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CHRISTMAS

Surely the gift of love is the greatest gift of all

The demands of the commercial sector to spend up big at Christmas is both frustrating and annoying. Gift giving has a place at Christmas, including the remembrance of the gift of life itself, to be seen and celebrated in the birth of the Christ child which Christians welcome at this time.

However, the season is also about peace, hope, joy and love, all basic elements of being human. These values enable all of us, religious or otherwise, to share the season with family and friends while remembering those for whom the Christmas season is distressing, who are unwelcome and often ignored. The gift of love is the greatest gift of all.
Ray Cleary, Camberwell

Another day of the windows before the big sales

Myer, can you please keep your Christmas window display open for everyone to enjoy on Christmas Day. So many families (including mine) spend December 25 in the city. But for the past few years most of the windows have been covered up by large “stocktake sale” signs, which is incredibly disappointing. Christmas Day is by far the best day to see the windows, especially when you are with young kids.
Christine Slade, Fitzroy North

Spare a Christmas thought for forgotten Assange

This will be the fourth Christmas that Julian Assange spends in Belmarsh Prison in London. His “crime” is publishing truthful information. He is an innocent man. Millions around the world continue to fight for his release. This year he was shortlisted for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, an award for freedom of thought. Countries like Argentina, Bolivia and Mexico have recognised his achievements and his unjust persecution.

Yet our government remains impotent. It has been unable to protect an Australian citizen. A glimmer of hope came this week with the appointment of Kevin Rudd as our next ambassador to the US. But will Assange last that long? His physical and mental health is failing under the duress of his menacing treatment, which was assessed by a UN specialist as psychological torture.
In a moment of Christmas reflection, spare a thought for Julian Assange. An ordinary Australian who achieved extraordinary feats. If you believe that truth, free speech and democracy are worth fighting for, then his life is worth fighting for.
Kim Stacey, Black Rock

Goodwill and kindness applies to all beings

It’s that time of year when we hear about goodwill and kindness to all. On Christmas Day that extends to family, friends and, of course, our beautiful pets.

However, as the family dog sits under the table receiving treats from the Christmas feast, I wonder at the blind dichotomy that condones the heinous slaughter of the gentle creatures whose flesh makes up that feast. The cow, pig, lamb or turkey experiences the same pain as you, I, or our dog would, if tortured and slaughtered. Goodwill and kindness is meaningless unless it is given equally to all beings.
Jennifer Joseph, South Yarra

Think of those who are facing disaster this season

Christmas lunch celebrations are food for the body and the spirit, but perhaps spare some “food for thought” for those who are ravished by climate disasters, war, tyranny and poverty.
Brian Rock, Beechworth

The best present the state government can give

Over the last couple of years I have attempted to walk in Victoria’s national parks, as I have done all my life, and too often found that they were closed. They range from local beauty spots that are used constantly by the community to places highly prized by bushwalkers and other nature lovers. Some of have been closed for nearly two years.

Parks Victoria has a slogan – “Healthy parks, healthy people”. What use are our parks if we we cannot get into them? They are vital for our physical and mental health. A day walking in the bush is therapeutic, and if money is the only thing that counts then this activity saves on medical expenses. Can the state government please give us a Christmas present, and fund Parks Victoria so that these parks open soon.
Rod Andrew, Malmsbury

THE FORUM

The true giving spirit

Your correspondent focuses on the “mindless waste of electricity and resources” when residents of The Boulevard in Ivanhoe present their Christmas lights displays (Letters, 23/12). He says he was brought up to be charitable – this is what these residents are doing.

Generally at their own expense, in their own time, and on their own properties, they bring joy to others with their delightful displays. For some families, particularly on limited budgets, this can be a major highlight for them in celebrating the Christmas season.
Nola Cordell, Hoppers Crossing

Why the Libs really lost

Re The federal Liberal Party’s review of its election loss (The Age, 23/12). The root cause was the lack of palatable policies that match what they claim to stand for. The Liberals promote themselves as a socially conservative party that believes in lean government, reducing taxes, individual rights and freedoms, free enterprise, freedom of worship and preserving the environment.

