Let’s avoid the tragedy of partisan politics

The descent of the Voice referendum into partisan politics would be a tragedy that all Australians need to avoid (“Voice may crack the Liberal Party”, April 7). The Yes argument has not been well articulated but in essence, the Voice referendum represents a historic opportunity for a formal expression of respect from non-Indigenous Australians towards First Nations people. This referendum should be seen in the historical context of illegal colonisation initiated by the British government via James Cook’s 1770 voyage of discovery and Arthur Phillip’s 1788 penal colony. The unique and unusual circumstances of Australia’s colonisation based on the British government’s view that the country was “empty” of civilised society was the ultimate injustice, grounded in profound disrespect for First Nations culture, knowledge, and society. Will a Yes outcome from the referendum solve all the current issues confronting First Nations peoples? Of course not. But it will be a highly significant and long overdue expression of respect that creates a solid foundation for improved future outcomes for First Nations people. William Bellotti, Haberfield

Illustration: Alan Moir

Illustration: Alan Moir

Yes, of course, we are all equal. But a mature and sophisticated democracy can also recognise we are all different and have the right to be respected as such. When it comes to our Indigenous people, this different and special right is vested in something unique, and it deserves Constitutional recognition. They were here first, having lived on this continent for such a long time that it’s incomprehensible to the rest of us. They were violently dispossessed. They never ceded. Their land, their resources, their children were stolen from them. The injustices they have suffered are deplorable. While reversing out of this situation today is complex, it’s certainly within our remit to recognise the inherent rights that are held by Indigenous people in colonised societies all around the world to organise themselves for their own enhancement, to maintain and strengthen their culture and traditions and to promote their own development in accordance with their own needs and aspirations. It’s called a right to self-determination. This proposition that is the Voice has come from our Indigenous colleagues, consistent with this internationally recognised right. It’s such a gracious offering. They are seeking to live together in this land that used to be theirs, peacefully and sustainably. They are seeking the opportunity to have a say, and to be listened to, about matters that affect them. Surely, we are prepared to acknowledge and appreciate this offering, permanently, and to alter our Constitution to do so. David Ballhausen, Cammeray

Peter Dutton’s position is incoherent and is simply meant to undermine a reasonable and overdue constitutional amendment. His position is not motivated by seeking what is best for our country but only to make it difficult for a democratically elected government to implement measures to finally seek structures and actions to pursue and address historical injustices. Eugene Shaw, Fig Tree Pocket

At a time when a referendum gives Australia a chance to signal to the world its coming of age as a compassionate and inclusive society, I feel ashamed but not surprised that one of our political parties has chosen to stay with the same paternalism that characterised our colonial forebears. David Drury, Oatlands

Premier fails first test as homelessness hangs over voters

Premier, your response is inadequate (“Minns says no to rent cap, aims to lift supply”, April 7). With nearly 30 per cent of households living below the poverty line -the majority of whom live in private rental – a temporary rent cap in the current economic circumstances is more than justified. Increasing overall housing supply, including a major boost to affordable rental and social housing, has to be a key priority for the new government. But that will take some considerable time, while the pain of massive rent increases and the risk of homelessness hangs over thousands of NSW renters.
If market intervention was good enough during COVID, it is appropriate now as the rental crisis worsens. Gary Moore, Blackheath

Couldn’t the government spread the load more evenly by looking at the development of the regions? With Australia’s natural endowment of renewable energy, exciting new industries should be considered for regional towns. Looking at the bigger picture, shouldn’t governments, both state and federal, be progressing fast train connections with Melbourne and Brisbane, to the benefit of intermediate towns? We should follow Singapore’s example, where 90 per cent of people own their home. Under their scheme, the government and local super funds build apartments for young people. They pay rent, part of which contributes to their own equity in the property, leading to ownership some years later. We can do better. David Catchlove, Newport

It is obvious that rents are a function of not only supply and demand but also housing prices. An investor putting money into rental housing is looking for a minimum return based on the cost of the capital and the recurrent costs in owning the property. Unless housing prices fall, renters are destined to pay eye-watering sums in areas where demand is high. The government has announced supply side reforms as the focus for improving the rental situation and this approach will be useful. Correspondents prefer to focus upon demand, in the form of reduced immigration, and are also right. However, no mention is made of the downside of restricting immigration. Surely, we do not want to shoot ourselves in the foot by stopping skilled migration or refuse foreign students entry? To improve housing and rental affordability we need both public and private investment in housing, public transport and other infrastructure in growth areas to enable a decent quality of life. Over time this approach would moderate housing price growth thus improving affordability. Ross Hannah, Bowral

