Credit:Illustration: Jim Pavlidis
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THE PALACE LETTERS
Queen would have to follow Whitlam’s advice
As an historian, I support and admire Jenny Hocking for her commitment to securing the right of Australians to read the correspondence relating to the dismissal of the Whitlam government. In her article (Comment, 15/7), she quotes Sir Martin Charteris’s comment that the Queen ‘‘would take most unkindly’’ to a request from Gough Whitlam to dismiss Sir John Kerr, a worry the latter had some time before his dismissal of Whitlam.
However, Professor Hocking omits the more important part of what Charteris wrote on this, namely that as a constitutional monarch the Queen would have no option but to follow Whitlam’s advice. I hope her omission was inadvertent as it makes a big difference to the substance of what was written.
Philip Bull, Ivanhoe
The human frailties that comprise our history
The Palace letters confirm that the reality is more boring than some of the overblown conspiracy theories. There is still the lingering suspicion that Sir John Kerr’s real priority was to use his vice-regal position to find a way to save his own skin, ahead of any constitutional propriety or the national demands of good governance. We should be grateful that Jenny Hocking’s persistence has enabled us to glimpse yet another example of the human frailties that comprise our history.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale
The released letters do the monarchy no favours
Either the Queen was complicit in the removal of a democratically elected government, or she had no influence on the operation of government in Australia. On the one hand she is irrelevant, on the other a threat to the established democratic system itself. Neither option provides a good rationale for retention of the monarchy in this country.
Gary Heard, Jan Juc
A political assassination at the ballot box
Several readers have pointed out that Australians chose Malcolm Fraser’s government at the election following the dismissal of Gough Whitlam (Letters, 15/7). I vividly remember another letter to The Age, published the day following the election results, which said: ‘‘I wanted to give Gough Whitlam a slap on the wrist. I find myself guilty of murder.”
Patricia Sullivan, Somers
How the crisis could have been averted
Whilst the commentariat remains divided on the issue of the Dismissal, the main ability for its success is not discussed. Two conservative state governments broke with convention to fill two vacant Senate seats with people opposed to the party of the retiring members. Without this, supply would have been passed and no crisis would have resulted.
John Kellett, Bundoora
Surely the Queen must have known in advance
The Palace’s denial that the Queen knew about Sir John Kerr’s intention to dismiss Gough Whitlam is just splitting hairs. According to the letters, Sir John wrote: ‘‘It was better for her majesty not to know in advance’’ but that it was his ‘‘duty to tell her immediately’’ once he did it. Also, the Queen’s private secretary wrote to Kerr weeks earlier about serious circumstances that legally warranted the use of his reserve powers and, a week before the November 11 dismissal, the reserve powers Sir John possessed. Come on, if it walks like a duck.
Dora Houpis, Richmond
Clarifying the constitutional rules and Kerr’s actions
Regarding Anne Twomey’s article – ‘‘Whitlam wanted Palace to interfere’’ (Comment, 15/7). Surely the question to be answered is: Did Kerr act as the constitution dictated in dismissing Whitlam? What were the constitutional rules that enabled him to dismiss an elected representative of the Parliament in this circumstance?
Melvin Furd, Armadale
We deserve a discount
The gas bill has arrived for the period covering the lockdown. It is nearly $700. My husband had to put the heating on as he could not be cold while working from home. He has had to take a pay cut, and initially had days cut, but that just meant he was at home more. We also cook with gas and now I have to cook lunches at home that I was not doing before.
What about all the families that had children at home? Their heating would have been on all day. Many people will be in same boat: less income but higher bills to pay. Will the power suppliers give a discount to help people over this time? No, of course not, they will just reap the benefit of more demand from domestic use. Will there be a time when we are not in debt to the power suppliers, but instead utilising the natural power sources?
Karen Gynes, Mornington
Assessing what is ‘right’
Newly appointed Chief Commissioner Shane Patton advocates greater police presence in order for members to ‘‘own their area’’ (The Age, 16/7). He says ‘‘our members are empowered to make decisions” and assures them, ‘‘If you think you are doing the right thing, you will be supported’’.
