God wanted us to seek justice for marginalised

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Gerard van de Ven (Letters, 26/9) asks why faith-based religions are having a say on the Voice. “Churches … should stay with preaching, explaining the word of God.” I’m not sure what his understanding of the word of God is. Mine involves something about loving our neighbours as ourselves, and seeking justice for the poor, the downtrodden and the marginalised. A Yes vote for the Voice could be interpreted metaphorically as both loving our (Indigenous) neighbours as ourselves, and as seeking justice for our Indigenous neighbours. It’s not difficult to see then why such an understanding of God’s word should lead to churches – preaching and living out the Gospel – supporting the Yes vote in the referendum.
Beverley Campbell, Castlemaine

Church and state must remain separate
I agree with your correspondent saying that the churches have no place in politics. Church and state must remain separate in order to allow their parishioners the freedom to make decisions based on their conscience, rather than being dictated to. The time has come for each person to make decisions based on the values they hold and these values can come from a Christian ethic or not. The role of the church is to offer guidance, not to demand allegiance.
Julie Ottobre, Sorrento

Churches have hosted debate on Voice
The correspondent (Letters, 26/9) suggesting that “Churches should just stay with preaching” is misreading the situation. I am sure that many who have attended churches over the past month or so will make up their own mind as to which way they vote. Yes, some churches have made it clear where they stand, but many churches have allowed their buildings to be used as forums where speakers have been allowed to put their case one way or another. Is the correspondent saying that no group, such as major companies and sporting clubs, should be allowed to state their position? If this is OK, it then follows that churches should be treated no differently to other organisations who are being upfront. This is what is known as democracy.
Bruce MacKenzie, South Kingsville

Jesus was a threat to the establishment
Gerard van de Ven says that “Churches should stay with preaching”. He reminds me of politicians over the years who criticised church leaders for speaking up on socio-political issues when they had a different point of view to them. Jesus spoke powerfully of the kingdom of God, alive and active in this world, that envisaged a new world order and that has clear political implications. Jesus went to the cross, not for his theological beliefs, but because his kingdom principles threatened the power and status of the civil and religious establishment. Equally, van de Ven would have to accuse Jesus of having “political agendas under the guise of compassion”.
Fr Kevin Burke, Sandringham

Faith leaders should be preaching about this
At an election we vote for candidates or parties who make promises and promote ideas across a wide range of agenda items. In spite of elected governments claiming they have a mandate for this or that, few people would agree with every promise and proposition made by a candidate or party. We vote for whom we think is better on balance. Therefore, while they might advise on certain topics, it is correct that faith leaders should not be telling their followers how to vote. A referendum, however, is a wholly different matter. In the coming referendum we are being asked to accept or reject one single idea: that Indigenous people have the right to a guaranteed say when decisions are being made about them. This is a moral principle, a matter of justice. It is exactly what faith leaders should be preaching about. The Bible is full of Jesus telling his followers to care for the disadvantaged, to seek justice, to treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn


Thanks premier
Thank you for your service, Daniel Andrews. Thanks for the removal of level crossings, infrastructure reforms and especial thanks for trying to keep COVID out of Victoria – no thanks to Gladys Berejiklian in NSW!
Robyn Westwood, Heidelberg Heights

Running away
Daniel Andrews went to the last election pledging he would serve a full term if re-elected. Suddenly, in the middle of the chaos that is engulfing Victoria and the dark shadow that hangs over him for so many reasons, he is again showing that his word cannot be believed. Less than a year after his pledge he is running away from the many scandals. The Commonwealth Games fiasco. The rail loop fiasco. The COVID lockdown fiasco. Andrews does not go out on a high.
Douglas Potter, Surrey Hills

Stamina to admire
From a very proud Victorian, thank you Dan Andrews for your service to our state. It hasn’t always been easy for us or for you, but your stamina and dedication will always be admired by me.
Mary Mandanici, Preston

