Backing a winner no matter the cost

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Essential: whatever PM’s problems are, they’re not about policy” (Monday). The Essential polling clearly demonstrates Australia’s love affair with the popular. What we observe is the obvious: while most reasonable people accept that the last six years of Labor government has been good for Australia, good for them and that the Labor Party has good policies, the leadership cadre is unpopular and so they will turf them out at the next election.

Obvious? More like curious, as our bi-polar behaviour seems to be uniquely quixotic. Why do we relish indulging in self-harm? Equally curious is the Australian public obsession with gossip and innuendo being justification for all sorts of racist and frankly quite extreme reactions. The upcoming election, it seems, will be about throwing the goodies out because we don’t warm to them and accept the other lot even though we know we will be worse off; actually we know this from what they have already told us and suspect the rest.

Am I right? Of course; Essential tells us that Labor got high praise for abolishing WorkChoices, so that’s a good reason to bring back the perpetrators, knowing that they will bring it back (see the promised “inquiry”). The punters just want to back a favourite — even if that means they lose money.

What about real working-class women?

Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “MP valedictories: wish them well as we wave them goodbye” (yesterday). Nicola Roxon’s valedictory speech missed a key point.When she announced her retirement earlier this year, saying, “If I did contest this next election and run for a sixth term in parliament, she [her daughter] would be starting high school before I might retire”, many working women must have shaken their heads. Of course, for most working women whom our working-class hero purports to represent, the fact that their children are starting high school is neither here nor there. They have been working for many years and expect to have to work for many more.

Roxon voted in cabinet to reduce the income support of those (overwhelmingly women) on the higher single-parent pension to the $12,000 per year Newstart Allowance or the dole when their youngest child turns eight, because it is seen as a good thing for them to participate in the labour market and look for non-existent jobs. For Roxon however, whose child is about to turn eight, retirement beckons. Of course, if we were all given the chance to retire at the age of 46 on a generously indexed pension close to $140,000 a year (pension pot of $5 million to $7 million), perhaps many of us would take the retirement option, too. Additionally, under the rules of her superannuation scheme, she is able immediately to access her superannuation pension, whereas everyone else has to wait until they turn 55. Twelve years in Parliament, six years as a minister and, voila, a generously indexed annual income stream for life. If she dies, her husband gets a proportion of the pension for the rest of his life.

Where can we humble plebs, but particularly working-class women, sign up? I know Roxon is a member of the Labor Unity faction where “whatever it takes” is their guiding principle, but this hypocrisy is far too much, even from Labor’s “new class”, agree?

So much for the surveillance state

Nicky Hungerford writes: Re. “Rundle: good God, where in the world is Ed Snowden?” (yesterday). Don’t you think its funny that with all the surveillance we are hearing about that no one can find him???

The punting padre

Sean Leader writes: Re. “At least he tries” (Monday). Peter Matters wrote: “In defence of Cardinal Pell — for a priest he is an excellent rugby player.” Huh?  Wasn’t Pell a champion schoolboy ruckman who signed with Richmond before moving on to the seminary? Confusing our sporting codes just a little, aren’t we?

Peter Fray

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