Voters are fickle, but we’re lucky that our (reluctant) vote counts

According to a Resolve Political survey, the voting has tightened just before the election. The Coalition and Labor are now line ball at 38 per cent. Whichever major party “wins” will rely on the support of minor parties in order to govern (“Election battle tightens but Labor ahead”, March 20 ). Voters are a fickle lot, including myself. We vote according to our gut feeling without examining the issues and the candidates too closely. Maybe we need a voting licence. Most of us wouldn’t vote at all if voting were not compulsory. But how lucky are we that our votes mean anything at all? In the autocratically ruled nations of the world, voting and elections mean nothing. Following an “election”, voters in these nations get the same old corrupt politicians with their tired policies. Geoff Black, Caves Beach

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John Shakespeare

The future of NSW is at a pivotal point, regardless of which party prevails next week (“If Minns wins, he’ll be a premier who lumbered over line”, March 20). The has correctly identified Chris Minns’ greatest point of weakness, and rightly questions his refusal to back the proposed transition to a cashless gaming card to “stem the tide of human misery flowing from the State’s cancerous proliferation of poker machines”. Why are these machines needed in the first place? Ross Garsden, Goonellabah

Let’s hope when we wake up the day after the election the poker machine is not winner. Con Vaitsas, Ashbury

As we go into yet another election having to vote for people who are generally not qualified to run a state nor country, I can’t help but think that the model needs to change. Power corrupts, as has been so evident on both sides of politics. Big and complicated decisions are made by unqualified representatives who are affected by self-interest. The system needs to change. Decisions should be made by qualified expert committees with politicians left to enact and implement based on priority and budget. Key is to not let them meddle in the details. We know from experience that political interests guide and can overrule what is good for the people. It has always been so and yet we continue to perpetuate this flawed model. Donald Sleer, Manly

It’s astonishing how often the Liberals trot out John Howard to re-live their past glories and prop up their latest election pitches (“Libs roll out Howard, AC/DC; Minns struggles to fill hall”, March 20). If you have to rely on re-used wrapping paper, it doesn’t say much for the quality of the gift that’s inside or the thought you put into picking it. Adrian Connelly, Springwood

Let’s see, we’ve had the suburban street walk accompanied by a local candidate. The awkward folding of the body to chat to little schoolkids and “help” them with their work. Photo-ops in hi-vis announcing a big project. An activity on a sports field, with a bonus if no child is knocked over. Patting of a baby or a dog with equal enthusiasm. The great debate. A convivial drink in a pub with the locals. Finally, saying the word “plan” a lot. Yep, all the campaign cliches have been trotted out. Bring on the election. Joan Brown, Orange

It makes little difference who you vote for next Saturday. You’ll end up with a politician. Tony Lyons, Lithgow

Poetry moves the heart and nourishes the soul

It’s no surprise that so many politicians, from Churchill to Menzies and JFK to Rex Connor, have exploited the “potency of our poetry” (“Exploit the potency of our poetry”, March 20). As Percy Shelley wrote more than 200 years ago, “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world”. Perhaps we need more pentameter and less parliament. Matthew Gibbs, Leichhardt

George Brandis might be interested in this extract from David Day’s excellent biography of our greatest prime minister, John Curtin: “Each Sunday, Curtin would devote at least an hour to reading poetry which, in the absence of religious belief, provided nourishment for his soul. “Perhaps there are lessons there at several levels. Denis Hannigan, Toowoon Bay

Brandis reckons we need more rhyming versification in our leaders’ lingo. You could have knocked me over with a feather. But I notice that Brandis only recommends the most conservative and banal verse for our edification. Bob Menzies’ maudlin declaration of love to Betty Windsor is only “poetic ” because it includes the nursery-level rhyme “by” with “die”. Can do better, George. Philip Bell, Bronte

Queen Elizabeth II, during her visit to Australia in 1963, on the arm of Robert Menzies.

