Vulnerable shouldn’t have to pay for submarines

While Opposition Leader Peter Dutton supports the purchase of nuclear-powered submarines that will arrive sometime down the track, to prepare for attacks that they may no longer be fit for purpose to repel, he now wants to make cuts in other areas, such as NDIS and aged care, to help pay for them (“Submarine deal welcome but questions remain”, March 15). Surely, there are other ways to make savings. Rather than cutting essential programs that benefit so many people we should be looking at other areas. We could rescind the tax cuts for the wealthy and, of course, the halving of high-end superannuation tax breaks could be a start. And if that isn’t enough we could use the subs while they are sitting in port by plugging a lead into each sub and connect it to the grid, just like we do with visiting relatives caravans, then there is no need for us to build nuclear power stations. I’m sure there are many more savings to be made if we think outside the square. Merilyn McClung, Forestville

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John Shakespeare

All the pensioners, NDIS dependents, the homeless, teachers, nurses and hospital staff, the lowest paid workers and those dependent upon charity just to survive week to week, will be overjoyed to face further financial pain so that we can buy a few nuclear-powered submarines, that many won’t ever see in their lifetimes. A $368 billion estimated hit to the budget, and Peter Dutton this time isn’t even calling for more details. Alan Marel, North Curl Curl

I am not surprised that Dutton wants the most disadvantaged Australians to pay for the subs while protecting tax cuts for the wealthiest, but it is disappointing to see the Labor government effectively seeking the same result. Greg Thompson, Bega

Faithfully adhering to the Coalition songbook of we love war and hate welfare, Dutton this week twice supported the government, relating to cuts to the NDIS and other low hanging welfare fruit to fund the war we should never have, if wiser heads prevail on both sides. Clemenceau had it only half right, for war is too important to be left to either the politicians or the generals. Howard Charles, Annandale

I hope I’m not the only one incensed with the leader of the Liberal party. How dare he agree to back budget cuts if they are in disability and aged care.
Once politicians cared about those most in need – now it’s goodbye fairness and compassion. Peter Pocock, Hornsby

George Brandis tries valiantly to salvage something of Scott Morrison’s dismal record at the top by pulling him into the glow of the AUKUS deal as its instigator (“Making a big call and getting it right”, March 15). It’ll take far more than that to bleach the stains of climate torpor, his part in robo-debt, secret ministries and the myriad other blemishes that were features of his tenure. The only aspect of Morrison’s time as prime minister that I’m likely to remember fondly is its end. Adrian Connelly, Springwood

Those who criticise AUKUS and advocate for appeasement of China suffer from extreme naïveté. Having seen the Chinese regime crush liberalism in Hong Kong and proactive encroach on other nations’ sovereignty across our region, we must seek peace through strength. Moreover, it seems many have forgotten that China has aggressive form since 1949, ensuring the partition of Korea in the 50s and more recently invading Vietnam in the late 70s. Kudos to Anthony Albanese and Scott Morrison for strengthening our future. Mark Latchford, Seaforth

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Can someone explain how a few submarines are going to defend Australia from a concerted invasion? Steve Rothschild, Thalgarrah

Acquiring these submarines is about standing up to China, but will the Chinese be gentlemanly enough to wait the 10 years or so before we are ready to take them on? John Slidziunas, Woonona

I say scrub AUKUS, put former PM Paul Keating on a raft at North Head with a rapier and let any would-be invaders take their chances (“Paul Keating calls nuclear submarines worst decision by Labor government since WWI conscription”, smh.com.au, March 15). Clare Zagami, Wentworth Falls

Public service dereliction forces desperate measures

The Liberal government continually emphasises that the shortage of teachers and other public servants won’t be improved by an overall increase in their salaries, yet miraculously the Department of Education is attempting to solve Killarney Heights high school’s technology teachers shortage with a $20,000 recruitment bonus (“School puts $20,000 on table to lure teachers”, March 15). A look behind the scenes at how our public services are run reveals poor management, an oversight of the obvious problems and the inability to keep abreast of the changes needed to keep services operational. Teacher pay levels are at the base of this problem. The poor planning and failure to support the system has led to our students being left without properly trained teachers. Budgetary balance is important but the provision of services is important as well. Robert Mulas, Corlette