How disappointing, premier. Your first opportunity to help struggling renters in this state, particularly in Sydney, and you have failed. Cutting red tape to speed up new housing developments will not have an immediate effect to help struggling families. Let’s hope cutting the “red tape” does not give us more shonky apartment buildings as we had under the previous government’s watch. Fay Semple, Bateau Bay

Not one tree must be logged to increase housing supply, premier. Mary Marlow, Blackheath

Naughty boy Trump

Donald Trump as the next Jesus Christ? The man’s ego knows no bounds (“Trump supporters seeing ‘divine timing’ in ex-president’s charge, arrest”, April 7). Rhyan Andrews, Faulconbridge

Jesus Christ is light, Trump and his supporters are a darkness that threaten US stability and democracy. John Cotterill, Kingsford

Trump is not the Messiah, he’s just a very naughty boy. Peter Miniutti, Ashbury

Former president Donald Trump and Melania Trump.

Former president Donald Trump and Melania Trump.AP

Fool me once…

Why Melania Trump has absented herself from Trump rallies (“Melania conspicuously absent as husband addresses supporters”, April 7).

Could it be that despite her easy life, Melania has reached humiliation overload following her husband’s picadillos and political cover-ups? Geoff Black, Caves Beach

Lost faith

I can’t share your correspondent’s confidence in the American people’s ability to repudiate Trump (Letters, April 7). To state that, “the majority of sensible voters rejected Trump in 2020 and will no doubt do so in 2024, if given the chance” is correct in that a majority of voters did not vote for him. However, 74 million of voters did.

He was able to secure the presidency with 46 per cent of the vote in 2016. Sensible, thoughtful voters will keep Trump out of the White House, but I am concerned there aren’t enough of them to do so. William Galton, Hurstville Grove

Infrastructure projects an expensive shambles

Two projects done under the previous Coalition government have been massive boondoggles with no financial justification, massive delays and huge potential environmental costs. The Snowy 2.0 scheme is the worst. Now it is clear that this rail project has similar implications, not least to the integrity of the Pilliga forests (“Critical section of Inland Rail link in limbo amid cost blowout, April 7). Both should be abandoned. Brian Everingham, Engadine

In my edition of published in 1955 to celebrate the centenary of NSW rail operations, a map shows clearly that we already had an almost direct inland rail link from Victoria via Albury, Grenfell, Narromine and Dubbo to the Queensland border town of Wallangarra and then on to Brisbane, avoiding Sydney altogether. There were two Brisbane passenger express trains, one inland via Wallangarra and one on the coast via Kyogle.

I could never understand the logic of ignoring the existing linked and state-owned inland rail corridors in favour of starting all over again, having to negotiate new land purchases and all that goes with it. Yes, there needed to be some interstate standard gauge works and rail strengthening, but surely a drop in the bucket compared with the vast expense of starting again from scratch.
Why do we make such an expensive shambles of infrastructure projects when other countries take time to get it right from the start? Something is seriously wrong. Lance Dover, Pretty Beach

If we can’t build an inland rail link within a budget, what hope do we have that the oft-suggested VFTs connecting Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane will ever eventuate. Perhaps a slow train coming?

Turn off the gas

Do fossil fuel companies have no shame? After years of government subsidies and tax write-offs, we now find the head of Santos calling on the government to subsidise carbon capture and storage (“Australia is ‘lagging’ on carbon traps”, April 7). And to produce what? Methane, about the most potent of all greenhouse gases. We have more than enough methane, otherwise known as “natural gas”, from current gas fields in this country to get us through the transition to a renewable energy economy. Subsidising further gas field development, such as Santos’ carbon dioxide-rich Barossa project, is climate-change madness. Hugh Barrett, Sanctuary Point

You have to hand it to the gas company Santos. Not only does it want to extract the potent greenhouse gas methane from the Barossa field, described as a “carbon bomb” because of the high levels of carbon dioxide it contains, but it also wants the Australian government to subsidise another carbon capture and storage experiment under the Timor Sea. The Barossa gas is not even destined for the domestic market, but would be shipped to Japan. What audacity. Ray Peck, Hawthorn (Vic)

Memorable toons

Bruce Petty was still drawing his firecracker cartoons and other works until the last months of his long life ( “Bruce Petty, cartoonist and Oscar winner dies, aged 93”, April 7). He was as unassuming as he was brilliant, and had more ideas in a day than most self-conscious artists have in a lifetime. Cartoons seem ephemeral, but Petty’s unique body of work (which he took little care to archive or preserve) will be seen as an Australian artistic legacy second to none. If only someone could find the thousands of bits of paper on which he scribbled over the past 80 years. Philip Bell, Bronte

