Crisis in Alice Springs shows need for a Voice

Limits prevent ‘grogging on’
The NT government’s view that alcohol bans for Aboriginal communities were discriminatory and the Aboriginal Tangentyere Council saying bans were “race-based laws” shows a narrow understanding of the worst effects of grog. In Victoria, the VFL/AFL eventually brought under control the heavy drinking, and the related violence, of sections of football followers when the games were played at suburban grounds.
These Anglo-Celtic “yobbos”, who often started fights on the slightest pretext, were brought under control by incremental limitations on alcohol. Was it discrimination or a logical determination that some people need limits placed on their “grogging on”?
Des Files, Brunswick

THE FORUM

Vox pop
Congratulations on The Age editorial, “Clear message on Voice is crucial” (25/1). There is only one thing that Australians need to understand, as your editorial clearly spells out: The Voice will be “an advisory body, comprising First Nations representatives, that could make recommendations to parliament about laws and policies affecting Indigenous people”. Our past history of rejecting referendums has occurred because of a combination of poorly worded questions, overly complicated discussion points, deliberate misinformation, political differences and a failure to communicate.
In 1889 Australia was still a collection of states. Although talk of a federation had been under discussion for some time, the usual combination of a lack of leadership, differing views, deliberate misinformation and apathy had stalled real progress.

Henry Parkes, the “father of federation”, delivered the Tenterfield Oration on October 24, 1889, igniting the debate with a clear message to the public. Parkes repeated this speech around the country 15 times over the next nine months. Just over 10 years and several referendums later, Australia became a single nation on January 1, 1901.

To achieve the Voice we need the clear, simple message contained in your editorial to be repeated over and over again.
James Young, Mt Eliza

Seeking information
I must count myself among those who do not really understand the Voice proposal. Another full page about dwindling support for the Voice (“Support for Voice falls as voters flag lack of information”, 24/1) hasn’t enlightened me further. An article or two on the Voice proposal itself would be a welcome addition to the debate.
Tim Pilbrow, Coburg

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I read the report
Thank you to your correspondent for the suggestion to read the 2021 Marcia Langton/Tom Calma Voice report. I downloaded it and skimmed through it and am amazed at the detail and consultation involved to produce such an inspiring document.

After reading this report I have no hesitation in voting yes for the Voice, nor do I have any problem in understanding how it will work as it addresses the injustice done to the Indigenous people. In 1992 Paul Keating gave his Redfern speech at the Australian launch of the International Year for the World’s Indigenous People, where he encouraged Australians to open their hearts by forging a partnership with our Indigenous people to give them justice and equity. How sad it is that we still find ourselves in this situation where the Voice is continually undermined by some fear-mongering politicians and uninformed people.
Julie Ottobre, Sorrento

Googling the answers
Having just read your correspondent’s recommendation to invest a little time to read the Voice report (Letters, 24/1), I searched for “Marcia Langton Tom Calma report” and there it was, downloaded in only a few seconds. Are people who want more detail even trying?
Sylvia Morgan, Warranwood

Fresh insult
Introduced alcohol and disease, Indigenous children separated from their parents, claims the land wasn’t “owned” by anyone despite Indigenous occupation for 60,000 years, and not counted until 1967. Now the Coalition wants “detail” on the referendum question, apparently scuppering it before it even starts.
Peter Russo, West Brunswick

What he meant to say
I’m sure what Peter Dutton means to say is, yes, I support recognition of First Nations in the constitution, and I look forward to debating the details of the Voice when they come to Parliament after the referendum is passed. It’s just got lost in translation.
Keith Gove, Hawthorn

Not justifiable
Why for decades have we tolerated the ongoing and totally disproportionate number of Aboriginal deaths in custody? A recent coronial review (“Tragedy drives coroner to back push for bail reform”, 24/1) and a royal commission into deaths in custody have highlighted the discriminatory practices towards Aborigines, especially in the legal/custodial arena. Now we need to justify to a significant proportion of society, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and most members of the federal Liberal and National parties why Aboriginal people should have a “Voice” into the laws that affect them? Have we no shame?
Roger East, Balwyn North

Find a solution
As one of many Australians who have fought and have lost close friends in wars for our nation, I can say that we dislike the divisiveness over this day. We are one nation that has grown from many immigrants from many places united as Aussies and we want to celebrate Australia Day when we became a nation of our own. This has nothing to do with the discovery or early settlement of our nation.
Bruce Hambour, North Haven

Lost weekend
So disappointed with Australia Day being on a Thursday. It is un-Australian. How do we miss out on our beloved long weekend? Australia Day should float like Easter so that it always falls on a Monday. Don’t care when, but give us back our long weekend.
Greg Tuck, Warragul

A long way to go
It was encouraging to discover that renewable energy hit a record high of 40 per cent of grid output in the December 2022 quarter (“Fossil fuel output at record lows”, 25/1). Last year 2.9 gigawatts of new renewable capacity was added. However, if we are to reach Labor’s target of 82 per cent renewables by 2030, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator this must double to about 6 gigawatts a year. We’d better get cracking on harnessing the endless power of the sun and wind.
Amy Hiller, Kew

Damage, to what end?
Richard Marles says the government has almost completed the plan to purchase nuclear powered submarines under the AUKUS pact, and that “this is a huge moment in Australian defence history” (The Age, 25/1). He is certainly right there, but we should all hope that the many qualified opponents of the plan are wrong – as we have a terrible record of uncritically following America into major conflicts. Opponents argue that America, showing signs of being a failed state at home, is preoccupied with maintaining its traditional hegemony at any cost.

