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Raise standards for all women

Raise standards for all women

CAROLYN Hewson (BusinessDay, 8/9) believes Australia needs a "nanny culture" so that more Australian women can attain executive positions. While Ms Hewson is correct to point out that nannies are more widespread in other countries than in Australia, this has little to do with culture and everything to do with standards.

Nannies are widespread in the United States because there is a ready supply of unskilled labour, comprised largely of migrant women. These women are paid wages at, or below, the poverty line, and they are seldom afforded health insurance, let alone superannuation. While nannies are cheap in America, this does not aid gender equality. For every woman who becomes an executive, another woman enters a dead-end job. Australia does not need more dead-end jobs for women. It needs imaginative and courageous leaders in politics and business who can work together to create policies that ensure all men and women have access to meaningful career opportunities, whether they are running our companies or raising our young.

Lucy Joske, Kilsyth

Turning the tide

THANK you, Petro Georgiou (Comment, 8/9), for your clear and honest appraisal of Australian asylum seeker policy and its very fraught nature. Australian migration policy has become a desperate story of policy failure and you sagely advise that the "malign consensus" proposed between the Gillard government and Abbott opposition will continue the brutal and punitive treatment of asylum seekers, and further erode Australia's legal and humanitarian record. Your call to end mandatory detention is a welcome contribution and provides the only vision in this tawdry national spectacle. The mood in this nation is shifting slowly and irrevocably against the heavy hand of self interest and backyard protectionism, and you, Petro Georgiou provide an important beacon of decency.

Kate Driscoll, Fairhaven

Tinkering will fail

SUGGESTIONS that further tinkering of the Migration Act could overcome the government's problem in securing legal sanction for offshore processing of refugees and asylum seekers is very likely to fail.

The "paradigm shift" by the High Court in the "Malaysian solution" case reflects the court's growing recognition of where international law should stand in Australian jurisprudence. Most of the judges in that case held in effect that the intention of the Migration Act as a whole was to facilitate Australia's compliance with the UN Refugee Convention.

There is a long-standing doctrine in international law that countries that accede to treaties have an obligation to incorporate without derogation their key provisions into domestic law. There is also a principle that domestic legislation relating to the subject treaty is presumed to have incorporated those provisions into its domestic law to discharge that obligation.

There is, of course, an alternative repudiate the Refugee Convention and take the diplomatic consequences. The likelihood of the convention being amended in today's climate would seem remote indeed.

Andrew Farran, Beaumaris

Love, care prevail

AS A child from a separated marriage, I disagree with Nicholas Tonti-Filippini about the "rights of children" (Comment, 6/9). A child has the right to be happy, safe and well loved. It doesn't matter who fulfils these requirements. There is no gene for good parenting. Tonti-Filippini suggests that we, "the children", have the right to be nurtured by both mother and father. I would rather have the right to be parented by someone who sees this as a privilege rather than a biologically determined right. This means one, two or three mums or dads could do the job. In my case, it's a whole village of loving people.

Olympia Fuscaldo Ward, Newport

Just alternative

JUSTICE Marcia Neave ("Justice system failing victims of sex crimes", The Age, 8/9) is right to call for new ways to manage sexual violence cases in our courts. Sex offending is a vastly different crime to the theft of a DVD to fuel a heroin addiction. The most obvious and necessary change, however, would be to have specialist courts for interpersonal violence cases. The other change is to move from punitive sentencing to treatment and supervision approaches. Until these changes occur, a victim might hope but not expect justice. Every failure of justice does not simply affect the victim, it enables a perpetrator to reoffend.

Timothy O'Leary, Northcote

Listen and reflect

PERHAPS, before dismissing Geert Wilders's views on Islam as "abhorrent and plainly wrong" (Editorial, 8/9), we should first listen carefully to what he is saying. What is his evidence for his assertions? Is the evidence sound?

It might be a good idea for us to think seriously about why Holland's once famously tolerant multicultural society is now so fractured before rushing to judgment. What makes our multicultural society so much more "mature" than theirs?

And as for how Islam is in fact practised in at least some immigrant societies, we might start by reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali's powerful book Infidel, or Christopher Caldwell's well-informed and thoughtful Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West.

David Cunningham, Castlemaine

Patience required

THE Age (Editorial, 8/9) summed up the whole wretched situation in Afghanistan. Whatever the merits of the original invasion, they were irredeemably squandered by the deceitful Bush, Blair, Howard Iraq war. Our leaders are now stuck with a deadly "pass the parcel" situation where, whichever leader withdraws troops completely, will be accused by the opposition as being "soft on terror".

The eternal hell on the ground in Afghanistan can be spun into a grand and determined delusion to bring peace and democracy to a troubled nation. It is pertinent to consider the circumstances of the downfall of communism in the Soviet Republic. No invasion there, just the gradual attrition of a failed system by the influence of Western lifestyle over many years "white-goods" beat war. If left to themselves, and by letting a drip-feed of Western influence do the job, it may well happen in a few decades. This patient course will take real political courage but cost fewer lives.

Roger Green, Ferntree Gully

No laughing matter

I AM compelled to write regarding the disgraceful "comedy" At Home with Julia. I saw nothing that warranted treating the Prime Minister of our country so disrespectfully. If the show contained smart political humour it might be excusable. But no way was it excusable. It reminded me of school-yard bullying, belittling our PM for the way she walks, talks, has a slightly unusual relationship, and comes across as a little bit "ordinary Aussie". There was no brilliant political humour.

As a woman, I can see what is happening to Ms Gillard and I don't like it. Regardless of her politics, she presents immaculately, is always well spoken and extremely hard working. But she is female and not of this country's gentry, so she will cop it.

Karen Warne, Junee, NSW

Ticket trouble

THIS morning, when I got to the station, I found I had left my multi-trip Met ticket at home so I bought a one-trip ticket. What do I do when Met tickets are gone, my myki card is left at home and single-trip tickets are unavailable? Buy a second myki card for $10 (non-refundable and will it be available at all stations), walk to the city or chance it without a ticket?

All that's certain is that I'll curse the politicians responsible not just those who embarked on myki when they could have bought the London or Hong Kong card systems at a fraction of myki's cost, but the current mob who have vetoed single-trip myki tickets so they can destroy 50 million single-trip paper tickets. Only those who don't use public transport could have vetoed such ticketing.

George McGregor, Malvern

Back to school

I APPLAUD former senator Julian McGauran's efforts in embarking on a new career after losing his Senate spot in last year's federal election ("Ex-pollie takes a crack at being a class act", The Age, 8/9).

However, I am concerned that in recent times he has been too busy with High Court challenges on behalf of the DLP, or defecting from one party to another, to brush up on his spelling skills, essential I would have thought to a teaching career. Could someone point out to Mr McGauran, if the girls at Genazzano have not already done so, that euthanasia is not spelt the way it is written on the whiteboard behind him.

Frank Smith, Kew


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