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Victoria is again at the leading edge of progressive reform with the establishment of the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission (“Please hear our voices … bring us home’,” The Age, 10/3.) I hope that this exploration of the ongoing impact of colonial settlement on the Aboriginal population will include an examination of the sources of money behind the squatters and their investors who were able to take over vast swathes of land in what is now Victoria, removing Aborigines in the process.
A significant amount of this money flowed into Australia through compensation paid in 1835 by the British government to slave owners in the West Indies for the loss of their slaves (“Australia’s deep connection with enslavement,” The Age, 16/6/2020), and the present-day wealth and status of some in our society has its origins here. Time for truth-telling indeed.
Peter McCarthy, Mentone
Trauma can’t be underestimated
The Age editorial, (“Indigenous people need to be heard”, 10/3), in discussing the launch of the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission by the Victorian government, rightly alludes to potentially challenging issues such as compensation being paid to Indigenous survivors of a fraught era in which dreadful wrongs were committed by the white majority. For a reconciliation and ultimate treaty to occur, the consciousness-raising role of the commission should not be underestimated. Front and centre should be the issue of intergenerational trauma documenting the corrosive long-term impact for Indigenous people of, for example, stolen generations children being removed from their families. Difficulties with attachment, disconnection from their extended families and culture and high levels of stress for family and community members across the years have already been highlighted by the Indigenous organisation, Healing Foundation. Such impacts remain an existential condition for many of Victoria’s Indigenous people.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza
A positive step forward
“The Yoo-rrook Justice Commission … to be the first truth-telling process to investigate the injustices experienced by Aboriginal people since colonisation.” Makes you proud to be a Victorian.
John Mosig, Kew
Land was stolen for profit
Something real needs to evolve from Victoria’s truth and justice process about colonisation’s impact on Australia’s tribal black lives. Most politicians, historians and mining company executives know the Yoo-rrook of Australian colonisation – stealing land for personal wealth. The Wurundjeri have been saying this for decades. The whole system of capitalism is based on private property and the exploitation of land for profit. With property prices going up I can’t see the Crown, mining companies, pastoralists and property investors returning stolen property for the common good once the truth gets out there. I welcome the debates of what reparations will look like.
Leon Zembekis, Reservoir
Interesting to note that the Indigenous community in Tasmania and across mainland Australia is calling for European-named rivers, locations, mountains, etc, to be changed to an Indigenous name or have a combined European and Indigenous name. It is also interesting that the members of the national Indigenous community are not all changing their European names to a combined European/Indigenous name. Obviously First Nation people are proud of their thousands of years of heritage but it is surprising that more have not changed their own names. A local council in NSW is changing the name of an island in its region – Coon Island will have its name changed to something yet to be determined. I am surprised that Tasmanian place names such as Black Charlies Opening, Black Bobs, Blackmans Bay and Blackman Bay haven’t been slotted for change.
Alan Leitch, Austins Ferry, Tas
Crushed by ‘Firm’ grip
The considerable world interest in Oprah Winfrey’s skillful interview with Meghan and Harry was rewarded. Whatever our divided reactions, another intelligent woman has been devastated by the experience of joining the “Firm”. The British government would be wise to work with the Queen and royal family to facilitate a safe and caring environment for its members. That might give a way forward from this very sad affair, and a fascinating twist to the term “royal commission”.
Roland Cropley, Blackburn South
Queen beyond reproach?
In the light of the recent highly publicised Harry and Meghan interview, there has been an outpouring of opinion regarding their call for help/sympathy or grab for cash, depending on your point of view. This has combined with considerable commentary on the status of the royal “Firm” and its supposed shortcomings. This criticism is often deflected away from the Queen, who seems to be widely regarded as having worked hard and devoted her life to duty and service. But this begs the question – of duty to whom and what service exactly? Exactly what does she do for Australia? Can someone explain that to me please.
David Rabl, Ocean Grove
With Meghan and Harry publicly airing the most sensitive of private matters, they are selling their souls to gain the world at the most inopportune time for the royal family. Is this is a tactic to gain money? Why use their previous connection to royalty? Sadly grubby behaviour.
