Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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Too many critical areas have been ignored
This budget has produced the biggest deficit since World War II and the largest national debt ever. But it is a disappointing budget. The government ignored (again) the need for new quarantine facilities, did little for the environment, and our existential climate crisis, and nothing for the ABC or our struggling universities, both of which have had to retrench hundreds and thousands of staff (respectively).
But assistance to business increased by $21billion. Inequality is likely to grow worse. Real wages are forecast to remain very flat for at least the next four years. By contrast, 20 countries, including Ireland, Taiwan, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and South Korea, are doing better than us in overall economic outcomes. At least the government was shamed into allocating more funds to aged care. Let us hope it buys better care for residents, not more Maseratis for owners.
Peter Harkness, economist, Mont Albert North
The system needs accountability and transparency
I congratulate Josh Frydenberg for his hollow attempts to repair a broken system. Without accountability or structural change, how do we know that these substantial amounts of taxpayers’ funds will go to aged care participants who need them, not fill the coffers of private providers? If accountability is not possible, then perhaps we need to hand the care of the elderly back to the states.
Sandra Lie, Altona Meadows
If Labor had produced such a sound budget …
It is good to see someone in the Liberal Party has finally read John Maynard Keynes’ 1936 seminal work, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. It looks like a sound budget for the times but one can only imagine the pillorying Labor would suffer if it brought down such an expansionary budget.
Tony Devereux, Nunawading
Government right to change its ‘repair’ rhetoric
There is little to be gained by pointing to the government’s backflip over debt and deficit. It has so successfully outflanked its critics that they have little left but to accuse it of being inconsistent. Circumstances are now so different that a radical change in attitude towards spending is justified. Would those critics prefer the government to continue its emphasis on budget repair and, as a consequence, put the nation’s health and economy at greater risk?
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills
The budget’s failure to protect the environment
Only 2per cent of the money Australia has spent on our economic recovery post-COVID has also resulted in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, Germany and France have spent 47per cent and 50per cent respectively (Climate Council, 2021).
The budget omits any significant contributions to help Australians reduce emissions and secure a clean and prosperous future. The costs to Australia from failing to reach zero emissions by 2035 are astronomical. We will watch the demise of our Great Barrier Reef, diverse wildlife and beautiful beaches. Our children will inherit a country ravaged by bushfires and floods. We must transition to clean energy and transport, transform to regenerative agriculture, and support community behaviour change to live and eat sustainably in connection with our natural world. There is a moral imperative to act but the government is failing us.
Amy Hiller, Kew
Have we forgotten childcare is an issue for men too?
In many cases, a child is planned and there is a known male involved in the process of conception and parenting. Are women expected to feel they have won a prize because childcare has increased funding? Men can take time out from paid work – my late husband did. It was not to “support” me, it was just what was fair and what worked for our family. The longer we keep calling childcare a “women’s issue”, the longer they will be forced to accept lower pay, superannuation accounts and independence, and be more vulnerable to homelessness and coercive control.
Angela Killingsworth, Beechworth
A lost opportunity
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has missed a once-in-a-political-lifetime opportunity to deliver a brave, compassionate and imaginative budget. If only he’d had the moral courage to step out of the Canberra bubble and act on the many challenges facing this country. His budget only protects his political self-interest by appeasing those in his party room who baulk at major structural reform across a range of policy areas, while minimising the greatest challenge of our time – catastrophic global warming. What a shame.
Brenda Tait, Kew
The high price of spending
This budget is spending massive amounts of taxpayers’ money. Whatever happened to the “debt and deficit disaster”? Have we all become sheep? Ewes will be paying all this off for many years to come.
Ross Crawford, Frankston South
Resorting to violence
Am I missing something here? A woman is subject to “inappropriate” behaviour in a nightclub (The Age, 10/5) and the media talks about how her partner and his Richmond Football Club teammate went the “biffo” and how this might impact on them, their team and their careers. They are praised for standing up for the women and so they should be, but is this typically male way of dealing with a problem not part of the problem?
