Monday, March 4, 2024

It’s not only e-scooter riders who feel the pain

Darker times
As a retired librarian, I can only hope that the council is not following the worrying trend in the United States where municipal libraries are being closed, restricting the public’s’ right
to read.
This “quiet censorship” was spoken about recently by Tracie Hall, a previous executive director of the American Libraries Associations, at the State Library of Victoria. She warned that the closures were a precursor to darker times in which book banning was becoming a central civil rights issue.
Meg Paul, Camberwell

Smooth process
It will certainly be “quicker and easier to browse books” in the City Library if most or all of them are thrown out. How this decision will affect the city’s reputation as a city of literature is another question.
Lindsay Zoch, Mildura

Mixed methods
In response to the Grattan Institute’s calls for “reading revolution”, I have one key concern. Having been a teacher for 35 years, later specialising in teaching children with difficulties in literacy, I have observed that a combined approach of phonics plus whole language works best.
I have seen children who can decode words and “read” but then can’t even answer the most basic questions about what they have just read. Better teacher training and explicit, well planned instruction is the key.
Jane Needham, Templestowe

Under threat
Donald Trump’s suggestion, that he would allow Russia to attack “delinquent” American military allies, is deeply concerning.
NATO Article 5 is a cornerstone of the alliance among allies, including the United States, stating that an attack on any of them will result in all member states coming to support of the country under threat.
The irony is that in its 75-plus years of operation, Article 5 has only ever been invoked once, on September 12, 2001, the day after the US was subjected to terrorist attacks. If only Trump had paid attention to history.
James Young, Mt Eliza

Putin propaganda
Peter FitzSimons (“Trump, Putin and a Sydney ‘love-child’ … I’d chat to Oliver Stone on any given Sunday”, 11/2) should apologise to the thousands of dead, tortured, jailed and bereaved who are victims of Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship and invasion of Ukraine.
Fitzsimons gives space to the anti-democratic propagandist Stone and his lies about Putin’s invasion, responding, “We can talk about this one for three hours, and I’d love to”, as if Stone is telling an anecdote about a visit to scenic landmarks. The people of Ukraine revolted against a Putin puppet government they hated, not the other way round as Stone claims.
Brett Byrne, Melbourne

Focus on welfare
Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie said on Nine’s Today program that the “incident” involving Barnaby Joyce (“Barnaby Joyce’s position on shadow frontbench in question after video”, 12/1) was “about getting Barnaby back to work, focusing on his welfare, making sure he can manage the medication appropriately”.
It’s a pity that her Victorian colleagues, and the state Liberals, didn’t take such an enlightened approach in 2021 when they voted against Andrews government laws that decriminalised public drunkenness in public.
Paul Kennelly, Caulfield North

Public behaviour
Your correspondent (Letters, 12/2) has misplaced sympathy for Malcolm Turnbull’s comments about Barnaby Joyce’s “private life”. At the time, he was carrying on an affair with a staff member, whose wages were paid for by the people of Australia. That is not private. In any organisation, this would be recognised as not on.
Lying on the ground in full public view, after one too many whatevers, and shouting obscenities into your phone may be a good look on Survivor, but not for a former deputy prime minister.
Carmel Boyle, Alfredton

Inspired solution
Thank goodness for Ross Gittins. His column (“Let’s stop using rates to throttle mortgage holders”, 12/2) should be compulsory reading for our federal politicians.
Like him, I remember a time when there were multiple alternatives to dampen or stimulate demand, not just the blunt instrument of interest rates, that can mean a disproportionate burden for those with a mortgage, essentially younger folk.
Of course, those alternatives revolved around taxation levels and challenging the conservative line that levels of taxation should always trend downwards.
The idea supported by Gittins – the flexible use of the employee superannuation contributions to strategically manage aggregate demand – would mean the government of the day could make necessary adjustments without being accused of increasing the size of government.
It is an inspired approach that would mean sustainably lower interest rates, and surely a more prosperous society.
Peter Salway, Beaumaris

