Risk Australia will be a one-party government

Risk Australia will be a one-party government

April 12, 2023

Credit:Illustration: Megan Herbert

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Risk Australia will be a one-party government

For Peter Dutton to say his job now is to keep the Liberal Party together is telling. This should have been happening already. Parachuting a candidate into a seat that she did not live near was madness. It did not work for Labor at the last federal election. What made the Liberals think it would work for them? As for the party’s leadership, there is no one else either who is willing or able to take over from Dutton.

Does the party need to split into two? If not, how can it be dragged back to a more moderate centre? At the moment, the Greens are looking more like a viable opposition party than the Liberals. The Greens are working with the government over policies whereas the Liberals are saying no to almost everything.

The Liberals have forgotten how to talk, and listen, to their constituents. Some would say their level of arrogance and having no idea about how the other half lives has turned many people away. You could blame the party’s far right, but it is only part of the problem. Banking on past successes is not a way to rebuild the party. It is hard to see a party with so much history be so reluctant to change. But change it must, otherwise Australia will be a one-party government with no viable opposition for a long time.
Catherine Gerardson, Watsonia North

Many don’t like Dutton’s ’hard-line conservatism’

Labor has pulled off a stunning victory in Aston. Peter Dutton and Roshena Campbell had both seen the byelection as a chance to “send a message” to Labor. I begged to differ. I had thought a majority of Aston voters would see the byelection as an opportunity to tell Dutton they were not happy with his abrasive leadership style, his naysaying and negativity, and the direction he was taking the party.

Aston might have been in conservative hands for 33 years, but I suspect many of those who voted conservative previously were not comfortable with Dutton’s hard-line conservatism. The party that once dominated the political landscape is today unsure of what it stands for and incapable of formulating constructive and collaborative policy.
Neil Hudson, East Melbourne

Why it is so wrong to label our state ‘a market’

Peter Dutton said Victoria was “a tough market” for the Liberals. Our state is not a “market” for political parties. We are a community looking for leadership and caring, intelligent government. Perhaps this is the Liberals’ problem.
Vivienne Kane, Hawthorn

Remembering the disasters under Scott Morrison

Peter Dutton claims the Liberal Party brand has “suffered terribly” in Victoria in recent years. Pardon me? What about us here in “voter land” who suffered under Scott Morrison, the robo-debt scandal, climate change denial, the mishandling of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the general toxicity of the Coalition in past years? Out of touch, much?
Simon Flint, Wantirna

We need a revival of moderate Liberalism

Issues like leadership and campaign strategy are secondary. The Liberals must look to their policy direction to explain their historic decline. Thirty years of hard neoliberalism have resulted in stagnant wages and unaffordable housing. That did not work, so let’s try culture wars, and pretend that global warming is not serious.

Politics is about satisfying the needs and ensuring the security of the average voter. It is time to revive the moderate Liberalism of Robert Menzies, Malcolm Fraser, Rupert Hamer, Andrew Peacock, Ian Macphee and Fred Chaney.
Peter Rechner, Wendouree

Federal Liberals missed the lesson from 2022

An internal review of the Victorian Liberals’ devastating election defeat in 2022 found it was due, in part, to their “relentless negativity”. Clearly the federal Liberals either missed this point or convinced themselves that, on the contrary, voters love nothing more than relentless negativity from their elected leaders.
Erica Grebler, Caulfield North


The ‘market’ has spoken

Liberal Jane Hume, who co-authored a review of the federal Coalition’s 2022 election loss, was interviewed on Saturday night. She restated the Liberals’ “values” of hard work, individual reward and responsibility. Her party had hoped that the cost-of-living pressures, reported as a big issue in Aston, would work in its favour at the byelection.

But how does this expectation square with a party that promotes individual reward for individual effort? People work hard and still struggle to make ends meet. They live in communities, and feel some responsibility for others. They know that governments can play a huge role in assisting when times are tough.

