Political leaders’ failure to report allows cycle to continue

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Political leaders’ failure to report allows cycle to continue

Illustration by Michael Leunig

Illustration by Michael LeunigCredit:Fairfax Media

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse severely castigated church and other leaders for their failure to report abuse within their organisations (“Rape case exposes PM’s failure to lead”, February 27-28). Political leaders should also be held to account for their failure to report potential criminal activities within their bailiwick. The Australian Federal Police have said as much. Do the historical and ongoing inappropriate activities in Parliament House (some allegedly criminal) enjoy the same sacred cow reverence among politicians as the confessional does to some church leaders? - Richard Carruthers, Bellingen

If Chelsey Potter (“Three changes PM must make to fix broken system”, February 27-28) had reported, under the terms of Safe Work NSW, that a vase in her workplace was so placed that it was likely to fall on her head, she would have been given protection under that organisation’s safe work policy. Yet, despite a collection of all the wit and wisdom and policy writing skills available to Federal Parliament, she had no faith in being protected from the advances of a sexual predator. - Trevor Somerville, Illawong

The “senior cabinet minister” at the centre of the historical rape allegation must be named (“Minister accused of historical rape”, February 27-28). He is entitled to the presumption of innocence but he must be named so that other innocent government members are not the objects of speculation and tarnish of reputation. - Stephanie Edwards, Roseville

The complainant of the alleged rape in 1988 may be dead. If she were the victim of a murder and dead, the police would still make their inquiries and, with evidence, bring charges against the suspect. The police should investigate this alleged rape as they would a murder and take appropriate action. - Jacqui Richmond, Rozelle

How much longer can Scott Morrison ignore the stench of the abuse of women within his party? He should grow a backbone and force the senior minister named in the most recent rape allegation to step aside. Then encourage the police to investigate the issue the best they can. The Coalition, indeed Australia, will wear this ugly issue until it is thoroughly dealt with. - Henry Spirek, Orange

Illustration by Matt Golding

Illustration by Matt GoldingCredit:Fairfax Media

You have to hand it to conservative commentators such as Parnell Palme McGuinness who will desperately try to spin the indefensible under the guise of “whataboutism” (“Women in the house causes friction in factions”, February 27-28). She devotes more than half her column space to one Labor Party incident from five years ago, while minimising the glaring cover-up by the Coalition in the latest of a string of sexual scandals as “trivialities of timing”. McGuinness reinforces the sad demise of ethical and even legal behaviour within the Coalition, where “getting away with it” has become the unofficial slogan of successive administrations. - Andrew Barrs, Prospect

The PM has clearly learnt a lot from the pandemic; preventing the spread of the accountability virus in his office with political distancing, quarantining the facts, isolating victims, and always wearing the mask of implausible undeniability in public. Until the electorate develops ‘heard’ immunity to news of the current outrage, he can breathe easily … until the next outbreak. - Peter Fyfe, Enmore

Surely, above all else, we need, crave, a Minister for Ethics and Decency? - Julia Booth, Westleigh


Segregating sexes only leads to dysfunction

I attended an all-girls high school and have been a teacher for over 30 years. My brother taught at an all-boys high school (“Rape culture reckoning as claims unleashed”, February 27-28). Both my brother and I ensured our children attended co-educational schools as single-sex schools did not reflect the reality of living in a society where men and women co-exist. Respectful relationships develop from working alongside someone, not seeing them from a distance as a possible conquest. I am dumbfounded that schools continue to segregate boys and girls. This is the real cause of the problem. - Cathy Ahearn, Kiama

When I went to The King’s School many years ago, there were no girls around. They were exotic creatures who were desired but completely misunderstood, leaving misogyny and sexism to flourish. Recent reports show nothing much has changed in private all-boy schools. This isn’t such a problem in New Zealand and many other countries where there are few private schools and most children attend public co-educational schools and mix happily with the opposite sex. - Andrew Macintosh, Cromer

I read with admiration the Cranbrook head boy’s address to the students but, combined with Chanel Contos’ survey, it paints a sorry picture. Consensus seems to be that schools must do more to prevent underage and unsupervised alcohol-fuelled sexual assaults in private homes. Are some parents so irresponsible that they are allowed to hand over all parental responsibility to teachers? - Judy Jackson, Orange

