Premier’s belligerence is a display of arrogance


emIllustration by Michael Mucci/em


How deliciously precious of Barry O’Farrell to chuck a tanty over Shooters Party MPs exercising their democratic and parliamentary right to seek to amend his graffiti legislation in the Legislative Council (”O’Farrell livid over Shooters’ graffiti move”, August 27-28). His vapourings even extend to a belief that by not supporting his own election promise, the Shooters, the Greens and even Labor exercised a ”reckless misuse of their power”. Good grief! What is it with the deluded sense of arrogant entitlement that conservative politicians in Australia so readily lay claim to?

David Grant Ballina

I’m amused by Barry O’Farrell’s frustration in working with the Shooters Party. What did he expect from people who get their kicks from firing guns at defenceless animals?

The Premier should ignore them and give them nothing. I suggest they will shoot themselves in the collective foot and be lucky to get a vote come the next election.

Victor Marshall Erskineville

Barry O’Farrell is a very determined man. Who else would be prepared to so recklessly waste public resources, including police and court time, to bring first-time graffiti young offenders before court and extend an inequitable drivers licence suspension system, which has been repeatedly proven ineffective?

In regional areas people have experienced very serious consequences as a result of their drivers’ licences being suspended for unpaid fines not related to driving.

I have no idea what the motivations of the Shooters Party were, but it has made a terrible law less bad.

Samantha Chung Newtown

Barry O’Farrell should be thanking the Shooters, Greens and Labor for their amendments to his flawed anti-graffiti legislation. How sensible was O’Farrell’s idea to take drivers’ licences from offenders and effectively make them walk everywhere? Are graffiti artists more likely to do some spraying while they are on foot, or when they are driving in their cars? Fortunately, the upper house has saved us from a silly scheme that creates circumstances which encourage more offending.

Mark Pearce Richmond

Just noticed the Shooters Party voted against Barry O’Farrell’s toughened anti-graffiti legislation. I would have thought graffiti vandals would be another species that caused a significant itch to the trigger finger. Maybe the legislation was not tough enough. Politics is a curious game.

Rod Hughes Epping

Perhaps it could be called the ”Jones stratagem”, as the NSW government adopts the tactics of Alan Jones in casting aspersions on the motives of anyone daring to question its actions. Barry O’Farrell is finding, as all new governments do, that it is easy in opposition to talk about accountability; it’s much more difficult when you are being held to account as the responsible government.

Mr O’Farrell talks about principles. One of the first is for government to protect the people from the harm caused by deliberate or inept acts of business and government departments such as NSW Health. In this era of instant communication, it is going to have to provide fast and accurate responses more consistently and provide regular information on progress in longer-term reform if it wants to maintain credibility.

Philip Cooney Wentworth Falls

Midwives forced to leave women at the door? Common sense has been left there too in the tangle of new government regulations and insurance fine print that now governs private midwives (”Private midwives warned over insurance deal”, August 27-28).

Women choose private midwives because they understand the importance of continuity of care during pregnancy and birth. As someone who was induced, but had a water birth rather than an emergency caesarean section because of the support of our private midwife in the hospital with us, I am appalled my daughters won’t have the same choices.

Where are the rights of the mother and the child in this mess?

Chris Wrightson secretary, Homebirth Australia, Freshwater

Your story on insurance and private midwives was couched in terms of a midwife’s rights and relationship with the hospital once a woman giving birth is transferred. But what about the prospective mother’s rights to choose whom she wants to support her in labour? Surely it’s up to the prospective mother concerned: if she wants the midwife with her, so be it (provided the midwife doesn’t then interfere with the hospital care). Seems to me everyone is making a mountain out of a molehill and ignoring women’s rights.

Peta Colebatch Pennautier, France


Time for Thomson to show his card

The good old Aussie tradition of not dobbing on a mate can only stand up against so much (”Labor’s unhealthy union”, August 27-28). Much as I hold the presumption of innocence as primary, and would prefer to see Ms Gillard see out her term, there is incriminating evidence, and if another party with access to Craig Thomson’s card may be responsible and forged his signature, it is now time for that person to be named, whomever they may be. Or, if you are guilty, Craig, please just own up and stop wasting everybody’s time.

Teri Merlyn Newport

If nothing else , it can only be hoped that the Craig Thomson allegations lead to rank-and-file union members insisting on greater accountability and transparency from their union leaders who are supposedly protecting them from those big bad corporate bosses.

