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16th of July 2018

Australia News

Critics keen to torpedo plan for sub base in harbour

Submarines depend on complex engineering, operating in hostile environments. Sydney industrial/manufacturing facilities have been replaced with residential high-rise industry. Newcastle would be a more appropriate base for new submarines. - John Brett, Miranda

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Why bother with a sub base in Sydney Harbour? By the time the subs are ready there will be an unused coal-loading terminal at Newcastle. And they have an air force base at Williamtown nearby. - Bruce Welch, Marrickville

Given the power of modern weapons, putting a major military installation in the heart of our largest city is what Sir Humphrey Appleby would describe as a courageous decision. Perhaps we could, in addition, have rooftops painted in a pattern of colours radiating from the base to form a bull's-eye? - Steve Bright, North Avoca

The navy boffins would be well advised to stay away from the Balmain area as foreshore rentals are the highest in the harbour. Best bet would be to base it around Hunters Hill where "mud and water" rentals are the cheapest and have the bonus of being the least polluted! - Cornelius van der Weyden, Balmain East

Foul-mouthed senator’s vote is tainted, PM

If Malcolm Turnbull is genuine in his condemnation of Senator David Leyonhjelm's offensive, sexist and disrespectful remarks, then he should announce that the LNP will no longer accept Leyonhjelm's vote in the Senate ("Unapologetic Leyonhjelm lashes out at PM, media", July 4). - Don Genford, Granville

A PM with a backbone would refuse Leyonhjelm's vote. - Roger Cooper, Boambee East

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young receives support from Tony Abbott following the sexist slurs made by Leyonhjelm. I wonder if she still thinks the ex-prime minister is a grub? - Riley Brown, Bondi Beach

The Wikipedia entry on Leyonhjelm notes his family is of Swedish noble origins. There is nothing noble about the senator's refusal to acknowledge his damning words or apologise. This will be what he is remembered for when he leaves parliament: outdated misogyny. He and I are the same age and went to the same university, yet his views of women and understanding of our society is so flawed, how can he represent what he calls, "normal" Australians? - Isobel Bothwell, Rozelle

Under the constitution, Leyonhjelm's role as a senator is to represent the people of NSW in developing national legislation and monitoring the performance of the executive government. If he thinks that personal verbal abuse of a fellow senator during Senate proceedings is more important than the role for which he was elected, he should resign. - Doug Keech, Killara

In an interview with Hamish Macdonald on Radio National yesterday morning, Leyonhjelm suggested that rather than call his actions in parliament sexist abuse his actions should be simply called abuse. Even if his comment implying he abuses just as many men as women is true – and what a demeaning thing to tolerate in our political system – there is an important point to make.

Because of long histories of (often sexual) degradation and abuse of women, it generally has a much sharper and more harmful effect to abuse women as opposed to men. So-called 'abuse' of men and women is not equivalent in its effects, especially if the abuse is done by a man. - David Newman, Coogee

Leyonhjelm's tactics have distracted from his core claim – that misandry is equally bad as misogyny. This simply isn't true. When has misandry led to gang rapes of men by women? - Samantha Chung, Newtown

I'm assuming Leyonhjelm is unmarried. I don't think he'll find it too easy to get a yes to any requests for a date in the near future. -Sheryl Black, Coffs Harbour

TAFE is about skills not profit

The aptly named Niall Carpenter has hit the nail on the head with his comment that people know his TAFE carpentry qualification means he has been taught well ("TAFE and VET enrolments plummet", July 4). I am proud to have been a TAFE teacher. It was a given for employment with TAFE that you had skills and pride in your chosen trade and the high standard of TAFE teacher training requirements were second to none. The results speak for themselves.

Despite this, we are now seeing the disastrous consequences of TAFE no longer being the first choice in vocational education, largely due to continual state and federal government funding cuts and the ill-advised marketisation decision which opened the door to dodgy private providers. - Joy Nason, Mona Vale

TAFE enrolments will not recover until the state government admits the abject failure of its ludicrous strategy to turn the public vocational education and training system into a business venture.

The return on investment has never been in dollars: it is in a skilled workforce contributing productively to the state's society and economy; young people and mature-aged workers looking to train and retrain, being able to enrol in an affordable, local TAFE college with a relationship to local businesses and understanding of the needs of diverse, disadvantaged communities.

These are instead being closed with Connected Learning Centres replacing them with inadequate facilities and no student services. One of the finest education and training institutions in the world is being dismantled across NSW. Thousands of teachers gone or going; replaced with casual trainers. What price failed policies? - Jozefa Sobski, Haberfield

Former director, South Western Sydney Institute of TAFE

Solar in the shade

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal's proposed cut to the feed-in tariffs doesn't make sense on so many levels ("Critics slam decision to cut solar feed-in payments", July 4). The provision of clean, renewable energy should receive at least the same amount per kilojoule of electricity provided as electricity providers pay for coal.

