‘Swim between the flags’ is just not a suggestion

I share the frustration of the NSW Surf Life Saving chief, Steve Pearce, and your correspondents regarding the tragic loss of life in the surf over summer (Letters, May 9). I completed 60 years of active patrolling on Anzac Day and I have noted the trend for swimmers to ignore the well-publicised advice to “swim between the flags”. The “clubbies” do a magnificent job, patrolling flagged beaches and elsewhere in emergencies, as do our fit and experienced surfers, whose rescues often go unrecorded.
Sadly, it is not only lifesavers who are feeling the frustration. Frontline workers, including police, teachers, health, firemen and rescue crews are all suffering from the public’s “rejection of direction”. Eoin Johnston, Alstonville

Recognition of rips (among other dangers at the beach) is taught in schools in PDHPE (personal development, health and physical education). One of our local surf clubs, Crowdy Head, also puts a Tuesday Tip on Facebook about dangers at the beach and publishes full information on how to recognise rips. I’m sure other surf clubs offer similar information. Colleen Northam, Taree

Your correspondent proposes on-the-spot fines to change swimmers’ behaviour. I would not want to be the cop in a small, remote coastal town who has to fine locals for swimming at the beach they have swum at all their lives. Paul Norton, Highgate Hill (Qld)


<p>Credit:Matt Golding

I never swim in the ocean without wearing flippers. They have saved me more than once when caught in a rip. They should be a mandatory aquatic accessory. John Swanton, Coogee

I agree with your correspondent about the possible dangers of beaches, but don’t limit education to our own communities. I believe there is a significant drowning or near-drowning statistic among tourists. Every effort needs to be made to dispel the popular image of the surf as an inviting playground. Joan Brown, Orange

It might be more useful to teach people to swim gently across a rip rather than trying to fight it to get back to shore. Once out of the rip, one can use the waves to get back to the beach with relatively little effort. As a body surfer living in Bondi in the ’70s, I used the rip as a travelator to get out into the green behind the board riders, so I could swim up north and surf back in. Alan Stanley, Upper Corindi

A hot day and a bunch of year 9s run to the end of Half Moon pier. All the usual “Everything not forbidden is compulsory” safety signage is on clear display as they peer over the edge at the water. A boy dive bombs, swims to the bottom, roves around and surfaces to pronounce, “This side’s OK.” A girl performs a shallow dive and checks the depth elsewhere around the pier. We responsible adults wonder when she will come up for air. With her blessing, they all “let rip”, diving off the railings, the boys’ shoulders, bombing etc. The pier was soaked and adults were overjoyed to see kids having fun. Best of all, every young child present saw these teenagers check the depth before leaping. Ronald Elliott, Sandringham (Vic)

A ‘drover’s dog’ would be an asset to the Coalition


<p>Credit:Matt Golding

The Labor government has announced a federal budget surplus, something that has eluded the Coalition for many years, even pre-COVID-19 (“Revenue surge to deliver $4b surplus”, May 9). As Angus Taylor from the Coalition says that a drover’s dog could deliver a surplus, is the Coalition about to preselect a drover’s dog? This could also go some way to giving the Coalition some much-needed diversity. Elfriede Sangkuhl, Summer Hill

If Jim Chalmers expects legitimacy in owning the budget surplus, he should at least desist from claiming Labor inherited a disaster from the Coalition. George Fishman, Vaucluse

The proverbial “drover’s dog” is certainly a smart dog – being able to win federal elections and then, decades later, deliver a surplus budget for the ALP. Marvellous. Pasquale Vartuli, Wahroonga

Perhaps drovers’ dogs, particularly our beloved intelligent kelpies, should be running the country. According to esteemed politicians past and present, they can win elections and deliver surpluses. What is not to like about them? They consume little, run everywhere and live in small houses – the epitome of frugality, just what the country needs. I suggest kelpies should be endorsed candidates next election. Geoff Harding, Chatswood

If, as Angus Taylor says, a drover’s dog could have produced a budget surplus this year, why didn’t the Liberals appoint Bluey’s dad as treasurer instead of Josh Frydenberg, who was predicting a deficit of $78 billion? Richard Mason, Newtown

Can someone tell Angus Taylor to update his zingers? No one knows what a “drover’s dog” is these days. How about “a hipster’s cavoodle could have delivered a budget surplus this year”? The drover’s dog gag is so Tamie Fraser. Simon Pitts, Riverview

Is a blue heeler a better choice?

Is a blue heeler a better choice?Credit:Tanya Lake

Nothing illustrates more clearly how bereft of original thinking the federal opposition is when the shadow treasurer, while attempting to dismiss the government’s anticipated budget surplus, has to drag up an ancient Bill Hayden quote from 1983. Drover’s dogs countrywide would blush with embarrassment. Bill Young, Killcare Heights

It’s funny how when we get a budget surplus under a Labor government it’s created by a “revenue surge”, but under Liberal governments it’s because of good economic management. But perhaps Labor is doing something right to have a revenue surplus with the economy facing such slow growth? (“Economy faces slowest growth since lockdown”, May 9.) Mark Pearce, Richmond

Haters couldn’t spoil coronation

Haters of the monarchy and religion have had their day in the media (Letters, May 9), yet for many of us the coronation and the music in the Abbey and at the Royal Albert Hall have been the highlight of our week. A large number of Australians still respect the monarchy, and the majority religion is still Christianity. Why must our voice be drowned out by the scoffers and haters? Charles is King of Australia and, as our prime minister pointed out, the referendum for a republic was resoundingly rejected. Vivienne Parsons, Thornleigh

How much do we want them?

