‘A scandalous waste of money’: $25m spend for Bridge flagpole must be avoided

Indigenous people could raise and lower their flag with a ceremony every second month which might become a tourist attraction. Elizabeth Vickers, Maroubra

Your correspondent tells us that the Australian flag’s purpose is to “unite us by reminding us of the one thing we are all equally part of” (Letters, June 21). Could he remind us on which date we have all equally been a part of this one thing. Annabel Doherty, Armidale

Can we please use the $25 million to fix potholes instead of installing flagpoles? Rob Baveystock, Naremburn

Has anyone asked the tradies will they install the new flagpole on the bridge for less if we pay cash? Robert Hickey, Green Point

I would put it up for a tenth of the price, but alas, I have a great fear of heights. Dorothy Gliksman, Cedar Brush Creek

Barilaro’s new NY trade post is insulting and unnecessary

John Barilaro’s appointment as the NSW Trade Commissioner begs the question as to why NSW or any other state needs a trade commissioner at all (“Shortlist for plum NY job was thrown out”, June 21). Trade negotiations are best done at the national level (DFAT), making state commissions at best a waste of money and at worst counter-productive since they encourage states to compete against each other to the sole benefit of other parties. Larry Case, Turramurra

Was one of the essential job criteria for the readvertised New York trade commissioner position “must have been deputy premier”? Andrew McIntosh, Newport

Those essential workers seeking a fair wage increase must be delighted to see Barilaro so handsomely remunerated. What an insult to so many. Denis Suttling, Newport Beach

One former NSW politician in New York equals about seven registered nurses. I know which value for money I will be voting for. Rene Vogelzang, Haberfield

Liberal ministers and other supporters should be aware that they are not the only people outraged. This political decision shows that despite all efforts by Premier Dominic Perrottet and Treasurer Matt Kean to make us believe there has been reform in the state Coalition, things are still being done in the old way. Ian Lewis, Kentucky

Barilaro quit midway through his top job at NSW government and forced an expensive byelection, claiming public service had taken a toll on him. To turn around six months later and be picked as trade commissioner in New York stinks to high heaven. Han Yang, North Turramurra

Just another “appointment for mates”. Might be “all above board” but it certainly doesn’t look good.
Haven’t the NSW Liberal and National parties learnt anything from their federal colleagues recently? Helen Simpson, Curl Curl

I would not like to suggest that John Barilaro resigned to take up a post that he had created but it does suggest that retiring politicians should be banned from taking up government jobs for at least one election cycle and we need to review our libel laws because it seems like a legitimate question to ask. Neil Reckord, Toormina

The decision to appoint Barilaro reminds the public of all the worst aspects of the state Coalition.
The independent movement in NSW will be invigorated and ready for the March 2023 election. Elizabeth Boyd, North Balgowlah

New land tax will entrench land tax

Premier Dominic Perrottet is obviously hell-bent on entrenching poverty in NSW with his land tax (“First home buyers given land tax option in overhaul”, June 21). He is introducing a tax that everyone in NSW will eventually have to pay regardless of their income, poverty levels or home ownership. Or does he expect that future landlords will happily pay an annual land tax and not bump up rent prices to cover it? If Perrottet was really trying to help first home buyers and not property developers then his “reforms” would make the sellers of a property pay the stamp duty. They certainly have the money for it. Carmel Dunn, The Entrance

The solution to stamp duty deterring home purchasing is simple: only charge the stamp duty when selling, not purchasing. Hence, no additional barrier for buyers and stamp duty paid when selling after accumulating capital gains. Ian Roberts, Warriewood

When I purchased the land on which my humble abode now sits I paid approximately $3000 stamp duty which was added to the mortgage and now paid off. Now, if I was paying the proposed land tax I would be paying over $3000 per year. If my property was an investment property that land tax liability would be significantly reduced as it would be tax deductable. Hardly seems fair to me but does have all the hallmarks of a revenue grab. Rob Siebert, Skennars Head

Sport and gender

I’m not sure how Cate Campbell imagines swimming has ever been inclusive of gender-nonconforming cis people, let alone trans and gender diverse people (“Policy balances inclusion, fairness in elite sport”, June 21). Conservative prejudices regarding gender expression makes it is difficult for many girls and women to get past the changing rooms. Now, even if they do, they will be greeted with accusations of being “biological males.” Samantha Chung Randwick

