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IBAC revelations
IBAC’s apparent reliance on cultural change to deal with branch stacking (“Labor’s rotten culture”, The Age, 28/4) will not lead to necessary reform. Political parties as voluntary associations are pretty much a law unto themselves. That is not good enough when they are a fundamental part of our whole democracy. They should be tightly regulated by the law of the land.
As a bare minimum, the law should require that parliamentary candidates be preselected by a direct vote of genuine members of the party and of any affiliated bodies, without any factionally controlled committees outweighing the members’ choices.
Additionally, the law should require all preselections and elections for internal conferences, councils and committees be conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission, using the secret ballot, filled in by the actual voters, stopping forgery in its tracks.
The law needs to ensure political parties are controlled by their members, so that voters at large can have some confidence in them.
Chris Curtis, Hurstbridge

Independent investigation needed
The interim IBAC report does not seem very confident that recent reforms will eradicate unethical practices within the Labor Party. Whenever its “rotten” culture is exposed, the ALP always asks party “elders” to investigate, presumably because they will get to the bottom of the problem. This approach obviously doesn’t work.
To be really effective, such investigation and reform must be conducted by a body completely independent from the party. A body with nothing to win or lose, and with no past or present friendships or loyalties in the party which can lead to a blind eye being turned to things that should be exposed.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills

Perfect timing
Doubtless Labor Party heavies will complain about the timing of IBAC’s release of its interim report. I believe that the timing of the release of the report, right in the middle of an election campaign, is entirely appropriate. It gives the electorate the opportunity to agree or not agree with IBAC’s findings and express their opinion at the ballot box. It is, in fact, a wonderful example of democracy in action.
Brian Sanaghan, West Preston

Who leaked?
The IBAC report has been “sighted” by The Age, whose journalists are only doing their job in writing about it. But the report was not meant to be “disclosed” or “sighted”, was it? It is an interim report to which affected parties can respond prior to its finalisation.
The report was intended to be kept confidential for the moment, in accordance with IBAC’s proper processes. I can only think that the report was disclosed with the intention that it be sighted because whoever disclosed it believed they would obtain some advantage by disclosing it. Is disclosing the report for advantage corrupt behaviour?
Michael Angwin, Surrey Hills

Kangaroo court
Now that the woes of Gladys Berejiklian are seemingly replicated with Dan Andrews, may we look forward to Scott decrying the Victorian IBAC as another kangaroo court?
Loch Wilson, Northcote

Damage done to Labor
What is the motive of the person(s) who leaked the sensational revelations in The Age, especially when we are in the middle of a federal election? Assuming the draft report is accurate, it is devastating that the leak may have come from IBAC or the Ombudsman’s office. The other options, that it came from the ALP itself or the Premier’s office, are also cause for concern.
Clearly, the sources for this story aim to do maximum damage to Labor and, in particular, Premier Daniel Andrews. In the interests of transparency, IBAC should make a public statement now.
James Young, Mt Eliza

THE FORUM

By the people
It is interesting to hear sitting politicians in marginal seats bleating about the “independents”.
Our system is called a democracy, but in ancient Greece where democracy (rule by the people) arose, politicians were all independent representatives for their region. Political parties may be an inevitable corruption of democracy, but it is refreshing to see democracy fighting back in teal.
Yianni Banikos, Fish Creek

Teal myths
Some incumbent Liberal MPs speaking about the rise of independent challengers see the rival candidates as some sort of conspiracy. The incumbents have many myths about this group, including that independents target only Liberal-held seats.
Could it be because those seats have been Liberal for many years and voters are tired of being taken for granted? Another myth is that Climate 200 is funding these independents. This is only partly true as most of the donations come from the community.
Another is that the independents are their own “party”. This is also untrue. They are being supported by their communities who seek to address the major issues being ignored by the Liberals: climate change action, a federal integrity body and equality for women, especially in parliament.
Finally, it’s a myth that independents are puppets. How can they be when they are responsible to the community who is running the campaigns?
Our Liberal member always votes with the government and I would have thought this behaviour is indicative of a puppet.
Jan Marshall, Brighton

