We have been warned on the dangers of division

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We should all be taking notice of the politics of the divide that is playing out in the Middle East and the utter tragedy that has beset two peoples. Here, in Australia, we are seeing the division of our nation, over an issue that is both clear and should be straightforward. An issue that has allowed the irrational to occupy much of the information disseminated and for some to allow the quest for political power to override the best example that this nation has to offer. We should be ashamed and concerned. Where are we, as a people, heading?
Loucille McGinley, Brighton East

Christian voters
I am surprised and disappointed that a survey of voters (“Indigenous Yes backers remain in majority”, 11/10) found that Christians do not support the Voice, by a margin of two to one (Yes 32 per cent, No 68 per cent). The two largest Christian churches (Catholic and Anglican) have publicly endorsed the Uluru Statement. Catholic Church leaders were willing to support one side in the 2017 plebiscite on same-sex marriage. Yet I have seen little support or discussion on whether the Voice fits with Christian doctrine.

Can politics and religion be kept separate? Perhaps, but I hope that politics and “loving your neighbour” are never far apart.
John Hughes, Mentone

Deserving a vote?
The constant exposure to vox pops on radio and TV news, in which respondents indicate they have not heard of a referendum, leads me to wonder about the democratic process. Is it acceptable that citizens who arrive at the polling place, without any knowledge of the substance of the referendum, should be given a vote? How is that a true reflection of the considered opinion of the demos?
Surely it is worth considering the introduction of a short multiple answer test, before being handed a ballot paper?
Maurie Trewhella, Hoppers Crossing

Shining a light on First Nations
Something positive has arisen out of this otherwise divisive and badly managed referendum. Successful, happy, thriving Indigenous people from all walks of life are entering the limelight and mainstream media to share a variety of views. Too often the word “disadvantage” is attached to discussions around Aboriginal people. Disadvantage exists in all areas of society but to be continually associated with this word surely does no favours to Aboriginal people at large.
Pene Patrick, Woodend

Better next time
I’m voting No – not because I’m racist, but on the principle that no lobby group of any persuasion should have privileged access to our government. I support recognition in the Constitution, but the current proposal gives me no choice. The foreshadowed motion by Peter Dutton to have another referendum on recognition would be accepted by all fair-minded citizens.

Everyone knows there are problems that need fixing. Parliaments at all levels could/should develop policies – then liaise with local Indigenous groups on how best to deliver them. There needs to be accountability. That means targets, timelines and audits, then rejigging of the delivery programs to suit particular regions. No matter what the result is, our federal politicians need to work together to deliver the outcomes most of us seek for Australia.
Jim Tutt, Anglesea

Goldilocks tactics
Those of us with scars from John Howard’s divide-and-rule tactics in the republic referendum are stunned to see such tactics working again. This time even the Indigenous vote is split between those who think the proposal does not go far enough and those who think it goes too far. Just like Howard’s claim – that a republic would deprive us of a monarch but would leave us not enough rule-by-the-people. We are about to be duped again.
Tony Haydon, Springvale


Imposed solutions
It looks like the No vote is going to win on Saturday (“Indigenous Yes backers remain in majority”, 11/10). As a Yes voter I cannot understand the fear that people obviously feel about giving Aboriginal people a Voice in their own affairs. We have had years of Indigenous “solutions”. Imposed by white people and without consultation, they have been found wanting time and time again. It is time for a new way forward and our First Nations people have suggested the way.

We have destroyed their way of life, occupied their land, killed many, nearly destroyed their culture, and taken away their children. Many are still suffering. Surely voting Yes is the least we can do.
Other countries have instituted similar ideas and their systems have not suffered. A Voice not written into the Constitution would be the plaything of each succeeding government in office, easily disregarded and abolished. There would be no certainty of continuity.
Eva Miller, Castlemaine

Having their say
An excellent and insightful article by Jacqueline Maley: “What do the No camp and anti-suffragists have in common? Too much” (8/10). The No campaign really does have much in common with the ant-suffragists. It is time the original inhabitants of this country are given an opportunity to have their say. Unfortunately we are not all equal. They have a much lower life expectancy and experience much poorer housing conditions and social and economic conditions than the majority of Australia’s newer inhabitants. It will be an advisory body like other advisory bodies and should not be feared.
Maria McKinnon, Northcote

