Home dream is over, at least fix rentals

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Generational divide
Both major political parties are putting forward policies to make housing more affordable, thus demonstrating how out of touch they are (“Help to Buy v Home Guarantee: Will either party help home buyers?”, 5/5). They need to face facts: the Australian dream of owning your own home is a dream. There needs to be a housing summit with the states to create laws and policies to make renting more secure and possible. Long – as in 10-20 year – leases like much of Europe, tax breaks for landlords who commit to long-term leases, tax increases for people who own multiple properties, as well as a huge increase in social housing. Forcing people into the housing market while ignoring the rental market won’t alleviate the housing crisis.
Rohan Wightman, McKenzie Hill

Reign in multiple home owners
Regarding your editorial (“Too many forgotten in parties’ housing stance”, The Age, 5/5), as far as I’m concerned you can only live in one house at a time, so having multiple houses is superfluous. Possession of multiple properties is what is artificially inflating prices.
Why not curb multiple property ownership with regulations, such as requiring that the purchaser must live in the property; the purchaser must be an Australian citizen; ending government concessions for secondary properties; and closing the loophole regarding delegated ownership. These changes would definitely help first home buyers.
Maria Liew, Woodend

Increase supply
It seems so unfair that young people are being priced out of the housing market. Some have indicated they don’t expect to ever acquire this basic stepping stone in life. It is not helpful to say that in some parts of the world, people often rent life-long. A house provides stability physically, emotionally and financially. We have unprecedented demand. How about increasing the supply side? Instead of developers building apartments with five bedrooms and five bathrooms and an in-ground pool and home cinema, could some not build more modest three-bedroom, one-bathroom homes that are affordable?
Jan Marshall, Brighton

Home owners aren’t all wealthy
Osman Faruqi (“Squealing louder won’t house the young”, 5/5) assumes that owning a house makes you wealthy.
The only practical measure of “wealth” is how much cash you have to spend, and you can’t convert a piece of your house into cash to take to the supermarket.
Why are our governments not using the tools already available to stop the use of homes as investment vehicles? The vast majority of people want to have a home that is theirs, that nobody can throw them out of, and that allows them to become long-term members of their local neighbourhood. The social benefits of this are enormous. Reducing the cost of housing should be an urgent priority.
Don Jordan, Mount Waverley

We all have a vote
Oh dear, it appears the 40 per cent of adults spread across the 40+ years from 55 to 95+ have a “disproportionate say” – by using their one vote per person, cast, if permitted, from their grotty aged care facility (“Awakened by the pandemic, young voters want to be heard”, 5/5). And the 25 per cent of adults across the 16 years from 18 to 34 are oppressed and have no say, even when casting their one vote per person. Hidden, lurking in the pre-poll booths, are the controlling 35 per cent of adults across the 20-year age group 35-54. Goodness knows that lot are likely exercising one vote per person as well. Is it not possible to write about a group of people without first creating a false comparison with the evil other?
Conor King, Pascoe Vale South

The better devil
Far more preferable, Michael Sukkar, to co-own your house with the government than a greedy bank. Dorothy Galloway, Mentone

THE FORUM

Political debate lives
The Kooyong electorate is sure demonstrating democracy in action. There are two very high-profile candidates and a few others vying to be elected. There are well-publicised public meetings attended by most, but not all, candidates, providing opportunities for constituents to feed their opinions into the mix.
There are well-known families showing that a difference in political opinion is alive and well within those families. There is a talented young constituent, Leonardo Puglisi, who, although too young to vote, has developed as an independent journalist and has interviewed both Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese.
I have lived in Kooyong for about 25 years and have never felt before that every vote, including mine actually counts.
Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn

Faceless officials
Scott Morrison, believes an integrity commission would be a great danger, allowing “faceless officials to make decisions that impact the lives of Australians”, but is happy for the Fair Work Commission to set wage levels on the same basis … go figure!
Gary Heard, Jan Juc