Party the target
I trust your correspondent (Letters, 28/4) is joking when asking why the independents are targeting Liberal moderates.
Monique Ryan lives in Kooyong and is standing as an independent for the ignored/frustrated people of Kooyong, i.e. against the sitting member, Josh Frydenberg.
Moderate or not is irrelevant – he works for the party not the people.
Bruce Hawken, Glen Iris

Suburb surprise
I haven’t seen “Kooyong” in print, nor heard “Kooyong” on the airwaves so much since it was home to the Aussie Open. One small thing, to all those pollsters phoning me, the suburb of Kooyong isn’t in the electorate of Kooyong.
Gracie Warner, Kooyong

Taking the credit
Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg argue the government cannot be blamed for the rapid rise in inflation (“Pre-poll rate rise looms as inflation soars”, 28/4) because it is caused by international factors – supply disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine and internal Chinese issues leading to higher commodity prices. These same soaring commodity prices have helped reduce dramatically our budget deficit and astronomical debt levels for which they took full credit.
No poor outcome is ever this government’s fault but every positive development is all their own work – the same tired spin from hapless economic managers that the electorate is now well awake to.
Peter Thomson, Brunswick

Carbon division
David Crow highlights the mixed messages coming from the Coalition with Barnaby Joyce and Matt Canavan emphasising the Coalition’s determination to support the fossil-fuel industry, while Scott Morrison talks up support for green hydrogen and reiterates the Coalition’s commitment to net zero by 2050 (“Coalition has each-way bet on climate”, The Age, 28/4).
The ALP is displaying the same mixed messaging with Anthony Albanese saying Labor has stronger environmental policies while announcing Labor supports new coal mines as long as they “stack up” environmentally.
How do coal mines stack up environmentally? Even if the mining industry finds ways to “green” their methods, most of the coal will be exported and contribute massively to CO2 emissions.
If enough independents and greens are elected to create a hung parliament, then the major parties have only themselves to blame.
Graeme Lechte, Brunswick West

Counting down
Given the highly strung national atmosphere of this election campaign, it would be more encouraging for the powers of endurance of campaigners and voters alike if The Age would swap the direction of the Campaign Bubble day number, so that each morning we might savour the positive progress of being one day closer to the tortuous process being at last behind us.
Ruth Farr, Blackburn South

Net neutrality
According to your correspondent, “neutral” Switzerland has done nothing during the past 200 years but “look after people and make money” (Letters, 28/4).
Switzerland’s opportunistic exploitation of desperate Jews’ property before, during and after World War II (when Australia was un-neutrally helping to fight fascism) certainly ticks the “make money” box.
But it might raise questions about the “look after people” bit.
Bill James, Frankston

Taking care
A registered nurse on duty 24/7 is essential for nursing home residents’ care. The clue is in the name, “nursing” home. Take responsibility Scott Morrison.
Mick Hussey, Beaconsfield

Big ask
A registered nurse all night? Yes, OK for smaller care homes, but there are many where there are hundreds of residents, and multiple free-standing buildings.
He/she might need a motor scooter and bodyguard as well.
Meg McPherson, Brighton

Quantity not quality
The costs associated with having a registered nurse on site 24 hours as suggested by your correspondent does not translate to a better quality of life for residents.
For example, distress is greatly ameliorated when those residents can be taken to the toilet in a timely manner. Nutrition and enjoyment is vastly improved when help with eating is provided. Qualified nurses aren’t necessary in these scenarios. And perhaps less chemical restraint would be distributed by those same registered nurses if the residents were having other needs met. It’s quantity (of staff), not quality, that makes a real difference in nursing homes.
Susan Strafford, Emerald

Health under pressure
I have two recent family anecdotes on the stresses in our underfunded health system A granddaughter had to be moved from her skilled work as a theatre nurse to enter ICU, working until recently 12-hour shifts and, on returning home, remained on emergency call-out, which did occur on several occasions.
A daughter last week required emergency surgery which was successful, for which we are grateful. But in the wards, nurses were in very short supply. My daughter, in her exhausted state, asks me why can’t we get parliamentarians to visit our hospitals – as the nurses are stressed, overworked and under-paid – so as to see the looming disaster in health first-hand.
It’s no wonder it’s increasingly difficult to attract and recruit nurses to a great profession of service to others, as governments see their salaries as costs to be held in check rather than rewards for invaluable service.
Sad values indeed in contemporary Australia!
Name withheld