Cheryl Walters, Manangatang
Fine the mask refusers
Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton was spot-on when he stated, “people had dropped their guard and a sense of complacency was creeping in” (The Age, 12/5). My recent travels on public transport revealed about 50per cent compliance with mask-wearing on the bus and about 70per cent on trains. Given the selfishness of these non-compliant individuals, the only solution is for our protective services officers to hand out fines. I for one do not want another lockdown.
Roger Fernando, Montrose
Let’s follow Brisbane lead
I was in Brisbane last week and before I could order or sit at a restaurant or bar, or enter galleries, etc, I had to show proof that I had checked into the Queensland government’s COVID tracing app. The diligence shown by every business towards the expectation to check in was outstanding. Victoria should adopt this approach and attitude.
Barb Olsen, Raymond Island
An interesting idea but…
I wonder if your reader who recommended that cruise ships be used for quarantine (Letters, 11/5) had thought about the cost of her proposal. To just have porthole or stateroom cabins available would mean that the vessel would have to operate at well below capacity. Either the government would have to compensate the cruise line for the resulting operating loss or the people quarantined would have to pay an expensive fare.
Doug Springall, Yarragon
Make masks compulsory
I attended a funeral at Springvale Crematorium last Friday. All attendees were assured by staff that masks were not necessary. Of about 160 people, only five of us wore masks. Your article, “Top epidemiologist says virus outbreak is ’absolutely inevitable‴ (The Age, 8/5) certainly indicates that a Victorian government health directive to mandate mask-wearing is essential, at least in all indoor venues and on public transport.
Jill Bryant, Malvern East
The long wait for mail
Australia Post has new advertisements on television. “We have been delivering your mail for 200 years,” it claims. I knew that it was slow getting wrongly addressed letters to my home, but not that slow.
John Ackerman, Keilor East
They’re our resources
Paul Cleary’s excellent article (Opinion, 11/5) on the mining wealth of the three major players in the Pilbara highlights the need for a responsible federal government to legislate in the interests of Australians and ensure they receive the benefits of the resources that belong to them. Norway has done what Australia has failed to do – that is why it is a far wealthier country. Sadly, the government is unlikely to act, to the detriment of all Australians. As Xavier Herbert wrote in a separate context – poor fella, my country.
Brian Kidd, Mount Waverley
Unfair to residents and …
Melbourne Airport, via its spokeswoman, trots out the same tired lines that it has long had “plans to build four runways” (The Age, 10/5). What they neglect to tell you is that they moved their runway design 1.1 kilometres to the west in 1990 because they had already built over their proposed runway site. Also, the previous planned runways were agreed to only because the noise contours that affected the residents were not going to extend beyond Mickleham Road to the east and the Calder Highway to the south. Now these plans extend well beyond both roads. Why should the airport have the social licence to draw a new runway on the map that runs directly over long-established suburbs? It is far too late.
Lyndi Chapman, Keilor
… to the environment
Regardless of the noise, the idea of adding a third and fourth runway to Melbourne Airport is totally inconsistent with our stated greenhouse gas emissions targets. Currently there is no practical replacement for aviation fuel nor is there any way of reducing the additional impact of high-altitude greenhouse gas emissions.
Peter Seligman, Brunswick West
Best wishes to our Bert
Sad news to read about Bert Newton having a leg amputated (The Age, 10/5) but good that he has chosen a positive path forward. He has given so much to the viewing public for so many years and we all wish him well. I can almost see him in a parallel world with Graham Kennedy, accompanied by his signature cheeky grin, saying: “Well, it’s not the first time you’ve been legless”. What a superlative comedic team they were. Apologies to those who find this humour outdated, at the very least.
John Paine, Kew East
Towards higher standards
Former lord mayor Robert Doyle is living with the consequences of his actions and it is painful to watch him do a mea culpa (The Age, 11/5). I only hope that we, as a society, have higher standards for our leaders and that future generations of men become better citizens and learn from Mr Doyle’s mistakes.
Melina Smith, Brighton
All patients are triaged
To reassure Pelham Wellspring (Letters, 10/5), the triage system in all emergency departments works in the same way. It is a common misconception that arriving by ambulance means you will be seen more quickly. This is not true. Patients are triaged according to the urgency with which they need to be seen by a nurse or doctor.