Free Folbigg

With counsel assisting now submitting to the Bathurst inquiry that there is real doubt over the guilt of Kathleen Folbigg, the process should accelerate and she should be released from custody as soon as possible (“Inquiry sign favours release of Folbigg”, April 7). Once reasonable doubt has been established, then the pendulum should swing back and mechanisms in place to allow for Folbigg to be conditionally released until the legal system catches up and her convictions overturned. Michael Blissenden, Dural

Rape victims’ rights

Your story on sexual assault complaints was sobering, if you could bear to read it in full (“He texted Holly that he’d done ‘the most heinous thing possible’. A jury disagreed”, , April 1). I received a life sentence: raped at 24. Was I drunk, asking for it, dressed suggestively, unclear when pushing him off and saying no, no (was 6′ v 5′3″ an equal battle)? Wrong on all counts. I had a three-month-old baby and wasn’t feeling sexy, so he just took what he wanted. But I have a psychological life sentence, and he has no consequences. The judicial system needs to change fundamentally and quickly to equalise people’s rights, without further legal punishment of the victim/survivor (also with no consequences for the lawyers) and with sensitivity to at least one person’s psychological life sentence. Name withheld

Punish bad drivers

I believe it’s time we cracked down on the epidemic of drivers who refuse to signal their right turn until the light turns green. It’s as if they’re playing a game of “Guess where I’m going?” with the rest of us. Well, let me tell you, it’s not a very fun game. Not only does this thoughtless behaviour cause unnecessary delays for everyone else behind them, it’s also just plain rude.

I propose we start punishing these offenders with heavy fines and three demerit points. As for those too lazy to signal at all, they need to lose their licence for at least six months. Because this problem is so widespread the authorities will need to have cameras on every set of lights. It might seem over the top, but a stand needs to be taken now before our roads become totally anarchic. Jack Crowther, Leichhardt

Bad look

Rethinking tacky, themed jerseys should not be limited to Anzac Day (“‘We’re deeply sorry’: Wests Tigers to design new Anzac Day jersey after gaffe”, April 7). Jenny Greenwood, Hunters Hill

Happy family

What a fabulous picture of inclusion (“Family affair as trailblazing NSW cabinet sworn in”, April 7). This is the future for NSW and I can’t wait. Kevin Keane, Woollahra

NSW ministers pose for the first time as a group after being sworn in at Government House.

NSW ministers pose for the first time as a group after being sworn in at Government House.Dion Georgopoulos

Bedtime Barry

I seem to remember Barry Manilow music being played in southern Sydney to stop youths gathering late at night (Letters, April 7). Perhaps they could do the same at the Royal Easter Show? Carole Dawes, Randwick

Hey, Jennifer White, I’m a senior and I love rap music. Margaret Grove, Abbotsford

Moon loons

I see we are off to the moon again soon (Letters, April 7). Which makes me wonder if the conspiracists can spot whether or not they are using the same set as they did in 1969. Adrian Briscoe, Rozelle

Pilot error

Thank you, Jeremy Burfoot, for an amusing expose of some of the myths about flying (“Mile High club and other flying myths, flushed”, April 7). I’m left wondering though whether the Air New Zealand captain who lost an eye to a popping champagne cork lost it mid-flight or in a post-flight knees up? Ray Morgan, Maroubra

“Peter Dutton and his party have demonstrated the very reason the Voice is needed. First Australians have made it clear they want a say in managing affairs relating to them. Dutton says he will decide for them – what they can and can’t have. Hasn’t it been that way since 1788? Time to move forward,” wrote Lorraine Banks of Palmerston (ACT). It was one of the hundreds of letters we received following Wednesday’s announcement by the Liberal Party it would formally oppose the government’s model for a Voice to parliament.

While a very small number wrote to say the leader of the opposition’s call was the right one to make (because of limited information about the reforms) the overwhelming majority were passionately in support of the Yes vote. They agreed with Dave Gray of Hurlstone Park who wrote that “Dutton purports to be doing what is best for Indigenous Australians. But however bad or inadequate the current proposals may be (in his view), the impact of a No in the referendum will be much, much worse.” The Voice referendum will reveal whether Australia really is a country committed to justice and equality for its Indigenous people many wrote, and a “highly significant, long overdue, expression of respect that creates a solid foundation for improved future outcomes for First Nations people”.

Dutton’s announcement came a few days after his party’s historic loss in the Aston byelection, an event which instigated plenty of discussion on whether the Liberal’s “fringe dinosaurs” were heading for political extinction. You can read more letters on the Voice, the Liberal Party and Peter Dutton online in letters and . Thank you for your contribution. Pat Stringa, letters editor

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