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White man assumes to be Bonner’s voice

Why does George Brandis arrogantly see himself as being in a position to speak on behalf of Neville Bonner (“Bonner would have hated the Voice”, September 11)? Madeleine Turkington, Kenthurst

George Brandis writes that the late Neville Bonner would have voted No to the VoiceCredit: Fairfax Media

As a rule, I do not read opinion pieces by politicians in newspapers. I saw the headline on George Brandis’ article. I read no further: another middle-aged white man speaking on behalf of an Aboriginal man. The more things change. Graham Fazio, Cootamundra

I say, how dare you George Brandis! How dare you pretend to know and assert to the Australian people that Neville Bonner would have hated the Voice. On the back of your flimsy, convenient and typically partisan assertion that the great man would not want to give his people a say in their lives, I googled his “How dare you?” speech to the 1998 constitutional convention. He sounded very much to me like a good man and a wonderful orator who would have been a great champion for the Voice.
Charmain Brinks, Newcastle

As a young high school teacher in the early ’70s, I invited Senator Bonner to address the students. He suggested changing the name of the presentation from “The Aboriginal Problem” to “The White Man’s Problem”. His talk clearly very much demonstrated the appropriateness of the change and we learned a lot. Phil Jones, Elanora Heights

The distressing thing about the polling on voter intention is that uncommitted voters can be influenced in their final decision purely by the figures. It is well known that a majority of undecided voters tend to support the candidate that pre-polling indicates is most likely to win. The psychological explanation is simply that voters like to be on the winning side. It is unfortunate that the No vote for the Voice is likely to attract a majority of undecided voters. Geoff Harding, Chatswood

The likely defeat of the Yes case in the Voice referendum comes as no surprise. From the start, there has been a lack of detail, just the endless reciting of meaningless platitudes from the prime minister, his government and Yes campaigners. The PM’s refusal to compromise at all on the wording of the question so more conservative-minded voters might be brought on board, this “crash through” approach in other words, has totally backfired on the Yes side. And please, enough of No voters being told that they’re unfeeling or heartless or racist. Those of us voting No are voting against the process. We’re not voting against improving the lives of our Indigenous brothers and sisters. Evan Parsons, Thornleigh

The government and the so-called elites have forgotten the non-entities, that’s us, and that our democracy is based on the Constitution, which should be blind to race, colour, religion and creed. We have a democratic right to one person, one vote and equality before the law. Australia is not a racist country but this could change if the Voice succeeds. The responsibility for this is the PM who spends more time overseas than here and has spent millions of taxpayer funds on promoting the Voice. These funds could be used to improve hospitals and health outcomes. Margaret Elder, Moss Vale

Maths overhaul won’t make up for shortage of teachers

Manufacturing a conflict between teaching styles as the answer to “collapsing” international test results in school maths (“Maths revamp could pave way for student excellence”, September 11) instead of acknowledging the real problem – lack of trained maths teachers – will not improve things much. Teachers use many styles and explicit teaching of content is, and always has been, essential. However, in high school maths is taught by PDHPE, science, English, language and other teachers because so many professions respect, renumerate and poach those with higher order maths skills.
Vanessa Tennent, Oatley

Schools need more maths teachers, not curriculum changes

Schools need more maths teachers, not curriculum changes

Your editorial does not go far enough. It is not just the obvious careers that exposure to higher level maths will provide. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills from engagement with complex maths concepts are invaluable in the legal and medical professions. All we have to do is think outside the square. Michael Blissenden, Dural

Abolishing the tiered structure in high school maths will not have the desired effect and will, in fact, turn more students off the subject (“End of streamed classes: High schools wrangle maths overhaul”, September 11). Teachers have always had control over differentiating the delivery of courses and this is just a band-aid solution to address the severe shortage of trained maths teachers in front of classrooms. Peter Miniutti, Ashbury

As a retired maths teacher with 43 years’ experience I predict this will “dumb down” the curriculum. Grading according to ability levels is the most efficient way to teach, as bright kids can be extended and those who need extra help can get it. I have taught both graded and mixed-ability classes and it is much easier to teach maths if students are of similar ability. However, if there are not enough qualified maths teachers and/or teachers with experience, this will lead to fewer students being able to do higher-level maths in Years 11 and 12. Colleen Northam, Taree

