Time for Australia to decide its own future

Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

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Time for Australia to decide its own future

Born in 1943 to a working-class family in Glenhuntly, I was immersed in the frantic adoration of the royal family by my enthusiastic English mum and all her family, my state school, the community, and newspapers and magazines. I remember participating in the ceremony to welcome the Queen and Prince Philip to the MCG in 1954, and also waving a flag as they stood at the rear of the royal train as it passed through Box Hill crossing.

Having farewelled a number of my close relatives over more than a decade ago now, I sympathise with the Queen’s family and the Commonwealth over her death. The period of mourning has officially passed but what are we left with now? Australia has been bequeathed the heir to the British throne, an ageing, white, privileged male as king and his ageing, white, privileged wife as Queen Consort – and they live on the other side of the world.

I have long since shed that fairytale imagery from their land of magical unreality, so the article by Peter FitzSimons (Comment, 26/9) was of great interest to me. I will be livid if King Charles III and his Consort wish to promote themselves by visiting Australia with the costs borne, I assume, by our taxpayer dollars. There are so many areas of greater need which require attention.

A republic needs to be rigorously discussed and decided upon, then taken to the next election for consideration. Australia, we need to decide our own direction and have our own head of state.
Helen Clements, Lorne

It is pointless to erase our cultural heritage

Amid renewed calls from pro-republicans, could we remember a few things? The flag, the monarchy etc are part of our predominantly British cultural heritage. Change them if you want, but trying to erase them is wrong and futile. And the monarchy had nothing to do with the colonisation of Australia. The UK government made all the decisions and gave the orders. If you need to blame someone, try prime ministers William Pitt and Lord Liverpool, and from 1901, the Australian government. Not the crown.
Caroline Miley, Heidelberg

Try a panel of awarded and admirable elders

While we may be ready for an end to an overseas monarch as our head of state, the replacement option is a real sticking point. A politician or not, an Indigenous person or not, popularly elected or not, legal background or not? Who could we all agree on as a person to exemplify our nation?

One option is to have a panel of elders, maybe eight, each serving a short term (and each eschewing political commentary while appointed) and drawn from those who have been awarded Australian of the Year, and top Order of Australia gongs.

These elders could run awards ceremonies, attend important functions, welcome overseas heads of state and attend overseas events in a ceremonial capacity. Perhaps one of many Indigenous languages could give us the right word for such an elder. Our Constitution could be tidied up to show no residual powers for a replacement for the monarch.

Over time, many great Australians could reflect our diversity and sense of inclusion, add gravitas and a sense of “us” and our nation. This would be wonderfully democratic, and reflect our Parliament House, where the the grass roof allows “the people on top”.
Janet Wickerson, Thornbury

The system is damaged and needs to be repaired

Your correspondent argues that we should defer talk of a republic because “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” (Letters, 24/9). Over the last 50 years, there have been some events which suggest the opposite.

Currently our head of state is not a citizen of Australia. However, in 1975, the unelected representative of this head of state sacked a democratically elected government. Recently the unelected representative secretly appointed the prime minister to several cabinet positions. Both actions were legal. If that does not demonstrate that the system is broken, I don’t know what will.
James Proctor, Maiden Gully


Let’s be truly radical

Well, there we have it. The essence of the Australian Republic Movement’s case is that “we don’t want a foreigner”. Let’s develop the inward looking, self-deluded, perspective best seen in Russia. Yes, make Australia great again.

Sorry, Peter FitzSimons, but it is a long time since I cared who wins the Ashes. I do care that Australians remember we are part of the world and put that first. If we want to be radical, let the role of the head of state be open to anyone from anywhere in the world, and be selected by the Australian, not the UK, parliament.
Conor King, Pascoe Vale

In the path of Landy

John Landy set a precedent of a sporting figure nominated for governor of Victoria. The selfless, decent Geelong captain, Joel Selwood, would be an admirable choice to continue this tradition.
Moray Byrne, Edithvale

Impact on the vulnerable

Consider the effect of the Optus data leak on vulnerable people. My son gets the disability support pension. He has multiple physical health problems. His mental health and crippling anxiety have gone further off the scale at feeling so unsafe in the world. Being a victim of sexual assault exacerbates this.

