have they worked out why so many people voted independent?
John Hughes, Mentone

Welcome revelations
As time passes, we find out more of the malfeasance committed by the late and quite unlamented LNP government in Canberra. It yet again reinforces our determination to rid ourselves of them in May last year. May the revelations continue.
Ian Usman Lewis, Kentucky, NSW

Shopping choices
When discussing the recycling crisis the role of the product manufacturers is seldom mentioned (“Millions of plastic bags head to landfill as revival of recycling scheme delayed”, The Age, 13/2).
Who decided that we need single serve yoghurt containers, single serve cheese slices, etc? Many of the items we purchase are overpackaged for “our convenience”.

In reality the overpackaging is a sales strategy to entice us to pay double or triple what we would if we bought the product in a larger container.

To reduce recycling, we, the consumers, must shop responsibly as one of our strategies.
Meg Paul, Camberwell

Cost of plastics
As we grapple with disappointment and frustration at the sight of mounting piles of soft plastics heading to landfill, it is important to appreciate the bigger picture.

According to the Minderoo Foundation, in 2021, greenhouse gas emissions resulting from single-use plastics were more than those of the entire United Kingdom. Plastics production results in catastrophic environmental and climate pollution. Yet, globally, only 9 per cent is ever recycled.
The fossil fuel petrochemical companies who produce virgin plastics are the real villains. ExxonMobil tops the list. Shame on them.
Amy Hiller, Kew

Plastic profits
Re: “Think plastic pollution is your fault? That’s rubbish” by Marcus Strom (The Age, 13/2), the evil genius of Coles and Woolies was burnishing their “green” credentials by replacing plastic bags with plastic bags and earning a tidy profit to boot.
Jenny Bone, Surrey Hills

Spy tensions
Interesting as Peter Hartcher’s account (“New cold war or plain hot air?”, 14/2) was of the Eisenhower administration’s use of spy balloons in the mid 20th century, it does not mention the most notorious aerial spying incident from that period.

On May 1, 1960, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down near Yekaterinburg in central Russia and the pilot, Gary Powers, who parachuted free, was captured by the Soviet Union. The incident had major international repercussions, particularly as a major international conference was pending, which had the aspiration of easing Cold War tensions. In reputational terms it was seen as a significant loss for the United States and President Eisenhower at the time, particularly as it emerged that a program of spy flights had been undertaken for some time prior to the U-2 incident.
Brian Kidd, Mt Waverley

Secrets in the air
It’s interesting that with all the modern technology available to the US defence forces, they are unable to give us any sort of photos of these recent “flying objects”, and can only give meaningless descriptions such as “the size of a small car” (Morris Minor or Chevy Corvette), or of “octagonal shape” (which suggests that they may be flat?)
William Pearce, Mornington

Pathway to compassion
Like most fair-minded Australians, I welcome the federal government’s decision to grant 19,000 people on temporary protection visas a pathway to permanent visas. Remember how often former prime minister Scott Morrison and his cabinet claimed they were implementing their policies in a measured, methodical, targeted, proportionate way while actually doing very little worthwhile? I suggest that those adjectives apply to the Albanese government’s implementation of its election promises.

Its next move in balancing strong border protection measures with humanity and compassion will hopefully be to address the 30,000 asylum seekers on bridging visas, many of whom have been staying here for years in a cruel state of anxiety and uncertainty.
Kevin Burke, Sandringham

Liberated from coupledom
Re: “Desperately dating? Don’t lower your standards, stay single” by Kerri Sackville (14/2), I totally agree with the sentiments of being single. However there are many people in couples who are in fact alone. This kind of relationship is even worse than being on your own. It can also impede finding your true soul mate.

In many ways being on your own makes one stronger. It shows that you accept yourself for what you are and indeed being on your own can be liberating.
Maria Liew, Woodend

True multiculturalism
Your correspondent (“The right to speak for our own communities”, 13/2), seems to share the view of Soviet literary theorists of the 1930s (Stalin, Zhdanov and the exponents of socialist realism), that writers are “engineers of the human soul”. It is not enough for prolific and pioneering writers like Hazel Edwards to engage with cultural diversity in their writing, (the “bare minimum” according to your correspondent), they must coach the under-represented “to have their own speak for them”.
Such communities, often erroneously described as “multicultural”, or as “culturally and linguistically diverse”, may in fact be largely monocultural, and, in dismissing the inter-cultural works of people like Hazel Edwards, your correspondent seems determined to keep it that way.
Trevor Hay, Montmorency

And another thing

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Sorry apology
Is Peter Dutton’s apology for walking out on the “Sorry” speech just part of the rebranding of Peter Dutton?
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

Now that Peter Dutton appears to have grasped the significance of symbolism, he must surely use that insight to guide his approach to the Voice?
Bernd Rieve, Brighton

If the US keeps shooting things out of the sky without knowing what they are, it’s only a matter of time before a mistake is made.
Claire Merry, Wantirna

Why waste a sidewinder missile when a balloon can be taken down with a well-directed pin?
Russell Ogden, Inverloch

Shooting at balloons is one means of bringing down inflation.
Jim Pilmer, Camberwell

The myth of US omniscience and omnipotence died with the unidentified “balloons”.
Tony Haydon, Springvale

America is jumping up and down about Chinese spy balloons in their airspace, I wonder how many countries they are keeping an eye on in a far more subtle manner?
Greg Bardin, Altona North

Your correspondent proposes lifting home ownership by allowing the use of super. That may have an unintended consequence: even more multimillionaire homeowners on a welfare age pension.
Ralph Böhmer, St Kilda West

Isn’t a vendor’s bid by the seller’s agent an offer to sell at that price?
David Eames-Mayer, Balwyn

Re: marriage proposals in public, that’s one question a man should never ask unless he knows the answer.
Layla Godfrey, Mount Eliza

Valentine’s Day, when people are inspired to propose. Well, I propose a toast to all those wonderful cartoonists and the crossword compilers who make us chuckle and think every day. Not to mention the letter writers.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

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