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THE HOUSING MARKET

The problem is one of demand, not just supply
It is unsurprising that Brendan Coates of the Grattan Institute would tell people to effectively “suck it up” and accept higher-density buildings because the institute is a major spruiker of mass immigration (“Quarter-acre dream a ‘problem’”, The Age, 15/9).

Sure, we don’t have enough houses, prices are astronomical and renters live in fear, but let’s add an extra 200,000 people per year into the demand queue for housing.

Perhaps Coates should accept what the research by groups like the Australian Population Institute or your own commissioned survey by Resolve Strategic are saying and recognise that Aussies and their communities don’t want mass immigration restarted.

Lessening the demand side lowers prices, too.
Kieran Simpson, Blackburn North

The rest of us must accept higher-density living …
Having a backyard for the children to play in, room for a vegie patch and some fruit trees, inviting friends over for a barbecue and a game of cricket and space from your neighbours was something that the average working person could aspire to.

We were the envy of the world and the Australian lifestyle was no doubt a major factor in the postwar immigration boom.

The quarter-acre dream in the cities is now an option only for the well-to-do. As noted by the Grattan Institute, the rest of us must accept higher-density living. This is the inevitable consequence of policies promoting a Big Australia.
Barry Lizmore, Ocean Grove

… and be more generous and thoughtful
One of the major problems for young people today is probably the thought that they may never own their own home.

Home ownership can be the base of stability for a comfortable single or family life down the years. It is also a source of stable wealth and it’s time for those of us who are older to be more generous and thoughtful and go with efforts to increase density in our neighbourhoods.

Local councils have been increasing density around “activity centres” (where there are shops and public transport) in line with state government directives although this is happening more in some suburbs than others.

Developers should be encouraged by state governments to build affordable smaller homes to give people a start in the housing market and schools should be encouraged to open their land during the weekend so children have more space to play if their home yard is small.
Jan Marshall, Brighton

Make the seller pay the stamp duty
I have the following suggestion in response to your article “Victorian business calls for overhaul of stamp duty” (The Age, 15/9): Instead of the buyer being the one who pays the stamp duty, why can’t it be shifted over a few years so that the seller pays it?

This will lower the entry price for new home buyers and it will also mean that a large percentage of home buyers are not borrowing money to supply revenue to the government.

It would be necessary to make sure such a switch would be designed to not double tax recent home buyers. For example, over a short transition period, the seller/buyer share of the duty would have a ratio of 80:20 for houses held between three and four years, 60:40 on two to three years, 40:60 if held for one to two years and 20:80 for a house held less than one year. After the end date of the transition period, the seller pays 100 per cent of the duty.

The major benefit of this change will be that the revenue comes from the inflationary value of housing and not as money borrowed from the bank, at increasing interest rates.
Bruce Gill, Tatura

THE FORUM

We need a national effort
Jordana Hunter (“Enough talk – it’s time to revamp the way schools work”, Comment, 15/9) suggests teachers could stop “reinventing the wheel” and “could save three hours a week if they had access to high-quality curriculum resources”.

Yet there is a multitude of high quality curriculum resources available, the sheer amount is overwhelming. The real problem is the organising, sharing and easy accessibility of these resources. Curriculum resources are not collected, curated and organised in a manner that is easily accessible for time-poor teachers. Much of it is known by individual teachers and lost whenever a teacher leaves the profession.

Our national curriculum should provide a framework to organise pedagogical material, but there is no national effort to build a comprehensive resource that is quality assured and teacher friendly to use.

The federal and state governments should work together to empower teachers to design and build a shared repository that represents the best curriculum resources in the country.

Over time all teachers could contribute to, use and review such a commonwealth of pedagogical practice at their fingertips.
Graeme Henchel, Yarra Glen

Let them leave early
Jordana Hunter makes excellent suggestions to reduce teacher burnout. Many teachers spend much time, energy and skill trying to “reach” many secondary students unsuited, for a variety of psycho-social and economic reasons, to being at school.

