Letters to
the editor

A viewing lens

This email won’t bring an end to the fighting in Gaza. It won’t address religious hatred and it doesn’t pretend to offer a solution to the Israel–Palestine conflict (Gregg Carlstrom, “Four-day ceasefire agreed in Israel–Hamas war”, November 25–December 1). I write only to offer a filter for what is written and said about this region of the world. That is, do not conflate the religious affiliations of the people of either Palestine or Israel with the actions of their political representatives. It is the Israeli government that is directing the actions of their armed forces and it was Hamas that attacked, killed and kidnapped people living in Israel. Not exclusively Jews, not exclusively Islamists.

– Paul Huard, Gungahlin, ACT

Cap funding support

Our three children followed our experience and were educated through the public school system (Mike Seccombe, “Exclusive: Less than half Albanese’s cabinet went to state schools”, November 25–December 1). For the six years our daughter was a student at Baulkham Hills High School, the school did not have an assembly hall, nowhere the school cohort could meet under cover. The private school near to our home was planning a second swimming pool in its spacious grounds – and charging enormous fees. Why is there not a cap? If a school is able to raise funds above a set amount it should cease to be eligible for government funding, reducing to nothing after a certain figure, with this money being redirected to schools in lower socioeconomic locations. Raising the education standards of all our children is an advantage to all of us, wherever we live.

– Barbara Lyle, Tea Gardens, NSW

Fairer funding system

The OECD PISA rankings of countries according to educational achievement are China, Singapore, Estonia, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Taiwan, Finland, Poland and Ireland. Of these, only Poland and Ireland have significant proportions of students attending private schools, both under 8 per cent. Australia ranks 19th and has been falling. While the Howard government changes to education funding have been a catastrophic failure, the idea of choice has appealed to many parents. One partial solution would be to attach any funding to private schools on an open enrolment system, similar to university admissions. Parents would apply for enrolment of their child to the school of their choice, public or private, and places would be awarded by ballot if oversubscribed. All schools would receive the same per-capita grants. Should a school prefer to control its own enrolments it would receive no government funding and be treated as a standard commercial enterprise. No school would be able to insist on school fees over and above the per capita grant, to avoid the implementation of a social filter. This would implement the stated goal and could be broadly popular.

– David Edmunds, Farrer, ACT

Deflecting responsibility

John Hewson’s article (“Youth hostile”, November 25–December 1) says that those over 65 are spending more and those in the 25-29 bracket, less. In some cases this may be true, but many older Australians struggle and have to choose between heating and lighting, medication and food. The continual statements about Baby Boomers and their investment properties is a furphy. There may be some, but the vast majority don’t have investment properties, and in fact many don’t even own a home. Rubbish like this drives a wedge between generations and deflects criticism of governments and their responsibilities and actions.

– Paul Bailey, Winmalee, NSW

Leading with honour

I spent more than 20 years in the New South Wales Police Force and I and the vast majority of my colleagues saw much of their policing duties in shades of grey. A few things were black and white, but effective policing calls for judgement, fairness and compassion. Perhaps Mr Dutton should be reminded of his Queensland Police Service motto: “With honour we serve”.  Honesty and integrity are integral to effective policing. Policing is about reducing fear in the community, not about fearmongering. I have no knowledge of Dutton’s policing background, but I do know the behaviour of police officers is heavily scrutinised. Your editorial is spot on (“Black and white and scared all over”, November 25–December 1). Paranoia and aggression are the antithesis of good policing, as they are for anyone in public office. Disregard for the decisions of the High Court should be treated with contempt. Seeing the world through the lens of “goodies versus baddies” tends to distort whatever grasp one had of integrity and honour; in Dutton’s case, perhaps reality as well. The end does not justify the means.

– Geoff Nilon, Mascot, NSW

Fine writing

Martin McKenzie-Murray is surely in danger of eclipsing Gideon Haigh as Australia’s finest writer on the subject of cricket and is certainly the best in terms of sports writing generally. His acid take-down of Jack Riewoldt’s autobiography-cum-cover letter The Bright Side (“Peddling fast”, November 4-10) articulated perfectly my own disdain for the self-reverential dirges of retired athletes. But it’s his frequent canonisation of Patrick Cummins and the reminder of all of the undue criticism he has overcome that makes me turn immediately to McKenzie-Murray’s column every week. Righteous indignation has never read so well (“On top of the planet”, November 25–December 1).

– Brett Robb, Geelong, Vic

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on December 2, 2023.

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