Australia

Trump's disregard for democratic systems

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Credit:Illustration: Jim Pavlidis

THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Trump’s disregard for democratic systems

A debate is a contest with rules. Usually when a participant does not observe the rules, there are penalties which affect their chances of winning. If their behaviour is repeatedly inappropriate, there are more serious consequences such as fines or expulsion. Donald Trump has built his presidency around an ‘‘I don’t play by the rules’’ approach, and this was on full display during the debate. While his supporters see his ‘‘God complex’’ as a strength, we can only hope the American people hold him to account for his lack of respect for others and blatant disregard of their democratic systems.
Danni Nash, Hawthorn East

Ensuring that next time, candidates will listen

Here is an idea for the next debate. Put the candidates in sound-proof boxes with control of each microphone given to the moderator. There will be no opportunity for interruption. Each candidate will have no option but to listen, and present a counter argument when it is their turn to speak.
Nicholas Howe, Malvern

Democrats should have opted for youth and energy

The great tragedy of the United States is that when there was an opportunity for the Democrats to rid themselves of this disastrous President, they chose a frail, old man to be their representative. Sadly Joe Biden lacks any vitality or energy. How much wiser would it have been to have chosen a young, engaged and energetic person, whether man or woman. What a terrible choice Americans now have. It should not be so difficult. The whole world is holding its breath.
Annie Young, Junortoun

A respectful Joe Biden and a bullying Donald Trump

The debate showed the difference between the candidates beautifully. Joe Biden faced his audience, listened to the questions and answered them. Donald Trump was the disruptive, bullying child who America should be very worried about. He could not even face his audience or be restrained.
Susan Smith, Toorak

The President’s shameful ‘military’ record

In the battle of the cellar dwellers, Donald Trump’s main target was the consulting work, and military experience, of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. At least Hunter did not receive a medical deferment from military service because of bone spurs in his heels, as Trump did. As for Trump’s marvellous COVID-19 record, the numbers do not lie: 4635 deaths in China and 206,000 deaths and rising in the US.
Rob Park, Surrey Hills

Attack the candidates’ policies, not their families

The debate was farcical, rarely rising above ‘‘bully boy’’ status. Politicians need to have thick skins but for Donald Trump to denigrate Joe Biden’s sons was beyond the pale. It is an unwritten law that one should never drag families into the political arena. Trump elected to go with his usual modus operandi: If you throw enough mud, some of it will stick.
Noel Butterfield, Montmorency

A real fear of bloody conflict in the US

It is deeply troubling that Donald Trump has, in effect, called the election result as a win for himself, which can only be ‘‘stolen’’ by ‘‘massive voter fraud’’. It is not too fanciful to suggest that his ramped-up, demagogic rhetoric in calling upon extremist, right-wing groups to ‘‘stand back and stand by’’ means support for them and a call for armed rebellion if he is not declared the winner. Already a highly divisive figure, Trump could fatally fracture the democratic institution of the US and plunge the country into bloody conflict.
Harry Kowalski, Ivanhoe

Surely this will shift conservatives away from Trump

Donald Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacists should be enough for every conservative to turn from him. Surely if his boasting about sexual assault against women was not enough, this is.
Todd Jorgensen, Healesville

THE FORUM

Such an easy scapegoat

Instead of attacking ABC staff for not voting to defer their small and much deserved pay rise (The Age, 1/10), why don’t Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Ben Morton ask the recipients of multi-millions in bonuses, some gained through the JobKeeper scheme, to give that money back to the public purse? Is it just too tempting to aim another kick at the ABC?
Máire Mills, Glen Iris

MPs need to give back

Why should the staff of the ABC defer pay rises while no one from the federal government is taking a pay cut and they still receive 15per cent payment into their already generous superannuation funds? Paul Fletcher needs to walk the walk and stop talking. It is all hot air and self-interest otherwise.
Dianne Powell, Ivanhoe

Roll up your sleeves

When I was growing up, farm harvesting provided thousands of jobs for Aussie locals and itinerants. There was great camaraderie among workers and appreciation by farming communities. Now as we face price hikes for fresh food (The Age, 1/10), it is time to rekindle the spirit of adventure and hard work ethic.

