Why this torrential outpouring of gloom and doom regarding the Wallabies (“Precipice of Doom”, September 30)? Australia’s two-time rugby union world champions may just be naturally bottoming through the peak-trough cycle that all sports teams endure. I take hope from soccer’s deposed superpowers. Germany, most recently the 2014 World Cup soccer champions, did not make it out of their group in 2022. Brazil’s Selecao; five time champions, underperformed as well. Worst of all, Italy, quadruple world champions, have not qualified for the World Cup in its last two editions.
Winning and losing are cyclical. Future Wallabies will rise from the ashes, it’s just a matter of when they wake up from the coma of underperformance. Joseph Ting, Carina
The problem with rugby in Australia is the game itself. Better athletes will not be attracted to a game strangled by technicalities prosecuted by over-zealous referees. The emphasis should be on scoring tries rather than kicking penalty goals. Reduce the obsession with set pieces, particularly the scrum. All of the above is a plea to encourage a return to the halcyon days of “running” rugby, which is more appealing. If this requires major rule changes at the international level then so be it – otherwise the game will fade into obscurity. Max Redmayne, Drummoyne
The immortal rugby league coach Jack Gibson said in the 1980s that Australia did not have the resources, the talent and financial backing to support four football codes; rugby league, AFL, soccer and rugby union, and that one will not survive. David Lawrence, Annandale
Your correspondent appears to find something sub-par in our passion for Australian rules and rugby league (Letters, September 30). It’s not our concern if most of the world doesn’t understand what wonderful games they both are. Lloyd Swanton, Wentworth Falls
Stop whinging about the Wallabies. In any competition with two contestants, one will always lose. Doesn’t matter if they played poorly or were coached poorly – one lost. “Sport” is just a small part of the word “sportsmanship”. Offer congratulations to the opposition, stop looking to blame someone, and get on with training for the next match. Chris Sinclair, West Pennant Hills
Rugby union is a slow, boring and ugly game. It will never be as popular in Australia as the AFL, NRL or even soccer because those games have more continuous, fluent play and are not strangled by endless pedantic and often incomprehensible penalties. John Campbell, South Golden Beach
From my perspective, rugby union failures start back at the grassroots. Today there is only a fraction of the number of players playing suburban and country rugby, the NSW Suburban competition is a shadow of what it was in the 1970s and ’80s and country rugby is losing teams all over the country. Without the volume of players entering at ground level, the choices available to select quality representative teams is greatly diminished. If Rugby Australia supported rugby players at all levels in the way that the NRL and AFL do to reduce the financial cost of playing, then maybe more people would take up the game. Geoff Lindsay, Thurgoona
Special schools are too important to shut down
When considering the needs of disabled people, we must take care not to throw the baby out with the bath water (“Special but sensitive subject brings division on question of inclusion”, September 30). While there are cases of ill-treatment and profiteering by some people, we must not lose sight of the need for special schools, group homes and sheltered workshops. The most successful pattern is the “not-for-profit” model. Not every handicapped person can live in the community and many need permanent help to live a fulfilling life. Look what happened when we closed the mental health facilities and put those poor people out into the community. All the good intentions did not lead to actions, and so we now have the problem of handicapped people wandering the community at large. Richard Kirby, Campbelltown
Margaret and Lilian Meaker’s challenges is a poignant story of just how important the continuation of special schools is. Children with severe autism, cerebral palsy and other extreme forms of neurological damage deserve the safety and dignity that comes from having their own community, where specialist teachers and health professionals can support these children without the stigmatisation, bullying and teasing they are bound to be exposed to in mainstream school environments. Tony Bennett, Broke
My daughter with disabilities went to a special school, as I knew there was no way that she would survive in a mainstream class. It’s not just the learning, it’s the personal care; and who is going to supervise her in the playground and help her with her eating so she doesn’t choke? Every disabled student is different, so you just can’t put them all in one basket. They need to be treated as individuals with their own special needs, and the decision made accordingly. Glenn Fisher, Frenchs Forest
I have a disabled son, now an adult, who went to both mainstream and special schools. I feel some severely disabled children will still need special schools, but I believe many more disabled children should be enrolled in the mainstream, with the proviso of a supportive school community and administration. This will be beneficial to the children through accelerated formal and social education, and also to other students, as they will realise that disabled children are like them in many ways, which will increase acceptance and tolerance. Rowan Godwin, Rozelle
My disabled son attended special schools for his whole school life. I dread to think what might have happened had he been made to attend a mainstream school. As a teacher, I have seen successfully integrated disabled students, but I have also witnessed disasters. My fear is that this report will do for the disabled what the Richmond Report did for the mentally ill. Ryszard Linkiewicz, Caringbah South
A dignified exit
Recently, I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease with its horrifying future. Aware it is incurable and having a partner aged 90 and no children, I consulted voluntary assisted dying legal options within Australia. To allow me to live my remaining time as a dignified, functioning human being, this seemed my only possibility. I wished to arrange activation for a future date but I learnt that this can be legally optioned only within the last six months before your terminal illness kills you.