There is a danger in his thinking and advice. The belief by members that they are ‘‘doing the right thing’’ may not equate with what are proper exercises of those ‘‘empowered’’ decisions. Whilst they should never fail to decisively act due to a fear of internal reviews, they must always have due regard to the consequences of inappropriate decisions that may not be worthy of the “support” of police command.
Edward Combes, Wheelers Hill
Force must be a last resort
I welcome the shift to community policing in Victoria. Building positive, stable relationships with citizens and community groups can only improve safety and help prevent crime. However, the rhetoric about just getting on with it and worrying about the consequences afterwards signals the potential for confrontation and aggression. It reminds me of the aggressive and egregious police tactics in the United States.
I hope we are not going there. Rather, the focus should be on conflict de-escalation and leveraging community networks to prevent crime. Force should only be used as the last resort, otherwise we will see an increase in police shootings.
Pier Paolo De Carlo, Ascot Vale
Let TAFEs do the training
The federal government’s Job Trainer (The Age, 16/7) sounds like a great idea. Providing thousands of jobs and necessary skills to the young to give them a start in their working life and help to build the knowledge base of the nation.
Just do not let those from corporate Australia – directors who do not take responsibility for providing training to their clients and who cajole people into shonky courses (remember the free computers scandal) – be involved, or the private training companies which barely provide training in their niche products, let alone adequately train people in their whole trades.
We want highly trained tradespeople so we can depend on them to deliver high quality work. Please provide this funding to government-managed TAFEs, not the private providers, many of whom have fleeced us of millions.
Lyn Patullock, Tatura
Covering the job deficit
Scott Morrison’s $500million for Job Trainer should be just enough for Government Services Minister Stuart Robert to pay for the training of new recruits that Centrelink will need to handle the JobSeeker applicants who will flood in, come September. Unless, of course, our visionary minister Robert has overlooked the need.
Ron Burnstein, Heidelberg
Another hard lockdown?
If there are people with COVID-19 in high-rise apartments in South Melbourne, Southbank and other suburbs (The Age, 16/7), the entire building should be locked down like the high-rise towers in North Melbourne and Flemington were.
Irene Bolger, Fairfield
Why I am very angry
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people are coming into our region in defiance of government orders. Is it imperative that they visit friends? Or are they showing us how clever they are? Or how stupid or reckless they are? Perhaps they believe they are invincible. Or do they not care if they spread COVID-19 amongst us?
What they are doing may not be strictly illegal but it is certainly immoral. To them I say, ‘‘Go home. Please don’t place our health in jeopardy’’. If I know of, or suspect, anyone of being in Castlemaine district against the government orders, I will ignore the ‘‘don’t dob’’ ethos and call the police. I urge everyone to do the same.
Ian Braybrook, Castlemaine
Tough fines and shaming
It is time to name and shame those who put all Victorians (Australians) in danger of dying from COVID-19. Obviously the fines are not high enough.
Ludi Servadei, Malvern East
Putting teachers at risk
It is horrifying that teachers are not encouraged to wear masks. The excuse from government is that the masks would hinder teaching by hiding facial expressions. My middle-aged children and daughter-in-law teach in private and public schools, primary and secondary. They are at great risk. Surely those who are not teaching years 11 and 12 students would be safer teaching remotely from home.
Hospital staff wear masks and, seemingly, are able to communicate satisfactorily with their patients. Not encouraging our fantastic teachers to mask up is contradictory and potentially life threatening.
Hayden Bingham, Clyde North
Please, insist on masks
The issues for schools in this pandemic are many and complex (Editorial, 15/7). As a VCE parent, I am concerned that Victoria’s Chief Health Officer is not doing enough to prevent the closure of schools. If schools are to remain open, they must do more to reduce the risk of further outbreaks of COVID-19.
Senior students are adults, or close to 18 years of age, and therefore are at the same risk of being asymptomatic carriers as teachers and other adults in the community. Victoria Police has recommended that police wear masks even when they are not interacting with the public (The Age, 16/7). So why is Brett Sutton not recommending the use of masks for VCE students and their teachers when physical distancing is not possible?
Bronwyn Carter, Northcote
Creating a war cabinet
It would be most useful for each state government, and the federal government, to invite their respective leader of the opposition to attend and contribute to meetings dealing with COVID-19 management.