The role of our submarines would be to work with the American navy to attack, if ordered, Chinese submarines a long way from Australia. The projected cost of the submarines is staggering, and the offence to China incalculable.

China’s plans for reunification with Taiwan have been clear for many years. There is little evidence that China has other plans for military action to pursue goals that can be achieved through economic power.
Norman Huon, Port Melbourne

Time to improve
Legislators in the US state of Oregon are seeking a ban on the use of kangaroo skins in high-end soccer boots made by companies such as Nike (“No more soccer roos? US state eyes leather ban”, 25/1) because of the brutality of unregulated roo slaughter. The UK trade ministry is citing Australia’s poor farm animal welfare on mulesing, battery hens and live export as a barrier to freeing up their market.

These countries quite rightly do not want to buy meat and skins from a country that has lower welfare standards than they have. Agriculture ministers, state and federal, please take note and strengthen our regulations for farm animals.
Jan Kendall, Mount Martha

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Home truths
If only all of the care and attention that Oregon legislators are putting towards banning the use of kangaroo leather in soccer shoes to prevent the claimed annual massacre of native animals in Australia could be directed towards banning firearms contributing to the very real daily massacre of American citizens. C’est la vie.
Mark H. Kennedy, Sebastopol

Unexplained cost
Why has the cost of the new inter-library loan system contract gone from $320,000 per year to potentially $960,000 to $2.3 million per year (“Book lovers in a bind as inter-library loan service buckles the budget”, 21/1)? The new contract is like for like, there is no expansion to its remit. So why is the government in the process of approving a new contract made up of a panel of four suppliers, supposedly charging these exorbitant new fees? Reports indicate there will actually be a reduction in the service.

This is public money being spent on an invaluable service provided by Public Libraries Victoria to its 2 million members across 281 libraries. This service is irreplaceable and should be secure from government ineptitude and price predation from private companies.
Jim Barnden, Richmond

Hearing problems
Surely all committal hearings should be held in private. If the judge decides there is not enough evidence to proceed, then none of the evidence is in the public interest and it should not be reported. If the trial does go ahead that evidence will be revealed, which is when the public deserve to know.
David Parker, Geelong West

Cramped campers
I felt a certain poignancy perusing Oslo’s cartoon on the campers in the tent dwarfed by a huge caravan (Spectrum, 21/1). While enjoying the freedoms of travelling and camping, I lament the loss of camping ground ambience with the onslaught of large, self-contained caravans. As a Millennial lamented: “The Boomers have taken all the housing, now they’re taking over the camping grounds.” I guess I have to move with the times, but I can relate to the little tent owners in the cartoon.
Ruth Brown, Mentone

And another thing

Northern Territory
Alcohol isn’t the problem in Alice Springs, it just adds to the problems.
Ron Mather, Melbourne

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Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Here we go again. Old, pale, males, usually based on cruel religious dogma, know best when it comes to Aborigines. You’ve had a go for over 200 years and you’ve stuffed them right up. Why don’t you just listen and do as they want?
Patrick Alilovic, Pascoe Vale South

Australia Day
I’m staggered by the number of people who think Australia Day is something to do with Captain Cook.
Layla Godfrey, Mount Eliza

I suggest February 13 for “All Australians Day”, the day that prime minister Kevin Rudd formerly apologised to our First Peoples – and Dutton walked out.
David Allen, Bayswater North

The Voice
No matter how much detail is provided to Peter Dutton regarding the Voice, he will just keep on widening the goal posts. This is what separates a sceptic from a denialist wrecker.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South

Spoiler alert: Peter Dutton.
Cathrine Harboe-Ree, Castlemaine

The Voice was unceremoniously and systematically taken from our First Nations people well over 200 years ago. Surely now, well into the 21st century Australia is mature enough as a nation to give it back.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

Fashion
Re: “The tie is undone. Get ready to lose your shirt” (The Age, 24/1). The way men’s fashion is heading, shirtfronting will be a thing of the past.
Paul Custance, Highett

Re the shirtless fashion: Shirts are usually washed after one wear. Will jackets need to be dry-cleaned after each wear?
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East

Finally
Note please Novak Djokovic: Victoria Azarenka wins and compliments her opponent. It takes nothing away from a true champion to recognise another.
Robyn Stonehouse, Camberwell

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