I plan to renounce my award if this goes ahead


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I plan to renounce my award if this goes ahead
In 2019, I was unexpectedly made a member of the Order of Australia (AM) for “significant service to social welfare initiatives and law reform” after more than 25 years of endeavour, and I accepted it with pride.

In 2007 Margaret Court was made an officer of the Order of Australia “for eminent service to tennis as an internationally acclaimed player and record-holding grand slam champion, and as a mentor of young sportspersons”. Now in 2021 she is reportedly to be receive Australia’s highest honour, AC, but for what reason? AC recipients are honoured for ’’eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or humanity at large”. Court has already been awarded for her tennis achievements.

In the intervening 14 years she has promoted views on sexuality, which have been soundly rejected by Australians in the plebiscite in 2017 and by the Australian Parliament.

If Margaret Court accepts this award, I will with regret be renouncing mine. I do not support this decision by the Council for the Order of Australia and do not wish to be associated with such company.
Rodney Syme, Yandoit Hills

The difference between Court and Laver
Your correspondent (″⁣Right to diverse views″⁣, Letters, 23/1) contends that Margaret Court has a right to her contrary views and opines that perhaps we should ask Rod Laver for his views on various topics and remove his name from his arena if we find them unpalatable.

But Laver doesn’t use the pulpit, and the media, to broadcast his views to the public. He doesn’t espouse views that are harmful and hurtful to his fellow Australians. Margaret Court has made her choice and, with the apparently implicit backing of the PM, I’m sure she’ll live with it.
Steve Campbell, Kangaroo Flat

We need more transparency around the process
You report that the Governor-General is pushing for reform of the Australia Day honours (The Age, 23/1).

One reform that would provide more transparency and background information to the public would be the publication of the nominator/s for each recipient.
Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn

The community has moved on
Margaret Court did not ask for this award, she was awarded it. It is the people who are running the awards that need to be modernised and inclusive.

It is to the Order of Australia that we should turn and to the institutions and the governance and laws that hold us back. These laws and ways of thinking need to modernise, they are lagging behind changing sentiment in the community. Let this be the catalyst for change. At least people have an issue with it, years ago it would been unremarkable. Things are changing.
Sue King, Somers

Where’s the tolerance, love and respect for others?
The last sentence of your correspondent’s letter says it all (″⁣Right to diverse views″⁣, Letters, 23/1). ″⁣Tolerance, love and respect for others″⁣ are the very things Margaret Court is not offering to people who aren’t like her.

She publicly comments and preaches her views, which are offensive to many Australians. Australia Day Awards should be presented to those that offer hope and unity, not division.
Paul Hamilton, West Preston

The basic point is being buried
The many critics of awarding another gong to Margaret Court, focus on her consistent divisive speech directed against the LGBTQI+ community. It’s a good point and speaks to her character.

But the basic point is being buried: why do sports players deserve a gong? It’s an activity they pursue for their own benefit, and I have no problems with that, but in what way have the grand slams of Court etc made this country a better place for the people in it?
Carmel Boyle, Alfredton


This is not justice
It is impossible to read Keenan Mundine’s powerful story of disadvantage and incarceration (″⁣UN push to lift age of legal responsibility″⁣, The Age, 22/1) and not feel moved by the injustice of children as young as 10 being removed from family, school and community and incarcerated.

Sadly, stories like his are not uncommon. Each year about 600 young children aged 10 to 13 are arrested, charged and locked up in Australian prisons. This is despite a wealth of evidence from Australia and abroad showing that children under the age of 14 do not have the social, emotional and intellectual maturity necessary for criminal responsibility.

Thirty-one UN member states recently urged Australia to raise the age of criminal responsibility – as our current age of 10 years lags behind many other countries.
We know that when children between the ages of 10 to 14 have contact with detention they are more likely to have sustained and frequent justice involvement throughout their lives.