Unpopular decisions
Any fool can make popular decisions. Judge a political leader by the unpopular decisions they make. Dan Andrews presided over extensive lockdowns, that saved lives; and cancelled the Commonwealth Games, that saved billions of dollars. Many in the community are grateful for these unpopular, but unimpeachable decisions.
Matthew Hamilton, Kew

Golden rule
During my formative years, I was taught a tenet for moral living was “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. On that basis alone, a Yes vote in the referendum is an imperative. Simple really.
Jane Ross, San Remo

Weighing things up
I’m really worried about what a defeated referendum will mean for Australia. What will the fallout be in terms of neglect of mutual respect, truth-telling, reconciliation, good relationships between bureaucracy and community, health, wellbeing and other outcomes for Indigenous Australians, money being spent well directly where it is needed, and our international reputation? That needs to be weighed up against the minimal prospect of the Voice, an advisory body, doing any harm at all to the common good, and the diabolical prospect of entrenched non-recognition and all that implies. Overcoming doubts is sometimes necessary to get good things done.
Jim Allen, Panorama, SA

Money can be saved
Much has been talked and written about the Voice. The fact that it actually may save money as well as improve outcomes has not received enough attention. One of the many scares of the No campaign is that the Voice will be costly. However, much is already being spent on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, but so far with little success. Rather than dictating what is best and wasting money, listening to suggested improvements may actually save money. In the longer term we can also learn through the Voice about land management. More than 65,000 years of experience in land management, including fire control, is unequalled in the world.
Jan Bijlstra, Mount Waverley

Dutton’s damage
As reported in The Age (26/9) no referendum has ever succeeded without bipartisan support. In the beginning polls consistently showed support for the Voice across most of the electorate. Peter Dutton’s virulent opposition to the Yes campaign isn’t reflective of public opinion, it’s shaped public opinion.
Matt Dunn, Leongatha

Sacred ground
Back in 1980 I was part of an ANU undergraduate archaeology team working with the eminent archaeologist the late Rhys Jones, engaged by the newly formed Kakadu National Park to investigate the prior history of Aboriginal occupation through time and across the landscape.
At one rock shelter site in Deaf Adder Gorge, overseen by the two senior Aboriginal men for that area, over three weeks or so with trowel and brush we ended up going down some three metres – occupational artefacts all the way – until we reached bedrock, at around 30,000 years ago (beyond reliability of C14 dating). Each time you slowly climbed back up out of that narrow three-metre deep hole on our bush timber ladder you couldn’t help reflecting on the Aboriginal time scale as you ascended. 30,000 years, 20,000, 10,000, coming closer to the top – Aboriginal occupation all the way – until you reached the top three centimetres of deposit, which represented the time of European occupation on the continent – three centimetres versus three metres. And yet despite their immense time on the Australian continent (and we now know at least twice that time depth), we still haven’t recognised Indigenous people in our Constitution, nor do they have a direct voice of advice to parliament over policy matters that affect them. It is time, surely.
Ian White, Baringhup

Truth in advertising
We went through a period of unparalleled nastiness in the lead-up to the same-sex marriage postal vote. Now we are seeing the current No campaign using unauthorised and out-of-context material in its propaganda, and dragging in red herrings left, right and centre. Doesn’t this manipulation of truth demand a change in our campaign rules? Surely it is high time the powers that be moved to demand truth in political advertising. Why should readers/listeners/viewers be duped by wrong and/or misleading statements by those who would persuade? And let’s extend the idea to future election campaigns. Let’s have no more lies, half-truths and scare campaigns ever!
Elaine O’Shannessy, Buxton

The basics come first
A great letter from former minister Rod Mackenzie (25/9) as to how much he valued his state education, which was grounded in learning the basics and introduced him to the great writers and poets. He developed a lifelong love of reading. He rose to the heights of being a state government minister without a university degree. Every child should receive an education grounded in the basics on reading, writing and the numerical skills. Another of your correspondents (25/9) asks what should be dropped from a crowded study program and she asks about climate policy and identity politics. No need to drop them, but certainly downgrade them if there is any conflict with the basics. After all, a student properly skilled in the basics can then find out about these topics through their own research and reading.
David Fry, Moonee Ponds

