It’s unfair to expect our sportsmen to be paragons

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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It’s unfair to expect our sportsmen to be paragons

Every night, hundreds of thousands of Australians take drugs – not all of them alcohol, many of them illicit. These people are not all shamed or publicly humiliated. They are not banned from their jobs for a set period and they are not fined tens of thousands of dollars. Why do we have such ludicrous and hypocritical expectations of young sportsmen? Why should they be paragons – apart from their sporting prowess?

The next time a young athlete is hauled before a press conference and made to read one of those scripted lamentations, he should start by telling the reporters that he will answer their questions when they are open about the last time they got rotten or took drugs. That should shorten those prurient farces. James Joyce described Oscar Wilde’s tormenters as “the choir of the just”. It is alive and baying.
Peter Rose, South Yarra

The responsibility of ‘idols’ to set a good example

It is high time that many athletes, “celebrities” (real and imagined) and “influencers”, to name but a few, started to behave responsibly. Fame and celebrity come at a cost to the private lives of those who would seek these dubious states of being.

Former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire fears that AFL players will soon be blackmailed if they are caught on film taking drugs (Sport, 21/2). There is a simple way to prevent this from happening: do not take drugs in the first place.

High-profile people also have a duty of care, because that is what it is, to set a good example to those who hold them in high regard, especially vulnerable, easily influenced young people who tend to mimic the activities of their “heroes” and “idols”.

These high profilers are paid large (in some cases, phenomenal) sums of money to perform in their particular field. Their part of the “social contract” is to behave in a manner that is acceptable to the reasonable person in the community, whether it is their professional capacity or in their private time.

Unfortunately, privacy is a luxury one forgoes when in the public eye. It is called the price of fame. And word to the wise: phone cameras and telephoto lenses are everywhere.
Colin Wilson-Evered, Forest Hill

Focus should be on those who set up young players

We drag a 20-year-old footballer across the coals for an ill-considered act, exposing him to the opprobrium of all and sundry. But does anyone really care? Isn’t this all just confected outrage? Our focus should be on the opportunistic people who preyed upon him, if not set him up. The actions of the trolls who film such incidents and leak them to the media are far more reprehensible than those who become ensnared in their nets.
Matt Dunn, Leongatha

Is it fair or right to film someone in this way?

Which is the more despicable act: taking an illicit substance, or filming and disseminating vision of someone in a public toilet without their permission?
Peter Knight, St Arnaud


Pay us what we’re worth

Promises of AFL contributions to community football as a component of the package for a new stadium in Hobart (Sport, 24/2) are met with cynicism from community umpires.

In the Essendon District Football League (EDFL), premier level clubs have a salary cap of $110,000 to distribute amongst their players in 2023. This equates to a pay of $240 per game for each player.

The EDFL premier-level umpires, with the fitness and ability to control such a physical game with complex laws, are paid a miserly $160 a game. This pay rate is typical throughout metropolitan Melbourne. I call on the AFL to facilitate a fair pay rate for community football umpires.
Peter Gould, EDFL Umpires Association, Moonee Ponds

Danger in raiding super

Perhaps the Liberal Party should work on developing policies to reduce the gender pay gap rather than undermining the superannuation system which is there to provide for a dignified retirement. If women did not earn 13 per cent less than men on average – and up to 27 per cent in some industries (The Age 24/2) – then they might not need to raid their super for housing as Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley is suggesting.

Women already have less superannuation than men thanks to the pay gap and time out of the workforce because of caring duties. The Liberals’ plan would further entrench women’s financial disadvantage in retirement.
Kerry Lewis, Williamstown

Allowing for longevity

While recognising some validity in the Grattan Institute’s concerns that superannuation has become a “taxpayer-funded inheritance scheme” (The Age, 23/2), I do not believe this is the whole truth regarding balances paid out as bequests.

Any prudent person will want their super to fund their reasonable lifestyle through to its end. Most will make provision for living longer than they eventually do; no one wants to spend their final years in financially straitened circumstances.

As we get older, we need to spend more on medical support and our bodies tell us that our use-by date is getting closer. So when we do die, most of us will still have a balance of super provided for potential longevity. Reasonable residual balances should not be demonised.
Chris Young, Surrey Hills

Many with shorter lives

I am a retired nurse with a great deal of experience in aged care. The discussion about allowing early access to the age pension for First Nations people does not take into account any aged Australian with a debilitating disease, such as motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s disease or cancer, or who has had a stroke. In short, anybody and everybody with a shorter life expectancy.
Judith Quinn, Avoca

Still waiting, Mr Joyce…

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, now that profits have risen again (The Age, 24/2), could your company please honour its passes (ie, the credits for fares booked before COVID-19). Not just honour them, but cease charging excess on newly-listed bookings to the tens of thousands of people who have money left with Qantas.