He has frozen his bank accounts and until he can open a new one with secure ID, cannot receive his allowance. His phone number is sacrosanct. We have had to work fast to churn his number to a new provider in our name so that he is not cut off from support services, doctors, family and all the things that keep him as stable as possible. He will need a new driver licence number, possibly Medicare number, passport number, disability support pension number and we don’t really know what.

My son is becoming severe in his reaction to this shocking breach of his safety. He is lucky to have a supportive family, but we, too, are stressed. Can’t Centrelink help him? Allowing his pension to go temporarily into a parent’s account, with his permission, would help. Setting up a taskforce to help vulnerable Centrelink clients be guided into the correct action to take is also necessary. My son, and others like him, needs information, informed guidance and a sense of safety, now.
Name withheld, Monbulk

Get tough on all telcos

In her excellent article, Rachael Falk asks why Optus was holding such sensitive customer data “beyond the initial point-in-time use” (Comment, 27/9). Questions need to be asked not only of Optus but of all the telcos which may also retain sensitive data, potentially endangering their customers. Identity theft has far-reaching ramifications for those who are affected. Immediate action needs to be taken.
Dianne Lewis, Mount Martha

Mandate higher standards

I have experienced years of poor service from Optus with regard to technical support and customer assistance, arising from inadequate training of staff and indifference to customers.

I am not surprised it finds itself in this situation As usual, its response to customers has been inadequate. At the very least, Optus should be compelled to pay for the reissuing of passports, driver licences or any other ID affected by the cyberhacking. Also the government needs to mandate customer service standards and enforce them.
Charlotte Brewer, Shepparton

Optus must pay penalty

Optus should have to reimburse the fees of affected customers who choose to get a new passport and/or driver licence, thereby giving customers back some security and imposing a hefty penalty on the company.
Rob Morton, Bonbeach

The Afghans we betrayed

Re all that money “saved” from going nowhere in the former government’s pork-barrelling exercise prior to the election (The Age, 27/9). Perhaps it could be used to rescue Afghans who supported our troops but who have been so dreadfully harmed by our failure to bring them to Australia.
Peta Colebatch, Hawthorn

Who will dare to vote no?

What an international farce. The Russian invaders holding a “referendum” in occupied parts of eastern Ukraine. The result has been predetermined. It could not be otherwise. I also cannot imagine too many people being prepared to vote against a proposition to become part of the invader’s motherland while under occupation. Vladimir Putin continues to act as a pariah and mock world opinion. And, seemingly, getting away with it. To date.
Michael Gamble, Belmont

A monster of a man

Vladimir Putin is a thug in a tailored suit, brimming with hubris, narcissism and ambition. Not a learned or especially accomplished man, his inadequacies have been well-exposed for the world to see. A catalogue of disasters in Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere shows his scant regard for others as long as his place in history is secured.

Manoeuvring himself into a corner in Ukraine with little room to move, his strategy is to menace the world in order to teach it a lesson. It all fits with his modus operandi – by his own reckoning – of control, intimidation and vengeance.
Helena Kilingerova, Vermont

Russian revolution II

Will that despot Vladimir Putin follow Stalin’s tactics in World War II by forcing his conscripts into battle with machineguns at their backs? The Russian people need another revolution to rid the world of this ruthless maniac.
Ben Blair, Point Lonsdale

Our foolhardy venture

We apparently thought we could please the US by joining in their Ukraine escapade as an arms supplier, without any real cost to us. Your article – “Higher rates and Ukraine war force downgrade to Australian economy” (The Age, 27/9), shows otherwise. A war must not be fought at the expense of recovery from the epidemic and all its ravages merely to further ingratiate ourselves with our great and powerful friend
Tony Haydon, Springvale

The facts on the elderly

How clever for Geelong players to dress as the elderly, with walking frames and wheelchairs, to highlight that they are collectively the oldest team. Did anyone realise that next Sunday is the beginning of Seniors Week and being elderly is often no laughing matter?

COVID-19 exposed serious nursing home and home care problems. Try using a walking frame in neighbourhoods without footpaths, or ones that are too narrow for a carer to walk beside you, or cracked at best. Has any player used a wheelchair in the real world for any length of time, especially on public transport?

