Credit:Illustration: Megan Herbert
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Censorship deciding how we see the world
Northcote High School has removed 36 “20th-century non-fiction titles deemed historically inaccurate or offensive” from its library (The Age, 18/2). Another 12 titles have been filed under a new restricted category. There lies the downwards slope to a world where censorship determines how the world is perceived.
Across the centuries, libraries and librarians have fought for the right to foster and encourage the widest range of views and perspectives represented in their collections, across all media. The culling of the school library to remove books related to our nation’s Indigenous people – but which are seen as incorrect or offensive – is absurd. It is political correctness gone haywire.
To deny students a chance to learn for themselves how perspectives have changed and how the telling of history has many ways of being recorded and interpreted should be fundamental to learning. Also, what point is there in hiding the books the library staff have decided can be of restricted use?
Our Indigenous people, across the centuries, are core to a deeper understanding by the rest of us of the land we live in and on, and how we care for it. Let history, with all its rights and wrongs, guide us. The truth is often hard to find and when one does, it is often even harder to accept. Let not other school libraries follow suit.
Frances Awcock, Melbourne
Will future generations reject what we accept?
Congratulations to Northcote High School for turning a story of everyday culling of faded books into a positive, page-three story. Looking behind the spin, what actually has happened? The school’s library had held onto long-dated books. That they were in good enough condition to have stayed on the shelves suggests few students have read them, let alone recently. Looking at the examples pictured with your article, they appear to be the kind of anodyne, dully written books that students would rarely read.
School libraries need to toss them out regularly and buy the current generation of that kind of book. Of greater interest is, how will Northcote’s teachers and students use the knowledge that the standard thought of a few decades back can now be so wrong? Will they ponder what things today, which we all accept, future generations will look back on in wonder and horror?
Conor King, Pascoe Vale South
Let readers recognise the offensiveness themselves
It is understandable and justified that school librarians are concerned about some books held in their libraries. I read dozens of such works as a child and only questioned them as a young adult. Mary Grant Bruce’s Billabong series, with its contemptuous portrayal of Indigenous and Chinese people, is a case in point.
I wonder, however, whether it might be more productive to leave these books on the shelves while, at the same time, talking to their readers and encouraging them to see the truth. Of course, most high school teachers and librarians are overstretched already, but the principle of teaching young readers to question the authors and their works seems a worthy one.
Juliet Flesch, Kew
Following in the path of dictatorships
Congratulations to Northcote High for culling those erroneous history texts from the school library. It is exactly how China deals with incorrect interpretations of history. But why were the books quietly removed from the shelves? Surely a proper, good-old book burning was called for.
Michael Challinger, Nunawading
Oh dear, no one must be offended by anything
I am happy to learn that Roald Dahl’s language is being sanitised so that it no longer offends the modern sensitivities of our delicate little flowers (The Age, 19/2). Let’s not stop there. Eliminate offensive and coarse language from all rap lyrics, delete all violence from the Bible, and edit gratuitous gore and sex from classic movies.
Ralph Bohmer, St Kilda West
High cost of rural EVs
Re “EV owners’ fight signals change down the road” (The Age, 18/2). Setting aside the ingenuous furphy of the fuel excise paying for roads, a further complication of the EV tax is that it discriminates heavily against rural users.
I have a small electric vehicle and live in a small coastal community near the South Australian border. Our nearest shopping centre is Mount Gambier, 30 kilometres away. The nearest Victoria medical centre is in Portland, 70 kilometres away. Quarterly medical trips to Melbourne are 800+plus kilometres of driving.
So far we have racked up 20,000 kilometres since last May when we bought the car. My bill to date is $520 for driving for largely unavoidable reasons and will come on top of registration costs which, although discounted, are still considerable. Where are the incentives to buy an EV?
Feri Jakab, Nelson
Let’s shame myki dodgers
So V/Line will reduce the cost of its fares next month (The Age, 17/2). A similar reduction in the cost of a myki fare would not encourage “professional” fare evaders to do the right thing.
There are, of course, occasions when someone has a reason for not having a valid ticket. However, fare evasion, costing multi-millions in revenue, will remain high unless action is taken. Also, welchers do not sit well with passengers who do the right thing and pay for their trips. There must be an economic case for mounting a campaign to discourage it. Perhaps, a “shame campaign” would be effective.