Queen Elizabeth II, during her visit to Australia in 1963, on the arm of Robert Menzies.Fairfax

I remember Menzies’ over the top comment regarding Queen Elizabeth and it wasn’t a sign of the times. Rather it was a sign of an age when Sir Walter Raleigh dropped his plush velvet coat in the gutter for Elizabeth I to keep her from wetting her feet. The look on Elizabeth II face said it all: sheer and utter embarrassment at Menzies’ awkward plush velvet poetry which was an outdated display of obeisance by about 350 years. Trevor Somerville, Illawong

Poetry involves exploring ideas deeply since the poet expresses in a nuanced way their perspective on the world around them. The poets mentioned are also part of capturing Australian identity though I would add James McAuley to the list as well as Jack Davis and Oodgeroo Noonuccal. Poetry is vitally important in nations where conflict produces oppression and poets usually speak up for the tradition of their homeland and its freedom, thus often the first to be arrested by tyrannical regimes. Before reaching a point like this we need to be immersed in our cultural heritage, including that expressed by the indigenous poets I mention. Gordana Martinovich, Dulwich Hill

Some of Henry Lawson’s best verse was political, notably and Their lines would resonate with people struggling under cost-of-living woes today. However, Lawson’s bush poetry glistens with images of distinctly Australian places and the people who inhabit them in a way that any politician looking for connectivity with country folk should be proud to quote and absorb. Ray Alexander, Moss Vale

I would be more convinced of the contribution of poetry to our national conversation if Brandis’ travelling companions on the right hadn’t so often invoked Dorothea Mackellar’s “drought and flooding rains” to avoid action on climate change. Colin Stokes, Camperdown

Brandis fails to mention one of Australia’s most celebrated poets, the late, great Bon Scott. His allegory to life’s struggle must go down as one of our best. It is indeed “a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll”. Benjamin Rushton, Birchgrove

Japan ban denies children’s rights

The reason given for Japan not allowing joint parenting because children might suffer if parents are in conflict completely ignores the mass of evidence that children suffer serious mental health issues if they are cut off from a parent, let alone the suffering, grief and loss of non-custodial parents (“Japan does nothing as 82 children Australian kids abducted”, March 20). It goes against the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child. Glenn Larner, Freshwater

Neoliberal lies

If productivity is so bad, why are business and company profits soaring to record levels (“Productivity Commission wants wage bargaining shifted further in favour of employers”, March 20)? Thanks to lax regulation, and deliberate government policies designed to suppress wages and workers’ bargaining power, capitalism has become a vehicle that enriches owners and shareholders to the detriment of workers. Coalition governments and neoliberal ideology over the past 20 years have turbocharged this environment. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the system is broken. My fear is that our new government will not have the courage to address the elephant in the room on productivity reform. Tony Heathwood, Kiama Downs

Danger of denial

We are fortunate to have wise prophets like Ken Henry and Paul Keating (“Shared delusions, dazzling truths”, March 20). We need them to show us the truth and the danger of our denial. Both incrementalism and small target politics will do us harm. Our political class is not up to the task of facing what needs to be done for our social equality or national security. Mark Porter, New Lambton

Ageing audience

I suggest that the decline in ABC ratings is down to straightforward demographics, not because of any faults in the presenters or style (“ABC calls in help on radio ratings”, March 20). Having listened faithfully to Sydney ABC radio for the past 20 or so years, it is all pretty much the same. Its biggest audience share is 12 per cent of the 65 or over, down from the last survey. That will get smaller as boomers drop off the twig. None of the other age groups is in double figures. 2GB has the same problem with 26.9 per cent of 65 and overs down 2.9 per cent since the last survey. Nicholas Triggs, Katoomba

The news that ABC radio audiences are declining is perhaps a reflection of the dumbing down and obsession with sensationalising trivia of our society rather than the ABC’s irrelevance. Judy Finch, Taree

If the ABC wants to improve its Radio National breakfast program ratings, I suggest it replaces the present incumbent with Hamish MacDonald. Ian Adair, Hunters Hill

