Any reasonable person would find that there are no circumstances under which the level of allegedly repeated and sustained abuse in text messages received by former MP Lucy Wicks is acceptable (“The ‘demeaning, degrading and highly abusive’ texts sent to female Liberal MP”, July 25). Not only in the workplace but any place at all. Taylor Martin’s excuses of youth and an emotional break-up all fail. Years after this matter was brought to the attention of the Liberal Party there were no consequences and the NSW upper house MP accused of sending the texts continued to hold his positions in parliament. Reportedly, there were copies of hundreds of unambiguously abusive texts in the complaint filed by Lucy Wicks. How much information do they need? Marina Cardillo, Beecroft
Distressing as it is to read the allegedly abusive texts apparently sent by Martin, I wonder at the effect the decision to name Wicks has on abuse-survivors and whether this will result in many more people simply not reporting abusers. The naming of Wicks follows a similar outing of a National Party woman who raised concerns about the behaviour of Barnaby Joyce a few years ago. The politicisation of the alleged sexual assault of Brittany Higgins by sections of the media and some in politics must similarly give pause to many victims. Any reasonable society rightly condemns bullying and abusive behaviour. This surely requires the media to consider very carefully what, if any, public interest is served by naming people in these situations. I can see very little public interest in naming a former MP. Colin Hesse, Marrickville
I just don’t know how they do it, but the one thing the Liberal Party always seems to get right is selecting the best and brightest candidates to represent them. Patrick St George, Goulburn
Wicks’ attempts to keep the abusive texts allegedly sent to her by Martin confidential would have only served to empower her abuser. Name and shame earlier rather than later is what should happen when people such as Stan Grant are barraged with abuse on social media. What powerful little machines our phones have become. Fortunately, they store the evidence as well. Genevieve Milton, Dulwich Hill
Are we surprised at the tone of these emails? Of course not. After all, the person accused of sending them was a member of the LNP. Ian Usman Lewis, Kentucky
Once again, the character of politicians and staffers has been called into question. Is this representative of a problem with our political classes or society more generally? Disrespect and abuse are things we all experience and something we all need to address if we are to create a gentler, kinder and more empathic society. Philip Cooney, Wentworth Falls
As an Australian, I drew pleasure and pride from our international reputation – a fair go, hardworking, generous, trustworthy and honest. Despairingly, this is now no longer our image. Through inhumane and corrupt offshore detention, robo-debt, parliamentary misogyny, rising racism and potential rejection of the Voice, climate inaction and denial, patronising Pacific diplomacy and tin-eared, self-serving, pork-barrelling, unrepresentative politicians, we are a travesty. And now the cricket! I’m thinking of saying I’m a New Zealander. Rowan Godwin, Rozelle
Brad Emery is very forceful in claiming parents should be able to take school holidays whenever they wish for the wellbeing of their family, but has he or other like-minded parent given a thought to the wellbeing of already overworked teachers (“Schools can’t veto family holidays”, July 25)?
Students missing classes, particularly for weeks at a time, causes a huge amount of extra work for teachers and disruption to the other students, with teachers having to spend individual time with the holidayers to catch them up on missed work and administer rescheduled individual tests and assignments in class time, time that should be spent advancing the students who have been in class.
If parents who wish to take their children on holidays during class time assumed the responsibility of ensuring their children did the work missed and supervised missed tests and assignments before the students returned to class, in the parents’ time rather than that of the teacher and other students, schools might not be so opposed to allowing students to take holidays during term time. Heather Johnson, West Pennant Hills
Unlike some overseas countries, principals in NSW have no power to stop families taking holidays during school terms. Principals should understand that often the only affordable holidays are out of school time. Air fares, holiday rentals and fuel costs are greatly increased during holiday periods. Parents will obviously weigh up the pros and cons of their child missing a few days schooling compared to the benefits of a much-needed family holiday.
Denis Suttling, Newport Beach
I wonder how Mr Emery and all the other parents who wish to do the same would react if the same belief applied to teachers, who must always take their holidays in the expensive times? How does he think schools would handle this, let alone how he would handle his children’s education being disrupted by the school instead of by him? Deborah Vitlin, Croydon
Brad Emery, you are quite entitled to take your family holidays whenever it suits you and the kids. I just wish you would understand that overworked teachers may not have the resources to assist your kids and the offspring of all those other mid-term breakers to keep up or catch up on their return to school. Perhaps you should seriously consider homeschooling your kids if you need that much flexibility. Cherylle Stone, Soldiers Point
During more than 35 years as a teacher, the problem of children going on holidays during term time often occurred. As a social science teacher my response was simple – look, listen, learn. There is a far greater education to be had in the big wide world than that which can be doled out in a classroom. Real life experiences are always the better teacher. Peter Cooper-Southam, Frenchs Forest
Blame pollies for heritage decline
The obvious decline of heritage management over the past decade relates to government agendas, both state and federal (Letters, July 24). Funding and influence have been consistently reduced to render the heritage authorities ineffective, their work compromised by staff with inadequate skills or resources. One is aware of thoughtful and well-designed proposals to heritage buildings and sites being inappropriately assessed by individuals lacking detailed experience in design, architecture, planning and construction. Our evolving cities face constant pressures for change. Properly administered, heritage is a key tool in resolving acceptable change, but it needs the ability to do this, ably supported by a coherent and trusted planning system. Howard Tanner, Queens Park
The current “pile-on” over NSW Heritage misses the point. It wasn’t a group of committed public servants who betrayed our heritage – they simply served the government of the day, as is required of them. They did so in an environment of inadequate budgets and expensive, highly disruptive and demoralising restructures. Whether it was Windsor Bridge, the Powerhouse Museum or the Sirius building, the government ignored tens of thousands of concerned NSW residents who individually and collectively turned up in their thousands at rallies to object to the government’s actions.