Frances Damon, Tooradin
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex was not raised in a Commonwealth country and showed in her interview she does not understand the historical import of the British monarchy and how damaging her accusations about racism are. Historically the world has been controlled and divided by stronger conquering nations, colonies, protectorates, etc. Amazingly, from the jumble of British territories the Commonwealth of Nations, formed in 1926, has survived. This organisation has been able to bring nations together and has done much to combat racism. The 54 member states, almost a third of the world’s population, are members with common values and goals, such as human rights, rule of law, free trade and world peace. The Queen, in the symbolic role as head of the Commonwealth, has served for nearly 70 years and she is admired worldwide. I have no doubt Meghan has struggled with many issues but to publicly smear the monarchy shows a lack of understanding of its importance. That her husband, a member of the royal family, did too – there is no excuse.
Christina Foo, Wahroonga
This latest contretemps to hit the Windsor dynasty, after the disgrace of Prince Andrew’s sex life, is the final straw. The English monarchy has been irretrievably damaged by recent events. It’s about time the British people found a new family to represent them, and we found an Australian to represent us.
Brian Sanaghan, West Preston
There have been references to the sacking of the Whitlam government by the governor-general (Letters, 10/3). While it’s high time Australia became a republic, the president would have the same power to dismiss governments and call for new elections. Such as happens in Italy and Ireland, for example. So harping on about what happened to Whitlam is irrelevant.
Peter Russell Davies, Broadmeadows
Not a politician
“Why are we ruled by this motley crew?“, your correspondent asks (Letters, 10/3). An Australian head of state is what he and others are asking for. Who is there in Australia for this job? Not a politician. Whatever system we have there will still be a motley crew. We will still have to know our place. So, we might as well keep the system we have, which is working.
Anne Flanagan, Box Hill North
Who do you believe?
Much discussion of the past few weeks covers two dominant and recurring themes. Namely, the enduring struggle of women’s testimonials (of sexual abuse by men known to them) to be believed and the poor leadership shown (by men and certain female leaders) to respond adequately to women’s disclosures of immense psychological harm post-traumatic incident. So, no wonder that many people don’t believe Meghan (“Why don’t people believe Meghan Markle?”, 10/3). She’s up against institutional power of a royal and antecedent kind. That Meghan’s testimony is not believed by many is unremarkable, because her lived reality since marrying Prince Harry is challenging the favoured perception that the “Firm” – the institution of the UK monarchy – wants people to believe. The people who hated Meghan will continue to hate her. But I am inclined to believe her, like all the other brave women sharing their stories of trauma and survival, because it is her story to tell.
Jelena Rosic, Mornington
At arm’s length?
The Prime Minister tries to convince us that he has maintained an arm’s length to the Christian Porter affair, yet his office feels obliged to call the lawyer that has been advising Porter to thank him for his advice? Is this the same Prime Minister’s Office that decided not to tell the PM about an alleged rape in Parliament a few doors down?
Melissa Macrae, North Balwyn
Aged care dilemma
Ross Gittins neatly summarises the dilemma of paying for aged care (“Care fades away on elder abuse”, The Age, 10/3). There is no reason why retirees should not pay tax on their income, including from superannuation, at the same rate as other members of the community. The money in super accounts has already been concessionally taxed during the accumulation phase. And why the horror at the concept of death duties, especially at a modest rate of say 30 per cent on estates of more than $3 million? You can’t enjoy the benefits of wealth once you’re dead and some of that lucre should quite fairly be returned to the society whose rules allowed you to accumulate that wealth in the first place. It’s a competition between greed, incentive and fairness.
Peter Barry, Marysville
I recently happened upon the TV broadcast of question time in Parliament, and can only agree with Jan Garrard (Letters, 10/3) that it is an “unedifying spectacle”. Even when they are not shouting at each other there is a strange ritualistic kabuki performance on show. First there is “thanking the honourable member for the question”. If it is a Dorothy Dix prompt from their own side, the minister then reminds us how great the government is, and how lucky we are to have them. If it is from the opposition, the response generally skirts around the substance of the question. At the end, the minister expresses thanks to Mr Speaker and resumes their seat to the nods and smiles of assent from their colleagues. What an ineffectual way to conduct the business of government.