Embracing later years
Shona Hendley writes: “There is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss” (“I don’t actually want to live forever, really”, 12/2).
Loneliness and isolation (the percentage of Australians living alone is increasing) and poor-quality aged care, essentially healthcare rationing for the very elderly which hastens the progress of terminal decline, rather than aiming for and facilitating enablement and enjoyment of life in the face of disability, are the two main reasons why there is often little value attributed to embracing life in very old age.
The aged care royal commission’s report indicated that there is no reason why the last stage of our lifespan should not hold as much meaning and promise as all stages prior.
Hendley illustrates how a nation’s approach to its elderly, whether negative as in Australia, or positive as in other cultures, filters down to affect the approach to life of people who are younger.
Ruth Farr, Blackburn South

Still rocking
Pete Townshend was 21 when he wrote that he hoped he’d die before he got old. Interestingly, he didn’t say just how old that was. That was almost 60 years ago, yet Townshend is still alive and released an album with fellow Who member, Roger Daltrey, in 2019.
Presumably, Townshend changed his mind, or maybe what he meant was that he hoped he’d die before he got really old, whatever that means now.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills

Resting place
All hail to Shona Hendley who doesn’t want to live forever. So young, so wise.
Many of us remember the scene in Soylent Green where Charlton Heston’s ageing father takes himself to a place where he’s greeted by angelic young people, escorted to a room, asked to choose his music and videos (Beethoven and pastoral scenes), then gently helped to leave his life. (The fact that he will then become a protein pill is not relevant here.)
Anne Riddell, Mornington

Enjoyable alternatives
How could AACTA/AFI get the Best Film category so wrong? The finalists, out of 40 that entered, should have been True Spirit, The Cost, Of an Age, Poker Face and Seriously Red, in my opinion, having watched all 40.
In the end, only Of an Age made the list. Films are supposed to entertain us, not lecture us, and should affect all our emotions to be successful and enjoyed overall. I seriously think that AACTA/AFI is in danger of becoming irrelevant if the best movies of the year are not the finalists.
I have been a member of the AFI for over 40 years and have seen many good films be successful both at the box office and at the awards. I only hope that we keep encouraging the making of films to entertain and educate us.
Jason Ronald, Tallarook

Brutal game
Your correspondent (Letters, 12/1) was critical of Sarah Ferguson commencing an interview with Opposition Leader Peter Dutton on ABC’s 7.30 program by asking him: “Was it humiliating for you to have to stand up and support Labor’s changes to the tax cuts?”
Such a line of questioning is, however, not new. On the very same program in 1983, Richard Carleton’s opening question to Bob Hawke on becoming ALP leader was whether he was feeling “a little embarrassed tonight at the blood that’s on your hands”.
Proof that politics has always been a blood sport.
Garry Meller, Bentleigh

AND ANOTHER THING

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Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding 

Federal politics
The Nemesis series on ABC TV is splitting the viewers: those who are revolted and walk away, and those who hang in there to witness how disgusting politicking is. The overall depressing impression is of just how much our taxes are spent on hot air rather than constructive work in the interest of the country.
Martin Hengeveld, Research

David Littleproud has pushed the Nationals so far to the right on climate that Barnaby Joyce fell off.
Greg Curtin, Nunawading

Is Barnaby Joyce’s position on the pavement just a fall-back position?
Kathryn Bond, Glen Iris

Who in Australia has never made a phone call while lying down?
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill

We have clearly heard Angus Taylor say a new Coalition government would reduce income taxes. Will he also clearly state which government services they plan to reduce?
Peter Hartley, Balwyn North

Nuclear power is easy – just build the reactor in Dutton’s electorate and the toxic waste dump in Littleproud’s electorate.
John Johnson, Richmond

Ageing
Shona Hendley writes “I am not going to live forever. And despite society trying to convince me otherwise, I simply don’t want to.” Perhaps the words of Jonathan Swift are apt: “Every man desires to live long, but no man wishes to be old”.
Joe Wilder, Caulfield North

I bet Dr Emanuel wasn’t 73 – like me – when he said he hoped to die at 75. I am not fretting about my diets, products or habits. I just want to enjoy my life and make a contribution to society for as long as I can. At 75, and fighting back against cancer, I am sure King Charles would agree.
Ivan Glynn, Vermont

Furthermore
Suggested name change: ER-scooters.
Paul Custance, Highett

The picture of people on St Kilda beach (The Age, 12/2) sadly shows the message of the risks of skin cancer has failed to get through.
Mary Fenelon, Doncaster East

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