At the recent Victorian election Matthew Guy’s policies focused on out-spending Labor on specific transport and health infrastructure projects, and splashing a lot of taxpayer funds on short-term subsidies.

The Morrison government had two signature policies in 2021-22. One was the establishment of a corruption investigation body that was so weak it would avoid implicating politicians. And the other, the religious freedom policy, was not about protecting religious people from persecution but overriding anti-discrimination laws to give religious bodies increased rights to discriminate against LGBTQIA people. These policies do not reflect their stated mission or contradict it.
Garry McCarten, Doncaster

So what else is new?

The Liberals are out of touch and they needed a review to find that out? Any reasonable observer of the political scene has known that for some time. The party has much work to do if it wants to be in power again in the near future.
Allan Thomas, Nunawading

The anti-women policy

The Liberal Party’s review of its 2022 federal election performance continues to argue against quotas for women. But the party already has a quota for women candidates – as few as possible in winnable seats. And the former private school chaps who run the show will remain perfectly happy with that.
Alan Cooper, Ashburton

Fund precious libraries

It is extremely disappointing that Trove, the National Library of Australia’s digital resource, is under threat (The Age, 22/12) if long-term funding is not allocated to it. The library’s digitisation of newspapers extends back to the days of the New South Wales colony and serves a dual purpose.
Fragile newspapers that might be lost forever are now preserved and thus become a goldmine of information for researchers, historians, genealogists and others.

Governments of all persuasions are looking for savings but reducing funding for libraries is a false economy.

An independent report commissioned by the State Library of Victoria and the Public Libraries Victoria Network published in 2018 found that “every dollar invested in public libraries generates $4.30 of benefits to the local community”. Whether it is the National Library of Australia or the local public library, they need adequate funding.
Kate McCaig, Surrey Hills

Don’t restrict our access

A pox on whoever is responsible for putting the future of our national treasure, Trove, under a cloud. Without it I would never have discovered family stories of the grandparents who died long before I was born. Why should access to our national newspaper collections be limited to those who can travel to the physical libraries that hold them?
Jan Harkin, Blackburn

Precautionary principle

It is unfortunate that the dispute between traders at the Melbourne Innovation Centre and Darebin Council over asbestos contamination is being played out in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal – and possibly higher courts.

Any exposure to respirable fibres is potentially lethal. If asbestos dust has been detected, by definition the substance must have been air borne.

While the concerns of traders about the financial impact of a temporary closure of the centre is understandable, the most appropriate course was to limit access until such time as the risk to the traders, their customers and the public could be remediated. There is no safe level of exposure to friable asbestos. It should be safely removed, transported and disposed of by professionals.
Geoff Fary, former chairman, Australian Asbestos Safety and Eradication Council

A truly exceptional man

There may be only one blessing in the theft of the Dunlop family’s precious memorabilia (The Age, 23/12), but it is a significant one. It prompted Tony Wright (The Age, 23/12) to remind us of the courage, wisdom, integrity, compassion and faith of a remarkable man, Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop”, exemplary qualities we hear little of these days.
Jenny Anderson, Eltham

Surely beyond the pale

I am annoyed by, but gradually accepting of, the increasing use of SWAPs (silly words and phrases) instead of proper words, such as “uptick” instead of increase. But “tick-up” (The Age, 22/12) takes it one step too far.
Rick Whitelaw, Anglesea

An obsessive hatred

British broadcaster, Jeremy Clarkson, a sad pitiable man, would be better to direct his hatred at a more appropriate target such as Vladimir Putin. Although such hatred is surely a sign of a desperate man searching for a headline.
Dorothy Galloway, Mentone

A sense of entitlement

Meghan and Harry did not leave Britain due to alleged “verbal attacks and death threats” (Letters, 23/12). Unfortunately, Meghan entered the monarchy and tried to alter it to her liking without initially taking the time to comprehend how it functioned. They departed because William and Charles rejected their request for a “half in, half out” exit that would permit them to earn money while picking and choosing royal duties, plus keeping their titles.

