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Million-dollar principal salaries undermine private school system

A business is not a school, and a school is not a business (“Private principal packages top $1m”, June 21). A business rises or falls as its financial profit rises or falls. A school rises or falls based on the quality of relationship it fosters among it staff, students, parents and community. This relationship fosters learning and ensures excellence. Such high levels of remuneration at the secondary level of education is outrageous. It virtually ensures that the administration of such institutions have no empathy for the transforming power of nurturing relationships among its community. It kills the notion of leadership as service and embraces leadership as autocracy. Michael Kennedy, West Pymble

Illustration: Matt Golding Credit:

Let’s be clear. Parents have the right to send their children to private schools, those schools have the right to charge a market fee and pay staff accordingly (“Schools have right to pay, parents have right to know”, June 21). On the other hand, such schools access public funding, participate in a publicly run HSC which facilitates direct entry into public universities. Private schools cannot have it both ways; public transparency on their operations is paramount. Michael Blissenden, Dural

If some principals in private schools are being paid up to $1 million a year in salary, it begs the obvious conclusion that perhaps these private schools who are able to pay this kind of salary are receiving too much government funding. Leo Sorbello, West Ryde

Acting CEO of Association of Independent Schools David Buley says private school principals “manage multimillion dollar intergenerational organisations”, implying this only applies to private school principals. Living with a retired principal of a large public high school, I can assure your readers, this is exactly what they do as well. The difference is the private principal is in charge of a high profit business with a large admin staff to run the books and accounts; the public principal is in charge of a school with minimal admin staff. The discrepancy in pay rates between public and independent schools is not justified. State and federal governments need to reassess contributions to independent schools. Mark Nugent, Lugarno

It is not only parents who pay to send their children to high fee private schools who are entitled to know the full details of their financial operation. This is a matter of public interest. In a time of teacher shortage, is it right that these schools use their superior income, augmented by government grants, to attract teachers at the expense of schools where students have greater need of them and then use their greater supply of teachers to market their schools to parents? Lyndsay Connors, Ashfield

How can these pay packages that top $1m for a principal at a top-fee paying private school be warranted? The highest-paid principal at a state school can receive a total package of $215,000. The principal of the local high school often has a similar number of students but fewer support staff and more students with support needs. If I was a parent of a child at one of these top-fee paying schools I would be upset that my parent fees were being used to support such excessively high staff pay packages. Helen Simpson, Curl Curl

State government is the real culprit in housing crisis

The mayor of the Hills Shire Council identifies the real culprit in housing, and it’s certainly not local government (“Foundations for developing concern”, June 21). For too long successive NSW governments have failed to provide the open space, roads, rail, schools and health facilities needed for a growing population. For too long government has relied on “market” solutions for housing, and that’s why we’re in this mess. The market is about profit, not affordability, and that means direct investment by government is needed in social housing, and that state and federal government work together to end the housing market. Government must focus on housing people affordably in well-designed and good quality housing with good social amenity in which people can thrive rather than simply survive. Business needs to be part of that, but government needs to lead, not follow developers. Colin Hesse, Marrickville

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

Premier, please do not remove housing controls for developers if they provide more affordable housing within their development. Perhaps if the whole development/tower was affordable housing that might be appropriate, though one would then be highly suspicious of the internal design and building structure, especially if there was no local government oversight. With the promised funding, why not ensure that the affordable homes remain affordable into perpetuity, or even, rent to buy? The current developer “carrot” really only benefits the developer, as the 15 per cent affordable housing bar is set way below what is needed, and the benefits and incentives far outweigh the additional costs. Allowing developers to use “surplus” public land and only be required to provide 30 per cent affordable housing is disgraceful when you consider the desperate need of many.
Margaret Whalen, Alexandria

The profligate waste of NSW state money on unnecessary demolition of perfectly serviceable structures, such as pools and stadia, is rightly seen by anyone with a gram of common sense as bad and reckless management (“NSW to stay in the red as economic storm clouds hover”, June 21). The breaking-up of the rail and bus networks to facilitate ownership by numerous private operators, with no central guidance is pure Thatcherism. The sale of public transport assets and housing to cover these costs, and the subsequent increased costs to the community as these basic services became the realm of profit-making private enterprises, has been then covered over by nebulous financial arrangements. These so-called policies, perhaps better seen as obsessive ideology and aid for the corporate elite, have now come home to roost on the people of NSW. Donald Hawes, Peel

Congratulations, Daniel Mookhey (“Cabinet ministers must get used to ‘no”’ , June 21). Keep this up and you could end up as the second-best NSW treasurer since the introduction of responsible government in 1856. Michael Egan (former NSW treasurer), Surry Hills

Seatbelts on buses won’t come easily

I recently took a three-hour return bus trip on a major national bus line (“Bus safety set to be boosted in NSW following horror crash”, June 21). On return leg the driver welcomed us on board, explained Wi-Fi, toilets etc. and said it was mandatory to wear seatbelts in Australia, with which the bus was fitted. I’m pretty sure I was one of the few, if not only, passenger to fasten my seat belt. The vast majority of passengers were young travellers and completely ignored him. It won’t be enough to fit the buses with belts, the driver will have to personally check, same as on a plane. Rose Fox, Byron Bay

Seatbelts are important, especially when travelling at high speeds, but so is having a seat in the first place. To reduce the number of standing passengers on urban buses travelling at high speeds the government should mandate the use of higher capacity vehicles, where they are available, The very opposite has happened this year on weekend 610X buses between Castle Hill and the city which use the M2 motorway. Despite high passenger demand, many larger 56 seater buses have been replaced with smaller buses, forcing many passengers during busy periods to stand while travelling at 100 kph along the motorway. Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills

Sad end

The death of Crispin Dye was tragic (“Evidence unearthed in 1993 AC/DC manager murder”, June 21). He was one of Sydney’s greatest emerging songwriters when he was bashed to death walking home on the very night he launched his first solo CD. He also had a songbook of his original songs published by a leading music publisher in Sydney. Both the book and CD should be republished in his memory. His song on French’s Tavern in Oxford Street, Darlinghurst was a classic on that popular music venue from the 1970s. He is still remembered by moratorium activists today for burning his Vietnam call up notice bravely on the library lawn at UNSW in 1972 and singing peace songs. This was long before his AC/DC career. Rest in peace Crispin Dye. Jefferson Lee, Petersham

Murder victim Crispin Dye, left, with AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young.