Money for nothing
Ross Gittins is spot-on (“Where art thou, banking reform?” , 27/4). Greg Medcraft, when chair of ASIC, said that Australia is a “paradise” for white-collar criminals because of the soft punishment for corporate offences. Ironically, Greg Medcraft had the power to act but did not.
In fairness, this is partly due to the gutting – in terms of funding – of ASIC but it is also a softly-softly approach, best described as ineffectual. The brilliant, if cryptic, Hayne royal commission just scratches the surface of a banking sector that is riddled with policies, procedures and practices that range from the dubious to black malice for profit.
Consumers are the most vulnerable and therefore primary victims. Using the language of retired senator John Williams, they are frequently “shafted”.
A quick peep into the internal mechanics of housing loans arranged by brokers reveals the continuation of “trail commissions” (the treasurer defying the Hayne recommendation) which means that on the average loan, a consumer will be paying about $200 a month at a minimum to the broker for the life of the loan. That is a supermarket shop for a family.
Nothing has changed.
As Hayne said, “money for nothing”. Consumer laws are a century out of date.
Stephen Masters, Chiltern

Voice no third house
An Indigenous Voice to parliament is just that, a voice. It has no voting rights. The Uluru Statement from the Heart was drafted with the assistance of conservative constitutional legal advisers to make sure it didn’t threaten existing constitutional power structures. It is not and was never intended to be a third house.
Graeme Finn, Summer Hill, NSW

True hospitality
Having just spent seven weeks in north Queensland, I was delightfully struck by the warmth and professionalism of its face-to-face hospitality people. Name tags on, they remembered your name, engaged in banter, revelled in their community and its offerings to tourists. Put simply, they were very attractive. Back in Melbourne? Well … not so much.
Richard Pentony, Hawthorn

Bring back the Bard
Regarding “Bard’s mad men fall under the female gaze” (28/4) and a female Hamlet, there is justification for rewriting the play because the Bard was a misogynist? Hamlet was a young prince of Denmark – he was not a princess. Is this the beginning of a wholesale revision of the Bard’s work? Based on some spurious interpretation by a woke producer? I am female and can fight my own battles.
Elizabeth Potter, Brighton

And another thing

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

IBAC
A leaked copy of a draft IBAC report to The Age doesn’t fill me with confidence in the independence and integrity of IBAC, especially in an election year.
Paul Chivers, Hill North

At least we have an IBAC. No wonder Morrison doesn’t want an ICAC.
Patricia Rivett, Ferntree Gully

Oh the irony – the Victorian Anti Corruption Commission delivers gifts of gold to the federal government.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

Rorts to the left of me, nepotism to the right, here we are, stuck with these factions with Dan.
Paul Custance, Highett

Cost of living
I, for one, will applaud an increase in interest rates if it puts pressure on over-geared investors and brings housing prices down.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

Josh Frydenberg was quick to take credit for the current unemployment rate so presumably he will take responsibility for the biggest increase in consumer prices in 22 years.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

Federal election
Using COVID as an excuse to close polling booths at overseas embassies – an excellent way to disenfranchise expat citizens who may not be inclined to vote for this government after the way they have been treated the past two years.
Denis Horne, Timboon

Those individuals who stole our small Dr Monique Ryan corflute last evening might be comforted to learn that it is being replaced with a much larger one.
Richard Strugnell, Kew

Labor is red, Libs are blue, unless it’s marginal, they don’t care for you.
Wendy Knight, Little River

Furthermore
In the Middle Ages there wasn’t any scientific information, so conspiracy theories, crackpot cures and mayhem abounded. In this Twitter age, conspiracy theories, crackpot cures and … gee, we have come a long way.
Ron Micallef, Berwick

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