How much do we want them?Credit:Getty Images

I heed not the argument that a constitutional monarchy is the best form of government. It’s not the best form of government if one of us cannot be head of our own country. Likewise, I’ll disregard the position that a benign monarchy is good for us. It’s only good for us if our needs align with those of the United Kingdom; otherwise who will our monarch represent? Having a head of state who gains the position by dint of birth is a closed shop. Australians who aspire to be head of state cannot currently achieve that position. It’s wrong. Carn the republic! Peter Butler, Wyongah

Though it was scarcely even a nine-day wonder in Australia, for people of faith there’s no getting away from the religious nature of the coronation. All the centuries of absurd accretions and monopolising by one entitled family and one particular brand of the Christian church don’t detract from the sincerity of the prayers of a great many people. There are no magical properties in the holy oil, yet it has the potential to transform two all-too-human individuals. In the end Charles and Camilla may well have emerged overwhelmed by a genuine sense of awe, responsibility and true humility. That’s the theory, anyway. And it’s possible to hold that thought and bear them no ill will, simultaneously with the conviction that the strange technicality that thereby made them king and queen of Australia should not continue in perpetuity. Margaret Johnston, Paddington

“The tumult and the shouting dies, the captains and the kings depart.” So says the ancient hymn that may well equally apply to the conclusion of events surrounding the Queen’s death and Charles’ coronation. The mood generally has all been one-sided, anti-Britain, anti-monarchy and pro-republican. I’ve read some magnificent opinion pieces and letters, all ending with the same mantra. However, the current proponents continue to make the same mistakes as their predecessors. Shouting “republic” at people as if through a megaphone and denigrating the current system is not as powerful as addressing individuals’ concerns and outlining viable detailed alternative forms of government. Ross MacPherson, Seaforth

Cathy Wilcox is a gem far more dazzling than the oft pillaged sparklers that adorn the King’s crown (Letters, May 9). Her brilliant caricature of Charles’ crowning “achievements” and those of his, ahem, wayward family heralds our not-too-distant referendum on a republic. Viva la republic! Viva Wilcox! Gerardine Grace, Leura


<p>Credit:Cathy Wilcox

Gas tax

How appalling that the Labor government, elected to take climate action, presides over “the world’s most generous tax regime for gas projects” (“Chalmers takes light option on oil, gas tax”, 9 May). All our cost-of-living issues could be addressed immediately by a resources tax more like Texas imposes. The scare campaign by the industry more than a decade ago, and its donations to the big political parties, are crimes against humanity that are paying off for big business. Labor is likely to see neck-breaking electoral swings against it when its disappointing inaction comes home to roost. Barry Laing, Castle Cove

Two-legged pests

If we are serious about protecting our endangered flora and fauna in our great Snowy Mountains (“Alpine species at risk of ‘final extinction‴⁣⁣ , May 9), surely we should cull the most environmentally damaging species – people? We bring pollution to the pristine area, we ski and tramp over areas that house the endangered animals. The horses’ grazing assists in keeping the chance of serious fire outbreak low. Peter Haggarty, Cranebrook

Housing stress

Luara Ferracioli (“The housing crisis is traumatising our children”, May 9) is spot on. Anyone working in child and family welfare will attest to the fact that the majority of their clients are living under housing stress. We have had 40 years of governments allowing the crisis to worsen. The trick is finding ways to expedite construction and secure good housing solutions. Federal and state governments must diversify their approach and engage with all potential players, not least local government and community housing groups, to expedite both the identification of opportunities and construction. Allowing housing insecurity to continue for any child does not bode well for our nation’s future. Jill Napier, Phegans Bay

Cruel trade

Don’t blame the Indonesians for the cruel and barbaric slaughter of Australian cattle in their abattoirs (“Indonesian abattoirs violate live export rules”, May 9) – blame us for sending them there. It’s chilling to think that today our economy relies so heavily on a trade where the inbuilt cruelty and suffering of sentient and intelligent creatures are inevitable outcomes. Australian abattoirs are by comparison far more humane, with supervision and regulations much more strict by comparison. It’s ironic that our participation in this suffering is based on our client’s religious needs and beliefs. Peter Bower, Naremburn

House rules

Am I now to assume that Vivid will be cancelled (Letters, May 9)? If we can’t afford to put a picture on the Opera House, then we obviously won’t be able to afford Vivid with its shameful use of fossil fuels. Pamela Shepherd, Balgowlah

Very disappointing Premier Minns thinks the Opera House is worthy of being used as a billboard for a number of events, including a horse race, but not for the coronation. Jenny Greenwood, Hunters Hill

Leadership qualities

Your correspondent (Letters, May 9) says we need a leader with the qualities of Menzies, Whitlam, Hawke, Howard, Keating and Turnbull. Yes, but where will we find this woman? Ian Adair, Hunters Hill

Sacrificial lambs

With Anzac Day just behind us, Putin reminds us of the sacrifice, especially of the young and their families, to fulfil the vain ambitions of the powerful (“Sentenced to ‘senseless’ slaughter”, May 9). Sadly, the refrain remains true: “When will they ever learn?” Philip Cooney, Wentworth Falls

Late bloomer

Camellia: Queen of the May flowers?

Camellia: Queen of the May flowers?Credit:Andy Zakeli

The camellias are in glorious flower right now, so for the next few weeks King Charles’ better half shall be known as Queen Camellia. Michael Deeth, Como West

The digital view
Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
Budget to predict $4 billion surplus as revenues surge
From Ultracrepidarianist: ″⁣If a drover’s dog could deliver a surplus, why didn’t the Coalition obtain one in the recent nine years they were in government?″⁣

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Justin Scaccy

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