Same views, very different fates for Court and Folau

One would think that out of 25 million Australians our distinguished Council would pick a worthy and exceptional Australian who was, at least, able to demonstrate restraint in broadcasting their socially divisive personal beliefs. When those who returned their honours in protest are accused of bringing politics into the honour system, would not bestowing the highest national honour on an obvious religious extremist be itself a political statement? Sasha Ivanovich, Darlinghurst

Could I advise my legion of followers that they should resist the temptation to nominate me for an Australia Day gong next year. It will save the Australia Day Council from having to pore over my numerous achievements. And then, if they decide to proceed with an honour, I will decline. I’d rather they spent more time considering who they will honour while also considering whether the recipient would at least pass the pub test. I understood that the intention of the awards was to unite the country. In recent years, it has just been an exercise in fuelling the fire of the culture wars. Tom Meakin, Port Macquarie

There is widespread and unequivocal support for Grace Tame as Australian of the Year. Clearly, she is an articulate and determined achiever and we can only wish her success as she strives for further law reform and education relating to sexual abuse (Letters, January 27).

In 2015, we similarly welcomed another passionate advocate, Rosie Batty, who like Tame, had a powerful personal history underpinning her advocacy. During her term as Australian of the Year, Batty was a tireless, committed campaigner who spared no effort to create greater awareness of family violence. Five years later, the lack of reduction of this scourge is in no small part due to sparse funding and ineffective action by governments.

If Tame’s appointment is not also to become tokenistic, the enthusiasm now apparent in support of her needs to be translated into concrete action reflecting the recommendations that will undoubtedly be voiced during the next year. Ross Butler, Rodd Point

Australia Day is over, but disquiet endures

The PM fails to fully recognise the continuing, disturbing vast disparities between the basic measures of progress, including health, education, employment and incarceration of our First Australians Indigenous people and the rest of the population (“Nation has risen from its ‘brutal beginnings’: PM”, January 27). This, to say the least, is disquieting in our affluent first world nation. Steve Ngeow, Chatswood

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

Thank goodness Australia Day 2021 is over. We can now put away all the soapboxes and the dissenters can now smile again. The silent majority will continue to do what it does best and work at keeping this country relevant, creative, industrious and prosperous. No one person owns this land, we inhabit it for a brief period of time and then we are gone, it is what we do while here that is important, no person’s contribution is too small it all helps. Mistakes have been made over the past 233 years but then again so has great progress because our forebears and the Indigenous leaders answered the challenge and dared to try. Mistakes will still be made in the future because we are human and humans are not perfect, it is how we handle those mistakes that is important. We must as a united community, work together, put aside our grievances and aim for a more sustainable, inclusive future for all, it can be done with courage and strength. Kath Maher, Lidcombe

The present choice of a date for Australia Day simply points out a historical fact and means no offence to anyone. It seems to have been a success for a number of years. Why not let the Indigenous elders select an alternative date that they feel is suitable and give it a name they think best. Then let all Australians choose to support both days and so support each other. A sensible compromise? Brian Barry, Port Macquarie

Debating historical options for a national day are surely misguided while Australia remains a constitutional colony. At the very least, our national day should celebrate our independence. Michael Britt MacMasters Beach

The most powerful argument against January 26 is that it is divisive (Letters, January 27). We need a date that is unifying. On January 1, 1901 the former Australian colonies federated as the Commonwealth of Australia. We united as one. Accordingly, I advocate January 1 as Australia Day. Nicholas Whitlam, Scarborough

I propose September 1 – Wattle Day – as a truly universal and optimistic way to celebrate this great timeless land and its people. Ann Parker, Berrima

We must sharpen critical thought

Olga Horak appeals to the youth and exhorts them to remember events leading to the Holocaust: mass hysteria in the 20th century followed by a so-called intelligent culture (“A survivor’s message: ‘How important it is not to hate”‘, January 27). It will be easy to substitute 21st century and cancel culture to that phrase; and it would look like we might be headed towards disaster. Now more than ever, with a pandemic raging and issues of race and inequality coming to the fore, our critical thinking skills are challenged and need to be honed. Cristina Corleto, Stanmore

In the timely opinion piece by Josh Frydenberg and Josh Burns, there was a notable omission in the list of victims of the Nazi Holocaust (“From a tragic past to a better future”, January 27). The first people interned and tortured in Hitler’s concentration camps were German communists, followed by Social Democrats and trade unionists, and then communists and trade unionists from occupied nations. These uncounted men and women were not just the leaders. Communists, trade unionists and social democrats were the majority of political prisoners, identified in the camps by a red triangle. Without suggesting any equivalence to the Jewish experience of the Holocaust, their deaths should not be forgotten at a time when some contemporary political leaders demonise political opponents as enemies and traitors. As a society we must not tolerate lies and vilification in political discourse. We know where it leads. Kylie Winkworth, Newtown

Thank you, Josh Frydenberg and Josh Burns, for reminding us that judging and condemning people on the basis of ethnicity or religion is never justified. May we never forget the unspeakable things that were done in the Holocaust. Andrew Macintosh, Cromer