Jim Spithill, Ashburton
End climate of fear
I fully endorse the call by the Prime Minister and NSW Premier for a unified, national approach to border closures and lockdowns (“Vaccines must end lockdowns, says PM,” The Age, 10/3.) Businesses can’t operate in a climate of uncertainty and inconsistent procedures and they’ve been severely damaged by sudden announcements of restrictions and lockdowns. Citizens also cannot survive in an atmosphere of fear and anxiety. It was outrageous for the Victorian government to close its border with a few hours’ notice on New Year’s eve. Surely there’s scope for the federal government to be more pro-active and decisive in directing the states and territories to a consistent national approach?
Kevin Burke, Sandringham
It is certainly not time to start listening to Scott Morrison regarding border controls and lockdowns. If that had happened this time last year, Australia’s death toll would be incalculable. States and territories, keep your nerve!
Lawry Mahon, Port Fairy
Poor Major and Champ, ejected from the White House without ever losing an election (“Joe Biden’s dog Major banished from White House after ‘biting incident’,” 10/3). This case shows us that dogs are sensitive to malign spirits inhabiting those hallowed halls. And if any home needs a spiritual cleansing after a dark four years it must be the White House, knowing as we do just what rough beast has slouched its corridors. Fortunately, the place won’t be pet-free. The “first cat” will continue to nonchalantly prowl the place, studiously ignoring the orange horrors that have so terrified its canine compatriots.
Ken Richards, Elwood
Ben Groundwater (Traveller, 10/3) is bemused why Australians are just not demanding their right to be allowed to travel overseas. Maybe it’s because they are rational thinking people who can see that the risk of 14 days of quarantine at either or both ends of the trip is likely and many attractive travel locations have dangerously high levels of COVID-19 infection or are just plain closed until further notice.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South
An important step towards gender equality and respect is to recognise same sex education is past its use by date. My son put it to me simply, miserable in year 10, that same sex education “doesn’t reflect real life”. I listened, and moved him successfully to a coeducational school. How can we foster mutual respect and regard in the workplace when girls and boys are kept apart throughout their schooling, or during the important teenage years when tremendous physical, emotional and personality development occurs?
Anita White, Kew
AND ANOTHER THING…
Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:
Dan beat COVID-19 but not the stairs. Get better soon, Dan.
Chris Boon, Nunawading
Dan Andrews again proves he is one of the few political leaders to actually have a spine.
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale
Dear Dan, get well soon. Kind regards.
Dawn Evans, Highton
Forget city hall. You can’t fight dysfunctional families.
John Rawson, Mernda
If only Wallis Simpson could have whispered some advice to Meghan.
David Francis, Ocean Grove
They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace … Meghan and Harry did it with malice! (Courtesy A.A. Milne)
Myra Fisher, Brighton East
“Recollections may vary”. Is that the royal version of “alternative facts”?
Bernd Rieve, Brighton
There is a big difference between “worrying” and perhaps “wondering”, especially when it comes to a baby-to-be’s skin colour.
Tony O’Brien, South Melbourne
Lost, an addiction to anything Trump, fuelled during his four years as president. Found, a new addiction with all things Harry and Meghan. Help wanted!
Jessie Mackenzie, Brunswick
“Vaccines must end lockdowns, says PM” (10/3). Personally, I would prefer to keep listening to the scientists.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills
“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” sang the Beatles. Poor old former Nationals leader John Anderson, 64, is only good as “an adviser and mentor” (“Nats veteran Anderson plots return as senator”, 9/3.) Joe Biden is 78 and full-time.
Malcolm Cameron, Camberwell
I wonder how long Greg Hunt had to wait in the emergency department at Frankston Hospital before being admitted.
Greg Lee, Red Hill
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