Premier should fix homelessness problem before Ashfield signal box

The premier is off track claiming “the government clearly needed to look at security of the transport network”, when he and all governments should “clearly” be looking at homelessness and mental health care issues that ultimately caused the “violent act of vandalism on the transport network” (“Squatters in damaged signal box for weeks before Matildas train chaos”, August 18).

It’s appalling that our polity ignores Australia’s history of homelessness, housing shortages and its neglect of adequate mental healthcare services, support and facilities. If governments persist with the absurd levels of immigration that exacerbate housing shortages, they should reflect on post-WWII history. The housing crisis, homelessness, slum living, squatting, and veterans’ activism then forced state acquisitions and rental of some empty properties. Federal-state housing agreements delivered record housing builds. Blaming victims for outcomes of sustained failures of public policy and neoliberal market solutions is abhorrent and offensive. Robyn Dalziell, Kellyville

Instead of bolstering signal box security, how about we do something about homelessness and the abandonment of the mentally ill? George Dodd, Canterbury

Workers found debris strewn through one of the signal box buildings at Ashfield station. Damage to the signal box caused major delays to trains carrying football fans from Olympic Park.

Workers found debris strewn through one of the signal box buildings at Ashfield station. Damage to the signal box caused major delays to trains carrying football fans from Olympic Park.

News that the NSW transport agency failed to detect homeless people living in buildings that house key rail infrastructure for weeks astounds me. With sloppy security like that, saboteurs wouldn’t need to conduct sophisticated computer hacking to paralyse our train network. I hope other transport network management agencies in Australia take note. It’s not for me to call for the sacking of the head of security at Transport NSW, but the solution is obvious. Kim Woo, Mascot

While we should not underestimate the inconvenience suffered by attendees after the World Cup, and were not impressed by the government’s pathetic apology, we should congratulate the technicians who from a standing start restored train services in just one and a half hours. A world cup performance, indeed. DÁrcy Hardy, North Turramurra

The train debacle was the result of an attack on the network signalling. There are deeper transport issues that pertain to these massive events at the Olympic Stadium. The public transport arrangements remain as they were for the Olympic Games 23 years ago. This particularly applies to bus transport. The bus interchange at the stadium is a total shambles. How people manage to find and catch the right bus is more about the ingenuity of the travelling public than the non-existent efficiency of the big events bus services. Then there’s the exit. Amazingly there is no dedicated exit for buses from the Olympic precinct. Southbound buses must navigate the congested and completely inadequate two-lane Hill Road with its successive traffic lights. Then buses hit the substandard Parramatta Road for a crawl towards the King Georges Road arterial, a journey of about two kilometres that takes more than 30 minutes. No traffic management exists whatsoever. The amazing thing is that the WestConnex network passes by the entire precinct. Was there any thought ever given to the construction of the bus-only link from the Olympic Stadium to the motorway? Seems like a no-brainer to me. Many improvements are necessary in this space. David Rafferty, Peakhurst Heights

Teach us, Matildas

Much has been said about our favourite national team these past few weeks. The Matildas have demonstrated phenomenal strength, determination, skill and sportsmanship. I’m not surprised that they can also teach us about love and acceptance (“This is the gayest World Cup ever and no one’s batting an eyelid”, August 18). Now it falls to them to educate us about resilience, the power to recover from disappointment and to continue to grow and achieve great things. And we thought they were just a women’s soccer team. Lorraine Hickey, Green Point

Prime Time #1.

Prime Time #1.Credit: Matt Golding

While I enjoyed watching the Matildas, admired the way they carried themselves, and support the government funding junior sport, the call for the government to tip in more when millions have already been spent is a little tone deaf (“No promises on Matilda funding”, August 18). With thousands in Australia homeless, families struggling with the cost of living and the increasing list of threatened and vulnerable species, government spending could be better used elsewhere. John Tyler, Oatley

After watching the marvellous Matildas’ magnificent efforts, my granddaughters asked if we could set up a family-friendly soccer competition, which we have done. Our team will have black uniforms, all with number 18, and will be called “The Mackenzie Arnolds”. We’ll let you know how we go in the comp. Merilyn McClung, Forestville

Anglican Church lacks Christian compassion

It is alarming to see the lack of compassion displayed by the Anglican Synod in deciding to refuse voluntary assisted dying assistance in its residential aged care homes (“Anglicans discourage euthanasia”, August 18). It is beyond belief that this powerful board, claiming to represent Christian values, is prepared to encourage residents in its care to die in intolerable agony merely to satisfy its misguided beliefs that to provide services to end this suffering may lead to intolerable corruption. This fixation with prolonging life with a complete disregard for a person’s wish to die with dignity is unfathomable, particularly as noted by Rev Simon Hansford that after watching a loved one die in agony these views may well be changed. Fundamentally, a peaceful death is an inalienable right and one’s expressed end of life choices should never be hijacked by the whim of religious leaders or policies of the government of the day. Joy Nason, Mona Vale

