‘The public sphere has turned toxic [with] armchair experts’ – mayor
What has shocked me most about holding public office is the extent to which people want you to lie to them.
An alarming number of people are simply not interested in opposing views, let alone the notion that an opposing view even exists. Some become intensely outraged by the revelation that, on a particular issue, I or any other politician might happen to disagree with them.
So many people I have come across want to be told what they want to hear, even when I know it to be incorrect or untrue. There are many for whom even polite disagreement is intolerable. There are many more who believe it is the role of an elected representative to agree with them, unequivocally and unconditionally, on all matters, even knowing that there are alternate or opposing views.
When did people cease agreeing to disagree? I don’t think social media is to blame, if anything it has just shone a light on the human condition. We’re in the golden age of the “armchair expert”.
The voters get the politicians they deserve, and recently I feel the popular decisions have rarely proved to be the right decisions. The public sphere has turned toxic, and I have to say, it’s fast eroding my faith in humanity. I’m too young for that.
On the upside, I had the pleasure of meeting with the Lions Club of Mornington this week. I am grateful for everything they do for our community. Their generosity knows no bounds. I was struck by their code of ethics, read out at the conclusion of the meeting. The last line in particular: To be careful with my criticism and liberal with my praise; to build up and not destroy.
I think we could all do a little bit more of that.
Steve Holland, Mayor, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council
CCS a hydrogen proviso
The Australia Institute report’s findings (May 2022) were based on the false hypothesis that the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) project would proceed into a commercial phase without carbon capture and storage (CCS) (“Friends petition aims to stop hydrogen project” The News 27/6/23).
The HESC project partners, the Victorian government, the Australian government, and the Japanese government would not support or proceed with a HESC project without CCS.
HESC has responded to claims about the efficacy of CCS, the methodology used to calculate forecast carbon emission reductions and other issues raised by the Australia Institute on the HESC website.
The HESC project at a commercial scale would produce 225,000 tonnes a year of liquid hydrogen and reduce CO2 emissions by 1.8mt a year, the equivalent of the emissions of 350,000 cars.
The federal Minister for Resources Madeline King told the Global CCS Institute conference early this year that carbon capture presents an opportunity to decarbonise Australia’s energy exports.
Minister King said the use of CCUS (Carbon Capture, Use and Storage) will allow us to become a top exporter of low-carbon intensity energy in our region.
In relation to the flame incident on the Suiso Frontier in January 2022, the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau conducted a full investigation and concluded that the flame was a result of a gas control equipment malfunction that was swiftly addressed by the robust fire prevention controls aboard and the vessel’s experienced crew. There were no injuries or damage to equipment or the surrounding environment, and the vessel safely completed its journey to Japan.
Yuko Fukuma, senior staff officer, Japan Suiso Energy
I am connected to a remote community in the Northern Territory through a family marriage.
Since the 1970s I have been involved in living and understanding what it’s like in a remote community.
To date, I have had in my home over 60 young Aboriginal children who have travelled from a remote community as a reward for regularly attending school.
I understand their families, I know what their homes look like, and I know that they live in poverty.
Issues such as overcrowding in homes, rheumatic heart disease and expensive basic food are the foundations of poverty.
You cannot purchase your own home in many remote communities, you lease it from the government for the rest of your life. You are unable to create wealth like most of us have through our real estate. We shouldn’t feel guilty about that but what we must do is make sure that the playing field is level.
Every program that I have created and funded has been with the advice from the elders of the community. That is what the Voice is about, asking people what they want, not giving them a help out but a hand up.
Other Australians are able to make local decisions for their local communities. The Voice is all about local decisions by local people.
I could go on about health issues, the incidence of self-harm and all those things that are wrong as a result of not being able to get the help that they actually need.
Many people working in remote communities are there for the right reasons but do not have the avenues for the communications necessary for outcomes that would improve the health and wellbeing of many in remote Aboriginal communities. Vote Yes.
Murray Turner, Point Leo
What a massive disappointment, for me, the MP for Flinders Zoe McKenzie is turning out to be. Ms McKenzie appears to like making speeches, writing articles for her Facebook page and for the The News.