The government has announced a financial bonus to lure local unemployed onto farms. There also should be training for workers beforehand and accommodation assistance in remote locations.
Sadly, hard manual work is under-appreciated in modern society and I predict a reluctance by many to leave their urban world for a stint in the “bush”. So I throw out the challenge to younger Aussies – roll up your sleeves and head for the harvests where you will find adventure and learn new skills. Hopefully the government’s promise of incentives will, in turn, stimulate meaningful wages. And supermarkets should boost their payments to farmers.
Peter Collins, Warrnambool

Love amid the harvest

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack tells young Australians: ‘‘The farmers of Australia need you right now, so please apply, go, have a great time, earn some money. You may find the love of your life.’’ It looks as though he is positioning himself for a new job after politics – running a dating agency.
Tony Curtis, Alfredton

Plight of the unemployed

Two articles (The Age, 1/10) do not add up. The government and farmers are pushing for the unemployed to pick this summer’s crops. However, the recently released report from the Parliamentary Budget Office found that most of those on JobSeeker and/or Newstart are women aged over 45 and women supporting children.

Somehow the vision of a sea of grey hair and arthritic knees climbing up ladders or kneeling in damp paddocks, with kids in tow, does not accord with the Australia we think we live in.
Kath McKay, Bayswater North

Single, older, homeless

Shane Wright’s article brings to light the major problem facing older women struggling to find work. The Parliamentary Budget Office Report also shows there are big increases of older women relying on JobSeeker as retirement income until they reach eligibility for the age pension at 67.

This trend is a key factor that has caused a 50per cent jump in homelessness for older women, the greatest increase of all age groups, as it is impossible for single, older women to survive when they are paying 70 to 80per cent of their JobSeeker income in rental housing. One solution is for the federal government to announce a big investment in social housing in the budget, with a major focus on homes for older women.
Jeff Fiedler, Preston

Escape from the country

Last week I had a specialist appointment in Melbourne. As I live in country Victoria, I carried a letter from the doctor, the appointment card, my driver’s licence and even a statutory declaration from my police station. As I came out on the Princes Freeway at the Little River checkpoint. it began to rain and officials moved to shelter in tents. Hundreds of vehicles went through, unchecked. It is not hard to get through the ‘‘ring of steel’’ if it is raining.
Marion Gordon, Port Campbell

Open up the regions

As of yesterday, regional Victoria had fewer than three active COVID-19 cases across a population of more than 1million. There is no justification for holding off on easing restrictions further, given that two incubation periods have passed with no increase in cases. Continuing to keep the regions under step 3 restrictions whereby hospitality and other small business, including gyms, are heavily restricted or closed is akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The threshold of zero new cases for two weeks state-wide would see us in limbo for months while we wait for what is effectively elimination to occur. (This is despite the government claiming pursuit of a suppression strategy.) Open up the regions.
Will Bennett, Ballarat

The Treasurer’s reasoning

Josh Frydenberg has urged the Victorian government to allow children of all ages back to the classroom (The Age, 30/9). Surely he can do better than saying he has ‘‘heard of doctors prescribing antidepressants to children as young as 12’’ to support his argument.
Suzanne Dixon, Northcote

The critical emergency

I was very pleased to read of Josh Frydenberg’s advocacy for a practical solution to young people’s mental health concerns, in his urge to send students back to school. Given that the Australian Medical Association has declared climate change a health emergency, I look forward to his leadership in resolving this urgent issue.
Kate Knight, Brooklyn

Our lives were so full

Primary school teachers will have a very entertaining time reading the first essay asked of their returning students. ‘‘Write a story on what you did, see and heard during the lockdown’’.
Winston Anderson, Mornington

Dangerous lack of action

The Premier established an inquiry into hotel quarantine, and subjects himself to daily scrutiny at media conferences. However, the Commonwealth’s aged care regulator has only inspected a small number of aged care homes (7.30, 29/9), so their preparedness for further outbreaks is uncertain. The Aged Care Minister is nowhere to be seen.

The Commonwealth has not supported international students and workers on temporary visas who have lost their jobs, and many are in desperate financial straits, being dependent on foodbanks and unable to afford inflated air fares to return home. Such poverty promotes crowded living conditions and even homelessness, ideal conditions for outbreaks. The Commonwealth’s neglect of its responsibilities could undermine our COVID-19 recovery.
Andrew Trembath, Blackburn

The city, back to the future

Photos of Melbourne’s streets deserted under curfew remind me of a night out in 1981. Newly arrived from the austerity of Margaret Thatcher’s England, we thought we would go to the opera. A kind neighbour babysat the kids, lent us a fur coat, a suit and an umbrella, and we took a tram to Spring Street. Unfortunately the performance was cancelled and we found ourselves at 8pm walking through a deserted CBD in the rain, looking for somewhere to eat. Nothing, apart from a pub. And it did not serve food in the evening.