Ministers instruct government employees. It is the politicians who need to be explicitly held to account for government failures. Kate Mackaness, Windsor
Let’s talk about sex
In the ’50s and ’60s girls were pressured into sex (“The crucial bit Welcome to Sex book gets wrong”, July 25) – over time that has morphed into pressure to engage in oral sex, anal sex, fisting, threesomes, choking … with the time-worn “everyone does it, what’s wrong with you”. We need to have discussions with teens about the right to not want any of these activities and the confidence to say “no”. Boys need a similar message about being reserved about sexual activities. There is a wide range of “normal” and people of any age who are at the quieter, less active, end of the sexual range are still perfectly normal. Good relationships are about mutual respect and finding the middle path. Sandra Pertot, Diamond Beach
Offshore detention is morally and ethically wrong; legally questionable (“Suspect landed $9m detention contract”, July 25). Many politicians have embraced it or have been wedged to use it as a political solution to a humanitarian problem. It is time this disgrace was examined by a royal commission and all its foul secrets exposed. Offshore detention has now become an Australian export with former politicians extolling its virtues to the British. It is another manifestation of the mindset that allowed robo-debt to exist and continue. It is a disgrace. Geoff Nilon, Mascot
Gosh, Australia must be a very rich country. Billions lost to private consulting firms, more billions for the appalling fiasco involved in “stopping the boats”. No wonder young people can’t afford housing, and our public schools and hospitals are disappearing down sinkholes. The myth of Liberal governments being first-class money managers is disappearing with them. Mary Billing, Allambie Hts
Off the pay scale
Putting aside questions of timing of appointment procedures, performance in her previous public employment and necessary high-level defence expertise, how is it that Kathryn Campbell’s salary was set about 50 per cent higher than both our prime minister and the highest-paid public servant in the US, Anthony Gauci? Whose call was that? Andrew Cohen, Glebe
It is beyond doubt that Kathryn Campbell’s contribution to Australia as secretary of the Dept of Human Services was an issue. In private enterprise a non-performer would speedily have been given the order of the boot, but in the public service she has had six or more years of being very well-paid without being good at her job. Even more offensive, though, is that she mutely did Scott Morrison’s bidding, when she should have been telling him exactly where to get off. Instead, thousands of Australians were unfairly hammered by Centrelink for debts that they didn’t owe and some committed suicide. What really stinks, though, is that the federal ministers who should have done the right thing have effectively thrown Campbell under the bus. I can’t wait to find out if royal commissioner Catherine Holmes has them in her sights in the sealed section. David Gordon, Cranebrook
Conflict of interest
So there’s no possibility that Morris Iemma could confuse his roles as a lobbyist for property developers and chairing Venues NSW (“Iemma to remain lobbyist despite being named new stadiums boss”, July 25). Perhaps if the partners at PwC had introduced a similar Lobbyists Code of Conduct, the distribution of sensitive government documents might not have happened. Derek Low, Forresters Beach
As the timeframe for the proposed referendum on the Voice draws closer, the No campaign announces a focus on six states (Letters, July 25). I lived through the 2016 Brexit referendum and I watch the lead-up to this with growing dismay. It all seems so depressingly familiar with polarisation, misinformation, social and mainstream media being used and abused by those with an axe to grind. Brexit was won by a very narrow margin helped by the numbers who didn’t vote. Since then, the polarisation has continued as the UK citizens face the consequences of that vote. If the Voice is won or lost by a close vote overall and in four of the six states, then Australia, too, will face the negative effects of a polarised nation for years to come.
Lesley Walker, Chewton
Why not have the Voice referendum on December 3 – the anniversary of the Eureka Stockade? How fitting to hold this important vote about political recognition for our First Nations sisters and brothers on the very day we commemorate the birth of the democratic voice in Australia. If the Yes vote wins, we can celebrate with a resounding “Eureka!” Barry Ffrench, Cronulla
After 500 great letters in the Herald (Letters, July 24), it’s time for Joan Brown of Orange to change colour and go for gold. Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale (Vic)
A big well done to all prolific letter writers from an occasional writer who actually sent in letters for decades. A letter of May 20, 1978 on Robert Menzies resulted in poison messages jamming my post box. Are Herald readers aware of “Best Letters to the Editor” books? My favourite letters were from Bill Carpenter And Ted Matulevicius, great writers. Bob Hall, Wyoming
My first Herald letter was on January 5, 1975, my second was on November 3, 1978, and my third was about the new traffic gantries over the roads with wrong arrows, which prompted an illustration by that wonder cartoonist, Emeric. It is quite rare to have letters illustrated; I’ve had two cartoons with eight letters. Owen Fisher, Rose Bay
With reference to “wins” for published letters to the editor, may I claim the prize in the category of letters published with a cartoon added by the editor? Four – two in 1981, one in 1984 and one in 2015. Cornelius van der Weyden, Balmain East
The digital view
Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
Labor set for conference housing stoush as big union demands super profits tax
From seen it coming: “Housing is a debacle in Australia and so is tax collection from big corporations so this action sort of makes sense. So does reducing our migration intake while we are many hundreds of thousands homes short. Maybe we should do both?”
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