Francois Voltaire, credited for saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”, also said, “If you believe absurdities, you shall commit atrocities”, and didn’t the January 6 storming of the Capitol Building show just that.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East
Twigging on to book week
Antoinette Lattouf is my new superhero. (“Read the room. We are over Book Week”, The Age 25/8). Thirty-five years ago, while struggling with the demands of caring for a four-year-old and 2 year-old twins, I failed to register the importance of a costume for book week at the four-year-old’s kinder. It seemed to me to be one more demand on an already exhausted parent.
While all the other children tumbled out of their parents’ cars and arms, immaculately dressed as princess this and pirate that, my daughter was utterly crestfallen. I scooped up some twigs and told her to wave them about and say she was dressed as a tree. There are lots of trees in books, right? I am still not entirely sure I have been forgiven.
Gina Brotchie, Soldiers Hill
Focus on the positive
It’s certainly true that some parents have engaged in a ridiculous arms race over fancy costumes for book week at the primary level. But any focus on the library and reading can only be, not only a good thing, but a wonderful event, putting the focus on the library, reading and literature.
The librarians at the secondary school where I work regularly invent interesting, fun and inclusive activities for the staff and students, such as writing competitions, Google quizzes, Mad Hatters’ tea parties, story readings and lots more.
Maybe children should be encouraged to find or make something simple for a costume, and draw or write something about a character. A visit to a local op shop may also reveal many suitable treasures. It’s tragic that Book Week has become a parent competition about keeping up with the Joneses. Jump off the materialistic merry-go-round.
And as for Elsa? Call me a nit picker but, Frozen was a film first albeit, with print spin-offs. Shouldn’t be allowed at all.
Mary-Jane Boughen, Murrumbeena
Dress-up with purpose
Book Week is one that I endorse – we all want to encourage children to read, and this is a fun way to support it. On shopping for costumes this week, I was amazed at how inexpensive they are compared to years ago when the options available were to sew them yourself or pay expensive hire fees. As so many books are ageless, once purchased, they can also be used year after year, shared by siblings and friends. Days such as “Purple days” and “Pyjama Days” really are pointless and irrelevant. Enjoy Book Week – it is only one week in the year and just may start some children on a lifetime reading journey.
Nola Cordell, Hoppers Crossing
Our municipal councils seem to be removing themselves further away from their constituents (“Great barrier grief: Residents irked by council’s ‘Wall of Yarra’,” The Age, 25/8) At a recent council meeting with the City of Port Phillip held at Port Melbourne we were there for a very important item but were placed so far from councillors and staff anyone with a hearing problem was at a disadvantage. Even with my hearing aids and microphones it was impossible to catch all that was said.
And surely we are entitled to have time to ask what is happening in the city we live in. After all it is our rates that make the city work and pay the councillor allowances.
Nola Cormick, Albert Park
Process is the problem
Sophie Wade, Mayor of Yarra, wants to attract the “super young” in the municipality to take an active interest in Yarra City Council but why would they bother? The “super young” ones I know are disillusioned by sham processes; they expect to be listened to and they want to make a difference. A three minute presentation on notice to groups who appear to have pre-determined outcomes does not invite participation by any age group.
Susan Mahar, Fitzroy North
Protect footy on TV
It was pleasing to read that the federal government is working hard to see that free-to-air broadcasting of Australian Rules footy continues (“AFL tackled on games on free-to-air”, The Age, 25/8). There would be many sections of the community disadvantaged if this service was lost to them. Australia was meant to be an egalitarian society so let’s try to show this by keeping free-to-air broadcasting alive, especially for our national game.
Glenise Michaelson, Montmorency
Tasmania for all
Instead of introducing a new Tasmanian team, the AFL should adopt a requirement that all existing AFL teams must play one game each per year in Tasmania. This would entail nine matches in total each year, spread between Hobart and Launceston.
Most Tasmanians already have a strong allegiance to an existing AFL team and this proposal would give them all a chance to see their team live once a year in their own state. There is no doubt that Tasmania deserves a better deal from the AFL. But it’s also obvious that Tasmania could not sustain a viable AFL club of its own without extravagant subsidies from the rest of the league and the Tasmanian government.
Simon Fry, Balwyn
There is currently extensive discussion of Australia’s skilled migration program (Letters, 25/8). But does anyone stop to reflect on the morality of the very existence of such a program? Naturally, every country on the planet would be delighted to welcome skilled immigrants as citizens. But the reality is that the wealthiest, most stable countries, like Australia, are the ones with the ability to attract such migrants; most of whom are of course emigrating from countries which have put their limited resources into training them, and which can ill afford to lose them.
Is it right that Australia poaches nurses and teachers from less developed countries – with the expectation that such grateful immigrants will be willing to accept the current inadequate pay and conditions we provide to these essential workers? Would it not be better to make nursing and teaching more attractive to the many Australian citizens who are admirably suited to these roles, if only they could be attracted and retained?
