Yes, it’s time to speak up for the Voice

“Lighting a fire in the nation” for a First Nations Voice needs the voices of all people of goodwill across Australia to counteract the naysayers (“Dutton is slicing our nation’s heart”, May 26). I’m sad that churches and other religious groups aren’t already more vocal in their public support. If it is only four months to the referendum, campaigning can’t be left until the last four weeks. People of faith who care deeply for those who are most disadvantaged must urge their leaders to take a stand now. We want to hear our leaders speaking out from hearts of love, as a matter of principle and fundamental social justice. Margaret Johnston, Paddington

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

Your correspondent puts forward the argument that “the Voice will divide the nation” (Letters, May 24). Difference and diversity are not divisive. Quite the opposite. We have different states, different religions, different political parties, different immigrant cultural heritages. Celebrating this diversity is our strength. Now we have the opportunity to formally recognise, respect and celebrate our First Nations heritage and people, and in a way requested by them with the potential for huge practical benefit. David Hind, Neutral Bay

Describing those who do not share their enthusiasm for a Voice as ignorant, racist and haters, as many supporters do, is only helping to create the divisiveness that some have warned of.
With nearly half of voters having concerns about the ramifications of a Voice, proponents should realise the dissenters are not simply a minority bunch of nutcases, or worse. Richard Tainsh, Potts Point

The Yes voice proponents must explain, pronto, what “executive government” is and why it should be included in the constitutional change. Janet Taylor, Mortdale

I don’t understand the objections to the Voice. They are not suggesting that all us boat people go back to where we came from so they can decide who and under what circumstances they come here (I arrived in 1954, but boats have been coming since the First Fleet). They are not even proposing that they be entitled to the country’s mineral resources. They are merely suggesting that, after 60,000 years in the place, they may have some useful suggestions on looking after it. Marco Giavitto, Leichhardt

Given Peter Dutton’s obvious deep-felt and sincere abhorrence of any Australians being more equal than other Australians, I expect he will now renounce his possession of parliamentary privilege.
Given that 99 per cent or so of Australians do not possess that privilege, he seems to be well ensconced in the “more equal than others” category.
The constitution enshrines that privilege. Will he now also oppose that constitutional item?
Can we expect him to make an announcement along these lines soon? Ray Barraclough, Currimundi (QLD)

Care plans applied calmly can end disturbance

The police were called to the nursing home. The officer, on the evidence presented, acted as he was expected to (“Officer to fight charges”, May 26). My question is why the police were called at all? I have worked with violent people in disability care. We had strategies in place. Barriers such as chairs and tables. Using two people, one to distract and another to disarm. It can’t be hard to disarm a knife-wielding old lady using a walking frame. So why were the police summoned? David Neilson, Finke (NT)

Yesterday at my (medical clinic) workplace there was an incident in which an elderly female patient become extremely aggressive and verbally abusive. We tried to calm her, but it was obvious she was only getting more agitated. While we did not feel physically threatened, the very loud verbal abuse was very distressing to staff and other patients. Security were called and, eventually, she was able to be appeased. I do not defend the actions of the police in the case of the late Clare Nowland but sometimes staff are overwhelmed by these situations. Angie Miller, Bondi Junction

I remember a time before police were issued with guns and Tasers, and police having to pass a physical test, and to be of a certain minimum height (“Police shoot alleged knife attacker dead”, May 26). On one occasion I witnessed an intervention by a very tall, muscular policeman who approached two fighting youths who had damaged two shopfront windows in Sydney’s CBD in the course of their fight. The policeman merely picked up both youths by their collars, and carried them at arm’s length, (with both youths’ feet off the ground) and simply put them in the police van. He did not use a gun or Taser because he had not been issued with either. How times have changed. Warren Scanlon, Ballina

When are we going to consider a different type of emergency service for people with mental health issues? Surely, we can do better by those experiencing a mental health episode. Ilana Crawford, Castlecrag

Tina will dance in our hearts forever

I remember with joy my 75-year-old mother-in-law law vigorously dancing in the aisles at one of Tina Turner’s last concerts in Australia (“‘Force of nature’ from Nutbush and Thunderdome to the SFS”, May 26). She requested, after that concert, that we play Simply the Best at her funeral, which we did some years later. It brought a smile to the faces of all who remembered her zest for life. It makes me smile to imagine that she’ll now be dancing with Tina. Joy Paterson, Mount Annan

