Sydney will never be like Paris or London, thanks to developers

Sydney will never be a Paris, London or Rome, because successive state and local governments have not planned well for the people or the planet, and have been too influenced by the development lobby, whose main tactic is to gaslight communities with cries of NIMBYism to detract from any consideration of heritage, sustainability, affordability, local amenity or well-being (“More density needed: developers”, June 1). Just look at the sprawling greenfield developments that decades of incompetence and vested interests has delivered – rows and rows of of dark-roofed hot boxes as far as the eye can see. Why have we not seen the construction of good-quality, solar-powered, medium rise communities of mixed design, with wildlife corridors, trees, parks, pools, public transport, schools and hospitals? High-rise developments in established areas have, similarly, been of poor quality, unsustainable design, and disastrous for local character without delivering affordable or public housing or improved amenity. And what happened to the “Metropolis of Three Cities” or are we back to everyone commuting to the city again? Does anybody with planning powers or influence have any bloody idea about what they are doing? Marie Healy, Hurlstone Park

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

It has always puzzled me that Australia is the most sparsely populated country in the world, yet is among the most urbanised. What is this obsession with living in cities? Regional centres exist around the nation with land to spare. Most have excellent sporting, cultural and entertainment facilities. Surely, the working-from-home revolution makes living in the regions even more attractive. Think … no long commute to work, schools, recreational spaces. I was born and bred in Sydney and couldn’t wait to get out of the place, moving to the regions where I worked, raised a family and was able to afford a far more substantial home and lifestyle than if I’d stayed. Robert Hickey, Green Point

As someone who lived in Sydney for more than 40 years but now living interstate, I find the ongoing arguments about spreading the load of more housing across the suburbs with medium and high density never really changes. The inner west has suburb after suburb of terrace houses, mostly two storeys, some single, all untouched and close to the city. I am always surprised to see Glebe, Newtown, Leichhardt, Surry Hills, Petersham, Annandale, Lewisham and Marrickville remain untouched with streets of terrace houses. Parramatta Road just past Missenden Road could be lined with high rise. Express buses could serve that route. Am I missing something? Elizabeth Chisholm, Kingston (ACT)

Lately, we have been hearing a lot about the “critical housing shortage”. Every “shortage” has two sides – supply and demand. In this case the demand is due to population growth. It is time we took a hard look at our population and whether the majority of Australians want further growth.
It seems that the main argument against stabilising or reducing population is that the median age
will increase. I find it offensive that in many quarters older people are seen as a problem. We
should be looking at increasing the pension age, encouraging people to retire later and, most of all,
address the issue of prejudice against older workers. The issue is, of course, not only one for our country. The impending climate change catastrophe is, at least in part, due to the size of world population. Philip Roberts, Coledale

NSW fighting the statistics ahead of game two

Several commentators have highlighted the State of Origin statistic that 73 per cent of the winners of the first match have gone on to win the series (“Dirty dozen: Brave Maroons survive navy bombardment”, June 1). I couldn’t help wondering if this was due to the psychological impact of a first up win, or is it the outcome that should be expected? Thinking about it, having won the first match, there are now four possible scenarios ahead for the Maroons for the remaining two matches. These are a win and a win, a win and a loss, a loss and a win, or a loss and a loss. If the teams are evenly matched, and other things been equal, then these scenarios are equally likely. However, three of the four scenarios (ie 75 per cent) result in a series win to the Maroons, a figure very close to the historical statistic. Consequently, it is fair to say that the Blues are not battling the impact of the Maroons early win so much as the basic laws of statistics. I hope this gives the Blues some comfort.
Dick Pollitt, Mosman

Oops! Once again NSW has gone down in a State of Origin match to a strongly committed Queensland team. Not surprising really. For weeks national footy shows demonstrated their bias and referred to NSW as “our team” and talked about how “we” will do this or that. Plus they selected James Tedesco who did not have a good game and hasn’t for almost 12 months. Then there was Tommy Turbo who was anything but. And the new media favourite, Nico Hynes was well short of his media pumped-up form. Really, NSW has to stop assuming it’s the best (yes, pun intended), and cease picking media favourites, especially those boosted daily by Fox Sports. James Mahoney, McKellar (ACT)

Valentine Holmes of the Maroons and Tom Trbojevic of the Blues compete for the ball in the air during game one of the 2023 State of Origin series.

Valentine Holmes of the Maroons and Tom Trbojevic of the Blues compete for the ball in the air during game one of the 2023 State of Origin series.Credit: Getty Images

The NRL can fine and sanctions players all they like, but it means diddly squat if the opposition team has lost the game because of the foul play. Jenny Greenwood, Hunters Hill

I have always found that State of Origin rugby league manifests the real divisions; rivalries in these two different parts of Australia (Letters, June 1). Queensland has always had it over NSW simply because they are far more parochial. I am fascinated by these footballers who when interviewed express what is the real issue. Compare “I am so proud to be chosen to play State of Origin” with “I am so proud to play for Queensland”. No wonder the results are as they are. Michael Walsh, Croydon

If you can’t beat them join them: I’m thinking of becoming a Queenslander. Michael Deeth, Como West

If the extremely highly paid governor believes that the problem can only be fixed by increasing house prices and higher rents, he must go now (“Data shortens odds of new cash rate rise”, June 1). A board so out of touch, with such a display of arrogance, is not fit for the job.

The double mistakes of reducing interest rates too low, causing escalating house prices, and with all the available expert advice, keeping the rates too low for too long, show the incompetence of the board in carrying out its duties and responsibilities.