Richard Barnes, Canterbury
It is with great consternation that I read of the federal government’s release of a further 10 sites for exploration for new oil and gas projects off the coast of Australia (“Anger at oil and gas exploration sites”, 25/8). How does this square with the new Labor government’s target of reducing Australia’s carbon emissions by at least 43 per cent by 2030 if these projects are aimed at producing gas for domestic use? Surely we should be accelerating projects that aid the quickest transition possible to a carbon free energy industry instead of producing more carbon emitting petroleum sources.
Tony Santospirito, Camberwell
Elizabeth Flux writes about an upcoming performance by the Melbourne Symphony of the War Requiem composed by Benjamin Britten (“Playing in the danger zone”, 23/8). She lists the organ among the forces needed for this fabulous work to be correctly performed. Hamer Hall, our premier hall, uniquely, has no organ.
All the great orchestral halls have fine pipe organs. Most recently new halls in Paris and Oslo have installed magnificent instruments. There is a swathe of famous orchestral and concerto works that cannot be performed without a fine pipe organ. It is time that Melbourne ended this ridiculous situation.
Douglas Lawrence, artistic director — Australian Chamber Choir
Congratulations to The Age for its brilliant investigative piece “Blood Gold” . Too often the sound bite and clickbait driven 24-hour news cycle ignores in-depth analysis. It’s heartening to know a news service is investing time, money and talent into such important stories.
Matt Dunn, Leongatha
It comes as no surprise at all that the contraceptive pill has a psychological effect on women (“The pill may hit women’s drive to achieve”, 25/8) and that nobody has bothered to notice until now. It also robs some women of their libido. One has to wonder what would happen if it were men taking a drug that affected their sex-drive? I suspect someone may have noticed fairly quickly.
Claire Cooper, Maldon
Thank you to your correspondent who pointed out that cancer words can hurt (Letters, 25/8). I am currently living with two different cancers. One that will not kill me and is controlled with oral chemo and venesections. The other is rare, with a very low survival rate – mine is 2 per cent for 5 years. Two things come to mind. I am living with, not battling with cancer. Second, when telling friends about the diagnosis the best response for me has been ‘oh bugger, that’s a nuisance’. High drama or pity only increases anxiety.
Every person who has cancer has a different response. Many of us prefer to take a positive line and make the most of what ever time is there. Humour is also helpful, laughing in the face of adversity. Cancer is a blooming nuisance and gets in the way of life plans – we have to adapt as best we can. Name withheld on request
The Age’s website search engine shows it used the word “iconic” 200 times in the paper in the past month, including references to an “iconic” freeway, a conference, a cultural centre that does not yet exist, a food blog, a video game and a South African cricket umpire.
Iconic should be applied to something or someone important or impressive because it is a symbol of something. The Sydney Opera House is iconic. The Peninsula Link freeway is not. Too often the word is used to say something nice about someone or something. Over to you … show us what an iconic masthead can do.
Michael Smith, Ivanhoe
And another thing
Alan Joyce’s payment of $50 equates to just over $4 an hour for the 12 hours I spent on the phone battling their disastrous refunds process (“Qantas says sorry with $50 discounts”, 23/5). To add insult to injury, I must buy a new ticket to qualify for my $50 … I don’t think so, Mr Joyce.
Keith Lawson, Melbourne
A bit rich David Davis telling Daniel Andrews not to sign any contracts this close to an election. Has anyone forgotten about Denis Napthine doing just that?
Marie Nash, Balwyn
“Voters give Labor lead on integrity” (The Age, 25/8) … but it’s a low bar.
Michelle Goldsmith, Eaglehawk
Good on you, Michelle Rowland for sticking up for free-to-air footy barrackers who don’t want to have footy locked behind a paywall. Enough of the corporatisation of the AFL.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris
AFL football for much of the game resembles an under-11s contest. If they put it all behind a paywall, I’ll go to the local under-11 competition.
John Walsh, Watsonia
The crisis at the Essendon Football Club won’t be helped by recycling James Hird as coach. It’d be as explosive as appointing Scott Morrison governor-general. No more messiahs, please.
Kevin Burke, Mooloolaba
Labor must keep the legislated tax cuts – a promise is a promise. The massive deficit must also be tackled: a graduated debt reduction levy should do the trick.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South
Well, we have upped the ante in Target Time this week. Congruity, plenitude and eponymous. You are pushing my capabilities.
Phil Labrum, Flemington
With the amazing exploration of the universe and distant planets, particularly via the Webb telescope, one would hope humanity may realise we must work together to ensure our survival on this one.
Irene Zalstein, East Doncaster
Gay Alcorn sends an exclusive newsletter to subscribers each week. Sign up to receive her Note from the Editor.