Moral argument for the Yes vote needs a factual back-up

Thank you, Geraldine Brooks, for succinctly expressing my own thoughts. I remember the 1967 referendum as an 18-year-old (“Voice can’t be silenced by Dutton’s triumphant tone”, July 22). At the time, I could not believe that our Indigenous people were not counted in the population.
Voting Yes then was the right thing to do and voting for the Voice now is also right. It is but another tiny step in the reconciliation process. Julie Granger, St Peters

Saying “sorry” in 2008 was a symbolic gesture by non-Indigenous Australians to acknowledge the wrongs perpetrated against the stolen generations. Many Aboriginal people graciously accepted the apology. No future sorry will ever suffice if the Voice referendum is not successful. Margot Vaccari, Berowra


Matt Golding

By accusing Peter Dutton of mimicking Donald Trump, dual US/Australian citizen Brooks is falling into the same trap as others. On a day when the Resolve Political Monitor is showing a continuing slide in support for the referendum question, Yes advocates need to explain what the Voice actually means rather than resorting to name-calling (“Voice vote faces loss as NSW trends No”, July 22). Most Australians support Indigenous recognition in the Constitution. However, they are worried and unsure of the consequences of an enshrined Indigenous institution separate to government. Riley Brown, Bondi Beach

One key element that has been missing from the Yes campaign is evidence: evidence that consulting with program participants achieves better results (“Yes campaign in need of a radical shake-up”, July 22). Thankfully, this is now being addressed. Programs run by charities such as World Vision clearly demonstrate outcomes improve when the voices of intended beneficiaries are heard, whether in Australian First Nations communities or in developing countries. The Yes campaign has to date relied largely on emotion. It is time to let the facts speak for themselves. Clay O’Brien, Mosman

One of the key factors we should consider in voting is the impact of a No vote on our nation’s moral fibre. If we explicitly disregard the ample moral claims of Indigenous Australians to their own Voice, we might imagine this has no bearing on the overall integrity of the nation. One thing that the robo-debt scandal has taught us is the propensity of politicians to disenfranchise any powerless subgroup if they think it is to their advantage. Let us not imagine any of us is immune to having our rights trampled. Strengthening the rights of Indigenous Australians will strengthen the rights of all of us, both as individuals and as a nation. Gerard McMullan, Birchgrove

Is the increasing resistance to the idea of the Voice really about disinformation? Are pundits being too narrow in their take on this? We should remember we are a “self-made” people. We pride ourselves on dragging ourselves up in life. We hate seeing increases in unemployment payments. We don’t like seeing people get “something for nothing”. There are many layers in the strata of the Australian psyche. We shouldn’t oversimplify this and develop tunnel vision. Garry Feeney, Kingsgrove

Nothing could be clearer. The Voice = considered advice. No more, no less. Full stop. Kaput. Any suggestion it is otherwise points towards racism, gullibility or private agendas. Geoff Simmons, Belrose

Crime gangs welcome, but no asylum seekers please

For a moment, your headline had me worried that we may have been at risk from serious crime (“Violent, organised and in Australia”, July 22). What a relief to find, on reading the article, the “danger” was just a few small matters of identity fraud, with fake passports and fake visas, some burglary, money laundering, money mules, drug and human trafficking, sexual exploitation and minor murder events.
These people were aspirational, organised and demonstrated perseverance: welcome to Australia! Please come in. So reassured to find they hadn’t come by boat. So glad our governments have been able to keep us all so safe through our superior, protective migration “system” over past decades by focusing on and blocking those dreadful asylum seekers who turned on-water, disorganised, without passports or visas, not even fake ones. And with nothing to offer their targeted country – no drug supplies, no money to launder and sink into real estate. Keep them locked up with their dangerous ideas stuck on freedom and democracy. Nell Knight, Avoca Beach

Yet another wonderful Coalition legacy: we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come, said PM John Howard in 2001. Scott Morrison “stopped the boats” and various Commonwealth departments were amalgamated under none other than Peter Dutton, put in military-style uniforms and ostentatiously named Border Force. So while there was plenty of focus on people arriving in leaky boats, we apparently ignored people who arrived on commercial flights, intending to set up criminal enterprises. Indeed, the weaknesses in our immigration controls seemed to facilitate their efforts and therefore attract them. Michael McMullan, Avoca Beach

