The police Tasered a 95-year-old. But where were the staff?

I was horrified at the use of a Taser on a 95-year-old woman with dementia. But what were the circumstances that led staff to call the police for assistance when the situation had gone beyond their capability to defuse quickly and safely (“Taser Victim a pillar of community”, May 20)? And what were the police told that led them to believe the woman posed a significant threat not only to their safety but to that of staff and other nursing home residents? Hopefully, a proper inquiry will address the issues leading up to the Tasering of the woman and not focus entirely on the action of the senior constable alone.
Geoff Lindsay, Thurgoona

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter during Friday’s press conference.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter during Friday’s press conference.Credit: Kate Geraghty

It was unbelievable that a policeman would Taser a frail woman in her 90s on a walking frame. Even more unbelievable is the police commissioner’s statement that she has no intention of viewing the bodycam video. How can the public get the truth of this matter when police are investigating police and the most senior officer clearly doesn’t want to face the facts?
Stephanie Edwards, Roseville

After Roberto Curti was Tasered to death by five cops over the theft of one packet of biscuits, there was an outcry and calls for better police training. At the time, I wrote a letter questioning the ability of police to absorb and understand that training, noting that there were no minimum academic standards to enter the Police Academy. Unfortunately, the Tasering of Clare Nowland has confirmed my concerns. There needs to be far more selective recruiting of police.
Pierre Mars, Seven Hills

The tragic events leading to the Tasering of Clare Nowland highlight that dementia is far more than memory loss. Mild-mannered individuals can become violent and aggressive, without warning. This is one reason why nursing homes need adequate, well-trained staff 24 hours a day. With good nursing care, there should be no need for police intervention.
Sally James, Russell Lea

Having trained with a cohort of young police cadets, I am absolutely certain of one thing. If you supply young men in authority positions with weapons, they will want to use them.
Bruce King, Rushcutters Bay

“Disbelief” and “disquiet” are not nearly strong enough to describe the Tasering of 95-year-old Clare Nowland. “Horror” and “outrage” are closer. What on earth was the policeman thinking?
David Gordon, Cranebrook

While not excusing the NSW Police for applying a Taser on the frail 95-year-old lady with dementia, it beggars belief that staff at the aged facility had to call the police in the first place. Surely, they must have known how to respond to such a scene, especially that the person involved was one of their patients whom (we can safely assume) they know very well!
Felix Orcullo, Wahroonga

Obviously, the staff at the home had some serious concerns about this elderly resident’s behaviour, and as a result, thought it necessary to call the police for their own and the other residents’ safety. I feel sorry for the police officer who found himself in this terrible position.
Margaret Priest, Wallsend

Shocking as it seems, let’s wait for the inquiry before we condemn the police officer involved in this terrible event. Both parties deserve justice, but the officer must be protected from the vitriol that he is experiencing. He is, no doubt, under terrible stress and needs the support of colleagues, family and his union. The nightmare is tragic for all concerned.
Denis Suttling, Newport Beach

Grant decision condemns social media

Stan Grant’s quitting from Q+A is most disappointing and every attempt should be made by the ABC and support must come from more intellectual public opinion to reverse his decision (“Grant quits Q+A citing racial abuse” May 20). His resignation is a temporary win for racial prejudice and bullying but it should be another nail in the coffin of social media, which allows the type of abuse that aims to destroy people’s lives. The simplest solution is for all thinking people to discontinue the use of this media and to completely ignore any reports of its vile content.
Geoff Harding, Chatswood

The ABC’s Stan Grant announced on Friday that he would stand down from Q&A, citing the regular racial abuse directed at him via social media.

The ABC’s Stan Grant announced on Friday that he would stand down from Q&A, citing the regular racial abuse directed at him via social media.Credit: ABC

Racism in all its forms is to be abhorred and condemned. So it is with any attack on Stan Grant based on his race. The condemnation rightly directed at Grant for abusing his privileged position as an ABC employee to hijack the coverage of the historic coronation broadcast nevertheless stands. Viewers of the ABC were rightly expecting their taxpayer-funded national broadcaster to provide an unbiased factual broadcast explaining the rich history of the coronation. Grant’s statement is that he was invited on to the show. What was the thinking of the management that invited him? Was this the thinking behind a panel of five to nil in favour of the Voice and a panel of four to one in favour of a republic? This imbalance and the inappropriate discussion for the occasion needs to be flushed out. Having received over 1000 complaints on the night’s coverage of the coronation, the ABC might reflect on the reputational damage it has inflicted on itself. Criticism of the ABC and Grant’s hijacking of the event is justified. Any criticism based on race is not and is to be condemned.

