Caring leader shows kindness is strength

Voice detractors must be ignored

Jack Whelan brilliantly skewers the specious arguments against the Voice to be enshrined in the constitution, concludes it is “both safe and utterly necessary” and urges the PM to stand firm (“Voice is PM’s sword and shield”, January 19). This puts the carping of Peter Dutton, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price and Lidia Thorpe in the shade. They must be denied the grim satisfaction of derailing the Voice. Defeat in the referendum would be a disaster that would condemn us as being a racist country. We can’t afford to let this happen. Andrew Macintosh, Cromer

As much as I admire the way Anthony Albanese has gone about his work, by trying to answer the loaded questions coming from the conservative disruptors regarding the Voice he is further muddying the waters (Letters, January 20). The “detail” being sought by Dutton and others is irrelevant. We will not be asked to vote on details, so simply ignore any list of questions about details. The referendum will seek opinion on a principle, nothing else. Keep it simple.
Bill Forbes, Medowie

What’s stopping Dutton presenting the Liberal’s version of a Voice to parliament? That’s what good oppositions do. From Curtin to Albanese, we’ve had strong Labor oppositions who developed policies, ready to govern with energy and a genuine will to make Australia a better and fairer country. From Abbott to Dutton, we’ve had the worst Coalition cohort ever. Lazy, negative freeloaders. Howard Charles, Annandale

Why would you want to spoil the simple beauty of the First Nations People’s flag by combining it with anything (Letters, January 20)? The owners of this singularly successful representation of the spirit of Australia don’t want to share it, and you can’t blame them. Meanwhile, white Australians can continue with their so-far futile task of designing our own uniquely representative flag. One that does not feature the Union Jack, which offends Indigenous Australians and a good many non-Indigenous as well. Trevor Somerville, Illawong

It has been said before, but maybe the idea’s time has come. Simply remove the Union Jack. We are all, every one of us, under the Southern Cross. Kay Violet, Putney

Andy Murray: past his bedtime?

Andy Murray: past his bedtime?Credit:AP

Serving up change

Two great players battled it out until past 4am, depriving tennis fans of watching a great match (“‘Why are we playing at 3am?’ How Friday morning’s madness broke Andy Murray”,, January 20). Full respect to both players but the late scheduling of night games for men’s singles needs to be reviewed. Peng Ee, Castle Cove

When it gets past midnight, suspend play and reschedule for the following day, just like when it starts raining. And while we’re changing the rules in tennis, drop the service let and only allow three bounces of the ball before serving. Andrew Pavey, St Leonards

While we are trying to stay awake watching a tennis match at 4am in Australia, Europe can relax with prime-time afternoon viewing. Clearly uncomfortable for the home team but perfect for overseas TV advertising revenue.

With the need for multimillion-dollar prizemoney on hand, the ability to attract the world’s best nocturnal sporting coverage will become a growing necessity. Bob Harris, Sawtell

Taking its toll

Whilst the premier is enthused about time savings for WestConnex users, an “election-winning” money saver would cap the toll at $2.50 for holders of seniors and pensioners Opal cards (“Overhaul of complex toll system is years away”, January 20). Geoffrey Williamson, Woollahra

Bad education report is a sign of poor governance

The latest Productivity Commission report into education outcomes reflects the degradation of the system over the last decade under the Coalition federal government (“Education funding gets an F”, January 20). The inequity that has widened between the public and independent schools as a result of the maladministration of the Gonski funding model has seen public schools, who have the large majority of students from the most economically disadvantaged, receive way less public funding and resources and can never achieve the national resource standard. Combine this with the crippling workload and low salaries of teachers, and it is not hard to understand why the report is such grim reading. Mark Berg, Caringbah South

The Labor government should decide whether it will perpetuate ineffective fiddling at the edges of education or actually bite the bullet of genuine innovation and reform.

Firstly, how many times does the question of siphoning public funds from public education to the private system have to be raised before a re-balance is implemented?

Secondly, real reform would incentivise the states to seriously lift the status, pay and entry requirements for the teaching profession. Surely, in a clever country, high-quality teaching should be considered as important and respected as a basic human service like medicine. Robyn Dalziell, Kellyville

No amount of extra funding for schools will raise learning standards until the non-evidence-based teaching methods from the ’70s are fully abandoned by teachers and (more importantly) university education faculties’ courses. A return to teacher-centred direct instruction, phonics for reading, times-tables for maths, Socratic questioning and research-based classroom management methods is essential and urgent. Peter Russell, Coogee

Jet ski hoons spoiling others fun

Jet ski parking at Brighton-Le-Sands

Jet ski parking at Brighton-Le-SandsCredit:Flavio Brancaleone

“There are few more exhilarating ways to enjoy the water on a jet ski”, a caption on an image in Friday’s paper naively states (“The ski is the limit”, January 20). It’s not for those of us who wish to enjoy and hear the crashing waves of the beachside safely in summer. Increasingly we now endure the crashing jet ski bores who believe that it is their right to thrash between swimmers inflicting their testosterone-tuned skis on all and sundry. I am told that there are socially aware, sensible owners, however I am yet to find them.

Up and down the coast it is the same story. Gold-chained blokes treating our waterways as racetracks without care for marine life or fellow seaside users. Port Stephens waterways are filled with these marine vandals and the odd dead turtle with cracked shell that washes up has not emboldened the maritime authorities to intervene.

