As the lockdown gets longer and freedoms are promised, is it time to rethink priorities? The library is closed, but the bottle shop is open. Obviously, I want library staff to be as well protected as possible but if Bunnings and Spotlight can manage COVID-safe click and collect, why not the local library? – Sue Hoad, Merewether
Revisionist Howard is the emperor with no clothes
Former Prime Minister John Howard trying to justify an unjustifiable war by suggesting we are better prepared and safer than we were against terror makes me feel sick (â€œNation â€˜better preparedâ€™ for terror, says Howardâ€, September 4-5). The war that he willingly took Australia into following the coattails of Bush and Blair has, according to David Crowe, left almost the equivalent of Australiaâ€™s total population dislocated and over 800,000 dead. Who knows what misery and terror is part of the future of millions of women and children stemming from the belligerent posturing of these three wise men? How is the world a better place? How is it better for the people of Afghanistan? In what way are our nations better prepared to deal with a terrible situation, much of our making? We canâ€™t even organise the logistics of quarantine and vaccine rollouts in our country. Spare us from these tired old men trying to justify their poor and disastrous decisions. – Anne Skates, Culburra Beach
Of course, the nation is better prepared for a terrorist attack. It has to be, following Howardâ€™s ill-advised forays into misunderstood political situations putting all Australians at higher risk. – Robert Hosking, Paddington
What Howard seems to have overlooked is that despite â€œbetter mechanisms and intelligence gathering arrangementsâ€, it can be expected that, over 20 years, terrorist groups have developed in terms of sophistication and expertise, potentially putting them ahead of the game as was the case with 9/11. As has just been demonstrated by the Talibanâ€™s speedy taking of Kabul, US intelligence is far from infallible and possibly an unreliable source of protection. Due to no discernible shift in understanding, attitude or foreign policy, the US remains the primary target for Islamist terrorism. And despite the former PMâ€™s analysis, by our close association and alliance, we must also remain a target. – Ross Butler, Rodd Point
Michael Mohammed Ahmad recalls his time at Punchbowl Boys High at the time of 9/11 (â€œThat day in Septemberâ€, September 4-5). Certainly, it was not a pretty school, but it was a great one when I taught there in the 1970s. It was a time when the civil war in Lebanon created a flood of people seeking refuge, and many of them arrived in Punchbowl.
A highly experienced and competent staff was achieving great things during this time.
Fast-forward to 2001 and it was the children of those refugees who were at Punchbowl Boys High when the Twin Towers went down. They were obviously a troubled lot who were aware of the damage the Americans had done in the Middle East at the time. They could see the double standards, a million Arab lives lost (according to the article) did not equate with a few thousand American lives. – Steve Fortey, Avoca Beach
Will the JobKeeper gifts be returned?
The table of beneficiary companies that have posted significant profits after accessing JobKeeper payments is illuminating reading (â€œListed companies say they wonâ€™t return wage subsidy despite profitsâ€, September 4-5), Given this abuse of JobKeeper, I am glad we can access data on significant financial donations made to political parties. It will be interesting to see which of these beneficiary companies make major donations and especially the parties to whom they donate. – Murray Langton Patchett, Kentucky
Let me see if I got this right (â€œLouis Vuitton keeps subsidies of $6m with business on the upâ€, September 4-5). The Prime Minister sent minions overseas to penny-pinch and argue over the price of the preferred vaccine and finished up being shown the door, and then proceeded to leave $6 million of taxpayersâ€™ money in Louis Vuittonâ€™s handbags. That will do me; he has no shame. – Stephen Kimber, Crescent Head
Run by fossil fools
The possibility that the Australian government will pass legislation forcing major banks and superannuation funds to finance fossil fuel producers defies logic (â€œBanks warn of rising costs if forced to fund coalâ€, September 4-5). It will be further grist for the mill for those who see Australia as the laggard nation. It also begs the question â€“ who is running this country: a duly elected government or the fossil fuel industry? – Meg Pickup, Ballina
The deal proposed by Barnaby Joyce to secure $5 billion for an inland rail extension for coal mining in return for the Nationals backing net-zero greenhouse gas emissions is clearly illogical and contradictory (â€œCities must pay for Natsâ€™ support on zero targetâ€, September 4-5). When it comes to the environment, this Coalition government has even less to offer now. Meaningful support for regional Australia may be achieved more effectively by replacing federation and moving the responsibility for regional Australia entirely to a national government that is fully aware of Australiaâ€™s environmental priorities. – Klaas Woldring, Pearl Beach
So, Joyce wants us, latte sippers, to sponsor an inland railway? Sounds like yet another billion-dollar subsidy for the coal industry. – Tim Hand, Balmain
Gonski goals long gone
