Where there is greed, there cannot be a fair go

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Cathy WilcoxCredit: .

While there have always been inequalities in Australia, some four decades ago I had great confidence in our gradual move towards a better Australia based upon a widespread societal commitment and conviction that everyone deserves a fair go. My parents, and others of their generation, were very clear in their desire to see their children and those who follow have a better life than them. Sadly, today I see our young experiencing despair and lack of hope. The greed and property obsession of their elders is playing a major role in crippling our social wellbeing and threatens to undermine social cohesion. The absurd prices of property have led to money being wasted on excessively high mortgages and rents, preventing money being spent in the retail, hospitality and other sectors.
Stephen Love, Portarlington

Society is the sum of all its parts
In yesterday’s Age, we read that our young people have been locked out of the housing market, thus losing the security and sense of community home ownership brings. We also read the judgmental suggestion that our young people lack a culture of volunteer service. Is it surprising that making young adults work like slaves for a stagnant wage doesn’t entice them to volunteer their time to serve a society that has locked them out of home ownership? Perhaps the generation of home owners can assist with disaster relief. It is their assets at risk, after all.
Abby McKee, Greensborough

There are solutions if we have the will
Shane Wright is spot on (″⁣Australians have made the wrong choice″⁣, 24/4). Since housing became a financial asset, one to be traded for more and more profit, homes for people have become more and more problematic. For at least half my life I never saw a homeless or jobless person and I never heard people complaining about their landlords.
In one sense, I disagree with Wright when he says, ″⁣The solutions are not easy.″⁣ It’s not difficult to legislate homes out of the financial asset category, nor to fund public housing on the long-gone housing commission model. What is difficult to overcome is greed. And I’m not seeing the solution to that, a total revamp of our taxation system, being accepted any time soon. Not when we choose to prepare for an unnecessary war and to see people starve rather than abandon stage3 tax cuts.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn

There is a sweet spot to be found
In the immediate post-WWII years, Australia had a critical housing shortage. Like today, there was a severe shortage of building materials for new homes, and the prices of existing homes were becoming unaffordable. The government responded in two ways. First, new homes were limited in size: 12 squares comprising two bedrooms, lounge, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, outside toilet and basic laundry. Today, new builds are much larger, unnecessarily, often using resources that could be used to build 1, two or even three more modest homes.
Second, the price of houses was capped. At auction the maximum price was determined by a government authority. If there were still multiple bidders when the maximum was reached, the names of bidders were put into a hat and the winning buyer was drawn out by the auctioneer. I am not suggesting reverting to the past, but somewhere between the 12 square-mandated home and the 65-square home, between lower government-set maximum prices and stratospheric prices, there must be a sweet spot that can help provide housing.
Government policies such as super stamp duties to curb excess builds and home prices, removal of negative gearing on investment properties, taxes on short-stay accommodation, could modify behaviour, unpopular though they would be. Not the only solution, just part of a much wider conversation.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster


No Edna these days
While we mourn the passing of Barry Humphries, our greatest comedian, it is sobering to reflect that his best and funniest creation, Dame Edna Everage, would not last five minutes in today’s offence-taking world. A man dressing up as a woman for laughs, he’d be cancelled before you could say ″⁣Hello Possums!″⁣
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully

Provincial minds
What a bunch of pathetic small-minded provincials we are. Strip Barry Humphries of all acknowledgment I say! Whitewash him out of existence! He held up a mirror to us and we couldn’t see it. And yes, he took the mickey out of us. Bogans that we are. And now we are unable or unwilling to recognise his brilliance. Laugh on! Vale Barry Humphries.
Elizabeth Potter, Brighton

The board of the Comedy Festival continues to defend its appalling decision to rename their Barry award in the light of some earlier perceived slight that Barry Humphries had inflicted upon the world by making some observations about the transgender community.
The board’s response was, and still is, disproportionate to the perceived offence. Humphries skewered our foibles and prejudices by holding a mirror up to us all for more than 70 years and we all, from Melbourne to London and New York, were the better for it. The board should be forever grateful that Barry had agreed to be associated with the festival in the first place.
It is a neat irony that his banishment was to demonstrate to the public the board’s commitment to “equality and diversity” – the very values they cannot extend to the person who has done more to establish Australia’s reputation in the realm of comedy and satire than any other person.
Garry Ringwood, Kew

