Is Peter Dutton dumping his party on the wrong side of history?

Peter Dutton has acknowledged that his boycott of the 2008 apology to the stolen generation put him on the wrong side of history (“Voice blow as Dutton back No campaign”, April 6). Now as the leader of the Liberal Party he is putting the party on the wrong side of history and pushing his party into further political irrelevance.

I look forward to the day when the Liberals become a rump in Australian politics and join the ilk of Mark Latham on the cross benches, where they can together hug their delusions of speaking “for Australians”. The Liberal Party has been a long way behind Australian society’s views on the role of women, climate change, multiculturalism, human rights and Indigenous recognition and reconciliation. Elfriede Sangkuhl, Summer Hill

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt Golding

As Tony Wright describes so eloquently Peter Dutton’s Liberals are effectively turning their backs on Indigenous Australians, ignoring their pleas for a voice (“In 1967, black Australians became visible. Today will they be heard?”, April 6). Engulfed in existential crisis yet continuing to oppose and obstruct the wishes of the Australian people, it seems the Voice to parliament referendum is the hill upon which Peter Dutton chooses to die. What an ignominious way to go. Lee-Anne Walker, Gymea Bay

Just when we thought we’d seen the end of everything being about domestic politics – our relationship with China, pandemic management, rorting of government programs, attacks on trans children from the Morrison government, we get Dutton and his stand on the Voice. Brenda Kilgore, Red Hill (ACT)

Continuing a well-established Liberal party tradition of nonsense catchphrases, Dutton’s new mantra is to be “the prime minister’s Canberra Voice”. Clearly, neither truth, the welfare of First Nations people nor their own heartfelt requests are to be barriers to Dutton’s latest feeble attempt at petty political game-playing. Peter Outhwaite, Hawks Nest

If I had any doubts about how to vote in the referendum, Dutton’s announcement that the Liberal vote would be a “no” would have convinced me to vote “yes”. After 12 years in government to address the wrongs that have been committed against the original inhabitants, he now comes up with solutions to the issue to oppose the Labor’s Voice proposal. When the referendum passes, will Dutton and his supporters turn their backs in parliament? Sandra Burke, Cremorne

Now that Peter Dutton has formally aligned the Coalition against the Labor’s support for the Voice referendum, history will show which leader had the welfare of all Australians in their thoughts. I, for one, support the Voice, as I believe that First Nations people should have a say in matters that impact them. Karen Eldridge, Leichhardt

I came to Australia in 1981, and despite growing up in the socially and religiously conservative monoculture of the Highlands of Scotland in the 1950s and ’60s, I have never understood non-Indigenous Australians’ antipathy towards First Nations peoples, as demonstrated by historical and ongoing lives of neglect and disadvantage, and now by opposition to the “Voice”. What are the opponents of the Voice afraid of?
Failure to vote “Yes” in the coming referendum will be a national disgrace and return Australia, morally, to where it was before 1967, when First Nations people achieved recognition as human beings, although not necessarily equal, through the overwhelming support of ordinary Australians. Australians must again show generosity of heart and ignore the importuning of politically motivated naysayers who will wear the shame they will have brought upon themselves should they succeed. David MacKintosh, Berkeley Vale

Is it ironic or just heartbreaking that currently the loudest “voice to Canberra” is that of the mining lobbyists? No evidence yet that Liberal or National Party politicians have any difficulties listening. Stephanie Dowrick, Balmain

Dutton prefers local and regional First Nations voices (but not in the Constitution) to the Uluru Voice which they have asked to be enshrined in the Constitution. Once again, a white man not listening but telling Indigenous Australians what is good for them. Ainslie Lamb, East Corrimal

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt Golding

Dutton’s determination to play politics with the referendum on the First Nation’s constitutional recognition and Voice is disheartening and divisive. John Howard started this journey in 2007. If the Liberals were so concerned about hearing from rural and remote Indigenous voices, why didn’t they do something while they were in power (“‘A Judas betrayal of our country’: Noel Pearson’s attack on Liberal Party”,, April 6)? As Noel Pearson says, this is a “betrayal”. It’s the Parliament which decides the shape and function of the Voice. It’s a Voice Canberra, not a Canberra Voice. The Liberal Party is doomed to irrelevance unless it makes some changes and this is the first big change it can make. Recognition of First Nation’s people in the constitution and the Voice is essential to building reconciliation and change in this country. Let’s embrace it. Louise Redmond, Katoomba

Stop playing politics

Peter Dutton’s decision to oppose the Voice to federal parliament shows exactly why the Voice is needed. It is needed because some politicians can’t see past “playing politics”. They need to be reminded that their decisions affect real people. Good governance is far more than having a victory on the floor of parliament. It is far more than choosing to throw your weight around, simply because you can.