The arrogance of the Sydney Anglican Diocese is extraordinary. If it’s not enough to have made the lives of many same-sex oriented people a misery over the years, it is now insisting that even the thoughts and desires of these people are a sin (“Diocese says same-sex desire an ‘evil’ inclination”, August 18). When it comes to personal morality and to difficult end of life decisions, people need support and love, not judgment based on the supposed standards of some Imaginary Friend. Judy Christian, The Ponds

Anyone who thinks Sydney Anglican doctrine commission is discriminatory in its teachings should remember Jesus said in Sermon on the Mount “that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28) so Jesus condemns heterosexual desire. No matter our sexual orientation; our sexual desires (not just our consensual sex acts) can constitute sin. Any sin can be forgiven in Jesus and all of us can pray to God to help us not to be tempted in the future. Anyone is free to ignore such religious moral teaching, just as most Catholics ignore Catholic teaching that says contraception is wrong. Polly Seidler, Darlinghurst

Is it any wonder that organised religion is losing some of its adherents? When the Anglican church discourages legalised voluntary euthanasia and says that same-sex attraction desire is an “evil inclination”, it is beginning to look somewhat like an anachronism. Yola Center, Lane Cove

Fill empty spaces, fix housing crisis

Yes, extra homes may well slash rents but not for four years, the average time for new builds to become available (“Extra homes would slash rent: Grattan”, August 18). Could the current accommodation crisis be alleviated by providing temporary taxation exemptions for owners (some of whom are asset rich but cash poor) of the many tens of thousands of empty floors, granny flats and bedrooms that remain unused. Such a move may even reduce the pressure on homeless people to squat in and damage railway signal boxes. Humphrey Armstrong, North Sydney

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

NSW will need to build 75,000 homes each year for five years (“NSW will struggle to meet new housing targets”, August 18). But what about repurposing all the half-empty office buildings in the CBD, North Sydney and other areas as residential units? Working from home a few days a week is the norm now for most office workers, resulting in half-empty buildings and the small businesses that used to rely on office workers for foot traffic are struggling to get by. Why not change the zoning and offer real incentives to refit some office blocks as housing, which would simultaneously increase housing supply and revitalise the small businesses in the area? If medium/high density is what’s needed to solve the housing crisis, the answer might already be staring us in the face. Sophie Jones, Camperdown


Our politicians seem pretty consistent in pointing out that the lack of housing supply is generating demand and therefore fuelling rent increases. This is in concert with increased mortgage costs due to interest rate rises. If supply is the issue, then why not make it easier for people to build small homes on their existing properties? Off-grid small homes could be the solution if governments could get behind them. Quick to build, solar and battery powered, no slab required. Small homes could also negative gear the increased mortgage costs for owner occupiers as a dual benefit. Sam Kent, Hunters Hill

Arthur Calwell once coined the term populate or perish. With the ever-mounting environmental and homelessness problems, perhaps now it’s overpopulate and perish. Paul Doyle, Glenbrook

Sovereignty at risk

Finally, the truth (“Labor battles unions on subs”, August 18). Anthony Albanese promotes Labor’s AUKUS strategy as a vote-winner for the next election. Is Labor really prepared to forsake our sovereignty, expose us to nuclear threats, and inadequately address declining living conditions for the poor as a strategy for winning the next election? Surely, this is the strategy of a party no better than the one we so roundly rejected. Bob Galland, Parkesbourne

Define ‘scandal’

Bill Clinton’s “scandals”, smoking marijuana as a student, a consensual affair, the Lewinsky matter (OK, he lied about it) are nothing compared with Donald Trump’s serial, probably criminal, acts while in office and since (“Blame Clinton for teflon Trump”, August 18). Clinton in 1996 and his deputy Al Gore were early political campaigners against climate change who got very little except words from our own political establishment. Did he dodge the Vietnam draft? A few distinguished Australians did the same. And Saint Bob Menzies avoided service in WWI, another war with dubious relevance to Australia. Norman Carter, Roseville Chase

If we assume for a moment all of Trump’s indictments and legal problems are a “witch-hunt” (Letters, August 18), then we’d also have to assume that verifiable facts, observable reality and the rule of law no longer exist. Chris Roylance, Paddington (QLD)

