Rallying against a common enemy
It’s interesting to have an explanation of years of otherwise inexplicable Liberal shenanigans in New South Wales (Mike Seccombe, “How power and factionalism work in Berejikliand”, July 24-30): it’s all the feds’ fault. It’s no coincidence that this rationale should surface when the state government has nowhere to hide over its latest Covid-19 outbreak, but perpetuating the blame game is no way to demonstrate leadership and unity or to fix the underlying problems. If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that good government will not result from misuse of power. The approach we see now is the result of years of blinkered Sydney-centric federal government, brought into focus only when discrepancies appear between state and federal priorities. Nothing is more likely to unify state factions than federal blame, but it’s a recipe for political disaster that the country can ill afford.
– Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale, Vic
A calm leader in a crisis
Rick Morton provides a valuable insight into New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant (“A status all her own”, July 24-30). Her measured delivery and seemingly unflappable manner has been demonstrated against incessant questioning by the daily media pack. Yet we must remember she is human like all of us. I would like to ask her, “Are you okay?” Her task is far from easy and it is to be hoped that those around her provide professional and moral support as NSW faces this current crisis.
– Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
Safe as housing
Seeing the headline “Pop goes the rental” gave me a small thrill (Saul Eslake, Comment, July 24-30). As someone who has confidently predicted at least four recent property market crashes that did not materialise, I was keen to read Saul on the impending bubble burst. But alas, I was reminded that governments can count. Intervention to sustain stratospheric housing prices is considered good politics. No doubt a colour-coded spreadsheet circulates in Parliament House detailing housing haves and have-nots and their distribution among marginal seats. Indeed, pursuing parity is so politically passé Labor has dumped policies to wind back negative gearing and its opposition to the stage three tax cuts too.
– Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW
The rising cost of living
Saul Eslake accurately compares the rising cost of housing compared with rises in wages. I recently received our home insurance renewal notice with a 25 per cent increase in premium. As the cost of houses rise, so does the cost of replacing them. This is made more critical to many long-term home owners who are now living on fixed incomes. We can look forward to some pensioners being unable to insure their homes. The solution may lie in affordable, socially responsible housing.
– Mal McLean, Magnetic Island, Qld
Labor’s commitment to the ABC
There’s no doubt Mark Scott was adept as ABC managing director, but any suggestion that funding boosts under Labor were prompted by his lobbying is pure fantasy (Margaret Simons, “The experiment begins”, July 24-30). He didn’t need to twist my arm, having won office with a mandate to rebuild the broadcaster’s independence and resilience after John Howard’s neglect. We boosted the ABC’s operating budget to almost $1.1 billion annually – its biggest since the 1980s – and encouraged its expansion through now- indispensable services such as News24 and iView. ABC Kids wasn’t launched on Scott’s advice but following the 2020 Summit’s recommendation to invest in high-quality children’s programming. The summit also backed the ABC as a cultural platform, hence why we backed his focus on new Australian drama. After Howard stacked the ABC board with culture warriors such as Maurice Newman and Janet Albrechtsen, we adopted: an independent nomination panel; bipartisan endorsement for the chair; a lifetime ban on politicians and senior operatives; and, vitally, a staff-elected board position. Despite Abbott’s promise in 2013 of “no cuts to the ABC”, its budget has been slashed by about $800 million under the Liberals, who are once again stacking the board with their mates.
– Kevin Rudd, Brisbane, Qld
Wrong side of the argument
Good debaters know both sides of an argument so “The price of ignorance” editorial (July 24-30) was generous in suggesting the Coalition doesn’t know better than to sequester data about climate change or that the public won’t know better. Clearly, the public is way ahead in this area. That the Sussan Ley deputation to UNESCO actually persuaded them to withdraw the “in danger” status of the Great Barrier Reef and that Scott Morrison could persuade the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation to change its advice on the use of AstraZeneca vaccine just reinforces the adage that winning the debate does not necessarily mean you’re right. Our parliament is full of debaters and they are good at making the obvious obscure.
– Steve Hall, Cooroy, Qld
Thank you, Sami Shah (Gadfly, “Neither a race nor a plan”, July 24-30), for your brilliant description of Scott Morrison’s approach to governance, which consists of “pointing out it could always be worse – and then proving that true”. A lucid summation.
– William Grey, Tarragindi, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 31, 2021.
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