Thank you, FINA, for making a tough but necessary decision; and for reminding us of a basic truth that, in our efforts to be nice to everyone, we have forgotten or deliberately ignored you cannot be “for” everyone at the same time (“Swimming first off the blocks with transgender ban”, June 21). You cannot cheer for everyone at the same time. Give trans athletes their own category, if that helps. But let’s disabuse ourselves of this myth that everyone can do everything in every endeavour, with no boundaries. Is this a case of discrimination? Yes it is, in this case, in favour of female athletes.
Gus Batley, Tamworth

Toothless tiger

Good to hear the thoughts of a great Australian such as Geoffrey Robertson on the impotence of our dearest international institutions when responding to the barbaric war currently being waged by the hedonistic misanthrope Vladimir Putin (“I was blacklisted by Putin, but I’m no Russophobe”, June 21). The powerlessness of the United Nations was highlighted by the sad pictures of a sulking UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, banished to the end of the longest of negotiating tables while being snarlingly lectured to by the bully boy Putin. This will become, like the pictures of a triumphant Neville Chamberlain claiming “peace in our times” shortly before the outbreak of WWII one of the defining images of our age.

It is clear the UN has been found wanting, not for the first time. I agree with Robertson on the guilt of Putin, but until the guilt of those who committed war crimes in Iraq are acknowledged, our international institutions will be diminished, to the detriment of us all. Vincent Sicari, Haberfield

Thank Assange

Julian Assange received and published important information exposing war crimes which embarrassed and angered the USA. This exactly what a journalist does or should do (“Quiet diplomacy is best for Assange”, June 21).

He committed no crime in doing so. He is not a citizen of the USA, he was not in the USA and not subject to their laws. The published information put no lives at risk. No lives have been lost as a result of the information being in the public sector. In a just world he would have been thanked by the USA for exposing, among other things, the heinous crimes committed by US troops in killing innocent civilians including journalists in Iraq. Those troops are free while Assange has been systematically tortured by our so-called allies. Penny Rosier, North Epping

Failed promises

The silver lining of the previous Coalition government’s habit of making announcements then doing nothing, is that we didn’t have more gas fired power stations built to run on Australian gas we can’t afford (“Coalition’s $1 billion energy promise fails to power up”, June 21) Graeme Finn, Summer Hill

Off the rails

The long overdue upgrade of Central Station appears to be suffering from a classic quango straight out of Yes Minister (“$100m to be stripped from Central Station upgrade”, June 20).
A state government creation known as the Transport Asset Holding Entity (TAHE) plans to spend $34.5million on consultants over four years as it plods towards a revamp, having late last year hired a PR firm to advise it on repairing its battered reputation.
Surely, someone holding a responsible government post could have knocked a few heads together for a far cheaper, more expedient outcome. With luck, the shiny, new-look TAHE will complete its pared-down revamp of the grand old junction before trains become redundant. Ray Alexander, Moss Vale

Lettuce write

With the increasing frequency of salad pun correspondence sent to the Herald we really need a sub-section: Lettuce to the Editor (Letters, June 21). David Baird, Burradoo

Ripe for gripe

Your correspondent gripes about money spent on making Circular Quay “a bit prettier” (Letters, June 21). The ancient Greeks griped about their money being spent on the Parthenon and my parents’ generation had the same gripe about the Opera House. What’s changed? John Court, Denistone

The plan to spend $200 million on turning the Cahill expressway into a viewing platform is a waste of money (“Business not in harmony over more Quay promises”, June 21). We will still be left with cramped conditions on the ground around the station. Better to use the money to open up the Quay precinct by getting rid of the Cahill expressway altogether. Brad Hughes, Darlinghurst

Drew Barrymore as Gertie with E.T. in the 1982 hit movie.

Spatial awareness

Wow. The realisation that 40 years have passed since ET debuted on the big screen: such an alien concept (“E.T. a snapshot of childhood magic”, June 21). Janet Argall, Dulwich Hill

Save Wendy’s

Wendy Whiteley’s house and garden needs to be preserved after her death, if only to stop someone with a bulging wallet and zero taste buying the property for the harbour view, then completely razing the garden and erecting a multi-level mansion that swallows up the whole block (Letters, June 21). Joan Brown, Orange

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
First home buyers given land tax option in stamp duty overhaul
From Dx private: ″⁣Looks like this idea is gone, finished. Imagine trying to squeeze another $5000 each year for land tax out of the family budget. If you are a pensioner you’re gonna be starving or living without power. Not gonna happen. Move on to the next idea.″⁣

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