Simple fix
I read Jaqueline Maley with interest. She omits one important point: a referendum to change the Constitution was not held to decide the issue. Women were given the right to vote by means of the Commonwealth Franchise Act passed on June 12, 1902. How many people will vote No because while they want to improve conditions for Indigenous Australians, they don’t think changing the Constitution is the right way to do it?
Sue Bracy, Mount Eliza

Enhancing history
Further to the discussion from some correspondents about the 1901 Constitution being “an untested, inadequately explained body” at its inception, its most obvious flaw in a modern context was that it did not in 1901 and does not in 2023 acknowledge Indigenous Australians. The Voice to Parliament would, albeit as an advisory body, arguably enhance its integrity. It is not being mischievous to suggest that constitutional purists of Tony Abbott’s ilk should come on board the Yes side of the referendum, even at this late stage.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Under the surface
As a non-Jew who grew up in a middle-class suburb, I am well aware of the antisemitism that lies just beneath the surface in our majority European Christian community, where people spoke callously of Jews behind their backs and felt the need, in some cases duty, to identify and isolate them. They had a licence to hate Jews passed down and took to it with relish.

For these people, Israel is a proxy for Jews and Palestine is an opportunity to attack them. There’s no BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against China regarding its treatment of the Uighurs, Turkey with the Kurds or Indonesia and the West Papuans. To them, the Holocaust is an impediment to openly stating their views and they seek by false equivalences some retrospective justification for it, the common trope being “they brought it on themselves”. Zionism is equated with Nazism, although it began as a movement to find a safe haven for Jews when they were being expelled from Europe under threat of extermination.

With false hand-wringing, some claim to hope that the murder of Jewish children will somehow bring about a resolution in the Levant, something they would never have dared to say after 9/11.
The uncomfortable truth for these people is that from the day Israel was created by the UN it has been attacked by its neighbours in three major wars and endless acts of terror by those whose catchcry is “from the river to the sea”, a barely disguised euphemism for the extermination of all Jews in Israel. If there is ever to be peace in the Middle East it will have to begin with the Palestinians, which is something their urgers in the West do not want.
Bruce King, Malvern East

Bloody past
All who hope for justice in Palestine and peace in the region must feel grief and anguish at the brutal events of the past few days. Will the world learn anything from the outcome, that is the question. Many lands were colonised in the past expansion of empires and many wars for freedom were fought, most of them bloody and horrific. The land of Palestine was colonised to create a safe home for Jewish people after the horrors of the Nazi holocaust, but no safe home has since been created for the indigenous people of Palestine who were displaced in 1948. The expansion of settlements, the occupation of the West Bank and the 16-year blockade of Gaza have continued the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Enough is enough. Instead of sending more arms to fan the flames of violence, the international community must call for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, begin urgent negotiations to enable the release of hostages and work to actively bring about justice and freedom for Palestine.
Lorel Thomas, Blackburn South

Peace waylaid
Iran is the only winner here. It is not their people and property that is being demolished, and the fledgling peace moves with Saudi Arabia are now on indefinite hold.
Marie Nash, Balwyn

Necessary blockade
Your explainer (“What is Hamas and why is it at war with Israel? A guide”, 10/10) states that Israel’s blockade of Gaza means that basic supplies of food and medicine have been missing. Israel’s blockade attempts to keep out goods with military use, which, given Hamas’ proclaimed and now proven intentions, is justified and legal. Even the UN has upheld its legality.

