A textbook lesson in bad history

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I can still see myself in 1964 sitting in my grade 6 class in a Melbourne primary school reading my social studies book about Indigenous Australians. The books at that time contained pictures of tall thin men standing on one leg, holding a spear or boomerang while sitting next to them were women with small children gathered around a fire usually in the desert. The authors wrote that Indigenous Australians were a dying race and would be gone within decades. As a young child I did not think too much about this and just accepted it as fact.
Since then I have come to know many people with Aboriginal heritage and learned their stories and their struggles in a white society. The Uluru Statement from the Heart simply asks us respectfully to listen to their needs when decisions are being made that affect them. It is now 60 years since grade 6 and I know that the textbook was wrong. We need to recognise First Nations people in the Constitution, listen to their voice and come together as a nation so that we can all live better lives. Let’s vote Yes to a very heartfelt request.
Susan Kelly, Highton

Bringing hope to the classroom
During term 1 this year my wife and I taught in an exclusively Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island boarding school in Alice Springs. The curriculum we followed was largely derived from the School of Distance Education in Darwin. While it was pitched to the literacy and numeracy skills/levels of these students almost all came from traumatised communities, which seriously detracted from their ability to engage with the curriculum. The Voice to parliament offers a ray of hope to break the nexus between trauma and educational under-achievement that impact so adversely on the educational outcomes of these beautiful and resilient students. For the sake of kids like these, we must vote Yes. Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

The colour of judgments
On the steps of parliament recently, with Michael Long beside him, the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, spoke about the Voice being an advisory body in relation to Aboriginal people and their affairs: ″⁣If they’re good ideas, they’ll be accepted. If they’re not good ideas, they won’t be accepted.″⁣ Who decides what is “good” and what is “bad”? What will change? Hasn’t the “white” parliament been making those judgments for 200 years?
Carl Schoonraad, Ballarat

From a good idea to a race for power
Once again support for a laudable concept has been eroded by the adversarial nature of politics in this country. It appears likely that we can add the Voice to matters that were either worthwhile and/or commendable that are among chances lost, such as addressing climate change measures in a timely and unified manner and the opportunity to start the process of Australia becoming a republic.
All these seemed to begin with the general support of the public and much of the major parties’ membership. Then they fell victim to the quest by one side to achieve government and the other side to stay in government. It seems this becomes their major focus rather than achieving the best outcome for the nation.
Bill Pimm, Mentone

Nothing sinister in this lobby group
Lobbyists to the government have privileged access to parliamentarians and administrators. Mostly, they represent large corporations and industries that spend millions on this activity. The Voice is equivalent to a permanent First Nations lobby group whose accreditation cannot be abolished by a later government without another referendum. There is nothing sinister in that.
John Uren, Blackburn


Blurring the lines
It’s clear from the article ″⁣Don’t expect a quick fix″⁣ (21/9) that the Victorian government’s ambitious housing statement blurs the lines between public, social and affordable housing. It notes that the term ″⁣affordable housing″⁣ is used 27 times but ″⁣is particularly vague about what is meant″⁣.
Who knows how long it will take to relocate residents of the public housing towers that are to be replaced with mixed public and private housing? Very few low-income renters would have the luxury of paying up to 30 per cent of their income in rent.
Kevin Burke, Sandringham

Share the burden
Yes, we need money to build more low-cost housing, and an earmarked tax scheme is part of the solution. But why single out Airbnb owners? Surely all providers of short-term accommodation should share the burden. Hotels, caravan parks, B&Bs could be included. Taxes should be equitable.
Carmel McNaught, Balwyn North

Weight of questions
Premier Daniel Andrews promises 80,000 homes will be built each year for 10 years. Is this in addition to the current number of houses being built? About 45,000 houses are being constructed each year, but there are tradie and material shortages. How will Andrews solve these problems?
When will these 80,000 houses a year start to be built? Andrews states “for the next decade”; is that starting in 2024 or in 2030? Is he increasing the training of tradies, has he solved the issue of materials shortages and costs?
Ross Kroger, Barwon Heads