It is indeed vital that there is a special day, January 27, to remember the horrific slaughter committed by the Nazis. That it is tied to the day the largest concentration camp was liberated is also significant. It gives me further pause for thought when pondering the vexed question of Australia/Invasion Day conundrum. Can we not understand, after reading this article, that for our First Nations people, January 26 is a day to remember slaughter and captivity, not liberation? Angela Namoi, Crows Nest

Murdoch hypocrisy

Strange that Rupert Murdoch decries censorship when he and his father, Keith, have endeavoured to silence conversation particularly from the ABC for almost 90 years (“Murdoch slams ‘woke’ culture’,′ January 27). Lindsay Somerville, Lindfield

Missed chance to meet

What a pity our PM hasn’t attend the World Economic Forum at Davos (“Two-track Xi reveals China in no mood for reconciliation”, January 27). Is this “beyond our station”? It amounts to an opportunity missed to take up President Xi’s general proposal for friendly relations (by asking him publicly to meet there and then). Harry Mansson, Avalon

Translation of what Xi Jinping really meant in his speech to world leaders at the World Economic Forum: Do as I say, not as I do. Sue Casiglia, North Ryde

Piped pleasure

I read that Salisbury Cathedral, in the UK, has been temporarily transformed into a vaccination centre (“Faith gives way to science in cloistered clinic”, January 27). What a majestic space. And two organists have offered to play “soothing music” for 12 hours per day so patients experience less stress. What a great idea. I wonder if we could do something like it in Australia, to make the vaccination experience a bit more pleasant? Mia David, Wollongong

Heat and smokescreens

The heat on Australia Day reminds us that the climate emergency cannot be ignored while we are distracted by arguments about the date of Australia Day or who should receive awards (“Sydney’s hottest spell in a decade as change expected overnight”, smh.com.au, January 27). The hottest Australia Day in 61 years coincided with a call from the world’s largest private equity investor for all companies to reshape themselves for a net-zero emissions economy (“Pandemic prompts global surge in climate action”, January 27).

Our PM should take note and act to urgently reduce national emissions instead of sitting on his hands and thinking of his next marketing ploy, such as changing a word in our national anthem. His last year’s gas-led plan, to pay millions to fossil fuel companies to allow them to continue heating the globe, is a dangerous smokescreen which the rest of the world can see through. Barry Laing, Castle Cove

Post-Trump priorities

The impeachment of Trump might not succeed but his world view has been rejected (“In second impeachment, Democrats push resistant Republicans to convict Trump”, January 27). A new one is on the agenda. There is a need for a world united to combat devastation caused by climate change, COVID-19 and future world vices. Importantly, we need a more shared humanist world that rejects wars and bans the atomic bomb. Reg Wilding, Wollongong

Put Earth first

Thank you, Ross Gittins, for your timely article ( “The need for an ecological diet”, January 27). Everyone on the planet should read David Attenborough’s A Life on Our Planet – My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future. We humans can’t keep consuming our planet’s resources at the current rate. Like New Zealand, we need to prioritise people and planet over profit alone. Sue Young, Bensville

Cruelty facilitated

When we admit animals feel emotions including love and fear, we become aware of our responsibility for horrific acts of cruelty inflicted upon farm and wild animals (“The inner life of cats and dogs”, January 27). This explains why the debate still exists. While doubt is perceived, we can continue our current cruel practises with a clear conscious. Anne Matheson, Gordon

My flatmates knew I would be home in exactly 20 minutes when my silver tabby exotic, Simon, settled himself at the front door. Wendy Young, Glebe

Pass it on

Whenever I hear of someone “passing”, I’m fascinated to know if they did really well in their exams or just scraped through (Letters, January 27). Elisabeth Goodsall, Wahroonga

When I die, which unfortunately is inevitable, I hope I can go in a truly Australian fashion. So I don’t intend to “pass away” or “conk out”, but to “cark it”. Derrick Mason, Boorowa

Brain power

Yes, the librarian will find the right answer (Letters, January 27). A computer doesn’t know the difference between a venetian blind and a blind Venetian. Diana Wyndham, North Sydney

Opening line

Rebecca’s first line is evocative, no doubt, although a first-time reader knows nothing about Mrs Danvers at that point (Letters, January 27). It takes an Orwell to better that: “It was a bright, cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.” Now there’s a hook. Andrew Taubman, Queens Park

Abrupt ending

In primary school, my son used to end his stories with “and then they all died”. An alarming but certain closing to everything, when he got tired of writing (Letters, January 27). Joy Paterson, Mount Annan

Pointless exercise

Has anyone read The Most Boring Book Ever Written by Rudolf Kerkhoven and Daniel Pitts? Why? Graham Russell, Clovelly

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
The Rocket behind Margaret Court’s AC
From ralphington: ″⁣I really don’t see why sports people deserve any sort of award for playing a game, no matter how well they play it. It’s a joke; Australia and its deification of sporting prowess is so shallow and embarrassing. Awards should go to innovators, explorers, inventors and the like … people who make a difference to our lives. Tennis is a ball game.″⁣

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