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Robert knew it was unlawful, so he should have resigned

Credit:Illustration:Andrew Dyson

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ROBO-DEBT SCHEME

Robert knew it was unlawful, so he should have resigned

Like Alan Tudge, both Scott Morrison and Stuart Robert should resign immediately from parliament. And they should forfeit all their superannuation to help offset the $1billion-plus cost to the public purse – to settle a class action – of their despicable robo-debt scheme. If Robert knew it was illegal, he should have offered to resign, not hidden behind “cabinet solidarity”.

Everything points back to Morrison and the Prime Minister’s Office, and his need to find savings for the budget by attacking the most vulnerable in our community. Furthermore, over the past decade, the Coalition has reduced our public service to “Yes, Minister” men and women. It is time public servants are allowed to deliver frank and fearless advice without the threat of losing their job if they provide the “wrong” advice to their ministers.
Peter Philipp, Toorak

The risk when public servants are on contracts

As a former public servant (and the Commonwealth ombudsman), I believe the time might be right for an inquiry into the way public servants (especially senior ones) are hired and the terms on which such engagements are made.

It seems clear that former departmental secretary Renee Leon gave, at the least, frank and fearless advice orally to the minister to whom she was responsible. But that is not the key issue. The key is that the appointment of senior public servants on contracts could well encourage them to let matters be resolved in a way a government wants, rather than what is right, legal and proper .
Colin Neave, Brighton

Double standard on false remarks and the truth

If I understand Stuart Robert’s comments at the royal commission, it is more important to maintain cabinet solidarity than to tell the truth to the Australian people. He was speaking about a scheme which was designed to catch anyone who might have made false declarations when receiving government money. He is not the only one who is flabbergasted.
Catherine Healion, Seaford

The Coalition’s approach: do what it takes to win

Stuart Robert has admitted that he made false statements in support of the robo-debt scheme and that, as a cabinet minister, he was obliged to defend it.

This seems to be the Coalition’s modus operandi: say what you need to say to maintain our political position; do not let the truth get in the way of prosecuting our agenda; and it does not matter if the parliament and the Australian people are misled.

Instead, it is only about maintaining cabinet solidarity and keeping those chardonnay-sipping socialists, Labor, in opposition. Good luck with your projects, Peter Dutton.
David Conolly, Brighton

Seeking honesty from the former government

Stuart Robert, now that you have told us that you did not tell the truth about the robo-debt scheme because you were a cabinet minister, could you please tell us about all the other times you and your colleagues made false remarks when the Coalition was in government?|
Graham Phelps, Ocean Grove

THE FORUM

Show a little kindness

I am very proud that each day, my special needs daughter travels to and from her program on public transport. She has even managed train replacement buses. She finishes at 3.30pm and is usually on a bus by 3.45pm. However, on Thursday she did not get one until 4.30pm.

Was this a bus problem? No, it was a passenger problem. For over an hour, people had pushed past my short, near-sighted, autistic daughter in their rush to board. She always stands back politely to let people past.

I am furious, worried and sad. While those marshalling passengers should have been more aware, the selfishness and self-absorption of others also put my daughter – and others like her – at risk. It doesn’t take much to show kindness, people.
Jennie Irving, Camberwell

A shortage in regions …

Re “Westpac, NAB grilled over regional branch closures” (The Age, 3/3). The logic is priceless. Progressively close regional branches left, right and centre, making it harder to do any banking except online, and then claim you are closing another 20 branches because more and more customers are banking online. And if it is true that everyone now wants to do their banking at their kitchen table in the evening, why are there always queues for face-to-face service in the morning?
Lindsay Zoch, Mildura

… but riches elsewhere

A common question asked in country towns and suburban shopping strips: Where have all the banks gone? I think the answer is that they are in Burke Road, Camberwell. On a recent visit there, within the space of 50 metres, I observed all four major banks, a Bank of Melbourne and an HSBC. Um?
John Brodie, Alphington

A gambling dependency

All kudos to the players who have refused to have their images used by the AFL’s wagering partner (The Age, 2/3). The clubs that manage pokies venues, and the AFL which encourages sponsorship by gambling companies and allows saturation advertising of gambling activities, have no insight into the impact that gambling has in society.

This is a disgrace. The AFL needs to find alternative income streams, and if it is not up to the challenge, governments must halt the infiltration of gambling into our community.
Felicity Browne, Toorak

Don’t cut back on our …

While the United Kingdom celebrates a new stamp depicting King Charles III, we are warned about possible cutbacks to our mail service, such as postage stamp price hikes, fewer letter deliveries and a slower priority letter service (The Age, 2/3). No wonder fewer people are using Australia Post.
Chris Hooper, Castlemaine

… essential mail service

Many elderly people rely on “snail mail” to receive and pay their bills, and not every household can afford internet access. Many organisations also rely on a physical mail service. Consider traffic-infringement notices, postal-voting forms and bowel-testing kits to name but a few. Of course, Australia Post needs to remain financially viable, but this should not be at the expense of providing an essential service. If costs need to be reviewed, then as a starting point we ought to not see any excessive managerial bonuses down the track.
Claire Merry, Wantirna

Please, no slower

Recently Express Post, which “guarantees delivery on the next business day”, took 50 days to get from Mansfield to Alice Springs. We really do not need it to be any slower.
Peter Berenyi, Howes Creek

A system to emulate

I am a stamp collector and read in Stamp News Australasia about the mail service to Mergui, an island off the east coast of Malaysia (population 80). A retired postman has a part-time job delivering the mail. He catches the ferry from the mainland three times a week. This sounds three times better than Australia Post’s latest proposal. Who says we are going backwards at a great rate?
Henry Woolley, East Keilor

A long-overdue reform

John Gandel (Business, 2/3) perpetuates the neo-liberal, trickle-down economics myth. Most of us with less than $3million in our superannuation have also worked hard for our money. It is offensive to imply we should subsidise the very well-off at the expense of providing for such basic human rights as secure housing, quality education, health and aged care.

