Anglican church’s patriarchal attitude to women must change

To conform to Sydney Anglicanism’s patriarchal ethos, Archbishop Kay Goldsworthy must submit to a “behind-the-altar” costume change (“No women archbishops in Sydney? Argh, men”, September 16). The diocese then justifies the ignominy of this and similar degradation it inflicts on talented female bishops and priests by invoking constricted interpretations of a lesser New Testament figure, who is also male.

Though I respect committed erudite Anglicans who, like Julia Baird, bravely and incisively critique the conservatism of the Sydney diocese, my hope is pinned on a future Australian playwright, who, like the American satirist Sinclair Lewis in his near century-old novel, Elmer Gantry, has the wit and insight with which to expose buffoonery that’s peddled as faith. John Williams, Balmain

Arch rivalry.

Arch rivalry.Credit: Simon Letch

Thank you, Julia Baird. I attended a Sydney Anglican Church in my early 20s. I was a young and somewhat naive university student at the time. Now in my 50s, with many close relatives still heavily involved in the Sydney Anglican Diocese, I find it distressing that this church appears to act superior to other Christian denominations. Their interpretation of the Bible is taken literally. Sadly, that includes words like “obey” and “submit”. Alison Green, Bellambi

It is 46 years since the Uniting Church in Australia was inaugurated and in line with its founding document The Basis of Union, the founding fathers who worked on the Regulations did not opt for an ecclesiastical hierarchy of bishops and archbishops. Against those 46 years of involvement with the Uniting Church, I found Baird’s piece interesting. While the first moderator in the NSW Synod was a laywoman, it was many years later before the Synod installed its first ordained female minister as its moderator. This last week saw another female Minister of the Word assume the moderator’s role.

Nationally the current, immediate-past and president-elect are all ordained women. Having women in pulpits across Australia is now commonplace. Women of the cloth are an important part of the life of the Christian church. Their role in the community and society at large sits comfortably alongside their male counterparts. Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook

Again Baird has focused on the misogyny, arrogance and discrimination of the Sydney diocese. The unbelievable fact that a prominent leader of the church is denied proper status in Sydney alone because she is a woman is simply shameful. This goes against any standards of tolerance and decency. Derrick Mason, Boorowa

Modern societies have moved on from Samuel Johnson’s 18th-century comment that a woman preaching is like a dog walking on his hind legs – “it is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all.”

St Paul’s reservation of ministry to the men of the congregation was clearly a reflection of the patriarchal societies of his time. Australian views on the place of women took time to modify. For example, females were not admitted as medical students by Sydney University until 1884.

The Anglican Diocese of Sydney is one of the laggards and many will agree with Baird’s comment that sexism is now seen as absurd, archaic and inexplicable. James Moore, Kogarah

I am puzzled that the Sydney diocese says it’s following Jesus’ teaching on women priests because Jesus himself said nothing about women priests. Unlike most men of his day, Jesus was very comfortable with sitting and talking with women.

All the Sydney diocese can do, as Baird points out, is to quote from St Paul, who was influenced by the views of his day. However, it is not unusual for the diocese to put a greater emphasis on St Paul’s teachings than Jesus’, as witnessed in the 2021 Synod (to elect a new archbishop) and this year’s Synod, when the gospel was omitted from the communion services while epistles from St Paul were read. Tony Brownlow, Glebe

Voice referendum puts our nation at a crossroads

Peter Hartcher’s article outlines the pitfalls experienced by advocates for the Yes campaign (“Why the voice is not about race”, September 16). Perhaps the argument with most traction would be to point out the significance of this moment in our history. This is a unique opportunity to define the type of nation we aspire to be. It is not an exaggeration to say we are at a crossroads, and a Yes vote will define us as a mature society that values and respects the people who managed this land successfully and without our assistance for 60,000 years. Barbara Kennedy, St Ives

The truth at last, in plain English. Thank you, Peter Hartcher. Colonisation harmed Indigenous people, but Australia learnt much from First Peoples. Egalitarianism and Australians’ laid-back nature did not come with the Westminster system. The Voice addresses the lack of equity. Anne Eagar, Epping

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

Geoffrey Robertson reminds us that a No vote will brand Australia as a racist country (“If no wins, the world will see us as racist, ignorant”, September 16). I acknowledge the argument of some that they will vote No because the Voice does not go far enough, or risks Indigenous sovereignty, but the final No vote will not distinguish those voters from those who have been peddling misinformation and distrust. Through the Voice we are asked to consider recognising First Peoples in our Constitution and acknowledge their right to be heard on matters that affect them. Maybe not enough for some, but better than nothing. Ainslie Lamb, East Corrimal

This country was invaded by a country that used this place as a dumping ground for the poor they wouldn’t look after, displacing and trying to wipe out the native peoples. Mind you, they already had a history of invading other countries. Later they boasted of their great empire, denigrating the people whose countries they had occupied. India is a good example. We should be doing our best to make up for what the British did to the original custodians of this land. The Voice would be a start. Elaine Hoyle, Avalon Beach

Robertson rightly points out that the US, Canada and several northern European nations’ indigenous peoples are guaranteed their land and legal rights to petition government and have their own seats in Parliament. I will be proud on my next visit overseas to say we supported a Yes vote for a Voice referendum and that we recognise the deep faults in the original constitution, which in Robertson’s view was drafted by “deep-dyed racists and needs to be changed”. William Tuck, Orange

Smoke is a small price to pay for safety

With his very real concerns about the damaging health effects of smoke from hazard reduction burning, it is understandable that anaesthetist Stephen Lightfoot would seek evidence to suggest that the practice is ineffective (“It’s time to stop Sydneysiders sharing one gigantic ciggie”, September 17).