Jesuit Social Services urges all Australian states and territories to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years. A new response to children under 14 will make communities fairer and safer for everyone.
Julie Edwards, CEO, Jesuit Social Services, Richmond

It’s the date, not the day
It seems to me that it’s not the day but the date that is the major bone of contention. And let’s face it, why should we in the other states of Australia celebrate an event that happened only in NSW?

I support Bruce Hartnett’s well-considered and sensible reasons to change the date to May 9 (Letters, 23/1). There is sound reasoning for this, and this date does not interfere with the sacred tradition of the Australian public holiday, which would be the case if it were changed to the date of federation – January 1.

We can then truly celebrate our good fortune in living in this great nation, and continue separately and amicably to pursue the long overdue recognition of our First Nations.
Lee Palmer, Albert Park

Inexcusable deafness
Regarding Australia Day and the raging annual debate, I can’t understand why there is such an immutable attachment to the date of January 26. Yes, it was the date of the First Fleet’s arrival in Port Jackson, but to be deaf to the horrific repeated stories of the First Nations people is inexcusable.

There is no way they could not have seen the British ships, their passengers and crew as anything other than invaders. After all, they were not invited, they did not respectfully leave, they saw themselves as conquerors and behaved as such.

It sounds as though the descendants of those conquered people will always feel, rightfully, aggrieved if those of us who are not Aboriginal, fail to acknowledge long-overdue homage.

While none of us alive today is responsible for what our ancestors did at any time in history, we are responsible for what we do and say now. Perhaps the best way to acknowledge demands for changing Australia Day now is by listening to the voices of the Aboriginal people who dare us to remember, in truth, the suffering of their ancestors.

Embrace our truthful history, and in the spirit of peace, choose a day that honours all Australians, but not on Invasion Day.
Joyce Butcher, Williamstown

These people are heroes
For many years I have observed at close hand the dedication of volunteer lifesavers with admiration and pride. In addition to participating in traumatic rescue events, they devote many hours to training, patrolling and maintenance of equipment. Their work reflects the values and standards of the clubs to which they belong.

Rescue attempts, including the tragic events we have seen in recent days, require skill and courage, and are followed by structured debriefing that addresses the emotional toll on these brave young men and women.

Along with firefighters and emergency response volunteers, lifesavers are dedicated to their community and seek no public recognition for the service they provide. They are heroes.
Mary O’Callaghan, Glen Iris

Diminished as a people
As we have grown as a nation our tolerance indicator has diminished. We used to accept the fact that others had alternative values or opinions. The Aussie in us would ridicule them openly of course, but still accept the fact that they were entitled to their opinions.

Today, if you do not support (say) the right of politics you are part of the ″⁣loony left″⁣. The implications of saying this are no longer the same. This criticism indicates that there is something wrong with you.

Margaret Court had an impressive record as a tennis player, at a time when it was played with a very ordinary racquet and her entourage probably did not include her own masseur, coach or psychologist. Her tennis record and prowess indicate an amazing level of skill, tenacity and fighting spirit. It also indicates a strength of character and courtesy lacking sometimes today.

However, she appears to no longer be entitled to the respect due her, because she has an opinion which is at odds with the minority LGBTQI+ community and those who for political capital support their way of life.

It has diminished us as a people.
Ken Norris, McCrae

We should remain afraid
The mental gymnastics of those who remain enthusiastic Trump cult members is ominous (″⁣Cult of Trump led up a dry gully″⁣, The Age, 23/1). Tony Wright eloquently explains how millions in the US who believe Trump’s lies can still justify hating Joe Biden, resorting to violent insurrection and waiting for their saviour’s return.

We should remain afraid of this delusional mass.
Glenda Johnston, Queenscliff

It’s not about the money
Thank you for your editorial in Saturday’s Age (″⁣Release the rest of the detained refugees″⁣, 23/1). For years, various journalists, asylum seeker support groups and others have been stating loud and clear that it costs much more to detain asylum seekers than to treat them humanely in the community.