Will maritime authorities consider and enforce new protective measures to ensure our beaches and waterways are safer and more serene? Sadly, we know the answer and fear that it may take a fatality before sensible measures are imposed to protect all. Rob Asser, Balmain East

Qantas not what it used to be

Until now, the travelling public has had to put up with long frustrating delays in getting through to the Qantas call centre. But with three mechanical faults this week, it seems the remorseless cost-cutting at Qantas has infected the maintenance team as well (“Qantas Boeing 737 turns back in third flight mishap in three days”,, January 20). Do we have to wait for a disaster to have the CEO replaced with one who returns Qantas to the real spirit of Australia of which we were once proud? Charles Kent, Hunters Hill

Why wait for an election to reform gambling?

For more than six months the government have had a report that outlines the reforms needed (“Perrottet plans club donations ban”, January 20). Why hasn’t the government implemented these reforms? They have the power to legislate, make rules and laws. Why are they waiting and hoping for re-election to implement the necessary changes while they currently have the power to do so? Ken Buckley, Coffs Harbour

Your correspondent has described the physiological/psychological effects of poker machine wins on gambling addicts, complete with noisy bells and whistles (Letters, January 20). While the focus of the current debate on cashless debit cards has been directed at clubs and pubs, recently my local casino has submitted an application for a second outdoor poker machine venue which ensures that the player with addictions to both gambling and nicotine can continue to play and smoke without breaking their connection with the machine. Furthermore, the bells and whistles she describes disturb the sleep of those who live nearby. Perhaps, the government, and the Labor Party, can include consideration of the impact of outdoor pokies on both the players and the neighbours in any studies undertaken into the efficacy of the use of cashless cards in poker machines in pubs, clubs, and casinos? Elizabeth Elenius, Pyrmont

Rental shortage needs fixing

It is disgraceful that there are many empty units in Sydney but it is difficult to rent, and rental prices keep rising (“How to improve your chances of finding a rental”, January 20). Our young folk who can’t afford to buy their own home are now even more disadvantaged. This difference between generations will do much harm in the long term and needs to be sorted. Glenys Quirk, Forster

Some of your correspondents seem to think there are specific tax breaks for investing in property compared with other investments (Letters, January 20). There aren’t.

The capital gains discount applies to all investments held for more than 12 months. Costs of investments, such as interest paid, are legitimate deductions for all investments. So-called negative gearing simply means losing money on an investment which may be offset against other income and, again, applies to all investments. Michael Castles, Grose Vale

Just not cricket

Michael Clarke and Jade Yarbrough

Michael Clarke and Jade Yarbrough Credit:Getty

Hear hear, Kerri Sackville (“If you see a couple fighting, put the camera away”, January 20). And the worst example of filming public behaviour is whipping out the phone and filming someone being attacked and not offering to help but counting the potential dollars when the film is posted and shared on social media. Should be illegal. Elly Haynes, Orange

I am disgusted at former Australian captain Michael Clarke’s behaviour on holiday at Noosa (“Clarke bracing for hip pocket pain as fracas sends deal up in smoke”, January 20).

As a result, I have now changed watch, fashion and skincare brands. And don’t even ask about the $3000 per hour yacht charter I was planning. Robert Hickey, Green Point

Fitting tribute

Glenn A Baker’s obituary for Renee Geyer was more like a love letter to a giant of Australian, indeed world, music (“Fiery vocalist was at the top of her class”, January 19). I wore out my vinyl single recording of Stare and Whisper as a teenager and remember well her appearance at the Manly Jazz Festival in the 1980s. Baker managed to combine his passion and encyclopaedic knowledge of the local and overseas music scene with a deep affection for Renee. Good onya Glenn, you are a treasure. Brian Hamer, Fairlight

Postscript: this week, a tale of two leaders

As attention moved away from the premier’s choice of fancy dress costume – with many declaring he should have known better but let’s move on – the focus fell on the Voice debate.

Criticism of Peter Dutton grew, with correspondents writing that the opposition leader’s call for more details was disingenuous, and the Voice was an issue too important with which to play politics. Numerous writers supported Dutton’s stance, stating he is “asking the questions many of us have also wondered about”. It’s a discussion that’s sure to continue in the lead-up to the referendum, and more so next week as we reflect on Australia Day, or Invasion Day.

Many wrote about the surprise resignation of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern. “Who hasn’t enviously viewed our closest neighbour’s leadership under Ardern?” asked Cleveland Rose of Dee Why, lamenting “the absolute dearth of leadership within Canberra’s hallowed halls before the Albanese government’s election”.

Writers said that “politicians from all walks would do well to study Ardern’s form to hone their skills in statesmanship, leadership and kindness” and that New Zealand can recover from Ardern’s, and Labour’s, perceived economic failings.

As John Macdonald of Kings Langley wrote, “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. Her work is done; and no one else could have matched her.”

And a reminder that our search for the letter of the year has begun. Any time you read a letter which you think is well-written, succinct, clever, or just plain funny and worthy of a nomination, let us know. Pat Stringa, letters editor

  • To submit a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald, email Click here for tips on how to submit letters.

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Callan Tansill

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