The previous Coalition government and its Border Force led so incompetently by Dutton and by Morrison in his various guises seem to have scared us about a few poor refugees on boats, but instead allowed in a whole criminal and drug army and slave-labour force from China, Colombia and Albania. Yet they still trump themselves as some sort of guide to how things should be done. Tony Sullivan, Adamstown Heights

While Albanian illegal immigrants were gaining a foothold in Australia, importing drugs and getting away with murder, the men whose job it was to protect us from them were preoccupied with seeking political advantage from “queue-jumping” asylum seekers and “African crime gangs”. The Coalition will always go after the low-hanging fruit. Dutton’s opposition to the Voice is yet another case of vote-seeking over principle. Wake up, Australia. Peter Newberry, Kingsford

Spend profits of doom on fire-fighting

With the anticipated likelihood of heatwaves over summer, we can expect horrendous wildfires and crippling drought, compounded by potentially fatal impacts on human health (“Hottest July in history bodes ill for summer”, July 22). At the same time, fossil fuel exporters will reap huge profits while directly contributing to global warming. The forecast climatic events suggest that substantial additional resources will need to be directed to fire-fighting, drought relief and mitigation of the heat effects on our population. This raises the obvious question, which sectors should be contributing additional funds to offset the threat? Roger Epps, Armidale

Illustration: Megan Herbert

What wattle?

There are more than 1000 species of Acacia (wattle) in Australia, so there is always more than one type in flower at any time of the year (Letters, July 22). Wattle Day was gazetted as September 1 nationally in 1992. Previously it had been celebrated on August 1 and September 1 in different states. Certainly, there are indicators of climate change in altered flowering patterns of native plants, but one needs to compare specific species over many years to provide evidence of this. Location and other factors also come into play. For example, many plants flower later (every year) in the Blue Mountains than on the coast, despite relatively close geographic proximity. Dave Noble, Marks Point

Forty years ago I went into labour on a grey rainy day in July. Three days later I came home with my beautiful third baby – a bright sunny day and it seemed like the bush had exploded into a sea of yellow. Acacia longifolia was blooming as it does every July. With hundreds of species of wattle in Australia, it is not unexpected that different wattles bloom at different times, giving us the opportunity to gather blooms in many months. Margaret Gibbons, Green Point

What you’re seeing blooming at the moment is winter wattle. A third of Australian wattle species start flowering in winter but the golden wattle, our national flower, puts on its show a bit later, signalling the beginning of spring. Freda Surgenor, Caringbah

The benighted city

After leaving the Dendy Newtown one Friday at 9pm I crossed the road looking for dessert and a drink at a well-regarded bar/restaurant (“One night out, three classic nightlife fails”, July 23). No such luck: the kitchen closes at 9pm. It’s more cost effective to sling $25 cocktails than to keep a kitchen open. On a balmy Saturday summer’s evening, drinkers are ushered inside at 10pm to avoid disturbing the beauty sleep of nearby homeowners. The pub has been here for 100 years and the residents chose to live next door to a pub. David Farrell, Erskineville

The one and only

As the mother of an only child, I know the stereotypes only too well (“The power of one”, , July 22). Most have been shared with me by children, having overheard them when their parents were talking, and passed on to me or my daughter unaware of their hurtful messages. I heard a five-year-old ask my daughter of the same age why we didn’t have a swimming pool, explaining the question to my daughter with the comment that “I thought you’d have a pool. My mum said you’d be spoilt.”

I’ve spent my life defending the only child and believing that only children could be as happy and have as good a life as children with siblings do. However, I now think it’s important to acknowledge that whoever we are, we don’t get it all. I’m very proud of our daughter. She’s a happy, well-adjusted person making a good life for herself and her family, and enriching the lives of many others. But I’m deeply sad for her that she will never know the joy of having loving siblings as I do.

There are many reasons for having whatever number of children you have, or for having none. But whatever eventuates, there’ll be advantages and disadvantages for the child. We don’t get it all, and that’s life. Prue Nelson, Cremorne Point

End of an empire?