Star Chamber lessons
Those who support “independent” anti-corruption commissions would do well to consult their history books. Britain’s Star Chamber was popular initially because it ensured powerful men who had been avoiding justice were held to account.
Unfortunately, various monarchs used it to find opponents guilty without the presumption of innocence. Russia’s Joseph Stalin went one step further by using show trials that consisted of a forced confession, the verdict
and sentencing.
In Victoria, there have been inquiries where lowly public servants were televised as they gave emotional evidence but members of parliament were allowed to do so in secret, and MPs refused to assist in police investigations.
When people are investigated by the authorities, it is essential they be treated equitably and presumed innocent. They should not be subjected to special consideration due to their rank or status.
Separation of powers ensures governments cannot interfere with police investigations or the judicial process. It is fundamental to Western civilisation.
It is essential any anti-corruption commission has sufficient controls to ensure it is not used by politicians to destroy a citizen’s reputation.
Michael Doyle, Ashburton

Scrap section 44
So, Despi O’Connor is unfit to stand for election to the federal parliament because she is a public school teacher, (“Legal snag threatens independent’s campaign”, 5/5).
When will we all wake up and demand a referendum so that we can rid ourselves of section 44 – a ludicrous, anti-democratic, constitutional obscenity?
Colin Smith, Glen Waverley

Who profits?
Despi O’Connor’s plight as a teacher running in a federal election reminds me of my situation when I ran as a Greens candidate in Chisholm in 2001. It also underscores the inappropriate and irrational nature of section 44.
I had to resign from the Education Department during the election period – I didn’t miss a day’s work or pay – however, I wasn’t officially “profiting from the Crown”. Many worthwhile candidates are precluded from running by this law.
Yet staffers in MP’s electoral offices can be candidates while benefiting from government money provided for an electoral office because they are not deemed to be being paid by the Crown.
None of it passes the pub test.
Howard Tankey, Box Hill North

Let Dutton rise
Your correspondent (Letters, 4/5) warns that a possible consequence of voting out Josh Frydenberg will be the ascension of Peter Dutton to the leadership of the federal Liberal Party. Both outcomes are to be welcomed, particularly the rise of Dutton, because this will result in the LNP becoming completely irrelevant.
Monty Arnhold, Port Melbourne

Focus on the positives
Regarding recent correspondence on preferential voting (Letters, 5/5), if your primary goal is simply to dump your sitting member, then the most important thing is to place that person last. Your preferences will then ultimately flow to whichever alternative candidate makes up the top two contenders. But this is a terribly sad, cynical and negative way to exercise your democratic rights.
While some disillusionment with Australian politics is understandable, we should not forget that in many countries, people do not have free elections to annoy them. This is our opportunity to decide who we are for, not merely who we are against.
Mark Summerfield, Northcote

Umpiring a pleasure
In the late ’80s, I became the first female boundary umpire in the (now defunct) South East Suburban Football League, mainly because of a shortage. Concerns regarding changing facilities were dispelled; solutions were found.
My main challenge was being able to keep up with my opposite number who was usually a fit, teenage boy. It was noted that swearing by players was lessened if they saw a female on the boundary – usually a “Sorry, Miss” followed the expletive! The only reference to my gender came when the ecstatic full-forward of the winning team (“Bubbles”) planted a kiss on my cheek. I asked why, to which he replied: “I’ve always wanted to kiss an umpire!”
I thoroughly enjoyed my four or five years of blowing the whistle. I felt fully accepted, both at training and during the actual matches.
So I am sad to hear that this has not been the case for the current female umpires.
Val Case, Castlemaine

Footy not free
I used to bemoan the fact that Channel Seven televised only four AFL matches each weekend. Alas, that was the good old days. Per today’s Green Guide, this weekend we’re down to two AFL matches (VFL doesn’t count), so we know which way the wind’s blowing. I’d better start saving now if I want to watch the finals.
Barbara Greenaway, Mount Eliza

Truth, please
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which has delayed releasing its coral bleach update until after the election, reports to the federal environment minister (“Reef coral bleaching report delayed until after election”, 5/5).
That’s the same environment minister, Sussan Ley, who has withheld the state of the environment report (“Coalition stalls environment report”, 7/4).
A pattern is emerging.
Amy Hiller, Kew

