ALP could have been more generous with its surplus

Jim Chalmers and Anthony Albanese are being disingenuous when the former says “we have struck the right balance” and the latter says “no one will be left behind”. There were approximately 500,000 people on JobSeeker before the budget (“Stage three tax cuts help low-incomes, too, says PM”, May 11). The change in benefits to the over-55s and keeping the single parenting payment until the youngest child is 14 reduced that number to about 400,000. If Labor had increased the JobSeeker benefit by $100 a fortnight instead of $50 a fortnight it would have cost an extra $520 million per annum. They still would have had a budget surplus of more than $3 billion. Labor has been penny-pinching with those who can least afford it. Pierre Mars, Vaucluse

Illustration; Matt Golding

Illustration; Matt GoldingCredit:

It’s not the size of your surplus that’s important, but whether it lasts long enough to satisfy. Four billion dollars this year, but anticlimactic thereafter. An ongoing deficit over several following years. Will it maintain inflation or result in a deflation? Brian O’Donnell, Burradoo

What exactly does the $4 billion surplus mean? Do we have that money in the bank with all our debts paid off? If it doesn’t mean that, it isn’t a surplus. Coral Button, North Epping

I understand the cautious economics of the federal budget, but given the electorate’s wish to flush the previous 12 years of visionless and uninspiring government down the political toilet bowl, maybe Labor could have been more daring and adventurous – raise the Medibank levy for those earning over $100k; charge no interest on HECS fees; $50 increase to JobKeeper. The cancelling of the impending tax breaks for the rich would clearly cover the bill. Let’s fire up the light on the hill PM, and make it burn bright for all Australians. Barry Ffrench, Cronulla

I admittedly know little of economics, but I am aware that government budgets need to be balanced politically as much as financially. This is especially so with a craven opposition ready to blame Labor for everything, despite the mess they left for others to fix. I understand that we have to fight inflation, the deficit and the mess of projects left unfinished and unfunded. However, why are they so scared of being accused of not keeping their promise of not scrapping the tax cuts? They are unjust and irresponsible and should be scrapped. David Ashton, Katoomba

The Coalition has pulled out all stops to be the noisy and nasty naysayers of the budget. As Logan Roy would say, “They are not serious people.” Wendy Atkins, Cooks Hill

As a retired psychologist, I am disappointed to see that in the budget GPs are to receive $184 for 60 minute consults, “which is expected to cater to women and people seeking mental health help” (“Bulk-billing incentives to boost access to doctors”, May 10). Psychologists receive only $89.65 and clinical psychologists only $131.65 for the same length session. In addition, psychologists and clinical psychologists are limited to providing only 10 Medicare-funded sessions per year. This is an absurdity when you think that psychologists and clinical psychologists are all highly trained in mental health, and GPs have only basic training in the same area. It is akin to suggesting that GPs should receive more for treating heart disease than a specialist cardiologist. If we want to deal with our mental health crisis, then we need to properly fund the professionals with expertise in the area. Judy Christian, The Ponds

Powerhouse just needs TLC, not an absurd upgrade

A powerful, faceless lobby group will not give up on its aim to convert what was a world-class museum into a conglomerate of conflicting outcomes (“Powerhouse set to shut for three years”, May 11). No government can allow a still-working museum to be closed for three years. After nine years of planned neglect, the current museum just needs some TLC. Garry Horvai, Pennant Hills

A generation of NSW children continue to miss out on the experience of a hands-on design and technology museum. The image of lone technology objects in a giant white space reflects a gallery approach to museology, which is depressing. I was head of collection management until five years ago and can confirm the politicised decision-making which had been occurring. The museum was fit for purpose for multiple British Museum and V&A exhibitions, which have the highest international standards for loans. Upgrading the air conditioning will cost less than destroying the iconic Wran building and closing this much-loved museum. Judith Coombes, Lilyfield

The design of the new Powerhouse Ultimo by Durbach Block Jaggers.