Milton Battaglini Carindale


Newcastle success due to big shake-up

David Humphries oversimplifies Newcastle’s transformation by stating the closure of BHP ”left the city with no choice but to adapt and diversify” (”Wollongong mulls a future as the new Newcastle”, August 27-28). Although this provided the city with a much-needed thrust towards renewal, the 1989 earthquake is still the watershed moment to which most Novocastrians affix the death of ”Steel City”.

The consequences of this natural disaster transformed not only the cityscape, but the very way in which Newcastle functioned. Crucially, the decision to barricade the city proper for several months moved commercial activity towards the suburbs and triggered the urban decay and high vacancy rates that have made possible the Renew Newcastle initiative.

Although I wish Wollongong the same success Newcastle has had in recent years, it should be remembered the Newcastle experience was painful and lengthy. Indeed, some still argue that ”New Newcastle” is no more than a shell of its former self.

Matthew Endacott Stanmore


A rough diamond

Regarding the newly discovered ”diamond” planet (Letters, August 27-28), it looks like a cubic zirconia through my telescope.

Martin Field Sunrise Beach (Qld)


Bringing up boys

I don’t always agree with the way Adele Horin sees the world, but she makes some great points in her piece about raising boys (”The value in bringing up boys”, August 27-28).

For the past 20 years, I and others have been trying to get policy-makers to look at problems among boys. The list is a long one. More boys are suspended. Boys predominate on school discipline lists. More boys fail to complete school. Boys take risks, resulting in a preponderance of drink-related problems.

School administrators bewail the difficulty of getting men to stay in teaching. We are raising a generation of men largely raised by women.

When boys seek good role models, what do they see on TV? Pumped-up muscular bodies and brawling footballers.

Thank goodness we have thoughtful mothers like Adele to reflect on what a good man is, and to offer loving guidance in helping boys become good men.

Peter West Bondi Junction

Adele Horin’s piece about her experience bringing up boys was like looking in a mirror. I identified with all the wonderful things she had to say – except perhaps, the camping and the uplifted toilet seat. I have also loved my ”bringing up boys” experience.

Carmel Bradstreet Clontarf


Cheap carbon risk

Low-priced carbon emissions trading credits from overseas are a threat to Australian manufacturers (”Power Bill rises not so harsh”, August 26). Unless the government acts promptly, cheap carbon credit imports from low-cost countries will ruin the Australian market for these valuable new commodities. I call upon the government to apply import quotas on cheap carbon credits, create a suitable tariff structure and ensure that the rules of dumped imports are clarified as necessary to protect local industry. Action is required now.

Bob Liddelow Avalon


Assault barriers

Richard Ackland’s article on sexual assault (”Imperfect victim of imperfect legal system”, August 26) mentions reports that suggest ”authorities in South Australia do not even investigate allegations of sexual assault made by people with intellectual disability”. But the problem is not confined to South Australia.

In NSW, as in other states, making a report of sexual assault to police investigating officers if you have an intellectual disability is difficult due to a lack of time and resources. Many police officers require specialised training and extra support to adequately take statements and investigate complaints from persons with an intellectual disability.

The sad reality is that throughout every community in Australia, those with an intellectual disability can expect higher rates of rapes and incarceration than others.

Michael Ginges Chatswood


BHP not so taxed

Yes, Doug Wormald (Letters, August 27-28), BHP Billiton does pay tax, just not in the same percentages as other Australians. According to BHP’s 2011 financial report it paid an effective tax rate of only 23.4 per cent i.e. $US7309 million ($6910 million).

However, of this amount only $US3503 million was paid to the Australian Tax Office, the remaining $US3806 million was paid overseas, thereby reducing further the percentage of tax paid in Australia to about 16 per cent on their attributable profit of $US21.7 billion. The Australian company tax rate is 30 per cent.

On the personal taxation side your average PAYE worker pays 30 per cent tax on every dollar earned above $35,000; wealthier people can pay as much as 45 per cent. It is absurd to claim that BHP pays the ”normal rate of tax”; far from it.

Jim Iveson Hornsby Heights


Just don’t smile

With the rocketing price of gold, the bank has insisted I have my mouth revalued before they return my passport (”Gold lustre hits tables and teeth”, August 27-28).

Bill Carpenter Bowral


Not all are lucky

Colin Clark exhorting readers to stop whingeing and write letters about how lucky we are to live in Oz struck a chord with me (Letters, August 27-28). I am very happy and grateful to live in Australia. I benefited from a wonderful education in our public schools. I have three degrees from Sydney University for which I paid only HECS. I love our weather and outdoors lifestyle.

