Transport Minister Andrew Constance nearly lost his home in the bushfires (“Minister furious after tree-clearing order defied”, February 26). He doesn’t want to go through that again. He is so concerned about the next fire he wants a tree-free strip on major highways. He doesn’t care who is in the way or what it costs, starting with $830,000 for severance pay to someone who wasn’t able to comply and who he now wants to re-employ. So many questions and so few answers. Margaret Short, Belmore
In eastern Australia, where most of the landscape has been cleared for agriculture, grazing or housing, the native bush on either side of roads provides the principal means for animals and birds to connect with larger areas of suitable habitat. Removal of those vital connections will further accelerate extinctions of our native wildlife. It has been a blessing that at least one bureaucrat recognised that clearing strips on either side of “main” roads is not within the legal bailiwick of an ignorant minister. Joy Pegler, Picnic Point
This state government is notorious for its total disregard for trees: I will never forgive Gladys Berejiklian’s slaughter of the majestic avenue along the Anzac Parade for a lousy tram that could have been built for trackless technology, and the mindless clearing of trees in the bush. Now, this total overreaction after a conscientious transport secretary had better sense and defied the Transport Minister’s over-the-top order. John Greenway, Wentworth Falls
Asset protection is one thing. Wilful environmental vandalism is another. Constance also removed protection for marine zones on the South Coast while the subject was still out for public comment. Carolyn Pettigrew, Turramurra
The only group to benefit in the short term would be loggers, both in Forests NSW and private, who must be salivating at the prospect. Transport for NSW is a huge department that has been involved in so many fiascos over the past decade that it has enraged practically every citizen in some way. Valerie Reynolds Greenwich
Constance may be our transport Caesar, but is that any reason for him to adopt the equivalent of what was said of the Romans at war, “they make a desert and call it peace”? Frank McGrath, Bulli
I applaud the genius idea by Constance and suggest an even better one: why not clear all trees in NSW? After all, if there is no bush, there is no bushfire, right? Han Yang, North Turramurra
Constance should replace the trees with green cement, as advocated by another Goon, Spike Milligan, in the ’60s. Problem solved. No more ants, either. Christo Curtis, Beaconsfield
Great plan: now let’s see it in action
Planning Minister Rob Stokes is to be commended on the new planning rules (“Pandemic reshapes Sydney’s cityscape”, February 26). As a near 80-year-old, I live with my husband in a large four-bed, five-bathroom home with a huge patio, sun and lots of fresh air. We will never give it up to live in a box with a small balcony. Australians love the outdoors for entertaining, eating and living generally; it’s in our DNA. Apartments being built today lack anything like a decent patio. When we should be downsizing it is impossible to replicate a smaller version of what we already have. Irene Hunt, Northbridge
Another “overhaul” of Sydney’s planning rules has produced the usual platitudes about cycleways, more green space and public transport, considerations of Aboriginal values and environmental issues, and putting people “at the forefront of design”. Fine words, which make for a good press release. But the new policy is only a draft, and no doubt, as is usual with this state government, the developers will successfully lobby to make a toothless tiger of these proposed regulations. You can be sure it will be business as usual. Rob Phillips, North Epping
I am encouraged to read that the city’s planning rules will encourage cycling over cars. But I have grave concerns. First, “encourage” seems like a rather weak word to use considering how dominant cars and motorists have been for so long in planning considerations and the expectations of the general public. Second, what is meant by “bike lanes”? If these are simply lines painted on a shared road it means nothing for cyclists’ safety. John Whiteing, Willoughby
Is this the height of hypocrisy? Planning Minister Stokes on building cities: “We’ve forgotten the history and the people”. What has he got to say about the proposed destruction of Willow Grove and St Georges Terrace in Parramatta to make way for the new Powerhouse? Urban vandalism at its worst. Bob Selinger, Eastwood
