Cormann, as finance minister, was part of the gang which foisted the ‘‘debt and deficit disaster’’ on Australians and which won Tony Abbott the prime ministership in 2014. Australia needlessly went through a round of budget cuts and austerity. The ‘‘disaster’’ line was sown into Australian minds when our public debt as a percentage of GDP was low relative to European countries. When COVID-19 struck, Cormann became a ‘‘Johnny come lately’’ fiscal expansionist. If he wishes to pursue his dream of becoming the first Australian to lead the OECD, he should dig into his generous parliamentary superannuation to fund it.
Alex Millmow, Fitzroy
Why did government and opposition support this?
The nomination of Mathias Cormann for the next secretary-general of the OECD is pathetic. Case-hardened diplomats at the OECD look at what people do, not what they say. The strategy of putting rhetoric in inverse proportion to reality will not cut it and will only further undermine Australia’s international standing.
Scott Morrison is scrambling to get Cormann into this role because he knows that many OECD countries are contemplating trade penalties on Australia over its climate inaction. Labor should not have supported this absurd nomination and should instead be concentrating on developing and pitching a defensible climate stance.
Tim Thornton, Northcote
Yes, back Cormann – but why not Kevin Rudd too?
Of course, the government should support Mathias Cormann’s bid. If that involves using a taxpayer-funded RAAF jet because of the threat of contracting COVID-19 on commercial flights, so be it.
The real story is that Scott Morrison and Cormann were opposed to Kevin Rudd becoming secretary-general of the United Nations four years ago. That lead to then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull refusing to nominate Rudd, thereby destroying his chances.
It would be an international coup for an Australian to head powerful and influential organisations such as the UN and OECD. When we have high calibre candidates, whether they are Labor or Coalition, our government should always back them.
Dora Houpis, Richmond
Will we be reimbursed if Cormann is selected?
So, Mathias Cormann retires from a career as a high paid politician and wants to supplement his parliamentary pension with another job. In this case, secretary-general of the OECD on an estimated tax-free salary of $377,000. His application is supported by the government and opposition.
Fine. But, why is the taxpayer flying him all over the world in a RAAF jet (at a cost of more than $4000 an hour of flying) with a taxpayer-funded entourage of eight? Can we expect this champion of ‘‘the end of the age of entitlement’’ to reimburse the taxpayer if he lands the job?
Ken Rivett, Ferntree Gully
Surely our most highly subsidised job seeker, ever
Mathias Cormann has had many years in Parliament where he has been paid far more than the average Australian, and now he can retire on very generous superannuation. He has commented on ‘‘lifters and leaners’’. He is the most outstandingly expensive leaner Australia has produced. How dare the government spend so much taxpayers’ money on him? Other Australians must pay their own expenses when they are seeking a job. Why is Cormann different?
Eileen Ray, Ascot Vale
If anyone deserves an RAAF flight as a protection against COVID-19, surely it is Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who has been released from an Iranian prison. Her immune system would be extremely poor after more than 800 days of imprisonment.
Elizabeth Douglas, Melbourne
Dedicated to her release
Scott Morrison described Kylie Moore-Gilbert’s release from prison as ‘‘a miracle’’. A miracle is an inexplicable event attributed to a divine agency. Dr Moore-Gilbert’s release was the result of the hard work of diplomats and other people around the world.
Gretel Lamont, Aireys Inlet
Fair go for refugees too
Kylie Moore-Gilbert has finally been freed from her unjust imprisonment by Iran. We should all be pleased with Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s efforts to secure her release. Considering Iran’s regular disregard for human rights, why is our federal government still insisting that asylum seekers from there return to the very place that persecuted them? They fled oppression, seeking security here, yet we ignore their pleas for a fair go. Besides being hypocritical, it is just plain cruel.
Bill Wiglesworth, Castlemaine
Travelling, at a fair price
Like many people, I am looking forward to travelling around Victoria and Australia. Has anybody else noticed the soaring accommodation costs? I do understand that these businesses have been hit hard by the lockdowns and they want to recoup lost income. I will travel but I will not be ripped off.