Also, even if pass holders decide to pay the extra charge, their booking is often rejected due to apparent restrictions on use of the passes on some flights. What other company is permitted to charge people for using their money, interest-free?
Jenni King, Camberwell

…to get our money back

Alan Joyce wants to charge a premium. Well, how about Qantas first repaying us $2700 for the flights we booked that were cancelled due to COVID-19? Isn’t it funny that our booking records went missing, as Qantas staff claim? And that a registered complaint letter we sent to Joyce personally was never acknowledged.
Larry Stillman, Elwood

Qantas’ warped priorities

Alan Joyce, forget about cattle class and let them fend for themselves with their missing bags. Just look after those at the top end and spend 100 million on swanky lounges.
Michael McKenna, Warragul

Customers won’t forget

Recently I read about a successful British company, Octopus Energy, whose revenue surged in the last 12 months while it maintained high customer engagement and satisfaction. It supported households struggling with high prices and absorbed more than $A250 million in costs, rather than pass them on to customers.

That is in direct contrast to Qantas which has made huge profits while treating customers and staff shabbily. The Octopus CEO commented that while wanting higher profits, longer-term strength was more likely to occur with a strong loyal customer base and a good service. Alan Joyce, take note. Customers are doing a lot of “revenge travel” now, but revenge is likely to take a different form down the track.
Mark Lowen, Glen Iris

High cost of health care

Two visits to GP in a week to deal with a simple urinary tract infection, a charge of $20 each time instead of being bulk-billed with the Health Care Card. Two prescriptions for antibiotics, $7 each. This seems to have gone up. A total cost of $54 on an unemployment benefit which is far below the poverty line.

How do people with more complex health issues manage? This Labor government’s neglect of the less fortunate in our society is a disgrace.
Kim Miles, West Melbourne

Let’s staff the checkouts

Coles and Woolworths have offered to take responsibility for more than 12,000 tonnes of soft plastics stockpiled by the failed REDcycle recycling program (The Age, 24/2). Great, but it would be good if they also committed to having employees for their checkout registers.
Mel Green, Glen Waverley

Our secret weapon

May I suggest a solution to the problem of Chinese CCTV cameras. Don’t just dump them. Recoup some taxpayers’ cash by selling them to the wider community at discount prices. If the Chinese really are monitoring them, they will soon get bored witless watching our humdrum, suburban lives, day after day. Money saved, spies frustrated, it is a win-win.
Damien Ryan, Berwick

Watch out for ’jet-skis’

I applaud Ben Rossiter’s article on the e-scooter trial (Opinion, 22/2). I lead walking groups of retirees around Melbourne. Any risk assessment of walking must take into account the high likelihood of encounters with the “jet-skis” of our footpaths. I walk almost every day. I rarely see police officers patrolling the streets and I have never seen an e-scooter rider being cautioned or booked. The state government, City of Melbourne and e-scooter companies must also be held to account.
Tom McNair, Docklands

Make it a broader ban

Countries which want to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2024 Olympic Games could extend it to cover Iran, and threaten to boycott China if it sends lethal weapons to Russia.
Anthony Palmer, Southbank

Follow Sydney’s lead

Non-polluting, drone-driven light shows provided beautiful, colourful and quiet visual displays in the sky over Sydney Harbour recently. I hope Melbourne will embrace this method to provide light shows in our skies, one which will not pollute the air nor frighten our pets and wildlife.
Shirley Anderson, Armadale

The new “shoey? No…

In 1975, with my own 21-year-old eyes, I witnessed a now departed dear friend “doing a shoey” in the salubrious surrounds of Peter Poynton’s Pink Pussycat Hotel in Carlton, to celebrate a Collingwood victory. It has all been done before.
Mary-Lou Poulson, Ashburton

…it’s very old news

The shoey originated in the 1950s with the Hash House Harriers, an international group of non-competitive running social clubs. Anyone who was fortunate enough to be able to purchase a new set of sandshoes was put in his place by being forced to drink from his new shoe.
Paul Crompton, Cheltenham


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Money matters

Prime minister, please nationalise Qantas (24/2).
Graeme Lee, Fitzroy

We may have avoided a wage-price spiral (23/2), but we’re certainly suffering from a profit-price one.
Paul Perry, Fitzroy North

It would be wise to treat with caution any commentary by Stuart “robo-debt” Robert (22/2) on how our money is used, allocated or taxed.
Erica Grebler, Caulfield North

Re super. The teals have shown their true colours. A bluer shade of green.
Sandra Torpey, Hawthorn

The housing issue will only be resolved when we decide having a roof over your head is a human right rather than an investment right.
Judith Hudson, Elwood


If you vote No in the referendum, will you be labelled “un-Australian”?
Penny Garnett, Castlemaine

It’s bizarre that we are to expect power blackouts from 2027 (21/2). Just fix the issue.
Craig Tucker, Newport

Dutton needs to change the Liberal Party’s name to the Anti-Party.
Peter Smullen, Ardmona

For ducks’ sake, stop the shooting.
Margaret Ward, Sorrento

I spy with a suspicious eye, ASIO lobbying for more funding (23/2).
Doug Perry, Mount Martha


I shall decide when I am offended and the circumstances under which I am offended.
James Young, Mount Eliza

I object to my taxes being used to pay teachers of a selective religious affiliation.
Barry Greer, Balnarring

Seriously? How do the revisionists plan to deal with Shakespeare?
Bis Andrzejewski, Strathmore

In a world of Henry Kissingers, let’s be a Jimmy Carter (20/2).
Mary Mandanici, Preston

King Gizzard & the Wizard Lizard (24/2) decided not to appear alongside a band they don’t respect. That’s about it.
George Lazarides, Brunswick

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