Hopefully, the voters of our nation have more maturity than federal Liberal Party politicians. This is an opportunity to put party politics aside and for each of us to vote for what will help our nation to move forward. Meg Mangan, Tamworth

It’s in the nature of resistance that the so-called “Liberals” have just locked in huge loyalty across the country to the Yes campaign. Sue Doran, Coogee

Dutton has explained exactly why the Voice is needed. He “believes the Indigenous community will be better served by” the Coalition’s alternate model. Conservative politicians deciding how a community will be served without asking how those decisions will impact that community. Mark Tietjen, Redfern

Undertaker buries Voice

Dutton deserves the nickname given to him by Noel Pearson: “The Undertaker”. He will be known by it for the rest of his political life. Sean Flood, Middle Cove

Is this Peter Dutton’s last stand? Ann Brindle, Beverly Hills

Put the people first

Dutton and his party have decided to oppose the Voice, a modest change in the Constitution which would allow First Nations people, after 250 years of dispossession, a chance to have some say in matters that affect them. He covers it up with the hypocrisy of wanting local and regional voices as an alternative, which is really no change from the present. He is threatened by an advisory voice which he perceives could challenge his interests. It reveals a lack of empathy for the history and experience of First Nations people. He has placed politics and self-interest above the real needs of people. Leo Sorbello, West Ryde

I am angry – we should all be angry. No one likes to be lied to but we have been given the chance to rectify the greatest lie in Australia’s history. The lie was that the great South Land was unoccupied, that the Aboriginal occupants of our country did not exist. They had no voice then and if Dutton and co have their way, they will still not have a voice.

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

The Voice with its simplicity and lack of grandiosity, an authentic cry over centuries from a breaking heart, is tragically being twisted and misinterpreted as a devious grab for power and a thing to be feared while being drawn through the murky mud of Dutton politics. We will all be much lesser beings in this country if this opportunity for real change is allowed to sink into it. Surely we are better than this. Judy Finch, Taree

Push for no will backfire

Dutton and his Liberal Party had 11 years to do something for Indigenous Australians where constitutional recognition is concerned. But they are a miserable lot and did nothing. Australians see the nastiness and negativity in whatever this lot do and will rise up in big numbers and vote yes. The Australian people will make this decision because we have proved time and time again that we are centrists and sensible. And have a voice and have a heart. And that will guide us. Wendy Atkins, Cooks Hill

Dutton’s opposition to the Voice is purely an ideological clash with his opponents. While he recognises constitutional change and regional consultation from Indigenous leaders, the resounding no is indicative of political opportunism to undermine Labor’s credibility. The formal opposition to the Voice will haunt the Liberals, adding to a plethora of identity issues distorting the party’s image. One can only assume Dutton is playing political mind games. Expect electoral abandonment if that is the case. Damyn Santi-Hunt, Erskineville

It is pleasing that the federal Liberals have come out, finally, against the Voice. I am confident that given their recent performances, and the mood of the electorate, that this will only assist success for the Voice referendum. Andrew McPherson, Kalaru

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt Golding

No surprises there — that a party of naysayers would say no to yes.

Voice of reason at Uluru

It will become increasingly important to contradict misinformation about the Voice referendum proposal. The referendum comes as a direct response to a request in the Uluru Statement from the Heart in May 2017. The Voice is a component of an invitation to all Australians by First Nations peoples to “walk together … for a better future”. The Voice will improve our system of government by closing a gap in our Constitution. David Hind, Neutral Bay

Yet again immigrant Australia, in this case specifically white Australia, tries to tell our First Nations co-citizens what’s good for them.

Over more than a decade, the Aboriginal community has gone through an impressive and exhaustive process of consultation, deliberation and decision taking, culminating in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the wordings of the constitutional amendment and the referendum. They have reached out to the Australian people asking for the Voice. Let’s all listen. Neil Padden, Clontarf

Dutton has said he will vote no to the Voice. He believes the wording is problematic and if the country votes yes to it being accepted there will be legal issues. Why has he not proposed alternative wording to overcome the problems he envisages? Gillian Baldwin, Windradyne

Dutton’s legislated Voice, instead of the proposed constitutional Voice, comes from the same playbook as Tony Abbott’s direct action response to climate change. It’s a do nothing repose. Tony De Lyall, Bulli

Archer a lone voice

During the darkest chapters of the Morrison years Dutton, as leader of the house, frequently applied the gag in a peremptory manner on subjects which could only have benefited from enlightening debate. Now, as leader of the opposition, he has tried to impose a gag on an issue that will define us as a nation. One suspects that Bridget Archer will not be the only one in his party defying his edict. Ray Alexander, Moss Vale

Thank you, Bridget Archer for your courage in speaking up for the Voice. What a different party the Liberals would be if they had a leader like you. Keep making your voice heard. Anne Shay, Ballina

