Beware falling for the developer housing con
Our parents and grandparents grew up building fibro houses on vacant blocks for nix (“Australian dream only for children of the wealthy”, April 25). With the vacant land gone, resulting in necessary regulation, it now costs $1 million just to build a modest four-bedroom house in Sydney. That comprises the cost of materials, labour, regulation and administration. Units and townhouses are subject to the same costs. Even before land value, housing is already unaffordable to most. The claim that bulldozing suburbs and building units and townhouses will make housing affordable is a con championed by property developers and the gullible. Paul Davies, Crows Nest
The editorial and correspondents’ (Letters, April 25) raise some thoughtful points about the state of the housing crisis in Sydney and, more importantly, how it might be solved. The problem is that many of these possible solutions have been raised before and just as quickly shot down in an outbreak of NIMBYism and financial self-interest.
Labor lost the 2019 election when it took some of these proposals to the electorate so, unless I’m sadly mistaken and public sentiment has moved, it’s not likely anything will change. The idea to line major transport link roads with, say, four-storey apartment blocks with wide pedestrian access has merit and is, in reality, the best solution for housing in a modern city using the European model. All of these require the public and private sector to work together and the government to facilitate with appropriate policies. Max Redmayne, Drummoyne
Federal governments have caused this rental crisis, with self-serving inaction on negatively geared investment properties. Governments have allowed the number of investors to grow to a level where they fear offending the investors and losing their vote. John Macintosh, Merewether
Schemes such as allowing people to use superannuation to purchase a home or allowing home purchases with low deposits have only helped fuel increasing house prices. Readers have detailed both the issues of the housing crisis together with the solutions that should have been applied years ago. Sadly, with prices now beyond the reach of all but the affluent, if the editorial is correct in saying that house prices appear to have bottomed and are likely to continue their climb, it is too late for any solution other than a recession. Peter Nash, Fairlight
One way to ease the pain for those older renters is to force the so-called “non-profit organisations”, which build over 55s and retirement villages, to set aside a percentage of homes for renters to retire. At the moment in Sydney, this is not the case and people have to buy in to get accommodation. The reason this is avoided is that the organisation takes the value of capital growth, rather than the estate of the person when they die. Then it is sold again at market value. Time to focus on people and not profits for retirees. Michael Blissenden, Dural
We could start with a “Dob in your Neighbour” program for empty houses. I have three in my street. Tim Schroder, Gordon
Let’s not forget Edna was a man of his time
Thank you, Sammy J (“When Barry met controversy at festival”, April 25). As a 72-year-old from Melbourne with a long association with Barry Humphries, I was wrestling with the disparity in comments about his legacy. He was a pioneer for those of us growing up in the 1950s and ’60s. At last we could laugh at the stuffy claustrophobic Melbourne suburbs of our youth. But, as you say, with age our ideas also reflect more our years rather than the new reality. He was a man of his time. We are a different society now, but perhaps it was those pioneers who stirred us up in the early days that allowed these changes to blossom, Possum. Sally Shepard, Nelson Bay
I suggest we nickname the Melbourne Comedy Festival’s top award a “Barry” anyway. After all, highlighting stuffiness was what the man himself did best and common usage would be a fitting tribute to the greatness of his talent by the people he delighted. Adrian Connelly, Springwood
I met Barry Humphries quite a few times and knew generosity and warmth. About 20 years ago, I experienced a huge act of kindness when he recognised an artistic achievement of mine through a beautifully worded critique of my work. I was bowled over with gratitude. It is with much sadness that I hear that the Melbourne Comedy Festival, which he helped to create, has decided to turn a blind eye to his career, and legacy, just because he expressed a quite private view about an understanding of life and living. Greg Vale, Kiama
And so we are a far more important nation than we might otherwise have been. The Australian Barry Humphries weaponised laughter. Do we deserve it? Not in the least.
The double-gendered Barry has conferred greatness upon us. We’ve been loved to death with his laughter and we are not likely to recover any time soon.