Moore or less enough

Clover Moore: good to have some competency, clarity, continuity, civility and vision from a political leader (“Moore prepares to seek sixth term”, August 18). Lead on Lord Mayor. Neville Williams, Darlinghurst

No question that Clover Moore has been a good lord mayor of Sydney (a record five terms from 2004), but a sixth term next year would be one too many. The city deserves fresh thinking in this fast-changing age of ever new challenges. Don Beresford, Surry Hills

Payroll tax hurts jobs

I am a former GP and I have seen the damage payroll tax causes in the health industry (“GPs sound alarm over $20 fee hike following tax ruling”, August 18). Payroll tax needs to go but not just for general practices. The government should abolish it altogether. It’s a terrible tax that penalises employers for taking on employees and paying them properly. Instead, they are incentivised to put people on sham contracts that pay no super, annual leave or sick leave. There are better ways of raising revenue. Adrian Watts, Newcastle

Look in-house, Lendlease

Perhaps Lendlease should consider the impact its development has had on the local south-west koala population rather than point the finger at Transport for NSW (“Threats mounting for the last of Sydney’s healthy koala population”, August 18). Lendlease has chosen to clear habitat and cut the critical east-west habitat corridor at Gilead before underpasses and corridors were secured. Lendlease changed its underpass design from raised roads to suboptimal narrow concrete pipes and culverts, a reason Transport for NSW is reluctant to sign off on the designs. After all, the point of wildlife crossings is to allow access to habitat crucial to the survival of this population. Maria Bradley, Coogee

Parkinson’s poise

Michael Parkinson was such a good interviewer because he listened to the person he was interviewing and made that person the focus, rather than himself (“‘Not as dumb as you look’ : Michael Parkinson’s greatest TV moments”,, August 18). Also, he undertook plenty of research beforehand. So many interviewers today are questioners and interrupters who speak over the interviewee and cut them short. They seem to want to achieve a “gotcha” moment or promote their own views instead of gently drawing the interviewee out. Levane Abdoolcader, Padstow Heights

Credit: BBC, Sean Davey

Once is enough

My mother, a university graduate and high school teacher, lost her job when she married my father during WWII (Letters, August 18). I am the eldest of nine children born over a 15-year period encompassing the entire Baby Boomer generation. When my youngest sister started school, mum went back to teaching. At 56, she got her driver’s licence and her first car, and absolutely blossomed. She needed to have some help in the house, but she had to pay for it out of her after-tax income as the tax office told her that it was a private expense.

When my first child was born, she still had children in primary school, and she informed me that she “had spent 20 years raising one generation and was not going to raise the next”. I could only agree with her. Trish Thatcher, Tea Gardens

Perfect fit

The perfectly cut T-shirt. Easy. Finding enough perfectly cut bodies to wear it. A challenge (“Simplicity and style to a T”, August 18). Mustafa Erem, Terrigal

Rupert forever

I doubt Rupert Murdoch’s latest love interest will change his attitude to climate change and science in general, but he might be hoping that the molecular biologist will discover the secret to eternal youth (Letters, August 18). Judith Campbell, Drummoyne


This week, letter writers and the nation were united like never before. We allowed the Matildas to capture our hearts while playing the beautiful game, making us feel we were part of something much bigger than just a sporting contest.


Gordon Lambert of Kiama Downs reflected the feelings of many when he said he had never been more proud of a team than when the Matildas ran onto the field on Wednesday night. “Valiant in defeat, the side showed teamwork, skills and sheer tenacity the equal of any team, male or female. Sam Kerr’s goal was spellbinding, but what impressed me most was the spirit in which the game was played,” he wrote. “The Matildas did us proud.”

Others were looking to the future, hoping the Matildas’ legacy would bring more funding for women’s sport, and provide inspiration for girls to follow their dreams. “A large cohort of future women will be fitter, faster and vastly more aware that there are no limits as to what they can achieve, thanks to these great women,” wrote a correspondent. “They may have lost the semi-finals, but the Matildas are winners,” wrote Dulwich Hill’s Genevieve Milton. “They highlighted women’s sports in magnificent style, like no other sport has achieved.”

The Matildas would no doubt be feeling immeasurable disappointment at their loss but letter writers agreed they felt “exhilaration and pride for the team’s achievement”. Even those who were not soccer fans wrote to say they had witnessed one of the greatest sporting competitions ever seen, and had one message for our green and gold champions: “Thank you kindly for the ride, Tillies.” Pat Stringa, Letters editor

Justin Scaccy

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