Moribund Liberals can learn from PM’s collaborative approach

Peter Hartcher attributes the success of Anthony Albanese’s government of adults to having a plan and implementing that plan (“Albanese’s making it look easy”, April 1). Part of their success is that they can work around the negativity of the “No-alition″⁣ and engage the Greens and the crossbench, to get things done. While there is some room for improvement, they have the balance right. By focusing on important cultural and scientific initiatives they are trying to future-proof our country. Anthony Albanese’s collaborative approach to leadership maximises output and good governance. This a far cry from the recent self-indulgent, do-nothing Coalition governments that were hamstrung by political games and too many masters. Peter Dutton, it appears, has learnt nothing. Geoff Nilon, Mascot

Illustration: Megan Herbert

Illustration: Megan Herbert

The Albanese government may rightly be a model for that which it thankfully replaced last year. While unified and committed in its program, it nevertheless still floats out of control in a stream of US-inspired faux nationalism, partly its own and partly inherited from the previous Liberal government. Relevantly, Labor’s entry into AUKUS is a big mistake, one that could rebound in ways seen or unpredicted. There is surely still time to squeeze ourselves out of this mistake, maintaining if not gaining face with the international community. Fred Jansohn, Rose Bay

In a once in a century event, an opposition loses a byelection in Australia (“‘We’ve suffered terribly’: Dutton accepts blame as Albanese celebrates”,, April 2). When will the Liberal Party finally realise its name is mud, and it represents a cynical misnomer of their real policy leanings? Through decades of branch stacking, they have moved to the conservative religious right while the community has become more progressive. And yet, there are still voices within the party that declare the answer is to move further to the right. Unless there is a tectonic shift within the party base, they are doomed to irrelevance. I fear their minds are not liberal enough to realise. Rowan Godwin, Rozelle

Liberal Party dysfunction has made history. Like some bizarre April Fool’s joke, it has shown they are no longer an election-winning machine. Other than the GST, a big tax on everything, and a wretched policy dealing with refugee boat arrivals, what else have the federal Liberals given us? Fundamentally, this lack of strategic intent began when John Howard reconstructed the party as a “broad church”: not broad, more a church, ignoring both hubris and the adage about not mixing politics with religion. Where to from here for Peter Dutton? Just keep on fighting, never give in and no need to change. No new direction, no renewal of strategic intent; just keep saying “no”. The Liberal Party has become moribund and lacks any future. Ian Caddy, Cheltenham

Dutton says Victoria is a “very difficult market” for the Liberals. Following so closely on the NSW election, it looks like a problem of the product, not the market, and not only in Victoria. Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale (Vic)

As a Labor supporter, I’m pleased with the Aston result. However, I’m disappointed the Coalition has decided not to participate in the democratic process. All governments need a viable opposition. If the Coalition refuse to do this they should all resign. Denise Woods, Orange

We now have a party with a clear abundance of support to act for all Australians. There is no excuse: Labor must do everything possible to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Penny Rosier, North Epping

Buying your house for your children no simple matter

Many more than three cheers to Jenna Price for pointing out that supporting older people’s “rights” to increasing wealth has been achieved at the expense of many more younger people’s “rights” to exchange the rental roundabout for a secure home of their own (“Boomers, it’s time to dig deep”, April 1). Radical changes are needed. Price identified them brilliantly. Stephanie Dowrick, Balmain

Sharing one’s wealth with one’s adult children is not as easy or generous as it sounds. Once a parent begins supporting the home purchase of an adult child, a Pandora’s box of trouble waits to erupt. Sibling rivalry is exacerbated. Relationships which once were amicable can deteriorate into hostility, and it’s not only one’s closest friends with whom a falling out can occur. Like those friends, I worked very hard to be as independent as possible in old age but none of us are buying a fast EV, fancy dinners or exquisite travel. We are trying to keep up with the increasing cost of living like everyone else. Patricia Farrar, Concord