Teresa McIntosh, Keysborough
Trapped in a nightmare
Over the past two months, the Mount Buller Residents Association has engaged in negotiations with every insurer in Australia regarding bushfire cover. As of this year, they have added a limiting condition: No property can be insured against bushfires unless trees are at least 500metres from the building being insured.
For anyone who has ever visited a high country village, the heavily arboured surrounds are part of the charm. With the market not providing coverage, the only way to work around this would be to cut down all the trees shading these tourist spots which are already reeling from last year’s bushfires and this year’s coronavirus.
Tourism in the high country is stuck in a Kafkaesque nightmare – it can neither get a permit to cut down the trees to comply with insurance nor leave them, exposing owners of hotels, restaurants and the like to claims that would be too onerous to satisfy. The only solution is for government to step in and demand that an industry which profits mightily in the good times avails itself of the very purpose for which we pay a pricey annual premium.
Lara Blamey, Mount Eliza
A regulator with real teeth
Why does it often take an independent investigation or whistleblower to disclose harmful behaviour by big business? Sometimes the damage is so large and endemic that the government of the day will bow to pressure and call for a royal commission.
The draining of the Great Artesian Basin by major mining projects (with Adani fast-tracked to be given similar access) is a disgrace – ‘‘Disappearing springs pose questions for BHP’’ (The Age, 24/11). Before extractive industries can be allowed to proceed, fair payment should be made for all the resources consumed and the unavoidable environmental damage that will result. The solutions – a regulator with teeth and a resource rental tax – are not possible under this government.
Peter Thomson, Brunswick
Save our precious water
The Great Artesian Basin lies underneath 22per cent of our continent. It is the main source of water for thousands of springs, lakes, water holes, farm bores and industrial and mining processes in inland Australia. The water is being extracted and depleted at an alarming rate. Springs and waterholes are disappearing and bores are drying up with enormous environmental and farming consequences.
The water is largely replenished by rainfall in Queensland and northern NSW that very slowly seeps through the layers of soil and rock into the underground basin. It takes up to a million years for it to travel from Queensland to South Australia. How much time do we think we have?
April Baragwanath, Geelong
The overlooked suburbs
Concerns that plans for upgrading train services in the fast-growing western suburbs will not proceed (The Age, 26/11) are well-placed.
Currently the residents in more northerly parts of the City of Wyndham have access to just two railway stations, Tarneit and Wyndham Vale. These are served by relatively infrequent Geelong services using diesel-belching rolling stock which is not fit for purpose for metropolitan services.
The Andrews government’s only ‘‘big spend’’ on transport in the western suburbs is the West Gate Tunnel. At a cost of $6.7billion (and still counting), it will only provide temporary relief from the gridlock that its self-interested proponent, Transurban, claims it will remedy.
Ian Hundley, Balwyn North
How irresponsible is Daniel Andrews, allocating $2.2 billion on ‘‘early works’’ for the Suburban Rail Loop while sections of the metropolitan rail network is single track and the Melton and Wyndham Vale lines are not electrified? The rail loop project has an incomplete business case and demand for rail travel between Cheltenham and Box Hill is yet to be proven.
It appears the Premier is following his cheer leader Jon Faine, (that independent former broadcaster), who said the Andrews/Pallas approach appeared to be ‘‘toss another billion on the barbie and work out later whether whether it succeeds’’ (Comment, 26/11). Is this any way that expensive and unjustified infrastructure projects should be planned??
Des Grogan, Sorrento
A lack of leadership
I do not always agree with Jon Faine but his piece yesterday was spot on the money. The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, cannot keep ignoring the scandals surrounding his government. This demonstrates weak leadership.
Jean Andrews, Cheltenham
Where the road blame lies
The moneys which governments collect from private vehicle owners to maintain and build roads is a furphy. Heavy vehicles do the vast majority of damage to our roads. This is well known in the industry as the ‘‘fourth power rule’’ – that pavement damage is proportional to the axle weight of a vehicle. Rather than collect this maintenance money from the trucking industry, which Bob Hawke tried to do unsuccessfully in the 1980s, governments prefer to bleed private vehicle owners.