I recently took my 86-year-old husband to Echuca where he wanted to travel on a paddle steamer. The new, multimillion-dollar port refurbishment using government funds forgot to factor in wheelchair access. These oversights are not uncommon.

If Geelong is providing perfect care of the elderly and all can laugh together, they are lucky. Elsewhere in regional Victoria, there are major unfunded problems that begin with lack of trained or available staff and extend to questionably qualified people in positions of responsibility who do not exercise due diligence. These problems rest with the state government.
Suzie Pearce, Benalla

It was just a bit of fun

Geelong players dressed up as old folk for their Mad Monday celebrations. Very amusing, but they risked the wrath of the po-faced PC brigade. You are not allowed to laugh at anyone these days. (Tory males like me excepted.)
Kevin Rugg, Sandringham

Dignity and respect

From a Cats fan. Much respect to the Swans people at the grand final. They were supportive of their team in a dignified manner. They stuck around for the presentations to the victorious team when many other club supporters would not have. Thank you for your part in the day.
Greg Stark, Newtown

You think you had it hard

Sean Kelly’s troublesome record with handwriting – “A good word for the write stuff” (Comment, 26/9) – could have been much worse. He does not look old enough to have ever had to struggle with ink wells and blotting paper.
John Rawson, Mernda

Paying for their own trips

Anthony Albanese attending the funeral of Shinzo Abe, the assassinated former prime minister of Japan, is certainly appropriate. I hope the bevy of former Australian prime ministers who are also paying their respects are paying their own expenses from their generous parliamentary superannuation and perks, rather than milking the public purse even further.
Manfred Frese, Heathmont

Underpaid, exploited

In a submission to the federal government’s new national cultural policy, the co-owner of The Tote warns of the death of live music if there is a minimum rate for each gig (The Age, 27/9). If you ask venue owners to pass comment on whether musicians should be paid fairly, they will always find a way to justify their own position. Ask a musician instead.

Venue owners pays their staff, the beer suppliers, cleaners etc at the required rates. The only people in the mix who are not paid fairly are the people who get the punters in the door – the musicians. I am sure venue owners would be outraged if they were not allowed to charge for beer.
Andrew McGee, Nagambie

Putting their brains …

Now that NASA can protect the earth from asteroids in space – “Australia’s crucial role in asteroid strike” (The Age, 27/9) – perhaps those clever people could come up with a solution to protect children from shootings in schools in the United States.
Matthew Hamilton, Kew

… to much better use

Congratulations, NASA, on impacting an asteroid. Now can we impact some existential threats down here at home? Climate change? Nuclear weapons?
David Marshall, West Brunswick



In the name of protecting customers’ security, Optus should advise them to change their passport and driver licence numbers immediately.
Jeff Langdon, Smythesdale

Optus held true to its slogan and certainly gave the hackers “more”.
Mark Kennedy, Sebastopol

Optus should organise and pay for a new driver licence for every customer whose data was stolen.
Breda Hertaeg, Beaumaris

Optus? No.
Robyn Westwood, Heidelberg Heights

Let’s hope Optus develops better biometics than the bad guys or we’re buggered big time.
Terry Kelly, Coburg


Hey, Peter FitzSimons (26/9), the republican cause won’t succeed when old, white guys are its proponents. Get out of the way.
Geoff Hall, Mentone

Less emotion and more practical democratic safeguards, please, Mr FitzSimons.
Hans Paas, Castlemaine

Waleed Aly (24/9), an audacious suggestion for an Australian head of state. May I nominate Stan Grant.
Graeme Brown, Blairgowrie


It is jarring that Iran, despite its history of misogyny and femicide, was elected to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women.
Joel Feren, Caulfield

Now that Putin has granted Russian citizenship to Edward Snowden, will he be drafted to fight against Ukraine? And will he comply or join the protests?
Rosie Elsass, Brighton

Peter Ryan (26/9), Geelong is a magnificent team and Jeremy Cameron is a fine player. But there will only ever be one Jezza.
Libby Cooper, East Bentleigh

Well may they say Melbourne Royal Show. It will always be The Royal Melbourne Show to me.
Paul Custance, Highett

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