Properly funded aged care, it’s what our taxes are for

Illustration: Matt Golding
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The prime minister of spin and his ministers claim that it is too soon to react to the report on the problems facing aged care. Despite knowing about the problems for some years, the government managed to slash the aged care budget, kept unemployment at a record low, penalise public education so that it could give tax cuts to the wealthy members of society and institutions. The priorities of this government are clear. Jennie Lindbergh, Darlington

Anyone who has spent late nights and early mornings wandering around a nursing home searching for the one registered nurse (for 170 residents) to give their dying mother a desperately needed shot of relief knows the frustration, anguish and anger it produces. One submarine’s worth of cash would largely alleviate this, and other awful aspects of aged care through the provision of the right numbers of properly qualified people. Imagine two submarine’s worth. David Baird, Burradoo

Innocent or guilty, accused minister should stand aside

The presumption of innocence being touted by many parliamentarians does not mean that an accused person should not step aside (“‘Everybody knows’: Malcolm Turnbull says minister must go public on rape claim”, smh.com.au, March 2). It simply means that they have not yet been proven guilty of the crime of which they have been accused. Until it is proven one way or the other, there remains uncertainty. Is it appropriate for a person to be in any senior position while that uncertainty exists? Nobody is saying the person should be sacked – that would be inconsistent with a presumption of innocence. If proven innocent, they should fulfil that role. But they should step aside in the interim. David Rush, Lawson

I am not sure why a minister should not be stood down while a serious alleged crime is being investigated. While I was a teacher, any teacher accused of inappropriate behaviour was immediately stood down until the allegations were resolved. The teacher was reinstated if cleared, charged if guilty. Standing down did not mean the teacher was guilty. It was a way of keeping things fair and calm while investigations were completed. We all accepted this process as fair. Is the bar higher for teachers than for cabinet ministers? Patricia Short, Glebe

The minister accused of rape is entitled to the presumption of innocence. But he’s not entitled to have his identity protected. Doctors accused of negligence, sportsmen accused of sledging and any of us accused of crimes don’t get the privilege of having our identity protected. Why should there be a different rule for ministers? The minister may declare and defend his innocence but he should step aside for as long as that takes. All the women in Morrison’s cabinet should resign now to show the country they will not tolerate what the PM will. Alexandra Barratt, Glebe

If this minister was a footballer, he wouldn’t be playing on Saturday Chris Alison, Parma

The presumption of innocence favours the accused at the expense of the rape victim and implies the latter is lying, thereby forcing them to go through a debasing and harrowing experience to prove their case. Why not flip the whole thing around and take a “guilty until proven innocent” approach and give the victim the benefit of the doubt instead? Sure, there will be the occasional false accusation made, but let’s see how it pans out.
Hang on, what is I hear at my gate? A howling mob armed with burning torches and pitchforks. I recant: maintain the status quo, which protects the usually anonymous (almost always male) accused, while continuing to throw all the often-identified (mainly female) victims into the fire instead. The system as it stands now works really well to protect women — doesn’t it? Alicia Dawson, Balmain

Low rates to blame for dizzy heights

My daughter and her husband have had more failed attempts than I can remember to buy a modest home in Sydney (“Housing surge forces rates rise onto agenda”, March 2). Auction by auction, the competition gets more intense and the prices achieved astonish even the most optimistic estate agent. What we’re seeing is the result of ridiculously low interest rates. Young people are shackling themselves to frightening levels of debt. At the same time, I notice my bank is paying 0.05 per cent on $20,000 I have in a maxi-saver account. Really, why would anyone bother to save? Economists may extol the virtues of the free market, but in any sane society, interest rates should never be allowed to fall below 1 per cent. The world has gone crazy. Rob Mills, Riverview

Once again the Reserve Bank is fostering a boom-and-bust cycle in our housing market by continuing record low interest rates. The Sydney and Melbourne property markets are already among the most expensive in the world. Who guards the guards? Trevor Taylor, Port Macquarie

I am no economist, but two economic pronouncements over the past week just don’t make sense. Apparently while the cost of buying a home continues to spiral ever upward, real wages are stagnating if not going backwards. Can someone explain, please? Genevieve Milton, Newtown

Myanmar myopia

There is a black hole in our political universe and it seems to be inexorably drawing the satellite of Myanmar into the depths of its dark agenda ( “Inaction gives comfort to regime”, March 2). Steve Dillon, Thirroul

Lobby shouts louder

We all hope and wish the youth will be, and know they should be, heard on climate crisis, but not only does Sussan Ley, our environment minister, feel she has no “duty of care”, but she has absolutely no commitment or interest in doing anything that would substantially reduce our emissions (“Passionate youth need to be heard on climate crisis”, March 2). Neither does our PM or Angus Taylor. Unfortunately, the fossil fuel lobby has much louder voices and many more dollars in their party donations. ​Peggy Fisher, Killara

