Scott Morrison said the adventure in Afghanistan was worthwhile because “freedom is always worth it”. What freedom is that? Certainly not freedom for the Afghani people nor for the military sent to fight there. When all the troops are withdrawn Afghanistan will revert to what it has always been and all the deaths will be for nothing. Invading Afghanistan has yielded nothing, no matter how the West spins it, other than misery, confusion and fresh jihadist recruits. Don Wormald, Turramurra
When many thousands of us marched to oppose John Howard’s futile war in Iraq I realised that people power was dead. Now, 20 years later, the government has finally decided to again follow the US and, this time, withdraw from Afghanistan. What was achieved, apart from death, misery and political turmoil? Sue Martin, Clareville
The crocodile tears by the PM over the 41 ADF officers killed in Afghanistan was pathetic. He failed to mention the 249 ADF wounded, many seriously, with limbs blown off or bodies disfigured by shrapnel. After nearly 20 years the invasion is a political and military failure. It’s also Groundhog Day for the ADF as this invasion was a repeat of the Vietnam war disaster 50 years earlier. Adrian Jackson, Middle Park (Vic)
To watch a leader of a country officially withdraw from a war , not explain what this country got for its 20 years of loss shows complete disrespect to the soldiers that were directed to serve. David McKenzie, Beaconsfield (Vic)
If history has taught us anything, it is that imposing your values, domination and way of government on another sovereign state by military force is rarely successful or long-lasting. Vincent Wong, Killara
The Dutton effect
A correspondent thinks there’s a chance we could end up with Peter Dutton as our PM. Aaah, Gareth, the stuff that dreams are made of (Letters, April 16). Rosemary O’Brien, Ashfield
Unlike your correspondent, I would welcome the ascent of Peter Dutton to the prime ministership. In contrast to Scott Morrison, Dutton is at least authentic. An added bonus would be the removal of the Coalition from power for a generation. John Christie, Oatley
Last year’s Anzac Day services at dawn on kerbsides outside people’s homes were so poignant. Let’s hope that even though people can now gather in larger numbers, we do not lose these small personal tributes that made the day so meaningful in 2020. I am gathering my candles in preparation. Toni Lorentzen, Fennell Bay
Not all of us will be enjoying a public holiday on Monday, April 26. Apparently the national holiday of Anzac Day, which falls on a Sunday, will not be observed as a public holiday in three states, including NSW, on the Monday. However, my colleagues in Queensland will be able to sleep in as they enjoy the day off. Why aren’t all Australians given the benefit of having a day off on the Monday? Con Vaitsas, Ashbury
A bipartisan approach to Indigenous justice is vital
Robert Tickner is right on the money in pointing out the value of a bipartisan approach to progress the long overdue measures recommended to address the ongoing tragedy of Aboriginal deaths in custody, instead of the adversarial culture that reigns in our parliaments, and that too often overrides a constructive consensus for the necessary changes (“Jailing is still failing, 30 years later”, April 16). It’s very encouraging to read about the contribution to promoting these changes that he and other influential individuals from a diversity of backgrounds have planned through the activities of the newly formed Justice Reform Initiative, with its collective wealth of experience and insights from members with a record of ability to get things done, and with the significant involvement of its inestimable patron, Aboriginal leader Pat Turner. Anne Ring, Coogee
Thirty years on and what has been achieved? I would like to see the federal and state auditors-general publish the real costs each year of keeping our 10, 12 , even 17-year-olds locked up in juvenile detention, from initial arrest to final release. I’m sure the billions of dollars wasted each year would be much better spent on diversionary programs such as Armidale’s Back Track program, where young lives are turned around to a positive future. But, please, let local communities do it. No more three-year trial programs delivered by government agencies. Ray Chappell, Armidale
A 15 per cent reduction in Indigenous incarceration by 2031 is just another piece of waffle that politicians use to kick the can into the next decade (“Aboriginality should count in granting bail: inquiry”, April 16). These very difficult issues need affirmative and definitive action now. In addition to providing funding for the Walama Court system, where an elder sits with the magistrate, all Indigenous prisoners serving 12 months or less should be immediately released into counselling programs for family reunification, housing, drug rehabilitation and employment. After deducting the cost of these programs from the cost of keeping them in prison, the government would have enough left over to provide further support with business loans. Steve Johnson, Elizabeth Beach
Pay all teachers more
The idea of paying the best teacher more is not successful and governments have tried to introduce it in the past (“How to entice top class teachers”, April 16). We must still strive to have high standards of well-educated teachers but there are some areas that need more thought. It is time to recognise the important role teachers play in society and to listen to them rather than the so-called experts who are not classroom practitioners.
One issue with high achievers going into teaching is they are ambitious and want a fast track into being principals, where the pay is better. This means if they are good teachers, they are no longer teaching. Another issue with paying the best more is it will negate the collegiate nature of the job. In order to keep the best teachers practising and teaching students where the real purpose of schools takes place, both expertise and experience must be recognised. Augusta Monro, Dural
Cut MPs’ superior super
Coalition MPs want to kill any rise in the superannuation guarantee and want to overturn existing legislation (“Coalition MPs firm on stopping rise in super”, April 16). They claim that an increase is “an unacceptable impost on businesses”. May I suggest that they put up a proposition to reduce the contribution to politicians’ super to 9.5 per cent, in line with ordinary workers, from the exorbitant 15.4 per cent rate they now enjoy? After all, the national deficit is $660 billion as of the end of March, surely an “unacceptable impost” on the taxpayers of this country. Ron Wessel, Mount St Thomas
Goose and the golden eggs
I am puzzled by the Yes Minister style courage of the neoliberal ideologues in Coalition ranks who want to divest Australia Post (Letters, April 16). Don’t they realise that the people most hurt by any privatisation of the postal service will be rural citizens, their electoral base, whom no private business can afford to adequately serve due to Australia’s geographical spread?
