Choice is clear: vision or mismanagement

Whatever the result, I hope that the government for the next three years isn’t determined by the politician who has put on the best performance in the six-week election circus. Please let it come down to policies, honesty and integrity. Eric Sekula, Turramurra

Shark attack

Your correspondent suggests if things don’t go well for the bulldozer today, a new career awaits as tackling coach for the Cronulla Sharks (Letters, May 20). On the contrary, we true lifelong Sharkies will be celebrating his return to Randwick as he re-joins his beloved rah-rah rugby community.
Tony Ramsay, Armidale

Role playing

Operation Mincemeat is currently screening in cinemas. Albo and ScoMo have leading roles. Helen Moran, Woollahra

Artistic genius

The highlights of the election campaign for me, and no doubt many other Herald readers, have been the outstanding cartoons produced by Cathy Wilcox, Shakespeare and other brilliant wits. A huge thank you for keeping us sane. Margot Vaccari, Berowra

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox Credit:

Morrison lacking in legacy? What greater legacy can there be than saving the nation during its darkest days since WWII? Like the war, lives were lost, but nowhere near the numbers sustained by other countries. Let’s pray the incoming prime minister during his short stay in the Lodge is not confronted by the same grave decisions that were addressed by his predecessor. George Fishman, Vaucluse

It’s only natural: death is not an enemy

At last, our rulers have taken a first step towards assisted dying, to a society where a person can end their life at the time of their choosing, alone or in the company of loved ones (“Supporters welcome ‘the day compassion won’“, May 20). And without the need for doctors, lawyers or priests. A society where death is not seen as an enemy, to be fought to the last breath, but embraced as the natural and inevitable end of life. Ross Carlton, Wyoming

Thank you to everyone involved in making voluntary assisted dying happen in NSW. My wife died an awful death from motor neurone disease and she deserved the choice. And therein lies the crux of the issue – choice. To those that campaigned and voted against assisted dying, you still have your choice. You have lost nothing. Iain Muir, Engadine

The passage of the VAD bill is a victory for common sense. Of course, there are always those who would seek to prevent people from being allowed to control their own lives. Whenever legislation of this kind is adopted, they predict horrifying consequences. When same-sex marriage was approved by the Australian community, these same people warned that the sky would fall in. Despite their hysteria, nothing untoward happened. So it will be with VAD, and we will be a more caring community because of it. Derrick Mason, Boorowa

After witnessing the intolerable pain and suffering my elderly mother went through before her death from pancreatic cancer, I applaud the NSW state parliament decision to make VAD lawful. No one should have to experience the trauma of a loved one dying in such an undignified and horrible manner. No amount of counselling can prepare you for the experience. People should die with dignity. Rajend Naidu, Glenfield

The passing of the VAD bill will open a Pandora’s box. By lifting the lid on the bill, we will not be spared its inexhaustible, evil permutations. It is a false hope that legalising people to be assisted in ending their life will make our society more humane. Advocates have forgotten why hope was left in Pandora’s box. Lynette Osborn, Marrickville

Thank you, Alex Greenwich and Andrew Denton. Ben Dryza, Newtown

COVID a missed opportunity for unis to recast themselves

The new UNSW vice chancellor believes the pandemic gave the sector “a chance to reset; to cast off old habits and develop better ways of operating” (“NSW’s universities emerge from pandemic more united”, May 20). Many in the sector during the pandemic, including “exhausted academics and alienated students from campus” mightn’t agree.

The sector, under the questionable excuse that it “was excluded from the federal government’s JobKeeper subsidy”, has arguably used the pandemic as an opportunity for mass shedding of thousands of “exhausted academics” who’ve made long-term contributions to the sector, imposing multiple questionable restructures and redundancies, and maintaining insecure staff casualisation and fixed-term contracts. To students – our youngest daughter has struggled through two years of her degree in total “online” isolation, while accumulating the same HECS debts for remote studies financed and supported by our private resources and infrastructure.
Vice chancellors should have organised a “reinvigorated co-operation” between themselves way before the pandemic to fight the sustained failure of governments to fund them properly, which has diverted their focus to international student revenue and made them more akin to private businesses than public pillars of higher learning. Robyn Dalziell, Kellyville

Show some care

Aged care is back on the agenda (“Sector in crisis: 60,000 vacancies nationwide”, May 20). More money and higher wages would be good. But aged care residents know that what is needed is much more nuanced. More care hours would help, but what is needed depends on the composition of the residents. Some need much more attention than others; and this changes over time. One size doesn’t fit all. The requirements need to be assessed on a regular basis, say monthly, and the funding of care hours adjusted accordingly. Scheduling is critical. Some periods demand greater resources than others. Late in the evening, for example, there’s a great demand for assistance. This suggests the need for subsidised transport for late-night staff. Expenditure on food is useful, but it’s what is actually eaten that matters. There is much waste in care homes. What we need is a government that understands the real situation and does not conveniently pigeonhole aged care.
Alex Fleck, Surry Hills

The price is wrong

The failure to do anything to limit the absurd increases in house prices is a monumental policy failure that is destroying people’s lives (“Falling house prices mean carnage … so why would

politicians solve housing affordability?”, May 20). Hundreds of thousands of Australians are

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

constantly anxious about their capacity to pay the mortgage or the rent. Many renters see their situation as lifelong. Homelessness is increasing. On the other side, the wealth of many home owners has grown dramatically. Housing has become the key division in Australia and the negative consequences are manifold. Alan Morris, Eastlakes

Is growth good?