On climate change, in response to a group of teenagers taking their demands for stronger action to the courts, Ley says “the minister does not owe a duty of care”, a succinct statement of this government’s approach, which regards the issue as a political one. However, as John Hewson recently pointed out: “the planet is not swayed by politics: there is no vaccine for climate.” Michael Healy, East Maitland

Climate change is real. Climate change affects us all. Climate change is causing damage to the environment all around the world. A huge thank you to our passionate young people who protested in our streets for politicians to take these issues seriously and take action. I support them in their class action in Melbourne’s Federal Court for the federal Minister for the Environment to protect young people from climate change and the future harms of coal mining. I am sorry the older generation have let you down. Never give up. Bea Hodgson, Gerringong

Get foreign students here

It is devastating that the University of NSW, University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney, Monash University and Australian National University in Canberra have opened facilities in China enabling invaluable face-to-face engagement with peers on course work ( Letters, March 2). Please, can we bring face-to-face teaching and student interaction back to Australian campuses? The local students are crying out for it. Susie Roberts, Mosman

Green is way to go

Israel’s “green pass” for entry to restaurants, bars, cinemas, hotels, places of worship, gyms, swimming pools and major events makes a lot of sense for Australia (“No jab, no entry laws the ‘obvious’ way to promote vaccines: Israeli minister”, March 1). Goodness knows why this approach to successful coronavirus vaccination has to be reviewed by any country. Just like membership of and admittance to any club, the green pass should indicate that the bearer is a member of the Sane and Sensible, Sans Lunatic Fringe. George Zivkovic, Northmead

Why is TAFE target?

Taree TAFE was a hive of activity when I was teaching there in the early 1980s (Letters, March 2). Hard to get a carpark. Driving past 20 years later, I was horrified to see the place almost deserted. I knew there had been some restructuring but hadn’t realised TAFE was being financially stripped.
Now we have a skills shortage, nowhere to train and have lost a lot of those experienced teachers. A reinvigorated TAFE system would help to fill the skill shortage and those who would like to skill up. Take aged care nursing, for example.
I could never understand why TAFE was stripped of so much funding. Better to support young people doing a TAFE certificate than just being on JobSeeker. Glenys Quirk, Forster

The Scone Equine Centre belonging to TAFE NSW was provided after considerable representation from the equine industry surrounding Scone. There are some 80 or more studs in its catchment area and the industry provides more than 5000 jobs in the local community. The equine industry in the area is a multi-billion dollar industry and is the largest outside that of Kentucky in the USA. How, then, is the centre not fulfilling its intended purpose? On the one hand, one can only conclude that the TAFE system is not managing the capital resources provided. On the other, the industry should be working closely together with TAFE to ensure its workers receive the training they need. Selling the centre is not the answer. Rather, the industry needs to sit down with TAFE and come up with a plan that addresses difficulties. If TAFE NSW cannot manage the critical element of industry liaison, it requires new management. Perce Butterworth, Annandale

He’s not growing on me

Just when I think it’s safe to flick on the tele without being bombarded with the “orange one”, I discover he is back (“Trump teases reboot plan for 2024”, March 2). Harder to get rid of than toenail fungus. David Atherfold, Avalon Beach

Sinking ship

I was told that if you pay $10 to some bloke called Stan he’ll let you watch the Waratahs (“Top brass ready to launch rescue operation to save sinking Waratahs”, March 2). “Yeah, Nah”, I said, “That Stan bloke should be paying me to watch them!” Kent Mayo, Uralla

Concrete grass

When I lived at Tempe a concrete backyard was known as “Marrickville grass” (Letters, March 2). I still use the term regularly. Michael McFadyen, Kareela

Leichhardt lawn. Hugh Malfroy, Leichhardt

Wicked words

If people from Cooktown to Kojonup hear me scream it will be because someone has started what they want to say with the word “so”. It is unnecessary, as is the word “there” when a news host refers to a reporter, as “Millie Mouthpiece, reporting there”. Worst of all is that Americanism “from the getgo”. And please, don’t pronounce that item floating in the water (a buoy) as “boo-ee.” William Ackland, Cooranbong

Ban the blower

Surely if we’re going to combat climate change we should start by banning the leaf blower (Letters, March 2). Has there ever been a more superfluous, noisy and ecologically damaging invention in history? I think not. Peter Jones, Rathmines

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
Government open to Medicare levy increase to fix aged care
From Freeza: ″⁣How about getting rid of negative gearing (for existing housing) and franking credit refunds for people who pay no tax. There’s your money to fund aged care.″⁣

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