On the surface, Zoe’s statements sound fair and reasonable but, when you drill down into them they seem, at best, misinformation and at worst, I believe, misrepresent the truth.
Ms McKenzie claims proudly that she has met extensively with local First Nations’ people when in fact she has had just several brief interactions. She maintains that she has a good understanding of what the wishes of the majority of her constituents are on the Voice to Parliament, but how can she know when she rarely gets out to meet with any of us?
Unfortunately, when it comes to being a real representative, Ms McKenzie seems lacking and out of her depth in so many ways. This week on the floor of parliament she asked a question of the Indigenous Affairs Minister Linda Burney that was so nonsensical that the Speaker had to point out to her that if she is going to ask a question she has to have facts.
Surely the seat of Flinders needs someone we can trust to do more for us that to write speeches and make press releasee. We need to be treated so much better.
Marilyn Merrifield, Rye
MP is respectful
A careful rereading of the speech delivered by Flinders MP Zoe McKenzie during the second reading of the Bill to enable the Constitution alteration referendum, reveals the following sentiments: “Today the Indigenous people of the Mornington Peninsula include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from across the nation. It makes for a warm, inclusive, wise, curious and open community with remarkable cultural leaders…”
She then lists those leaders referred to, among others, and expresses gratitude for their “advice and guidance and their willingness to speak with her. She likewise thanks those Aboriginal leaders who met with her in Canberra.
To me, this is the essence of respect, and not the claim that Ms McKenzie rejects out of hand the views of the First Nations people she claims to have consulted” (“Respect questioned” Letters 20/6/23).
To consult with those who may hold a variety of opinions in the sort of respectful way evidenced here, seems exactly what the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was hoping for in our discussions concerning the Voice.
To come to a conclusion different from that held by some of those with who we consult, is not equivalent to showing disrespect. It is behaving in the way one would expect of our representative in a democratic government. Our Western, liberal democracy depends on our ability to respectfully differ from others and, ultimately, to come to a conclusion acceptable to the majority.
Ms McKenzie is also accused of “disrespect” for admitting she disagrees with “some of the finest constitutional minds” in the country. I repeat, to disagree is not to show disrespect. Ms McKenzie have a fine constitutional mind herself, and many more of Australia’s fine constitutional minds have expressed disquiet with the potential of this referendum than are supporting it.
Helen Gleeson, Blairgowrie
A hearty Yes
I share the disappointment that the Voice referendum has become so politicised (“Nothing to lose” Letters 27/6/23). Our First Nations peoples have been dispossessed of their country and culture, marginalised in our society and only accepted as citizens since 1967.
Most of us have little knowledge or understanding of their needs or their culture.
Previous advocacy bodies legislated to give First Nations peoples a voice have all been subsequently legislated away. Now they have asked for their Voice to be a constitutionally protected vehicle through which their views can be expressed without fear of legislative removal by unsympathetic governments.
[Flinders MP] Zoe McKenzie has cited speculation by “former High Court justices” of possible difficulties for government in the event that the court may hold that parliament, or the executive were held to have a duty to consult the Voice (“A risk to executive government” The News 30/5/23). This possibility has been specifically discounted by the Law Society of Australia. There is no suggestion that parliament or the executive take anything more from the Voice than education in First Nations’ culture and needs.
We have been invited to walk with First Nations peoples down the path set out in the Uluru Statement from The Heart. It took big hearts to issue this invitation: I hope our hearts are big enough to accept it.
Chris Young, Surrey Hills
Our prime minister [Anthony Albanese] portraying himself as “speaking with a heart” and criticising anyone who does not agree with his point of view on the Voice is the same man who saw firsthand Aboriginal children running riot and lawlessly on the streets of Alice Springs blamed on “coming from violence in their homes” [and] walked calmly away and has not for one moment sought to protect them.
To my knowledge all other Australian children in danger would be supported by the Children’s Protection Society. Why not Aboriginal children?
