Once again Ross Gittins provides a practical, plain-speak analysis of a complex report (“How to make sense of Treasury’s latest intergenerational report”, August 28). In summary: as we sow, so shall we reap. Our socio-economic system is premised on dissatisfaction and meeting the inexorable demands of artificial growth. We are sold the lie that whatever we have is not enough, and are encouraged to desire more stuff, more opportunities, more privileges. This system idolises wealth, inspires greed, elevates competition and breeds discontent. Both projections and assumed alternatives presuppose a similar model and the outlook is grim. Perhaps it’s time to change the model and move to a needs and sustainability-based cyclical approach, valuing co-operation for human rights and a healthy environment, with emphasis on moderation rather than excess and the cultivation of community rather than the accumulation of material wealth. The harvest of such an approach would surely be a more just, equitable, inclusive and satisfying existence for more of us for longer. Meredith Williams, Northmead
Laurie Dicker perpetuates a boomer myth that paying tax is accumulating wealth for a pension (Letters, August 28). This is false. Tax goes into general revenue and pays for current expenditures. If the tax taken is too low, the government borrows money to make up the difference. Years of Liberal tax cuts have left the nation with a structural deficit and the 2019 election proved that selfish older people do not want to pay the amount of tax needed to pay for the services they expect from the government. The only attempt to accumulate savings for retirement is the superannuation system, which Costello turned into a tax rort for rich older people. Absent some reform to tax the windfall gains in property, the children are going to pay for their parents through their taxes. Alan Stanley, Upper Corindi
We owe Bill Shorten an apology, particularly the Coalition who ridiculed him. The Intergenerational Report confirms that 5 years ago Shorten proposed sensible policies to address the mess we’re in and which will now get rapidly worse. Anthony Albanese has the jitters about axing the Stage 3 tax cuts and not approving new coal and gas projects and so he should, but he has them for the wrong reasons. To persist with them will see him lose office, perhaps as early as 2025, but it won’t be to the Coalition. Young voters are over the Labor and Coalition parties for jeopardising their futures and will sweep them aside unless they get with it fast. Howard Charles, Glebe
Ross Gittins pronouncing his take on the exponential growth in the care sector sparks me to relate that the cost of care of my aged mother in 2019 by an unqualified lady on a temporary visa on minimum wage, was just shy of $100 per hour for 4 eight-hour weekday shifts per month for which the private provider clearly retained at least $2,200 of the $3,100 charged. Surely a public servant, if we had a public agency, could be able to manage care far cheaper than $550 for each regular daily shift.
Andrew Cohen, Glebe
Pyrmont’s journey through hell
Megan Gorrey describes vividly the impact of Transport for NSW’s major transport infrastructure projects on those who live nearby (“Vibrations, noise from freeway work make residents dig deep”, August 28). In Pyrmont, many residents are just beginning their journey through hell, with the commencement of the West Metro station developments, involving demolition of existing buildings and excavation for a huge cavern. This work will continue unabated, 24/7, for at least one year. The cavern was originally proposed to be adjacent to the Bays West station on a site near Glebe Island, where there were no residents close by. Imagine our surprise when we were advised that it would be moved to Pyrmont. The 24/7 excavation will occur from above, unlike the less intrusive tunnelling which occurs underground. It will involve jackhammers and grinding of the silica sandstone, which will then be transported via trucks through Pyrmont’s narrow streets. There was no consultation, no need for a Modification to Development, just a wave of the Planning Department’s wand as the proponent of the project declared that the move was “consistent” with that approved through the original DA. To add insult to injury, affected residents are being offered earplugs. Elizabeth Elenius, Pyrmont
As a former resident of North Sydney, I examined the environmental impact statement for the Warringah Freeway “upgrade” in minute detail, for specific reference to works on the proposed High St interchange. There was no mention of what is now happening around Whaling Road, High St and Alfred St North, much less any reference to how long residents would be forced to endure conditions that now resemble a war zone.
Transport for NSW and its contractors’ only other response to complaints is to pump out more public relations nonsense about glazing and sleep masks, to issue denials or to call the police, as happened on two occasions when residents gathered to protest against the brutal destruction of trees. Transport for NSW is a behemoth out of control, and the minister needs to pull it into line or pull the plug on the Freeway upgrade and the Western Harbour Tunnel. Gayle Davies, Armidale
The impact of continuous noise on our lives is almost taken for granted. Megan Gorrey’s story succinctly captures the scale and impact. As our society addresses “future need”, those caught in the present pay a price that affects personal wellbeing and security. Rod Leonarder, Roseville
Urban consolidation for the greater good
In addition to the higher costs of “fringe dwelling”, there is nothing more destructive to the wellbeing of families than long commutes for the wage earners which result in personal stress and cost money and time away from the family (“High cost of living on fringe revealed”, August 28). The distance to schools, medical services and leisure and sporting facilities is also a huge negative. There is really only one healthy choice if cities are to grow significantly – suitable areas of cities must be designated medium- and high-density. Some residents will naturally object but there are benefits for all. A higher density of residences should lower council rates and local businesses will benefit from the increased supply of customers and workers of all ages. High-population-density cities work perfectly well elsewhere in the world and further urban sprawl, which can be extremely destructive to the environment, must end. Geoff Harding, Chatswood
The NSW Productivity Commission report was welcome if only to highlight how much public money is required to provide basic infrastructure to new homes, either inner city or on the fringe. That infrastructure only included roads, rail, water, schools and open space. Missing, of course, was information on how much it costs to supply hospitals and other medical facilities, police, libraries, prisons, power stations and power grids, ports and airports. And there is no mention, of course, of the capacity of the inner city to absorb another 500,000 people. The schools will soon be overflowing, the streets ever more congested and open space crowded. Sydney is long past its optimal size, which was decades ago. The report cited all the reasons why urban sprawl is a bad idea, but urban consolidation has its limits as well. Jenny Goldie, Cooma
With the reported high cost of infrastructure involved in building these vast new housing estates in Sydney’s already overcrowded west, why not save some money and one of our few remaining healthy koala populations and turn the Lendlease site at Appin into a national park? It is time the new state and federal government demonstrated that it is not just a copy of the previous mob. There is no point in waiting until every last koala has been eradicated by cars or land clearing. Nola Tucker, Kiama
I once read a profile of Susan Kiefel in which she stated that her interests included poetry and that her favourite Australian poet was Judith Wright (“Departing Kiefel an exemplary leader of the High Court”, August 28). I was in the process of editing a non-academic collection of essays on the life and work of Judith Wright and wrote to Ms Kiefel inviting her to contribute. She declined for time reasons but wished me well in the project.