However, Israel has previously always allowed the Strip access to humanitarian goods, including food, water, fuel and medicine, with multiple truckloads crossing from Israel into Gaza every day. It also allowed thousands of Gaza residents into Israel to work or for medical care. It’s also important to remember Gaza has a border with Egypt that Israel doesn’t control.
George Greenberg, Malvern

Election motivation
Thanks to your correspondent (Letters, 10/10) for the very pertinent comments on the Israel/Palestine situation, among other things suggesting that “Hamas must be removed from leadership”. However, the reason for Hamas’ election in Gaza must also be given attention. The fact that Israel has occupied, in some way or other, Palestinian territory since 1967, contravening international law, and segments of the Israeli populace have moved, with government approval and no international sanction, to occupy Palestine land since that same time is a very large reason for that election.
Ian Usman Lewis, Kentucky, NSW

Simply excuses
Your correspondent (Letters, 9/10) cites various justifications for stealing from supermarkets and elsewhere. These are simply excuses. Times are tough? But when are they not? Self-service checkouts are unpaid labour? So, do we not pay for petrol because we’ve operated the bowsers? Checkout operator jobs have been threatened? Do we then rob a bank because ATMs have replaced tellers? We’ve stolen the lands we live on? Does that really justify shoplifting?

No amount of fabricated justifications fool anyone that shoplifting and fare evasion are stealing and not OK, and they never have been.
Pauline Charleston, Brunswick West

Big profits?
I take exception to the article by Vivienne Pearson (“My supermarket accused me of theft. Pot, kettle, black?” 10/10).

To state that supermarkets have made billion-dollar profits proves just that. To achieve such profits, Coles for example had to sell over $30 billion worth of goods.

Its so-called huge profit comes in at less than 3 per cent. Not huge at all.
Mike Weiss, Vermont South

Narrow focus
Your correspondent suggests that it’s time to deny older voters, say those over 50, from voting in referendums. I think it’s a great idea, especially if we add to this restriction voters younger than 40 years old, given that they haven’t had enough experience in life to safely make such long-term decisions.

Also, to make sure that they live to experience these long-term consequences, the voters should be made to carry to the booth a health clear card signed by a doctor and a psychologist, stating that their sane life expectancy is at least 10 years.
George Fernandez, Eltham North

Collection canned?
I hate to be a killjoy, but I think that young Ashton Hanson (“The 10-year-old super-collector of bottles and cans set to cash in”, 11/10) might be wasting his time collecting containers ahead of the start of the container deposit scheme.

It’s hard to find, but the online site regarding the container scheme states: “Eligible containers cannot be collected for redemption until the scheme starts. The CDS relies on the scheme costs being included in the price of the container at the time of purchase. This won’t occur until the scheme has officially commenced in November 2023.”

I believe eligible containers will have a special code printed on them to identify them.
Alan Williams, Port Melbourne


Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding

Megan Krakouer and Professor Maree Toombs have stated the Yes case beautifully (“‘Hope. That’s what the Voice can do’,” 11/10). It’s about hope. I just hope it’s not too late to save the referendum with this simple message.
Judith Taylor, Emerald

Many company executives have had a direct voice to parliamentarians, so how can we justify denying a Voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders?
Fran Mansergh, Sandringham

I am still undecided to the point of total confusion. Therefore, on the ballot paper I will deploy the local vernacular – yeah, no.
David Price, Camberwell

The noisy minority is just about to be trounced by the silent majority.
James Hearne, Kew

If you don’t know, why vote no?
Robert Saunders, Cheltenham

Middle East
The Hamas attack on Israel is both horrific and criminal. So is the decision to deprive Palestinians in Gaza of food, medicine and water. Obviously, this will occupy much of the attention of the media but it should not take the world’s attention off the slaughter in Ukraine.
Juliet Flesch, Kew

While Hamas’ attack was an act of understandable desperation, as well as desperately wrong in the form it took, it was also a misjudgment. It plays directly into the hands of Netanyahu’s government.
Penelope Buckley, Kew East

Jenna Price (“Avoid pain, don’t change your name for marriage”, 11/10) resonates with me. I didn’t change my name on marrying. Shake my head in disbelief why in the 21st century women still change their name.
Christine Hammett, Richmond

Jenna Price hits the nail on the head. The only thing I would add would be for women to name their children similarly. Then when the seemingly inevitable happens, mother and child(ren) have no persisting name hassles.
Raeleene Gregory, Ballarat East

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