Obviously, by that stage of this horrible disease, you won’t know what’s happening nor would you wish to experience years of miserable deterioration. I am concerned with exiting before I become a burden; a stranger to myself and to everyone who has known or loved me. I’ve found a place in Switzerland and fortunately can just afford this apparent “luxury”. But perhaps the forthcoming ACT legislation will be more humane. Name and address withheld
The excitement of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Opera House reminds me of 1963, when I shared a flat with three other UNSW graduates. One was David Evans, an engineer who worked on the Opera House. David’s colleague Joseph Bertony was a French civil engineer who designed the arch that made construction of the roof elements possible. This project involved thousands of calculations, which Bertony did by hand. David’s role was to check Bertony’s calculations on a computer. The only computer capable of this task was at the Weapons Research Establishment in South Australia that supported the Woomera rocket base. It was busy during normal business hours, so David would fly to Adelaide on Fridays and return on Sundays with copious printouts under his arms. According to Bertony’s recent obituary in the Herald, the computer confirmed the manual calculations and the roof has stood for 50 years, considerably longer than many current buildings. Charles Pope, Morpeth
I loved this article (“The language questions we really should be asking”, September 30). It reminded me that in my teaching days, a student said “I literally wet myself” which gave me a unique opportunity to explain the difference between literally and figuratively. On a more serious note, there is an argument that “literally” could be dropped from the language altogether. Think about it. It is superfluous; even redundant. Tom Meakin, Port Macquarie
Encourage the sciences
There may be logistical reasons why HSC physics and chemistry are becoming less popular, such as the shortage of highly qualified and inspiring teachers necessary to encourage these studies (“Students continue to take ‘easier’ options”, September 30). If any student has an inclination for a career in engineering or science, or indeed a quest for broad general knowledge, they must be given every encouragement to study chemistry and physics. At university, I lectured physics to students who had not taken HSC physics, mainly in the quest for a higher ATAR, but they were at a considerable disadvantage. Geoff Harding, Chatswood
“Education analysts believe the switch to less rigorous options is driven by schools who wish to quietly divert less academically inclined students away from more difficult subjects because those students could jeopardise a school’s performance in league tables.” Let’s be more optimistic. Perhaps schools are providing subjects to students to suit their abilities. Neville Warner, East Lindfield
Immigration is an emotive and political issue, especially in view of Australia’s housing crisis (“Immigration balance hard to nail”, September 30). The intergenerational report predicts that Australia’s future population will age and grow as we fail to replace ourselves. But Australia is better off than other advanced nations. Australia remains an attractive place to come for immigrants and refugees whose homelands are being destroyed. We will have an opportunity to select the most productive young immigrants from this flood of would-be Australians. Our housing supply crisis is piffling by international standards, and is largely the product of our current tax regime, rather than a shortage of builders and building supplies. Geoff Black, Caves Beach
From many to few
If the premier is serious about increasing housing in the City of Sydney area, he might consider invoking NSW planning laws to stem the rising tide of existing residential flat buildings, which provide accommodation for scores of people, being demolished and replaced with just a few luxury apartments or a single dwelling (“Minns, Moore on collision course”, September 30). While Clover Moore has recently expressed her concern about this increasing trend, Chris Minns seems curiously silent. Ross Duncan, Potts Point
Lies, fear in tilt to No
I don’t know what other ethnic communities are thinking about the way they will vote on the Voice but within the Greek one, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem positive. Misinformation, distortions, lies and worse still, fear has been spread with tales that if the Yes vote succeeds, Greeks will eventually be forced to leave Australia just as they were from Asia Minor 101 years ago by Turks. Perhaps Greek community leaders need to step up and urgently explain and assure people no one will be forced to leave this country.
Con Vaitsas, Ashbury
If the referendum is rejected, the blame should sit squarely on the shoulders of the prime minister. It was he who foolishly went the early crow, and imbued his foot-soldiers with over-confidence, and looked on benignly at their initial reckless criticisms of anybody who even looked like a No voter. To change attitudes nine-tenths of the way through, and attempt a let’s-all-be-mates approach will battle to successfully sweet-talk a notoriously sceptical Australian citizenry. Rosemary O’Brien, Ashfield
A sorry state
It would seem that many people today, particularly politicians, don’t feel accountable unless their actions are illegal (“Sorry, not sorry: the age of artful dodgers”, September 30). The typical reaction is effectively “so bite me”. It seems strange today that former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell resigned over a bottle of wine.
Those at the top need to realise they are also accountable. That is why they are paid such huge remuneration, consisting of base pay and a large bonus that is supposedly at risk if things go wrong. If we don’t properly hold leaders to account, then we become accountable ourselves. David Rush, Lawson
Further on less
Ah, for the good old days. I remember a time when about 40,000 Qantas frequent flier points took me on a round trip from Sydney to Perth, then Broome, Darwin and back home again. Cecily Black, Annandale
Crack of dawn
The saying goes that Queensland rejected daylight saving because our esteemed erstwhile Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen thought that the sun shone out of his backside – and he wasn’t going to get up an hour earlier for anyone. Clare Rudkin, Barellan Point (Qld.)
Keep your head on
Could your correspondents outraged by the failure of Marco te Brommelstroet to wear a helmet explain why Australia is one of the few nations to mandate helmets for cyclists, while at the same time being one of the most dangerous places to ride a bike (Letters, September 30)? Andrew McGrath, Bathurst
Go all the way
I share your pain, Barry Ffrench; agreeing with anything Morrison says is bitter. Growing up on the south Cronulla peninsula was a wonderful experience, as we could safely roam the rocks, beaches, secret paths and bays. My uncles walked the Esplanade until they passed away and would have been delighted to have it go all the way. Tony Sullivan, Adamstown Heights
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