Bigger thinking needed to stop ‘cram Melbourne’

Credit:Illustration: Jim Pavlidis

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PLANNING: Bigger thinking needed to stop ‘cram Melbourne’

Removing parking requirements for new developments (“Call to cut parking in new developments sparks ‘carmageddon’ fear”, 30/3), is the latest chapter in the cram Melbourne saga. With immigration back at record levels and state governments’ only solution to cram capital cities, this latest suggestion will further reduce liveability in these sardine cities. A broad-based, big-picture policy around immigration, housing and infrastructure, which could include regionalisation and lower immigration rates even in the short term, might provide a more sustainable long-term solution. Instead, the decline in Melbourne’s liveability rating will impact both us and our children.
Mathew Knight, Malvern East

Same old hazards
Day after day, the morning radio tells us of expensive road blockages due to accidents. The horrendously expensive North East Link and West Gate Tunnel will only add to the chaos. Meanwhile, Doncaster rail remains unbuilt for more than 40 years. Satellite cities such as Ballarat will be so much better than Melbourne if truly fast rail is built between them and the metropolis.
Loch Wilson, Northcote

City is not so European
The architecture of Melbourne is highlighted as a European culture of design (“‘Little’ streets fail to stop car clash”, 30/3), but if we look at our cycling infrastructure, it seems a different story. Europe’s city planning involves consideration of its cyclists and their safety. As a student who rides a bike almost every day to school, I have a bicycle lane for only 100 metres out of the three-kilometre journey.

Providing more bike lanes for cyclists gives a sense of safety for the rider and allows for a smoother flow of traffic for motor vehicles. It can also promote more commuters to consider riding, which can help in the effort to decongest our roads.

Melbourne, quite simply, needs to make a change and follow the “European” ways for bicycle lanes, as it has for the city’s architecture.
Oliver Prysten, Elwood

Keep it smaller
A simple solution to our high mortgage debts is to build houses 50 per cent smaller, such as the “15-square” family home of the ’60s. Every child does not need a separate room. The problem is that unreal expectation has been built up by the housing industry fuelled by the mortgage industry.
Peter Cossins, Wantirna South

You can’t choose rich parents
To have much hope of owning a house, young Australians need to choose their parents wisely (“Would-be home buyers banking on inheritance”, 30/3). The pernicious impact of the inheritance lottery on growing inequality has long been demonstrated by French economist Thomas Piketty. His analysis suggests it usually takes the “all in this together” sentiments caused by major wars or other disasters to usher in temporary periods of greater equality. All too soon, however, it’s once again every family for themselves.

Labor’s negative gearing and franking credits policies in the 2019 election had the potential to reduce the gap between the housing haves and have-nots. The real tragedy is we are left with a risk-averse “Labor lite” government unwilling to take the policy initiatives necessary to arrest, let alone reverse, homelessness and other grotesque symptoms of growing inequality in the “lucky country”.
John Carmichael, Hawthorn

A system geared to investors
It would be lovely if young couples could afford to buy a property in the suburbs near public transport and schools but unless you are pretty cashed up, it’s not possible. I look at the auctions around this locality, mostly bought by investors. No sooner than the sold sign goes down then up goes a for-lease sign. While you have negative gearing, this won’t change. Why should those cashed up be able to outbid most people who genuinely want to buy a home to live in, effectively driving them to the outer fringes?
Nola Cormick, Albert Park


Sensitive leadership
Indigenous elder Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin was invited then uninvited to perform a Welcome to Country ceremony for Barack Obama. Whatever Joy Murphy needed for her ceremony should have been granted. The cost of supporting Aunty Joy pales into insignificance considering the private jet, security and overinflated price of tickets to hear a former US president speak.

How dare they say she was too difficult. It’s not about ticking boxes to hold a Welcome to Country Ceremony, it’s so much more. Joy Murphy is a highly respected and much loved Wurundjeri elder. To insult her like this leaves us all so diminished.