It’s not a joke
What does it say about Australia that probably our greatest ever comedian was cancelled by the woke Melbourne International Comedy Festival, a festival that he helped create?
Tony O’Brien, South Melbourne

The Sandy in us all
As someone who attended most of Barry Humphries’ Melbourne stage shows during the 1960s and 1970s period, it was always the character of Sandy Stone, the aged war veteran living out a solitary life in a dimly lit suburban lounge room, who brought audiences to genuine tears and quiet hilarity.
With wartime songs crackling over his record player, and clutching his hot water bottle in a faded armchair, Sandy symbolised a vanishing Australia as he reflected on the next door tennis courts’ goings on, sprinklers and all. Edna Everage and his other comic creations were superb but ″⁣Sandy″⁣ stood above them all. He represented the purest pathos delivered by a great actor who knew Australians so well.
Jon McMillan,
Mount Eliza

Teaching emergency
I have been teaching for 35 years and I have never seen the education system in greater disarray. Teachers are leaving, retiring early, going part time and positions can’t be filled. Fewer university students are studying to be teachers. The shortage is real, student behaviour is deteriorating and there seems to be no plan to fix this. We need public awareness about this situation.
Something needs to be done and fast. It is not money that we need, although that would be nice. We need time to do our jobs unfettered by department initiatives, unnecessary paperwork, and meetings. We need consequences for poor student behaviour [not just a mere slap on the wrist; there are only so many expletives and aggressive behaviours that teachers can deal with], support from management, parents and government.
Maybe the education experts in the department or politicians can come in and take the classes left vacant.
Name and address supplied

Standing still
“Repeating itself is not the only thing history does. Time brings change.” Sean Kelly’s words (Comment, 24/3) have a self-evident ring about them. That single word ″⁣change″⁣ seems to bedevil the LNP. Australia, not least the world, has indeed changed so much over the past two decades but the LNP, after so long in government, seems to have been unaware of the shift in the majority of the public’s attitude to so many areas of life in general. If the LNP thinks it can survive with a kneejerk negative reaction to many of the current government’s initiatives it is sadly deluded. An ineffective opposition with a lame-duck leader is not an ideal situation, but there seems to be no choice for the public at present.
John Paine, Kew East

Scales of war
The scale of climate change and resulting extreme weather events and disasters are stretching even the resources of our military (“Defence Force strained by role in floods and bushfires”, 24/4). And personnel are frustrated because they signed up to serve, not mop up. Surely there’s no better way of serving than helping those in need. And the war on climate change is perhaps the greatest war humanity has ever confronted. It may be the one that unites us.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

Peace corps
The article outlining the pressure on our Defence Force to respond to natural disasters highlights the fact that it is time to grow a ″⁣peace corps″⁣ as an adjunct to our Defence Force to respond to the increasing incidences of natural disasters. This would relieve the pressure on the Defence Force and provide career opportunities for those looking for a challenging career without the prospect of fighting in wars.
In addition, some of the training would be able to be delivered alongside normal Defence Force training.
A nationally based peace corps would be a win-win for everybody.
Graeme Lechte, Brunswick West

Books banning
It is terrifying that a campaign of book banning is under way in Florida (“The Handmaid’s Tale among the books banned in ‘parents rights’ push”, 24/4). Just as it is disheartening to learn that ABS data shows reading levels are plummeting (“Jump in screen time means kids read less”, 22/4). If only our children appreciated what a privilege it is to read widely and for pleasure free from the eyes of the Florida ″⁣certified media specialists″⁣.
A famous female scientist, who I suspect spent much of her leisure time reading, is quoted as saying “Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood”. Praise be.
Anna Lidgerwood,