Melbourne town, you should feel immensely proud. I’m going to run off now and write a piece for grand organ called the Dame Edna Everage Pomp. The opening movement will be entitled, “I’m Proud to be a Possum”. Moya Henderson, Mona Vale
While I can certainly ride with your correspondent’s assertion that Barry Humphries “offered no cure for the way of life he maligned”, I placed the same test on Billy Connolly and Ricky Gervais and came to the conclusion that a good laugh, randomly or reflectively, at life’s foibles can be curative. Brian Jones, Leura
Dole no stroll in land of unfair go
The antipathy towards the unemployed is not a recent phenomenon but has persisted since the early 1970s (“Time to bust cruel welfare myths”, April 25). This was when the term “dole bludger” was coined and used by the media and politicians to demonise the unemployed as lazy, preferring to receive welfare and lie by the beach. Time we stopped this misguided and incorrect image of our unemployed. Con Vaitsas, Ashbury
Danielle Wood posits three myths concerning welfare payments. I would add a fourth: This is the land of a “fair go”. How can it be morally defensible to adhere to the principle an economy “needs” a percentage of its workforce to be unemployed to be a well-functioning economy – then not provide for those people? It’s simply not the case that all the unemployed are “dole bludgers”. If our governments can feel confident and creative enough to commit us to billions of dollars on submarine purchases and tax cuts to the wealthy, it behoves them to do something for our most vulnerable. That is what I would call a real, not mythical, “fair go”. Allan Havelock, Surrey Hills (Vic)
The Coalition branded those on unemployment benefits as wilfully refusing to get a job, being happy to live in self-imposed poverty. According to the recent Resolve Strategic Monitor poll, there is no shortage of people who still think that way. As Wood’s article attests, Australia’s unemployment benefits are now among the lowest in the OECD. The Albanese government has the opportunity to give some relief to these people. We will soon see whether they have the courage. Ian Adair, Hunters Hill
While China might be able to “project combat power across greater ranges, including our trade and supply routes” in future (“While Australia plans, China deploys”, April 25), it needs to be recognised that such actions, if actually intended, would not only concern Australia but other countries, including Japan, Korea and Indonesia. It also needs to be recognised Australia wasn’t cut off during World War II, despite Japan’s occupation of most of the Pacific, Indonesia and New Guinea. Also, while it is not clear why China would want to cut off Australia given its dependence on our raw materials, if we are talking about energy supplies, we could best neutralise that threat by decarbonising transport. John Moratelli, Castlecrag
To most Australians not expert in the technical and strategic nuances of defence, deployment of long-range missiles somewhere in the north of our vast continent seems a sensible option. This is unlike our hundreds of billions committed to acquiring and building a handful of nuclear submarines, which seems akin to having too many eggs in one basket. John Kempler, Rose Bay
Apologists for Saudi Arabia’s LIV Golf, such as Steve Boland, might like to argue fine moral distinctions (“New format chips away at golf’s stuffy image”, April 25). But history shows us that the issues at stake are undeniably real. When the official sporting world united – as they eventually did by refusing to compete against apartheid-era South Africa – then their stand of principle helped bring about profound change for the better. Loud music, new formats and drunken fans don’t cancel the excesses of a murderous regime. David Salter, Hunters Hill
Everybody is used to hearing about the RFS and SES and the great service they provide to the citizens of NSW, but the unsung heroes of the volunteer world are Marine Rescue NSW, who man radio and rescue boat facilities all along our coast and waterways.
These are the people who help when boating people and others on the water get into trouble, occurrences we see more and more as our weather patterns become more unpredictable. Marine Rescue works closely with the NSW Water Police and Australian Maritime Safety Authority to try to keep us safe but, as with any volunteer organisation, they always struggle with funding and need contributions to supplement their government funding. I declare a personal interest, as a couple of weeks ago my boat suffered intermittent fuel pickup problems on the Hawkesbury. We had several communications with Marine Rescue, and as it was late in the day, ultimately received a tow from the Water Police back to our boat ramp. Big thanks to all concerned. I have made a personal contribution to Marine Rescue, which is clearly only a drop in the bucket for what they need. Seppo Ranki, Glenhaven
The new airport (Letters, April 25) should be named for Sir Hubert Wilkins, Australian aviator, explorer, photographer, war correspondent – awarded a Military Cross plus one bar – naturalist, ornithologist, geographer, climatologist and submariner who was the first to attempt to cross under the North Pole, knighted by the British, recipient of Russia’s highest honour and honoured by the US Navy by having his ashes scattered at the North Pole. Alberto Bizcarra, Rozelle
Nancy Bird Walton is indeed a fine name for the new airport. However, wouldn’t it be fitting to name it after one of the many Aboriginal women who have shaped history? I won’t list any here in the hope some people might Google ″famous Aboriginal women″ and make the discovery for themselves.
Judith Rostron, Killarney Heights
Turn of phrase
When a scientist friend squashes a cockroach (Letters, April 25), he describes it as “rearranging its molecular structure”. Merona Martin, Meroo Meadow
My favourite 20th-century aerospace understatement was about an aeroplane that crashed on take-off. A reporter wrote: “Upon reaching the end of the runway, the aircraft failed to ascend.” Nick Andrews, Bellevue Hill
When falling over becomes “having a fall” (Letters, April 25)? Simple, it is the same age when a medical incident becomes “had a turn”. Ian McNeilly, Darlinghurst
Eighty. John Burman, Port Macquarie
Blunt and brutal
Sorry (Letters, April 25)? I missed Peter Dutton when he called a spade a spade. When he mocked the rising sea level flooding Pacific island nations? When he walked out on Rudd’s apology? When he voted against marriage equality? Is it now in his opposition to the Voice to parliament? Rick Johnston, Potts Point
Rather than “calling a spade a spade”, Dutton would call it “a threat to the existence of gardening as we know it due to Labor mismanagement”. Glenn Wood, Bardon (Qld)
The digital view
Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
The Sydney suburb that could face round-the-clock underground drilling
From Monkey Bits: ″The benefits to the community will far outweigh a bit of noise and vibration for a few home owners living above the new tunnels during their construction. While some locals may experience a bit of minor disruption for a few weeks, the completed project will add significant value to the area and result in a wonderful, super-efficient public transport amenity that will especially be welcomed by the tens of thousands of commuters living in the inner west and the outer western suburbs of Sydney.″
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