I hope, after more than 40 years of this failed economic philosophy, that the 99.5per cent of us who will not be affected by the proposed changes to super tax, will support this overdue reform.
Vivienne Kane, Hawthorn

Seeking other systems

Ross Gittins took a big swipe at “self-funded” retirees (Comment, 1/3). He is correct that tax concessions enable large balances to accumulate. However, unless there were tax concessions, why would people lock up their funds for decades?

Mr Gittins, please write another column suggesting an alternative pension system that overcomes investment, sequencing, legislative and inflation risks. Despite the generous tax breaks of the current super system, there are many inherent risks.

Governments and large corporations are able to manage these risks much better than individuals but our defined contribution system passes these risks on to the individual. Mr Gittins, maybe a universal pension system or a return to defined benefit schemes? That way “self-funded” retirees would not have to line up for a medal.
Sandy McKinnon, Malvern East

Sheeran at the MCG

I could not agree more with Brian Kidd about Ed Sheeran when he performed at the 2014 AFL grand final at the MCG (Letters, 3/3). He was much better than Meatloaf but then again, I would have been better than Meatloaf and I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.
David Mitchell, Moe

Silencing Palestinians

As an Israeli who served in the Israel Defence Forces as a combat officer, as a Jew, I would like to commend Maher Mughrabi (Comment, 3/3). He describes very well the reality in Palestine, and the ongoing attempt to silence the voices of the Palestinians in Australia and around the world.

I grew up on the Zionist indoctrination in Israel, and took part in the oppression in all the cities in the West Bank, rooted in the false insight that I was doing what was right. As someone who changed from a Zionist to a supporter of the liberation of Palestine, I expect that the Australian government will also open its eyes and act for justice for the Palestinians.
Nachshon Amir, Bentleigh East

An Israeli perspective

In his coverage of his lunch with Louise Adler (The Age, 24/2), Chip Le Grand misrepresents my criticism of Adelaide Writers’ Week when he quotes from an article I wrote the previous week for another publication.

While I called out Adler, the director, for including two writers whose demonisation of Israel clearly crashes over into antisemitism, Le Grand contends that my issue is simply with the number of writers who are Palestinians or activists for the Palestinian cause. As I made clear to him, my comment piece could not be interpreted to suggest that the mere inclusion of Palestinian activists fuels antisemitism.

I mentioned that the program includes a significant number of Palestinian and pro-Palestinian writers, with no Israeli perspective offered for balance. However, the obvious point of my article is that the inclusion of two specific Palestinians, who have spread age-old antisemitic tropes akin to the blood libel, fuels hatred of Jews and has serious consequences for members of the Australian Jewish community.
Jeremy Leibler, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia

Spend our taxes wisely

We need tax reform to supply everything that the taxpayers demand.
Bruce Dudon, Woodend

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Robo-debt

When cabinet solidarity is more important than telling the truth about robo-debt (3/3), we have a problem.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch

Stuart Robert’s job was to look after the most marginalised yet his oath to cabinet had greater power.
Tom Stafford, Wheelers Hill

Robert finally takes responsibility for robo-debt. No apology, no remorse.
Arthur Pritchard, Ascot Vale

If Robert had such huge misgivings, he could have resigned.
Glenn Murphy, Hampton Park

John Gandel

“Billionaire bemoans super tax changes” (2/3). Says it all really.
Audrey Stewart, Geelong

Very unattractive and unwise comments by John Gandel. Sometimes it’s best to keep quiet.
Deborah Rogers, Seaton

Self-interest knows no bounds.
Elaine Carbines, Belmont

Billionaire bemoans the ″⁣unfair″⁣ tax changes. Dutton should pass around the hat.
Ian Maddison, Parkdale

Furthermore

Thank you to the courageous AFL players speaking out about the harms of gambling (2/3). I also don’t want my kids exposed to these ads.
Dylan Jansz, Broadmeadows

Hooray, it’s autumn and Melbourne didn’t have one 40-degree day. A lovely summer.
John Walsh, Watsonia

Will Australia Post change its name to Australia Parcels? Shame, AP.
Della Broderick-Brown, Reservoir

Miraculously, Australia Post is still publicly owned. The public expect service, not dividends.
Loch Wilson, Northcote

Advice for those attending the Avalon Air Show: don’t take any balloons.
Ed Veber, Malvern East

In my opinion, Test cricket pitches being played on are worse than Sandpapergate. What a circus.
Mark Stoney, South Melbourne

Welcome back, Niki Savva (2/3). I will look forward to your column every fourth Thursday.
Jim McLeod, Sale

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