Biden couldn’t give a quid for the Quad

The cancellation of the US president’s visit to Australia for the newly formed Quad alliance should be seen a timely warning that our perceived strong relationship with the US is fragile (“Biden’s no-show a snub to a friend and a gift to a foe”, May 18). This alliance was seen as an important cooperation between the member countries of Australia, US, India and Japan to counteract the powerful expansion of China.

For a world leader to absent themselves from such an important meeting, due to a domestic crisis, shows an alarming lack of commitment. The US is an important ally. However, we must be wary of our reliance on them. Christina Foo, Wahroonga

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

Why is Biden’s withdrawal from the Quad summit seen as a “calculated snub” to Australia and PM Albanese? Biden has chosen to address the American debt-ceiling crisis in person, rather than from a distance. No matter how often these financial “pantomimes” are confected by the US Republicans, American domestic politics is in such a parlous state that it makes sense for Biden to handle the situation on the spot and minimise his time away from Washington. Sometimes, tough decisions are necessary, and you can’t please everybody all the time. Rob Phillips, North Epping

Why is Biden’s no-show in Australia seen as a snub? The global ramifications of a debt default in the US are far more serious than a delayed visit here. We really have to become less sensitive. Judy Hungerford, North Curl Curl

China must be laughing at us. We have signed up to a multi-billion dollar nuclear submarine deal with one country that flirted with breaking international law just as they were embarking on international trade negotiations (UK) and another that threatens to default on their debts whenever the Republicans are in control of the House of Representatives (USA). Samantha Chung, Randwick

If our prime minister left Australia in the middle of a national crisis – ahem, Scott Morrison – all hell would break loose among the media. President Biden has a looming debt crisis which could plunge the US into interesting times. I really don’t think we can see this as a snub more like a mercy dash. Christine Tiley, Albany Creek (Qld)

Hands up those who seriously thinks Biden’s absence from Washington for a few days to attend a Quad meeting in Sydney would have lead to the US economy going bankrupt.

And hands up those who seriously think that the Quad meeting couldn’t get done as a Trio meeting the things they planned due to Biden’s absence. Thought so! Fred Jansohn, Rose Bay

President Biden skipping the Quad meeting in Sydney shows how ineffective this group will be in future when members face more pressing issues at home as they won’t be able to send support over thousands of kilometres to aid other members.

It’s like the lover’s missive saying they can bring the moon and stars to their paramour but can only come to see them if it doesn’t rain over the weekend. Manbir Singh Kohli, Pemulwuy

When it comes to AUKUS or a Wall Street caucus, Joe Biden couldn’t give a quid for a Quad. Ray Alexander, Moss Vale

Letting developers ‘rip’ not answer to housing crisis

How could anyone suggest that scrapping or amending access to the lucrative tax benefits would only play a small part in tackling the housing problem (“Tax tweaks won’t solve housing”, May 18)? Negative gearing is such an obvious lever to pull in bringing fairer access to property ownership and greater equity to potential home buyers, who are bidding against those several rungs ahead on the property ladder. How can new entrants in the property market compete with those who have significant collateral to borrow against? It beggars belief that anyone could think otherwise. Rebecca Semple, Abbotsford

Chris Richardson’s not very subtle solution to the housing crisis is to just let the developers rip. Like Chris Minns, he advocates going up for apartment building and blanket infill for our backyards.

This is a sure formula for overcrowding, congestion and pollution at the expense of liveability so, before rushing in to feed fat-cat developers, let’s consider the size of our population increase, and where our new residents might reside. There must be areas of Australia that could definitely benefit from more people.

And if we are going up, let’s copy environmental best practice and devise planning laws that make it impossible to place towers cheek by jowl, but must be separated by trees and gardens, and be supported by appropriate infrastructure. We’re a rich enough nation for this. David Catchlove, Newport

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

The “way up” is not the only way for housing. Nor is it the even close to being the best, or easiest, way. Why not let future growth be away from Sydney and out to the regions? Why not buy land for a house for less than half the Sydney price, only take five minutes to go home from work, take the kids to play in lovely open space at the end of the street? Many people now work from home, and this is an ideal lifestyle. Why not? Because the physical (as against electronic) infrastructure is not there.