Am I the only one who remembers watching The Mike Walsh Show at midday on television while sick from school, only to see an extraordinary performance by Tina Turner? I was mesmerised but now wonder if my memory is playing tricks on me. Elizabeth Darton, Lane Cove West


Credit: Illustration: Jim Pavlidis

I recall seeing the Ike and Tina Turner Revue at the Hordern Pavilion in 1975, which was wonderful. Ike was a promoter and named the dancers the Ikettes after himself, but the true star was Tina. Ike eventually died of a drug overdose, whereas Tina went on to greater heights, deservedly becoming a superstar and a favourite in Australia. She may have left this mortal coil but will be dancing in our hearts forever. Peter Nash, Fairlight

Fairbridge children deserve a princely compensation

Although not a survivor of institutional sexual child sexual abuse (as far as I can recall), there were many violent incidents that I witnessed first-hand at Fairbridge Farm School, Pinjarra, after I was left there in 1965 aged just six (“Hardly a princely sum for victims of child abuse”, May 26). While I don’t tend to dwell in the past, it is difficult to deny that these and other confronting experiences have taken their toll on my psychological health. I was never a litigation claimant, as I did not want to revisit my time spent in Fairbridge, but I am deeply offended and outraged to learn of the plight of others who fared far worse than I ever did, whose rightful claims have now been scorned by the UK-based Prince’s Trust, which claims it does not enough money set aside to compensate survivors. Remind me again please, somebody: how much did the coronation cost? Shaun Davies, St Peters

I am not ashamed to say I was one of the children at the Molong Fairbridge Farm School. You might say I was deported to Botany Bay for the crime of being poor. I arrived there in December 1953 and left in late February 1959. David Hill’s book lays bare the frightening regime that left deep psychological scars on many who “survived” the place. Hill’s view is a black armband perspective on Fairbridge, with which I largely agree. So many of the staff were ill-equipped and unwilling to care for children who needed caring for. There were, though, some very decent people at FFS who tried to do the right thing. Moreover, there developed a camaraderie among the children which made everyday life more bearable. In my case, and doubtless that of others, it survives to this day in valued friendships. The revised, mean-minded compensation will make little difference to the few survivors; they might be inclined to tell the new King what to do with it. Ron Sinclair, Windradyne

With all the divisiveness surrounding the Voice, let us recall how important a voice like David Hill’s has been for the abused children of the Fairbridge scheme. Hopefully the Prince’s Trust will further heed the call for fair compensation, instead of the paltry amount offered. Josephine Pier, Miranda

All talk, no action

Oh for the good old days when Ryde Council was mainly independent councillors who made up their own minds and were not ruled by party politics (“Ryde council refers its own spending of tens of millions of dollars to corruption watchdog”, May 26). The Civic Centre/New Heart of Ryde issue has been bounced around for too many years due to bickering among councillors. Now another aspect is to be investigated and resolution to be delayed. We ratepayers are fed up with it all. Lyn Langtry, East Ryde

Modi is no saint

Let’s stop pretending we care about human rights and admit our hypocrisy (Letters, May 26). Narendra Modi receiving a rock star’s welcome in Sydney should shame us, as his government has passed anti-Muslim laws under the Citizenship Amendment Act and there has been an increase in vigilante attacks on Muslims in India. It’s not a good look on us when we are so intent on waging a moral war on China, citing their human rights record. The world is in turmoil because of West’s policy of “justice for me and my friends”. Foad Munir, Newstead (QLD)

Noisy minority

Residents who’ve lived for years close to neighbourhood pubs have legitimate complaints of disturbance and loss of amenity as a result of the council’s attempts to revive nightlife (Letters, May 26). Yet residents are portrayed as ageing NIMBYs determined to ruin others’ fun. Although pub owners make powerful lobbyists, local governments are required to balance the interests of residents, ratepayers and businesses. In Sydney’s densely populated inner-city there are particular challenges that Sydney City Council has failed to deal with adequately. Ensuring that pubs such as Glebe’s Friend in Hand comply with consent conditions would be a good start. Peter Legzdins, Glebe