George Brandis is correct in highlighting her achievements. She left school at 14 and is a product of the public school system in rural Australia. When she steps down as chief justice and is followed by Stephen Gageler, I hope she becomes a model not only for him but for all to see what can be achieved by remaining true to yourself, whatever the inducements to do otherwise. I also hope she finds time to read and enjoy more poetry. Peter Skrzynecki, Eastwood
The high-profile writer, Tara June Winch, who has exhibited great bravery in her career, had humble beginnings in a working-class seaside Illawarra community and a public comprehensive education at Woonona High School (“Herald launches new essay prize for young writers”, August 28). She is always willing to give back to the community with a helping hand. As one of her teachers, I am justly proud. Janice Creenaune, Austinmer
Missing US talent
With Trump still dominating the news from the US, it is incomprehensible that a country with a population of well over 300 million can produce only two potential leaders: one an octogenarian and the other a con man and potential criminal. Where are the rest? Megwenya Matthews, North Turramurra
Star power needed
I agree with Nick Bryant (“Voice can learn from King’s speech”, August 28) that harnessing the magnificence of Noel Pearson’s oratory can only help to burnish the beauty and generosity of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, but I’m dismayed at the suggestion that a celebrity event to launch the Yes campaign is to be avoided in favour of an exclusively grassroots approach. Why not both?
Fifty years ago, the presence of Bobby Limb, Little Pattie, Jack Thompson and a stage full of stars did no harm to the reach of the “It’s Time” campaign that swept Gough Whitlam into office. Where today are the heroic energies of Ash Barty, Cathy Freeman and the Matildas as we prepare for this watershed moment in our history? Where is the joy, the optimism of that infectious anthem? Surely, it’s time for our great cultural and sporting icons to take the lead. Neil Armfield, Patonga
Albert Einstein’s quote, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” should be the AEC’s motto. Just stick to Yes or No. No ticks, no crosses and what about yeah/nah or nah/yeah. It’s not rocket surgery. Peter Riley, Penrith
Yes, the people of Australia need to open their ears and hearts to the speeches of Noel Pearson. His raw and disciplined intelligence, his heartfelt truths, his passion are great resources for the Voice. And more, he has a vision for Australia as a whole. It would be stupid not to give heed. Grahame Ellis, Narraweena
While Martin Luther King and Noel Pearson may share an eloquence and vision for a better, fairer, more tolerant and egalitarian society, the federal Opposition, in leading the No campaign, offers only specious and spuriously negative arguments. Their facile rhyming slogan, “If you don’t know, vote No” highlights their lazy intellectual case. The real slogan should be: “If you don’t know, do some reading and find out.” This referendum may not be a matter of importance to many and if passed will not affect most, but it does matter to most Indigenous and fair-minded Australians.
Alan Marel, North Curl Curl
Universal pre-school access worth getting excited about
I got quite excited when I read the headline “Report urges 30 hours a week for all”, thinking it was about time our working week was reduced (August 28). But alas it was about something completely different: giving 3 and 4-year-olds universal access to preschool, something just as important and urgently required. Con Vaitsas, Patra (Greece)
Alan Jackson, when chief of BTR Nylex, sent this message to all senior managers:“If you hire a consultant it is prima facie evidence you do not know how to run your business and you will be fired.” Way past time governments gave up passing their core business management to consultants and rigorously applied the AJ rule instead.
John Thompson, Albury
Since rugby’s often cited as the game that’s played in heaven, perhaps praying might be more appropriate than believing (“Wallabies beware; Fiji’s emergence as a power may have begun”, August 28).
Edward Loong, Milsons Point
I was down from the country and travelling on a train to Central in peak hour on Monday morning and was astounded to observe not one person reading an actual newspaper. An elbow in the eye or a jab in the ribs from a fellow passenger struggling with their Herald was a rite of passage in the past!
Peter Snowden, Orange
The digital view
Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
Why the Voice should have a dream as big as Martin Luther King’s
From Eddie Kindma: ”The Voice is dead in the water and Albo is going to feel the pain for dividing the nation”.
- To submit a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald, email email@example.com. Click here for tips on how to submit letters.
- The Opinion newsletter is a weekly wrap of views that will challenge, champion and inform. Sign up here.