John Kowarsky, Ballan
Reducing the spread
Moving healthcare workers from one place to another to work (The Age, 15/7) is not the way to go. A designated infectious disease hospital is the best way to keep health care workers safe and reduce the spread of the virus.
Glenise Michaelson, Montmorency
The protected species
Why are AFL teams permitted into Queensland when no other Victorians are? This is, superficially, about a sport battling through adversity, but it is more about television rights and advertising dollars. With the AFL held up as a role model (ignore the gratuitous violence intended to discourage fair play), this suggests to ordinary citizens that COVID-19 restrictions are optional at best, or can be ignored in the realm of sport. Lock the players up along with the rest of us, and watch civic compliance rates rise.
Tim Wilson, Inverloch
Grand final with pizazz
I propose that the AFL Grand Final be played in Alice Springs. As a location it would offer an exciting way to unify Australia through sport and a special way of promoting Australian Rules football to an international audience. Fine facilities, good weather, iconic landmarks and a supportive government would elevate the day whilst emphasising the game’s community roots.
This year the final series is likely to be anywhere but Melbourne, with the play-offs likely to be held in Sydney and elsewhere. Building to a central Australia location would enhance the television rights. As a television event, a natural football ground would offer a background with personality rather than a large stadium with empty, plastic chairs and a fake soundtrack. Casting Alice Springs would make for a real grand final.
Joe Pascoe, Ivanhoe
Learning from history
So we are selling record amounts of iron ore to China? I wonder what they are using it for. Remember World War II and Pig Iron Bob who sold record amounts of iron ore to Japan. We do not need this particular history repeating itself.
Anita Hayes, Heidelberg Heights
Preparing for more war
Of course it is stupid to be spending all that money on the Australian War Memorial where we recognise the tragedy and folly of war. Much better to be spending it on long-range, anti-ship missiles to prepare us for the next one.
Bridget Carlson, Ballarat
Learning the truth
Aunty Geraldine Atkinson and Marcus Stewart, co-chairs of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, say ‘‘truth-telling is imperative for Aboriginal Peoples to heal and for all Victorians to achieve a stronger and reconciled society ’’ (Comment, 16/7). I am saddened because the truth has been told over and over again, and we are not listening. Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe was published in 2014 and yet my eight-year-old son was taught at school that Aborigines were hunter gatherers.
Lisa Street, Lysterfield
Truth in black humour
Comedian and actor Lily Tomlin once said, ‘‘Things will only get worse before they get worse’’. Somehow that line does not seem so funny anymore.
Brad Fahrney, Clifton Hill
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
Re the Queen’s knowledge and/or involvement: it’s called plausible deniability.
Derek Wilson, Cheltenham
I came to Canberra, liked it so much that I decided to buy 5260 hectares of it – but Mummy wouldn’t let me.
George Greenberg, Malvern
What is the point of an umpire if he can’t issue a red card?
David Gibb, Red Hill
The letters show the royal head of a faraway country is irrelevant to Australia. Time to formalise it.
Ken Foxcroft, St Leonards
After the Dismissal, the people chose Fraser and not Whitlam.
Merrilyn Beeny, Kew
Having read the various articles (15/7), I won’t be enrolling in any of Jenny Hocking’s classes.
James Garrard Euroa
No surprise on the Palace letters. We all knew it was the CIA.
Will Callahan, Colac
Tandberg (15/7) captured the Dismissal perfectly and succinctly in his inimitable style.
Diane and Ivan Francis, Eltham North
Please aim to eliminate the virus by stricter restrictions for longer.
Brownwyn Brown, Templestowe
New winter holiday plan: Goodbye Coffs Harbour. Hello Mildura.
Patrice McCarthy, West Bendigo
I’ve got so much time, I beat the Target puzzle (13/7) with ‘‘stickweed’’. I’ve never made it to ‘‘excellent’’ before.
Fiona McHugh, Preston
If China wants iron ore and coal, it’s time to parley over barley.
George Ryan, Highton
Re Stan Grant’s compelling Four Corners episode. Our government needs to learn truth telling.
Kaye Jones, Nagambie
After the government has spent $500 million on expanding the war memorial, will it be renamed The Brendan Nelson Memorial?
Stan Thomson, Sandringham