Kids may not be shining in what NAPLAN is testing, but they are still a grandparent’s first port of call when seeking a translation of Rosetta Stone-like acronyms such as BOLO, YOLO and FOMO. Maybe it’s NAPLAN, not pupils, who need to catch up. Trevor Somerville, Illawong

We have known for decades that for the best school outcomes, music must be a core subject (“As education outcomes falter, let’s learn from what works”, September 11). The late Richard Gill advocated tirelessly for this. Why hasn’t this been taken on board, and why is there a constant need for people like Richard Evans to remind us? Greg Baker, Fitzroy Falls

Plucky principals are prime

Elizabeth Stone has not really risen “to the top of the educational tree” (Letters, September 11). Charming, erudite and dedicated though she may be, Ms Stone has merely stepped up from a world of entitlement, exclusivity and elitism in Australian private schools to a prime example of entrenched snobbery in the mother country. The “top of the tree” title belongs to all those school principals who devote their lives to giving less privileged kids a fair go in that undergrowth of the underfunded, undervalued public education system in Australia. Kent Mayo, Uralla

The NSW Department of Education rightly told Elizabeth Stone to come back when she had gained accreditation as a teacher. The article stated she held a legal degree but no teaching qualifications at that time. The department might be guilty of making some unwise decisions, but this was not one of them. Sharon McGuinness, Thirroul

What makes your correspondent think that a posh Pommy school is the top of the educational tree? Schools that are going to make a real difference to the lives of students – the biggest challenge to educational leadership – are more likely to be found in Sydney’s western suburbs or in remote areas of the state. Robert Binns, Blaxland

Valiant spotlight

Vascular surgeon John Crozier deserves the highest accolades for the stance he is taking against those in his area carrying out an illegal trade in tobacco products (“Surgeon sleuth maps illegal cigarette market”, September 11). Patronage of these outlets will increase in the current worsening economic climate. Smoking’s connection to cardiovascular, respiratory and circulatory disorders, not to mention many cancers, combined with stretched healthcare resources in the area where he works will exacerbate the entrenched disadvantage of many. His efforts must be backed up by the authorities. Louise Dolan, Birchgrove

Vascular surgeon John Crozier has begun mapping the city’s black-market tobacco trade, saying it has undone 50 years of public health policy. Several shops in Liverpool, where he works, freely sell illegal tobacco.

Vascular surgeon John Crozier has begun mapping the city’s black-market tobacco trade, saying it has undone 50 years of public health policy. Several shops in Liverpool, where he works, freely sell illegal tobacco.Credit: Janie Barrett

In Sydney, despite huge taxes and a world-leading crackdown, people continue to smoke. Despite a prohibition-style response and a deluge of negative information, vaping is booming. Sydney has apparently become the cocaine capital of the world. All this is occurring despite dedicated police everywhere, tracking boats, crawling around containers and unleashing dogs. One wonders – why are otherwise good people, even teenagers, defying authority and supporting criminal activity? What could be wrong with the strategy being employed? Peter Barrett, Woonona

Kings Cross/Potts Point has more gyms than you could poke a stick at and, curiously, even more tobacco outlets. Today’s count is 16, covering Darlinghurst Road, Bayswater Road and Macleay Street. That’s a hell of a lot for a health-obsessed community. Tobacco shops have become a blight on our retail landscape, and no doubt, where there’s smokes, there’s probably something under the counter. Warren Fahey, Potts Point

Ban reduction burn

As a big city, Sydney has air pollution (“Hazard burns to bring thick smoke to Sydney through the week”, smh.com.au, September 11). Creating extra air pollution through bush hazard reduction burns makes no sense. Additionally, research shows bushfire smoke is poisonous, bad for unborn babies and those with respiratory illness; hospital admissions increase and deaths rise among the ill. My observation is that hazard reduction burns are often conducted hundreds of metres from homes. Why?

In metro Sydney, why can’t they enforce compulsory clearing around structures, and where required, install exterior sprinkler systems? Maybe even, perish the thought, a few metres of bush-floor mechanical clearing. Tim Egan, Mosman

Women’s Libs?

