Getting the politician we see
As we approach this election it is hard to understand why Scott Morrison has survived his litany of culpable failures and mismanagement (Paul Bongiorno, “Nobody likes a bad dentist”, April 16-22). A reasonable explanation is a combination of irrepressible self-belief, the support of his right-wing press mates, shadowy representations of the truth, and affable use of memorable one-liners encapsulated in the catchphrase “What you see is what you get.” What we see is substantial criticism by his own party and other opinion leaders, including Emmanuel Macron and former Australian of the Year Grace Tame; international ostracisation in Glasgow; responsibility for incarceration of legitimate refugees over the past decade; and failure in critical policy legislation. All of this seriously disadvantages Australia’s international standing and national development. If what we get is an electoral win for the Coalition then it won’t only be Morrison who believes in miracles – we all will.
– David Wilson, Newport, Qld
A depressing reality
In Alison Croggon’s article (“The campaign to destroy the arts”, April 16-22) I read about the clawing back of funds from public education and the cultural institutions such as the universities, the National Library of Australia, the National Archives of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, museums of migration, regional museums, Indigenous organisations encouraging the arts, sports and other empowering endeavours. The list is long, ending with a pitiful amount to fund studies of the environment. How depressing. I’m not blaming The Saturday Paper for my depression. Croggon is a pleasure to read despite exposing some horrors that compel an examination of democracy as it is lived in Australia. I am depressed because the government has no focus. There is no vision to work towards, no philosophic engagement with the idea of democracy, no appreciation of its history, the legal processes to protect it, the fine-tuning of precedent and respect for all human beings. All this government tolerates is a tawdry excuse for being self-interested, self-protective, instinctive. But what are we going to do to change this travesty?
– Carolyn van Langenberg, Blackheath, NSW
Lismore will recover
“After the floods” by J. J. Rose (April 18-22) was a fine piece of boots-on-the-ground reporting, supplementing Rick Morton’s earlier stories of the floods in our region. It painted a sympathetic, realistic picture of Lismore and the existential dilemma it faces. The great ambiguity of how to move forward as a civic entity was rightfully central to the piece. But disagreements on the topic, which might “seem to divide Lismore”, are, as I understand it, a productive tension. These are early days; the city is rattled and still very much in the clean-up phase. Have no doubt, Lismore is a vibrant regional melting pot of cultures with a unique energy and will recover. As Rose suggests, the rejuvenation will be driven by the robust community, not the three sclerotic levels of government hovering above.
– David Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW
Leadership found wanting
J. J. Rose notes the division in Lismore. We live on a hill overlooking our farm on the Richmond River flood plain near Woodburn. Downstream of Lismore, Woodburn is a town still reeling from the unprecedented floods. Although we will be fine, we are not sure what to do with the farm now. Climate change is biting hard and it will get worse. One day farmhouses, towns and cities will have to be abandoned. When? Is it now? Is it after people have rebuilt another 10 times? Wouldn’t it be great to have leaders who could lead the way to a less traumatic future.
– Steve Posselt, Woodburn, NSW
Population growth is unsustainable
Elizabeth Farrelly rightly condemns the egregious rescission of the Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy by New South Wales Planning Minister Anthony Roberts (“This is not a pipeline”, April 16-22). The policy, designed by former Planning minister Rob Stokes, was, in the context of climate change, to “combat urban heat, increase tree canopy, enhance walkability and mandate pale roofs”. Minister Roberts clearly bowed to pressure from the development lobby, justifying his decision on the grounds of the need to focus on “delivering a pipeline of new housing supply”. This abandonment of good planning to provide sufficient housing is but one symptom of rapid population growth. Of course, the NSW government does not control the levers over population size and growth but it can plan to accommodate it. Doubling the population of Sydney’s mega-region from five to 10 million people in 40 years will wipe out critical natural habitat and make climate reduction targets impossible to achieve, even if all new housing is Paris-style high density, as Farrelly favours. At some point the growth has to stop.
– Jenny Goldie, Deakin West, ACT
I wish to say thank you for the unalloyed delight I found in the poetry of Mike Ladd, a remarkable and exquisite poet (“Three poems”, April 16-22). As far as I am aware The Saturday Paper is the only newspaper that regularly presents contemporary writing and poetry to its readership in an age where the printed and spoken word are seemingly an anachronism. As a writer and poet I thank you.
– Douglas Broad, Yeronga, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on April 23, 2022.
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