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The Morrison government has exposed itself as truly mean-spirited (“Wages row erupts as Labor backs 5.1% rise”, The Age, 11/5). Cost of living is the front and centre issue this election – we have all noticed price increases to basics such as food, petrol, energy, rent and interest rates. But the economic pain is not felt by us all equally. Workers on the minimum wage of $20.33 an hour will be among those who struggle to make ends meet. Is the Morrison government position that despite a tight labour market, our lowest-paid workers should always be the ones to bear the brunt of the effects of inflation? Is it by design that these workers must fall further and further behind? Voicing opposition to the possibility of a pay rise of about $1 an hour to our poorest workers does not seem fair.
Jane Robins, Moonee Ponds
Some salaries keep rising
Scott Morrison opposes low wages catching up to inflation. This is while Coalition politicians accept salaries rising at rates well above inflation. And in addition to high base salaries, MPs also get parliamentary perks that include payment for away-from-home stays, great superannuation, and travel for families.
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood
Albanese’s banana republic
Paul Keating warned of the risk of Australia becoming a banana republic. If Anthony Albanese gets his 5.1 per cent wage rise, then we’ll get more inflation and higher interest rates, more unemployment and, voila, Albo’s banana republic.
Robert Humphris, Malvern
Low wages deliberate
In 2019, former finance minister Mathias Cormann said low wage growth was “a deliberate design feature of our economic architecture”. The Age (11/5) has revealed that during the Rudd/Gillard period, real wages increased on average by 0.7 per cent annually, during the Coalition’s term they have increased by 0.2 per cent annually and they have been decreasing over the past year under Morrison.
At last, we have discovered a policy outcome that the Coalition has actually delivered. They achieved this by various mechanisms: stacking the Fair Work Commission with pro-business types, opposing minimum wage rises in the commission, reducing the influence of unions at every opportunity, constraining public-sector wages (but not of consultancies or politicians), allowing the unregulated gig economy to grow unfettered, allowing thousands of short-term visa workers to undermine wages, and taking no action to stop wage and superannuation theft.
Graeme Henchel, Yarra Glen
Cost of living the real problem
Wage rises will be good for those with a job, but for those with “contracts” it means nothing. Most “jobs” are contracts – the unemployment figures given are a joke. And since cost-of-living rises affect pensioners and the low-paid, this is where Labor should be putting its efforts to make Australia a more equitable society.
Doris LeRoy, Altona
What kinds of jobs?
The real jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs Morrison will create: jobs that pay below a living wage, part-time jobs that don’t have enough hours, so you have to have two or three (good for the statistics), jobs for which there are no skilled or qualified people, and government-paid jobs for political mates on a review panel.
Stuart Gluth, Northcote
Elites should pay share
The rejection of a 5.1 per cent wage rise for the lowest-paid workers reflects the narrow focus of the Australian Chamber of Commerce. One hears no such call for highly paid chief executives, professional and executive staff to forgo their annual and performance pay adjustments.
Ray Cleary, Camberwell
Out of the loop
Anthony Albanese might not just be creating a point of difference with the Coalition by throwing $2.2 billion at the Suburban Rail Loop, but also with many thousands of residents who will not like the changes it will bring to their communities (“Albanese in $2b rail loop pledge”, 10/5). Particularly not residents who will have precious parkland confiscated for new stations at Box Hill, Cheltenham and Burwood and a staggering 35 hectares of the long-planned Sandbelt Chain of Parks for a 24/7 heavy industrial rail stabling yard in the Green Wedge at Heatherton. Also probably not the residents who live within 1.6 kilometres of the new stations, where planning powers have been handed to the transport minister free of height or density limits to help pay for the rail loop through “value capture”.
Andrew Dawson, Heatherton
Get down with rail
Think London, Paris, even Moscow. All have underground rail that is essential to city life. You would think the Coalition would support our new loop.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South
Get off this train
Billions from Dan Andrews and Anthony Albanese for a future rail loop. I’d rather wait an extra 10minutes for a train, than an hour for an ambulance, or days for hospital treatment.