Bread and breakfast
Every Sunday, when my mother was a girl, (she would turn 110 this year, if still around), her mother would wake the children with a slice of home-baked warm, white bread covered in lashings of homemade butter and jam. Needless to say, hungrily eaten while lying in bed (Letters, February 26). Valerie Little, Tathra
Do any readers remember a “half-married” loaf? It was easily pulled apart into halves. David Gordon, Cranebrook
A boy in my second class at Guildford infants’ school in the 1940s used his sixpence lunch money to buy a half-loaf of the warm, inviting bread and ate all the inside. Our teacher was not impressed. Shirley Rider, Point Clare
To stop my two older siblings from getting “the crusty bit” from the newly cut up loaf of bread, as a four-year-old I’d grab it and shove it down my undies. Joan Brown, Orange
In the ’50s, I lived next to a bakery. Woodville Road, Guildford was one lane each way with gutters about four feet deep. To access the road the horses had to cross a bridge made of four wood planks. One day the lead horse started bucking, overturning the bread cart, spilling its load. The neighbourhood grapevine was immediately in motion and by the time the horse was back on its feet and dusted down, there was not a skerrick of bread to be found. In Guildford, this event was as famous as the Great Tea Trolley disaster of ’67 at the Chester Perry Corp and was recounted at every bonfire night for years. Helen Lyons-Riley, Springwood
Women expected to work harder and do it quietly
David Crowe is moving towards the nub of the issue (“Higgins rape claim raises the question: who actually cared?”, February 26). It is getting harder to not only keep women in their box – compliant and doing many of society’s toughest jobs – but also stopping them having the audacity to take off their invisibility cloak. What is so hard, for many in positions of authority, about treating women with the respect and acknowledgement they deserve? The ongoing lack of straightforward, honest accountability and openness, as evidenced in the dissembling in Federal Parliament over the past two weeks, only confirms what many have long suspected. Women are seen as useful – but rocking the comfortable, entitled, and previously secure, male dominated power boat is a step too far. Anne Finnane, Marlee
I am concerned that our elected representatives and their staff are covering up a crime. All the impassioned talk about an independent inquiry and the employer’s “lack of duty of care” and the treatment of women in Parliament is relevant but, in my opinion, not the main issue.
While these aspects of the case have not been well handled, surely the rumoured cover-up of a crime with the destruction of evidence is most concerning. Where is the incident report which should have been completed by the Senator, as the incident occurred in her ministerial office?
The issue of the toxic and entitled culture needs to be addressed by a bipartisan, independent inquiry with implementation of the findings. But an inquiry is a long-term response. The immediate issue is the reporting and investigation of a crime. Elizabeth Worne, Bowral
I now know when the AFP told Peter Dutton about the alleged rape (Letters, February 26). Now I would also like to know when he first heard about the rape? Craig Duckmanton, Birchgrove
School of hard knocks
As someone familiar with Walgett High school for the past 50 years, there are underlying factors that have led to the crisis at the school (“Teachers hit in struggling town school”, February 26). A major shift in the socio-economic factors that once defined the town, such as introduction of cotton growing and the buying up of individually owned properties by large corporations, have led to lack of employment opportunities for students who are not academically inclined.
Add to this the zealous injection of political correctness into all things that relate to Indigenous student welfare means that the result is not at all surprising. The solution to this problem will only be attained when those in power – Department of Education bureaucrats – accept the fact that sometimes ideology must come second to practicality. John Adamson, Dulwich Hill
Meredith Burgmann wishes for a nursing home for herself that enables her to sit in a corner with a telly on, Vera on a loop and eating Tim Tams without worrying about getting fat (“Aged care is one of the big feminist issues of our time”, smh.com.au, February 26).