Premier, forget the one-eyed city developers and advisers. Start planning with priority for better living – and for a quicker and cheaper solution to our public housing disaster. Edward Trueman, Manly

I always wonder if those decrying population growth have populated (Letters, May 18). Or those worried about development destroying their neighbourhood have thought about what was destroyed to build the home they are in. Or those applauding development along transport links live near a transport link. Or those complaining about traffic congestion are in the traffic causing the congestion. I’m sure there’s more. Clare Raffan, Campsie

Timid Labor no party of the left

The Albanese government was never going to be progressive enough or left wing enough for the majority of Herald letter writers who identify themselves as Labor voters (“To progressive eyes, Labor’s honeymoon is over”, May 18). It’s true that Labor federal governments of a duration of more than one term in office are a rarity in Australian political history – the exception was the Hawke/Keating government, which governed from the centre without frightening the horses too much. Anthony Albanese and Jim Chalmers understand far better than the Twitterati that gradual and incremental change over a few terms of government is better than wide scale reform all at once. Give me the pragmatists any day over the self-indulgent Twitter crowd. Evan Parsons, Thornleigh

The reality is that the Greens long ago replaced Labor as “the party of the left”. Once a Labor party member, now a long-time Green, I’ve watched with dismay as Labor became a non-progressive party, fearfully moving to the centre of the political spectrum. Will Albanese & Co. be more left-wing in a second term? Or will Labor play it safe to hold the perks of power in a third term? Alas, timid Labor is unlikely to ever again be a party of the true left. Michael Davis, Balmain East

After a decade courting electoral success it’s unsurprising the reality of sharing the political hotbed with an electorate recovering from a bad relationship isn’t all bouquets. I also long to be swept off my feet by grand gestures of visionary political reform. However, regaining trust takes time, and I’m willing to give this relationship a chance. Janet Argall, Dulwich Hill

What choice?

Look no further for why private religious schools student numbers are increasing (“Parents opt for private religious schools”, May 18.) There is a direct correlation between the neglect of public education embedded in a decade of Coalition administration of our state’s education policy. Successive ministers were prepared to turn their backs and hand over to the private sector.

Many parents have watched their local public school wither away, administered as a business model, totally under-staffed, under-resourced, and overcrowded with temporary demountable buildings.

Of course, there are good personal reasons for parents to opt for a private religious school for their children. However, they are not offered a real choice. Gus Plater, Saratoga

How many parents actually had no choice? Parents cannot easily “choose” a government school if the government failed to build one, or the ones they have built are hopelessly overcrowded. David Mansford, Concord

The reasons stated by parents for sending their children to private schools can be achieved by using the public system. My girls achieved highly at school and university having been educated in a rural comprehensive high school. Values were taught in the home and the religion at Sunday School, church and church youth groups. All the money saved was used for domestic and extended overseas travel, giving them a broader view of the world. Robyn Lewis, Raglan

Muffled Voice

We are told by promoters of the Voice that a Yes vote will establish a group with advisory capacity only, and I believe that an advisory body to make recommendations to parliament on Indigenous matters is a great idea (“‘Terrified we’re going to lose’: Advocate’s plea for compromise to save referendum”, May 18). Bring it on. What I don’t understand is the need for constitutional change. Governments have established advisory groups or committees for many years. Unless someone can explain to me why we need to change the constitution to create an advisory body with no constitutional powers I will probably be voting No. Matt Bottomley, Yass River

Illustration: Jim Pavlidis

Illustration: Jim PavlidisCredit:

With all the negativity around the Voice proposal one thing is clear. We are far from one. Time to change the national anthem? Vicky Marquis, Glebe