NSW Labor sold off the state-owned lottery business a decade ago for a short-term boost of the budget bottom line. Now the golden stream of gambling revenue flows mostly into the private coffers of Tabcorp. Let’s not repeat the same mistake with Australia Post: Let it remain in public hands to continue to serve all Australians. Han Yang, North Turramurra
Dying with dignity
Writers are overstating what the Victorian and West Australian laws provide (Letters, April 16). The bill proposed by Alex Greenwich carries the same weakness. The majority of people dying do not have a terminal illness, diagnosed, and likely to cause death inside six months. Most are just old, tired, in pain, fed up, experiencing a complete lack of privacy, being fed and toileted without a shred of decency. The proposed law does not help people in that situation, and they are the vast majority. Peter Pitt, Potts Point
CPRS deferred, not canned
George Megalogenis repeats the tired Liberal trope that my government “walked away” from emissions trading in 2010 (“Vaccination vacillation may infect recovery, and Morrison’s leadership”, April 10-11). It is utterly false. My statement in 2010 was clear: the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme would be deferred until 2012 to coincide with the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.
I make no apologies for describing climate change as the great moral challenge of our generation. It’s why we legislated a 20 per cent renewable energy target. My commitment to a market mechanism remained as resolute on the night of the coup as when I was sworn in.
Our legislation was twice blocked by an unholy coalition of Tony Abbott and Bob Brown. In the aftermath, Labor debated calling a double-dissolution but my deputy, Julia Gillard, and most of the cabinet refused to support one.
Gillard and treasurer Wayne Swan both wanted the ETS dead. Instead, I resolved to reintroduce it at the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period in 2012. It was an in-principle decision by a cabinet subcommittee pending a full cabinet discussion; but that never happened because Gillard’s office leaked the subcommittee decision. The CPRS was canned as Labor policy by Gillard only after the coup. Kevin Rudd, Sunshine Coast (Qld)
Heads, you win
Like many small coastal towns at the moment, Brunswick Heads is busier than normal but the river is as lazy as ever (Letters, April 15). May your readers be assured that while you can dine at one of the country’s best restaurants, or enjoy the finest Mexican outside Mexico, the pub is still good for a parmy and a beer, the fish and chips are the same as ever and the Chinese is still intact from its heyday in the 1960s. Andrew Swain, Brunswick Heads
Paul Duncan says “the real Byron was in the 50s, 60s and 70s” (Letters, April 16). Those were also the years of mass whale killings, where the bodies of hundreds of dead humpbacks were strung up on the jetty; the abattoir was going full tilt, and the stench sometimes overwhelmed the town; sand mining was destroying the beaches, the results of which we’re now dealing with in badly repaired and eroded dunes; and the local Indigenous people were often treated very badly.
I’ve lived here for 30-plus years and still love it, while acknowledging that like many coastal towns, it is often in danger of being “loved to death”. I’m also clear-eyed about the “good old days”. Rose Fox, Byron Bay
Twerk it out
Yay! Another word for Scrabble – twerk (“Monocultural outrage against the twerk is typically kneejerk”, April 16). Lyn Langtry, East Ryde
It has not been a good week for the PM, according to Herald correspondents. Many wrote about the vaccination rollout; about the PM’s dream of arriving “on a magnificent white horse, with a vaccine for everybody, and then on to an election win” as described by Patrick Bone of Terrigal. Unfortunately, due to rollout “recalibration” (surely the word of the week), he has “arrived on a three-legged donkey and lost his packhorses”.
Steve Forsyth of Wagga Wagga encapsulated the sense of disbelief many felt in the changing plans by suggesting the vaccine scenario reminded him of what could be an appropriated and abbreviated Monty Python cheese shop skit: “Do you have any AstraZeneca? Sorry, fresh out. Pfizer? Ah, not today. Johnson & Johnson? No, not much call for it around these parts, sir. OK, well then, what about Novavax? Noooo. Not really much of a vaccine centre is it? Oh, the finest in the world, sir!”
When the former CEO of Australia Post appeared before the Senate inquiry mid-week, things went further downhill for the PM. The majority of writers excoriated Scott Morrison on his vitriolic comments about Christine Holgate and described the Cartier watches fiasco as an example of the “Canberra bubble’s appalling misogynistic culture”. Robert Dillon of Bathurst also captured the absurdity of the situation: “It appears Morrison’s team in the Holgate Test match have decided they will play the Warne-Smith tactics – spin prodigiously and deceptively, then deflect from everything”. Unsurprisingly, the words “spin”, “marketing” and “confected outrage” featured heavily in the bulk of the letters received.
As always, thanks for writing, and a reminder to let us know when you read a potential letter of the year. Pat Stringa, Letters editor
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