My mother had similar dreams, but the reality was different: the TV was on constantly, very loudly: to accommodate the deafness of other residents. Once in the corner she couldn’t get out, as the assistants to help her back to her room weren’t to be seen. She needed that help because eating the Tim Tams, and no exercise, meant she became fat. She lost mobility and fell often, leading to her bed being lowered so she couldn’t move out of it. She became incontinent because no one responded in time to her toileting requests or changed her continence pads. Incontinence led to bladder infections and rough washing led to her resisting painful treatment and care, becoming “difficult”, which led to antipsychotic medication which made her inert, drowsy and incoherent, but easier to care for. She lived through six years of this misery. Be careful what you wish for. Megan Stoyles, Aireys Inlet (Vic)
Man among boys
What an outstanding role model is Asher Learmonth, head prefect of Cranbrook, addressing his school about sexual abuse of girls and respect for women (“Our treatment of girls has been disgusting”, February 26). He is exactly what is needed in the re-education of young men in this space: a peer, not a teacher or preacher. He knows how adolescent boys think and what they say to each other about “chicks” and “hooking-up”. I predict we will hear more of this young man in the future. Ruth Barwick, Hornsby
Schools are now asking themselves the question: did we do enough to educate our boys to respect women? A more important question is “what are the family and society values that have enabled this behaviour”?
Are we now asking our schools to do the work that should be done at home and by society in teaching something as basic as respect for a fellow human being’s rights over their own body? Donald Sleer, Manly
One only needs to look over the Murray River to see how successful the revitalisation of country passenger rail services can be (Letters, February 25). In the early 2000s the Victorian state government invested many millions of dollars in new rolling stock and upgraded track to support a significant increase in services. Regional cities such as Traralgon or Bendigo were served with a handful of services each day but today are served by trains on the hour and even better during peak periods.
Patronage boomed which has resulted in more train orders and a commensurate increase in services and track capacity. Your letter makes a good case for a dramatic improvement to regional rail in NSW that extends beyond the wires. Given your correspondent resides in the university city of Armidale this would be a worthy candidate to kick start a passenger rail revival. Steven Haby, Carnegie (Vic)
Great idea for a Minister for Loneliness or Common Sense, but surely what’s now missing is a Minister for Honesty and Integrity (Letters, February 26). With this government that would be a very busy department. Eric Sekula, Turramurra
I thought all our current crop of ministers were ministers for common sense, that old furphy rolled out to counter those who espouse the views of the “politically correct” (ie “correct”), “scientific community” or “dons in their ivory towers”. Please save us from common sense and have a Minister for Facts. Robert Hosking, Paddington
Making a meal of it
I’d definitely not invite Scott Miller or Sam Burgess to dinner. Nor would I invite Tiger Woods (Letters, February 26). Who to invite? I reckon it’s got to be Nigella Lawson. Peter Butler, Wyongah
Fog of cure
Perhaps someone suffering from “brain fog” as a result of COVID-19 shouldn’t be offering advice on possible cures (“Paltrow urged to leave COVID-19 advice to the experts”, February 26). Brenton McGeachie, Queanbeyan West
In fact, Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is set in Macbeth’s castle, allegedly located on Dunsinane Hill (Letters, February 26). John Christie, Oatley
″I’m really enjoying the nostalgic, mouth-watering loaf anecdotes. They are the best thing since sliced bread,″ wrote George Manojlovic of Mangerton about the many letters this week on the subject. He is right: the letters on bakers bringing fresh bread to homes on horse-drawn carts brought back to life a long-gone era and made many long for a taste of the warm loaves and spreads.
The adventures described were evocative: a terrified five-year-old Anne Garvan, who climbed on to the cart and was unable to stop the horse was a favourite, along with today’s letter by Helen Lyons-Riley, which describes the prompt action of the ″neighbourhood grapevine″.
All the letters were a joy to read, and publish. And as Tony Everett of Wareemba reminds us, there is plenty more to write about: ″What about the rabbitoh, the bottleoh, the ice deliverer and the clothes prop man? What a different era!″
More serious issues also took our attention. Many wrote to express their disgust at the Morrison government’s treatment of the unemployed by raising the JobSeeker benefit by a ″miserable″ $50 a fortnight.
The government was also in correspondents’ firing line for what they believed was the inadequate handling of the Brittany Higgins rape allegations.
Craig Kelly’s defection to the crossbench also riled up letter writers. Thanks to Tim Overland of Castle Hill, who described the Hughes MP as an “ultracrepidarian”, sending many of us to consult our dictionaries. Correspondents agreed this rarely used word trumped “cognoscenti” as the word of the week, and is frontrunner, at this early stage, for word of the year. Pat Stringa, Letters editor