Supply of housing, up or out, will never match the current mix of demand of cashed-up overseas buyers, investors, first home buyers, downsizers and singles. And put simply, inflation is high because business has increased their prices. If we want to get inflation down, business has to stop increasing their prices. Duncan Cameron, Lane Cove

To Philip Lowe: my husband and I would gladly share your house, so make the beds and we’ll arrive in a couple of days. Thank you. Wendy Crew, Lane Cove North

Education barrier

How do we justify decisions that squeeze extra profit from our university graduates during times of increasing hardship (“Average HECS loan adds $1760 to debt”, June 1)? These are the very people our country relies on for leadership, innovation and prosperity. I despair. Tom Szentkuti, East Ryde

Fair play

At Canberra’s National Press Club recently Stella Assange said it is now the “endgame” for Julian Assange – that it should not be about punishment but our humanity (“FBI reopens case against Assange”, June 1). Forget plea bargains. All Anthony Albanese has to do is hint at renegotiating the terms of the US military presence and structures in Australia. That should bring the US to the table fairly promptly. Diane Davie, Rose Bay

Life lessons

What a disturbing article, and unfortunately similar to what I observed at schools in our area (“Students were kept back at lunch. Parents said it was akin to a prison camp”, June 1). Parents’ overinvestment in their children’s education is so pervasive and so damaging to the child and the schools. Schools have got to be able to discipline students in the limited means they have available. You can imagine the comments made about teachers in those households within children’s earshot.

I’ve seen parents connive to avoid certain teachers or even move schools because they didn’t like the teacher. The comment about female principals being unfairly targeted rang true. While none of us want “bad” teachers, one person’s “bad” teacher is another person’s life changer. Parents must realise that as long as a child is safe and happy at school, has some friends and is learning something, that’s fine. Relax. Sally Kay, Orange

Business as usual

There have been complaints about vice-chancellor salaries in the wake of most NSW public universities posting substantial deficits (“Universities losing money as student numbers shrink”, June 1). I agree with those complaints. But it’s time to address one of the core reasons why those excessive salaries arise.

Public university governing bodies hire vice chancellors. Those bodies are stacked with corporate interests of different flavours, bringing with them cultures of entitlement to skim off riches while the rest of us struggle. That’s business as usual in the corporate world.

It’s now business as usual in supposedly public universities, sitting behind grotesque executive salary packages. University staff, students, alumni, and broader community should be democratically and much better represented. Adrian Cardinali, Earlwood

Tech threat

We’ve suddenly become spooked by the possible misuse of AI, but we were warned long ago and chose to ignore the warnings (Letters, June 1). Remember Skynet in the first Terminator movie became self-aware and started causing havoc? Or the chatbots at Facebook in 2017 who were asked to trade simple items with each other, but ended up developing a new language unintelligible to the scientists, after which the monitoring scientists shut the computers down. There have already been cases of readily available AI apps spreading misinformation, inventing legal precedents and helping fraudsters fleece people. Forget Asimov’s laws – we need strong AI control protocols as a matter of urgency. Science fiction has a habit of becoming science fact. We have been warned! Shane Nunan, Finley

Am I being naive if I suggest that the way to control a possible AI dictatorship is simply to switch off the AI-powered computer? Ted Richards, Batemans Bay

Parting shots

Unlike your correspondent, I must have watched a far more cynical version of the final episode of Succession (Letters, June 1). In the character’s last scene Shiv is in the back seat of a limo with her Machiavellian husband, Tom. She is looking not at all happy, yet perhaps resigned to her fate as the pregnant handmaiden of this man, who has just won the position of CEO that Shiv had coveted for herself. The voracious Swede explains to Tom that he would not be able to suppress his desire to have sex with her if they worked together. A ploy to pretest Tom’s loyalty to himself, or not, Matsson was playing her the whole time for inside info. Yes, maybe a woman like Shiv can conduct from the sidelines, as one of your critics suggested, or do something with substance, rather than join the boys in the dog-eat-dog world of bloated capitalism. Lyndall Nelson, Goulburn

Shiv Roy (played by Australian Sarah Snook) with her on-screen husband Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) in one of the final scenes of Succession.

Shiv Roy (played by Australian Sarah Snook) with her on-screen husband Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) in one of the final scenes of Succession.Credit: HBO

Ted Lasso, which also finished this week, has not made the impact of Succession, but I predict it will have a far longer impact in viewers’ psyche. It also examines a darker side of relationships, issues and the dynamics of wealth, but it is all harboured with love, hope and believing in potential. It is as far from the squalid dynamics of Succession as you could possibly imagine. Above all Ted Lasso exhibited dignity in television – a lone beacon it seems. Janice Creenaune, Austinmer

Catastrophising mental illness

Thank you for your article, Zowie Douglas-Kinghorn (“Schizophrenia does not criminalise my brother”, June 1). Old stereotypes don’t die or fade away. Mental health issues are catastrophised – always – as bringing on violent behaviour. And, unfortunately, in the presence of the police, all they see is a nail. When will this change? Wish in one hand … as the saying goes. But your loving words for your family, your brother touched me deeply. Joe Whitcombe, Bronte

Religious question

Cherie Gilmour, Gordon Gano summed up modern Christianity so eloquently with these two lines: “Christ is crying outside your church door, don’t let him in; he’ll get mud on the floor” (“Christianity was never meant to be cool”, June 1). Kenneth Smith, Orange

Social users

I am heartily sick of the way social media is characterised by those, like your correspondent, who have clearly never used it (Letters, June 1). Social media can be used safely and be positively beneficial. If you are unfortunate enough to attract the attention of trolls, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate the situation. Please don’t fall into the error of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. John Christie, Oatley

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on

Taking the blood of your 17-year-old son? Anti-ageing has gone too far

From Liz: ″⁣What is this obsession with youth? Growing old is a privilege not afforded to everyone. Just be grateful you wake up every morning!″⁣

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Justin Scaccy

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