On their highly polished website Sydney-based Growth Faculty proclaims their visions: to provide ″⁣a place to access brilliant ideas for inspired leadership″⁣. A word of advice, leadership requires cultural awareness and sensitivity, something that can be accessed from people like Joy Murphy.
Catherine Buxton, Somers

Can Voice adapt?
I will vote yes for the Voice because it’s the right thing to do, but are we ready to open the Pandora’s box that may result? Will the widely diverse First Nations communities accept a Western democratic model of decision making to arrive at a “Voice” as opposed to the traditional Indigenous consensus model? Will the Voice accept democratic decisions made by parliament on behalf of all Australians that don’t meet their expectations, without endless argument, with or without recourse to the High Court?
Alastair Pritchard, Templestowe

Increasing the volume
Your correspondent (Letters, 30/1) maintains that our Indigenous brethren have exactly the same voice as all other Australians – the federal parliament. That may well be true, however, it overlooks the well-resourced lobby groups (oil, fossil fuels, mining etc) that advocate on behalf of many other sectors of other Australians. So introducing the Voice would hardly be a rush to radical change.
Bill Pimm, Mentone

Neglectful fathers
Your correspondent (“Change too radical”, 30/3 ) notes that our “founding fathers” made constitutional change difficult to protect us from radical change when in fact it was no more noble than to protect the so-called rights of the smaller states. In addition, calling upon the spirit of these gentlemen who deliberately deprived Indigenous people of citizenship and counted them among the flora and fauna of the country is hardly a valid justification for rejecting the Indigenous Voice to parliament.
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir

What they got wrong
In raising the motives of the founding fathers of our Constitution, your correspondent got me thinking about another reason to support the Voice.

Thomas Mayor (Finding the Heart of the Nation) and others have highlighted that those founding fathers deliberately left the Constitution silent on First Nations people in anticipation (to put it politely) that Aborigines would eventually “die out”?

The fathers got this bit wrong.

Today, we live alongside Australians with the oldest, continuing culture on Earth. Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in our nation’s birth certificate is 122 years overdue. The referendum deserves to succeed.
Russell Crellin, Greensborough

A simple right
The NZ Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the warring British Crown and Maori chiefs in 1840. The NZ agreement provided binding property and equality rights for the Maori people in exchange for allowing the British Crown to rule. Over 180 years following the Waitangi Treaty, the Indigenous Australians who had no say in the imposition of the rule of a foreign Crown, are requesting a simple right to make suggestions to parliament on matters affecting Aborigines.
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood

A different class
The Age reports (“More teachers want out over job-load woes”, 30/3) that more than a third of teachers intend to leave the profession before retirement. This is not new. Many years ago I was one of 26 young people on Education Department studentships who graduated with a Bachelor of Science and Diploma of Education. Fifteen years after we had qualified, only three remained in high schools. I was not one of them.

Certainly workloads and student misbehaviour are factors behind resignations, but school organisation may be even more responsible. Nearly all secondary schools follow a model that has hardly changed for over a century: classes of uniform size (about 30, depending on supply and demand) of adolescents of uniform age, with lessons of uniform length, and a different teacher every 40 minutes or so. Then every new year a changeover to different teachers. This model must hinder teacher and students from getting to know each other well and find out how to work constructively together.

Let us hear about schools that operate with more effective models, where teachers and students find enjoyment and fulfilment.
Richard White, emeritus professor of education, Monash University

Red tape restrictions
How much longer do we need to wait for governments to rescue our education system from freefall? The irony is that it is the politicians themselves who have created this crisis. They have no understanding of the complexity of school systems and for years have sought political mileage from education, creating compliance requirements that dominate the daily activities of teacher at the expense of their engagement with children.
Bryan Long, Balwyn

Speed limits
It makes sense that privately owned e-scooters are to be allowed to be used in public, and the big companies will lose their monopoly (“More scooters to hit road as trial extends”, 30/3. If they are not to be driven at more than 20 km/h, they should be physically restricted so they cannot exceed that speed.
George Houlder, Cambrian Hill

Popular with some
What extra resources will be provided to enforce the rules on use of even more e-scooters by even younger riders? And shared paths such as along Southbank will become even more hazardous with more e-scooter riders riding with vehicles capable of up to 25 km/h. How can an extension of the trial to privately owned, uninsured e-scooters do anything but increase the risks for riders themselves and for pedestrians on Melbourne’s footpaths? Minister Melissa Horne says, “We know e-scooters are popular with many Victorians”. But what about the very many Victorians who increasingly fear walking as a mode of transport?
Tom McNair, Docklands

Limit of education
In arguing against a ban on Nazi symbols and salutes, Lydia Khalil identifies a major source of the growth of right-wing extremism (Comment, 30/3). Khalil says that Nazism is appealing “as a form of rebellion and subversion for young men in particular”. Addressing that is a huge challenge and part of the much deeper issue of contemporary masculinity.

