Why are we still having this yearly conversation?

Tedious though it may be for some, the Australia Day debate is one we need to have each year (Letters, January 24). A national day that does not challenge us, spark controversy, call us to reflect on our history and examine our self-understanding is not worth having. – Meredith Williams, Dee Why

I have been reading about changing the Australia Day date in Herald letters, and “A town haunted by history on Australia Day” (January 24) reinforces for me that for any day to be a celebration we must first face up to history by establishing a Makarrata council as noted in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. What has occurred cannot be undone, but by establishing such a body, even opening it January 26, we could start to shift what that day means rather than sugar-coating it. – Gordana Martinovich, Dulwich Hill

As Australia Day approaches and temperatures rise, we should all just settle down. What are lovely word “settle” is. It’s so passive, so calming, so positive. It sounds so good to celebrate the settlement of Australia and our first settlers. But it wasn’t calm or passive, was it? Hundreds were forced to come here as convicts, they literally became Australian by conviction and the country wasn’t settled; it was taken violently and without consultation. We can’t have a celebration of settlement without recognising the violence and dispossession that was at its heart. – John Bailey, Canterbury

Let us give pause to any celebration of Australia Day until we can celebrate the day a meaningful treaty is declared. Ditto the idea of Australia becoming a republic. – Cassi Plate, Currarong

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Perhaps it’s time for Australia to have a national day to commemorate the history of our immigrants and multicultural country? After all, we are repeatedly told by politicians and commentators we live in the most successful multicultural country in the world. – Con Vaitsas, Ashbury

I have to agree with your correspondent (Letters, January 24) that the term “invasion” sounds a bit rough, as one could imagine the term to mean thousands of troops storming the beaches. A better word would be “occupied”. – Frank Tweedie, Morpeth

January 1 is the anniversary of the Federation, but it is already a public holiday. January 26 has become jingoistic and divisive, simultaneously representing the worst aspects of invasion and colonisation, and the best aspects of the birth of a great, modern country. We should rebrand Australia Day as a day of commemoration, more in line with ANZAC Day. Then move Australia Day to the first Monday of September (Spring) to symbolise the promise of renewal. – Kathryn Newburg, Burraneer

Small shame

Your correspondent is right, of course (Letters, January 24), about bringing back independent building inspectors, but the Coalition is addicted to “small” government, which is why we have so many inadequate services. They have no desire to fix this appalling situation. If I hear about “efficiency” reviews any time soon, I’ll scream. – Jan Kent, Farmborough Heights

Priority show

Your correspondent (Letters, January 24) suggests the government use judiciously collected tax money from housing and stock market bubbles to do good things. Good idea. Like buying bigger barrels and bigger pigs. – Doug Cadioli, Victoria Point (Qld)

Smashing idea

Shame they didn’t use a larger crane that would’ve torn down the whole bloody thing, instead of just smashing the window (“Crane smashes window on casino tower“, January 24). – Carsten Burmeister, Mosman

Visionary cuppa

I knew Douglas Adams was an inspired writer but didn’t know he was into predictions as well (“Shot of the day shocker: scientists say your barista’s daily grind is all wrong“, January 23). In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, he writes of Arthur Dent tying up the spaceship’s computer trying to make the perfect cup of tea when his fellow travellers are trying to stop them from hurtling to certain death. – Margaret Grove, Abbotsford

Sports clubs that missed out due to rort should be funded

On any analysis, the process of awarding of sports grants has been so seriously flawed that it should be set aside. The Prime Minister should provide more funding and all of the sporting bodies that applied for grants and were deemed to have met the criteria, should now be funded. – Peter Vernon, Sawtell

Once Bridget McKenzie’s future has been determined, the federal government must immediately find funding for grants to the deserving sports associations that were overlooked during last year’s rorting. Perhaps there is a great big spreadsheet somewhere with a list of the deserving.
Martyn Frappell, Bulli

Morrison has to make available another $100 million, probably taken out of the ridiculous, useless “surplus”. That must be given to Sports Australia, to be distributed among the clubs initially identified as being worthy of the funds. Of course, those already funded will not double-dip, so more clubs lower down the list will now benefit. This will satisfy many people now incensed about this rort. – John Greenway, Wentworth Falls

So the Prime Minister has asked an employee – who was recruited by the Prime Minister, interviewed by the Prime Minister, and who reports to the Prime Minister – to conduct an independent review of the Sports Grants Program? It sounds like something a bank would do. Are people really happy with that? – Stuart Miller, Ashfield

The Federal Minister for Agriculture strolled into a meeting, and Bridget McKenzie walked out. – George Hayes, Russell Lea

Ministerial standards haven’t slipped, they’re just being observed in the breach. – Rod Matthews, Fairfield (Vic)

Apparently, Bridget McKenzie’s fate depends on the timing of her decisions (“Slush fund scandal: minister’s fate hinges on timing“, January 24). Pity it doesn’t depend on the integrity of them. – John Truman, St Leonards

Political charity case

I was disgusted to read this week that some self-righteous senior NSW politicians are pointing their fingers at charities in the current bushfire crisis. How dare they? Action during a disaster of this proportion must be the responsibility of the government.

We know that charities and the work of volunteers will always be greatly appreciated, but they will never be the most efficient way to recover from a disaster. Their contribution should be considered a bonus and not a solution to the relief operation.