In my experience as a professional forester, including three years looking at the effects of hazard reduction in north coast NSW forests, two things became clear. In regularly burnt trials the understorey layer was noticeably undeveloped and the ground fuels were far less aerated when compared to the unburnt controls. Properly located, planned and managed, a regular cycle of low-intensity burning can make a valuable contribution to the prevention and control of wildfires. Col Nicholson, Hawks Nest


I have been up north in Arnhem Land and the Top End since July, where early dry season “cool burns” are now used extensively to lessen late hot wildfires. There is often a little smoke around, but it never blankets. Variations of the same technique were practised by all first Australians for millennia, without which they would certainly have suffered local extinctions. Yet we know from their stories and from archaeological evidence that large hot fires were a rarity prior to European disruption.

Australian ecosystems have developed with fire, it is an inescapable part of life here. But the large, overly hot hazard reduction burns we see in the Sydney basin are not the same thing. Relearning old fire management techniques is gaining ground in the southern half of the continent – but too slowly. Oddly, it is also a net carbon sequestration method, since many small ground cover fires emit a tiny fraction of the carbon released by large, hot, ground-to-canopy bushfires. Dick Clarke, Elanora Heights

It was spring, 2021. A time of birth and new growth. Our nearby bushland was exploding with a magnificent display of flora and fauna – baby animals, insects, spring flowers. Then, our local community was warned of an imminent “small” prescribed burn of this bushland. This once-beautiful area still hasn’t recovered. Its biodiversity and fauna greatly reduced. Trees, many mature, dead and dying, and now covering the ground, falling on fields of new grasses that have taken over. It is more fire-prone now than ever. We are on a precipice in terms of the future of our burning planet. The old ways no longer apply. I am deeply grateful to our “firies”, but please – update your methods in line with the latest science and Indigenous management. This must include doing whatever it takes to monitor, detect and urgently extinguish fires at their source. Cheryl Forrest-Smith, Mona Vale

Waste of space

I understand the problems with confusing packaging (“Lifting the lid on environmental time wasters”, September 16). We can reduce waste by having packs for breakfast cereals, chips and other products that are fit for purpose and not containing about 30 per cent air. Transporting huge quantities of air around the country costs us dearly and is a complete waste of resources. The extra air in bigger packs is merely to deceive consumers into thinking there is more product. In fact, all they get is fresh air. Proper sized packs will save space in pantries and supermarkets. Lindsay Somerville, Lindfield

As a consumer, I find the daily chore of deciding which package can be recycled extremely frustrating, not to mention the goods after their use. Your article advises that this frustration is being addressed. But surely it should be the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure their product and packaging can be recycled and pay the cost of the recovery, labelling advice to the consumer and payment of a levy, when landfill is the only option. Brian McDonald, Willoughby

I take the plastic off and put that in the waste bin and place the cardboard in the recycle bin. Why would you put the whole packet in the waste? Gail Grogan, Constitution Hill

Climate falsehoods

“Truth decay” is definitely something we need to be vigilant about (“Defence chief warns of ‘truth decay”’, September 16). The federal government’s refusal to release a document about climate change and national security leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. Defence Force chief Angus Campbell clearly warns of the “immediate disaster and response challenges” of intensifying extreme weather events in Australia. This includes damage to infrastructure like rail links and the energy grid, crop failures and water supply issues. Increased migration is also predicted. Yet, the government continues to feed the public sugar-coated promises about taking “real action” on reducing pollution, meanwhile supporting the extension of coal and gas projects well into the future. Production of these harmful pollutants needs to be phased down, and quickly. It’s about time the Albanese government bit the bullet and implemented some climate policies with real teeth. Anne O’Hara, Wanniassa (ACT)

Illustration: Megan Herbert

Illustration: Megan Herbert Credit:

Marvellous how politicians come up with twisted arguments to justify their decisions. NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey claims the $3000 subsidy to buy an EV “risked driving up the cost of EVs” (“$3000 EV subsidy axed from budget”, September 16). So any encouragement in the form of a subsidy to reduce global warming is twisted to be seen to increase the cost of the product or service. So if we subsidise tobacco, instead of taxing it, that might drive up the price of cigarettes and lead to the reduction in consumption being sought. Burning fossil fuels leads to the free production of polluting carbon, and it is one of the great failures of economics that it is very poor at internalising the externalities. Bill Johnstone, Blackheath

Loss to film fans

As a film critic, there is nobody better than Paul Byrnes (“A life in the dark”, September 17). Your guidance, insights, knowledge and love of film and cinema and its wonders have been supreme. There is no film you have decorated with several stars that were disappointing. Your calibre of writing and enthusiasm for the world of film will be sorely missed, but thank you! Pernille Day, Neutral Bay

I’ve thoroughly agreed with so many of Paul Byrnes’ film reviews over the years, and his “10 great movies from the past 20 years” is a wonderful reminder of the power and joy of good cinema. I’ve seen and loved all 10 films. Some, like Corpus Christi, left me gobsmacked at just how good it was. So, thanks for all the fish Paul, you’ll be sorely missed. Rose Fox, Byron Bay

Ring in the change

When my boyfriend proposed, to save money I told him I didn’t need a ring (“New rules of engagement: ring ritual traditions tested”, September 16). No worries, tucked away in his wardrobe he had a diamond ring from a previous broken engagement. We were into recycling long before it became popular. Joan Brown, Orange

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Justin Scaccy

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