The school-leaving age has historically risen in times of high unemployment. It might now be time to cautiously reverse this trend given many jobs have been de-skilled. Any age reduction should be with one proviso: Should they later wish to return to formal education, early school leavers should be guaranteed an apprentice-style wage.

One of the joys in a 50-year-career teaching in higher education is to have taught (and learnt from) mature-age students in teacher education, nursing and law who after a series of McJobs, were nearly all grateful for a second chance and hungry to “hit the books”.

Their combination of the life experience gained from an early gap year (or several) and later formal qualifications has often made these students empathetic contributors to our society.
John Carmichael, Hawthorn

It’s not fit for purpose
In his article on the republic (“Republic push needs fresh faces”, Comment, 15/9), Osman Faruqi raises a more fundamental question about Australia’s Constitution. He points out that the Constitution was written more than a century ago. He asks whether parliament is working as well as it should and what needs to change to help solve the major problems afflicting the country.

Faruqi could have added that the Constitution was written by privileged white men before telephones, cars, planes, computers or the internet. A Constitution that did not acknowledge the original occupants of this land until the referendum of 1967. Why do we imagine that the Constitution written before Federation in 1901 is fit for purpose in the 21st century. Why don’t we have a Constitution review mechanism, bringing together representatives of all political parties, business and the community, to review the document on a regular basis and make recommendations to parliament for constitutional change.

Such a consensus-based approach is likely to dramatically increase the chance of achieving important constitutional change. Perhaps it could begin by addressing the almost impossibly high bar set for constitutional change by the creaky old document we have at present.
Robert Adler, Albert Park

The net is not strong
Geoffrey Robertson’s ideas and analysis are sound, but the application and execution are dodgy (“Can we do without a head of state?”, Comment, 14/9).

We just had a prime minister who thought it was OK to undermine representative government and cabinet, by trashing convention and helping himself to any ministry he felt his due.

Therefore, Westminster conventions are not a strong enough safety net. We need a powerful constitution protecting and maintaining our democratic representative political system with punishing consequences for the members of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary who fail to uphold it.
Patrick Alilovic, Pascoe Vale South

A lone voice no longer
Thank you, Geoffrey Robertson and others, in questioning the need for a head of state. I now no longer feel like a lone voice in the wilderness.

Just think of what we could be doing with the millions spent on this unnecessary position. We are constantly hearing of agencies providing essential services begging for extra funds needed for their work in providing adequate palliative care, aged care, housing and support for the homeless and welfare recipients generally. The list goes on.

By all means wait until after the Queen’s funeral for further discussion, but then can we seriously consider an alternative to a head of state, with all its accompanying controversy, unneeded extra formality and ongoing expense?
Rita Thorpe, Coburg

They might stick around
The huge crowds lining the streets in Edinburgh and the outpourings of grief from Scots genuinely affected by the Queen’s passing would indicate any talk of secession by Scotland from the union might be premature.

The Scots have long been distrustful of politicians in London, occasionally with good reason, but by and large have displayed admiration and affection for the royal family. It remains to be seen whether this goodwill can be extended to King Charles, although there is nothing so far to suggest it won’t be.

Politicians come and go, but the House of Windsor remains a pillar of stability in British political life and the Scottish people are sensible enough to recognise this, despite the posturing of blowhard SNP nationalists like Nicola Sturgeon.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully

Inexplicably privatised
The acute sector of Australia’s health system has a long established, accepted mix of public and private ownership and management, yet the aged care sector of that same health system, inexplicably, is overwhelmingly privatised.

The latest move in this direction is the abandonment of home care by local government. Some recent cases of contracting out home care to the private sector have ended in chaos with the elderly the innocent victims.

This lends support to the nursing federation suggestion (“Rethink urged on how aged care operates”, The Age, 15/9) that the federal government should consider a takeover of aged care, or at least of the home care component.
Carol Williams, Forest Hill

We need clear laws
If, as your correspondent says, swearing allegiance to the King really means “agreeing to obey the law of the land” then let’s make that clear (“Obeying about respect”, Letters, 15/9).