Elizabeth Meredith, Surrey Hills
As usual Cathy Wilcox is spot on (Letters, 11/5). I have no connection with the LGBTQ community but am appalled at their “weaponisation” this election and feel those of us who voted for same-sex marriage are being punished.
Lyn Payne, Richmond
I thought a debate was about listening and arbitrating between two contestants with opposing ideas (“Great Debate lived up to its name”, 11/5). It appears the new definition is two suited men shouting over one another. I want a contest of ideas, not decibels.
Suzanne Miles, Frankston South
On visiting my local pre-poll centre yesterday, I was shocked to see that the ALP is giving its fourth preference in the Senate to the Liberal Democrats ahead of progressive parties and individuals. The Liberal Democrats, whose most prominent candidate is former LNP Queensland premier Campbell Newman, have a “Freedom Manifesto” which waxes lyrical about “freedom from COVID alarmism” and “climate alarmist ideology” and includes policies such as further reducing taxes on companies and the wealthy, abolishing compulsory superannuation, removing targets on emissions and clean energy, cutting all government spending by 10 per cent (except defence), and defunding the ABC and SBS.
With the LNP and UAP also giving high preferences to the Liberal Democrats, they must be in a strong position to scrape into the sixth Senate spot in Victoria. Why the ALP would strongly preference a party whose policies are directly opposed to theirs and would be unlikely to support a Labor government is a mystery.
John Terrell, Thornbury
My wife and I got our postal-vote papers the day after our application was lodged and we had an acknowledgement of their receipt the day after we posted them — so Australia Post can do it!
Dave Torr, Werribee
First past the post
My postal vote arrived the day after I applied for it online. Why does it take weeks for regular postage to arrive?
Ian Anderson, Ascot Vale
Truth in advertising
Why do “matters political” seem to operate under one set of rules, but every other business or person in Australia under another? A case in point is the double-page UAP spread in The Age (11/5). Where is the requirement for truth in advertising? Sure, we expect political spin but not outright lies. There’s no way Craig Kelly could become our next PM. This is dangerous stuff. It undermines trust in our democratic system. Cash-strapped newspapers should do better than to accept the coin of would-be demagogues and their billionaire paymasters.
Jennie Irving, Camberwell
Read it and weep
As a regular Age letters reader, I have found that some letter writers who complain about Australia end with “I weep for my country” or a similar phrase (some even threaten to move to New Zealand). The Age on May 10 carried a letter in that genre from a correspondent who, not confining herself to the standard one weep, doubled up by saying she had recently twice wept about her country! I suggest that this writer now leads the lachrymose letter ladder for the Age. Is there any advance on two weeps for your country? Maybe an annual weeping letter competition could award the winner a year’s supply of tissues.
Thomas Hogg, East Melbourne
Aid already plundered
Your correspondent (Letters, 11/5) says foreign aid should be reduced and the funds redeployed to mental health and welfare. The reductions have already happened. In the words of the Lowy Institute, “Australia’s aid program has been the disproportionate victim of the Coalition government budget savings measures since forming government in 2013, and these cuts have seen Australia tumble in international rankings and left Australia at an all-time low when it comes to its aid generosity”. Regarding your correspondent’s claim that “charity begins at home”, has he forgotten the prime minister saying that Pacific nations are our family?
Maurice Critchley, Mangrove Mountain, NSW
Cash can be found
Australia, under the Morrison government in particular, already underspends on our stated commitments to foreign aid. This idea that we should reduce foreign aid to put more money into domestic social programs is an entirely redundant nationalistic argument – Australia can afford to do both. Why not instead take the millions owed by major corporations and businesses in misused JobKeeper funds for mental health? Or the generations of underpaid taxes from mining companies?
James O’Keefe, East Melbourne
An elegant solution
The concept of the multiverse, as questioned by your correspondent, (“Multiverse not science”, 11/5) is one way of solving a glitch in quantum mechanics. This theory is otherwise our best mathematical representation of reality, with an amazingly accurate predictive capacity. Problems arise with our mind’s inability to grasp infinity, spontaneous uncaused existence and the true nature of who/what we really are.