Entitlement is the power inherent in sexual assault, the power that ignores the other. Porn is irrelevant, other than as a tool in the school principals’ values clarification exercises on power, equality and respectful sexual relations. (“Schools blame porn as key element in poor attitudes to consent”, February 27-28). - Anne Eagar, Epping

Brandon Jack says he was the only male in his gender studies class at university (“Men, be brave like Asher and help him redefine masculinity”, February 27-28). Why is this so? Feminist academics need to examine why such courses have no appeal whatsoever to men. To hazard a guess, the subject is probably now best described as “radical feminism” which attacks so-called privileged white males. Why would male students subject themselves to such attacks? - Riley Brown, Bondi Beach

Four boys (no girls) in their school blazers promoting “Independent Schools” on the cover of an advertising liftout (February 27-28). This type of imagery steeped in historical sandstone and navy is cringeworthy, anachronistic and untimely; part of a bygone era that should be forgotten and one which the current crop of principals would do well to avoid given recent events. - Dorin Suciu, Eleebana

Labor, you need to talk to Kevin

Although Kevin Rudd has not endeared himself to many in the Labor movement, the fact is that he is one of the few to have led the party to government from opposition. Thus he should be listened to, particularly when his proposals for a roadmap back to power make eminent sense (“Courage is needed to go negative”, February 27-28). Rudd is correct when he asserts that Labor has been so consumed with principle that it has forgotten about winning the fight and destroying the policies, such as they are, of those presently in power. If nothing changes, Labor will continue to languish in opposition despite the deficiencies of the government. - Max Redmayne, Drummoyne

Rudd is absolutely right. God knows, there’s more than sufficient ammunition to blast this government out of office and into oblivion for several terms. Just do it, Labor. - Maureen Jones, North Rocks

Really, Kevin? Is that the best you can offer? Surely you know that every time an opposition leader defaults to a reflex contrary view, voters just switch off. How about championing authenticity over negativity in Australian politics? We all deserve to be led by authentic politicians, not just those who think they can win by being negative. - Craig Marcombe, Neutral Bay

Frydenberg the future

It says a lot about conservative politics in Australia that a politician with such a skinny resume as Josh Frydenberg should attract paeans of praise (“A fixer with his eyes on greatness”, February 27-28). According to Peter Hartcher, Frydenberg’s path to “greatness” includes smashing Facebook – the evidence for this provided by Murdoch’s New York Post – failure to get a very mild carbon emission control policy through the party room; a likely binning of a tiny increase in the superannuation levy and a return to dire poverty for the unemployed. On the other hand, after re-reading the article, I wasn’t sure if it wasn’t a clever piece of political satire. - Tony Mitchell, Hillsdale

Frydenberg, as others have said, does not want to offend any MPs who might give him future support. But he might well offend potential voters by, for instance, being churlish to JobSeeker recipients. Sooner or later he will need to stand behind his principals and not those of others. - Tony Sullivan, Adamstown Heights

Where’s the care?

Megan Stoyles, I sincerely hope that your mother at least got some comfort from those Tim Tams (Letters, February 27-28). During my mother’s miserable two-year stay in a nursing home, she was also served biscuits, albeit a cheap generic brand. However, as she was totally blind, she only got to eat them if a visitor was present because the staff had no time to feed her. The current term “aged care facility” is a misnomer. - Peter Mahoney, Oatley

Your correspondent’s experience of her mother’s misery in a nursing home is unfortunately the demise of many of our elderly. Which is why I have decided to sell my home and accept with delight and gratitude my daughter and son-in-law’s generous invitation to live with them on their 15-acre property with seven dogs, four teenage sons, two goats, ponies, free-range hens and a rooster, n’ere a neighbour in sight, tank water, miles from the nearest shop, close to bushfire prone national park and patchy internet access. It’s going to be a crazy, risky and unpredictable ride but, for me, far preferable than a nursing home. - Elizabeth Maher, Bangor

Not so Stoked

Elizabeth Farrelly is absolutely right (“Are you Stoked by planning vision? Don’t be fooled”, February 27-28). The latest piece of “repetition, flummery and fluff” from the NSW Planning Department is a dangerous indication of the loosening of public protections. Nobody will argue against the fact that the NSW planning system is woefully inadequate and needs an overhaul, but “design-led development” is just another step towards rendering the system completely ineffective. - Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy

Farrelly says “design-led development” is a false objective that sets out to fool the public. So presumably she prefers no design, no involvement of architects and that somehow Sydney will just muddle along. She uses me as an example of how design-led “fools us” because I moved from being government architect to CEO of Urban Taskforce which she describes is the “dark side”. But Farrelly offers no ideas on how the city can be improved. - Chris Johnson, Millers Point

Magic worth millions

Gerry Harvey’s association with the Magic Millions has assumed a new poignancy (“‘JobKeeper did its job, we won’t repay it’ says Harvey”). - Neale Marshall, Roseville Chase

Living on the edge

Many of our South Coast towns have one road in and one road out, and the bush grows right to the edge of the road (Letters, February 27-28). We proudly protect our natural environment. Some of us, including Andrew Constance, were unlucky enough to experience last year’s bushfires. The removal of large trees, which in a bushfire, could impact the use of these roads, is sensible and necessary. It is a truly terrifying experience to be driving on a road, with fire licking vegetation close to the car. Low growing shrubs and native grasses could remain and would provide habitat for native fauna. - Valerie Little, Tathra

“No bush, no bushfire”, you’re definitely onto something Han Yang (Letters, February 27-28). We could follow up the clearing of all NSW trees with some nice new concrete footpaths. Barnaby Joyce – “have you ever seen a footpath on fire?” – was an early adopter of this theory. It’s a no-brainer. - Paul Links, Wamberal

Rodd Staples is my hero – his severance pay was worth every cent. I thank him for the enjoyment of being able to drive through beautiful tranquil country that has roadside trees. - Jenny Peat, Narooma

Christo Curtis’ suggestion to replace all trees with green cement is not new (Letters, February 27-28). Like many Greek migrants in the ’50s and ’60s, my Uncle George had a lovingly maintained all cement front yard painted in fetching shades of green and red. - Nick Andrews, Bellevue Hill

University business

The China trade war also affects the Australian universities (“China’s trade war targets students”, February 27-28). A multibillion-dollar market is lost. Take it as a blessing. Finally, our unis have an opportunity to stop being commercial businesses, reinstall academic rigour and honour the staff who deliver that. The government must provide funding to recreate a world in which academic excellence will prevail, rescuing the deteriorating international reputation of qualifications from an Australian university. - Servaas van Beekum, Bondi Beach

Wildlife lifeline

I would like to add my admiration and thanks to Pat McDonald (“Teacher loved her work so much she left it $7 million”, February 26). She once gave a young guy from fisheries a job teaching natural history on the famous Australian Museum train. Without that, I’d be still boring fishermen about echosounders and would never have made it to the ABC, where wildlife talkback has now been going for 40 years. Thanks, Pat! John Dengate, Avalon

Bread of heaven

I went to Randwick Primary School on Avoca Street directly opposite the Sunshine Bakery (Letters, February 27-28). The lovely convex face inside the loaf of bread, once pulled into two halves, was called “the baker’s apron”. They also assured me it was the older brother or sister that got the apron – warm, and usually saturated with butter, peanut butter, cheese or strawberry jam. Adrian Bell, Davistown

Well before pre-sliced bread, “newly married couple’s loaf” was the name my grandmother gave to a loaf with grooves baked into the crust. This evidently ensured the happy couple could cut evenly sized slices, a skill obviously beyond the unwed. Janita Rankin, Annandale

Clearly winging it

If a $200 chook needs to be poached in pig’s bladder to enhance flavour, one has to wonder how tasty the chook itself is (“Our clucky day: Australia pulls off a chicken coup”, February 27-28). Genevieve Milton, Newtown

The digital view

Online comment from the story that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
‘Shut up or you’ll lose endorsement’: Kelly reveals details of meetings that led him to quit
From I8: “I drove past Craig Kelly’s office in Sutherland the day after his “surprise” resignation. The old signage had already been changed . . . no mention he was the Liberal Member for Hughes. Either signage companies in the Shire are the fastest in the world or the resignation had been planned for some time.”

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