Last year Hume said the “Liberal Party’s values are very much Australia’s values”, as if the Liberal ideology is the default in Australia. She is in denial about the relevance of her party if she maintains this position in the face of the historical loss in Aston. The “market” has spoken.
Fiona Colin, Malvern East

Lacking intelligence or …

Let’s not take too much from the Aston byelection. It was Victorians who voted, and they voted for Daniel Andrews not long ago. Were there to be an intelligence test and requirement for the privilege of voting, the Victorian participation would be considerably less. Peter Dutton is performing as a “steady as you go” opposition leader at this stage of the electoral cycle and has made his mark as a potential prime minister. Future events will show and prove the value of Dutton as a true Australian decision maker.
John Curnow, Tanunda, SA

… voting with integrity

It is such a relief to know that enough Australians have the intelligence and values to put Australian society above exclusive self-interest, as well as to want a fair go for themselves. The Liberal Party has failed to demonstrate these aims or outcomes over decades.
Jan Dwyer, Rosebud

Listen to the people’s voice

Peter Dutton says the fundamentals of the Liberal Party will not change. Middle Australia has now clearly declared that the party’s policy drift to the right is unacceptable, as is its lack of attention to the wider Australian interest and its MPs’ deplorable behaviour in politics. This is more than just a leadership issue or a Victorian issue. When will the party wake up to the electorate’s verdict? Otherwise Dutton’s long haul back is dead before it starts.
Andy Lloyd, Clifton Hill

Better location for GP

The Grand Prix Corporation has boasted about the amount of infrastructure moved into Albert Park each year, plus the length of time and detailed planning for this to occur. Surely, with the damage to the roads, disruption to much of Melbourne and damage to the environment, a better solution for the race could be found. Taxpayers also subsidise the cost of moving this infrastructure, with the Victorian government contributing $78million to the grand prix last year (The Age, 1/4).

The grand prix should be held at a permanent site. Buses could take spectators to the venue, leaving public transport available for most of Melbourne. There would be less environmental damage, amateur sport would be able to use Albert Park for the whole year and there would be less cost for the taxpayer.
Margaret Hilton, Aberfeldie

A better deal all round

When all new cars are electric, will the grand prix still be using polluting fossil fuels? If it were already electric, racing teams would be spending their millions exclusively on EV research and development, the spin-off being better EVs for everyone.
Ralph Frank, Malvern East

Punished for loyalty

Re “Formula 1 supporters lost in the slipstream” (Sunday Age, 2/4). The Australian Grand Prix has done the same to loyal Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix supporters. The Riders United that allowed supporters to book the same seats each year before sales opened has also been dropped. So much for loyalty. I and my friends have attended all races at Phillip Island.
Peter Gustavsen, Brighton

Need to police scooters

Living near the GP track, I am used to the crowds and I enjoy the spectacle. However, this year it really has been quite terrifying to leave my apartment due to the number of electric scooter riders, speeding on footpaths in South Melbourne and Albert Park, on their way to and from the race. Most are not wearing helmets (that is their problem, not mine), but when I have politely suggested that they ride on the bike paths, I have been verbally abused. Why is this not being policed?
Mary Connell, Melbourne

Danger of extremism

The indictment of Donald Trump will present a severe test of the strength of American democracy. Kerri Sackville (Comment, 31/3) presents a concise summary of the United States’ instability and the challenges facing it. The rule of law, so fundamental to a healthy democracy, is being challenged by a dangerous narcissist, with a scary amount of support, who is also stoking the divisions in American society.

Sackville also reminds us how fortunate we are to live in Australia with its democratic institutions still robust. However, the signs of rising extremist activity in our country should alert us all to the real risks to our way of life. To paraphrase: the cost of freedom is eternal vigilance.
Bob Malseed, Hawthorn

Deteriorating situation

The indictment of Donald Trump will probably make things worse than they already are in the US. The Republicans will see this as a way for the Democrats to tarnish the reputation of their party. Trump’s supporters will push the protests further and something similar to the attack on the Capitol may happen again. This will cause further division in the US and make it much harder for the next president to repair the damage that has been done.
Milton Leung, Balwyn

The doomed floodplains

A plan to artificially flood nine wetland sites along the Murray faces growing opposition, writes Miki Perkins (Sunday Age, 2/3). It is hard to know which floodplains to grieve for the most under this proposed project – the nine “icon” locations that will be forever altered with levees and pumps, to never again receive a natural over-bank flooding, or the remaining ecosystems along the length of the Murray that will continue to die.
Julie Chislett-Duffus, Nyah