The referendum is fraught with complexity and Dutton has the right to oppose it, as do many other Australians. To place it in the category of the betrayal of Judas at this time of year (Easter) is most insensitive. Opposition to the Voice may not be a fashionable position but it recognises that there is more to this issue than meets the eye. For some, the Voice is not about recognition or reconciliation but a grab for power. There is a need for common courtesy and bilateral respect to all at this point in our history. James Athanasou, Maroubra

Stuck in the past

How to be totally irrelevant to modern 2023 Australia? Be a member of the federal opposition elected to parliament in May 2022. Called by many the “Noalition”, history will be vigorous in its contempt for their lack of respect and denial of hope for better outcomes by Australia’s gracious and patient First Peoples. Anne Finnane, Beecroft

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt Golding

Dutton’s opposition to the Voice is not surprising as his record establishes him as a committed conservative. However, what is to be regretted is that his decision bruises Australia’s global reputation as a country with an inclination to decency. Peter Thomas, Rose Bay

I never thought I’d say this, but thank you, Peter Dutton. The opposition to the Voice from the opposition has probably guaranteed the referendum’s success. Peter Duffy, Burra

Peter Dutton – a No body. Robert Nicol, Miranda

Trump asks for donations from luxury of a private jet

What an irony that on one hand Donald Trump is asking for donations from the American public, on the other hand he is flying from his mansion in a private jet to New York then is driven in an 11 vehicle convoy (“Accused attacks judge’s family, complains that country is going to hell’, asks for donations”, April 6). He has already amassed several million dollars to defend himself in legal fight. Why are people who donate to his cause unable to see his lavish lifestyle, and why continue to handout hard-earned money for him to squander and fill his coffers? Bipin Johri, Epping

Surely thinking American people will not put up with the pathetic self-absorbed diatribes that spew from this man’s mouth. The latest is like the death throes of an animal in deep trouble, which is about to get worse. America will only move forward with positivity, something Trump is completely devoid of. Julius Timmerman, Lawson

As I watch the machinations surrounding the arraignment of Trump, his and his lawyers’ protestation of innocence and support of his followers, I am reminded of the words of Joe Bageant, who wrote . He wrote that the four cornerstones of the American political psyche are emotion substituted for thought; fear; ignorance and propaganda. A modicum of truth contained therein methinks. Al Clark, Belrose

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John Shakespeare

What a naïve question (“How does Donald Trump plan to pay for his defence?”, April 6). With other people’s money as usual. Steve Bright, North Avoca

Trump flies to and from New York in his private jet, then asks for donations. People donate millions. Am I missing something here? Eve Moyse, Dora Creek

The Donald, if he is rich as he says he is, could easily pay his legal bills, but his richness is trumped by his smartness, and he will allow other people to pay his bills for him. When they are the beneficiaries, capitalists love a bit of socialism. Peter Bourke, Rockdale

Stormy Daniels should receive the Nobel peace prize (“He said, she said: Stormy Daniels’ side of the story”, April 6). Terry Meller, Bondi Junction

I try not to read about the goings on between Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels until I’ve had a good breakfast. There’s so much to sift through. What I’ve realised that hasn’t been addressed is why and when Daniels went from being referred to as a porn star to being referred to as an adult film personality. Lyn Savage, Coogee

Too many people, too few homes

The RBA acknowledges the connection between the housing crisis and rate of migration into Australia (“Rental stress a new concern for RBA on inflation watch”, April 6). However, the size of Australia’s migration program continues to be taken for granted, as though the crisis is a matter of supply alone. Surveys continue to indicate that a majority of Australians think that immigration is too high and is affecting our quality of life. When something as basic as shelter cannot be taken for granted, isn’t it time to re-think “Big Australia” and seek innovative solutions to skills shortages, rather than fall back on the easiest solution, more people? Kay Dunne, Bondi

It is hard to believe that in the last census there were more than 120,000 homeless people in Australia and yet there were more than one million homes which were lying vacant (“Renting: the great undiscussed policy challenge”, April 6). There are many reasons why this might be, but one of them surely is that there are not enough houses to meet the requirements of our population. We have the worst record for housing availability and affordability in the developed world and it is a situation that will cause increasing unrest and anger if the situation is not addressed. It seems the Labor government’s legislation to establish a $10 billion fund to support more social and affordable housing, and invest in acute housing needs, is being held up by opposition parties in the Senate. Can they please give their reasons for wanting to impede such an important initiative? Liz Macfie, Crows Nest

We need to get rents down to more affordable levels and ensure that everyone who needs a home can even find one. Instead of dreaming of building enough houses, the obvious solution is to reduce permanent immigration to sustainable levels, but there does not seem to be the will to do this. Why? Dick Harfield, Yagoona

Boxing brutality

The International Boxing Association’s age rule limiting boxers to age 40 also limits the brain damage they suffer from this ritualised brutality (“At 38 Kaye Scott is a world championships silver medallist. At 40, she’ll be forced to retire”, April 6). The sooner this so-called sport is taken off the Olympic list the better; it normalises the punching that is at the core of domestic violence, and it desensitises viewers to the pain and damage that punching actually causes. Barry Laing, Castle Cove

Jacinda Ardern makes her final speech to New Zealand’s Parliament in Wellington.