William Maher, Watsonia
Let us book our bikes
Public transport users have warned that the cheaper travel on V/Line could push the system to breaking point, with more people travelling on it. Before COVID-19, my husband and I met with the then V/Line CEO on two occasions regarding the difficulty of taking bikes on trains to regional areas. Commonsense tells you that if you have a booking system in place, things run a lot more smoothly. This applies equally to the current situation. Sadly, V/Line still does not get it.
Breta Cohen, Blackburn North
Housing the homeless
Flood victims who have been staying at the Mickleham quarantine facility have been given a month’s notice that it is shutting down, with some residents being moved into hotels and caravan parks (The Age, 17/2). Why not make the facility available to the homeless and rental candidates as social housing? At least that would bring in some income and relieve the cost on the public purse. It would also relieve some very real challenges facing our community.
Andrew Connell, Newtown
The best of both worlds
Lyndall Thomas’ article – “I live in Frankston and we’re not bogans” (Comment, 17/2) – is spot on, but there has always been a love-hate relationship with suburbia, especially in the arts community.
I had pre-conceived notions until I went to Bunjill Place in Narre Warren and saw this architecturally winning building that has become a hub of entertainment and culture. Popular culture’s depictions continue to accentuate an image of the banality of suburbia devoid of any culture or critical thought.
However, Thomas fails to acknowledge the ugly, bogan racism of the late ’70s and early ’80s that vilified many migrants who just wanted a nice life in an Anglo-suburban landscape. Location is more than geography. It represents character and personality, and inner city residents have this understated, cool attitude because it is nothing like the suburbs.
Give me the inner city with its overpriced coffee that makes me feel alive, but take me to the suburbs to see a great art exhibition with friendly staff. I will continue to have the best of both worlds and I look forward to visiting Frankston soon.
Pam Papadopoulos, South Yarra
Battle to cross busy road
I love the idea of 15-minute cities, where nearly everything we need is within a short walk (Sunday Age, 19/2). I live in an area where many residents can do that. But for some residents, the obstacles are not the distance to a shop or service. It is getting across busy roads.
Some nearby friends live opposite a supermarket. But they can’t just duck in to buy groceries, because it’s a very busy road with a speed limit of 60 km/h. Crossing safely requires a long walk to the nearest crossing. So the return journey to the supermarket opposite takes about 20minutes.
Sadly our government seems to require a history of pedestrian casualties before it will consider a pedestrian crossing. Surely it should consider that people just want to cross the road.
Andrea Bunting, Brunswick
Cruel treatment of youth
Annastacia Palaszczuk and Anthony Albanese have both claimed that the infrastructure associated with the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games will serve Queenslanders well for decades into the future (The Age, 18/2). Really? What are the predicted Brisbane temperatures for July-August 2032? What will they be in the 2040s and ’50s? With new coal and gas still on the table, the highlighting of unlikely, long-term, future benefits is little more than a cruel hoax on our youngsters.
Ian Bayly, Upwey
Act on recycling, now
Once again, we appear to be wringing our hands over the failure of recycling, instead of eliminating our use of unnecessary plastics.What appears to be lacking is governments (state and federal) mandating immediate action, instead of tentatively relying on big business and retailers to make gradual change.
Rita Thorpe, Coburg
More action, less talk
According to your article, “Labor’s national secretary, Paul Erickson, told the Labor caucus in its first meeting for the year, the cost of living is the greatest single worry on voters’ minds: ‘You must look like you are responding to this first and foremost. This is where people are at, and you need to be aware of it.‴ (Comment, 17/2). Look like you are responding? How about actually responding?’
Ken Finley, Mount Martha
Too much to tote around
I was not surprised by your article highlighting that the weight of a typical schoolbag (Sunday Age, 19/2). My grandchildren, in grades 1, 2 and 3, carry way too much in their backpacks. Instead of redesigning backpacks, surely schools should change to cases with wheels for children.
