Judith Brett (Opinion, 8/4) rightly bemoans the parlous state of the humanities in our universities – this to the extent that there are now even “faculties without philosophy”. This decline is hardly new and is to governments convenient. Philosophy in particular can threaten the status quo (recall what happened to Socrates) because, as John Stuart Mill says of logic: “I am persuaded that nothing, in modern education, tends so much, when properly used, to form exact thinkers …“
Peter Drum, Coburg
Do they fear the power of the arts graduates?
Judith Brett has nailed it. Once the well-heeled, that is conservatives, were the great patrons of the arts. But in contemporary Australia, conservatives and their Murdoch press and shock-jock champions are deeply philistine, constantly attacking the ABC, SBS, Arts Council, and in recent years shredding the humanities and liberal arts education. Do they fear that every humanities graduate will vote Labor or Green, as they are wont to do according to research I have read? Or are they just intellectually challenged?
Michael Read, Carnegie
Towards the cultural enrichment of our society
Thank you, Judith Brett. A timely reminder of the importance of the humanities and social sciences in the cultural enrichment of our society and their place in university teaching. The contrasting attitude of the Coalition government is appalling.
Jim McLeod, Sale
It’s all about appealing to the land of the tradies
The plight of the higher education sector fared little better when John Howard was prime minister. Then, as now, Coalition governments expressed a disdain for higher education and those who work in that sector. The government would rather curry favour with those who work with their hands than those who work with their minds. The arts community, too, can also go hang. The founder of the modern university sector, Bob Menzies must be turning in his grave.
Alex Millmow, Fitzroy
When studying at home makes true debate difficult
Education Minister Alan Tudge says: “If anywhere should be a bastion of free speech and fiercely debating ideas, it is university campuses” (The Age, 6/4). I would like him to explain how this fierce debating can happen online. Zoom maybe?
Margot Rosenbloom, Princes Hill
Our battle for the vaccine
I have an 89-year-old father and a severely disabled brother in a full care facility. Neither of them have had any access to a COVID-19 vaccination yet. My father has taken it upon himself to contact his GP to see what is going on, and when he can be vaccinated. The information that could have been sent to these vulnerable groups has fallen far short of what is expected. This is not good enough by far, Scott Morrison.
Tania Hardy-Smith, Mitcham
Jeopardising our trade
The intemperate performance by the Prime Minister as regards to the supply of the vaccine from Europe could cost Australia down the track. He tends to forget that Australia is in negotiations with the European community about trade deals, post-Brexit. Not exactly a positive atmosphere in obtaining an advantage over competitive countries.
Rob Park, Surrey Hills
Art, sport and jabs
We need to put in place mass vaccine hubs. The GP distribution method is a logistical nightmare. Australians love football and the arts. Why don’t we ask the AFL, the NFL and the A-League to open their stadiums as vaccine hubs.
Other sites like the Melbourne Concert Hall, Rod Laver Arena and the Sydney Opera House could also be used. Additionally, football clubs, leagues clubs and RSL clubs could be considered. Let’s think out of left field and get a jab before you watch a game or attend an event.
Mary Howe, Bentleigh
Stop the blame game
The federal government was aware as early as February that it was not going to have the supply to meet its vaccination program (The Age, 8/4). The Prime Minister has now turned to the classic “Trump response”: find someone to blame, in this case the European Union.
He would have been better served by adopting the “Biden approach”. According to America’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, when Biden phoned him shortly after his inauguration, he said: “We are not going to always get it right. When that happens we are not going to blame anyone, we are just going to fix it” (Good Weekend, 27/3).
William Wallace, Ascot Park, SA
Avoiding another lockdown
I am glad to see that workers in the quarantine hotels are wearing the correct masks. Dan Andrews commented at the last outbreak that hotel quarantine cost a lot of money. The idea of another lockdown would cost us far more, not only financially but in the impact on everyone’s well being.
Sharyn Bhalla, Ferntree Gully
My heart is bleeding
Re ‴Traumatic experience” over destruction of Aboriginal site” (The Age, 6/4). As a local, I find it hard to believe that Adrian McMaster, the farmer, had no idea what he was doing when he removed the sacred stones. (Mr McMaster says it was not deliberate.) Anyone who lives near Lake Bolac knows it is a very special place, enriched by Indigenous culture. The landscape is so special, like Stonehenge, and man has revered Mother Nature for millennium, in the form of stones. You can feel the sacredness of the place every time you visit.
How would the British feel if Stonehenge were desecrated? Exactly like I am feeling now, sad that there is an open wound on the land. My heart bleeds for what you did, Adrian.
Mark Cornell, Ballarat
Importance of warnings
Has Aboriginal Victoria been asked what steps they took to protect the site and what risk assessment was previously completed? It is always possible for work to be done on a farm property, such as putting in a track or a dam, or using stones for fencing or other structures. Simple metal poles, with a warning sign, at either end and in the middle of this wonderful arrangement would have prevented this damage.
Graham Pilkington, Docklands
Acting on violence
Why should the victims of domestic violence, who are mostly women and children, be the ones who have to leave their family homes? Surely it is more appropriate that the perpetrators (mostly men) be required to leave. If this were a recognised practice, and rigorously enforced, it would surely help to reduce the incidence of domestic violence stress. Naming and shaming, plus a course in anger management and a night in jail, may help as well. This is a serious problem and needs serious responses now, not later.