Of course it will work out

And then we will welcome more than 600,000 migrants who will take up all the jobs which are waiting for them and as well, build all the houses and units to accommodate them complete with the required infrastructure. What could possibly go wrong?
Don Owen, Hawthorn

Deadly silence on COVID

More than 3200 people are suspected to have caught COVID-19 while in hospital between January 1 and October 26 last year, with more than 10per cent of these dying – and the Victorian Health Department has refused to comment or provide updated figures saying the information was not publicly available (The Age, 31/3). Presumably the department has tried to hide it. Where is the outrage at this disgraceful state of affairs?
Elaine Fabris, Heidelberg Heights

Workers’ right to fair pay

Surprise, surprise. Employers’ organisations predict unsubstantiated catastrophic consequences if our lowest paid workers are granted wage increases to match inflation.
Arthur Pritchard, Ascot Vale

Too much information

In light of recent data breaches, it is time retailers are told to back down on their aggressive requests for email addresses and other “profiling” information.

Recently I purchased a pair of shoes but was not given a receipt. The company claimed they could only email it and thus required my email address. They insisted on creating an “account” for me. Clearly it is about marketing for them and privacy invasion for me.
It is hard now to make a booking for a restaurant as they want your email address to “confirm” the booking. Why can’t a phone number with an SMS confirmation be enough?

If you have ever inspected a property, you will be on the estate agents’ database, which is shared between offices, for a long time. They want your email address too. And more. If you leave a garment for cleaning, you expect a receipt so you can reclaim your clothing. I recently needed to sign a legal form for a loan car, but had to insist on getting a copy of what I had signed. Consumer Affairs needs to step up on this.
Laurie David, Camberwell

Maybe a win-win idea?

If the Victorian government is really planning to trim the public service, has it considered offering these people alternative employment in the education, health and care fields? Education, health and care institutions are desperate for staff.

Many public service people have university degrees and could add a teaching qualification to these. Equally, there are many career pathways in health and care. The government could offer to pay for the necessary training if recipients agreed to work in that field for two or three years as repayment for the free qualification.
Judith Paphazy, Cape Schanck

Making sense of the footy

Who’d be an AFL tipster? The Demons thrashed the Bulldogs, then the Lions easily beat the Demons, but the Lions could not beat the Bulldogs.
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick

Time to ban vaping

Jon Faine, thank you for your excellent article about illegal tobacco shops and vaping – “No butts, it’s time to act” (Sunday Age, 2/3). I call on Daniel Andrews to ban vaping and all that goes with it in Victoria. The more well-known people who write on this subject the better – then something may be done about it.
Marjorie Humm, Croydon North


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


Clearly the voters in Aston wound their clocks back but moved into a new time.
Dennis Richards, Cockatoo

Aston-ishing? Not really.
Wendy Batros, Templestowe

Saturday night was a double whammy for Essendon fans who also support the Liberal Party.
Joel Feren, Caulfield

I wonder when the penny will drop for the Coalition.
Dean Virgin, Strathmore

Next stop, Tasmania.
Jacki Burgess, Port Melbourne

Dutton says Victoria is a “difficult market”. I think I see his problem.
Alastair Wilson, Mont Albert

Re the ″⁣difficult market″⁣. That’s a problem for the product, not the market.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Will Peter Dutton require more detail on the Aston byelection?
Andrew Dods, Apollo Bay

Peter Dutton, the Steven Bradbury of opposition leaders.
Mary Mandanici, Preston

To the Liberal Party: a well-earned result.
Frank Collins, Selby

It looks like Aston voters were waiting for Dutton with baseball bats.
Robert Blanchett, Clifton Hill

I’m happy for Peter Dutton to lead the Liberals to the next election. I’m sure the PM would agree.
John Bye, Elwood

Poor Roshena. Parachuted into Aston but forgot to pull the ripcord.
Len Keating, Balmain East, NSW


Abandoned e-scooters are another form of pollution: visual. What is wrong with walking?
Helena Kilingerova, Vermont

Peter Bol (29/3), we are so sorry. Blessings on you.
Jude Davies, Hampton

Thanks to the state government for the reduced regional train fares – $3.30 return from Ballarat to the footy on Saturday night.
Fiona White, Alfredton

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