I am appalled that a public school is forced to offer bonus pay to lure teachers. This flies in the face of any definition or concept of “public education” and is a measure of just how far our conservative state governments have been prepared to abandon the concept of public education. The dereliction of attention, and the encouragement of alternatives to the public system is palpable. Something has got to change. Gus Plater, Saratoga

The $20,000 carrot to attract teachers to hard-to-staff schools is, at best, an advertising trick, much like the shop which offers the 50 per cent off everything sale (selected items not included). The real trick is getting them to stay. All new teachers deserve a reduced teaching load and meaningful in-school support and mentoring, not the often rushed, tokenistic, tick a box and move on stuff they put up with. Most senior school staff are too overworked to be able to offer this support to the new foundlings, which must be given in free periods, with no monetary reward. The bonus is an empty vessel which would barely pay for a year’s rent for most young teachers lured by the “big bucks”. Brian Thornton, Stanmore

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt Golding

A shortage of PDHPE staff is unbelievable as, during my 42 years of teaching physical education and health, there was always an abundance of teachers available for this subject. Perhaps the ever-increasing demand for these teachers to take on the responsibility of teaching what was once the domain of parents, combined with the enormous money a qualified fitness trainer can earn in private industry without the pressure placed on modern teachers has led to the decline of a great teaching opportunity. Educating young people about the importance of health and physical activity is a very rewarding and satisfying career. Bruce Cuneo, Mortdale

AI is now a threat to education

Australia’s oldest university is now getting students to set their own essay questions and using some computer program to write their answers (“Bot essay prescribed for medical students”, March 15). What has happened to education? Doctors, engineers, physicists, chemists, all need to know their subjects, not be brain-dead readers of robot-speak. If it wasn’t so serious, it’d be laughable. Andrew Scott, Pymble

If ChatGPT can be embraced in the teaching of our future doctors, I’m wondering if it could potentially be used by future patients. People needing to see a medical practitioner could use it to compose questions around symptoms, treatment options, adverse outcomes, the list goes on. It may result in patients feeling more in control and lead to better outcomes. Lisa Clarke, Watsons Bay

Election funding

It’s a common complaint that marginal seats in elections receive all the funding and attention (“Labor accused of pork-barrelling over school P&C funding emails”, March 15). However, when NSW Labor approaches all electorates seeking local projects that can enhance their policies, they are accused of pork-barrelling. These local projects will be funded by Labor if they gain government even if that electorate returns a Coalition/Green/independent candidate. So blue ribbon Liberal electorates will still receive funding. Sue Napthali, Roseville

The promise of a $20,000 grant is not news compared to the current government’s use of public funds to secure their seats. Let’s not forget that a $250 million council grants program, used to boost Coalition votes, was dismissed by Gladys Berejiklian as normal practice. The recent NSW Audit Office report on the bushfire recovery program found it excluded Labor-held electorates, which further highlights the need for accountability in the allocation of public funds. This behaviour raises serious concerns about the integrity of the current NSW government. Rick Sondalini, Balgowlah

Hollow promise

Does the premier believe the conservatives will be in power for the next 18 years (Letters, March 15)? He shows supreme hubris in proposing his signature children’s super scheme committing the taxpayer to contributing up to $400 per year for every 18-year-old. Does he have a plan to compel each of the next 4.5 governments to continue this drain on the future public purse? And where is the mention of indexation. The predicted $49,000 in the kitty 18 years hence might not even cover the rental bond. Where is the same criticism that the conservatives levelled at the federal government’s proposed change to wealthy superannuants’ tax concessions because they didn’t include indexation for the next 30 years. The electorate needs more details before it is seduced by the promise of free money. Simon Bartlett, Coogee