Blueprint, please
Where is the planning blueprint for the best possible affordable housing development? AI should be able to produce an ideal for planning for sustainability, adequate room sizes, best plumbing and appropriate materials etc, and the right size of such developments to ensure maximum numbers for a ″⁣human″⁣ size ratio dwellings to people, and – of utmost importance – the amount of usable green space each development must have to give that certain number of inhabitants a healthy lifestyle. Such examples are built all over Europe.
Geri Colson, Mentone

The waiting list
The knocking down of the public housing towers is obviously needed, but the building of a combination of public and private housing does not address the issue of the enormous amount of people on the waiting list for public housing. It’s time to bring back the government housing commission.
Mary Fenelon, Doncaster East

Deserves to succeed
It’s a relief to have governments finally acknowledging the need to give sufficient priority to dealing with the housing crisis (“Towers to be razed in housing reform”, 21/9). It’s an area that has been bypassed – or buck-passed to the private sector – for too long.
The key words in any housing policy are what, where, how, when and who. Even if the ″⁣what″⁣ and ″⁣who″⁣ priorities can be agreed, the logistics of where, how and when still present major hurdles to be overcome.
There’s a danger that the Andrews government’s program will be unachievable, unless it includes stronger powers to enforce planning controls, design and construction standards, affordability, and sustainability. There’s the risk of the easy bits being tackled first, unless there is strong overall co-ordination and public/private co-operation. The problem must not be left in the too-hard basket. It’s a huge challenge for the government and the community as a whole, but it deserves to succeed.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

You have been ‘Joyced’
The word ″⁣Jeffed″⁣ entered our vocabulary in memory of Jeff Kennett. I have a new word for the dictionary.
Whenever a flight is cancelled or luggage is lost by an airline, people can say, ″⁣I have been Joyced″⁣.
Barry Lizmore, Ocean Grove

Prioritise need
When I heard that a state of the art American fighter jet costing $100million disappeared and crashed I couldn’t help thinking that humanity would have been better served if that money was spent providing clean drinking water to people in need of it in poor Third World countries and even in America.
Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

Word is the least of it
No, Australians being able to speak Spanish properly won’t help against the effects of El Nino (Letters, 21/9). Painting roofs white, planting trees and spacing houses a fair distance apart might be a start. Australians have always put their own slant on linguistics and are leaders of innovation, which is what’s actually needed to alleviate elements of climate change.
Shaun Dunford, Mount Gambier

No more for the ballet
Emma Sullivan’s conclusion (Comment, 21/9) is that a “systemic shake-up is long overdue in the ballet industry” is spot on. The bullying, shaming and starvation of so many young dancers is appalling, and the health effects often last forever. I refuse to go to watch ballet. See some properly fed and proportioned people dancing like nature intended: Bangarra is a great example.
Dr Greg Malcher, Hepburn Springs

An Ig Nobel enterprise
The review of the Ig Nobel awards ″⁣Scientists lick rocks, dead spiders are grippy and anchovy sex impacts ocean water. Welcome to the Ig Nobels″⁣ (20/9) briefly touches on the most important component of these awards, to make people think. Perhaps their hero should be Andre Geim who has won both, the Ig Nobel and Nobel prizes.
As a science teacher, now retired, I worked to inspire students to follow science as a career path and the stories of the Ig Nobel prize winners and their research excited students far more than those of the Nobel winners.
Maybe it would be worth looking at the University of Tasmania’s Ig Nobel winning work on why wombat poo comes out as a cube of poo. This will encourage outside of the box thinking even if it is a cubic box.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill

It’s just unacceptable
There is something awry with our world when a learned judge declares a 13-year-old is not aware that it’s wrong to kick and stomp on another person, who is unable to defend himself.
Even a three-year-old knows this is unacceptable and consequences will follow.
Trish Young, Hampton