So we finished our drinks and caught a tram back to the suburbs, fur coat and all. We had to laugh. It remains a fond memory of the days before Melbourne became one of the world’s most liveable cities.
Mike Sanderson, Drouin

The risks are too high

What an appallingly short-sighted decision – ‘‘NSW planning commission approves Santos’ Narrabri gas field project’’ (The Age, 1/10). Regardless of promises of strict regulation and best practice, the fact is that humans are involved, mistakes happen, and if the water table is wrecked it is wrecked forever. What will Santos and the Coalition do then? Throw their arms in the air and say, ‘‘Oh well, these things happen’’ and walk away?
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha

Inequality in teaching

Vale Helen Reddy (The Age, 1/10). You so influenced me back when I was teaching in Queensland and was not paid as much as male teachers. As a female, I was not allowed to wear slacks (it had to be a dress or skirt and stockings) and if I married I had to resign, thus cutting to zero my chance of equally qualifying towards long service leave requirements as male teachers. (Men were not subjected to this condition.)
Ailene Strudwick, Mornington

Power of Reddy’s song

Thank you, Pru Goward, for your wonderful tribute to Helen Reddy (Comment, 1/10). Her song, I Am Woman, has been firmly in my head since I first heard it. My children, now middle aged, know to make sure that song is played at the end of my funeral.
Anne Cowden, Drysdale

Handling our best friend

Reading about dogs that are ‘‘stubborn, attention-seeking and easily distracted’’ – ‘‘Brace for the teen dog phase’’ (The Age, 29/9) – made me wince. ‘‘Stubborn’’ implies knowing what is wanted and deliberately not doing it. Dogs are not capable of this level of calculation. A dog that does not do what you ask is almost always being asked to do something it has not practised often enough, in enough different environments, with enough distractions.

Consistently rewarded repetitions are the only way to teach a dog to learn and consolidate new behaviours. It is time we replaced harmful stereotypes with a modern, science-based understanding of how dogs learn and communicate.
Debbie Lustig, Elsternwick

Please, call it what it is

Governments love to talk about their roadmaps. Why not a plan?
Rex Davies, Geelong

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


US debate

The triumph of populism and the destruction of democracy. God help America because no one else will.
Venise Alstergren, Toorak

Let’s hope that in the next debate, the moderator has a ‘‘mute’’ button.
Heather Barker, Albert Park

A train wreck in slow motion.
Danny Hampel, Toorak

Trump promised to drain the swamp. Four years later, it seems he’s replaced it with a sewer.
Rod Eldridge, Derrinallum

MAGA is most unlikely with Trump or Biden at the helm.
Max Langshaw, Sunbury

Soon their pants will all be on fire.
Ruth Davis, Carrum

Mr Speaker, I move that the President no longer be heard.
Pat Lord, Sale

Chris Wallace for president.
Dino Bressan, Ivanhoe

Send in the clowns. Don’t bother, they’re here.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

Furthermore

It’s time Australians yelled their support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Lesley Hoatson, Kensington

Vale Helen Reddy. Like Leonard Cohen, you took leave just before a horror US election.
Molly Hanrahan, Maldon

Re $1.5billion for manufacturing. Will most of it be targeted at marginal seats and Liberal Party donors?
David Zemdegs, Armadale

Melburnians ‘‘rejoiced” (29/9) when the curfew was lifted. Now we can jog in the middle of the night. Whoopee.
Peter Ingham, Toorak

I’ve decided to deduct one year from my age. You can hardly count 2020. Is that a positive?
Teresa Mcintosh, Keysborough

Jacqui Lambie, shine on you crazy diamond.
Greg Lee, Red Hill

Can the last person left at North Melbourne Football Club turn off the lights.
Rob Prowd, Box Hill South

Football news:

Sharonov joined the coaching staff of Cyprus Paphos
Yuran headed Khabarovsk SKA
Brugge forward Dennis on goal for Zenit: I said that I only score grandees, but it was a joke
PSG defender Kimpembe Pro 1:2 with Manchester United: We can only blame ourselves
Lopetegui Pro 0:0 with Chelsea: Sevilla showed a good team game
Rashford on victory over PSG: Manchester United now have a strong position in the group
Nagelsmann victory over Istanbul: Not fully satisfied with the game Leipzig was fatigue, not the most effective pressure