Building connection
Experience leads me to support the suggestion in Robyn Grace’s article “Stepping Up” (23/9) that teachers should stay with a class for more than a single year. Long ago, I taught two cohorts at Altona High School for five years – one for grades 7 to 11 and the other 8 to 12. This was the most effective and enjoyable period of my time in schools. I got to know the students, they got to know me, there is evidence they learnt well, and I think they enjoyed our lessons. Having teachers stay with students for more than a single year would be simple to implement, certainly on a small scale initially with a few of the teachers in a school. It would involve no greater costs, and would not require central authorisation. The change could help reduce two current problems: concern over the quality of students’ learning, and the loss of teachers from the profession.
Emeritus Professor Richard White,
Monash University

Public servant power
It would be amazing if the Mike Pezzullo case was the only instance of behaviour like this in the public service. We vote in our politicians, but they are subservient to those who have entrenched positions in the public service. There is great need of an inquiry as to who is really governing Australia. How many times do politicians hand down the questions from their electorate and a public servant finishes up ruling on the question?
Doris LeRoy, Altona

Use money better
I’m sure many people are wondering why we have shortages of experienced teachers, nurses, aged carers etc in the public sector when one public servant earns $900,000 a year. You could employ many essential workers and derive a lot more public benefit for that sort of money.
Kevin Fahey, Red Hill

Brownlow scoring
While Lachie Neale might be a worthy winner of this year’s Brownlow it is arguable that the voting system does not produce the best and fairest player over the course of a season. It is inequitable to award three times as many points to the player judged best on the ground compared to the player judged third best, a disparity further increased when only three players out of a possible 44 can be awarded votes. It means that players who are among the best week after week are outscored by those who stand out, but on far fewer occasions. While all scoring systems have their shortcomings, it would be fairer to follow the examples of other AFL awards and give individual scores out of 10 for the best three players.
Bryan Long, Balwyn

Same every year
One of the few certainties in life is that every September the annual complaint will come that there are not enough grand final tickets for club members. The reality is that if the MCG accommodated 200,000, there would still not be enough tickets for the members and passionate supporters of the clubs involved, much less the corporate interests and other hangers-on. Many of those passionate supporters are members of the oft-maligned MCC and AFL membership ranks. It speaks volumes for the passion the Australian game induces that the demand is so great!
Brian Kidd, Mount Waverley


Daniel Andrews announces he’s stepping down as premier.Credit: Joe Armao

Daniel Andrews
Well done, Daniel Andrews, on knowing when to go, and thank you for your hard work and leadership.
James Young, Mt Eliza

Andrews had his critics, but I challenge anyone to name a premier who has worked harder for their state. Even with the enormous challenges of COVID and the deteriorating economic situation brought on by it and the Ukraine war, he never took a backward step.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

Daniel Andrews, watching your press conference, I thought of three words … spin, spin, spin.
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill

Why is the best of the best, Lachie Neale, not good enough to be one of the best 22 that make the AFL All Australian team? Oops!
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill

I tried everything to cure my insomnia, but nothing seemed to work. Then I watched The Brownlowzzzz.
Ron Mather, Melbourne

I don’t follow footy, but I love style and fashion. Those on the red carpet looked stunning. The women looked good too!
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

Did Pezzullo overdose on episodes of Yes, Prime Minister?
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood

Developers must be rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of the huge profits to be made by the demolition and subsequent development of the old housing commission public housing sites.
David Eames-Mayer, Balwyn

Division is caused by people not respecting other people’s right to make their own decision on the Voice. Neither a Yes vote nor a No vote protects against division: that’s up to individuals.
Emma Borghesi, Rye

Now we celebrate Halloween and have Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Turkeys of Australia, beware! Thanksgiving can’t be far away.
Kester Baines, Belmont

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