Unless you are a completely self-funded retiree and don’t rely on a part superannuation/part aged pension, Centrelink has strict rules and severe penalties for how much you can give your nearest and dearest. Ten thousand dollars a year is the cap and any “gifts” above this amount can halve an aged pension for five years. As a recipient of this penalty I can attest to its veracity. Christine Tiley, Albany Creek, Qld

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt Golding

When I grew up we would not express ideas like Price’s. We had to wait for the elders to die and perhaps inherit, grateful for what we got. Boomers and even we, pre-boomers, struggled and did without to buy homes. It was not easier or cheaper, for us. We had to have a far larger percentage of the purchase price as deposit, and there was only one wage earner. We had no air con, no restaurant meals, no cafe coffees, no pay TV, no plane trips and no holidays unless they were free. Our homes were basic and mostly furnished with cheap or second-hand goods. We had home-cooked meals with little or no alcohol and a black and white television for entertainment. We worked and lived and paid off those homes. Perhaps, and if we could do it, we upgraded to better homes after many years. Now we deserve to keep what we saved to get and expect those who come after us to wait until we die to inherit. Susan Webb, Valentine

Saving the NGA is an emergency

I am hoping and expecting a very quick response and massive funding for the National Art Gallery from Arts Minister Tony Burke (“It’s no accident our national gallery is on its knees”, April 1). Priceless artworks are hanging, including by Jackson Pollock, which was recently valued at $500 million. Imagine a painting of this value placed at risk by a leaky roof and crumbling wall. The NGA is home to so many expressions of the spirit of our country, especially from our Indigenous artists. Come on, Tony Burke and PM, this is an emergency. Gail Hewison, Birchgrove

To spend $500 million on an already adequate war memorial is scandalous when our returned personnel and their families are struggling with life after war service. Fix the NGA by all means, but please rethink what $500 million could do for our returned men and women who have no need of a memorial in their daily lives to “remind” them of war. How often have we heard the words “Lest we forget”? If only they could. Kathleen Hollins, Northmead

Surely, the current condition of the NGA has to be planned government obsolescence, for the inevitable flogging off of another “drain” on government assets to the private sector. Such a pity that arts benefactors seemingly lack the clout of some sporting and military lobbyists, leaving artists and workers to quietly create new ways to stem the neglect of past political philistines. Looks like our international standing rests on sporting conflicts, past military conflicts and future military hardware. So dull and uninspiring. Helen Lewin, Tumbi Umbi

While it is admirable to retain free entry to our major cultural institutions, I don’t see why they don’t have donation boxes. This won’t solve all the problems of a lack of government funding, but may help a little. Glenys Quirk, Forster

Billions to waste on rebuilding perfectly good stadiums while the nation’s art treasures are left to rot away. Populist politicians always think bread and circuses will keep them in office. Paul Duncan, Leura

Joke’s on Trump

As always, a Donald Trump story defies logic (“Who is Stormy Daniels and what did she say happened?”, April 1). If “Trump has denied the relationship and said the payment was made to stop her ‘false and extortionist accusations’” doesn’t that mean the extortionist succeeded? And if you paid $US130,000 ($194,000) to shut someone up, then later realised the whole world knew about the issue anyway, wouldn’t you want your money back? This is an April Fool’s joke, isn’t it? Steve Cornelius, Brookvale

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt Golding

Trump has been indicted for the crime of paying money to silence a witness who claims sexual relations with him. It would be ironic if this was the charge that finally finishes the turbulent and dangerous political career of Trump, who is guilty, but never likely to be convicted, of far more serious crimes than this. The unfathomable part of the Trump phenomenon is his ability to coerce large numbers of Americans to his cause, so much so, that if not convicted, he is likely to have a real chance of a future presidency. As they say, only in America. Max Redmayne, Drummoyne

Premature move

The new Labor government is to commission a major independent review into Sydney’s railway (“Labor tackles rail failure”, March 31). During my career in the railway industry I saw many reviews, and here is how they go. The review, helped by a willing group of consultants, will almost certainly recommend a wide-ranging restructure. Then will follow millions of dollars on advertising and recruitment for the new roles. Then millions of dollars will be spent on making previously suitable employees voluntarily redundant. Then millions of dollars will be spent on rebranding, and lastly millions of dollars on office relocations and fit-outs.