The design of the new Powerhouse Ultimo by Durbach Block Jaggers.Credit:Courtesy DBJ/The Powerhouse

The latest fantasies for the Powerhouse Museum prove that the Steam Age is not really over – because I have steam coming out of my ears! Dismantle the 1785 Boulton and Watt engine? The Locomotive No 1 and the Catalina could be crated up and transported to a regional gallery “if we can find a location”, says Lisa Havilah. It’s a wonder they haven’t thought of reassembling Willow Grove out on North Head and putting these priceless treasures there. I suggest museologist Lindsay Sharp be co-opted to carry out a risk assessment on the members of the brigade who keep coming up with these simply priceless absurdities. Cuppa anyone? The kettle’s boiling. Kent Mayo, Uralla

This is what is wrong with NSW at a Sydney council and government level; it takes so long for a good idea to gain traction and be completed, just like the second Sydney airport (“City and state must join to give Sydney square it deserves”, May 11). By the council’s own admission it’s been 50 years since Doug Sutherland devised the plan and now it’s been further delayed until “after 2035″. I appreciate that there are budgetary considerations, but 60 years plus is ridiculous; many of us who hailed the original concept will not see it.George Sirett, Rushcutters Bay

In my prime when Town Hall Square was “conceived”, I’ll be pushing up daisies by the time it’s born – if it’s born. And what a blow to Sydney’s revival. For all its faults, the previous state government proved NSW could do more than sit on its hands and wait for Godot; so keep the Powerhouse powering along and open Woolies Square. Peter Farmer, Northbridge

Sale of toxic plant is a crime

I have long been concerned about the corporate responsibilities of nurseries (“Toxic weed that killed ponies for sale in shops”, May 11). Naturally, places that sell plants and garden supplies are seen as good for the planet, but profit is prioritised over environmental impacts. This does not need to be the case. Countless nurseries enthusiastically spruik the delights of cestrum nocturnum; adding a label that it’s toxic does not absolve them of being irresponsible for selling an invasive weed that outcompetes native plants and can be deadly to mammals. While the extinction crisis of native fauna and flora marches on unabated, surely nurseries can embark on some self-regulation. Prioritise native plants, promote local native species, stop selling invasive weeds, use recycled plastic pots and educate the public about responsible gardening. If they cannot do this, despite their vast resources, state and territory governments need to step in and legislate. Marie Healy, Hurlstone Park

Anna Ludvik and her surviving horse Willis

Anna Ludvik and her surviving horse Willis Credit:Elise Derwin

In 1993 I bought a small property in Nana Glen, NSW, and before I’d been there a week a Coffs Harbour Council weeds officer was on my doorstep saying I had to rid my property of cestrum nocturnum growing there or face a heavy fine. I had no idea what this weed was or what it looked like. My property appeared in an article on the front page of the local paper as a killer weed haven. I got rid of it immediately. This plant has been a known killer of cattle and horses for decades, and for it to still be sold in nurseries in 2023 is a crime. Christine Tiley, Albany Creek (Qld)

Worthless coalition

About time (“Marriage of inconvenience: Can the NSW Coalition survive life in opposition?“, May 11). The Coalition, both federal and state, is an anachronism. In other countries a coalition between two or more parties is formed after an election to give them a majority and allow them to form government. A coalition in opposition makes no sense. What we have between the Liberals and Nationals is effectively a single party. Indeed, they’ve done just that up north. No wonder we keep hearing stories about Liberal policy being set to keep their National colleagues happy. David Rush, Lawson

Housing solutions

The housing crisis can be resolved in one of two ways (Letters, May 11). Either governments spend more on increasing supply, or through private investors. There are no other alternatives. The only other consideration is to depopulate Australia’s major cities. Have we, in fact, reached peak population in terms of available resources to house our existing population adequately? Has the post-war modest three-bed dwelling with an eat-in kitchen and one bathroom become a monster dwelling on an ever-shrinking block of land, eating up ever-precious productive agricultural areas? How much of Sydney’s housing was once market gardens, orchards or dairy farms – all these products now having to be transported from distant locations at an ever-increasing cost. Bruce Clydsdale, Bathurst