Electricity providers already pay far less for renewable energy than they pay for coal. Not only do renewables provide clean energy, proper pricing encourages others to make the investment in solar panels. Further, as is well understood in the industry, by providing energy at peak times – when the sun is shining and people are using their airconditioners – solar panels mitigate the necessity for traditional power stations to expand in order to meet peak demand. So no, state government and IPART, don't even think about it. - Cassi Plate, Currarong

The proposal to slash this tariff will punish those who have panels and will not benefit those who do not.

I never expect to recoup the total cost of the panels we have installed. We installed them to reduce the use of fossil fuels to produce energy. Solar feed-in occurs only during the day, especially during the summer, when electricity use is greatest.

Currently we receive 11.1 cents per kWh and the supplier then charges other households 53.5 or 24.2 cents per kWh. It will be the electricity suppliers who benefit from the reduction in the feed-in tariff, not those who do not have solar panels. - Barry Boettcher, New Lambton

Time to think of koalas

Now it has been revealed koalas have ‘‘a purpose’’ and are of use to saving us humans from serious diseases does that mean we will at last stop trashing their habitat (‘‘Cracking koala code could also help humans’’, July 3)? It is time to overturn the NSW government’s indiscriminate land-clearing laws? Is this what it takes to take the pressure off an endangered species, ie find a use for human gain and species saved? - Jacqueline Tuck, Mosman

Left high and dry

So NSW government budget cuts in 2016 left Hornsby with a firetruck with a ladder which can reach only 15 metres ("Firetrucks reach for the sky as apartment living rises", July 4). And in a suburb with many multi-storey apartment blocks. Not only has the exponential growth of unit towers in many suburbs not been matched with the necessary infrastructure of schools, hospitals and public transport but now anyone living above five storeys should not only be alert and alarmed but terrified. - Sandra Willis, Beecroft

Detention not enough

I was pleased to see that finally one of the facilitators of institutional child abuse was to go to jail for his crimes against children despite his age and position in the Catholic hierarchy ("Pope must sack archbishop", July 4). But now Archbishop Wilson may be allowed to serve time living with his sister, which is what he might well have chosen to do anyway in comfortable retirement.

He still refuses to acknowledge and understand how he has offended; he doesn't even intend to resign from a position in the church which should not be occupied by a convicted felon.

This may seem unfair when he is an old frail man and so many of his co-conspirators against the welfare of children have avoided punishment. It is time to change the culture which protects religious institutions from community standards and that change must begin with Archbishop Wilson. - Marjorie Sutcliffe, The Rocks

Twelve months? Home detention? Suffer the little children indeed. - Peter Richardson, Coniston

We are told the majority of child sexual abuse occurs in families yet I've never seen a mention in any media of another family member reporting this crime to the police. Is this OK? Does respect for the family's good name absolve? Is there a double standard here? - Peter Morrissey, Cronulla

Less than rewarding

I was interested in Clancy Yeates' article ("Credit card rewards less rewarding", Money, July 4). I find the banks expect all customers to be tech-savy like 16-year-olds. I am nearly 70 and have a massive number of bonus points on my Citibank credit card. When I phoned Citibank, they told me I had to go through all sorts of hoops and hurdles, getting (or applying for) passwords and no real person could help me.  It seems that customer service is a thing of the past. - Glynn Stiller, Bowral

Luck’s a fortune

Stewart Smith (Letters, July 4), I don’t deny the forward planning and hard work, but I think we are a better society when we acknowledge that luck does indeed play a key role in all our lives. On the whole, I’m guessing that self-funded retirees are “luckier” than pensioners in many respects. More likely to have been born into a family with social and economic assets. Less likely to have suffered from a disability or illness. Less likely to have had a marriage breakdown (especially for women). More likely to have one of those jobs that we arbitrarily place higher economic value on (bankers not teachers, for example). None of those are things we choose, except perhaps for the job bit – but we would all be out of luck if no one chose to be a nurse, a garbage collector or a delivery driver. - Elyse Sainty, North Sydney

Bags of opportunity

I agree with Ian Whitworth (‘‘Banning plastic bags is right so deal with it’’, July 4), but this should apply to all plastic use. I’m thinking of two avocados on a plastic plate, swathed in plastic wrap.

Colesworths et al are doing rather nicely out of all this. They are now selling so-called reusable plastic bags. - Jo McGahey, Belrose

Surely there are marketing options for those in the paper bag business to capitalise on the ban on plastics. We have tried to buy paper bags at supermarkets – no easy task. - Ken Follows, Erina

Rescue fits the Bill

It worked before, so perhaps Beaconsfield Bill should consider a trip to Thailand (‘‘Race against the flood water to rescue cave boys’’, July 4). - Rob Baveystock, Naremburn

Match packs a punch

The Australian Boomers and Filipino Bashers found a way to ignite interest in this dull game (‘‘Brawl of shame’’, July 4). - Ray Alexander, Moss Vale

Clock on to head off

Don’t know about donning the PJs, Col Shephard (Letters, July 4), but back in the day, wifey being too gracious, hubby was deployed to look at the clock, yawning, and blurting out, ‘‘good grief, don’t tell me it’s already 11.30.’’ - Rosemary O’Brien, Georges Hall

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