Swearing allegiance to the King sounds altogether different and its meaning is not clear at all.
Being a good citizen would be a lot easier if we all make a commitment to obey clear and properly made laws.
Tony Andreatta, Kew

Now we know …
Some time ago, Daniel Andrews arrogantly pronounced he didn’t know why anyone would want to go to South Australia.

Well, Dan, we now have the answer: To get an MRI not available in our forlorn, once proud state where you have been health minister or premier for 12 of the last 15 years.

Just resign.
Kevin Fox, Richmond

It’s just unbelievable
Now that the preliminary finals are here can commentators please improve their language?
A wonderful mark is not unbelievable, a great goal from the boundary is not unbelievable, a 40 possession game is not unbelievable.

Gold Coast playing St Kilda in the grand final? Now that is unbelievable.
Malcolm Fraser, Oakleigh South

In his own words
Our community mourns the loss of Uncle Jack Charles, who enriched our lives with his disarming smile, toot of the scooter or a one-on-one yarn. To yarn with Uncle Jack was to share stories of family and kindship, hardship and loss … always through the lens of humour. He imparted knowledge with generosity providing strategies for systemic change. He listened with respect and offered wise reflection.

His legacy will continue to inform the efforts towards reconciliation in this country and he will remain entrenched in the foundations of our streets.

This is an excerpt from a story about his life. He wrote it for me while I was at university in 2006: “I’ve gone through many changes in my life, from being on the fringes of societies, in and round the city as a “lad-about-town – a gadabout”! Now I’m an elder in the full sense of that word. I’m still seen round Fitzroy/Collingwood, busking nowadays, but I’m of the belief that [I], personally, am on show whenever I hit the streets: people’s eyes will invariably swing towards me … and so, I live my life as an example to others. JACK”
Greta Costello, Fitzroy

Not the way to go
When deciding how the head of state should be chosen, please remember that if the choice is by popular vote, then what you get is a politician.

We do not need another layer of politics in Australia.
Jill Wright, Berwick

Albert might disagree
Your correspondent (And Another Thing, 15/9) points out that the Queen Mother, unlike the Queen Consort, Camilla, was neither a divorcee nor a mistress.
I wonder what Albert, the Prince Consort of Queen Victoria, would have made of that argument.
Juliet Flesch, Kew

Not here, please
Greg Norman confirmed to The Age that a decision on an Australian venue for his LIV tournament was imminent (“Norman’s LIV carrot to Smith, Leishman”, Sport, 14/9).

Please make it Sydney.
Sean Geary, Southbank

AND ANOTHER THING

Politics
Perhaps Matthew Guy’s speechwriter could arrange for Excalibur to be magically placed in a rock on Spring Street. An Arthurian contest to remove it will indeed prove who the righteous premier of Victoria should be.
Anna Dillon, Warrnambool

Would Tony Abbott, the monarchist, have done any more as prime minister than Anthony Albanese has to promote the monarchy?
Howard Marosi, Carlton North

Had the United States lost the war of independence and adopted the British Westminster system of government it might be a far better nation than it is now.
David Eames-Mayer, Balwyn

Chris Wallace (“PM right to suspend parliament”, Comment, 15/9) is correct – Anthony Albanese is sensibly playing the long game to position the two foreshadowed referendums hopefully for success.
Elaine Carbines, Belmont

The face on the fiver
There are artificial intelligence programs that can fuse millions of faces to make an average. Why not create the Average Australian to grace the $5 note?
Ralph Bohmer, St Kilda West

It would be appropriate for King Charles to be on the $5 note, they are both anachronisms.
Peter Finn, Tallarook

The footy
Umpires should put their whistles away.
Rod Matthews, Fairfield

Furthermore
At its core, commemorations and celebrations of royal deaths and coronations are a commitment to the English class system. We are no one’s subjects. Time to move on, Australia.
Michael Petit, Brunswick

While I am not a fan of the monarchy, it seems a bit petty not to let Prince Harry wear a uniform.
Marie Nash, Balwyn

Finally
Just how much is this whole thing costing?
Philip West, Jan Juc

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