You raise an important issue (“Why no one is talking about migration during the election campaign”, May 20). A reason is that migration is the major cause of population growth and that this imposes large costs. These involve infrastructure upgrades, urban congestion, housing demand, pollution and, importantly, environmental degradation. We need to realise that our socioeconomic system is only a subset of the ecological environment that provides our life support and must therefore be protected as the top priority if future generations are to survive and flourish. This dependency challenges the unquestioned “growth is good” mantra that has warped our thinking but should have passed its use-by date long ago, if sustainability is paramount. Alan Jones, Narraweena

Two sides to Dahl’s story

What a feast of magical literature your correspondent’s family have missed in not being exposed to Roald Dahl’s magnificent oeuvre (Letters, May 20). He was not cruel. On the contrary, his sense of justice was always at the heart of his stories.
The odd, the other, the poor were always victorious. The cruel, the heartless were trounced, the meek and kind were vindicated. My sons, reluctant readers at first, became keen readers when introduced to Dahl. My grandchildren love reading his stories and they are still bedtime favourites – “Can you read The BFG again and do the funny voices?”
Children have always picked their noses and enjoyed fart jokes; reading Dahl’s stories will not further children’s-slide into so-called vulgarity. Kate Elderton, Toronto

Roald Dahl not only regarded himself as “anti-Israel, not anti-Jew” but also acknowledged his antisemitism in an article in The Independent in 1990 (“Racist bully? Much-loved author? The conundrum of Roald Dahl”, May 19).
It is difficult to argue otherwise in the face of his numerous offensive statements, such as the time he told The New Statesman, “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity … Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason”; his reference to “great Jewish financial institutions” purportedly controlling the US government; and his appalling slur that during his service in WWII, Jewish soldiers were difficult to find.
In December 2020, his descendants published an apology on the official Roald Dahl website for “the lasting and understandable hurt caused by Roald Dahl’s antisemitic statements. Those prejudiced remarks are incomprehensible to us and stand in marked contrast to the man we knew.“
There is no ambiguity – not in Dahl’s mind or for anyone familiar with Dahl’s writings and musings.
Jeremy Jones, Director of Community and of International Affairs, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Redundant and reviled

Your correspondent asks if readers can construct a sentence using “actually” (Letters, May 19). For emphasis – he actually expected people to write their responses, so I have. Tom Meakin, Port Macquarie

Can you construct a sentence where “actually” adds meaning? Well, actually, I can’t. Jim Hyndman, Fillans

Actually, the unnecessary companion word to “actually” is “literally”. It, too, is misused to add emphasis, quite literally. Matthew Gibbs, Leichhardt

“Basically” is not only a redundant adverb but on one notable occasion led to downright confusion (Letters, May 20). Living in Germany, one of our colleagues was asked by a perplexed German why everyone seemed obsessed with “bicycles”. It didn’t take long to realise that pleonasm and the Aussie accent were at play. Elizabeth Maher, Bangor

Beginning sentences with “now” and punctuating a narrative with excessive use of “like” are both basically, and absolutely, unnecessary. Robert Caraian, Crows Nest

I often revile redundant words when I’m travelling in a southbound direction. Meredith Williams, Northmead

And in terms of useless words and phrases, what about “in terms of”? John Burman, Port Macquarie

Postscript

“Congratulations to the Sydney Morning Herald for its objective but understated editorial in Friday’s edition. The reasons it recommended a change in government were forthright and well reasoned. The newspaper has shown it is still independent and a newspaper of integrity,” wrote Terry Hannan of Bowral, echoing the words of hundreds of correspondents.

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

As always, a few did have some criticism: the editorial was “meek” in its support of Anthony Albanese. “Labor deserved better than the Herald’s grudging endorsement. For those not paying attention, Labor’s campaign was all about vision, integrity, inclusiveness and compassion. Hopefully, Australia will vote for a return to decency. Integrity is the cornerstone of good leadership and without it we cannot succeed,” wrote Graham Lum of North Rocks. A small number of letter writers also believed we were backing the wrong party.

As a former editor explained after a huge reader backlash to an editorial supporting the Coalition at a state election, the Herald has been endorsing one side or another for more than 100 years, since major political parties first came into existence. In the first six decades following federation, it always supported the election of a conservative government. The Herald has only endorsed the federal Labor Party for election six times previously – 1961 (Calwell), 1984 and 1987 (Hawke), 2007 (Rudd), 2010 (Gillard) and 2019 (Shorten).

But while correspondents may disagree with editorial direction, I’m sure most, if not all, are happy the campaign is over, whatever the outcome will be. As Eddy Lange of Ashfield wrote: “No more fake hair washing, fake truck driving, raw curries and bulldozers knocking over children. We all deserve better than this nonsense.” Pat Stringa, letters editor

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