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

China solution

Many have written about Australia’s investment in submarines and Xi Jinping’s ambitions to become world leader economically and militarily (Letters, March 20). We do have a way of making China stop its march, much in the same way that China imposed restrictions on Australia: We can stop shipments of iron ore. We can stop all Chinese companies and those with ties to the CCP from buying or investing in any property in Australia. Stop any Chinese investment in agriculture. This will slow the path of Xi’s ambitions. Kathryn Burton, Hurlstone Park

Gas tanked

How come Australia might need to import gas when we export more of the stuff than any other country? I don’t get it (“Australia more likely to import gas”, March 20). Lance Dover, Pretty Beach

Face value

Kerri Sackville’s article on “procedures” begs an obvious point (“And the Oscar for best supporting act goes to … a cosmetic surgeon”, March 20). How times and our values have changed! Fifty years ago, nobody would talk about having a “procedure”. Today, if you mention Botox, nobody raises an eyebrow. David Galliford, Kings Langley

Google defames

I’ve had a one-star Google review for patient advocate services now for three years by a man in Iran (“Google review author who defamed surgeon revealed as former student”, March 20). Google couldn’t care less: five requests to delete it, five robo-refusals. Google is more the problem than the reviewer because it enables defamation. Dorothy Kamaker, Whale Beach

Credit, please

Early death in childbirth combined with the patriarchal tendency to ignore the vital contributions of women and First Nations people have prolonged our ignorance of their vital part in our cultural and scientific history (“The forgotten people behind the birdman”, March 20). Forget censoring Roald Dahl’s writings, these seven tomes of bird data could do with a re-wording with a new foreword recognising the major work done by all others in its production, with correct attributions to Elizabeth Gould on all her artwork. These knowledge gaps need to be filled. Helen Lewin Tumbi Umbi

Elizabeth Gould. Without her artistic talents, “John Gould’s early publications would likely have failed”.

Elizabeth Gould. Without her artistic talents, “John Gould’s early publications would likely have failed”.Australian Museum

Out of time

I commiserate with Richard Glover (“‘Whack it like Fonzie’ and other things kids these days don’t get”, , March 18). I recently said in jest to a young colleague “arriba, arriba, andale, andale” and was met by a blank, uncomprehending look. I said, “you know, Speedy Gonzales?“. Apparently, she didn’t know, so I said, “from Bugs Bunny”. When the reply came “who is Bugs Bunny?“, I knew the conversation was well and truly over. As was my connection with a younger generation.

Smoke it and see

The discussion over real v artificial grass as a playing surface reminds me of the probably apocryphal 1970s interview with an American football player when this same question was put to him; “Is there any difference? I don’t know, I never smoked Astroturf” (Letters, March 20). John Constable, Balmain

Wrong roost

The idea that flying foxes might choose the new Powerhouse’s exo-structure to roost on is fanciful (Letters, March 20). Unlike birds, Australian megabats (flying foxes) need specific requirements to form a roost that are not met by man-made structures. Also, they are proud, and prefer stylish locations to hang out in. Lawrence Pope, president, Friends of Bats & Bushcare Inc.

Syllable syllabus

Thanks to your correspondent for clearing up how to pronounce nuclear (Letters, March 20). Now for lesson two. Has anyone noticed the number of people who pronounce “contribute” “contri-bute” instead of “con-trib-ute”. Tom Orren, Wamberal Heights

Thank you for your pronunciation lesson of the day. Now, could you please give us all a lesson on the dreaded mispronunciation “cere-moan (oh, how we groan to hear it)-y”. Dawn Hope, Wahroonga

Accommodate Trump

Al Capone ended up incarcerated for tax evasion, which removed him as a danger to the public (Letters, March 20). One can only hope Donald Trump ends up in the same accommodation.
Stephanie Edwards, Roseville

User error 2.0

I always thought the principle was PEBKAC – Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair (Letters, March 20). Andrew Pavey, St Leonards

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on
If Minns seizes power, he will be a premier who lumbered over the line, rather than sprinted
From Meadow Man: ″⁣The chances are that this will be an election where a tired electorate will hand the vote to Minns and, just like the person in the repair shop, say without much enthusiasm: ’See what you can do with this.‴⁣⁣

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