Naysayers unite

I must say it is a combined display of negativity to have Nyunggai Warren Mundine and Jacinta Nampijinpa Price under the same umbrella (“Unity in the No campaign as Price, Mundine merge”, May 11). The Australian public have moved forward in a positive way to embrace a Yes vote on the Voice, and the Mundine and Price show is sure to become more and more agitated as the vote gets closer. History will show there can could only ever be a progressive Yes vote. David Goldstein, Balgowlah

Right to die

Your correspondent espoused the benefits of palliative care: you are bedridden, need toileting, bathing and need to be rotated at regular intervals to avoid bed sores (Letters, May 11). Not for me, thank you. If I find myself in that state, as many will, I want to avail myself of an assisted death. Currently, this is not possible under current legislation. Hence, politicians get a move on. Barry O’Connell, Old Toongabbie

The rigidity of our current Voluntary Assisted Dying laws needs to be relaxed. The baby boomers have not yet hit nursing homes in large numbers, but they will soon. My mother spent nine years in a nursing home and for most of those years did not want to be there. She ended her life by starving herself. As a baby boomer myself, this is not a prospect I look forward to, and I sincerely hope I will have the opportunity to die in peace when I have had enough. Victoria Bridgewater, Merimbula

The right to die laws in NSW and the rest of the country were exquisitely described by Philip Nitschke in a seminar I attended as “beg and grovel laws”. Once you have laboriously ploughed through many dozens of steps of box ticking, all the while probably suffering through a narrow range of terminal illnesses, it gets down to the yea or nay of medical doctors and high ranking public servants in order to achieve your goal. The process is completely out of your control. Graham Lawson, Birchgrove

For some people death with dignity is their priority. For others death without pain is their priority. Another possible priority is death without unfinished business. Mark Porter, New Lambton

Save the ABC

The ABC, containing Australian productions with Australian content, should receive life-support from the government so that it remains strong and healthy enough to withstand the onslaught from trumped-up, trashy competitors (“Senior ABC staff face the axe despite treasurer’s $6b promise”, May 11). The ABC has always been first and foremost essential for gaining knowledge hidden between the lines. Joy Cooksey, Harrington

Grateful boomer

We baby boomers are so, so lucky compared with our parents, who endured the Depression and World War II, and with our children and grandchildren who don’t receive the benefits of free university education, capital gains and negative gearing handouts, let alone being able to afford to buy a house in their twenties (Letters, May 11). We are definitely the most privileged generation alive today, and we should be so grateful. Toni Lorentzen, Fennell Bay

Foot in mouth

When did “misspoke” become a euphemism for speaking before thinking (“‘I said the wrong thing’: Jack Bird sorry for upsetting Dragons fans”, May 11)? George Zivkovic, Northmead

Last resort

Your correspondent describes the curse of paradise on his hometown (Letters, May 11). The Eagles nailed it in their 1976 song The Last Resort, penned by Don Henley and the late Glenn Frey: “You call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye.” Brian Jones, Leura

Tony Heathwood of Kiama Downs, welcome to the Northern Rivers. Suzanne Saunders, Koonorigan

I prefer Kiama Downs. Chris Downs, Stanwell Park

Gender game

Peter FitzSimons’ suggestion of more battle of the sexes in sport is a good one (“Balance of play: Why we need more battles of the sexes in sport”, May 11). What a great opportunity for the Wallabies to increase their winning percentage. Mike Kenneally, Manly

Truth hurts

Am I being too cynical? The anti-protest laws are not about stopping protesters blocking train station entrances (“Protesters challenge jail terms for gathering at stations”, May 11). The powers that be are fearful that the truth of protesters’ messages is reaching too many people. Of course that is too cynical. Diane Davie, Rose Bay

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on
NSW Coalition backtracks on support for Voice to parliament referendum
From The Claw: ″⁣A glorious demonstration of what happens when you’re in a hole, and decide the best option is to keep digging.″⁣

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Justin Scaccy

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