Hon. Eric Abetz, Blackmans Bay (Tasmania). Chairman Australian Monarchist League Campaign

I watched the ABC’s coverage of the coronation. It presented a range of views of the monarchy and Australia’s relationship with it before covering the coronation and many associated activities. Though I didn’t agree with everything that was said, I found it intelligent and thought-provoking.

I’m thankful that we have commentators of Stan Grant and Craig Foster’s quality to encourage us to think more deeply about issues and provoke us out of our comfort zones.

Prue Nelson, Cremorne Point

Jacinta Price says the Voice will divide our country along racial lines. The treatment of Stan Grant is further evidence that we are already divided. The Voice will not prevent racial discrimination and vilification but it is an opportunity for ordinary Australians to take a stand against those who continue to see our First Nations people as second-class citizens.
Philip Cooney, Wentworth Falls

More than luck

Luck did indeed have a role in the rise to power of the Albanese-led Labor government one year ago (“Luck’s on your side when your first anniversary is in the honeymoon suite”, May 20), but good management, personal integrity and responsive engagement were stronger factors. So with early wins in areas of credible leadership, a capable, cohesive team, and effective communication, and with big strides in foreign affairs, Indigenous relations and financial management, the outlook for the next few years is promising. However, in one significant area this government has let us down. Recall the role that pressure to respond to the climate crisis played in the 2022 election. Labor, with just under one third of the primary vote, was given a leg-up to power by Greens preferences. Albanese, Plibersek, Bowen and the rest need to lift their game on climate action, including environmental protection and rejection of new coal and gas, or face a hostile electorate in the very near future.
Meredith Williams, Northmead

It is a bit disingenuous to say that PM Albanese is just lucky to be there without charm or smarts. Albanese has learnt from rotating prime ministerships in the last 15 years in Australia and he deserves credit for it. He is trying not to be Kevin Rudd or Scott Morrison by being there for every good announcement but rather lets his ministers take credit for their actions. Albanese himself said he has been underrated all his political life. He has certainly proven to be likeable and non-offensive, and that is an asset for the Labor Party.
Mukul Desai, Hunters Hill

Safe change

There is little doubt that Albanese will lead Labor into the next election (“The delivery guy,” May 20). Likewise, there is little doubt that Dutton will be replaced before the next election. There is a growing chasm between Albanese and Dutton and between the Labor and Liberal parties. Labor has integrity and vision, while the Liberals are lacking in both. The Albanese government is playing the long game and doing it with ease and confidence. By contrast the Dutton opposition is mired in the past and looking like amateurs. It is a year since Labor came to power; the next two years will fly by. Anyone in the Liberal Party with ears to hear should listen and understand.
Graham Lum, North Rocks

Rethink housing

We can surely all agree there’s a housing crisis, one that’s been in the making for 40 years (“Anti-tower MPs a challenge for ex-NIMBY Minns”, May 20). The reluctance of consecutive governments, both state and federal, to fix the problems is of course the issue; not helped by ongoing and intense rent seeking by developer lobby groups, concern by the growing number of middle-class investors that their economic security may be eroded, and an equal growth in cynicism by the community at large about the failures of our governments to stand up to vested interests.

As Michael Koziol notes of developer lobby groups such as the Property Council and the Urban Development Institute of Australia, “they wanted more” from government. Developers always do, of course. The audacity of developers to expect a “30 percent bonus” to make a few more “affordable” units in massive high-rise developments is rent seeking on an extraordinary scale.

So-called market solutions based on massive government tax breaks and land gifts to developers have only seen housing become more expensive over the last 40 years, and expecting any change by continuing variations of the same policy will only exacerbate the problem. Governments need to end the idea of a housing market and all the direct and indirect subsidies that have created that market, and introduce policies that focus on social and genuinely affordable housing, good urban planning, and respect for democratic and accountable decision-making. Good policy will gain the support and respect of the community at large, and deliver a better city for us all.
Colin Hesse, Marrickville

When I lived in Manly in the ’80s, I strongly supported the Residents and Friends in their successful campaign to limit heights to five stories. The thinking then was that we wanted to prevent massed skyscrapers like in Surfers Paradise. I can see now that we need to defy the NIMBYs and go up if we are to have any chance of building enough houses to meet the demand. Dee Why’s parks and gardens show that apartment dwellers don’t need to be deprived of amenity. I support the premier in his efforts to do this.