But my eldest son has a severe disability and Australia is way behind world’s best practice in supporting people with disabilities.

We need to rectify this with the recommended national disability insurance scheme. When will the federal government commit the funds necessary to correct this stain on our honour?

Dianne Thian Kensington


Upbringing dictates a student’s success

There is no doubt that learning environments which provide students with the opportunity to ask challenging questions and that set clear guidelines for assessment will improve students’ learning outcomes. (”Poor teachers set students back years”, August 27-28).

Teachers in schools in wealthier communities can easily provide such environments, by focusing on deeper learning tasks where eager students from supportive families can be immersed in a wide range of higher-order thinking activities.

However, teachers in schools serving low socio-economic communities are more likely to find themselves working with students who have not eaten breakfast, whose diet centres around high energy takeaway food, whose parents are dependent on alcohol or other drugs, who attend school in clothes that haven’t been washed for a week, and who will spend their idle hours playing violent video games, with little guidance from their parents, who most likely experienced a similar environment when they were children.

The No. 1 factor in a student’s success at school is their family and community. Any suggestion that student learning outcomes are simply the result of ”poor teaching” is just plain wrong.

Implementing programs to address social disadvantage and the issues faced by children from dysfunctional families will improve the learning outcomes of those children, and may also assist in interrupting the cycle of disadvantage, thereby improving the learning opportunities for future generations.

Warren McCullough Kiama

We’re coming to take it away, ha ha

I wouldn’t want to spook any of our Kiwi cousins, but was that the sound of a wheel falling off, so close to yet another World Cup (”Golden Wallabies conquer All Blacks”,, August 28)?

John Tuckfield Abbotsford

Whatever happened to the Wallabies on Saturday night? They played with the passion the All Blacks show in their haka. Anyone would think they had a New Zealand coach. Well done, at last, just in time for the World Cup.

Murray Hunter Waitakere City (NZ)


Value in the biff

David Gallop may not be happy with what he saw at the Manly v Melbourne game, but the fans I spoke to welcomed the return of the old-fashioned biff and went home feeling they had got value for money (”Donnybrookvale”, August 27-28).

David Crommelin Strathfield


Opera love errs

Daniel Herscovitch (Letters, August 26) says the Opera Australia program is a cynical attempt to get bums on seats. Would he be happier if there were performances with half a dozen people in the audience? Surely producing something people want to pay to see is a good idea?

Peter Butler Balgownie

Sorry to disappoint Ann Fenton (Letters, August 27-28), but Emile de Becque, the character played by Teddy Tahu Rhodes in South Pacific, never takes his shirt off. He’s the guy who sings Some Enchanted Evening, which is about an (if you’ll pardon the pun) unex-pec-ted love.

Peter Fleming Ryde


Angry invitation

Will the same mob who rallied against the carbon tax be doing a Parliament lawn protest against gay marriage? I just want to see Angry Anderson maintaining the rage with Bad Boy For Love banging away in the background.

Justin Sayers Erskineville


Order in the House

In singing Harry Jenkins’s praises (Letters, August 27-28), I would like to see him go one step further and boot every member of the chamber out and only allow them back in when they sign an undertaking to behave like normal civilised human beings instead of the crude and rude rabble we have to put up with day after day.

John Harding Eastwood


Ita would need more than an iota

Does Ita Buttrose know anything much about building infrastructure, traffic and transport, logistics, town planning, limiting pollution, emergency contingencies, drafting legislation, controlling development, limiting corruption, helping low-income residents and catering to stressed inner-city communities (”Ita Buttrose mulls making a tilt at lord mayor”, August 27-28)?

What qualifies her?

Jane Salmon Lindfield

I would only vote for Ita Buttrose as lord mayor if Asher Keddie took the role.

Richard Hunter Kings Langley


US stores have paper in the bag

Regarding Woolies and US plastic bags, in America for many, many years, the supermarkets have used brown paper bags.

Sam Greene Maroochydore (Qld)


Animal anxiety

Vicky Marquis of Glebe (Letters, August 27-28) can have the first blowfly, but I am claiming the first moth in the food cupboard, as of Friday. I feel less than blessed.

Deidre Vaill Thornleigh

The appearance of a blowfly may have gratified Vicky Marquis, but it’s not the description a bike rider uses when describing the first seasonal swoop of a persistent magpie, experienced yesterday on the Tuggeranong cycle path.

Col Parks Isaacs (ACT)

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