It comes as no surprise to supporters of public education that the NSW government is using accounting tricks to deny public schools more than $3.5 billion (â€œNSW to spend $3.5b less on public schools than plannedâ€, September 4-5). The Gonski model was supposed to fund schools according to need, but this has been thwarted by governments, federal and state, since the deals were struck. Many politicians, especially those on the conservative side of politics, are not really interested in ensuring that a well-funded needs-based model is in place. They back the very generous government funding of private schools at the expense of public schools, many of which cater for the neediest students in our country. This is exacerbating the social and economic divide that is now such a problem for our nation. – Christiaan Goudkamp, Murwillumbah
Who knew a primary role of government was to properly fund public institutions? Conservative governments seem to have an enormous problem with public funding but no problem at all with doling out loot to the top end of town. In fact, it is a puzzle why they wish to be in government at all, given they have a problem actually governing. A cynic might say they were simply there for self-aggrandisement and patronage. – Alison Stewart, Riverview
It is extremely disappointing to learn that our governments continue to downgrade public education. In these difficult times, when our students should feel valued and encouraged, they
find this state government is seriously shortchanging the public education system. Given the ongoing hostility of conservative politicians, the public system should be praised for doing its very best for students in a free, secular and inclusive environment. NSW, you can do better. – Nola Tucker, Kiama
Hospital ship horror
The Centaur, a former merchant ship (â€œRed Ensign flies to honour merchant marinersâ€, September 3), was commissioned as a hospital ship in 1943. All warring nations, including Japan, were informed of the change, according to the conventions of war. She was brightly lit, painted white, with 2-metre high red crosses in the traditional green band. It flew the Red Cross flag and the blue ensign. Her sinking by a Japanese submarine killed 268 of the 332 men and women on board, defied the war conventions and was another war crime. – Tony Stephens, Balmain
Old Dart yearning
I want all Sydneysiders to know how much I long to come to stay in your beautiful city again and how agonisingly cut off I feel. I had been flying over from London twice a year since my elder grandson was born nearly 19 years ago, but suddenly the borders were closed, and I am shut out. I ache with longing to hug my grandsons, my son and his wife. I am nearly 80 and wonder if I will ever get there again. This must be the plight of so many grandparents whose grandchildren are growing up thousands of miles away without them. Please get yourself vaccinated quickly so that you can open up to the world again. Time is of the essence. – Gillian Tweed, London
Vaccination passport system? Build it and they will come. – Peter Morgan, Kangaroo Valley
Ad underlines angels
Julia Bairdâ€™s excellent article (â€œJust donâ€™t call me angel, that keeper of the houseâ€, September 4-5) outlines the ongoing unequal gender distribution of â€œunpaid indoor houseworkâ€ exacerbated by the pandemic. Sadly, her acknowledgment of the challenges to overcoming widespread structural gender inequalities and her convincing conclusion that â€œone thing we can do is dispose of our house angelsâ€ is undermined by the Harvey Norman advertisement (on Page 14). It showcases a range of vacuum cleaners wielded by these apparently indispensable house angels. – Wendy Michaels, Northbridge
Letâ€™s do the time warp again
If a pop group can reappear after four decades in a virtual performance â€œde-agedâ€, why not extend this innovation to the floor of Parliament (â€œMamma Mia! ABBAâ€™s back after 40 yearsâ€, September 4-5)? Send out an SOS for a Super Trouper like Paul Keating to appear in avatar form and bring some colour back to Question Time. When all is said and done, someone like Keating â€“ who really knows the name of the game â€“ would despatch most of the incumbents to their Waterloo. – Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills
Well, as a teenage girl of the â€™70s, Iâ€™m very excited for more ABBA songs. But what Iâ€™m really wanting is the ability to digitise myself so that I can recapture a time when I could see my kids who live overseas. Itâ€™s been two years â€“ and counting. – Catherine Hoskin, Gloucester
Fortunately, these days, I can just take the batteries out of my hearing aids when my wife plays (and sings) ABBA. – Peter Miniutti, Ashbury
Neigh, thank you
Thank you, Craig Kelly, for your kind messages about the benefits of ivermectin (â€œCOVID-19 zeal, right or wrong, is a far better option than apathyâ€, September 4-5). Iâ€™m ignoring the neigh-sayers and am now champing at the bit to visit my vet, be overdosed with this wonder drug and go for a parasite-free gallop to the ICU. – Col Burns, Lugarno
Being dosed with ivermectin could explain why the protester punched the police horse. He might have been upset by what it said to him. – Dave Watts, Avalon
The digital view
Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
â€œThe pandemic lays bare our confederacy of duncesâ€
From SideshowBob: Right from the start, the federal government saw the pandemic as a political opportunity. Hence, the problems we now have.
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