Andrew Macintosh, Cromer

Chris Minns argues a perfectly logical planning policy. The problem is, the public have witnessed far too many poor-quality outcomes in their local suburban centres and the like. The problem is complex and solving the current situation won’t happen overnight. However, the practice of urban design, led by public servants, is conspicuous by its absence. Developers with their own well-paid consultants call the shots; the results understandably speak for themselves. Should the premier wish to improve on the last decade or so of poor results – ensure there is a well-resourced body of professional public servants at state and local level to do just that, serve the public.
Cleveland Rose, Dee Why

There’s a note of hysteria in the housing shortage debate. However, almost everyone totally ignores the fact that Sydney and Melbourne are packed with empty homes. Whether it’s developers who have built units and are sitting on them to keep the prices high; or negatively geared investors who want to keep their asset pristine; or even Airbnb properties, rarely if ever let; there are at least 100,000 homes in Sydney and the same amount in Melbourne that are empty. In my opinion, this situation is morally and ethically wrong when we have more than 100,000 people who are homeless, and acute rental stress. Similar problems in other countries have been part-solved by raising council rates on empty properties to “encourage” the owners to let them out.

Claire Bettington, Maroubra

One thing I have noticed about public figures advocating for high-rise apartments is that most of them live in detached suburban houses.

John Roseth, Mosman

Driving force

Alan Stanley’s letter (Letters, May 20) stating that “traffic will always increase to fill the available capacity” reminded me of the hilarious Utopia episode “Simulated Solutions”. Nat sees the future modelling of increased roadworks and is horrified to see the traffic improvements disappear over time due to the Jevons Paradox. The modeller explains that “this states that the better you make something, like a road, the more people will use it, meaning you spend a lot of money now for a very short-term benefit”.

Anne Elliott, Balmain

Queensland's rising population growth masks a per-capita decline in public transport usage as outer-city residents shift back to their cars.

Queensland’s rising population growth masks a per-capita decline in public transport usage as outer-city residents shift back to their cars.Credit: Michele Mossop

Loss in other forms

Fenella Souter’s article on facing widowhood was harrowing (“It takes two years to rewire the brain”, May 20). However, if she really wants to explore harrowing, perhaps a visit to the Alzheimer’s Society’s forum; Talking Point, would enlighten her. This is a different sort of widowhood as the partner you have loved and lived with for many years turns into a stranger – often a highly unpleasant one at that. It’s a widowhood with no freedom to choose where to live or what to do, no freedom at all. That is about as harrowing as you can get.
Sue Grant, Toowoomba

Friends in need

It is wonderful that all communities which suffer a disaster of one sort or another are “tight-knit”.
Jim Pollitt, Wahroonga

Four score

A quick Quad summit may be seen as a quid pro quo.
Frank Paterson Mount Annan

Farewell George

Nine columnist George Cochrane is retiring; a man of great knowledge and one who wrote the most entertaining column. He was understanding of financial struggles, but also quick to admonish the greedy members of our society.

Rosslyn Jeffery, Castle Hill

Keep it classy

Listen, lads, it’s OK to fight, for after all it’s a dog-eat-dog world, but for heaven’s sake, don’t go putting it on film (“Shore school investigates video of violent classroom fight”, May 20). We don’t want the hoi polloi from the public schools thinking we are like them
Nola Tucker, Kiama

Bold gold

I wish Paul Dyer (“Walkleys, did you really have to hit the headlines?” May 20) had included the headline about Wallis Simpson’s 1936 divorce. “King’s Moll Reno’d in Wolsey’s Home Town”.
Paul Stevens North Epping

Paul Dyer’s “Cracker up my Clacker” prompted the memory of one of my London tabloid favourites: “Archbishop in Bizarre Love-triangle”.
Edward Grieve, Woolloomooloo

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

Watching their pennies: Cost-of-living concerns double in a year
From Keep it real: “One thing the government could do is reduce immigration which is putting pressure on rents. They could also strengthen competition laws and break a few duopolies up.”

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Justin Scaccy

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