The NSW government obviously now relies on charity to run the state. It is a diabolical surrender of its obligations. – Brian Jeffrey, Gunnedah

I trust the Red Cross managing payments from a $100m pool. I certainly wouldn’t trust today’s politicians. – Brian Eastoe, Stroud

Canary in the coalmine

Unless the world can end the madness of superpower rivalry to overcome climate change and a new nuclear arms race, we will keep moving closer to a final doomsday (“Australia singled out for climate ‘denial’ at Doomsday Clock event“, smh.com.au, January 24). Australia will only be part of the solution if we foster mutual cooperation between all peoples. – Vincent Zankin, Rivett (ACT)

I’m alright, Jack

Your correspondent (Letters, January 24) advocates increasing taxes, with the wealthy to pay more. Good luck with that. It’s near impossible for any political party to elicit support, let alone win an election, on a platform of increased taxes. Remember what happened to John Hewson trying to introduce a GST? Or Bill Shorten attempting to cut down on franking credits rorts and increase capital gains tax?

Rather than think about the common good, it seems the majority of Australians are concerned first and foremost with the amount of money in their own pocket and sadly it is the big end of town who are the worst offenders. – Robert Hickey, Green Point

No cheating by the wealthy, your correspondent suggests. He’s dreaming. These were the same people who went apoplectic during the May election campaign at the thought of losing franking credits for tax not paid. – Lindsay Somerville, Lindfield

Surely not a bridge too far?

I am a Sydney Greeter and show international visitors around our beautiful city. When I am asked about Aboriginal culture, I usually speak about the Aboriginal flag (“Flag equality would help bridge a gap“, January 24). It’s time the flag was flying on the Sydney Harbour Bridge permanently. – Karen Eldridge, Leichhardt

Saving planet earth

Building on the government’s recent track record for sensible decision making, the PM should set up a fire research facility in the Shire.

The Middle Earth Centre for Climate Adaptation could harness leading edge Coalition thinking to focus on the burning issues of our time, including whether we should backburn most, if not all, of the remaining bushland to protect it from fire. And whether insects, wildlife and trees have any useful economic role to play in Australia’s future, in comparison, say, with the unlimited benefits of coal mining. And also whether there is any proven method of de-programming climate cultists.

Such a centre would not only create jobs in a most important electorate, but would also make Australia a leader of the scientific world. – Di Henderson, Yass

I wonder if any study has, or will be, done on the factors involved in creating the famous fuel load lying on our forest floors? Even as a city dweller, it is easy to observe the effects of climate change on trees under extreme stress that drop their load of leaves after months of high temperatures and no rain.

I can’t avoid the impression that the loud cheer squad blaming arson and crying that hazard reduction burning is only a way for us to rationalise our resistance to one obvious painful fact. We are all, governments, industries and individuals, morally bound to sacrifice our unsustainable lifestyles and forego some of our affluence for the sake of life as we know it on this precious, fragile planet we all call home. – Shayne Chester, Potts Point

The edge of reason

If climate change believers are like religious zealots (“Abbott downplays climate link to fires“, January 23), can they now refuse service to deniers, receive tax exemptions and discriminate against non-believers? – Sally Shepard, Nelson Bay

Prince Charles’ address at the World Economic Forum (“A revolution to save the planet”, January 24) must put arch-monarchist Tony Abbott between a rock and a hard place. – Genevieve Milton, Newtown

Under the standing orders of the House of fact-mindful Australians I move that both the member (Craig Kelly) and the ex-member (Tony Abbott) no longer be heard. – Tony Ilott, East Hills

I’m sure that if Tony Abbott and Craig Kelly had been around in the 17th century they would have been at the forefront of the mob calling for Galileo to be burned at the stake. How dare Galileo say that the science proved the Earth orbited the sun and not the other way around? Everyone knows that’s rubbish. – Ron Wessel, Mount Saint Thomas

I have it on good authority that Tony Abbott, on many of his overseas jaunts, would rather sail than fly, but he is afraid the ship would sail off the edge of the Earth. – Al Clark, Belrose

Postscript

This week started, as weeks seem to do nowadays, with flurries of letters about politics (again, thank you from the letters editors to the parties concerned at this normally flat time of the year). Senator McKenzie and the “sports rorts affair” came in strongly at the end of last week and held on into this week. Not one person wrote to defend her, a great many were outraged about the time wasted by volunteers thinking they would receive fair consideration in the allocation of all this lovely government (ie: the taxpayers’) money.

Then Scott Morrison, after a week of apparent quietude, suddenly roared back into the limelight by dissing the NSW Minister for Energy and Environment, Matt Kean, saying “My cabinet wouldn’t even know who Matt Kean was”. Well, didn’t that just set the cat among the pigeons? The Letters inbox lit up like the New Year’s Eve fireworks replayed, it seems that every other single person in NSW knows who Matt Kean is, or if they didn’t last week, they certain do now.

Then Tony Abbott returned, but what, many readers want to know, will he do about his support of the monarchy and the inconvenient truth that Prince Charles believes in climate change and wants to do something about it?

Letters about the bushfires continued to come in – the Prime Minister can go on about making carbon changes this year, next year, sometimes, never, until the cows come home, but Herald readers, at least, are having none of it. Please, though, no more letters comparing the prime minister to Nero fiddling while Rome burns, we’ve really had too many of them.

Harriet Veitch, acting letters editor

To submit a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald, email letters@smh.com.au. Click here for tips on how to submit letters.

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