Climate costs
The report on the subcontinent’s extreme temperatures (“India’s record heat tests survival limits”, 5/5) should dispel any doubts that action on climate change is something we can debate in economic terms. The situation borders on science fiction: that the heat is so intense, it’s drying out the air. If the wheat crop has been scorched, what’s happening to the other food crops? If the risk of heatstroke brings service and commercial activity to a standstill, what becomes of the economy?
John Mosig, Kew

Right to choose
Great article by Dr Prudence Flowers (Comment, 5/4) on the US Supreme Court potentially overturning Roe v Wade and therefore denying a constitutional right to abortion. My emotional response to abortion is at times ambivalent, however there are more things at stake. As the article highlights, the devastating consequences of the decision will fall primarily on those least able to bear it. Who will support women who most need time-sensitive care? Who will protect women who are weak and defenceless? How will this stop unsafe abortions? And how are women’s fundamental rights protected?
Julie Ottobre, Forest Hill

Silver lining
Any ruling by the US Supreme Court won’t “ban abortion” as your correspondent suggests and applauds, (Letters, 5/5). What it will do is return abortion law to being the legislative decision of individual states rather than being effectively treated as a constitutional right as has been the case for the past 49 years. The only silver lining to such a draconian ruling is that it might just be the inspiration Democrats need to get out the vote in the November mid-term Congressional elections.
Brian Collins, Cardigan

Why the boycott?
The University of Melbourne Student Union has voted on a boycott of Israel, academically and economically (“University lashes ‘anti-Semitic’ boycott call”, 5/5). A very noble, if unreasonable stance in their mind, no doubt. However, have they called a similar boycott on, for instance, China for their suppressive behaviour to their own people, and Russia for its unprovoked war on Ukraine, causing so much heartbreak?
Makes you wonder does it not?
Geoff Lipton, Caulfield North

Israel the target
If people are attacked for just being Jewish, then this is anti-Semitism. However, if a person or organisation criticises Israel about their treatment of Palestinians, it definitely isn’t.
It’s simple, really.
Robert Preston, McKinnon

Out of step
Miki Perkins highlights the strong community opposition to a proposal to build a large, floating gas-import facility in Corio Bay, Geelong (“‘Destroying the future’: Anger at gas plan”, 5/4). The students interviewed are joined by residents, anglers, doctors, nurses and many more in their opposition. Viva Energy may be comfortable with its assumption that gas consumption can and will remain high for the next two decades, but there are clear warnings we cannot stay on this dangerous course. Commitment to a new project to import gas is out of step with Victoria’s safer climate trajectory.
Karen Lamb, North Geelong

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

And another thing

Federal election
Why should each leader know every minute detail of policies when they have ministers or shadow ministers responsible. I want to hear from the leaders but also from those who will be doing the work.
Geoff Wasley, Berwick

I don’t want a prime minister who relies on “chutzpah” and gotcha moments. I want a prime minister who has good policies and a big vision for Australia.
Marisa Spiller, Harrietville

Scott Morrison says he does not have a Harry Potter wand. I think though that Alan Tudge must have the invisibility cloak.
Greg Tuck, Warragul

If Craig Kelly becomes “our next prime minister”, I will start barracking for Collingwood.
Brian Morley, Donvale

For transparency and balance, each candidate should declare their mother-in-law’s voting intentions.
Ross Coulthard, Glen Iris

The PM and other Liberals raise concerns about minor parties holding governments to ransom. The Nationals have been doing it for years.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

Question for John Howard: are the “Teals” as dangerous as the weapons of mass destruction?
Gerry O’Reilly, Camberwell

The front page of The Age has a picture of someone who is disillusioned with Australian politics. Can we now see a picture of someone who isn’t? I appreciate there may be some delay in finding one.
Rob Willis, Wheelers Hill

Roe v Wade
It’s a bitter irony that in the US the “right to life” applies to babies in the womb but not schoolchildren shot dead by freely available assault rifles.
Joan Kerr, Geelong

Your anti-abortion correspondent (5/5) states that “no person should dictate whether a person lives or dies”. Mmm, he got that part right.
Peter Knight, St Arnaud

I bet all those Americans are glad their bombs are used to stop the spread of theocracy around the world.
Angus McLeod, Cremorne

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