Pulling the wrong tooth
IT IS ironic that the federal government is criticised by the Liberal Party for pursuing dentists who have abused the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme, when the Liberals have been so critical of the waste and lack of oversight of the home insulation scheme and the school building program.
The Chronic Disease Dental Scheme was accompanied with onerous paperwork, but this was well publicised to the profession, and I find it laughable that the story can be rewritten, with dentists portrayed as victims. The whole scheme, while no doubt well intentioned, morphed into another middle-class rort, with many better educated and influential patients seeing it as an opportunity to get expensive treatment such as implants and bridgework, while the disadvantaged genuinely in need of dental care passed through the net.
John Moffat, Richmond
The right products
THE two big supermarkets would have no idea which products customers want to buy ("Coles' private labels create jobs in Australia", The Age, 30/5) because they no longer stock them on their shelves for us to buy.
When a supermarket doesn't stock a branded product that a customer wants, the easiest solution is to buy the supermarket brand instead. I am dismayed that I cannot find adequate quality in the staples we eat at Coles or Woolworths. The private-label breakfast cereals, for example, are much higher in sugar than reputable brands.
I'll tell you what we want: a real choice between brands, produced so that our agricultural sector can continue to provide us with high-quality food. It is up to large corporations in this country to act ethically.
Jackie Steel, Coburg North
IF YOU attempt to smuggle drugs into Bali, you can expect appropriate support from the Australian government.
Julian Assange hasn't even been charged, looks like facing a secret trial, and may be extradited to the United States. But then he has already been "judged" to have offended the establishment, mainly by exposing its duplicity. His support from our government seems to be a reluctant minimum.
Grant Hawthorne, Coongulla
WE ALL congratulate ourselves on how cheaply we can buy clothing, but we should spare a thought for workers on extremely low wages and in impoverished conditions in other countries who enable us to do so.
How is it possible to buy material and thread, cut and sew a pair of trousers, and transport it for a price that enables it to be sold for $15 at a retailer who is making its own profit, with middlemen also taking a cut?
It certainly would not be possible in Australia, with our wage rates and benefits.
Irene Clark, Glen Iris
A sure bet
TALK about shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted! It is good to see some politicians regretting the widespread introduction of pokies across our state. They are now seeing what many of us were afraid of: the widespread problems caused by these addictive machines.
It is still not too late to reduce the harms of problem gambling through pre-commitment programs, education and more widely available counsellors.
A tragic reality is the addictions of governments to the revenue that they raise through taxes on gambling, and their consequent inability to see the blight that gambling is on so many lives.
Father Graham Reynolds, Mitcham
THE temporary solution proposed to solve the current plight of the TAFE system is to provide more money. At best, this would be a short-term fix, but the underlying problem would remain.
TAFE is caught in the bind of trying to meet labour-market needs while responding to career aspirations of individuals. These are often poles apart. The leadership of TAFE is hopelessly buried within the complex state Education Department bureaucracy.
TAFE is in urgent need of strategic planning. Unless there is a long-term vision with clearly defined goals, it will continue to flounder and this highly essential national asset will underperform.
The solution is to immediately place TAFE under the control of an independent management board of leaders from industry and business. The board would oversee planning, priorities, budgets and directions and report to a federal minister dedicated to manpower planning.
The CEO of the board should be recruited from among highly experienced TAFE directors, either current or recently retired. The authority would have its own permanent support staff drawn from within TAFE to bring experience and understanding.
Ian Baker, Blairgowrie
IT WAS concerning to read that imported fish containing antibiotics banned in Australia were destined for sale here ("Alarm at antibiotics in fish imports", The Age, 30/5). The same report listed other potential contaminants in imported food. I like to buy food produced in Australia under our health and safety standards, but when I go to our supermarket I find it almost impossible to determine the source country from the packaging. I am a senior citizen and find small print difficult.
It should be mandatory for food's country of origin to be printed in black letters not less than five millimetres high on a white field on a conspicuous part of the packaging.
Gloria Walter, Burwood
Gina, where are you?
HAVING worked in the welfare industry for 16 years before retirement, I have nothing but the highest admiration for Bernie Geary and Sandie de Wolf for their lifelong, heart-wrenching work with our most vulnerable children, young people and families.
With job losses soaring, one can only imagine many more disadvantaged families being added to the list of already overextended welfare agencies. If Gina Rinehart donated just one of her many billions into these agencies, imagine what could be achieved with programs to increase the options and choices of these marginalised members of our community.
Trish Clarke, Werribee
ANOTHER company (Hastie) goes under and the talk is about the entitlements of the staff not being secured. How is this allowed to happen? Once a staff member is owed holiday pay, long-service leave, sick leave and superannuation, these funds should be locked away and not be available to the directors, owners, shareholders or anyone else to use to try to shore up any dodgy or other financial dealings. This money has already been earned by the workers and should be secure from prying hands.
Hans Pieterse, Narre Warren North
School in need
PREMIER Ted Baillieu claims there is not enough money to help Mowbray College. Nonsense! Why doesn't the government cancel next year's grand prix at Albert Park? A bit of this money could help Mowbray run until year's end. What the Premier is saying is that there is not enough money to keep Mowbray afloat for some time but there is money to keep the MPs' super fund afloat and that there is money to fund a race in a public park, which is flagrant corporate welfare for the top end of town. What strange priorities.
Marcus L'Estrange, St Kilda
FORMER Victorian premier Jeff Kennett sold dams, power stations and railway lines to Webb Dock, sacked conductors and closed schools. He gave the huge Crown site to one of Australia's richest families for almost no rent. He promoted gambling as "family entertainment". Well, it's not. The prime role of casinos is to launder the profits of the billion-dollar drug industry. I get depressed thinking about casinos.
Dave Hughes, South Melbourne
THANK you for the article "If I hadn't found support I would not be here" (The Age, 31/05). As someone who works in the housing and homelessness sector, it is fantastic to see some recognition of the kind of services that help people most in need. David's pathway into homelessness is not an uncommon one. However, with tailored support and innovative service delivery we see that homelessness is not necessarily the end of the road. Nonetheless, to end homelessness it is essential that funding bodies, community services and their clients believe it can be done. Without this belief, and the financial, political, and community support that comes with it, an Australia without homelessness will be very difficult to achieve.
Stephanie Malcher, Hawthorn