I wonder if it would have been more appropriate for the new minister,
after less than one week in the job, to spend the first six months questioning and listening and possibly interrogating the existing organisation and its workers. Committing potentially millions to a major independent review rather than doing a bit of serious fact-finding, utilising readily available resources, does not inspire me with confidence. Ross MacLean, Corlette

Due process

Although I agree with the sentiments of former senator Rex Patrick, there is a fundamental mistake in his reasoning (Letters, April 1). The courts are separate from the parliament and the attorney-general. Once a judge has made a decision, then the most appropriate course of action is to appeal, as has been done, to a higher court. The scope and boundaries of the whistleblower laws need to be tested. The attorney-general is not in a position to intervene while the appeal process is under way. To do otherwise undermines the independence of the judicial system. Michael Blissenden, Dural

Menopause millstone

Kate Halfpenny might have mentioned the significant number of women who suffer with menopausal symptoms for much longer than 10 years. So many men and women trivialise menopause: “we didn’t really do menopause in my day” or “just another milestone”. Perhaps millstone is a more an apt description for many women. More research and more empathy! Graydon Smith, Castlecrag

Leave out Latham

Is parliament powerless to take action against Mark Latham (“Latham is not fit to remain in parliament”, April 1)? Procedurally maybe, but in practice (and principle) anything but. Two options: whenever Latham rises to speak, either unanimously walk out (thereby depriving the Legislative Council of a quorum, and him of oxygen and his platform) or simply turn your backs. Simple, honourable members – go and do the only honourable thing with this man. Paul Roper, Croydon

Starved minds

Education experts tell us that children who don’t eat breakfast can’t concentrate as well as those who do (“Eat like the Boss – but say goodbye to dinner and breakfast”, April 1). I wonder how the adherents of Omad diets would fare when faced with a DA cryptic crossword first thing in the morning. Sally James, Russell Lea

Royal connection

Greetings King Jim of Camperdown (Letters, April 1) from the current King of Keiraville. Long may you reign! Just so you know, Tuesday is underpants worn on the outside day. Jeff Apter, Keiraville

Time waits for no one

I turned my clock backwards yesterday, but I still missed the bus (Letters, April 1). Dave Horsfall, North Gosford

All my clocks are so smart I didn’t even notice daylight saving had ended. Denis Goodwin, Dee Why

I reckon we have saved enough daylight, can’t we now have “normal time” all through the year? Marjie Williamson, Blaxland

Favourite uncle

In my younger days Doug Mulray was ever present, we listened, laughed and quoted him (Letters, April 1). He meant something, not like a Kennedy or a Mandela more like a Hogan. His impact was uplifting. As I grew older my listening habits changed and Mulray’s influence moved to the background. It was sad to hear of his passing. Those of us who experienced his good humour and enjoyed his company on radio will feel his loss in a sentimental way. Uncle Doug, thank you for the laughs and the memories, you did make a difference! Geoff Hermon, Maraylya

Doug Mulray

Doug MulraySteve Brack

Word games

Try as I do to make my letters “thoughtful, well-written, written succinctly, often wittily and to a superior standard”, alas, the spirit is willing but the mind is weak (Postscript, April 1).
At least, this letter qualifies by association as the Letter of the Year, literally – if not, actually, in style. Edward Loong, Milsons Point

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on
A Sydney mayor wants to sink a navy ship off Coogee Beach
From Tony: ″⁣I have dived in and around wrecks all over the world. Some deliberately sunk, some not. The amount of sea life they create is incredible. You cannot even tell that it was a ship in most cases. Sink the ship! In less than a year it will be teeming with new life.″⁣

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