A flawed process
A 16-year-old is stomped and knifed to death and the judge opines of the 13-year-old accused that “a review of the evidence … leaves open a reasonable possibility that [the boy] did not know his conduct was seriously wrong in a moral sense”. The legal process truly is an ass.
George Greenberg, Malvern

A failure
Justice Rita Incerti ruled that ″⁣a boy of 13 may not have not known his conduct was ‘seriously wrong’ so couldn’t be found guilty″⁣. What utter garbage. Of course he’d have known it was wrong. He may not have done the stabbing, but was totally involved in the repeated kicking and stomping of the defenceless victim. So, no punishment? No consequences? The law fails the victim once again.
Jill Hardy, Yarra Junction

Immoral lessons
By the age of 13 everyone knows that it is immoral to pull wings off flies.
Tim Adams, Richmond

Stop the growth
Regarding the housing shortage in this country, is not this greatly caused by accelerated immigration? But here is the real question: Who decided on a system of perpetual growth that is completely non-sustainable? When do we stop? Forty million, fifty million. A hundred million? Our natural world will disappear, and our great-grandchildren will never know a deserted beach.
Bill Proctor, Launching Place

What is the optimum?
I can’t help but think we have everything backwards when trying to solve the housing crisis. Surely the starting point must be, what is the optimum population for Australia? Instead we have skyrocketing unplanned population growth and we are forever trying (and failing) to keep up.
Malcolm Fraser, Oakleigh South

Little detail is fine
There is value in omitting detail from the referendum for the Voice since details may need to change with unforeseen future scenarios. If detail is voted into the Voice then further referenda will be needed to amend, if necessary. The Voice can stand alone as an advisory body and the how, where, when and why of its application can move with the times.
Monica Walsh, St Kilda

Very odd logic
It was a strange statement by Kerry White, anti-Voice campaigner (″⁣No leader calls stolen generations a mistruth″⁣, 21/9) that ″⁣Aboriginal people will be running this country, and all the white people here will be paying to live here″⁣. Does she not pay council rates like the rest of us?
Greg Bardin, Altona North

No is bunkum
The Liberal Party should take note of what their former federal director Tony Nutt is saying about the No vote (21/9). The No vote campaign is all bunkum.
Phil O’Connor, East Kew

No to the subs
What a shame we don’t have a referendum on the government’s decision to buy those expensive nuclear submarines. I know what the result would be, an emphatic and resounding No.
Michael Cleaver, Southbank


Destruction of functioning public housing on the altar of private development? There is nothing more powerful than a bad idea whose time has come.
Paul Perry, Fitzroy North

800,000 new homes? Perhaps 800,000 fewer people might be a better option.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch

Is Treasury Square set to become Treasury Squalid? (Comment, 21/9)
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

How serious is this government about mitigating climate change when it approves the massive Burrup Hub LNG project?
John Walsh, Watsonia

“If you don’t know, vote no.” “I don’t think, I know.” One has made us look foolish; the other untrustworthy.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton

Shaun Carney is correct (Comment, 21/9) – the Voice is a hard sell during current problems. So when is the preferable ″⁣less economically stressful time″⁣ due?
John Hughes, Mentone

Why is The Age section containing puzzles indexed in my online copy of the paper as Comics and Puzzles when there are no comics? Is that one of the puzzles?
Kevin Prince, Trieste, Italy

If the Giants beat Collingwood, and the Lions beat Carlton in the prelims, will the AFL demand a gold coin entrance fee to the grand final?
Brian Cullum, Cremorne

Qantas should pay Alan Joyce’s bonus in flight credits.
Mick Hussey, Beaconsfield

After the ghost flights, Alan Joyce’s pay of $21.4 million is a disgrace; the pay should be taken away.
Robert Martin, Winchelsea South

Relying on the Bible for a definition of God to prove God’s existence (Letters, 21/9) is a circular argument.
Brian Kilday, Jeeralang Junction

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