The actors’ and writers’ strike in the US is just another sign of what’s ailing the country (“Disney boss adds fuel to the actors’ strike fire of Fran”, July 23). Just like its ingrained problem of guns that rots every fibre of American society, its inescapable gravity towards involvement in other countries’ wars, the strike is starting to reveal that it’s been caused by big business in its never-ending quest for the mighty profits as well. Whether Americans admit it or deny it, capitalism (once revered as the greatest economic powerhouse) is now destroying the very country that espoused it, if it has not already destroyed the country. Capitalism has reared its ugly head. Felix Orcullo, Wahroonga

Big W’s duty of care

Your correspondents who are criticising Big W for taking the Welcome to Sex book off the shelves seem to have missed the point (Letters, July 22). Big W has a duty of care for its employees. If employees are being abused because the book is being sold, it has to respond. The book is still available online so Big W has not “succumbed” or “kowtowed” to anything. Having said that, I hope the Bible is no longer being sold in Big W stores. Erik Hoekstrat, Leura

Old lefties unite!

Your correspondent’s image of “old-style lefties” with their “pampered little pets” is entirely accurate (Letters, July 21). She certainly has me pegged. It’s no coincidence that I named my little ginger boy cat Kerry O’Brien. Paul Vincent, Birchgrove

What about the ageing, tree-hugging, tofu-eating wokerati who don’t have pets? John Oakley, Wollongong

Your correspondent tells us that “old-style lefties only rouse themselves when the wind is beginning to pick up in the wrong direction.” I don’t disagree. I’m sniffing in Peter Dutton an ill wind that may soon blow none of us any good. Peter Campbell, Potts Point

As an old-style leftie sailing into that wind, Rosemary O’Brien, whither goest I ? Geoffrey Williamson, Woollahra

Take a bow, Joan

Joan Brown’s 500 published letters feat is to be congratulated (Postscript, July 22). There are a few others of the same stature. I would also really like to congratulate Joan on the support she garners from her family and friends. It (and her funny, succinct and important letters) is a testament to her generous spirit in friendship and camaraderie. Janice Creenaune, Austinmer

Wow, what a milestone. Joan Brown’s letters are always worth a gander, and I’m now looking forward to the next 500. Keep ’em rolling, Joan. Rose Panidis, Graceville (Qld)

Congratulations, Joan. I am at least 492 behind you. Anthony Connolly, Beacon Hill

It’s pouring pets

George Manojlovic mentions it was reigning cats and dogs (Letters, July 22). I experienced driving when it was raining cats and dogs and I drove through a poodle. Paul Hunt, Engadine

Conversational crutches

Regardless of who promotes its use or whether society thinks it’s acceptable, why would I want to use unnecessary “coarse language” to express my viewpoints, when there are superior, more nuanced words and phrases at our disposal (“With C-bomb defused, we’re swearing blind”, July 22).

As for purely letting out emotions, I feel it’s much more fun to use fake or “made-up” words than the real things anyway. Andrew Cui, Parramatta

The fact that film scripts and pop songs have degenerated into nothing more than a concatenation of swear-words does not make them acceptable. English is a magnificently rich language with a larger vocabulary than any other language. That so many seem incapable of expressing themselves without recourse to profanities is indicative of a limited vocabulary and an even more limited intellect. Swearing shows an almost blasphemous disregard for one’s own dignity and that of others. It is a linguistic, social and intellectual strait-jacket. It does not “liberate”, it stifles. Ryszard Linkiewicz, Caringbah South

I have to express my utter disappointment with Malcolm Knox’s piece. I have hitherto eagerly anticipated his erudite, inspiring and oft hilarious wordsmithery. But who’d have thought he could sink so low as to ride his bike on a zebra crossing? Kent Mayo, Uralla

C-Bomb defused.

Simon Letch

I came for the Simon Letch illustration – Barbie in pink disarming Oppenheimer’s bomb – and stayed for Knox’s hilarious article. Just f–—g brilliant, gentlemen. Jenni Stapleton, Kiama

I thought Knox ’s article was a new Wordle game. I was quite pleased with myself and managed to get most right in two or three goes. F–k I’m good! Warwick Spencer, West Pymble

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on

Rent hike restrictions and an end to urban sprawl mulled in housing overhaul

From Shipwrecked: “If you do that then you will also need a cap on land tax, council rates, landlord insurance, agent fees, water rates and bank mortgage rate profiteering.″⁣

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