Jeff Moran, Bacchus Marsh
The joy of reading
I was green, gauche and unready for the then matriculation year (now year 12). I chose English literature (The Age, 23/11) and studied Hamlet, the writings of Albert Camus, Thomas Hardy and Geoffrey Chaucer, a Greek play and poetry of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I failed miserably. But to this day it was the best subject I ever did. Reading was discovered, an idea of our literary heritage emerged and a lifelong love of learning was born.
Moray Byrne, Edithvale
The best of VCE and VCAL
While I agree with Ian Bennett (Letters, 26/11) that a ‘‘textbook’’ education is not suitable for all (or indeed most) students, I applaud the Victorian government’s decision to abolish the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) and merge it with the VCE (The Age, 24/11).
From its inception, technical education was branded as second rate – for those who were ‘‘good with their hands’’ – implying they were not good with their brains. The same view persisted when VCAL was introduced.
I started my teaching career 50 years ago in a boys’ technical school. One of my year 10 English students had read War and Peace over the school holidays and another boy spent his weekends writing poetry.
These days the notion of a ‘‘career’’ is becoming redundant. Rather than providing career specific skills and knowledge, a secondary education needs to equip young people to be versatile, thoughtful lifelong learners. This will be better achieved by offering all secondary students a choice of studies from both the VCE and VCAL.
Jennifer Bryce, Elwood
The power of words
Thank you for your daily Wordwit and DA’s Friday crosswords (Puzzles). They are always challenging, always fun. I also wanted to add to the different names for ladybird (Wordwit, 24/11). In Polish it has a very poetic name: ‘‘God’s little cow’’.
Alex Czerwinski, Dandenong North
Bending the rules again
Your Target puzzle is straying into foreign words again, even though the rules say these are not acceptable. Recently we had bougie (French for candle or spark plug) and doge (ruler of Venice). The fact that these may occur in the relevant dictionary does not make them English. Previously we have had emir (Arabic), anime (Japanese comics) and rani (Indian).
John Pitman, Eltham
A day for mourning
Once again we have adopted an American sales gimmick. To many of us, however, Black Friday still commemorates a dreadful day in 1939 when bushfires killed 39 people in Victoria.
Kim Lockwood, Eaglemont
The joy of masklessness
I went for my regular walk without a mask this week. My glasses did not fog up and I could scratch my nose and breathe easily. Best of all, I could see other people’s smiles. What a relief.
David Johnston, East Melbourne
AND ANOTHER THING
Your own private RAAF jet – Morrison’s ultimate JobSeeker package.
Ian Maddison, Parkdale
Turns out Mathias, private citizen, is a leaner. Will the PM give free bus passes to other job seekers?
Dawn Richards, Huntingdale
Given Cormann is now advocating action on global warming, shouldn’t he be travelling by bike?
Ruben Buttigieg, Mount Martha
Morrison’s biggest oxymorons: Colbeck, Aged Care and Taylor, Emissions Reduction ministers.
Tom McNamara, North Geelong
In my somewhat partisan opinion, Dick Davies (26/11), our de facto opposition leader is Adam Bandt.
Colin Smith, Glen Waverley
Van hitched, grey nomads emerge from hibernation. Destinations call.
Nancy Zamprogno, Doncaster
The hills are alive again. I heard Puffing Billy tooting its way through the Dandenongs. Obviously rehearsing for 2021. How sweet it is.
Barry O’Neill, Menzies Creek
If Gladys Berejiklian’s test had been positive, would an apology have sufficed?
Erica Grebler, Caulfield North
WA is keeping some borders closed. Who gives a rat’s? Three hours and three decades behind the rest of Australia.
Barry Barton, Bandiana
We’re being urged to spend and spend, but many people can’t afford presents and holidays.
Penny Garnett, Castlemaine
Maradona and Pele should not be compared. Pele will always be my hero.
Sharyn Bhalla, Ferntree Gully
Will Australians have lobster at Christmas, rather than them rotting in a Chinese port?
Mel Green, Glen Waverley
History indicates that delaying superannuation increases doesn’t result in pay increases. Suddenly employers will become benevolent?
Arthur Pritchard, Ascot Vale
Note from the Editor
The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.