Heather Barker, Albert Park
Treating buyers fairly
How can a house “listed with a price guide of $2.7 million to $2.9 million” have a reserve of $3.05 million (Sunday Age, 19/2)? The real estate industry continues its misleading behaviours. My simple solution is that the reserve must be within the guide price so that buyers have some chance of making informed decisions about auctions. Come on, governing bodies, put the industry on notice that we want genuine transparency and honest and professional practices.
Wendy Hinson, Wantirna
Seeking action from our…
Ross Gittins is right that the Reserve Bank has only fiscal policy (a sledge hammer) to curb inflation (Business, 18/2). His suggestion that there are other means to do so and prevent a recession is spot on. The government and the Greens are critical of governor Philip Lowe and the Reserve Bank board for using that weapon.
But it is the government which needs to do more with monetary policy. Gittins, who always makes sense, suggests limiting coal and gas price increases, levying exporters and diverting funds back to Australians and business to insulate against price shocks. The federal government will say that it is acting, but is it enough? We may yet see us in recession.
Tom Upton, Bendigo
As our Reserve Bank takes the heat for rising interest rates, should we not also be asking what steps our governments are doing to reduce demand on a tight supply chain? This is usually being done by deferring spending on infrastructure. The state government could slow the level-crossing removal program and the federal government reduce state grants for infrastructure projects.
David Robertson, Wheatsheaf
Unpopular but necessary
What is causing inflation in Australia? If supplies of various items are limited because of events beyond government control (war resulting in a shortage of oil, shortage of shipping, crop failures) there is little the government can do about supply. But it can intervene to reduce inequities in the distribution of income that have arisen. Is it doing so?
If the problem is the result of excess demand, further increases in interest rates need not be the remedy. Income tax rates could be raised. An increase in the top tax rates would seem to be most equitable. Yet the government, fearful of voter backlash, does little.
Alan Gunther, Carlton
People who borrowed because they thought money was free think that 4per cent is high. Older people who remember interest rates of 20per cent think that 4per cent is nearly free. Young people who are saving to buy a home and older people who are relying on their life savings to live also think 4per cent is virtually nothing. It is better to deal with inflation now at low interest rates than let it go and then have to suffer really high rates.
Lee Ward, Red Hill
When will Dutton learn?
While campaigning for the Aston byelection, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton labelled the government’s climate change policy as simply a “carbon tax”, and said he believed Labor’s campaign in the last election “was successful in a number of areas through lies and deception” (The Age, 17/2). Dutton is still in denial, still scaremongering and still resolutely disregarding the lessons of the election.
Jill Rosenberg, Caulfield South
AND ANOTHER THING
Re $7 billion for the 2032 Olympics and Paralympics in Brisbane (18/2). That could be spent on reducing homelessness, but I guess sport is more important.
Dave Torr, Werribee
AFL integrity unit? Oxymoron.
Rosslyn Jennings, North Melbourne
If Handscomb is our premier player of spin, why is he chosen to bat so low in the order? Unfortunately, he runs out of batsmen partners.
Stan Smith, Mont Albert
Are the Indians picking our Test team?
Gary Sayer, Warrnambool
It can’t be easy being the fall Guy, Matthew.
Lindsay Donahoo, Wattle Glen
The Liberals don’t seem to have learnt much since the election. Dutton is basically Abbott-lite leading the “Noalition”.
Andrew Dods, Apollo Bay
Shorten might have fire in the belly (19/2), but many have had a gut full of him.
Graham Cadd, Dromana
“We have to turn the Titanic around: Plibersek” (8/2) misses the point. Our predicament has one cause – overpopulation.
John Bentley, Tongala
Why would anyone wish to tour Pentridge Prison (18/2) and be reminded of such a brutal era?
Lois Davey, Leopold
Using $400,000 sidewinder missiles to shoot down $12 hobbyists’ balloons redefines the concept of asymmetrical warfare.
John Togno, Mandurang
Isn’t this scare about balloons a bit blown up?
Rosalind McIntosh, Camberwell
Lowe says he understands mortgagors’ pain, but has he ever experienced the debilitating horror of losing his home?
Arthur Pritchard, Ascot Vale
A new ploy. Our electricity supplier has increased prices and the reason given is that it uses gas to generate that electricity.
Alan Thomas, Hawthorn
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