If a patient arrives by ambulance and is considered well enough to wait in the waiting room, this is where they will go. If a patient arrives by car and is considered an urgent case, they will be taken straight to a cubicle. An ambulance should be called only by those who are unwell or unstable enough to potentially need the care of paramedics en route. Otherwise, please arrive by other transport and leave the ambulance service to transport those who are unwell enough to need their skills and knowledge.
Gaynor Sheahan, Wantirna South
Standing up to China
I should like to challenge Kevin Rudd’s piece – “War talk on China juvenile” (Opinion, 8/5). Might it just be that Australia is fed up with being the “fly on the windscreen” and, from time to time, is prepared to exercise its right to be the “windscreen wiper”? China will always defer to perceived strength, regardless of its pronouncements, and will only choose to advance its interests when and where it sees weakness.
Alan Cane, Frankston South
Putting our children first
Once again there is a call for an inquiry into Victoria’s child protection system and for more focus on the prevention of child abuse (The Age, 10/5). Over the past 20 years, many independent inquiries have highlighted that while early prevention strategies are important, the protection of children must remain our primary priority. There is a lamentable lack of public awareness, and therefore government funding, in this critical area. Child protection is “buried” in a large department that has little interest in highlighting the problem through publishing abuse and protection statistics. Also, the current mechanisms of reporting child abuse are convoluted.
We need bipartisan support for the establishment of an independent government agency with a strong board, legal accountability, adequate funding and transparent reporting of its performance in protecting our vulnerable children.
Jeff Floyd, Mount Waverley
Twice as much? Really?
“Where men retire with twice as much super as women”, reads the (print) headline (The Age, 11/5). However, in the second paragraph: “The biggest gulf in Victoria is in the Gippsland electorate (Gippsland, Wellington, LaTrobe), where the median super balance for men is $84,900, 44 per cent higher than the $47,400 for women”. It always pays to read the small print, people.
Albert Riley, Mornington
Don’t bother with ’rules’
On Sunday, I took a friend from New York to the MCG. He asked: “Why do they punch the ball long distances and throw it short distances?” I told him that players were not allowed to throw it at all. He was most amused.
Barry Thompson, Castlemaine
How unlucky was I?
Apparently, those who are exempt from wearing masks on public transport due to medical reasons are less than 10per cent of the population. What a strange coincidence that so many of this group congregated on the same train I commuted on from the city this week.
Mark Hulls, Sandringham
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
Did our two major parties swap jumpers and start kicking at each other’s goals?
Eric Kopp, Flinders
Aged care providers will be laughing all the way to the bank with extra cash but little oversight.
David Eames-Mayer, Balwyn
Secure the health of the nation as well as the economy. Fund the Mickleham quarantine station.
Irene Morley, Seaford
An extra $10 per person per day increase in payment to aged care providers. Less neglect or more Maseratis?
Laurie McCormack, Northcote
If the climate is a loser in the budget, then we are all losers.
Kate Down, Surrey Hills
Will the expenditure of the budget billions be accompanied by targets so we can measure the outcomes?
Bernie Chandler, Donvale
Pensioners, the forgotten voters.
Rosemary Lithgow, Maryborough
Mean-spirited government equals JobSeeker, unemployment, poverty, misery, bad economics.
John and Val Kent, Mornington
The people who think Joe Biden is a radical socialist surely think Scott Morrison is a raging communist after the budget.
Malcolm Fraser, Oakleigh South
Another hotel quarantine leak. More emotional and financial uncertainty. Build a proper quarantine facility now.
Elizabeth Meredith, Surrey Hills
Perhaps we should ask China for foreign aid to build a 10,000-place quarantine town in a month.
Kishor Dabke, Mount Waverley
Surely “hotel quarantine” is oxymoron of the year.
Geoff Schmidt, Richmond
A First World problem: why do I have to ask for a strong coffee in order to avoid receiving a weak one?
David Hamilton, Hampton
The solution: Collingwood, black stripes on white. Port Adelaide, white stripes on black.
David Johnston, Healesville
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