Since moving to the United states, Meghan and Harry have exploited their royal titles for hundreds of millions of dollars. They have rewritten history and publicised untruths to fit their sense of privilege and outrage. The apparent mission of the Sussex duo seems to be the destruction of the monarchy.
Annette Gladwin, Bentleigh

Sustainable timber

Your correspondent (Letters, 23/12) asks how loss of ongoing carbon capture from trees harvested to build timber office towers is factored into carbon footprint calculations. It is simple: new trees are planted to replace those harvested. These new trees soak up more carbon in their early growth phase than mature trees. And in many cases, more trees are replanted than the number harvested.

Timber is the only renewable resource used in construction. The materials mined to produce concrete and steel are not. It is way past time that a sustainable timber industry, producing renewable resources for construction, was supported as an important contributor to our journey to net zero.
Graeme Russell, Clifton Hill

Importance of literature

Thank you to David Crowe for “My world tour: 52 books in 52 weeks” (Comment, 23/12). It was so inspirational to hear of such a reading challenge, and I thank him for including part of that list of books. The article is now stored and I will eagerly use it for future reference.

I would now like to ask for a sequel from David Crowe – to write up the remainder of the 52 books that he and his daughter enjoyed so much. I love his words “it transported me”, and don’t we need such a welcome escape through quality literature.
Helen Clements, Lorne

Cruel, senseless ruling

Once again the Taliban hardliners show their true colours in banning women from attending university. The prevention of half of Afghanistan’s citizens from becoming educated will ensure that the country will remain destitute. There is no hope for this country whilst under such leadership that enforces such backward, patriarchal doctrine.
Bill Proctor, Launching Place

Rebirth of the old SEC

With the re-establishment of the state-owned State Energy Commission, which in the bad old days was referred to as Safe, Easy and Comfortable, now we hope it will be a Safe Environmental Commission.
Kevin Laws, Thornbury

An impossible task

Whilst a lifetime ban for a number of offenders in regard to the recent A-league fiasco may be symbolically appropriate, how can it possibly be enforced?

Sure, the perpetrators can be banned from gaining a club membership, but it will be impossible for the casual staff who supervise the gates at every match throughout Australia to recognise the faces of these individuals. Keep in mind there is a constant staff turnover, year on year, and do not even think about how this could be enforced in five or 10 years hence.
Jack Fisher, Wheelers Hill

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Politics

The new form of Yuletide alms giving: weapons for Ukraine.
Ivan Glynn, Vermont

The government must now introduce a star-rating system for disability accommodation providers.
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick

At the next state election, Glenn Druery’s cat, Gus (23/12), may hold the balance of power in the upper house. It’s time to reform our unfair voting system, Dan.
Kevan Porter, Alpington

Who is worse – Trump or Musk?
Peter Rutherford, Hamlyn Heights

The Greens (we’re not spinach) Party is still ″⁣safe″⁣ to vote for.
Heather D’Cruz, Geelong West

The Age

For a moment I thought I was gifted when Thursday’s Superquiz was repeated yesterday.
Ghillie Thompson, Camberwell

Please repeat Superquiz more often. I got 100per cent correct yesterday.
Pamela Whiting, Southbank

Is Tony Wright (23/12) the replacement wordsmith for the previous prince of the pen, the fabulous writer and journalist Les Carlyon?
Leo Doyle, Bundoora

What a beautiful and uplifting article by Richard Glover (23/12). Merry Christmas to Richard and all the little Maudes. Only one sleep before the magical day.
Molly Williams, Warrandyte

Furthermore

Colonels Kate and William? Enough of this colonial nonsense. Bring on independence, starting with getting the Union Jack off our flag.
Lindsay Donahoo, Wattle Glen

Cricket Australia can hardly expect broadcast rights to keep up with inflation when it has over-inflated the product.
Niko Melaluka, Footscray

Why all the handwringing? The successor for Gill McLachlan sticks out like a sore thumb: Jeff Kennett. Surely he ticks all the boxes.
Graham Devries, Camberwell

If I were a sports coach, I’d invite the four young paddleboarders to chat to my players about pressure.
John Rawson, Mernda

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