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Surely a commitment to teach all students the concept of compounding interest would be more effective. Dimity Moore, Erskineville

Work harder

For too long workers have been told they don’t work hard enough, which is just another way of saying they are not being very productive while on the job (“Here’s to a four-day week with a right to ‘disconnect”’ , March 15). Hence, this crazy notion many of us have that we should work extra hours. Yet since the advent of the five-day week just over 70 years ago, productivity in all areas of employment have risen dramatically without any serious acknowledgement, until recently, that perhaps the time has arrived to shorten the working week. Some time ago I read it was doubtful anyone was going to say on their deathbed: “I wish I’d been more productive at work”. Con Vaitsas, Ashbury

Conspicuous consumption

Your correspondent is outraged by the spending of $685 on a special meal when so many people go hungry (Letters, March 15). What about purchasing a car for $100,000 when a perfectly good set of wheels can be bought for $25,000? That’s a lot more mouths fed with the change. Or an expensive holiday resort, private school, designer handbag, whatever. Does the extravagance have to be food-related before we can join the dots between the social ills of hunger and homelessness and the wealth distribution of a fortunate country? Aviva Lowy, Castlecrag

Historic headland

The community has been waiting for more than 20 years for this site to be appropriately invigorated (“Headland no longer out on a limb as master plan evolves”, March 14)

The site will always be hard to access because it is at the end of a peninsula with one road access. If it is “unwelcoming”, this is only because the Harbour Trust has allowed the heritage buildings to fall into disrepair and has failed to interpret their rich heritage values.

It is no excuse to demolish certain buildings now because of their derelict state or a perceived better use for the site. This is a military village steeped in heritage and stories. All the buildings tell the story of how the military base operated from World War II until 1998, and it is still intact.

The harbour views from Middle Head are spectacular and will always attract visitors. However, in rejuvenating this land with other activities, let us not diminish its military, Indigenous and cultural importance. Jill L’Estrange, president, Headland Preservation Group

Your correspondents are right to be concerned about development at Middle Head (Letters, March 15). Look what’s happening to Blackwattle Bay. A huge section of the bay is being filled in for the new fish markets. The old market, on actual land, will then be sold for high-rise buildings, completely overwhelming what’s left of the bay. Of course, the new market could have been rebuilt on the existing site or moved west like the Sydney fruit and vegetable market. But, hey, never miss a chance for more high-rise development around the harbour. Be on high alert, Mosman residents.
Richard Spencer, Glebe

Bedroom talk

Being a celibate insomniac, perhaps I need a new bed (“Bed is for sex and sleep and nothing else”, smh.com.au, March 15)? John Byrne, Randwick

Tough crowd

Please stop publishing film reviews by generations who do not get them but use them to heap abuse. Advancing age is no excuse (Letters March 15). Previously it was racist abuse of the Irish people for . This time it is . If your correspondents do not want to be challenged and ultimately satisfied by originality (as this 60-plus was), then there are plenty of films from 1953 to be reviewed on free-to air. Maggie McElhill, Annandale

Stephanie Hsu, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan in a scene from “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”

Stephanie Hsu, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan in a scene from “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”

Your correspondents are a little unkind in saying is the worst film they have ever seen, having no artistic merit and being a meandering incoherent mess. That title must surely go to the box office dud , an epic production of truly awful proportions. It is three long hours of my life I will never get back. Greg Phillipson, Aranda (ACT)

I watched on a flight from Europe to Australia and still wanted to walk out on it. John Bailey, Canterbury

Many thanks to your correspondents. We thought we were overtired, and after 10 minutes switched off intending to have a second look tonight. Not necessary now. John Pollard, Moss Vale

It all started to go wrong when got best film. Tony Redmond, Wyong

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
Power bills to rise by up to 31 per cent as energy crisis hits home
From mh: ″⁣How is this not going to cause more inflation? The government needs to put a stop to this, now. No price increase allowed at all.″⁣

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