Up until 2019, it has reportedly cost the Australian people approximately $9.6 billion to keep these desperate people in detention. Offshore detention alone costs $400,000 per person a year. Onshore detention costs about $350,000 per person a year, whereas on bridging visas in the community the figure is $10,220.

Startling as these figures are, and the complete disregard the government has shown in response up until now, the main issue is not money but human rights and compassion. If the cost of detention is the only incentive to release these people, then this government is a disgrace. A six-month bridging visa does not provide them with any surety or the ability to plan their future.

On Australia Day, what is it that we are celebrating when we have this stain on our nation?
Lu Thek, Glen Waverley

Return this family
Financial savings, not compassion, prompted Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to release hotel detainees into the community: further savings could be made if the family detained on Christmas Island was returned to Queensland.
Mary Cole, Richmond

We have failed them
Your editorial (23/1) is to be commended for highlighting what has been a shameful episode in Australian history. In particular, detailing Peter Dutton’s explanation for releasing some detainees into the community because it is cheaper for the government to do so rather that leaving them in detention.

Mr Dutton is not showing any compassion for his reasoning – it is simply a cost analysis. However as he well knows, once in the community it will be most difficult for the bridging visa holders to find accommodation at a reasonable price, and also they will be largely reliant on organisations like ASRC in Footscray, Anglicare and many other organisations to provide them with essentials such as food etc.

It is about time that this government, as well as previous governments, realise that these people are not commodities, but human beings who came here seeking freedom from persecution.

We have failed them.
Bruce MacKenzie, South Kingsville

Make it March 3
Australia Day should be celebrated on March 3. This was the day in 1986 when the Australia Act came into force. It swept away the last vestiges of the power of the British Parliament to make laws for each of the states of Australia.

This was the day when Australia finally became a nation rather than a collection of colonies.
Ken Rivett, Ferntree Gully

Follow this advice
In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch tells his daughter, Scout: ″⁣You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.″⁣

Those who do not understand the First Nations peoples’ point of view regarding the celebration of Australia Day on January 26 would be wise to follow Atticus’ advice. It is time for Australia as a nation to face its past and the harm done to Australia’s original inhabitants and show some understanding; some sensitivity. Just as it is important to confront the cruelty shown to hopeful asylum seekers, many facing their eighth year of incarceration.

Many of our politicians claim to be Christians, so perhaps they could remember Jesus’ commandment: ″⁣Love their neighbour as thyself″⁣ and begin the process of changing the date to celebrate Australia Day as well as releasing all asylum seekers within Australia and in offshore detention camps.
Kathy Paterson, Sandringham


Australia Day
May I, in the interests of our national unity, suggest February 29 for Australia Day? That way we will only have to argue every four years about what day it should be held on.
Trevor Hay, Montmorency

I live in Victoria. I can’t get why I’m supposed to be celebrating the founding of the colony of NSW.
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir

Scott Morrison’s unfortunate comments on Australia Day reinforce with me we still have such a long way to go.
Ian Maddison, Parkdale

The Australia Day honours are becoming almost as irrelevant as the date itself.
Kevin Ward, Preston

To say Cricket Australia should focus on cricket is also a political statement. Using the phrase Australia Day is political.
Dylan Jansz, Pascoe Vale

The opportunistic ability for early federal elections should be replaced by fixed terms.
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood

A day without Donald Trump headlining in the media is nearly as good as a doughnut day.
Frank Stipic, Mentone

Joel Fitzgibbon is more interested in his own electability than the ALP’s. Anthony Albanese needs to forget him and go all out for renewables.
John Walsh, Watsonia

Search engines
Librarians were the first search engine.
Barbara Abley, Newtown

Try Googling ″⁣alternative search engines″⁣.
Dave Torr, Werribee

Google may withdraw their service and their advertising. Siri says I don’t need either.
John Howell, Heathmont

Amanda Gorman’s lyrical reading of her poem at the inauguration of Joe Biden revealed that many things truly great about America had survived the Trump years.
Peter McCarthy, Mentone

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