Jacinda Ardern makes her final speech to New Zealand’s Parliament in Wellington.Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald

Peerless Jacinda

When Jacinda Ardern announced she was stepping down, words like “terrible”, “socialism” and “woke” got a workout (“Ardern exits with plea for climate”, April 6). It was unlikely circumstances that saw Ardern become an accidental prime minister, and New Zealand can recover from Ardern’s and Labour’s perceived economic failings. But it is impossible to imagine anyone else could have held the country together post-Christchurch in the way that Ardern did through her transparent empathy, and the words and images, and that it was a woman leading added to the symbolic power of the healing. Her qualities were on show through the earthquake tragedy and the COVID crisis. As her critics have said, perhaps she saw the electoral writing on the wall and Labour’s almost-certain loss in October, and it could be argued she should have stayed for the sake of the party. But her work is done; her work was to hold the country together post-Christchurch and no-one else could have matched her. John Macdonald, Kings Langley

Mystery muddle

Your writer claims to have solved the “mystery” of “the nun on the run” (“Pregnant to a priest, nun on run defied church over child”, April 3). But he relies on hearsay to claim “that the nun had been made pregnant by a clergy member and that she fled due to threats to her life after she refused to relinquish the child to the church for adoption”. His informant Gordon Sanson was not born when Sister Liguori (aka Bridget Partridge) fled her convent in Wagga Wagga in 1920. As someone who has researched and written about the Sr Liguori story for more than 25 years I have not found any evidence to suggest Sanson’s claim has any basis in fact. There is no mystery as to why Sr Liguori left the convent. She had been demoted from a teaching role to that of a servant. She was overworked, her health was suffering, and understandably, she resented the way she was being treated. She had had enough. We are told in the article that Sanson had grown up with the story that Partridge found refuge at Adelong with his great-grandparents, that their property was surrounded when the Catholic Church learned of her presence there, and she was smuggled out in disguise. The story told to Sanson did not happen. According to the evidence given in court, the house that was surrounded and from which Partridge escaped in disguise was the Thompson house in Wagga Wagga. From there she went to Adelong where she stayed with the Howell family, not Sanson’s great-grandparents. Sanson is not the most reliable source on which to base the reopening of one of the most bitter sectarian controversies of the 20th century. Dr Jeff Kildea, Honorary Professor, Irish Studies at UNSW

Timely play

The passage of time since the anti-misogyny speech has sadly dimmed the sense of outrage (“A keen ear and a scorching delivery”, April 6). And yet the perpetrators are still out and about holding positions of power and influence. Thus the arrival of this play is timely and a reminder to us all that we must not drop our guard and to speak out when necessary. Denis Hannigan, Toowoon Bay

Governor needed

To steer the economy in the right direction, we need a new mindset, as well as a new RBA governor (Letters, April 6). Mustafa Erem, Terrigal

Scrap over rap

C’mon, this is a con/Are we really starting culture wars?/Suggesting rap is the cause?/That lyrical flow/Is the source of violence at the royal show?/Hip hop is a celebration/Loved across the nation (“Rap music ban is counterproductive, racist and absurd”, April 6). Dave Hayes, Elanora Heights

The authorities have banned rap music from sideshow alley at the Easter Show. Some people feel that this is racist and ridiculous. In a spirit of calm compromise could it perhaps be banned just on seniors’ day? Jennifer Whaite, Oatley

Correspondents rightly point out that jazz was excoriated by the purse-lipped Puritans of the day as being “the Devil’s music”. However, unlike rap and hip-hop neither Louis Armstrong nor Ella Fitzgerald or any of the jazz greats peppered their songs with the f-word. Ryszard LinkiewiczWoolooware

The critics of rap music at the Easter show could strengthen their argument if they restored the silent “c” in its spelling. Rob Cummins, Turramurra

Technical issue

Kerry Schott’s review of the Inland Rail says that the project has drifted off the rails, which does seem to be a major technical problem with a proposed railway ( “Rail blowout spurs call for new board”, April 6). Evan Bailey, Glebe

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on
‘I hate him’: Why Picasso’s value and influence are waning
From Tim the Enchanter: ″⁣Thankfully art lasts longer than whatever pearl clutching moral panic of the day is wafting through society. Imagine standing in front of Guernica and thinking ‘but he cheated on his wife’.″⁣

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