Linda Rendell, Bright
Respect a Labor elder
The suggestion to replace Senator Kim Carr for preselection underneath the banner of “renewal” (The Age, 8/4) smacks of disrespect for elders. Given his experience first as a teacher, then a staffer in the offices of Joan Kirner and Andrew McCutcheon, before entering the Senate in 1993 and holding several ministerial (and shadow) portfolios, the mere idea of replacing him is short-sighted and an affront to senior members of any workplace. The contributions he continues to make, including chair of several committees, are in part why I joined the Labor Party. (I am 28).
Anders Ross, Heidelberg
It’s time to leave, Senator
Hey Kim Carr, if you want to make federal Labor electable, you should resign. You have had your go and the party is still in opposition. Isn’t 30-plus years in Parliament enough?
Geoff Hall, Mentone
School is in for our MPs
The Australian Federal Police have organised briefings for MPs to educate them on how to look out for phishing scams (The Age, 7/4). I sincerely hope, with concurrent lessons in empathy and scams, they will not confuse who to empathise with and who to ignore, like the plague, so to speak.
Rosaleen O’Brien, Toorak
Another stock phrase
John Mosig (Letters, 7/4) trots the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” argument to oppose an Australian republic. It should also be pointed out that “the time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining”.
James Proctor, Maiden Gully
Save an iconic building
The proposal for the Shell House development (The Age, 6/4) involves more than a 33-storey building on the rear plaza. In actual fact, the developers also want to rip down the garden terrace and tear out the theatrette and conference/lobby area in the original building. Only philistines would contemplate desecrating an iconic building such as this.
Ann Rigg, Melbourne
The impossible dream
Re “First home buyer boom masks a much bigger problem” (Opinion, 8/4). At the end of the day, it is the way of the economy: the boom is followed by the bust. Real estate experts predict home prices will increase by 8per cent this year and the “Australian dream” will remain dormant for many prospective home owners. While it looks like a good time to buy a house, even those who can manage to save a decent deposit, with all the government support available, will eventually face a brutal shock when interest rates rise and their wages do not rise enough to cover the additional costs.
Vishmi Wanigarathna, Sunbury
Representing all women
We can have a Minister for Women in Parliament. I just want to make sure the portfolio covers First Nations women or would that be a separate voice in Parliament?
Philip Labrum, Flemington
Re-think controlled burns
During a brief holiday at the Gippsland Lakes recently, we were barely able to discern the imposing mountains to the north, as they were blanketed in smoke. On the VicEmergency website, we counted 38 “planned burns” across the state.
Residents and holiday makers in the north-east complain of valleys being shrouded in smoke. From where we live, we can often barely make out the city and Port Phillip Bay due to smoky haze brought down from the mountains on a northerly airstream (with associated bush flies). Melburnians, like many rural populations, are inhaling impure, smoky air.
Bushfires release massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, exacerbating global warming. Our wildlife, already decimated by bushfires and shrinking habitat due to population growth, is hugely impacted by these burns. The science regarding the efficacy of controlled bushfires is still under debate. Yes, Aborigines conducted slow burns for thousands of years, but on a tiny scale, and when wildlife and habitat was plentiful. Human health is also at serious risk from this insidious pollution of our air. It is time for a review of the policy of controlled burns.
Jennifer Atkins, Arthurs Seat
Stop the road maps
Surely it would be more appropriate for Australia to develop a road map for an electric car rollout, a railway map for our inland train system, a sea-lane map for the submarine program, a sky map for our new missile development, and a star map for our space program.
Dennis Richards, Cockatoo
Countries can say no, too
David Ginsbourg (Letters, 7/4) cites the three conditions that Amnesty International believes should be mandatory all over the world, including that everyone has the right to seek a better life in another country. Sure, people may wish to make a better life in another country, but such countries also are able to deny migrants who just want a better life. The Refugee Convention defines a refugee as a person “who has a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”. That is quite a different thing than just wanting a better life.
John Christiansen, St Kilda
A scarcity of women
In the past 13 days, the Age’s front page has featured Scott Morrison three times, AFL players three times, and AFL coach and one female – the incomparable Carla Zampatti. RIP, after a lifetime of achievement.
Joy Ogley, Frankston
AND ANOTHER THING
The PM has a history of over-selling and under-delivering. He’s peaked in his efforts on the vaccine rollout.
Hugh McCaig, Blackburn
The rollout couldn’t be going better. The Prime Minister has had his vaccination.
David Lyall, Mount Eliza
Hotel quarantine – a triumph of hope over experience.
Doug Mullett, Werribee
The “jab basket” in which all the eggs have been placed is looking precariously flimsy.
Arthur Pritchard, Ascot Vale
Brilliant strategy, Minister. Instead of the vaccine rollout, we have the trickle-down effect. And we know how well that works.
Keith White, Red Hill South
Australia has some 2 million vaccine doses. Why aren’t they in people’s arms?
Tim Mahar, Fitzroy North
Just what Labor and Australia needs to replace Kim Carr (8/4): another male wearing a suit.
Bruce McMillan, Grovedale
How to improve the Liberals’ gender balance: sack Scott and draft Jen.
Richard Wilson, Croydon
Had Holgate’s first name been Christian, would he have been subjected to the PM’s intemperate and inappropriate performance?
Patricia Russell, Malvern
On the face of it, appointing more women to Cabinet looks good. But who, in a patriarchal society, listens to women?
Jan Dwyer, Rosebud
RBA: Reform the Bank’s Austerity.
Malcolm Cameron, Camberwell
Good on ya, Greg Baum – “Sport can be an agent of change” (8/4).
Terri Jackson, Melbourne
When the government or big business talk about ″flexibility″ to describe the benefits of a proposed action or change, it’s code for ″screw you″.
Jack Wajntraub, South Melbourne
Note from the Editor
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