Bird sanctuaries
Duck season, which begins tomorrow, has an unusual flavour. The Game Management Authority has already closed more than a dozen wetlands to safeguard an unprecedented number of threatened bird species.
For brolga and great egret, freckled duck and magpie geese, those Victorian wetlands will now be refuges, not killing fields.
Most of the year, wetlands are sanctuaries – for the wildlife that need them and the people who delight in them. May they be closed to shooting forever.
Debbie Lustig, Elsternwick

What could have been
Anzac Day is a day of remembering and giving thanks for the sacrifice of the young men who went to war to defend our country. My grandfather landed at Gallipoli on April 25, he was wounded and was first sent to the isle of Lemnos, then to England and finally home. He died from war injuries just before my mother was born. My grandmother was a young widow with four children. My mother never knew her father, she was born into grief and she grieved his loss for her whole life, and the grief left its mark on all of us. His story is part of our family history and while Anzac Day is a day of remembering it is also a day of grieving what could have been.
Julie Ottobre,

Darkness and light
Thank you Tony Wright for your beautifully crafted article “The longest ride to war’s darkness” (23/4).
It really brought home the selflessness of a generation who fought for the freedom of others. The story of Jack Fahey cycling from Darwin to Adelaide to enlist was enhanced by Jack’s own description of ″⁣the canopy of heaven overhead″⁣ at midnight in Alice Springs. After tunnelling beneath dunes to destroy a German observation post he understated to friends that “Fritz got a very severe setback”.
So glad to hear how his life turned out and grateful to his family for sharing his letters, pictures and news reports.
Julie Nelson, Alphington

4WD hazard
As a driver of a small sedan, I can answer Peter Rodgers (Letters, 22/4) who asks why so many people take up extra time by backing into car parks. It is almost impossible to safely reverse out when finding a large four-wheel-drive next to you, as you are almost fully into the lane before you can see if any cars are driving through, and most impatient car drivers do not understand why you are backing out when they are coming.
Ray Pilbeam, Camberwell

Some pride in this
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that in Jane Austen’s world, any property or wealth could only be inherited by men. Methinks the reference to Jane Austen’s world is far too flippant and irrelevant. But all credit to Shane Wright for cleverly concluding his column ″⁣Australians have made wrong choice on housing for 40 years″⁣ (24/4) with the intro to Pride and Prejudice.
Sally Davis, Malvern East

Wrong priorities
The federal government can’t afford to help people out of poverty but can waste $250 billion on tax cuts for the rich and $380 billion on unnecessary submarines.
I’m bitterly disappointed in this supposedly Labor government.
Phil Bodel,
Ocean Grove


Barry Humphries
″⁣They have found me a better seat.″⁣ Rest peacefully, Barry, on the couch with Sandy Stone.
Jim McLeod, Sale

Barry Humphries’ satire could be cutting and he was sometimes outrageous. But he was fantastically funny without profanities, and many comedians could learn a lot from him.
Roslyn Phillips, Tea Tree Gully, SA

Barry Humphries – gone but never “cancelled”.
Kevan Porter, Alphington

Everage, but never average, your comedic brilliance knew no bounds.
Matt Dunn, Leongatha

I know Barry Humphries was regarded as a great comedian but I never liked his sense of humour in putting other people down.
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East

Instead of a state funeral, build some affordable housing. Call the street Dame Edna Street.
Carolyn Reynolds, Lake Boga

How mean-spirited are the comedy festival organisers? Very.
Imelda Carthy, Camberwell

I’ve been a Labor voter for the past 55 years, but I’m starting to worry that Daniel Andrews thinks he alone runs the state. That’s autocracy, not representative government.
Richard Wilson, Croydon

What did Buck Rogers say in the 25th century? Has Melbourne got an airport rail link yet?
Doug Springall, Yarragon

So, $1.1 billion is the price of truth. Seems cheap to me.
Mark Kennedy, Sebastopol

Treasurer Chalmers, if you can’t put food on the table, you don’t buy a Porsche. Please drop the stage 3 tax cuts.
David Mandara, Hepburn Springs

With budgets looking tenuous, I think we need to consider that 25million people don’t need three levels of government, let alone more politicians at the federal level.
Ross Crawford, Korumburra

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