When will Aboriginal women receive justice for the crimes of sexual violence and incest they have suffered over many years?
No backbone Mr Albanese. I will vote No. I don’t need to explain my decision to anybody.
Maureen Sharpe, Bittern
The Voice is being soft sold as a very modest request with limited powers and simply about being nice to Indigenous people. Government response to legitimate questioning continues to be a cocktail of obfuscation with gratuitous insults, namely that to question is both racist and immoral.
Despite government attempts at misdirection however, there is evidence that the Voice is a dangerous wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Thomas Mayo is an indigenous activist, a signatory to the Uluru statement, a Voice referendum working group member, and the author of the official “Voice to Parliament” handbook. He is also almost certain to be appointed to the Indigenous Voice panel.
Thomas Mayo is on record revealing [what I believe is] the real agenda behind the Voice. No person should consider voting before hearing Thomas Mayo’s intent. A video is readily attainable on YouTube.
I encourage everyone, but especially those still in favour of the Voice, to hear the statements and then to return to this page and justify why questions being raised, but avoided, should not cause us all concern.
John Matthews, Heathmont
The Voice is ‘fair’
As a Mornington Peninsula resident in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, my familiarity with the local news is a bit tardy. That notwithstanding, I found [Flinders MP] Zoe McKenzie’s reasoning for the No vote in her recent article to be unconvincing. (“A risk to executive government” The News 30/5/23).
Firstly, there are highly qualified legal opinions that a Voice to Parliament poses no risk whatsoever to the operational efficiency of the country and that any constitutional change would not give the Indigenous Voice any parliamentary or legislative power.
Secondly, she spoke glowingly of meeting with the local Indigenous leadership but left their contrary position on the Voice unspoken. I found this artificiality quite unworthy of an elected representative.
But she’s right about one thing: this Constitution belongs to all of us and, as such, we will all take responsibility for the outcome and how we advance as a progressive and inclusive nation. This cannot be achieved without acknowledgement of the Indigenous contribution to our heritage of more than 65,000 years of stewardship and listening to what they have to say.
It’s the fair thing to do and, as our national anthem says: Advance Australia Fair.
John Mosig, Kew
Congratulations to the Flinders Zero Carbon Community who have secured federal funding for a community battery (“Solar battery a first for Flinders” The News 20/6/23). In addition to reducing energy costs and benefitting our climate, neighbourhood batteries help to localise energy, providing increased energy independence and security to citizens. It’s taken three years of work to make this happen, but the benefits to the Flinders community should be considerable. This example of positive community engagement reminded me of a quote from anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.
Amy Hiller, Kew
What has Labor done to alleviate the cost of living inflation crisis? A big fat nothing.
It has let the Reserve Bank of Australia continue with the only tool it has to fight inflation, rate rises, which is only exasperating the cost of living inequalities between rich and the poor.
Labor has not addressed the root causes which are runaway profiteering by the corporate mafia.
The banks pass on every rate increase while not increasing our interest rates thus posting record profits.
The “gas cap” is a joke as can be seen in my latest heating bill. The gas rates were doubled just a few months ago. The energy regulator has just allowed another large increase in electricity costs. Analysis of financial reports shows all major gas, oil and coal companies have made a record amount of money in 2022.
Coles, Woolworths profit surge raises questions over inflation profiteering. Coles’ profit increased by 17.1 per cent, and Woolworths’ by 14 per cent. Australian CEOs pocket 15 per cent pay rises as average worker wages fail to match cost of living increases. And the rich make their money not on wages but by trading stock – 66 millionaires pay no tax at all. Australia’s top 40 tax dodgers pay little or no tax.
What is labor doing? Nothing.
Joe Lenzo, Safety Beach
As a regular driver on the Frankston Flinders Road, I am amazed at the ridiculous amount of advertising signs at the Bungower and Frankston Flinders roads roundabout.
There used to be one, now there are five. Is this really a good place for drivers to be reading these?
I am disappointed they have been allowed there. It’s an accident waiting to happen.
Joan Wood, Hastings