If either Warren Mundine or Andrew Constance prevail in replacing Marise Payne, it will become crystal-clear that nothing has been learnt from the 2022 election results (CBD, September 11). Where are all the progressive women candidates? Or is it a case of the Liberal party remaining too toxic for women? Rhonda Seymour, Castle Hill

Wrong to pollute

Sean Kelly points out that long-haul flights may be reduced as airlines try to cut their pollution footprint (“Albanese risks long-haul danger”, September 11). He notes that this is already starting to happen as some individuals choose to fly less. This may be the start of us generally questioning our “right to pollute”. Polluting is so locked into our way of life that it’s hard to imagine otherwise. As climate events worsen and oceans continue to rise, some of these pollution rights may be taken away from us. Dennis O’Hara, Wanniassa

I think Sean Kelly has read the mood of the people pretty well – unfortunately better than the government in their hasten-slowly approach to needed change. We live in turbulent times, but we always do. This is arguably the absolutely right time to throw caution to the wind and bring in courageous and progressive reforms to improve our inequitable society regardless of the predictable outcries and potential loss of votes. It often appears the government plans to slide along, tweaking policies here and there to appease some of the masses and keep votes, saving a little self-esteem by “doing something”. The hopes for this government to bring in much-needed change were high. So far it has shown a publicly strong willingness for reform but a lack of courage to carry much of it out. Judy Finch, Taree

Free travel for all

With Opal facing obsolescence and replacement measures in the slow lane, what to do (“It’s a $100,000 job, but nobody wants it. And it’s making you late. A lot”, smh.com.au, September 11)? By now, we must have almost a whole generation of bus drivers who have never issued fares: the unions wouldn’t wear going back to it and today’s timetables couldn’t cope with it. We don’t have enough people to operate public transport now, much less to employ bus conductors or railway ticket sellers and checkers. Maybe public transport will have to be free! Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills

Former public bus driver Eamonn Murray says the bus driver shortage has made working difficult.

Former public bus driver Eamonn Murray says the bus driver shortage has made working difficult.Credit: Flavio Branceleone

Earnest criticism

I’m at a loss to understand what alleged dramaturgical insights drove the Sydney Theatre Company’s choice to bookend The Importance of Being Earnest with soap opera scenes stolen from Downton Abbey, but it does seem a terrible shame to rob one of the greatest curtain lines ever from its punctuating curtain (“Wilde’s wit brings tears of mirth”, September 11). Maybe next time they might realise for the first time in their life the vital importance of not being “relevant”. Peter Fyfe, Enmore

State’s finest

Your article talks about NSW wines being left off most Sydney restaurant lists (“Industry talks a big game but local wines lose out to imports”, September 11). I might direct readers to one of Sydney’s hidden gems that showcases only wine and produce from NSW. The Strangers’ Restaurant at NSW Parliament House is open to the public on selected days. Passing through a metal detector prior to entry is all part of the fun. Ross MacPherson, Seaforth

Sommelier Angelica Nohra in her Surry Hills restaurant The Blue Door. Nohra has an exclusively NSW wine list.

Sommelier Angelica Nohra in her Surry Hills restaurant The Blue Door. Nohra has an exclusively NSW wine list.Credit: James Brickwood

Adds up

Those primary school-aged children talking about football odds are merely exhibiting aspects of modern maths (Letters, September 11). Bob Hall, Wyoming

Highs below

I must challenge your writer’s observation on “one of the world’s first underground farms” (“Underground and up on the roof, a taste of future farming”, September 11). When we moved into a dilapidated terrace in Surry Hills a few decades ago we found the workings of an extensive “underground farm” in our basement. Damp problems, yes, but plenty of power points. Not sure about the pollination program. Michael Bogle, Surry Hills

Hard worker

My cat has never brought home any endangered or native species (“As a cat lover, it hurts to say it, but Plibersek’s right”, September 11), but he has on occasion presented me with a very limp and demised Rattus norvegicus. Good boy, Banjo! Alicia Dawson, Balmain

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au

Voters continue to turn against the Voice – and Albanese along with it

From gc_lc: “The referendum has been beset by inept leadership from the outset, and continuing.”

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