Murder victim Crispin Dye, left, with AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young.Credit:

Urgent situation

Ross Gittins explains how the government plans to get Australia to net-zero emissions by 2050 but he neglects to point out just how urgent the situation is and how our solution has to involve ceasing all coal, gas and oil exploitation (“Net zero: It will change your life”, June 21). While the current blast of cold weather might assuage the concerns of some, the reality is that changing weather patterns include more extremes of both hot and cold. Of more concern is that we are already at 1.5 degrees, 2 degrees is certain and, unless urgent drastic action is taken to stop burning all fossil fuels, we will see 3 or even 4 degrees of warming in the second half of this century. Four degrees of warming will result in large parts of the world becoming totally uninhabitable, massive water shortages and famines, millions of deaths, the breakdown of many societies and billions of refugees. While the reality of climate change is now largely accepted across the community, I don’t think there is sufficient awareness of just how close to the top of the cliff we are standing. We should all be screaming out for action, not just talking glibly about transitioning to net-zero emissions over the next 25 years. Catherine Rossiter, Fadden

A blueprint for change is what we need to give everyone clarity. Gittins sets out a sensible strategy that if adopted will allow us all to move forward with a calm acceptance of what we have to do to save this planet. We just need some dates and incentives to allow for an orderly transition to renewables. As Gittins suggests, market forces will do the rest. Geoff Nilon, Mascot

Fuel progress

While many Australians are concerned about our goal of a 43 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, the challenging situation of melting glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalaya draws attention to the globality of the growing problem of climate change (“Ice loss tipped to be 75% by century’s end”, June 21). Our nation, and federal politicians in particular, must recognise that all fossil fuel exports are contributing to the problems that are increasingly confronting our planet and must block expansion and future development of coal and gas projects. Roger Epps, Armidale

Gruen gravitas

Russel Howcroft may be right about the need to promote the Yes case in the upcoming referendum but unfortunately his Gruen persona reduces some of his gravitas (“Here’s how to save the Voice campaign, Gruen-style”, June 20). It’s hardly surprising that a former advertising guru is spruiking the need for the government to spend “many millions” on an advertising campaign. Col Burns, Lugarno

Queer Queenslanders

Lizzy Hoo is right – Queenslanders consider themselves Queenslanders first and Australians second; similarly with Westralians, I’ve found. New South Welsh persons, however, are Australians first and states-people second (“At Origin time, Queenslanders just care more”, June 21). Even if it costs us unimportant football games, I know which I prefer. Andrew Taubman, Queens Park

Rabbitoh royalty

Our prime minister may have many significant qualities, but one quality sets him apart (“The FM PM: How Albanese flipped the dial”, June 21). Anyone who wears South Sydney Rabbitohs’ socks to a coronation must indeed be special. Definitely a legend! Derrick Mason, Boorowa

This year’s Vivid festival was the most successful yet.

This year’s Vivid festival was the most successful yet.Credit: Dion Georgopoulos

NYE drones

With the huge popularity of Vivid this year, isn’t it time to replace our New Year fireworks display with the cleaner, more exciting drone shows (“Vivid’s success was written in the stars”, June 21).
Dorothy Gliksman, Cedar Brush Creek

Qantas represents

Sadly, I would suggest that Qantas is quite representative of modern Australia (Letters, June 21). Like many who didn’t need it, they took public money to save jobs and the company during COVID and used that to pay their executives while sacking staff. Others used that money to overinflate the property market and are now happy gouging renters, meanwhile private school principals justify the need for public money for their schools while being paid several multiples of a public school principal’s wage. Brenton McGeachie, Queanbeyan West

Ashes set to produce a series for the ages

The first Ashes test was a reminder of all that is memorable about the longer format of cricket (“Cummins inspires Australia to remarkable Test victory”, smh.com.au, June 21). The epic struggle, not just of styles and tactics, but of individual players and the remarkable changes of fortune each innings produced. After five days, the result hung on every single ball of the final session. If it continues, this will be a series for the ages. Philip Cooney, Wentworth Falls

For all the hype over Bazzball and other worries, test cricket is always at its best when it springs surprises, so let’s hear it for PatBat (“Star duo’s struggles an ominous Ashes sign”, June 21). Nick Franklin, Katoomba

We should forget the hype of Bazball. England now have a rare talent in Harry Brook in their batting lineup. The next four test matches will be a great theatre for Brook in which he can showcase his skills. He is one reason why England are a more dangerous team than when they last played in Australia. Rod Leonarder, Roseville

Is Baz balling? Bernie Bourke, Ourimbah

Captain Pat for president. Stephanie Edwards, Roseville

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
Start COVID-19 inquiry now: PM faces demands for action on promise
From Parvenu: ″⁣If Albanese promised an inquiry it will happen. He has consistently kept his commitments this will be no different. But given the mess the Coalition left it has not been a priority.″⁣

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