I attend a church in the inner west. For well over 100 years there has been worship in this church, and the only times Sunday worship has not been held has been during the pandemics – the Spanish flu and COVID-19. Nevertheless, one neighbour strongly complains about the music. When moving into an area, can I suggest you do your homework. What is there? What will have music? What will have smells? I live next door to Olympic Park – I have sports noise, music, fireworks, roads closed at times, occasional smells from the waste stations, but I love living here. Complain? No way. Jan Syme, Newington

If you want quiet enjoyment come and live in Gordon, where not much happens. Tim Schroder, Gordon

No left turn

A correspondent is of the view that Anthony Albanese remains, despite apparent evidence to the contrary, a “strong left-wing proponent” (Letters, May 26). Having enthusiastically supported his election I have sadly come to the opposite conclusion: a PM who purports to be at least somewhat “left-wing” and therefore a champion of the “average” working people of Australia or those even further down the economic ladder would have immediately announced the cancellation of stage three tax cuts and the reversal of Howard-era benefits to wealthy property “investors” ie negative gearing and capital gains exemptions. Martyn Yeomans, Sapphire Beach

Matt Golding

Matt GoldingCredit: .

A correspondent claims that “a leopard doesn’t change his spots”. This may well be true, but people can, and frequently do, change their minds. Jo Bond, South Melbourne (Vic)

Right to speak

I am sadly grateful to Kerri Sackville (“Everyone but anonymous trolls have a right to their say”, May 26). I didn’t realise Australia harboured so many cowards. Susan Connelly, Lakemba

Race to the bottom

Trump or DeSantis for the Republican nomination (“Holy smoke, Batman, it’s the US”, May 26)? As the robot warning “Danger, Will Robinson” rings relentlessly in my ears, I wonder how far can the bar be lowered? Janice Creenaune, Austinmer

Vivid overkill

We have yet another overkill of bad-taste “artistic bling” with the overrated Vivid festival, just as the cold weather sets in, the number of homeless people continues to rise and many are forced to choose between eating and heating (“Vivid celebrates Mother Nature in all her glory”, May 25)? Sydney should hang its head in shame instead of flaunting its superficiality and lack of judgment. Carolyn Richard, Enmore

Koala wars

So far, it’s a one-sided and unfair battle in the koala wars (Letters, May 26). Our side is clearly winning. Let’s hope their generals don’t ask for help from Ukraine. Ukraine knows a thing or two about how to handle bullies who want to wipe them out. Paul Doyle, Glenbrook


Letter writers took to their keyboards to voice support – or not – for Stan Grant, who stepped away from the ABC after relentless racial abuse following his commentary during the King’s coronation. But as Graham Lum of North Rocks wrote, the “attack on Stan Grant propelled racism back into the headlines” – racism was “already simmering under the surface of the referendum debate”. While he cautions readers to “beware the racist wolves in sheep’s clothing”, others warned of deepening divisions if we don’t respect differing opinions.


One correspondent on today’s pages rightly points out that with nearly half of voters having concerns about the ramifications of a Voice, “describing those who do not share their enthusiasm for a Voice as ignorant, racist and haters, as many supporters do, is only helping to create the divisiveness that some have warned of”.

Readers were “bitterly disappointed” this week when Peter Dutton claimed the Voice would “re-racialise” Australia”. “I hear Dutton saying the Voice referendum is going to divide the nation. Could we please have a referendum to stop old, rich, white men having a voice to parliament and the executive government?” wrote Jim Mackenzie of Cherrybrook.

But as Rosemary O’Brien of Ashfield questioned, “Why are words uttered on the Voice by our opposition leader inevitably classed as vitriolic, while words from Voice advocates are always heart-warming? Somebody’s sure to let me know.”

As Meredith Williams of Northmead reminds us, the harm caused by abusive commentary is an insidious example of the maxim held by Mrs Wormwood in Tim Minchin’s musical version of Matilda: “What you know matters less than the volume with which what you don’t know is expressed. Content has never been less important.” Pat Stringa, letters editor

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Justin Scaccy

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