Peter Barry, Marysville
I agreed with your correspondent on multiverses, but this is science’s equivalence to the god that religions evoke in trying to make sense of the inexplicable.
John O’Hara, Mount Waverley
The world we live in
Your correspondent, an emeritus professor of zoology, questions the validity of claiming there are multiple universes. He bemoans the fact that this cannot be tested. I can finally offer some proof. I have noticed the federal government in general, and Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce in particular, believe we live in a universe/world where there is very little threat of global warming. If there is, they think, it is not really a problem and nothing will happen soon. Many others of us believe very much we live in a world where global warming is indeed a problem and we need urgent action. How I long to live in Morrison’s world/universe.
Jan Marshall, Brighton
Train, but also retain
Labor’s plan to attract more high achievers to teaching by reducing the costs of training is to be applauded. However, recruitment policies must focus on retention as well. Research shows it is long-term career prospects and status that deter most of our ablest graduates. Teacher salaries in countries whose students score higher on achievement tests reach levels more comparable with other professions than in Australia. We must be prepared to ensure teaching is a much more attractive career choice. This is undeniably a responsibility of our governments. The other side of the coin is that the profession must accept its responsibility to support a system that ensures career advancement based on credible evidence of increasing expertise in professional practice, as in other professions.
Australia has a system for providing certification to teachers who attain highly accomplished and lead teacher standards, but it is languishing. Few teachers are undertaking the process because the salary rewards are minimal, and the process is too cumbersome. Labor’s plan will be more successful if it includes policies to reform this system
Lawrence Ingvarson, Canterbury
Regarding the push to increase the use of phonics in classrooms, (“Phonics switch not in the bag yet”, 11/4) there is a bank of international evidence which supports a balanced approach to reading in which teachers respond to the individual needs of the child with a range of strategies, phonics being one of them.
Speech pathologist Alison Clarke appears obsessed with all children being signed up for a programmed approach to reading originally designed by cognitive scientists for kids with severe learning problems. No teaching expertise required – it is all about the program.
Susan Mahar, Fitzroy North
Will phonetic spelling aid in the spelling of Cholmondeley; lieutenant; to, too or two; phonic or funicular; educational, cate or cat and quaint? The pronunciation of some words is subtlety different to their spelling. Phonetic spelling will lead to a dumbing down of spelling.
Adrian Tabor, Point Lonsdale
And another thing
Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:
Cost of living
The Liberals’ position is clearly that to keep the cost of living under control wage earners should be unable to keep up with increases in the cost of living. Sounds fair.
Denny Meadows, Hawthorn
If the economy can’t support liveable wage levels but can provide rising profits for big business, it would appear that it has already been vandalised.
Gary Sayer, Warrnambool
How can Scott Morrison claim on one day that there’s nothing Anthony Albanese can do to make wages go up and a couple of days later say that Albanese’s comments supporting a CPI-based increase in the minimum wage were reckless and could send the economy into a spiral? Which is it?
Garry Meller, Bentleigh
Minister Stuart Robert claims the Fair Work Commission is an independent arbitrator in the setting of wages. The trouble is his government has been busy stacking the commission in an bid to reduce that independence.
Anne Maki, Alphington
Scott Morrison doesn’t trust barristers and lawyers and ICAC is a “kangaroo court” … what does he believe in?
Gary Bryfman, Brighton
The victorious leader will, without fail, declare that their party will govern for all Australians, even those who didn’t vote for them. So why, once an election is called, do only marginal seats get funding?
Corrado Tavella, Rosslyn Park, SA
Victoria is now averaging 10 COVID deaths a day. Can the Department of Health please give us a breakdown of the vaccination statuses of the deceased?
John Walsh, Watsonia
Since when and why did “conversation” replace “discussion” and “going forward” replace “in the future”?
Geof Carne, Moonee Ponds
I enjoyed watching Prince Charles opening the British parliament. Good to see the royals supporting our very own Franco Cozzo.
John Bye, Elwood
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