Bravo to Rugby Australia in supporting the Voice and setting out its reasons so eloquently (“Rugby joins sports union to back Voice”, May 18). David Vale, Cremorne Point

Another warning

Why is the government not heeding the warnings of world-renowned experts on climate change trends (“Record warming by 2027: report”, May 18)? The World Meteorological Organisation clearly states that human-induced climate change is set to “push global temperatures into uncharted territory”. We have already seen the serious repercussions of global warming for our climate, for example during the Black Summer fires and last year’s floods in eastern Australia. These disasters are set to become more frequent, threatening our food, safety and water supply. Yet according to ANU Professor Mark Howden, we have not even begun to reduce the pollution that is fuelling them. Labor was elected on a mandate to take serious action on climate, and yet they continue to support the production of fossil fuels. Only this month, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek approved the Isaac River coalmine development in Queensland’s Bowen basin. Approval of these projects must cease, if we are to ensure any sort of liveable future for our children. Anne O’Hara, Wanniassa (ACT)

Heritage lacking

Regurgitated might be too strong a word, but it’s certainly disheartening to see arguments against the proposed Powerhouse Ultimo redevelopment thrown-up, again (Letters, May 18). The Wran Building is not of great heritage value and its architectural presence limited. There, I’ve said it.
Symbolised by a backward facing cold and lonely forecourt, perhaps most disappointing has always been the visitor experience, museum speak for getting lost and quickly confused about where to go next (once you find the front door). It’s a challenging place to navigate to say the least.
Maintaining the proposed redevelopment would ensure “world-class” accurately describes not only the extraordinary collection, but also a building that embraces the city, its people, nightlife and tourism potential. Michael Rolfe, Oyster Bay (recently retired as CEO of Museums & Galleries NSW)

I still believe

The opera, Miss Saigon, is the exact opposite of a “racist, sexist show” (“Why the encore for racist, sexist show?”, May 18). In fact, the show shines a light on the wrongs of the past, and serves to expose racism and the shameful treatment of women and the children they conceived throughout the Vietnam War. This could be the story of any country engaged in war, and creates understanding and empathy for Vietnamese people, not insensitivity. It is a reminder to everyone that this situation must not happen again. Ann Flegg, Glenhaven

Doesn’t it stack up?

I looked at the picture and thought, “Another design for the Powerhouse Museum”. Then I realised it was a smoke stack (“Magnificent or monstrous? Smoke stack divides opinion”, May 18). Tony Butler, North Sydney

The biggest surprise about the proposed stack is the news that Joseph Stalin is trying his hand at architecture. Alan Egan, Paddington (Qld)

I like the emissions stack. It provides an eye-catching portal to Rozelle from the west and will only improve as it greens up. However, Much more could be done to improve the Victoria Road streetscape. The opportunity afforded by the opening of the Rozelle Interchange and the subsequent reduction in traffic volumes could be used to convert at least two lanes of Victoria Road to a well-planted nature strip. There would be a green ribbon, replete with native plants, including canopy trees, from Terry Street to the Anzac Bridge. How good would that be? Warwick Pearson, Rozelle

Old grandpa

There is a 60-year age gap between myself and the eldest grandchild (Letters, May 18). The impact of education on his young life was brought home by his observation that I was no longer grandpa but an “old grandpa”. This followed some numeracy work at school which involved the number 10. A real life “slippery slide, Granny” moment. Rod Leonarder, Roseville

Clive call

I second the move that the ABC bring back Clive Robertson (Letters, May 18). Thelma Frost, Mudgee

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted themost reader feedback yesterday on
Jetstar to make passengers check-in, board earlier to ‘prevent delays’
From Blackbird: ″⁣Process analysis usually indicates that when aprocess does not work properly, the cause lies mostly with the design of the process rather than the people. Looks like Jetstar might be addressing the symptoms here rather than the causes.″⁣

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Justin Scaccy

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