Unsurprisingly, Khalil suggests better education about the consequences of fascism. However, like a ban on symbols, some young men might reject such education programs as an attempt to indoctrinate them into the progressive, left-wing values they dislike. They do not want to think the same way as everyone else.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills

Banning images
While we’re talking about banning offensive symbols, such as the Nazi salute, there is one extremely offensive symbol that is rife in our community. I’m talking about Christian depictions of a man being tortured to death on a cross, which, we are told, is also an example of human sacrifice, of one person being killed to atone for the sins of many other persons. On any objective set of criteria this is quite repugnant to anyone not adhering to the Christian faith. I’m not suggesting such depictions should be banned, as they clearly mean a lot to those who accept the Christian mythology. I’m simply asking Christians to be more cognisant of how their imagery might affect others and to perhaps keep it to themselves inside their churches.
Ian Robinson, Cowes

Keep it public
Lydia Khalil’s opinion piece on the futility of banning symbols makes me reconsider my wish to ban the Union Jack, symbolising centuries of colonial exploitation and violence. It would just drive our royalists underground and make them more dangerous.
Ralph Böhmer, St Kilda West

What to do?
Most people know the saying “all that is necessary for evil to happen is for good people to do nothing”. I’m sure that Daniel Andrews, and others who go to China with cap in hand (“Beijing lauds Premier over ‘determination’ to build China ties”, 30/3) know it well. It’s sad to me then that human rights violations can be so blatantly committed with the perpetrators knowing many good people will do nothing.
Russell Brims, Bentleigh East

Negotiating tactics
Some of your correspondents evince little appreciation of the dilemma facing the Greens – a small party trying to bargain from a balance-of-power position when “better than nothing” or “worse than useless” bills come before parliament.

If the party votes for such bills without at least securing significant improvements, it will be accused of selling out on precisely the urgent issues – such as climate change and homelessness – that its parliamentarians were elected to address. Furthermore — its bluff being called — it loses influence.
But if it votes against such bills, it will be accused of “making the perfect the enemy of the good”. Indeed — as one gathers from the lecturing of the Greens over their rejection of CPRS in 2009 – it will cop this even if it is subsequently rewarded with something vastly better.
Colin Smith, Glen Waverley

And another thing

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

As a declaration of their belief in ethical practices, corporations and government agencies could perhaps contribute to an ongoing Nobel-style award for people who bravely expose workplace wrongdoing.
David Johnston, Healesville

One suspects Mark Dreyfus won’t end cases against Richard Boyle and David McBride as the government is afraid of encouraging other whistleblowers from speaking out.
Garry Meller, Bentleigh

Your correspondent (Letters 30/3) lauds John Pesutto’s leadership style because he compromised his position in the Deeming affair. Some would say it evokes the Groucho Marx quip: “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them … well, I have others”.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

The 100 per cent perfect position that the Greens espouse verses the 20 per cent pragmatism that the ALP attempts resulted, last time, in 10 years of nothing.
John Kellett, Bundoora

We contend with The Reds, The Greens and The Teals. How about The Candystripe Party, the one with a bit in it for everybody?
Chris Pollock, Donvale

If two thirds of prospective home buyers are waiting for inheritance from their parents then we are going to have a lot of 60-year-old first home buyers.
Craig Tucker, Newport

In China, education actually means education, indoctrination and re-education. Which one is Daniel Andrews interested in?
Ivan Gaal, Fitzroy North

“This has caused grief that the community will be left to deal with long after Mr Obama has left Australia”: says Aunty Joy Murphy. Seems an over-reaction.
Geoff Warren, Anglesea

Love all the letters about protecting whistleblowers. Please act, Mark Dreyfus, quickly.
Barbara Darvall, Ivanhoe East

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